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'Out of touch' Diane Abbott sparks OUTRAGE after 'NAZI comparison' in immigration speech



DIANE Abbott has been blasted as “out of touch” after she compared people who have concerns about immigration in the UK to those who “scapegoated” minority groups in pre-Nazi Germany, it has been reported.

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Biden nominee Neera Tanden pulled as head of OMB over mean tweets — and anti-Asian racism



What happened to Neera Tanden is racist, and we can’t ignore how that influenced the White House’s decision Tuesday to pull her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden’s confirmation failure makes her the first of President Joe Biden’s picks to be disqualified. It’s no coincidence that she also happens to be an Asian American woman.

Anti-Asian bias has a specific set of stereotypes that go along with it, and we need to recognize and condemn how they played into Tanden’s confirmation hearings.

Selected by Biden to head the office that plans and oversees the implementation of the federal budget, Tanden came under relentless fire for her posts on Twitter. With the Senate split 50-50, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin’s opposition meant she would need to find support from at least one Republican. And arguably the most moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, ruled it out.

Media coverage of Tanden’s saga has tended to focus on her tweets, which Manchin and others labeled “overtly partisan” and “mean.” (In the case of Collins and many other Republicans, the attacks were also very personal.) During her time as leader of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, Tanden tangled on Twitter with political figures on the right (typical was the line that “vampires have more heart than Senator Cruz“) and the left, notably Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and his supporters during his run for president.

I’m going to refrain from making comparisons to “the former guy” or any of his appointees’ actions and behaviors either in person or online because that’s too easy and folks are calling out that hypocrisy on their own. I don’t have a lot to say about whether she was qualified to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget other than that she was. I don’t even have more to say as a progressive about how her centrist positions and actions disappointed me, like they did others.

The point that does need to be made, however, is that whatever the background noise around this confirmation fight, there is no question that racism factored into it. Anti-Asian bias has a specific set of stereotypes that go along with it, and we need to recognize and condemn how they played into Tanden’s confirmation hearings.

There are variations in the stereotype for different Asian ethnicities — Tanden identifies as Indian American— but generally the contours of the stereotypes and expectations of Asian American women are the same:

We are to be motherly and nice like all women — but even more subservient and accommodating, or else we’ll be deemed to be high strung, uber-demanding tiger moms.

We are allowed to do “body work” for people —file your nails, wash your laundry, clean your house, take your temperature, change your kids’ diapers — but either do so anonymously or have names easy enough for English speakers to pronounce.

When we’re allowed to be the boss, we are often stereotyped as unscrupulous and inscrutable; we become the mean and stingy Asian boss lady behind the cash register.

Tanden’s journey through these anti-Asian stereotypes was fraught with two equally bad choices. She could try to fit someone’s Asian stereotype and make others more comfortable by meeting their expectations and not eliciting alarm — at the cost of being an inauthentic version of herself.

Tanden doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes that would have allowed her to skate past the gantlet of scrutiny. She’s loud and in charge. She tweets like the best (or worst) of the boys. She doesn’t play up her role as a mother, nor does she project a fun-loving “Momala” air, like Vice President Kamala Harris. And she wanted to be in charge of an agency with the word “budget” in its name. In other words, she ran up against all the no-nos for Asian American women.

Tanden also faced stereotypes that Asian Americans of all genders face. Asian Americans are viewed as the perpetual foreigners in our own homelands. From the frequent microaggression of being asked “No, where are you really from?” to Executive Order 9066, which interned American citizens of Japanese ethnicity in 1942, Asian Americans constantly fight to belong, to be accepted and to be trusted as Americans.

This bias bleeds into the concern that Asian Americans have dual allegiances or are part of a cabal set on taking over the West — the yellow peril. A full year of having Donald Trump call it “the Chinese virus” has not helped with getting people overcome this bias — instead, it has contributed to an astronomical rise in anti-Asian violence, most viciously against senior citizens.

Paradoxically, Asian Americans are also supposed to be the “model minority.” In 1966, a New York Times reporter published an article about how “well Japanese Americans” were doing and germinated the stereotype that Asian Americans are the “model minority,” a race that is high-achieving and doesn’t need government support.

The model minority myth has the triple effect of wedging Asian Americans against other communities of color (if we’re the “good” race, who’s the “bad” one?), erasing a long history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination in the U.S. and, most perniciously, making the needs and experiences of Asian Americans invisible, because why should we be noticed or have the right to complain when we have it so good? This denial of our experience is evident in how silent most of America has been about Tanden’s identity in discussing her treatment.

As many Asian Americans have learned over time, you’re only the model minority until someone else decides you aren’t.

Anti-Asian biases featured in the confirmation hearings for Tanden whether or not senators were aware of it. It’s time for us to name the implicit biases and assumptions that Asian Americans face so we can be judged from a place of consciousness. Is Tanden more “mean” than other appointees, or are we offended by Asian American women who are assertive and want to lead? Is Tanden more “partisan” than other appointees, or are we just not sure we can trust her for some vague reason? As many Asian Americans have learned over time, you’re only the model minority until someone else decides you aren’t.

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Boris Blow: Biden may not attend G7 in Cornwall unless Covid-19 restrictions are lifted



JOE BIDEN may not attend the UK G7 meeting under current Covid restrictions, according to a top White House official.

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Obamacare would get a big (and quiet) overhaul in the Covid relief bill



WASHINGTON — The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed the House on Saturday would make one of the biggest changes to the Affordable Care Act in over a decade, and it could set the stage for a broader overhaul of the health care program — but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard much about it.

The reforms, which would include temporarily expanding subsidies to purchase insurance and making them available to people of all incomes for the first time, have gotten little attention from either party.

For Democrats, who spent last year debating whether to move to a single-payer system, the more minor changes are uncontroversial and are therefore discussed less than other features of the bill.

Republicans, who have increasingly downplayed their opposition to the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, have made little mention of them in messaging against the bill.

And industry groups, which spent tens of millions of dollars on ads and lobbying campaigns against previous Democratic health care proposals, are largely supportive this time.

“These ACA changes have really flown under the radar and not attracted major opposition from Republicans,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health policy research organization.

The biggest ACA-related item in the American Rescue Plan, which the House passed last week, would address one of the most persistent complaints about the law among customers and political opponents alike: sky-high premiums for people who don’t qualify for federal tax credits to help pay them.

The tax credits can go a long way for those who qualify — in many cases, it’s possible to find a plan with zero premiums. But everyone making more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($51,520 for an individual) falls off a “subsidy cliff” and has to pay full price. Premiums vary widely depending on local health care costs, and plans often are so expensive that customers forgo insurance.

For the next two years, the American Rescue Plan would expand the tax credits to higher earners and cap the maximum premium anyone is expected to pay at 8.5 percent of their income. It would boost tax credits at lower incomes, as well: People making less than 150 percent of the federal poverty line ($19,320 for an individual) would be expected to pay $0 in premiums for a benchmark plan, for example.

For those with lower incomes, the bill would boost incentives for states to expand Medicaid by having the federal government pick up the tab for new recipients. Twelvestates, including Florida, Georgia and Texas, have refused to accept Medicaid dollars through the ACA. It’s unclear whether the bill would affect their calculations.

The changes, which would be temporary, closely mirror Joe Biden’s health care agenda from the presidential campaign, and Democrats are expected to try to make them permanent down the line.

But they also are low-hanging fruit politically. Unlike with other health care reforms, there are few obvious “losers” beyond fiscal hawks worried about adding to the deficit. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and top lobbying groups representing insurers, hospitals and doctors have all endorsed the measures, which would pump more money into the system without asking them to cut costs or pay new taxes.

“The industry has been generally supportive of the ACA coverage provisions in the covid relief bill,” Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, said in an email.

Brian Blase, a National Economic Council member in the Trump administration, described the overall Democratic approach as “talk about how evil health insurance companies are but continue to funnel them money.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the added subsidies would cost $34 billion and that they would insure 1.3 million more people by next year. Blase said that if the subsidies are extended permanently, they could cost the government significantly more by encouraging smaller businesses to offload their workers onto the ACA exchanges.

While some conservative policy thinkers like Blase have criticized the proposal over its cost, congressional Republicans seem less sure how to message against it. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California never brought it up in his floor speech opposing the relief legislation, focusing instead on other elements of the $1.9 trillion bill.

Many Republicans faced attack ads in 2018 and 2020 for their opposition to the ACA, and the party has largely pivoted to attacking “Medicare for All” instead, even as the Supreme Court considers a Republican-led lawsuit to overturn Obamacare.

But the detente among Democrats, Republicans and big business may not last long.

Democrats are already discussing creating a public insurance option that would compete with private insurers in a future bill. There’s also a push to allow some older Americans to buy into traditional Medicare.

Past public option frameworks have called for reimbursing doctors and hospitals at rates tied to Medicare, which tend to be much lower than what private insurance pays. Proponents argue that that would pressure insurers and providers alike to lower prices. Polls have long found broad bipartisan support for the idea, and Biden has called for both a public option and lowering the Medicare age to 60.

But moving more Americans to government plans is likely to mean less money for doctors, hospitals and specialists. While some proposed versions would adjust rates upward somewhat to ease the transition, a coalition of health care industry groups spent big on ads opposing a public option last year and would be likely to do the same again. Republicans, who have shown little enthusiasm for the idea, would be sure to follow suit.

“The health care industry would fight a public option with everything they have,” Levitt said.

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