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Gender: Male
Hometown: Minnesota
Member since: Sat Jan 1, 2005, 04:45 AM
Number of posts: 7,076

Journal Archives

U.S. Obamacare 2018 exchange enrollment drops 3 percent: CMS

Source: Reuters

About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, a 3 percent drop from last year when 12.2 million consumers signed up, according to a final government tally released on Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The tally includes both sign-ups on the exchange run by the federal government for 39 states, which was released on a provisional basis late in 2017, and on the 12 other exchanges run by Washington, D.C. and the remaining states.

CMS said the average premium before tax credits in 2018 is $621 a month, an increase of more than 30 percent from last year.

However, those receiving tax credits - around 83 percent of consumers on Obamacare - will pay around $89 a month on average in premiums, the agency said. That is down 16 percent from $106 a month last year.

Read more: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-obamacare-2018-exchange-enrollment-drops-3-percent-020409908--sector.html

The rest of the article is 3 reasons for this fall in enrollment: Trump, Trump, and Trump. (Who woulda guessed?)

(or Putin, Putin, Putin or any of a number of a long list of fuckheads who caused us to lose by a combined total of just 78,000 votes in 3 states)

* Getting rid of the $billions in federal cost-sharing subsidies, causing insurance companies to raise premiums yet more (the insurance companies have to provide those cost-sharing subsidies by law, regardless of whether they receive any money from the federal government for that purpose or not),

* Halving the length of the open enrollment period

* Cutting the federal advertising and outreach budget 90%

Anyway to simulate a table, i.e. to line things up?

Back before June 2017 or whenever the second big hack occurred, there were special HTML tags that allowed one to make tables.

Those special tags have been turned off, apparently permanently

So the only way that I can make a table now (i.e. where things are lined up) is by sticking a bunch of back quotes ( ` ) to create spaces (because DU compresses multiple spaces into one space). For example:

{#} ACTUAL Federal Spending and Deficits - Fiscal Years 2008 - 2017, in $Billions

Fiscal year 2017 ended September 30, 2017. Similarly for all the other fiscal years.

Note: all figures in this section are actual, not budgeted. I only point out that Bush signed the FY 2009 budget.

` ` ` ` ` ` v-last Bush budget was FY 2009 (all figures are actuals, not budgeted)
2008 ` 2009 ` 2010 ` 2011 ` 2012 ` 2013 Fiscal Year
2,983 ` 3,518 ` 3,457 ` 3,603 ` 3,537 ` 3,455 Total Outlays, $Billions
(450) (1,413) (1,294)` (1,300) (1,087)` (680) Surplus (deficit), $Billions
(3.1) ` (9.8) ` (8.7) ` ` (8.5) ` ` (6.8) ` (4.1) Surplus (deficit), % of GDP

2014 ` 2015 ` 2016` 2017 Fiscal Year
3,506` 3,688 ` 3,852 ` 3,981 Total Outlays, $Billions
(485) ` (438) ` (586) ` (666) Surplus (deficit), $Billions
(2.8) `` (2.4) ` (3.2) `` (3.5) Surplus (deficit), % of GDP


As one can see, it is not pretty, and not all that well lined up, and it takes a long long amount of trial and error to make it line up as well as it is.

And then I don't know how it looks in browsers other than my own -- other browsers / platforms might display a different font and thus it could look way not-lined-up.

A fixed-width font would help a lot (e.g. courier new, where all characters are the same width)...

Anyway, is this the best one can do? Other than, say, building a pretty table in Word or Excel and taking screen snapshots and cropping it and loading it to photobucket or imgur or whatever?

That's a helluva lot of work too for tables that I modify frequently (e.g. the one in my sig line). And people can't "scrape" it for words and numbers of interest since it is an image, not text.

Thanks for any ideas

All the contraceptive methods - usage and effectiveness (ideally, and in actual practice)

For example, in perfect usage -- rigorously following the instructions always -- the pill only has a 0.3% failure rate per year (i.e. the woman becomes pregnant -- that's about 1 in 333). But as actually used, overall on average, the failure rate is 9% (i.e. about 1 in 11 chance of getting pregnant in a year).

From the December 2017 issue of Population Connection magazine, which is focused on male contraception.

Fun fact: the ACA does not require insurance companies to cover vasectomies!!!! But 3 states do require insurance companies to cover that at no cost to the insured: Illinois, Maryland, and Vermont.

Population Connection, a non-partisan organization, allegedly pushing the Democratic agenda...

Here's a letter to the editor of Population Connection (PopConnect, formerly ZPG - Zero Population Growth) complaining that PopConnect is pushing the Democratic platform. The response is fantastic, especially the last 2 paragraphs:

Over these past few years of reading your magazine, I’ve come to realize that “Population Connection” has moved a long way from its earlier “Zero Population Growth” agenda. Rather than supporting ways of reducing population growth and ultimately reducing population, the organization seems to have become a spokesperson for the Democratic platform. Not that I disapprove of the Democratic platform, but I don’t support either party’s platform and will not support either party financially.


Further, attempts to tie pet Democratic political positions to population growth is counterproductive and confounding.

The response by John Seager, president of Population Connection:

Thanks for your comments. We try hard to stick close to our mission (I might add that Population Connection scrupulously avoids partisan electoral activity, while Population Connection Action Fund engages in that area as a sister organization).

Unfortunately, the Republican party (with sadly rare exceptions) has abandoned its once-strong support for programs that advance our mission of population stabilization. Presidents Nixon and Ford supported key programs, as did the young Congressman George H.W. Bush. Even 20 years ago, there were about 40 House Republicans who supported family planning. Today, there is only one, even on a good day (Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA/15), and he’s retiring.) We appreciate the two Senate Republicans (Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins) who are great supporters. But the other 50 Republican senators are solidly aligned in opposition.

The fact is that, when Obama took office, funding for international family planning was boosted by 40 percent. Now Trump wants to eliminate all such funding.

We just follow the facts where they lead. Nothing would please us more than to see both major parties competing to do more for our cause. As it is, the members of one party (Democratic) are mostly supportive, while members of the other (Republican) are almost universally opposed.

As Walter Cronkite used to say, “That’s the way it is.”

– John Seager


Ed Gillespie Lost an Election. Then He Was Pulverized by Trump and His Allies

Source: Daily Beast

Shortly after the loss, President Donald Trump and his top allies began spinning the result as the result of Gillespie being insufficiently obedient to and appreciative of the Trump agenda.

Laura Ingraham, the Trump-adoring cable news host, accused Gillespie of playing “footsie with conservative populism” without fully embracing it. Breitbart, called him a “Republican swamp thing.” A staffer for Corey Stewart, the conservative candidate who barely lost to Gillespie in the GOP primary, told Fox News that, "Gillespie didn't speak to populist issues early enough in the campaign.”

In the coup-de-grace, Trump himself said Gillespie “worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for” just hours after he recorded an election-day robocall for the candidate and tweeted his support for his campaign.


Gillespie never appeared alongside Trump. He ducked him often when asked direct questions. But he embraced his political playbook, at least key passages. He called for keeping up Confederate monuments, accused Northam of supporting sanctuary cities, warned of MS-13 gangs rummaging through northern Virginia and even sent out fliers criticizing football players for kneeling during the national anthem. Steve Bannon had insisted that Gillespie was "rallying around the Trump agenda."

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/ed-gillespie-lost-an-election-then-he-was-pulverized-by-trump-and-his-allies

Actually, maybe this is the title -- but the first line was in much smaller font, so I didn't use the first line just to be safe LBN-rules-wise:

Ed Gillespie Lost an Election. Then He Was Pulverized by Trump and His Allies

The subheading was adorable too:
A GOP civil war is coming. Tuesday night may have ensured it just came quicker.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos's war on student borrowers

As Protections for Borrowers Fall, What to Do If You Face Trouble Repaying a Student Loan, Consumer Reports, 4/14/17

“The (Obama era) guidelines that were taken away laid out really basic, commonsense guidance for how servicers should act so that borrowers can navigate repayment,” says Suzanne Martindale, a staff attorney and education debt expert at Consumer Reports. “Removing these is incredibly shortsighted and will likely cause greater problems down the road for students and families.”

The guidelines called for major changes in student loan servicer practices, including new standards for responding to borrower problems in a timely way, providing economic incentives to give high-quality customer service, and imposing penalties for poor performance.

In March, DeVos rescinded a 60-day grace period to allow students in loan default to get back on track and avoid a fee of 16 percent of their loan balance.

Also last month, the Education Department said it would delay implementing the gainful employment rule, an Obama-era regulation that penalizes college vocational programs if graduates accrue more debt that they can pay with post-grad earnings.

Last month, the CFPB reported a 429 percent increase in student loan complaints about servicers from December through February, compared with the prior year. Consumers say servicers process payments incorrectly, make it harder for them to enroll in more affordable payment plans, and fail to act when borrowers complain.

Much More: https://www.yahoo.com/news/protections-borrowers-fall-face-trouble-184224571.html

Dunno if the 429% increase in problems in December through February, compared to the prior year, has anything to do with the current administration compared to the previous administration..... should I set up a poll?

More from the article:

Federal student loans in default are up 15% from 2015.

Problems with Navient, tsk tsk (spun off from Sallie Mae - the largest servicer of federal student loans)

How to Handle Problems With Your Student Loans

Do insurance companies suddenly cut you off of anti-depressants and other psych medications?

I have a friend who is reluctant to even try an anti-depressant because she might suddenly be told, "sorry, no more refills".

I thought it was extremely important to taper off most psychoactive medications, instead of stopping all of a sudden. And that even as assholic the insurance companies are, they wouldn't do this. Or am I naive to think they have even an ounce (or gram) of humanity?


Edited to add - she's insured through Minnesota's Medicaid program, administered (and whatever else), in her case by Medica.

Here's another article, and yes it benefited the slave states, and that was intentional

The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states, Vox.com, 11/12/16


As for this 3/5 of a person thing that seems to be confusing so many people. The slave states wanted to count slaves as full 100% people (for purposes of determining the number of reps and number of electors a state was allotted). The north wanted to counted them as 0 people (since they couldn't vote). The compromise was 3/5.

Say we have 2 states... and let's compare direct popular vote to the electoral college

[div class="excerpt" style="background-color:#CEF6FE;"]Nationwide popular vote used to elect presidents

a northern state with a population of 600,000, of which 1/2 are adults of voting age, for a total of 300,000 eligible adults, all eligible to vote.
Say turnout of eligible adults is 70%. Number of votes cast: 300,000 * 70% = 210,000.

a southern state with a population of 1 million, of which 1/2 are adults of voting age, but only 60% of those are non-slave (40% are slaves).
Say turnout of eligible adults is 70%. Number of votes cast: 500,000 * 60% * 70% = 210,000.

So in a system that elected presidents by popular vote, the two states have equal clout.

[div class="excerpt" style="background-color: #ffa !important;"]Electoral College (E.C.), with slaves counting 3/5

But with the electoral college, the math is this (suppose there is 1 House of Representatives representative "rep" per 100,000 "population"):

a northern state with a population of 600,000, will have 6 reps. And 8 electors in the E.C. (because one adds 2 senators to the number of reps to get the number of electors)

a southern state with a population of 1,000,000, of which 400,000 are slaves and only count for 3/5 will have a "population" of 400,000 * 3/5 + 600,000 free = 840,000. It will have 8 reps and 10 electors in the E.C. -- 10/8 or 1.25 the clout of the northern state.

[div style="background-color:#CEFEEE;"]Electoral College (E.C.), with slaves counting as full people -- what the slave states wanted

a northern state with a population of 600,000, will have 6 reps. And 8 electors in the E.C.

a southern state with a population of 1,000,000, of which everyone counts fully and equally. It will have 10 reps and 12 electors in the E.C. -- 12/8 or 1.5 times the clout of the northern state.

California launches criminal probe into Wells Fargo account scandal

Source: Reuters

The California Attorney General's Office has launched a criminal investigation into Wells Fargo <WFC.N> over allegations it opened millions of unauthorized customer accounts and credit cards, according to a seizure warrant seen by Reuters.

Attorney General Kamala Harris authorized a seizure warrant against the bank that seeks customer records and other documents, saying there is probable cause to believe the bank committed felonies.

The probe marks the latest setback for the bank in a growing scandal that led to the abrupt retirement of its chief executive officer, monetary penalties, compensation clawbacks, lost business and damage to its reputation.


The seizure warrants by the state are seeking a variety of documents from Wells Fargo, including a list of all unauthorized California customer accounts created between May 2011 and July 2015. ... and the identity of all Wells Fargo employees that may have opened the accounts.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/california-launches-criminal-probe-wells-fargo-account-scandal-212145940--sector.html

I hope something really bad happens to Wells Fuckgo and particularly the high up executives responsible.

Payday Loans Are Shutting Down Some Americans' Bank Accounts

Online payday lenders are creating new hazards for borrowers, leading to large overdraft fees and even loss of access to checking accounts, federal regulators claimed Wednesday.

Online payday lenders often have direct access to borrowers' checking accounts for deposits and payments. When borrowers don't have sufficient funds in their accounts to pay the lenders, repeated withdrawal attempts made by lenders result in multiple non-sufficient funds charges averaging $185, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said.

(snip) "We found that over the study period, 36% of accounts with a failed debit attempt from an online lender ended up being closed by the bank or credit union," Cordray said. "Getting booted from the banking system can have far-reaching repercussions for consumers, leading to a downward spiral that costs them even more money and their precious time. It can be hard to get a new account at another bank. It can mean having to use expensive check-cashing and bill-paying services to cash their paychecks or their benefits checks or to pay their bills, services they used to take for granted."

Repeated debit attempts by online lenders usually fail — 70% of second attempts don't result in any collection, and further attempts fail even more — but there is some logic to why they try. In some cases, borrowers may not have the entire amount owned available in a checking account but might have part of it. A lender may first try to collect $300 and fail, but then might split that request up into three $100 debits and succeed in getting some of the money it's owed. The cost to lenders for additional requests is negligible, but each failed debit costs consumers $34, on average. The lender may apply additional fees as well.

More: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/payday-loans-shutting-down-americans-110000192.html

Anyway the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) is about to issue rules to restrict the practice. Let's hope so. For now, just a heads-up on dealing with shady lenders (yeah, I know, which ones aren't?)

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