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I will be heading out to vote shortly. Straight Dem ticket, of course, but Dems are looking in tough shape here in my 6th Congressional District in Massachusetts. Recent polls suggest that Charlie Baker, the Republican, seems likely to win the Governor's race and despite this being a Blue district, the Democratic candidate for Congress Seth Moulton only has a tiny lead.

My question is: why are supposedly "moderate" Republicans not required to explain their membership in an organization that is arguably racist, homophobic and plutocratic, and, prima facie, antisemitic?

Now I am sure that our local Republicans would heatedly deny that their party is antisemitic -- after all, it strongly supports Israel! But of course,for Republicans it may be a lot easier to support Jews who live 5,000 miles away than American ones.

If someone said that they belong to a national organization in America in which, out of its 300 most important leaders, not a single one was Jewish, would that not give you slight pause? Make you wonder? Even if it were 1% -- but zero?? Can that really be just an unrelated accident?

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Since Dr. Don Berwick announced his candidacy for the Dem nomination for Governor of MA, he's been saying that we need to be the kind of community that if you see a car broken down by the side of the road, you roll up your sleeves and you help: "Today, too many of our leaders just drive on by."

During the Sudbury July 4th Parade, Dr. Don got the chance to show that he not only walks the walk, he "stops the stop." From the Sudbury Patch:

Don Berwick was marching in the Sudbury Fourth of July parade as a politician. But on Friday, the Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate was forced to rely on his medical background as he jumped to action to assist police officers in tending to a woman who had collapsed along the route.
More below the squiggle.
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MA Gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick speaking recently on Medicare for All: "All Means  ALL!"
This past Friday and Saturday, Mass Dems held their convention in Worcester to select candidates for a number of state races. The most surprising result was that of expected gubernatorial frontrunner Martha Coakley, who finished far behind leader Steve Grossman and edged Don Berwick for the second spot by a bare 1.2% of delegates.

This was my second time as a delegate, the previous being 2002 when I attended to support Robert Reich for Governor. Reich made it to the primary ballot but lost to Shannon O’Brien who in turn was defeated by a guy named Mitt Romney. I have always felt that, had Reich gotten the nomination, it would have been the last time we’d have heard of Mittens. (Which, however, might have deprived me of one of my best palindrome compositions: see my sig line.)  

Summary impressions and detailed results below the Boehner-colored doodle.

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Step right up! Get your latest Chris Christie scandal fix right here!

A couple of days ago, candidate for the GOP MA Governor nomination Charlie Baker told the Boston Globe that he was “not an employee” of General Catalyst Partners. The Cambridge-based venture capital firm was granted a management contract for $25 million from a Christie-controlled pension fund seven months after Baker donated $10,000 to Governor Christie's state party committee.

The controversy arises over the fact that under NJ's "pay-to-play" regulations, if Baker were an executive of General Catalyst, that donation would make the company ineligible for the contract.

In an interview with the Boston Globe on Friday, Baker said: “I pay for my health care, I don’t get a W-2 tax form” and that it was "an error" that campaign finance documents show that he identified himself as a General Catalyst “partner.”

Now David Sirota at Pando is reporting that Pando has:

"...discovered 33 separate campaign donation records between 2011 and 2013 that appear to show Baker affirming his status as an employee of General Catalyst. Those employer listings, which appear in conjunction with $45,400 worth of campaign donations by Baker, are typically made by the donor themselves."
Sirota also quotes former Federal Election Commission General Counsel Larry Noble as saying:
“Somebody is playing fast and loose with title of employer.”

I urge you to read the whole Pando article.

Make no mistake -- Baker is a serious threat to win the Gubernatorial race in MA, especially if the Dem candidate is Martha Coakley (she who lost to Scott Brown). There are a lot of Dems in MA who just won't support Martha. (I'll support ANY Dem over ANY Republican, but I'd much rather have the Dems nominate Don Berwick than Coakley!) So even if this turns out to be limited as a scandal, anything that ties Baker to the national Republicans in general and Chris Christie in particular is good for Massachusetts.

Chris Christie -- the gift that keeps on giving!

MA Gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick at Medicare-for-All Town Hall
For those like me who believe that Obamacare is just the start, nearly 250 people (plus more online!) turned out last week for a town hall meeting at Boston University to hear Dem Gubernatorial Candidate Dr. Don Berwick speak about bringing Single Payer, Medicare-for-All to Massachusetts. At the end, he received a standing ovation! This video is less than four minutes long. Check out the audience reaction at the end. And if this whets your taste, check out his original Isaiah speech at the Harvard Medical School Commencement, to which he refers in the new video.

Should we now improve the ACA by pursuing a Medicare-for-All solution?

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There’s an interesting entry today at the Forbes’ blog The Apothecary, with Avik Roy. Roy, it may be remembered, was the advisor on health care to Mitt Romney’s campaign of whom Paul Krugman wrote: “Roy has to know that he’s making an essentially fraudulent argument — and does it anyway.”

Titled "After Obamacare, Can Don Berwick Implement Single-Payer in Massachusetts?", this particular blog entry fits in with the Roy style even though it was not written by Roy. It’s by someone named Josh Archambault who is apparently a former health policy geek at the Heritage Foundation. Archambault seems determined to try to nip in the bud both the single-payer movement in Massachusetts and the candidacy of its leading proponent, Don Berwick.

Early on, Archambault admits:

“Healthcare accounts for almost 20 percent of the state’s GDP, and employers spend the most for insurance in the country… The state spends over 40 percent of the budget on healthcare related programs.”
One would assume that these facts might suggest to the writer the need to seek improvements and to research additional solutions, as Berwick and others have suggested.

But one would be wrong. More below the fold:

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I just finished reading Harold Meyerson's outstanding article in The American Prospect titled "The 40-Year Slump". Myerson explores how the The American Dream has been eroded over the past forty years, and strongly suggests that the major factor in the decline has been the weakening of unions.

"Since 1947, Americans at all points on the economic spectrum had become a little better off with each passing year... Productivity had risen by 97 percent in the preceding quarter-century, and median wages had risen by 95 percent... But no one could deny that Americans in 1974 lived lives of greater comfort and security than they had a quarter-century earlier. During that time, median family income more than doubled.

Then, it all stopped. In 1974, wages fell by 2.1 percent and median household income shrunk by $1,500. To be sure, it was a year of mild recession, but the nation had experienced five previous downturns during its 25-year run of prosperity without seeing wages come down... What no one grasped at the time was that this wasn’t a one-year anomaly, that 1974 would mark a fundamental breakpoint in American economic history."

A couple more quotes below the fold, but really, it's absolutely worth reading the whole article.
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It is possible that, as with gay marriage, single payer health insurance may evolve state by state. I just finished reading Willinois' recommended diary Obama just launched single-payer in America. I urge you to read it if you haven't.

Something happened late last week that supports his theory. Dr. Don Berwick, Obama's 2009 appointee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services who, like Elizabeth Warren, was filibustered and forced to resign by Senate Republicans, is probably the most liberal Dem candidate for MA Governor. His campaign issued a paper on healthcare policy on Friday. Among many other statements, it included the following:  

"As Governor:

    On day one, I will convene a summit of all stakeholders to conduct a top to bottom review of Chapter 224 and develop an action plan to ensure it meets Triple Aim goals of better care, better health, and lower cost. If Chapter 224 results lag behind, within my first 100 days I will work with the Legislature to craft a new wave of stronger legislation to incentivize increased transparency, payment changes, and care reorganization.

    It is time to explore seriously the possibility of a single payer system in Massachusetts. The complexity of our health care payment system adds costs, uncertainties, and hassles for everyone - patients, families, clinicians, and employers.  I will work with the Legislature assemble a multi-stakeholder Single Payer Advisory Panel to investigate and report back within one year on whether and how Massachusetts should consider a single payer option."

More and more people are becoming increasingly excited about Berwick's candidacy. Massachusetts of course currently has the prototype of Obamacare that was forced down Mitt Romney's throat in 2006. But single-payer would, in my opinion, be a big improvement in terms of controlling rising costs. If you are interested in a single-payer healthcare system, Don Berwick is the kind of person who could implement something in MA that could have legs for the whole country. I urge you to look at his entire website and consider clicking on the "Contribute" button -- I've already contributed as much as I can financially at the moment to his campaign, but also intend to volunteer for him.

Yesterday's Boston Globe had a very favorable article"Democrats would benefit from wide-open race for governor" , written by Tom Keane about Dr. Don Berwick, who's running for the Democratic nomination for MA Governor. In case you aren't aware, Don Berwick is definitely from the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party", as this paragraph attests:

"Berwick makes a good case for himself. He’s a pediatrician who has become one of the world’s experts in improving health care systems and also spent 17 months running Medicare and Medicaid for the Obama administration (it was there that he earned Glenn Beck’s ire). But Berwick pitches himself as less about health care than about problem solving. His is an activist vision of government, one that tackles huge, seemingly intractable issues. He is not for the faint of heart; why not finally end poverty, he wonders."

Don Berwick, like Elizabeth Warren, was appointed by President Obama in 2009 only to be filibustered by Senate Republicans. Like Senator Warren, he has returned to the state to run for political office. And once again, the obstructionism of Senate Republicans can be Massachusetts' gain.

Read the whole article: it's short, and finishes with Keane's impression when Dr. Berwick finishes speaking:

"The room is abuzz after he concludes his remarks. On such small events are winning campaigns built."

A statement like the above, from the mouth of Mr. Beck, should be testimony for most Massachusetts voters that Dr. Don Berwick is worthy of being elected our Governor. With all the recent diaries suggesting that we need “better Democrats”, no one is likely to propose a better Democrat than Dr. Berwick.

The fact that he was appointed by President Obama in April 2010 to the position as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid testifies to both his ideals and his prominence in health care. And the fact that, like Elizabeth Warren, he was forced out in 2011 by filibustering Senate Republicans tells you the rest of the story. If Don had remained in office during the past two years, might the rollout of the website have gone more smoothly? Who knows? But certainly Republicans’ refusal to allow the President to have those he nominated in key administrative roles has to bear some of the blame, even though no one mentions it.

Don’s career has all been about quality and error reduction in healthcare – exactly the sort of approach to process and management likely to have identified and resolved the current rollout issues. Please read below the fold to find out more about Don and why I am supporting his candidacy. And then, if you’re suitably impressed, please consider visiting his website and making a donation.

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Most folks here might not be aware that I am somewhat on the fat side -- not exactly obese, but close.

So a few weeks ago, I started in on an exercise regimen designed to lose weight. The centerpiece of my program was jogging. I went to this site and used it to calculate how many calories I would burn if I weigh 210 lbs and run at 10 mph for 30 minutes. It told me 856 calories, which is pretty good!

But I wasn't sure I could start out that fast or that long. So I changed the inputs to 8 mph for 20 minutes. The system calculated I would burn 428 calories. Then 7 mph for 20 minutes -- 274 calories. 6 mph for 20 minutes -- 160 calories. I wasn't sure I could start off running 6 mph for 20 minutes -- but I figured I could certainly work my way up to that.  

But that was before I read this article by Reinoff and Roghart...

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...turned down the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2011. It seems they rejected it after checking it out and deciding they couldn't afford the $1,781,643.71 it would cost to fly to Stockholm and back.

The whole thing really isn't funny -- Reinhart-Rogoff's thesis has been used as an excuse to cause great damage.  For those who have been too caught up with all the other news to know about this story, here is a good summary by Mike Konczal.

Finally, it is fairly unusual for macroeconomists to be featured on the front page of major newspapers, but even rarer for a chess grandmaster. First time in just over 40 years, I think...


Which miscalculation did more damage?

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