Tag Archives: ACA

How will history judge this presidency?

Is it too early to begin thinking about how history is going to judge Donald J. Trump’s term as president?

I think not.

We’re well into the second year of Trump’s time in office. I am beginning to ponder how history might end up categorizing this most unconventional, chaotic, tumult-filled presidency.

Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace during the Watergate scandal; Gerald Ford restored a sense of decency in government; Jimmy Carter was bedeviled by the Iran hostage crisis; Ronald Reagan is remembered for restoring the nation’s sense of confidence; the Cold War ended on George H.W. Bush’s watch; Bill Clinton got impeached and he oversaw tremendous economic growth and the balancing of the federal budget; George W. Bush took us to war against terror after 9/11 and endured a financial collapse that rivaled the Great Depression; Barack Obama helped rescue the economy and ordered the death of the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

Trump’s time in office?

I have begun looking back on it and I keep coming up with a course that hasn’t yet been charted.

He took office in January 2017, delivering a grim and foreboding inaugural speech and then ratcheted up his war against the media. He has described reporters as the “enemy of the American people.”

He uses “fake news” to disparage anyone who reports anything negative about him. He has burned through several Cabinet secretaries and key White House advisers.

Trump awakens  every day and fires off tweets attacking anyone who sits in his crosshairs.

The president is facing a serious shellacking in the midterm election coming up later this year. Democrats might retake the U.S. House; the Senate is within reach, too. Then it might really, really rocky for the president as he sets up a re-election campaign for 2020.

He signed a tax cut into law. He has tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He pulled us out of a deal that seeks to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Trump yanked the United States out of a climate accord signed by virtually every other nation on Earth.

Through all of this, the president refuses to acknowledge what intelligence officials have said already, that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election and has declared war against the FBI and the Department of Justice.

What a legacy — so far. I am quite certain we’ll have a whole lot more drama in store as this presidency heads toward the next election.

Stay tuned.

Why this fixation with Obama’s legacy?

I cannot pretend to know what drives Donald J. Trump to do most of the things he does, even though the public record as we approach the 18-month mark of his presidency does present some interesting questions.

Why does this man appear to be so intent on obliterating his immediate predecessor’s record?

President Barack Obama left two huge policy imprints on the nation before he left after serving two successful terms in office: the Affordable Care Act and the Iranian nuclear arms deal.

Donald Trump has sought to dismantle them both. The ACA remains on the books, more or less, after Congress grappled with ways to “repeal and replace” it with something we’ll call Trumpcare. The ACA became the prime target of the new president almost from the day he took office.

Now we have this withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State John Kerry worked day and night under Obama’s guidance to persuade our key allies to sign on to a plan that seeks to prohibit the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Trump calls the Iran deal the worst in history. Has he read it? Does he really know what it says or what it requires? Well, that remains a wide-open question.

Trump’s obsessions with Barack Obama’s legacy has this hideous connection to another fixation he continues to have as it regards the 44th president: his place of birth.

It has struck more than one observer that Trump’s fomenting of the fiction that Obama was born in Africa and not in the United States is a racially tinged vendetta. What’s more, he has been a leader in the effort to discredit Obama’s eligibility because his father — who the president barely knew — was a Muslim. Trump has continued to allow that canard to become a talking point among some Americans who harbor sinister thoughts about Barack Obama’s ethnicity.

Trump’s behavior and his public statements throughout his presidency betray a dark side of the man. The Charlottesville, Va., riot and the moral equivalence he drew between racist rioters and those who opposed them speaks volumes to many of us.

The “birther” lie that Trump simply won’t disavow does as well.

Thus, I believe it is reasonable to presume that Donald Trump’s concerted effort to dismantle so much of Barack Obama’s legacy is born flatly out of racism.

Sickening.

Get ready, Negotiator in Chief

Donald John Trump bragged about many of his so-called superlative traits while campaigning for the presidency.

One of those traits was that he is a first-class, top-tier negotiator. I mean, he said that’s how he built his real estate business into a multibillion-dollar empire.

Didn’t he say it? Umm, Yep. He sure did.

So, now we’re going to witness whether those alleged negotiating skills translate into statecraft.

Trump has accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The meeting will occur no later than May. The place is to be determined. In fact, so are many of the preconditions that usually accompany meetings of this magnitude.

Trump would be the first U.S. president to meet with any of the North Korean leaders since the end of the Korean War that, technically, hasn’t actually ended. The sides only signed an armistice; there’s no peace treaty.

So, Kim Jong Un has built a small — but still dangerous — cache of nukes that he has threatened to use against the United States, South Korea, Japan and anyone else.

Trump accepted the summit invitation, but reportedly has prepared not one lick for it. Lower-level prep hasn’t happened. There have been no high-level briefings by deputy secretaries of state or defense with their North Korean counterparts.

What gives? I am presuming that Trump — who famously declared that “I, alone” can do everything — is going to take the lead on the preparation leading up to this summit.

And will we get to witness arguably the sternest test yet on whether the president is the negotiator he has boasted of being. His track record here at home — the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, providing the best example — isn’t so hot.

Maybe he’s gotten better at it, although the evidence doesn’t suggest that statecraft comes easily to this utter novice at politics and governing.

We can hope. Can’t we?

CPAC crowd shames itself with boos of Sen. McCain

I cannot stomach what I heard today about the Conservative Political Action Conference reaction when the president of the United States mentioned a critical vote cast by a member of the U.S. Senate.

Donald Trump didn’t mention U.S. Sen. John McCain’s name. He didn’t have to. The CPAC crowd knew he was referring to McCain’s vote on the Senate floor that sunk the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Then the CPAC audience started booing. They booed a Vietnam War hero, a man who has given more for his country than I suspect anyone else in that CPAC room. They booed a man the president himself once denigrated as being a war hero “only because he was captured” by the North Vietnamese; candidate Trump then said, “I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Good grief! Trump simply disgusts me.

CPAC disgraced itself with that hideous display of callousness. Indeed, the president has disgraced himself as well with his own boorish behavior over this and, oh, so many other instances.

I am compelled to mention, too, that Sen. McCain is fighting for his life at this moment against an aggressive form of brain cancer.

For the president to bring up McCain’s vote against repeal of the ACA in that CPAC venue was disgraceful enough. For the CPAC audience to boo a gallant warrior who persevered more torture than anyone ever should have to endure was disgraceful in the extreme.

Shame on them.

Trump trashes McCain at CPAC … can you believe it?

So much for presidential promises.

Donald Trump reportedly had pledged to Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain, that he no longer would criticize his fellow Republican.

McCain is fighting a virulent form of brain cancer. His daughter revealed only recently about a conversation she had with the president about his vow to be kinder to the stricken senator.

Then the president stood before the Conservative Political Action Conference and tore into — that is correct — Sen. John McCain over his “no” vote on plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Trump said this today to the CPAC audience: “Remember — one person walked into a room when he was supposed to go this way,” Trump added, giving a thumbs up sign, “and he walked in and went this way [thumbs down] and everyone said, ‘What happened? What was that all about? Who was that?’ I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t want to be controversial so I won’t use his name. What a mess.”

If you can get past the mangled syntax and the idiotic sentence structure of the president’s remarks, then you’ll understand that the president is doing precisely what he told the senator’s daughter he wouldn’t do.

In Trump World, a promise made is a promise to be broken.

Liar.

Unity remains a distant goal

Donald Trump vowed to deliver a speech this past week that would “unify” the nation.

It didn’t happen. He didn’t deliver. His State of the Union speech was met with disdain from roughly half of the room in which he spoke and about the same percentage from Americans at large, those of us who watched the speech from far away, on our TV screens.

It now begs the question: How are we ever going to be unified?

I believe it starts with the president of the United States.

We have one individual with a political constituency comprising the entire nation: it’s the president (and yes, you can include the vice president, too, given that these individuals run as a ticket).

But the president stands behind the bully pulpit. He is the one we listen to. He is the one with the message, the policy, the principles we look for. The president also is the one who is capable of delivering the message of unity.

It’s been one year and about two weeks since Donald Trump took the oath as president. How much has he done to unify the nation?

Practically nothing!

He blasts congressional Democrats for failing to cast any votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president ignores — he didn’t forget — that not a single Republican cast any votes to approve the ACA back in 2010.

Trump continues to pound away at the media, calling journalists the “enemy of the American people.” He undermines the media for reporting what he calls “fake news.” He plays directly to the base of supporters that continues to support him — no matter what!

The president uttered that hideous assertion that white supremacists/Nazis/Klansmen comprise “fine people.” Who in the world actually believes that utter crap — other than the president?

At his State of the Union speech, the president uttered a remarkably divisive comment, declaring that “Americans are dreamers, too.” How does someone who proposes to unify the country poke his proverbial finger in the eye of those U.S. residents who were brought here illegally as children but who want to forge a path toward legal residency and even U.S. citizenship?

How can we reach a unified state? It must begin with the president. It’s the president who must set the tone.

It is not enough to declare your intention to unify a badly divided nation. It is incumbent on the head of state to deliver unity in the form of rhetoric that seeks to calm the storm.

The unity that Donald Trump proclaims he wants remains far in the distance. My fear is that this president is incapable of getting us to that point. He cannot function in such an environment.

Didn’t hear much ‘unity,’ Mr. President

I awoke this morning during a lunar eclipse. But the sun rose in the east — just as it has done since the beginning of time.

However, I don’t believe I awoke to a country more “unified” after last night’s presidential State of the Union speech, which I watched from start to finish.

The president said his speech would “unify” the nation. Judging from what I witnessed on my TV screen, I didn’t see a unified joint congressional session. Republicans stood repeatedly. Democrats sat on their hands.

Is that somehow different? Is it unique to this president in this time? Not at all! Republicans sat on their hands when Presidents Clinton and Obama spoke to them, just as Democrats did during President Bush’s two terms (the president’s post-9/11 speech notwithstanding, when everyone was cheering his rallying cry to a grieving nation).

Donald Trump’s urging of unity was supplanted by mentioning tax cuts, the repealing of the mandates required by the Affordable Care Act, the battle over immigration and construction of “the wall,” the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice. Divisiveness, anyone?

The president took office in the aftermath of arguably the most contentious, bitter campaigns in the past century. He took charge of a nation divided sharply over his election — and it hasn’t gotten any less divided in the year since he took office.

If the congressional response we witnessed Tuesday night on Capitol Hill is indicative of the nation those men and women represent, well, the president has a lot more work ahead of him.

Dear Mr. (Former) President …

We’ve entered the month that will mark the first year of the start of Donald John Trump’s term as president.

That day will occur on the 20th of January.

I thought I would mark that event a bit early with an open letter to the man he succeeded as president of the United States.

It goes like this:

***

Dear Barack:

I hope it’s OK if I call you by your first name, now that you’re no longer president.

As you know, it’s been a rough and rowdy year since you, your wife and daughters lifted off the White House lawn and took up status as private citizens.

I just wanted you to know a few things.

First, I wish you were still on the job. Yes, I know that you were anxious to leave. I also know you and your lovely wife chafed at times at being under the world’s microscope 24/7. But that’s what you signed on for when you took the oath twice. Still, I don’t begrudge you for being glad to be sleeping in, going where you want when you want and not being held to airtight scheduling.

I was proud to vote twice for you. You inspired me, even though I’m a good bit older than you are. You made me almost as proud of those two votes as I was the first time I voted for president in 1972. I cast that vote for George McGovern. It didn’t work out well that year for my guy. In 2008 and again in 2012, I was proud to count my votes among the 135 million ballots you collected in your two winning campaigns.

I know you get lots of these kinds of notes. I hope you see this one.

It’s been tough to watch your successor struggle just learning how to act presidential. To your immense credit, you had none of that kind of on-the-job  training. Then again, you at least brought some knowledge of government when you took the oath the first time.

I can’t let this opportunity pass without acknowledging that you weren’t the perfect president. You made some mistakes. I am particularly chagrined that you drew the “red line” in Syria, but then didn’t act on it when the Syrian military crossed the line and used chemical weapons on their citizens.

The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. It needs fixing. At least you had the guts to say as much and offered to work with congressional Republicans to improve it. They weren’t having any of that. Shame on them.

That’s all water over the dam. You’re now in private life. I am glad for you. But damn, I sure wish there was a way we could get you back.

With that, young man, I’ll offer this final thought.

Yes, we did! Well done, Mr. President.

Mend, don’t end the Affordable Care Act

Donald Trump believes congressional Republicans and Democrats are going to find a way to craft a new national health care insurance plan.

That’s a bold prediction, Mr. President, given the record so far.

GOP and Democratic lawmakers couldn’t agree on the time of day, let alone a fix to the Affordable Care Act. The president didn’t help any search for common ground, mainly because he couldn’t articulate any reasonable alternatives to the ACA. Congress tried twice to “repeal and replace” the ACA, but face-planted over arguments over the cost — and the impact any replacement would have on Americans’ future health insurance availability.

I continue to believe that a total repeal of the ACA is unnecessary and draconian. Millions of Americans now have health insurance who couldn’t afford it before. Every alleged alternative to the ACA has been deemed too harsh and too punitive.

I share the thoughts of many analysts who say that if Medicare and Social Security — to other landmark legislative achievements — can be tinkered and tweaked to make them necessary to Americans’ way of life, so can the ACA.

Whether the president’s prediction comes true will depend on whether Republicans — who want desperately to remove Barack Obama’s name from this achievement — are willing to improve the ACA, rather than destroy it.

Mend it. Don’t end the Affordable Care Act.

Federal government is broken

Take a look at this picture. It shows the president of the United States declaring victory in the effort to enact a significant tax cut.

The men and women behind him? They’re all Republican lawmakers. You won’t see a Democrat in the bunch. Congressional Democrats opposed the tax cut. They say it favors the rich and hurts the middle class. Republicans see the cuts as spurring business growth, creating more jobs, giving the economy a necessary kick in the rear end.

The picture also — to me, at least — depicts a government that does not work. We’re being governed by the party in power. They are shoving legislation down our throats. They are suggesting that since they can grip the gavel, there’s no need to heed the wishes of those Democrats who just are crybabies still bemoaning the loss of a presidential election they thought was in the bag for their candidate.

Fairness requires me to say this: Democrats did much the same thing in 2010 when they were in control of Congress and the White House. They passed the Affordable Care Act with zero Republican votes in either chamber of Congress.

My point is this: Good government requires both parties to search for common ground. I much prefer to see photo ops with presidents signing legislation into law with leaders of both parties surrounding them. The president hands out pens as he signs the bill to individuals who were instrumental in enacting the law. They go to members of both major parties who are sharing in the president’s reflected glory.

President Lyndon Johnson had many political allies among Republicans; President Richard Nixon could say the same about Democrats — until he got into serious political trouble; Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush could rely on pols from the opposing parties when the chips were down.

We didn’t see bipartisan joy when Barack H. Obama signed the ACA into law. We won’t see it when Donald J. Trump signs the tax cut bill.

This is not how government should work.

Sad.