Ali Velshi

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  • The Wall Street Journal Forgot High-Risk Pools’ History Of Failure

    Blog ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    The Wall Street Journal published a misleading editorial about the Republican Party’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), pushing the false claim that high-risk pools “will ensure everyone can get the care they need” and that they “are a fairer and more equitable solution” than existing patient protections enshrined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).However, high-risk pools have a long history of failure and the current AHCA legislation would leave a funding shortfall of billions of dollars for these high-risk pools, thereby limiting accessibility. Multiple Republicans have also admitted that the legislation would not protect those with pre-existing conditions.

    The GOP released an amendment to its extremely unpopular health care bill, authored by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), that weakened the ACA’s patient protections in an attempt to lure the right-wing Freedom Caucus into supporting the AHCA. In particular, the amendment included provisions to allow states to apply for waivers that would allow them to eliminate the ACA’s mandated protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and the essential health benefits (EHBs) package in exchange for setting up high-risk pools.

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board claimed to “explain how the GOP reform would work in practice” given that “insurance coverage for pre-existing health conditions can be confusing.” The article presented high-risk pools as the solution to pre-existing conditions coverage, the salve to “pre-existing conditions panic” and claimed that the “GOP plan will ensure everyone can get the care they need”:

    Why might a Governor prefer such an arrangement over the ObamaCare status quo? Well, the law’s price controls are a raw deal for most consumers, which leads to a cycle of rising premiums and falling enrollment. Average premiums rose by 40% or more in 11 states this year, and insurance markets in states like Tennessee, Kentucky and Minnesota are in crisis.

    [...]

    High-risk pools are a fairer and more equitable solution to this social problem, rather than hiding the cost by forcing other people to pay premiums that are artificially higher than the value of the product. The waivers also include protections for people who renew continuous coverage from major premium increases if they become ill.

    Liberals are inflating the pre-existing conditions panic with images of patients pushed out to sea on ice floes, but the GOP plan will ensure everyone can get the care they need. Republicans can win this argument, but first they need to join the debate and explain their ideas.

    High-risk pools are not new -- they existed in 35 states prior to the ACA. History shows they represent an incredibly flawed approach to providing coverage for the most vulnerable because they are chronically underfunded, outrageously expensive, and they provide insufficient access to care.

    High-risk pools are almost never sufficiently funded because they cost an exorbitant amount to administer. High-risk pools flip the normal logic of insurance pools -- which spreads risk throughout the pool between healthy and sick individuals -- and instead consolidates all the costliest individuals in one pool. While this might reduce costs for healthy individuals, who are no longer grouped with chronically ill individuals, the high-risk pool requires an incredible amount of funding in order to function as viable health insurance. New estimates from the Center for American Progress show that the $130 billion of risk pool financing included in the AHCA is woefully insufficient to properly cover these individuals and, in fact, “would leave a $20 billion shortfall annually.” This underfunding is typical of high-risk pool proposals as history shows they almost always cost more than the funding allocated, and within the pools, coverage becomes exceedingly expensive. As MSNBC medical contributor Dr. John Torres explained in a May 2 interview, given the high number of individuals with a pre-existing condition -- nearly half of all Americans, and roughly 86 percent of people aged 55 to 64 -- average premiums could cost over $25,000 a year.

    Despite The Wall Street Journal’s claims, high-risk pools provide dramatically insufficient coverage and states that have attempted high-risk pools have needed to impose limits on the types of coverage offered and on how individuals could access coverage given the cost. Kaiser Health News’ Julie Rovner detailed the history of high-risk pools in her “Sounds Like A Good Idea?” video series, noting that empirically, “pools got so expensive for states that they had to impose waiting lists for coverage.” Previous high-risk pools also imposed limitations on access to care, often “refus[ing] to pay for services associated with a patient’s pre-existing conditions in the first months of their enrollment.” The Physicians for a National Health Program denounced the GOP’s high-risk pool push, explaining that plans in these pools historically “offered much less than optimal coverage, often with annual and lifetime limits, coverage gaps, and very high premiums and deductibles.”

    The problematic history of high-risk pools highlights just one of the many negative aspects of the MacArthur amendment which is why most major health care groups including the American Medical Association, the AARP, the American Hospital Association and America’s Essential Hospitals, and many others have come out against the bill.

    Even conservatives recognize that high-risk pools won’t work. Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) declared that he would vote “no” on the AHCA because “the MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.” During WHTC Morning News, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said that he “supported the practice of not allowing pre-existing illnesses to be discriminated against from the very get go” and that the MacArthur amendment “torpedoes that,” which is the reason he “cannot support this bill.” When questioned by MSNBC’s Ali Velshi about whether or not pre-existing conditions are covered by the AHCA, conservative pundit Rick Tyler admitted “they’re not.”

  • MSNBC's Ali Velshi Outlines The "Built-In Unfairness" Of Trump's Tax Plan

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    MSNBC outlined the major problems in President Donald Trump's proposed tax cut plan, which drastically reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent while lowering personal tax rates for high-income individuals at expense of almost all tax deductions that benefit the middle class.

    On the April 27 edition of MSNBC's MSNBC Live, host Katy Tur discussed Trump's tax outline with correspondent Ali Velshi and conservative economist Peter Morici, outlining how the plan could greatly reduce the president's personal and business tax burden while saving the Trump family billions of dollars in future estate taxes. Velshi argued the proposed reductions in corporate tax rates and creation of a new income loophole for some contractors and business owners created "built-in unfairness" in the tax system. Morici added that Trump's plan would not assist the middle class and complained that the administration had only produced a one-page memo "with a lot of white space" despite having five months to craft substantial tax reform proposals:

    During the next hour of MSNBC Live, Velshi introduced another segment on the proposed tax cuts by noting that Trump is making "a frantic last push for what has eluded him in his first 100 days: a major legislative accomplishment." Joined by MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, Velshi noted that "we don't actually know" what Trump's tax agenda is to which Sykes responded, "this is not a bill, it's basically a press release ... there is no meat to the substance." Sykes added that, while he leans toward conservative tax policy, he does not think "there is any rational way" to claim Trump's plan helps the middle class or can avoid "blow[ing] an enormous hole in the federal deficit." After Velshi detailed a laundry list of middle-class tax credits that "could go away" under the plan, McMahon highlighted that Trump's plan "is going to be an absolutely huge windfall for very wealthy people":

  • This Is What Happens When You Hire A Trump Adviser To Give Economic Analysis

    Great Job With That Stephen Moore Hire, CNN

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Discredited right-wing economic pundit Stephen Moore used his first appearance on CNN since joining the network as its “senior economics analyst” to put a negative spin on the Obama-era economic recovery while squirming out of questions about lies that President Donald Trump, whom he advised during the campaign, turned into routine campaign talking points.

    During the February 3 edition of CNN’s Wolf, host Wolf Blitzer invited Moore to offer his perspective on Trump’s sudden acceptance of job creation and unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which Trump had labeled “one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics” just six months ago. Blitzer argued that the jobs data released in the morning show Trump “inheriting a strong and healthy U.S. economy,” and he aired a clip of Trump saying the January numbers were something to be “very happy about” that will likely “continue, big league.”

    Blitzer noted that the president has adopted “a very different tone” since taking office with regard to BLS data -- which he regularly blasted as “phony” during the campaign. When Blitzer pushed Moore, who served as Trump’s senior economic adviser, to answer for Trump’s sudden change of perspective, Moore pivoted to recycled complaints about the supposedly lackluster state of the economy under Obama. When Blitzer listed indicators that speak to the overall health of the economy, Moore reverted to his misleading claim that America is suffering through “the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.” Moore also set a seemingly impossible standard of success for job creation, claiming that the economy “should be getting 300-, 400-, or even 500,000 jobs a month to make up for the jobs lost from the recession.” See the full segment from Wolf here:

    In five minutes of back-and-forth, Blitzer never got Moore to own up to Trump’s sudden about-face on the monthly jobs report, but CNN viewers were exposed to the same tired criticism of President Obama that you expect to see at Fox News. This fruitless segment is sure to be a sign of things to come now that Moore -- arguably the world’s worst economist -- is serving as CNN’s “chief economics analyst.”

    CNN was as culpable as any other network in promoting Trump’s rise, but its economic team usually stood up to the Republican candidate’s falsehoods. Last year, global economic analyst Rana Foroohar left a mark on the campaign by blasting Trump’s trade policy agenda as “either a bad idea or impossible,” and ridiculing his proposal to pay off the national debt as “absolute fabulism.” Over the summer, correspondent Cristina Alesci and then-analyst Ali Velshi torched Trump’s economic fairness agenda, agreeing it seemed to be “designed for higher-income, more affluent families” rather than, as Trump had promised, middle-income Americans.

    On the jobs front, just this morning chief business correspondent Christine Romans -- who makes her living calling out Trump’s lies about the economy -- mocked Trump for accepting the jobs data, saying, “There’s no conspiracy in the numbers when they belong to him.” In fact, less than an hour before Moore took Blitzer to the spin room, CNN viewers were treated to White House correspondent Jim Acosta calling out the Trump administration for “embracing” data that it “repeatedly raised doubts about” during the campaign. Contributor Nia-Malika Henderson added that Trump should “send President Obama some flowers” to thank him for leaving behind such a healthy economy.

    Moore doesn't do anything to bolster CNN’s economic reporting; in fact, his “troubled relationship with the facts” diminishes the network. All he brings to CNN is his deft capacity to recycle right-wing media talking points that portray Obama in the harshest possible light.

  • WSJ Claims Clinton Penalizing Tax-Dodging Corporations Is Akin To “Class Warfare”

    Editorial Board Calls For “Trumpian Pragmatism” On Corporate Taxes Even Though Journal’s Own Reporting Shows Experts Prefer Clinton On The Economy

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Wall Street Journal blasted Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s plan to assess a tax on corporations that move overseas as “familiar class-warfare artillery” and claimed that what these supposedly overburdened American multinational corporations really deserve is "Trumpian pragmatism" in the form of massive tax cuts. The editorial, which promoted a number of discredited and misleading talking points to advocate for corporate tax cuts, was published just hours before the Journal reported on a survey of over 400 economists showing an overwhelming expert preference for Clinton’s economic policies.

    In an August 21 editorial, the Journal attacked Clinton’s push to rein in corporate tax avoidance schemes as a means of “class warfare” and “the sort of thing banana republics impose when their economies sour.” Clinton’s plan would be to levy an “exit tax” on corporations that engage in a process called “tax inversion,” wherein an American multinational corporation acquires a foreign company and claims its taxable profits are now based outside the United States. Rather than imposing a tax on companies that try to skirt federal law -- and using the revenue to invest in critical infrastructure projects, as Clinton has suggested -- the Journal advocated for what it called “Trumpian Pragmatism”: slashing the corporate tax rate by more than half as a way to “deter inversions” and convince companies to relocate in the United States. From the August 21 edition of The Wall Street Journal:

    The Democrat would impose what she calls an “exit tax” on businesses that relocate outside the U.S., which is the sort of thing banana republics impose when their economies sour. She’d conduct a census and then categorize any multinational with more than 50% U.S. ownership as a domestic concern that would be subject to a tax on its deferred profits if it inverts. She isn’t specifying the punitive tax rate.

    [...]

    Mr. Trump proposes to cut the U.S. corporate rate to 15% from 35% (or 40% counting average state rates). Fifteen percent is low enough to deter inversions while making the country more attractive to capital investment and better primed for higher wages. He would also offer a preferential rate of 10% for the $2 trillion already earned overseas.

    Mrs. Clinton calls this tax-cutting for billionaires and corporate-jet owners, which shows how unhappy her Presidency could be. Such Trumpian pragmatism—10% of $2 trillion is better than 35% of $0—is the only realistic way for Mrs. Clinton to fund her infrastructure plan, and Republicans in Congress have sounded out Democrats for such a deal for years. President Obama has rebuffed their entreaties, settling for nothing—and now Mrs. Clinton is setting herself up for the same.

    Despite the editorial board’s claims against Clinton, reporter Ben Leubsdorf actually reported in the Journal’s Real Time Economics blog on August 22 that business economists overwhelmingly prefer Clinton as the best candidate on the economy. According to a recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) that Leubsdorf cites, 55 percent of the 414 economists surveyed believed Clinton “would do the best job of managing the economy” compared to just 14 percent who picked Republican nominee Donald Trump. (Trump registered less support in the survey than did Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, who garnered 15 percent.)

    An independent economic analysis of Clinton’s plan from Moody’s Analytics found it would boost job creation by roughly 10 million jobs over four years -- over 3 million more jobs than would be gained by maintaining current economic policies. When Moody’s ran the same analysis of Trump’s tax plan, which the candidate has since revised, it found that his proposals were likely to stymie economic growth and job creation while increasing the debt and deficit, largely for the benefit of “very high-income households” like his own.

    When CNNMoney correspondent Cristina Alesci and CNN analyst Ali Velshi compared Clinton's economic plan to Trump’s on the August 17 edition of CNN's Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, Alesci noted that Clinton's plan would largely benefit the middle class while Velshi reported that the lack of details in Trump's economic plan makes it "unclear ... who it actually helps and who it doesn't." Velshi added that experts believe parts of Trump's plan, including the child care tax deduction, are "designed for higher-income, more affluent families."

    Trump’s tax plan would sharply reduce corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent and create three individual income tax brackets of 12, 25, and 33 percent. The Trump plan has been lambasted by economists as “nonsense,” and media fact-checkers ridiculed its “pathetic” lack of details. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman slammed Trump for promoting more of the “standard voodoo” economics frequently pushed by Republican supply-side advocates. Economic policy professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich blasted Trump and his economic advisor Stephen Moore for attempting to rebrand the “sheer lunacy” in Trump’s original tax plan into the “normal nonsense of supply-side, trickle-down economics.”

    For its part, The Wall Street Journal is no stranger to pushing discredited “trickle-down” tax cuts, so the editorial board’s decision to embrace Trump’s implausible platform in the face of overwhelming evidence is no surprise.

  • NY Post Columnist Fearmongers About Recession While Backing Trump Plan That Would Create One

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    New York Post columnist and Donald Trump supporter Betsy McCaughey pointed to findings from Moody’s Analytics to claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s economic plan would dampen economic growth and job creation. McCaughey attempted to argue that Trump’s plan would help the economy, but she neglected to mention that Moody’s actually predicted Clinton’s plan would generate millions of new jobs and spur economic growth while Trump’s plan would cost jobs and likely lead to a recession.

  • Right-Wing Media Abandon Facts To Support Trump’s Call For Waterboarding

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Several right-wing media figures defended presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s reiterated call for waterboarding and “much worse” techniques to combat terror after terrorists carried out an attack on Istanbul’s largest airport. Journalists and others well-versed in national security, terrorism, and interrogation tactics have called waterboarding ineffective and chided Trump for proposing we “stoop to [terrorists’] level” of using brutal tactics.