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Hillary Clinton’s Single-Payer Pivot Greased By Millions in Industry Speech Fees

The Intercept -

Hillary Clinton’s sudden attack on Bernie Sanders’ single-payer health care plan is a dramatic break with Democratic Party doctrine that the problem with single-payer is that it is politically implausible — not that it is a bad idea.

Single-payer, the Canadian-style system in which the government pays for universal health care, takes the health insurance industry out of the picture, saving huge amounts of money. But the health insurance industry has become so rich and powerful that it would never let it happen.

That was certainly Clinton’s position back in the early 1990s, when she was developing her doomed universal coverage proposal for her husband, Bill.

But in the ensuing years, both Clintons have taken millions of dollars in speaking fees from the health care industry. According to public disclosures, Hillary Clinton alone, from 2013 to 2015,  made $2,847,000 from 13 paid speeches to the industry.

This means that Clinton brought in almost as much in speech fees from the health care industry as she did from the banking industry. As a matter of perspective, recall that most Americans don’t earn $2.8 million over their lifetimes.

Source: Public federal disclosures, Clinton campaign

Hillary Clinton’s record on single-payer dates back to 1993, when she was tasked to help formulate White House policy. According to the notes of former Clinton confidante Diane Blair, Clinton told her husband during a dinner in February 1993 that “managed competition” — a private health insurance market — was “a crock, single payer necessary; maybe add to Medicare.”

She eventually came to believe that the health care industry was too powerful to allow this reform to happen, and the plan she ended up putting together was not single-payer. Also in 1993, two physician advocates for single-payer lobbied her during a meeting at the White House. They said she told them they made a “convincing case, but is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of the dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?”

The next year, in response to a question at a financial conference, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton said that if there was not a health care overhaul “by the year 2000 we will have a single-payer system. I don’t think it’s — I don’t think it’s a close call politically. I think the momentum for a single-payer system will sweep the country.”

Behind the scenes, Clinton continued to show interest in a single-payer plan. David Brock wrote that Alain Enthoven, a Stanford professor who had been brought in to help advise on health care, pushed back on what Brock deemed “her bias toward the single-payer plan.”

In 2008, a young medical student named Lisa Goldman queried Clinton about health care during an event she held in New Haven, Connecticut. Goldman told the Boston Globe that Clinton said she believed the plan to be politically unfeasible at the time, however if a bill establishing it reached her desk, she would sign it into law.

Since then, she has shifted to assailing the policy on its merits.

“We don’t have one size fits all; our country is quite diverse. What works in New York City won’t work in Albuquerque,” she told an assorted audience of 20,000 employees of the electronic health records industry on February 26, 2014; the speech earned her $225,000.

These words were later cited by business lobbyists in New York state earlier this year to argue that if even Hillary Clinton opposed single-payer, why should New York adopt it?

Hillary Clinton’s paid speech circuit came to an end as her campaign revved up. But for her husband, with whom she shares a bank account, it hasn’t. This summer, he was the keynote speaker at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the industry group that poured almost $100 million into trying to defeat health care reforms during the fight over the Affordable Care Act.

As part of her newly found opposition to single-payer on the merits, Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Sanders’ health care plan mischaracterize what he is proposing. For example, she has claimed that his plan, which relies on states to administer the single-payer plan, would turn “over your and my health insurance to governors.”

Warren Gunnels, the policy director of Sanders’ campaign, told The Week that actually this is not the case. If a governor chose not to participate, “citizens would receive coverage from the feds.” It’s actually the Clinton-backed status quo under the Affordable Care Act that is allowing governors to pick and choose who to cover.

The post Hillary Clinton’s Single-Payer Pivot Greased By Millions in Industry Speech Fees appeared first on The Intercept.

nanoPay Acquires MintChip from the Royal Canadian Mint

Bitcoin Magazine -

As of December 18, 2015, all assets related to MintChip – a digital currency developed by The Royal Canadian Mint – were transferred to nanoPay Inc., a Fintech company based in Toronto that provides loyalty and payments solutions for retail and ecommerce merchants.

According to the Royal Canadian Mint, the MintChip enables consumers and merchants to exchange value almost instantly at a fraction of the cost of other alternatives. The chip itself is a secure smartcard integrated circuit that provides an electronic purse functionality, and can be inserted into all sorts of devices from MicroSDs to USB sticks and hardware Security Modules.

Before The Royal Canadian Mint’s foray into digital currency, the government-owned company offered everything from precious metal storage to spectrometric methods of analyzing gold quality. The Mint produces all of Canada’s circulation coins as well as collector coins. Having tinkered with gold refining in the mid 1960s, the company was able to produce gold with a 9999 fine purity and in 1982, it issued the world’s first 9999 bullion coins. Today, the Mint website offers granulation gold that is 99999 fine.

The Royal Canadian Mint originally announced the MintChip to the public in a contest . Applicants were challenged to “create software applications and proofs of concept utilizing MintChip,” and winners received approximately $50,000 in gold bullion from the Mint.

The MintChip itself was originally designed by a team led by Dr. David Everett. Everett is the CEO of Microexpert and was one of the few cryptographers who represented UK banks on the original research work designed to improve credit card verification. Everett is confident that “MintChip will gain consumer, merchant and regulator trust as a digital replacement for cash.”

Having designed the Mondex smart card electronic cash system used by MasterCard today, Dr. Everett wanted to build a platform that would use secure asset stores to move funds between parties without a central authority, and process transactions both online and offline.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2014, Canadian Mint spokeswoman Christine Aquino stated that “plans regarding the virtual currency have ‘matured’ and the Mint considers turning development over to the private sector one of MintChip’s natural next steps.”

When asked about MintChip and digital currency, nanoPay CEO & Founder Laurence Cooke said, “It is hard to imagine a world in the near future that continues to use cash. Digital currency is inevitable and our MintChip platform has been built to ensure it will exceed the needs of consumers, businesses and governments.”

Cooke said nanoPay aims to make these payments “frictionless” by combining customer identity, loyalty and payment information into single-use transaction tokens. “Digital cash will transform payments globally, from the unbanked to the largest financial institutions, moving us one step closer to a cashless society.”


Photo Skeezix1000 / Creative Commons

The post nanoPay Acquires MintChip from the Royal Canadian Mint appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Obama Delivers More Pretty Words, Ugly Inaction on Money in Politics

The Intercept -

Near the end of President Obama’s final State of the Union address, he eloquently called for Americans to take back the U.S. political system from big money:

“We the People.”

Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we’ve come to recognize mean all the people, not just some. Words that insist we rise and fall together, that that’s how we might perfect our union….

Democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest.

Too many Americans feel that way right now. …

I believe we’ve got to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections.

And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution, because it’s a problem. And most of you don’t like raising money. I know. I’ve done it.…

But I can’t do these things on my own.

What Obama did not mention was this: he in fact can immediately “reduce the influence of hidden interests” on his own, without Congress or the Supreme Court, by issuing an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose any “dark money” contributions to politically-active non-profits.

Such non-profits currently spend hundreds of millions of dollars per election, and do not have to disclose their donors. An executive order from Obama wouldn’t shine a light on all corporate dark money, since not every corporation receives federal contracts, but most of the biggest do, including over 70 of the Fortune 100.

Obama has previously used his power over contractors to require them them to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour, and forbid them from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

What made Obama’s soliloquy especially maddening was his suggestion that big money has overwhelmed politics because because Americans just aren’t trying hard enough:

Changes in our political process — in not just who gets elected, but how they get elected — that will only happen when the American people demand it. It depends on you. That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people.

In fact, U.S. citizens have demanded “changes in our political process.” Activists delivered over one million signatures to the White House telling Obama to sign an executive order on dark money. A similar petition set up via the White House website’s system has passed the 100,000 signatory threshold requiring a response (which the Obama administration has yet to produce). Twenty-seven senators, including Minority Leader Harry Reid, and over 100 members of the House of Representatives have asked Obama for such an executive order. Even Gene Sperling, former director of Obama’s National Economic Council, has said it’s “important and needed.”

But Obama has steadfastly refused to act.

So campaign finance reform advocates are understandably frustrated. After the speech, Kurt Walters of Rootstrikers, an organization co-founded by Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, called Obama’s inaction “a slap in the face to anyone who voted for him after believing his promise to fix the broken system of big money-dominated politics.” In a recent report, Rootstrikers detailed Obama’s long history of high-flown rhetoric combined with no action whatsoever on this issue.

Obama wound up the State of the Union with a pledge to anyone trying reinvigorate American democracy: “I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen.” But if he actually cares about breaking the power of money in politics, it would be more effective if he started doing something about it while President of the United States.

The post Obama Delivers More Pretty Words, Ugly Inaction on Money in Politics appeared first on The Intercept.

U.S. Media Condemns Iran’s “Aggression” in Intercepting U.S. Naval Ships — in Iranian Waters

The Intercept -

News broke last night, hours before President Obama’s State of the Union address, that two U.S. Navy ships “in the Persian Gulf” were “seized” by Iran, and the 10 sailors on board were “arrested.” The Iranian government quickly said, and even the U.S. government itself seemed to acknowledge, that these ships had entered Iranian waters without permission, and were thus inside Iranian territory when detained. CNN’s Barbara Starr, as she always does, immediately went on-air with Wolf Blitzer to read what U.S. officials told her to say: “We are told that right now, what the U.S. thinks may have happened, is that one of these small boats experienced a mechanical problem . . . perhaps beginning to drift . . . it was at that point, the theory goes right now, that they drifted into Iranian territorial waters.”

It goes without saying that every country has the right to patrol and defend its territorial waters and to intercept other nations’ military boats that enter without permission. Indeed, the White House itself last night was clear that, in its view, this was “not a hostile act by Iran” and that Iran had given assurances that the sailors would be promptly released. And this morning they were released, exactly as Iran promised they would be, after Iran said it determined the trespassing was accidental and the U.S. apologized and promised no future transgressions.

Despite all of this, most U.S. news accounts last night quickly skimmed over – or outright ignored – the rather critical fact that the U.S. ships had “drifted into” Iranian waters. Instead, all sorts of TV news personalities and U.S. establishment figures puffed out their chest and instantly donned their Tough Warrior pose to proclaim that this was an act of aggression – virtually an act of war: not by the U.S., but by Iran. They had taken our sailors “hostage,” showing yet again how menacing and untrustworthy they are. Completely typical was this instant analysis from former Clinton and Bush Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:

Iran detains US sailors. Released promptly or not, a hostile act by a regime that acts w/o US cost/consequence https://t.co/0MNy0FnsjI

— Aaron David Miller (@aarondmiller2) January 12, 2016

[Isn’t it such a mystery – given “even-handed” diplomats like this – why the U.S. failed to facilitate an Israel/Palestine peace deal and is perceived around the world as hopelessly biased toward Israel?] Miller’s proclamation – issued when almost no facts were known – was immediately re-tweeted by New York Times columnist Nick Kristof to his 1.7 million followers [amazingly, when numerous people pointed out that Miller issued this inflammatory claim without any facts whatsoever, he lashed out at critics with the condescension and limitless projection typical of US establishment elites: “Twitter is an amazing vehicle: it allows instant and at times inaccurate analysis but always intemperate and ad hominem responses”; by “instant and at times inaccurate analysis,” he meant his critics, not his own fact-free claim]. Nick Kristof himself then added:

Iranian hardliners have been systematically trying to undermine Rouhani and damage US-Iranian relations. Seizing sailors, that'll do it.

— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) January 12, 2016

The truly imbecilic Joe Scarborough of MSNBC turned himself into an instant self-parody of a pseudo-tough-guy compensating for all sorts of inadequacies:

Hey Iran, you have exactly 300 days left to push a US president around. Enjoy it while you can. After that, there will be hell to pay.

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 12, 2016

But, as usual, the most alarmist, jingoistic coverage came from the always-war-hungry CNN. For hours, they emphasized in the most alarmist of tones that the sailors had been picked up by the Revolutionary Guard which, in the words of Starr, is “one of the most aggressive elements of the military and national security apparatus in that country.” CNN host Erin Burnett intoned at the top of her prime-time show: “Next, breaking news: American sailors seized by Iran. The revolutionary guard arresting ten American sailors in the Persian Gulf.”

For hours, CNN anchors and guests all but declared war on Iran, insisting that this behavior demonstrated how aggressive and menacing they were, while warning that this could turn into another “hostage crisis.” Immediately after her opening headline-alarm, here is how Burnett “explained” the situation to CNN viewers:

Ten American navy sailors, nine men and one woman seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf tonight. The Americans ran two boats, each equipped with three 50 caliber machine gun. Iran’s news agency announcing those sailors are under arrest. U.S. officials say the sailors were simply on a training mission traveling from Kuwait to Bahrain. It is a major embarrassment for the Obama administration coming just hours before the President will be here delivering his final State of the Union Address.

Notice what’s missing? The fact that the ships had entered Iranian waters. Instead, they were “simply on a training mission traveling from Kuwait to Bahrain” when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard “seized” them. That is Baghdad-Bob-level propaganda.

They then brought on CNN national security reporter Jim Sciutto. Throughout the show, Burnett kept implying that Iran did this on purpose to humiliate Obama and the U.S. during his State of the Union speech: “Iran is acutely aware of important events in American politics tonight,” she told Sciutto. Only then did Sciutto mention that the ships were in Iranian waters as he gently pointed out the blatantly irrational nature of her conspiracy theory: “Who could have predicted that you would have two U.S. small navy boats, one of which either had a mechanical problem or a navigational error that put it into Iran’s territorial waters?” He then added: “But you know, I don’t like the sound, it sounds like a cliché to say the timing, whether accidental or not couldn’t be worse.”

CNN then brought on its White House correspondent Jim Acosta to say: “this is sort of like an October surprise right before the State of the Union Address.” They then spoke to a former U.S. intelligence official who, citing Iran’s language, suggested that “what that means is that the Geneva Convention protections that are established by international law may not be invoked by the Iranians”: in other words, they may abuse and even torture the sailors. Former CIA operative Robert Baer warned viewers: “I’m not saying that’s going to happen but it could be another hostage crisis which would very much cloud this administration’s foreign policy in a very, very ugly way.” David Gergen warned that this was part of a broader trend showing Iranian aggression: “We have understood that with the nuclear agreement it not only would contain their nuclear program but they would start behaving themselves constructively. And that is exactly what they are not doing now.”

Over and over, CNN’s on-air personalities emphasized the Revolutionary Guard angle and barely acknowledged, or outright ignored, that the ships had entered Iranian waters. This was how Sciutto “reported” the event on Jake Tapper’s The Lead:

TAPPER: Jim, you have some new details on who precisely may be behind this?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This is a key detail. Iran’s state Fars News Agency is reporting that the U.S. sailors were picked up by boats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. This is very much tied to the hard-line camp in Iran, which has, in effect, its own military, including its own navy really in the Persian Gulf, which has contested U.S. ships before, U.S. aircraft carrier a couple of weeks ago.

To be clear, that is a hard line camp that is opposed to detente in effect with the U.S. and certainly opposed to the nuclear deal, which is meant to be implemented in the next several days. . . .

TAPPER: Obviously, we are praying for those ten sailors. Thank you so much, Jim Sciutto.

Just imagine what would happen if the situation had been reversed: if two Iranian naval ships had entered U.S. waters off the East Coast of the country without permission or notice. Wolf Blitzer would have declared war within minutes; Aaron David Miller would have sprained one his fingers madly tweeting about Iranian aggression and the need to show resolve; and Joe Scarborough would have videotaped himself throwing one of his Starbucks cups at a picture of the mullahs to show them that they cannot push America around and there “will be hell to pay.” And, needless to say, the U.S. government would have – quite rightly – detained the Iranian ships and the sailors aboard them to determine why they had entered U.S. waters (and had they released the Iranians less than 24 hours later, the U.S. media would have compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain).

But somehow, the U.S. media instantly converted the invasion by U.S. ships into Iranian waters into an act of aggression by Iran. That’s, in part, because the U.S. political and media establishment believes the world is owned by the United States (recall how the U.S., with a straight face, regularly condemned Iran for “interference” in Iraq even while the U.S. was occupying Iraq with 100,000 troops). Thus, the U.S. military has the absolute right to go anywhere it wants – even into Iranian waters – and it’s inherently an act of “aggression” for anyone else to resist. That was the clear premise of the bulk of the U.S. commentary last night.

The reaction is also explained in part by the permanent narrative that any countries adverse to the U.S. are inherently evil and aggressive. The U.S. is constantly depicted as a victim of Iranian aggression even as the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined, and Iran spends less than 3% of what the U.S. does. The U.S.’s top ally in the region after Israel, Saudi Arabia, spends more than five times than Iran on its military. For the last 15 years, Iran has been almost completely encircled by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military bases extremely close to Iranian borders. But in the tale told by the U.S. media, it’s Iran that is aggressively threatening the U.S.

But the media reaction last night is also explained by the fact their self-assigned role in life is to instantly defend their government and demonize any governments that defy it. Even when the White House was saying they did not yet regard the Iranian conduct as an act of aggression, American journalists were insisting that it was. The U.S. does not officially have state TV; it has something much better and more effective: journalists who are nominally independent, legally free to say what they want, who are voluntarily even more nationalistic and jingoistic and government-defending than U.S. government spokespeople themselves.

Photo: A Riverine Command Boat from Costal Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 2 escorts the USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) in the Persian Gulf in 2014.

The post U.S. Media Condemns Iran’s “Aggression” in Intercepting U.S. Naval Ships — in Iranian Waters appeared first on The Intercept.

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