Tag Archives: ACA

In defense of NPR

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo needs yet another lesson in just how the media do their job.

They ask tough questions. They seek direct answers. They also seek to report those answers to the public they serve. You and I depend on the media for answers to our own questions about what our government — especially at its highest levels — are doing ostensibly on our behalf.

National Public Radio reporter Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo why he hasn’t defended former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch against criticism leveled at her by the current president of the United States, Donald John Trump.

He dodged the question, saying he has defended “everyone” in the State Department. Kelly sought a specific example of how he has defended Yovanovitch. He cut her off, summoned her to his private quarters, then lashed at her with a profanity-laced tirade, saying that NPR is part of the “unhinged” media that demonstrate a hatred for Trump.

Kelly was doing her job. She has not done a thing for which she should apologize.

Time for full disclosure: I work as a freelance blogger for a public radio station, KETR-FM, based at Texas A&M University-Commerce. 

With that out of the way, I want to tell you that NPR goes the extra mile in ensuring that it reports the news fairly and without overt bias.

A friend of mine who works in public radio explained to me once about NPR’s policy that it enforces strictly. He said that during the coverage of the health-care changes that resulted in the Affordable Care Act, NPR reporters were counseled by their editors to refrain from using the term “reform” to describe the ACA. “It isn’t a ‘reform,'” my friend told me. NPR affiliates were told us call it “overhaul.”

You see, the term “reform” implies an improvement over the status quo. Thus, to describe the ACA as a “reform” would be to endorse it as a policy in NPR’s news coverage. That’s how my friend characterizes the ethos that drives NPR’s reporting of important issues of the day.

And so, it is against that backdrop that I find Mike Pompeo’s tirade against a seasoned, well-educated, dedicated reporter such as Mary Louise Kelly to be just another ignorant tirade coming from a senior official in the Donald Trump administration.

Reprehensible.

Hoping for an issues debate in 2020 race for POTUS

You may choose to believe or disbelieve what I want to say next. That’s your call. I have no control over what you believe.

I want a serious issues discussion to unfold as we move into the guts of the 2020 campaign for the presidency of the United States. Sadly, and I say that with sincerity, I fear we’re going to devolve into a sort of 2016 Campaign 2.0.

Donald Trump will survive the Senate trial that will commence soon. He will run for re-election. Democrats will nominate someone from the field of contenders vying for the chance to run against Trump.

My serious fear is that Trump’s impeachment will dominate the campaign. What’s more, I also fear that the president will not want to veer away from it, given how I suspect he’ll spin the expected verdict from the Senate into an “exoneration.”

What should we discuss?

  • Climate change ranks near the top of my issues wish list. Trump has called it a hoax. Democrats say climate change poses the greatest existential threat to the nation’s security. Trump has rolled back environmental regulations. Democrats want to restore them.
  • Health care ranks up there, too. Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an unknown plan. Democrats keep saying they want to tinker with the ACA, improve the parts of it that need work. Democrats want to protect the insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Trump isn’t making that commitment.
  • Federal spending? Yep, that’s a big one. Donald Trump has stood by while the budget deficit piles up to record levels. Democrats have become “deficit hawks,” trading places with Republicans who used to own that title.
  • Immigration reform is necessary. Trump keeps saying “Mexico will pay for The Wall.” Democrats don’t like building a wall along our southern border. They want to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Trump doesn’t have a plan.

All of this presumes naively, I’ll acknowledge, that Donald Trump is willing to discuss these issues in detail. He won’t go there. The president doesn’t read anything. He keeps telling us he is the smartest man in human history. He governs by “gut instinct.” Sigh.

I fear the president is going to concoct scandals where none exists with whomever he faces in the 2020 election.

There you have what I think will occur juxtaposed with what I hope happens. The idealistic side of me hopes for the best. The realist within me is preparing for the worst.

As if Sen. Cornyn needs to bend more to the right

I hear that Pat Fallon wants to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn next year.

Who is this guy Fallon? He’s a rookie Texas state senator from down the road in Prosper. He got elected to the Senate in 2018 by upsetting longtime Republican incumbent Craig Estes; Fallon is no political novice, though, having served in the Texas House of Representatives before moving to the other chamber at the other end of the State Capitol.

Fallon seems to think Sen. Cornyn isn’t conservative enough. He wants to steer public policy even farther to the right than Cornyn is willing to take it.

Hold on here! Cornyn, to my way of thinking, is pretty damn conservative. What in the world is young Sen. Fallon intending to do that Cornyn hasn’t already done?

Cornyn fought against the creation of the Affordable Care Act, along with everything else that President Barack Obama pitched during his two terms in the White House; he has resisted efforts to strengthen laws controlling firearms purchases; he is avidly anti-abortion rights; he stands pretty damn firmly in Donald Trump’s corner as the impeachment forces start gathering steam.

That isn’t good enough for Fallon … or so it might appear.

Fallon is a darling of what used to be called the TEA Party in Texas. The term “TEA Party” has fallen out of favor. It now operates under the name of the True Texas Project, apparently believing that only the most fervent right-wingers represent the “True Texas.” I happen to believe that is just so much horse manure.

As for Cornyn, he needs a strong challenger from the left, not the right. Cornyn has demonstrated, the way I see it, that he is as conservative in his thinking as almost any member of the U.S. Senate Republican caucus.

Fallon, for his part, sounds more like a stooge for Empower Texans, that ultra-right wing outfit led by Michael Quinn Sullivan, who’s waging a fight of his own with fellow conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Good grief! Texas doesn’t need another GOP primary challenge to yank the state’s senior U.S. senator farther to the right. He’s already on the fringe!

Chief Justice Roberts merely shows his independence

Political conservatives are angry with one of their own.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has turned on them, they say, because he is siding with liberals on the court … on occasion.

Interesting.

The chief justice, to my way of thinking, merely is showing what happens when these men and women get lifetime appointments to the federal bench. They toss aside their partisan labels and start deciding cases on matters relating to the law.

That’s not good enough for many conservatives who believe Roberts should remain the conservative they knew he was when President Bush appointed him to the high court in 2005.

Roberts this week joined the court liberals by turning aside the Trump administration’s insistence on including a “citizenship question” when taking the 2020 census.

The previous day, according to Politico: “Roberts was the sole GOP appointee to side with the liberal wing in a case many legal conservatives were hoping would deal a major blow to the much loathed administrative state by overturning decades of precedent allowing federal agencies wide leeway to interpret their own regulations.”

Roberts earlier was the swing vote on the court that helped save the Affordable Care Act, which the right wing in Congress — and the president — detest merely because it was proposed by a Democratic president and enacted by congressional Democrats.. He also sided with the court progressives in declaring gay marriage to be legal in all 50 states.

Conservatives are angry. Some activists want him impeached. Why? Because he isn’t true to their cause.

This is utter nonsense! The founders established an ostensibly independent judiciary understanding that judges who take the federal bench well could upset the proverbial “conventional wisdom.”

Roberts has not flown off the rails in the 14 years since he joined the Supreme Court. So, he sides with liberals from time to time. The chief justice is entitled under the provisions set forth in the U.S. Constitution to interpret the law and to rule according to his understanding of what the law tells him.

Will there be rulings from Roberts that disappoint me? Sure. Am I going to yammer for Chief Justice Roberts’ impeachment?

No. Never.

Get a grip, righties.

ACA repeal effort pushed back . . . to what end?

Donald Trump thinks of himself as a master political strategist, the consummate dealmaker, the toughest guy on the block.

Of course, he is none of that.

He is the president of the United States, who also keeps changing strategies, his mind, his goals. He confuses me to no end.

Now he says he wants Congress to withhold plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act until after the 2020 presidential election. This comes after he declared — with the most conviction he could muster — that he wanted it done now. He didn’t have a replacement plan, but he damn sure did promise that the Republican Party would become the “party of health care.” Yep. That’s what he said.

How will that occur? That’s a mystery. To Trump. To congressional Republicans. To the White House staff. To the Department of Health and Human Services.

The strategy du jour is to wait until after the election next year. Trump says the GOP will retake the House of Representatives, strengthen its control of the Senate and, let’s not forget, re-elect him as POTUS.

There you have it. Trump predicts that the GOP will regain total control of two of three co-equal government branches.

But wait! They had that control before. They couldn’t repeal the ACA, let alone come up with a suitable replacement. Why do you suppose that happened?

I think it’s because the ACA has become more popular with Americans, the folks who are the actual “bosses.” It ain’t Congress and it certainly isn’t the White House.

Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing.

GOP secretly rooting against Trump on ACA repeal effort

Psst. This isn’t really a secret, but I’ll treat it like one anyway.

Republican congressional leaders are “secretly” rooting against Donald Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Why? They don’t have a replacement ready to go. They aren’t even close to having one on the back burner.

Plus, they got roasted in the 2018 midterm election because Democrats made enough of an issue of ACA repeal to give them control of the House of Representatives.

ACA fight scares GOP

GOP officials are scared, man. They don’t want the president to succeed in his effort to toss aside President Obama’s signature legislative triumph.

It’s not as though they like the ACA. They don’t. Reasonable Republicans see ways to improve the ACA with their own repairs to make it better. Wow! What a concept! Legislating improvements to landmark laws to allow it to deliver on the promise that its sponsors made when they enacted it in the first place.

They did that with Social Security in the 1930s. And with Medicare in the 1960s. Republicans linked arms with Democrats and improved both of those groundbreaking laws to make them suitable for most Americans. Now, who can live without either of them? Uhh, that would be no one.

It’s being argued that the president didn’t think about the follow through when he announced this past week that he intends to seek judicial rulings to toss aside the ACA. Gee, do ya think? Trump tends to avoid thinking about anything before acting on impulse.

But, there he was. Flush from a victory of sorts with the conclusion of Robert Mueller III’s investigation into The Russia Thing and he steps on his own applause line. Trump trumpeted “no collusion!” and “total vindication!” and then gave Democrats a gift by declaring war on the ACA, giving Democrats loads of ammo to launch at Republicans as they prepare for the 2020 election.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of thinking that the president doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t know with whom he is dealing and doesn’t understand the consequences of his impulsive behavior.

GOP still bent on ACA repeal; replace . . . not so much

Congressional Republicans and their pal in the White House — Donald J. Trump — remain committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The replacement component remains an iffy deal.

Donald Trump has instructed the Justice Department to push for a judicial ruling that would toss out the ACA. He surprised many in Congress, not to mention some of his key Cabinet deputies, such as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William Barr; they argued against repealing the law.

However, many GOP members in Congress have endorsed the president’s effort.

Where, though, is the replacement? Where is the legislation that would make Republicans the “health care party” that Trump said will occur?

It remains a secret. Or, more likely, there is no replacement. They just want to scrap President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement because it happens to have Obama’s name on it.

Absent a replacement, the end of the ACA will deny health insurance to millions of Americans. That is how you “make America great again”? I don’t think so!

So, the fight over the ACA will commence yet again. The GOP couldn’t repeal and replace it when they controlled the entire Congress and the White House. Democrats have seized control over one congressional chamber, the House of Representatives. So the White House is seeking a judicial solution to what should be a legislative one.

The Republican goal? Repeal the Affordable Care Act!

The rest of it, a suitable alternative? That is nowhere to be found.

What happened to that ‘pre-existing conditions’ promise?

So much for Republicans’ promise to protect those suffering from “pre-existing conditions” in the ongoing battle over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The Donald Trump administration — namely the Justice Department — has asked the courts to toss out the ACA, all of it. The decision marks a stunning reversal from the 2018 midterm campaign when GOP candidates across the nation — along with the president himself — pledged to do all they could to protect the portion of the ACA that protects those who suffer from pre-existing conditions.

I should mention here that there is no replacement remedy in place should the court system toss out the ACA. This latest effort is expected to deny more than 20 million Americans of health insurance. Then what?

Donald Trump has joined yet another chorus that goes back on that hollow pledge.

Another broken promise

Democrats who were stung by special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to essentially clear the president of “collusion” with Russians during the 2016 campaign were given a gift of sorts. They wanted to change the subject. Donald Trump changed it for them.

I continue to scratch my head in wonderment over the GOP’s fixation with tossing out former President Obama’s signature domestic triumph. Republicans tried for most of Obama’s time as president to repeal it; they failed. Then when Trump got elected in 2016, they kept trying; they kept failing, even when they controlled all of Congress and the White House.

The 2018 midterm election changed the political calculus when Democrats took control of the House largely on fear that the GOP would continue to seek to end a health care insurance law that is growing in support across the nation.

What’s maddening, too, is that the administration decided to join this anti-ACA action despite arguments from Cabinet officials against such a move. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was one who resisted the effort.

The ACA isn’t perfect. I get all that. Why not mend it? Why not improve those portions of the law that need work?

Congressional Republicans and the president remain intent on removing Barack Obama’s fingerprints from existing law. To what end remains as muddy as ever.

Shameful.

‘I was never a fan’ of John McCain

Oh, Mr. President. Can’t you just end this bashing John McCain idiocy?

A reporter asks you to comment on your repeated attacks on the late Arizona senator and you have to say you’ve “never been a fan” of your fellow Republican and that you “never will” be a fan.

And of course it only escalates the feud you’re having with the senator’s family, notably his daughter, Meghan, who continues to pile-drive you with comments about how you cannot measure up as a man to her beloved father.

Mr. President, you can stop this right now. When reporters ask you to comment, just ignore ’em. Or, you can say something like this:

“I am no longer going to comment on Sen. John McCain. I have said all I intend to say. You know how I feel. I am done commenting. I now intend to move on. I am going to make America great again.”

OK, the last part is a joke. But you get my drift, Mr. President.

You started this feud in 2015 with that ghastly denigration of Sen. McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War when he was taken captive and tortured for more than five years. That you — who avoided military service during that time — would stoop to such hideous criticism is repulsive in the extreme.

Enough is enough, Mr. President.

We all get that you’re mad that Sen. McCain voted “no” on repealing the Affordable Care Act. We get that his insistence that you stay away from his funeral chaps your hide. We also get that you’re doubly incensed that he asked Presidents Obama and Bush to eulogize him.

I, for one, have heard enough from you regarding Sen. McCain.

His daughter is right. You cannot measure up to the man he was. He stood at the gates of hell and survived to serve the country he loved while you served yourself and your quest for more personal enrichment.

Just end this idiocy.

Uh, Mr. President, Sen. McCain cannot respond

Mr. President, you need to give it a rest. Give it up. Stop invoking the memory of a generally respected — if not beloved — U.S. senator.

I refer to the late John McCain, whom you have decided to criticize posthumously yet again.

I get that Sen. McCain cast a critical vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act. It still sticks in your craw. Good grief, man! Get over it!

Now you’ve decided to take on the late senator over his role in the release of that “dossier” involving Russian interference in our election.

Look, it was bad enough that you said Sen. McCain was a Vietnam War hero “only because he was captured.” And that you “like people who aren’t captured. OK?” That was an unforgivable denigration of an actual war hero who fought in a conflict that you managed to avoid — or evade — because of those dubious “bone spurs.”

Sen. McCain died this past summer after spending a lifetime serving the country he loved. Why do you insist on continuing this campaign against his memory? That you would disparage this career public servant who thrust himself into harm’s way in wartime is abhorrent on its face

The senator’s daughter — TV personality Meghan McCain — is right to respond to your ridiculous criticism by saying the country “never will love” you the way it does her father.

I know I might as well beseech the chair I’m sitting on at the moment for all the good it will do to implore you to exercise some common decency.

But I’ll try nevertheless.

Knock off the hideous criticism of someone who is unable to respond to your juvenile petulance.