Some brief thoughts from Art Lerman

CVS deciding to stop selling tobacco products: Is this an example of the hypothesis that capitalistic interests and progressivism will be coming together more and more in the future?


I’m recommending Charles Blow’s NYTimes column on the Republican party becoming the bastion for insecure men who see their traditional privileged social position under threat from

a.       progressive trends—trends promoting equality of people of all genders, colors, ethnicities, and sexual orientations—as well as from

b.      an economy no longer providing men with a secure “head of the household” income.

Indeed, without the secure income, the traditional privileged male position is all that is left to support such male self-esteem–all the more reason to feel threatened by progressive equality trends.

Of course, there are alternatives for psychological support. Instead of modeling one’s psychology on Archie Bunker or Ralph Kramden, one could take Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln or Pete Seeger as a model.

And maybe this is a way for progressives to reach out to insecure male—promote “masculine” images of progressive/liberal men. Maybe a new TV series or blockbuster movie about such guys?

Here’s the link to the Charles Blow article:


Time to get serious about supporting progressive candidates for the 2014 Congressional elections. I’ve been reading lots of pessimistic predictions (for example:, but there is time to turn things around.

For myself, I have to reinvigorate the website, We have to use all of our media outlets to promote a more reasonable Congress for Obama—and the rest of us. And don’t forget more traditional campaigning—like knocking on doors.

‘Faith is the badness of government leads to—bad government”~

rove_4_02c0d‘Faith is the badness of government leads to—bad government”~



take-no-prisoners book THE WRECKING CREW a previously reviewed send up of the deliberate and sometimes methodical Reagan/Bush/ Republican Conservative dismantling of government, government programs to aid the less fortunate, to protect the environment, the consumer, safety regulations—the list is long, he makes the following memorable comment:

             The chief consequence of the conservative’s unrelenting faith in the badness of government is…. bad government. [let’s repeat: The chief consequence of the conservative’s unrelenting faith in the badness of government is…. bad government.     And Frank goes on to say:] ..The one follows the other not as a casual happenstance, but as a rule…


Frank goes on to discuss the Bush (II) administrations propensity for hiring anti- or much limited government tops, not always of the greatest talent for key posts. Then he notes:


It is a classic self-fulfilling prophecy and today (2007) we behold its fulfillment all          around us, in the prodigies money-burning bungling enacted by an anti-government president working with an anti-government Congress. (Frank, p. 141)


       He points to the the second Bush administrations deliberate staffing of agencies like FEMA (Brown, Katrina) and other with apparatchiks more interested in administration priorities than the mission of their organizations. But this was just the culmination of a long history of “defunding the left,” privatization, extracting regulatory agency teeth, etc.



Today (2014) we no longer have an anti government President, but, perhaps not unrelated, an even More anti-government Congress, especially in the House.

Today (2014) we no longer have an anti government President, but, perhaps not unrelated, an even More anti-government Congress, especially in the House.

AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE: Correcting Misperceptions

OBAMACAREPICWhat often gets lost in the public dialogue and media coverage of “Obama-care” is, well, the Truth. Facts. Empirical knowledge. Real Information. Take for example a study (based on Kaiser Foundation and other studies, of the Real Savings and impact on health insurance policy holders presented by Jonathan Cohn in THE NEW REPUBLIC. Read the full article at   .

The Big Savings Obamacare Critics Miss

                      BY JONATHAN COHN @citizencohn

Obamacare critics keep insisting that Obamacare is a bad deal for most people buying insurance on their own. And a big reason is that they don’t think much of the subsidies.

I know. You’re getting tired of hearing about the subsidies. Bear with me, because today we have some new and important information, thanks to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

To review: Obamacare provides offers tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. If your income is less than four times the poverty line, and if you’re buying through one of the new insurance exchanges, then the tax credit will operate like a discount. The less money you have, the bigger the discount. Nowadays, most Obamacare critics acknowledge that the subsidies exist. But they tend to dismiss them as trivial. “Some low-income people will get subsidies,” Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote on Monday. “But that doesn’t change the essential facts.”

Actually, it does change the essential facts—by quite a lot. The study, by Larry LevittGary Claxton and Anthony Damico, shows it.

Kaiser Family Foundation

The authors start by figuring out what the initial, upfront cost of insurance will be for people buying coverage on the exchanges. Based on Congressional Budget Office projections, the average across all households—that is, individuals and families, of all ages—works out to $8,250 a year. That’s not a bad price for comprehensive coverage: It’s in the same ballpark as policies that employers provide employees. Still, it’s more than some families buying coverage on their own might pay today, because they have skimpy policies or benefit from preferential pricing for the healthy that Obamacare prohibits. That’s why conservatives insist people won’t want to sign up for Obamacare’s insurance options.

But, again, those are the initial premiums. According to the Kaiser study, the subsidies on average will reduce premiums by $2,672, or about a third of the price. The averages mask a lot of variation, with more affluent people getting less assistance and less affluent people getting more assistance. People with incomes of more than four times the poverty line, or about $94,000 for a family of four, get no discount at all. That’s one reason why some people really will pay more for their insurance next year.

Still, the number of people receiving discounts is a lot larger than even many analysts seem to realize. It turns out that about half the people who buy their own insurance today will be eligible for subsidies. For them, the subsidies will be worth an average of $5,548 per household, effectively discounting the price by two-thirds. The study defines the “typical” plan as the second cheapest silver option. (Silver plans cover about 70 percent of the average person’s expenses.) Keep in mind that people who choose less expensive options, like those that cover fewer expenses, will pay even less for their coverage.

“It makes sense to look at what people will pay for health insurance after taking tax credits into account, just like we do for things like 401(k) plans, child care, or educational expenses,” Levitt told me. “The law provides a surprising amount of financial relief for people who are buying their own insurance today, not to mention the uninsured, who tend to have lower incomes.” Len Nichols, a health economist at GeorgeMasonUniversity, agrees. “In many ways, what the ACA is about is extending premium tax breaks to those without good employer offers today, and doing so through a sliding scale that provides the most help to those who need it most.”

Of course, Lowry and other critics downplaying the subsidies aren’t just making a statistical argument. They’re also making a philosophical claim—that subsidies simply hide the cost of insurance, by transferring it to taxpayers, rather than reduce it. But that’s a separate question, to discuss at another time.

For now, we should at least agree on the arithmetic, which the Kaiser Foundation study lays out nicely. A large portion of people who buy individual coverage through Obamacare are going to be eligible for subsidies. And those subsidies are going to be worth, on average, thousands of dollars per person.


Obamacare: Healthcare Reform Facts


1. No lifetime limit on coverage for 105 million Americans.

*2. Up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage     by insurers.

*3. 6.6 million young adults up to age 26 have taken advantage of the law to obtain health insurance through their parents’ plan.

*4. Free coverage for comprehensive preventive services for millions of women starting in August.

*5. 86 million Americans, including 32 million seniors in Medicare, have already received free preventive services.

*6. 5.3 million seniors have already saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs.

*7. Since the health care law was enacted in March 2010, 4.2 million private sector jobs have been created – many of them in the health care industry.

*8. The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit has already been used by 360,000 small businesses to help insure 2 million workers.

*9. $1.1 billion in rebates from health insurance companies this summer will benefit nearly 13 million Americans.

*10. The health care law reduces the deficit by $124 billion over the next 10 years and over $1 trillion over the following decade.