Means Testing and Rip-offs

A new report in STAT details the financial support that hospitals and medical centers are receiving from FEMA. That’s the federal agency tasked with dealing with ordinary stuff like tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and massive fires. You know, the once-in-a-century stuff we now experience several times a year.

The Rs assure us that there is no global warming, or at least their fallback position is that we aren’t contributing to it or we don’t know for sure what’s up. That’s why Val Demings is impressively challenging Marco (“It isn’t proven science”) Rubio, hoping to drive more substantive climate programs before Florida becomes Atlantis. But I digress.

That FEMA funding for medical institutions has been needed because of the enormous costs that hospitals have incurred fighting the Covid pandemic and keeping Americans alive. It’s the massive overtime, the enormous PPE requirements, ventilators, meds and the rest that could otherwise force into bankruptcy these institutions which protect you. Thank you FEMA, but there’s a problem.

There are hospital systems that are very – as in: VERY – profitable. While they’ve had massive Covid cost increases, too, they have not been and are not in financial distress. In fact, they’re financially just fine, but they’re peeling billions from the FEMA wallet, anyway. That okay with you?

The problem is that nobody seems to be wailing great buckets of tears over enormous piles of cash going to already wealthy medical institutions. Now, why is that? Gotta ask where the means testing is.

Taking this one step further, Republicans wail great buckets of tears over cancelling student debt, saying that tax payers shouldn’t be paying for some trust fund baby’s Harvard education, which actually makes sense to most of us. On the other hand, there aren’t that many trust fund babies with big student debt, so nearly all of the relief from cancelling student debt would go to we ordinary folk. Republicans would hate that. Still, means testing would make sense. If you’re rich, you shouldn’t get college debt relief. Means testing, baby. Means testing.

Looking at this from another angle, why did we allow trillions of dollars to be diverted to – ripped off by – Iraqi and Afghani warlords, politicians and crooks? That went on for decades.

Regular readers of these posts know that I bash Republicans (so many reasons, so little time),* but this issue is largely one of equal opportunity bashing. What is it about us that allows for such enormous misuse of our tax money?

So, yes, cancel debt for those who’ve done the hard work to advance their education and better themselves and our country. John Kennedy was right: college is America’s best friend and that’s critically important now, as China is graduating as many engineers every year as we have in total. And I think Bernie Sanders has it right, too. Make public universities and colleges tuition free. Provide public funding for them just like we do for grade schools and high schools and for the same reasons funding the lower grades makes sense. Today’s jobs require better educated people, especially because this is and will remain a global competition.

For those who want a private education, go right ahead – and you pay for it. No public money for any private schools, be they secular or religious. Ever. And no, I don’t care whether it’s Dubya’s support of “faith-based initiatives” (money going to parochial schools and other religious institutions) or today’s Evangelical know-everythings or our “my religion is the law” Supreme Court.

Yes, I know that the fat cats won’t like that because they love getting fatter, like from Trump’s despicable tax cut, 83% of which went to the hugely wealthy and to corporations, which bought back their stock with that windfall cash and that artificially boosted stock prices, which made the fat cats fatter. And those guys love fossil fuels, because their short term gain is just so nifty to have, even as those fuels imperil the lives of all of our Gen Zs and whoever comes after them. They’re the same as with the wealthy private hospital CEOs who love digging into FEMA’s wallet.

The song says “This land was made for you and me,” not just you, rich guys. And as Elizabeth Warren cautioned, you didn’t build it on your own. We the People built the infrastructure that has allowed you to prosper.

Means testing says that a poor kid in the inner city gets help and you don’t, trust fund baby. It means that we should be in a Manhattan Project to build sustainable energy, even if the fat cats don’t get their oil, gas and coal dividends. And we should be rooting out all the cheaters who took so many millions of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Plan and stuffed it into their pockets, stiffing so many people who needed help. That’s fat cats in Congress helping their fat cat donor buddies.

We have screaming needs right now and, honestly, I don’t care who doesn’t like our doing what must be done, including the ending of yet more cash for the already rich.

Speaking of Rip-offs

I know you’ve wondered why Donald Trump stole at least 30 boxes of records containing at least 300 classified documents. Be clear that these items weren’t souvenirs or cocktail napkins, as Sheila Markin Nielsen writes. She’s an attorney, a former prosecutor, she’s politically astute and her essay lays out a broader picture of what happened and why it happened as it did and why pursuing Trump’s theft is critically important.

It’s clear that he is guilty of at least 3 crimes. First, by taking the records – any records –  he is in violation of the Presidential Records Act. Second, his lying to federal agents about having returned all the documents when, in fact, he had retained at least half of them, he committed another felony. And in taking classified documents he is guilty of violating the Espionage Act.

And none of that even touches on laws that apply to what he may have done with those national security documents, some of which would surely be worth billions to a U.S. adversary.

Think about it: Trump has demonstrated it’s a constant that he doesn’t care about rules, consequences to others or even legality. And he loves to cozy up to American adversaries, like Putin, Xi and MBS. And there he was in Mar-a-Lago with his stolen Top Secret documents. What could possibly go wrong?

If you want better clarity on this in a religious context (and you do in this age of Christian theocracy threats), read Thom Hartmann’s essay, Is Donald Trump the Antichrist? Come to think of it, read that piece, regardless or your motivation. It offers a startling and valuable perspective.


* So, just to be consistent, here’s a shot across the bow.

Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which

 –  Reduces prescription drug prices

–  Caps pharmacy costs at $2,000

–  Insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries are capped at $35 per month

–  3 million more Americans will have health insurance and care

–  Tax credits for using clean energy

 –  Provides up to $14,000 direct consumer rebates for installation of energy efficient appliances

–  Tax credits for installing solar

–  Promotes clean energy

–  Reduces greenhouse gases by 1 gigaton in 2030

– 15% minimum tax on corporations

–  $0 increase in taxes on individuals making less than $400,000 per year

 –  There’s lots more – click here for the official tally


Instead, they focused on:

 –  Banning abortion

 –  Banning books

 –  Passing anti-CRT in our grade schools, even though none of them teaches CRT

 –  Passed Don’t Say Gay laws

 –  Voted against the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act of 2022 (“PACT”) which is designed to help our veterans exposed to toxins and toxic burn pits

 –  Voted to take away voting rights with more gerrymandering, limitations on voting by mail and closing of voting places

–  Voted to permit Republican secretaries of states and Republican legislatures to ignore the will of the people and instead select their own candidates for elective office.

–  And, of course, there’s lots more


Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
Fire the bastards!
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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One Response to Means Testing and Rip-offs
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    Simple response:
    PUT HIM IN JAIL! There’s no question of his guilt. So don’t dawdle, address the obvious violations of OUR LAW, and DO NOT PASS GO BUT RATHER PUT HIM DIRECTLY IN JAIL!