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Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Health Care in a Time of Sabotage"

Is Trumpcare finally dead? Even now, it’s hard to be sure, especially given Republican moderates’ long track record of caving in to extremists at crucial moments. But it does look as if the frontal assault on the Affordable Care Act has failed.

And let’s be clear: The reason this assault failed wasn’t that Donald Trump did a poor selling job, or that Mitch McConnell mishandled the legislative strategy. Obamacare survived because it has worked — because it brought about a dramatic reduction in the number of Americans without health insurance, and voters didn’t and don’t want to lose those gains.

Unfortunately, some of those gains will probably be lost all the same: The number of uninsured Americans is likely to tick up over the next few years. So it’s important to say clearly, in advance, why this is about to happen. It won’t be because the Affordable Care Act is failing; it will be the result of Trump administration sabotage.

Some background here: Even the A.C.A.’s supporters have always acknowledged that it’s a bit of a Rube Goldberg device. The simplest way to ensure that people have access to essential health care is for the government to pay their bills directly, the way Medicare does for older Americans. But in 2010, when the A.C.A. was enacted, Medicare for all was politically out of reach.

What we got instead was a system with a number of moving parts. It’s not as complex as all that — once you understand the basic concept of the “three-legged stool” of regulations, mandates and subsidies, you’ve got most of it. But it has more failure points than, say, Medicare or Social Security.
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Notably, people aren’t automatically signed up for coverage, so it matters a lot whether the officials running the system try to make it work, reaching out to potential beneficiaries to ensure that they know what’s available, while reminding currently healthy Americans that they are still legally required to sign up for coverage.
You can see this dependence on good intentions by looking at how health reform has played out at the state level. States that embraced the law fully, like California and Kentucky, made great progress in reducing the number of the uninsured; states that dragged their feet, like Tennessee, benefited far less. Or consider the problem of counties served by only one insurer; as a recent study noted, this problem is almost entirely limited to states with Republican governors.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Health Care in a Time of Sabotage"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Europe’s Deadly Paralysis on Migration"

With summer’s warmer weather and calmer seas, tens of thousands of desperate migrants are setting out for Europe from Libya, once again overwhelming the capacity of rescue efforts on the Mediterranean and straining the ability of Italy to cope. Between Jan. 1 and June 21, some 72,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Libya. More than 2,000 other people died while on the way.

The conditions in Africa — deadly conflicts, despotic rulers and extreme poverty — that send people across the Sahara and into the chaos of Libya are only getting worse. In Libya, human traffickers await to enslave, beat, torture and rape the migrants before sending them out to sea. It would be unconscionable for the United States to cut humanitarian aid to Africa now, as the Trump administration is threatening.

Meanwhile, Italy has effectively been turned into a holding pen for migrants by the European Union’s Dublin Regulation, which requires asylum seekers to file their claims and await the outcome in the European country where they first arrive. Fewer than 21,000 of the 160,000 people already in Italy and Greece whom other European Union nations agreed to take in 2015 have been relocated. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are flatly refusing to participate, despite a threat of fines.
People who try to push on from Italy into France face police officers wielding tear gas at the border. Those who do make it across find a country unprepared for their arrival: Nearly 1,200 are now sleeping on bare ground in the neighborhood of La Chapelle on the northern edge of Paris, where temporary shelters for migrants are full. Hundreds of others, intent on reaching Britain, live in squalor in Calais, where the infamous migrant camp known as “the Jungle” was razed last year.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Europe’s Deadly Paralysis on Migration"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Understanding Republican Cruelty"

The basics of Republican health legislation, which haven’t changed much in different iterations of Trumpcare, are easy to describe: Take health insurance away from tens of millions, make it much worse and far more expensive for millions more, and use the money thus saved to cut taxes on the wealthy.

Donald Trump may not get this — reporting by The Times and others, combined with his own tweets, suggests that he has no idea what’s in his party’s legislation. But everyone in Congress understands what it’s all about.

The puzzle — and it is a puzzle, even for those who have long since concluded that something is terribly wrong with the modern G.O.P. — is why the party is pushing this harsh, morally indefensible agenda.

Think about it. Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you’re older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare.

Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.
More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.
Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

I won’t pretend to have a full answer, but I think there are two big drivers — actually, two big lies — behind Republican cruelty on health care and beyond.

First, the evils of the G.O.P. plan are the flip side of the virtues of Obamacare. Because Republicans spent almost the entire Obama administration railing against the imaginary horrors of the Affordable Care Act — death panels! — repealing Obamacare was bound to be their first priority.

Once the prospect of repeal became real, however, Republicans had to face the fact that Obamacare, far from being the failure they portrayed, has done what it was supposed to do: It used higher taxes on the rich to pay for a vast expansion of health coverage. Correspondingly, trying to reverse the A.C.A. means taking away health care from people who desperately need it in order to cut taxes on the rich.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Understanding Republican Cruelty"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Bernie Sanders: How Democrats Can Stop Losing Elections"

In 2016, the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history. In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically. Republicans now control almost two-thirds of governor’s offices and have gained about 1,000 seats in state legislatures in the past nine years. In 24 states, Democrats have almost no political influence at all.

If these results are not a clear manifestation of a failed political strategy, I don’t know what is. For the sake of our country and the world, the Democratic Party, in a very fundamental way, must change direction. It has got to open its doors wide to working people and young people. It must become less dependent on wealthy contributors, and it must make clear to the working families of this country that, in these difficult times, it is prepared to stand up and fight for their rights. Without hesitation, it must take on the powerful corporate interests that dominate the economic and political life of the country.

There are lessons to be learned from the recent campaign in Britain. The Conservatives there called the snap election with the full expectation that they would win a landslide. They didn’t. Against all predictions they lost 13 seats in Parliament while Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party won 32. There is never one reason elections are won or lost, but there is widespread agreement that momentum shifted to Labour after it released a very progressive manifesto that generated much enthusiasm among young people and workers. One of the most interesting aspects of the election was the soaring turnout among voters 34 or younger.

The British elections should be a lesson for the Democratic Party. We already have among the lowest voter turnout of any major country on earth. Democrats will not win if the 2018 midterm election turnout resembles the unbelievably low 36.7 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in 2014. The Democrats must develop an agenda that speaks to the pain of tens of millions of families who are working longer hours for lower wages and to the young people who, unless we turn the economy around, will have a lower standard of living than their parents.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Bernie Sanders: How Democrats Can Stop...

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Zombies, Vampires and Republicans"

Zombies have long ruled the Republican Party. The good news is that they may finally be losing their grip — although they may still return and resume eating conservative brains. The bad news is that even if zombies are in retreat, vampires are taking their place.

What are these zombies of which I speak? Among wonks, the term refers to policy ideas that should have been abandoned long ago in the face of evidence and experience, but just keep shambling along.

The right’s zombie-in-chief is the insistence that low taxes on the rich are the key to prosperity. This doctrine should have died when Bill Clinton’s tax hike failed to cause the predicted recession and was followed instead by an economic boom. It should have died again when George W. Bush’s tax cuts were followed by lackluster growth, then a crash. And it should have died yet again in the aftermath of the 2013 Obama tax hike — partly expiration of some Bush tax cuts, partly new taxes to pay for Obamacare — when the economy continued jogging along, adding 200,000 jobs a month.

Despite the consistent wrongness of their predictions, however, tax-cut fanatics just kept gaining influence in the G.O.P. — until the disaster in Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback promised that deep tax cuts would yield an economic miracle. What the state got instead was weak growth and a fiscal crisis, finally pushing even Republicans to vote for tax hikes, overruling Brownback’s veto.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Zombies, Vampires and Republicans"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Naomi Klein: Why the Revolution Must Be Led By Ordinary People, Not Celebrities"

Since election night 2016, the streets of the United States have rung with resistance. People all over the country have woken up with the conviction that they must do something to fight inequality in all its forms. But many are wondering what it is they can do. In this series, we'll be talking with experienced organizers, troublemakers and thinkers who have been doing the hard work of fighting for a long time. They'll be sharing their insights on what works, what doesn't, what has changed and what is still the same.

Naomi Klein: I am Naomi Klein. I am a writer and a little bit of an organizer, too.

Sarah Jaffe: You have a new book that, once again, has managed to both scare the shit out of me and also leave me with hope. This book is a synthesis of all of your prior work filtered through the lens of Trump. It is kind of scary how well Trump consolidates all your earlier work.

Naomi: I didn’t set out to do that. I was having a lot of people ask me to update The Shock Doctrine and add a chapter about Trump. I was like, “Well, I am not going to do that, but maybe there is a way that I can write something to prepare people for what happens if there is a major crisis.”

These shocks are just the shocks that Trump is generating himself, whether by design or incompetence and corruption. But what really scares me is this: What happens when there is a major external shock to exploit? I worry when I look at who he has surrounded himself with, from Mike Pence, who played a central role in the looting of New Orleans, to vulture bankers like Steven Mnuchin to Betsy DeVos and her dreams of privatizing the school system. I wanted to do that, but then once I started writing about Trump I was like, “Well, it does have some relevant stuff from No Logo, too.” He is first and foremost a brand who has spawned brands. He breeds brands, in his family.

Regarding his relationship to his voters and how he gets away with what he gets away with, I don’t think you can understand it without understanding the pact between a lifestyle brand and its consumer base and how that really transformed the global economy in the 1990s.

Then, there is climate change. I had to get that in. So, it turned into being a bit of a mixtape.

Sarah: It is interesting, because that shows us how shocking Trump isn’t. In the book, you point out that the term “horror” might actually be more appropriate to apply to Trump because he is not that shocking.

Naomi: I think by naming him “shocking” there is a way in which people absolve themselves. Shocking is like a bolt from the blue. It is something external that ruptures your world. That is why I think the most helpful way of understanding Trump as living dystopian fiction, in the sense that what dystopian art tries to do is just follow existing trends to their logical conclusions, in exaggerated form, and then reflect that back to people and say, “Well, this is where all roads are leading. Do you want to get off this dangerous road?”

A lot of the emotion is being misnamed. It is not shock. It is the horror of recognition. It is actually really bad dystopian fiction because it is so predictable. Like, “Of course America would elect Donald Trump as the corporate president.” I really do think we need to interrogate this idea of shock. Of course, there were many people in the United States who were not shocked by Trump’s election because they were very in touch with the racism and misogyny and xenophobia that elevated him and saw him as a fulfilment. There is this way of casting ourselves as innocents by saying, “I am shocked! How could that happen?” It is almost like, “How could this not have happened? Everything has been put into place for this to happen.”

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Naomi Klein: Why the Revolution Must Be...

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "How Jeremy Corbyn Pulled Off One of the Biggest Upsets in Modern Political History"

Labour’s shocking performance is proof that a strong left platform can win broad support.
The Tories may still be in power at the end the night, but Jeremy Corbyn won today.

Yes, I know this is shameless spin, but hear me out: the last few weeks have vindicated the approach of the Labour left and its international co-thinkers under Corbyn.

This is the first election Labour has won seats in since 1997, and the party got its largest share of the vote since 2005—all while closing a 24 point deficit. Since Corbyn assumed leadership in late 2015, he has survived attack after attack from his own party, culminating in a failed coup attempt against him. As Labour leader, he was unable to rely on his parliamentary colleague or his party staff. The small team around him bombarded with hostile internal leaks and misinformation, and an unprecedented media smear campaign.

Every elite interest in the United Kingdom tried to knock down Jeremy Corbyn, but still he stands. He casts a longer shadow over his party’s centrists tonight than at any time since he was elected Labour leader.

Okay, Corbyn may not be prime minister tomorrow. He was a “flawed candidate.” He wasn’t the strongest speaker, he had his share of gaffes, he ate cold beans. All this is true. But besides for outside hostility and the opposition of his own parliamentary group, it’s worth remembering that Corbyn became Labour leader at the most perilous moment since the party’s birth.

Labour was discredited by the Blair-Brown administrations—from their catastrophic military adventures in Iraq to their privatization agenda at home and their overseeing of the financial crisis.

The Blairites got their wish: Labour was looking more and more like a social liberal party than a social-democratic one, embracing the financial sector and prepared to “modernize” the welfare state by gutting it. But there was no serious challenge from its left, and there were professional-class voters to chase.

The party’s mass membership base deteriorated, as did its links with a weakened labor movement. Scotland was lost. The only anti-establishment voice in formerly Labour-dominated communities angry at years of neoliberal economic policies was the right-wing UK Independence Party.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "How Jeremy Corbyn Pulled Off One of the...

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Ending Greece’s Perpetual Debt Crisis"

For nearly a decade, Greece has struggled under suffocating debt, which now totals more than 300 billion euros ($338 billion), or nearly double its annual economic output. Waves of austerity measures to satisfy creditors have inflicted great suffering: More than a quarter of Greeks are unemployed, and vital services, like health care and transportation, are running as bare-bones operations. The economy is in recession, and there is virtually no way Greece can dig itself out of such a deep hole.

On May 18, Greece’s Parliament dutifully passed a fresh round of austerity measures, including tax increases and new cuts to pensions. Yet, Greece’s creditors met in Brussels last week and shamefully failed to agree on terms that would permit the release of 7 billion euros in bailout funds needed by July to keep Greece from defaulting.

Much of the blame goes to Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party. Mr. Schäuble opposes debt relief for Greece — as do many German voters, who will head to the polls in September.
Some in Germany have come around to reality. “Greece has always been promised debt relief when its reforms are implemented,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a member of the Social Democrats, said on May 22. “Now we must stand by that promise.”

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Ending Greece’s Perpetual Debt Crisis"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "The Genocide of Brazil’s Indians"

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — On April 30, a group of ranchers armed with rifles and machetes attacked a settlement of about 400 families from the Gamela tribe, in the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, an advocacy group, 22 Indians were wounded, including three children. Many were shot in the back or had their wrists chopped.

Soon after the attack, the Ministry of Justice announced on its website that it would investigate “the incident between small farmers and alleged indigenous people.” (Minutes later, the word “alleged” was removed.)

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise. It was the third reported attack on Gamela people in three years and part of a trend of assaults against indigenous Brazilians. Every week seems to bring reports of a new atrocity committed against indigenous people in some remote part of the country. But nothing seems to shock our society anymore. Not even when, a few weeks ago, a 1-year-old from the Manchineri tribe was shot in the head.

These attacks are part of a larger pattern of abuse, marginalization and neglect. Since 2007, 833 Indians have been murdered and 351 have committed suicide, according to the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health — rates far above the national average. Among children, the mortality rate is two times higher than in the rest of the Brazilian population.
According to the census, there are around 900,000 Indians left from the original estimated three to five million who inhabited the country when the Portuguese settlers arrived in 1500. Diseases imported from Europe wiped out millions during the first century of contact. Later the Indians were enslaved on plantations. But the genocide didn’t end then. Over the past century, tens of thousands of indigenous people have been victims of rape, torture and mass murder, perpetrated with the help of a governmental agency, the Indian Protection Service. Some tribes were completely eliminated. Today, only 12.5 percent of Brazilian land remains in the possession of indigenous people.

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "The Genocide of Brazil’s Indians"

Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Amid “Constitutional Crisis,” Bernie Sanders Urges Workers To Seize Means of Production"

The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind, politically speaking. Most of it has to do with the onslaught of chaos that followed Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey—a move political scientists agree is off the spectrum of normalcy in the history of the American presidency. Before his termination, Comey was leading an investigation into the Trump team’s alleged ties to the Russian government. Keith Ellison, deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has said “we are witnessing a constitutional crisis.” Calls for impeachment are in the air, along with a good deal of conspiracy theorizing.

In sum, the republic as we know it may be its closest yet to tatters. Enter: Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont and the country’s most popular politician. He—alongside Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy, from Vermont, Kirsten Gillibrand, from New York, and Maggie Hassan, from New Hampshire—is encouraging workers to take control of the means of production.

This isn’t some right-wing conspiracy theory, but the intended result of two bills introduced to relatively little fanfare Thursday. The first, the WORK (“Worker Ownership, Readiness and Knowledge”) Act, would direct more than $45 million in funding to state-level employee ownership centers, aimed at providing training and technical assistance to current and prospective worker-owners. A second piece of legislation would establish something called the U.S. Employee Ownership Bank, via $500 million in funds for low-interest rate loans and financial assistance for workers who want to buy out the businesses where they work and either incorporate them as worker-owned cooperatives or establish employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), which give workers an ownership stake in their company.

“By expanding employee ownership and participation, we can create stronger companies in Vermont and throughout this country, prevent job losses and improve working conditions for struggling employees,” Sanders said in a statement. “Simply put, when employees have an ownership stake in their company, they will not ship their own jobs to China to increase their profits, they will be more productive, and they will earn a better living.”

Read more: Information for accountants and accounting companies: "Amid “Constitutional Crisis,” Bernie...