Ten People Know Scott Pruitt

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9569074a)
A sign criticizing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is seen posted on the base of a utility pole on the corner of H Street NW and 13 Street NW in Washington
Trump EPA, Washington, USA – 06 Apr 2018

Little Rock     The key architect of the Republicans efforts to maintain control of the House of Representatives is 37-year old Corry Bliss.  Times’ columnist, Frank Bruni, description puts him in the thick of the midterm campaign.  “Bliss serves as the executive director of the American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund, a potent super PAC that raises money for, and directs it to, high-priority House races nationwide.”

His interview is interesting as a reminder to anyone who has forgotten how sure they were that Hillary Clinton would be seated as President in the election against Donald Trump, that the Republicans are alive and competing fiercely to hold onto Congress in the midterms, even if they are not completely well and carrying huge White House baggage around their necks.  Bliss scoffs at the notion of a “blue wave” sweeping Democrats into office.  He accurately notes the fact that Republicans in the critical, recent Ohio primaries outperformed the Democrats by 150,000 votes in turnout, challenging the notion that Democratic activism is red hot and can overwhelm predictions.

One of his comments that I found most interesting though was a throwaway line when he was asked about the constant scandals involving Trump secretaries and appointees like the eleven investigations at various levels involving Scott Pruitt, Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  He scoffed that there aren’t “ten people in the country” who even know who Scott Pruitt is.

Scott Pruitt of the luxury flights and free housing, the special $30,000 phone booth, and the wildly expensive, multi-million-dollar security team probably winched at reading that line from a Republican super-organizer, but the more you think about it, there’s some frightening truth to the point.  So, sure, more than ten people do know who he is.  Maybe it’s a thousand or tens of thousands or even a million.  He was a rightwing footnote as Attorney General in Oklahoma who sued the EPA a lot representing the oil and gas industry and found himself nominated by another political unknown to gut the EPA.  But, no matter his mischief, the point Bliss makes powerfully, despite the exaggeration, is that people are not going to vote on whether to retain or unseat their local Congressperson based on whoever the heck Scott Pruitt might be.

When we think about it, we know why.  Every poll is clear that people are not paying attention in class.  They might vote for or against based on Trump and his antics but be warned that this is also a dangerous assumption.  The Republican base has moved across the spectrum on issues like free trade, taxes, and debt largely based on the seismic shifts directed by Trump.  His positions and personal characteristics may be appalling to many, but there is no denying that he is the leader of his band and holding them steady.  Even his general popularity is improving.

People vote for their local folks on local issues as well as holding their ears to the ground to hear which way the herd is running, but progressives can’t win by just running against Trump any more than they have a chance of winning with the hope that more people know Scott Pruitt and are appalled by him and his attempts to destroy the world we live in forever.

To win, they have to stand for something more.  And, everyone has to know where they stand. Standing against something doesn’t equal winning.

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Please enjoy Ana Egge’s Girls, Girls, Girls.

Thanks to KABF.

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Finally, the IRS is Enforcing Affordable Care Act!

New Orleans     How many times do we get to talk about good news and the IRS in the same sentence?  Darned few, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.  But, having the IRS finally get off the dime and start enforcing the Affordable Care Act is fantastic news.  The bottom line is that they are making larger businesses step up and comply with the employer mandate to cover their workforce.  There are some other areas where they need to also toe the line, but we’ll get to that after we look at the business scofflaws.

The IRS piddled around with the employer mandate.  The Obama administration gave everyone a break for a year in 2015 because businesses were claiming they were just getting their arms around the law.  Then the IRS had to get their act together to figure out who was doing right and who was doing wrong, so the clock kept ticking longer until they mastered the equation in late 2017.   Now with one-third of 2018 ticking off the clock the IRS has sent out notices to more than 30,000 businesses with penalty letters for the 2015, and they are ginning up to get the penalty notices out for 2016 and 2017 tax years PDQ.

Remember the employer mandate meant that companies with more than 50 full-time workers had to be provided with health care or face fines of more than $2000 per worker.  Keep in mind that we’re talking about 1,500,000 workers at a minimum that should have been offered health care but weren’t.   Odds are that many of these companies thought they were getting away with it and are likely to face penalties for the subsequent years as well.  Now that they are being caught, these bum outfits are screaming like stuck pigs.

Should we feel even one iota of sympathy for any of them.  Heck no!  Especially since the Act did not put caps on the deductibles, so that many companies complied by offering these so-called “skinny” plans that met the minimum standards on paper, but whose $4000 to $6000 deductibles made the plans worthless and unaffordable to the individuals given the small amount they were making on their jobs.  The companies then qualified and escaped the penalties, the workers were barred from the shared costs in the marketplace, and there was often zero participation by workers costing the companies nothing at all.  With loopholes that large any company so heedless of either the law or its workers should absolutely pay the full weight of the penalty.   Let’s make sure they do.

Now if the IRS would also jump on the huge, tax exempt nonprofit hospitals that are cheap skating their charity care and enforce the requirements that they step up or lose their tax-exempt status as required by the Act, we would see some health care going to low income families that desperately need it.  Many of these families work for these same selfish companies, so it is time to square that circle.

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