Tag Archives: ACA

ACA ruling puts GOP in a bit of a pickle

Donald Trump, obviously, is happy that a Texas-based federal judge has declared the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.

However, are his fellow Republicans thrilled with Judge Reed O’Connor’s wide-ranging ruling? Not . . . exactly.

Many GOP congressional candidates campaigned for election and re-election in this year’s midterm election promising to protect one of the ACA’s key provisions: to cover “pre-existing” medical conditions for those who have purchased insurance under the landmark legislation.

But the judge said the ACA violates the Constitution because of legislation that stripped out the individual mandate provision, which requires Americans to have insurance or else face civil penalties. You can’t do that, Judge O’Connor said.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, two Texas Republicans, have remained quiet about the ruling. So has Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. You’d think they would join the president in extolling the decision.

Here’s the deal, though: The ACA remains popular among Americans. National Public Radio reports that a Kaiser Family Foundation poll declares that 53 percent of Americans like the ACA. What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the legislation enacted in 2010 during President Obama’s first term and stands as the former president’s landmark domestic legislative triumph.

So, what are GOP politicians going to do? Will they buy into the judge’s ruling and then try to explain to voters why they campaigned in favor of key ACA provisions?

This matter surely is headed for an appeal that well could end up in front of the nation’s highest court eventually. A single judge’s ruling isn’t likely to pull the plug on the ACA; it will remain in effect until a higher court makes the definitive decision.

The nation’s Republican politicians, though, now find themselves squirming and wiggling for ways to justify what they said on the campaign trail while praising a judge’s decision to scrap the Affordable Care Act.

 

ACA gets the boot; now, get ready for the appeals

A U.S. district judge has booted out the Affordable Care Act, calling a key element to it unconstitutional.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the U.S. Supreme Court already has upheld the ACA, which has withstood repeated Republican-led challenges in Congress and the courts.

The anti-ACA ruling came today from Judge Reed O’Connor, who presides on the federal court for the Northern District of Texas; O’Connor is based in Fort Worth.

He said the individual mandate of the law violates the Constitution because “it cannot be separated from the rest of the law.” His ruling, therefore, means the entire ACA must be scrapped.

Democrats, quite naturally, are going to appeal this ruling.

I won’t disparage Judge O’Connor. I will stipulate, though, that the Supreme Court has heard arguments already on the ACA and has voted to uphold it. Has the court’s ideological balance changed so drastically that it would reverse what it already has ruled? Not likely.

My sincere hope is that the law known as Obamacare withstands the challenge that continues to mount. Millions of Americans already have enrolled in health insurance under the ACA. Rulings such as the one handed down by Judge O’Connor shouldn’t jeopardize Americans’ ability to obtain health insurance.

Indeed, Republican and Democratic legal scholars believe the ACA is likely to survive despite the judge’s ruling.

Let us hope that’s the case.

Sauce for the gander?

Some members of the far right wing mainstream media are just appalled, I tell ya, that individuals who seek to honor the life and service of the late President George H.W. Bush are taking pot shots at one of his successors, Donald John Trump.

How dare they say those things and besmirch the tributes to Bush 41? I think I know how those Trump critics justify the criticism.

They suggest — and I concur with them — that Donald Trump has shown no reluctance to criticize political foes while they are stricken with life-threatening illness. I am thinking specifically of the late Sen. John McCain, who died in August after battling brain cancer. Did the president let up on his anger over McCain’s “no” vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act? He did not.

He mocked a New York Times reporter’s physical disability; he took dead aim at a Gold Star family whose son died in Iraq because they criticized him at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

I believe that lies at the crux of the belief among those who choose to honor President Bush. They remember his decency, his grace, his humility, his empathy, his deep and fundamental understanding of public service; indeed, they honor his seven decades of public service, starting with his combat duty during World War II as the Navy’s youngest fighter pilot.

It is impossible to avoid drawing comparisons between President Bush and his presidential successor. What’s more, Donald Trump’s own record of disparaging others is loaded with examples of precisely the lack of the qualities that George H.W. Bush exhibited during his long and distinguished public life.

The pundits and commentators on the far right are entitled to express their outrage over the treatment that Trump is getting at this moment. Let ’em gripe.

Just remember the old “sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander” refrain. What’s good for one is certainly good for the other.

SCOTUS chief to POTUS: No such thing as partisan judges

Listen up, Mr. President. Sit up straight and pay attention. The chief justice of the United States of America is speaking words of wisdom.

Chief Justice John Roberts has informed you, Donald Trump, that the country doesn’t have “Obama judges, or Bush judges or Clinton judges.” The federal judiciary, he reminded all of us in a statement issued today, is an independent branch of the government. The men and women who adjudicate cases must be free of partisan consideration, such as the individual who nominated them to whatever bench where they sit.

It’s a rare event to have the chief justice admonish a politician, Mr. President. Congratulations, you’ve stirred the pot!

The chief is admonishing you for those intemperate remarks you keep making about judges. You had the gall to refer to a U.S.-born federal jurist as a “Mexican” only because he is of Mexican heritage; the judge was ruling against your anti-immigration efforts. You referred to another judge based in Hawaii as a “so-called judge” because he knocked down your Muslim travel ban. Another judge who ruled against your recent asylum ban became an “Obama judge.”

Thus, the chief justice got riled enough to speak out against your careless references to the men and women who sit on our federal bench.

Perhaps he’s ticked that you criticized him directly for his vote in 2012 to preserve the Affordable Care Act. That makes it even worse, Mr. President.

You, Mr. President, keep demonstrating an absolute and unwavering ignorance of the roles that the co-equal branches of government play. You don’t understand the limits of your own executive power, or the limitations placed on the legislative and judicial branches of government. Your habitual loud mouth and careless rhetoric underscore your own ignorance of the governmental framework you took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend.”

I am glad to know that Chief Justice Roberts has called you out, although his language — quite understandably — was measured and scholarly.

I know you won’t learn from this. I just had to weigh in anyway.

Mr. President, you simply scare the spit out of me.

McConnell wants what? Bipartisanship? For real?

I gave myself one of those proverbial forehead slaps when I heard this tidbit: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants there to be more “bipartisanship” in the next Congress.

Huh? He said what? This comes in the form of an op-ed column from the obstructionist in chief on Capitol Hill?

It took my breath away.

This is the fellow who said in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Uh, huh. He said that. The 2012 presidential election, of course, dashed Leader McConnell’s dream. President Obama won re-election.

Then came the congressional Republican caucuses singular effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They staged countless votes in the Senate and the House. They came up short. Who led the charge? Mitch did, that’s who.

And then we had the obstruction to end all obstructions in early 2016. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon on the court, died suddenly in Texas. Justice Scalia’s body had barely gotten cold when McConnell declared that President Obama would not get the chance to replace him.

Oh sure, the president can nominate someone, McConnell said, but Republicans were not going to move the nomination forward. Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland — a supremely qualified man — only to watch his nomination wither and die. We had a presidential election to conclude and McConnell banked on the hope that a Republican would be elected. His gamble paid off with Donald Trump’s election.

Now the majority leader wants a more bipartisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill.

Pardon me while I bust out laughing.

The next Congress will be split. Democrats will control the House; Republicans will lead the Senate. Bipartisanship certainly is the preferred way to govern.

That such a call would come from the U.S. Senate’s leading obstructionist gives “gall” a bad name.

Here it comes again: attempt to repeal ACA

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spilled the beans recently.

Congressional Republicans are going to make another run at trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, after the midterm election.

Now, it well might be that Democrats will wrest control of the House of Representatives from Republicans, which likely means that McConnell and short-timer House Speaker Paul Ryan will convene a “lame-duck” congressional session to get rid of the ACA.

Hmm. What a load of horse dookey.

Republicans all over the country — even here in Texas — are campaigning on a pledge to retain insurance for people with “pre-existing conditions.” They actually have accused Democratic candidates of trying to get rid of that provision.

The stark reality is that when Barack Obama was president and Congress was wrestling with ways to repeal the ACA, they fought tooth and nail, hammer and tong to get rid of that provision. Now they want to save it?

As former President Obama noted the other day, “that is a lie.”

McConnell’s stated desire to repeal the ACA also simply goes against prevailing public opinion about President Obama’s signature domestic triumph. Polls have revealed significant public support for the ACA, given that it has provided millions of Americans with health insurance who couldn’t afford it.

Many of us agree that the ACA is far from perfect. But, why repeal it? Why not mend it, repair it, improve what needs improvement?

That kind of mending and repairing has been done. Medicare? Yep. Medicaid? Yes again. How did it happen when Congress enacted Medicare, for example, in 1965? It occurred when Democrats and Republicans sought common ground, worked toward compromise and — presto! — re-created a law that has been an indispensable part of Americans’ lives.

Compromise and common ground, though, has escaped the vocabularies of today’s politicians.

They need to look for them. Once they find them yet again, put those principles to good use.

TEA Party? Where have you gone?

Don’t you remember when the 2010 midterm election produced a “shellacking” of the Democrats? It was delivered by what was then called the TEA Party.

Eight years ago, the TEA Party was the dominant insurgent force within the Republican Party. The TEA Party comprised Republicans who were fed up with being taxed too much.

Indeed, in recent years I’ve been using the term “TEA Party” in all capital letters, because it was born of a movement that proclaimed itself to be “Taxed Enough Already,” hence TEA Party is an acronym.

The TEA Party drove then-House Speaker John Boehner — a leader of the “establishment wing” of the Republican Party — to just this side of nuts. Indeed, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican and a friend/ally of Boehner, told me he believed Boehner was going to bail from the House because he was tired of battling the rebels within his GOP caucus.

It turned out Thornberry was right. Boehner quit the speakership and the House in 2015. He’d had enough.

The TEA Party has its share of lawmakers who’ve taken their message forward. Ted Cruz of Texas is one of them.

But since about 2016, we hear less of the TEA Party and more of another insurgent group of Republican lawmakers calling themselves the Freedom Caucus. It, too, is a low-tax outfit committed to cutting government spending on programs that have become part of the national fabric. You know, programs such as Medicare, Medicaid … those kinds of things.

The Freedom Caucus has picked up where the TEA Party (seemingly) left off in opposing the Affordable Care Act. They want to repeal the ACA, but I haven’t heard about whether to simply repair the ACA, make it better, preserve those elements of it that are working.

The Freedom Caucus has become every bit the political gadfly that the TEA Party became to the point of sending a speaker of the House of Representatives packing in the middle of his term.

It’s not that I miss the TEA Party. I don’t. I’m just wondering out loud how these movements come and go and how replacement insurgencies come to the fore.

I happen to favor good government, not necessarily big government. The TEA Party — wherever it is — wants to gut government. As one who appreciates the role government plays to improve people’s lives, I wouldn’t mind one bit if the TEA Party would simply vanish, never to be heard from again.

Same for the Freedom Caucus.

Do you recall the GOP lawsuit to toss out Obamacare?

Once upon a time — it now seems so long ago — then-U.S. House Speaker John Boehner filed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Barack Obama was president of the United States. Boehner and his congressional Republican colleagues had tried but failed to toss out the ACA. So, Boehner thought he’d try another course, through the court system.

Then a funny thing happened. Boehner quit the speakership and left Congress. He got really frustrated with the TEA Party wing of his Republican caucus in the House. So he walked away.

Oh yeah, then we had this election in 2016 and a Republican, Donald J. Trump, got elected president. He’s tried to toss out the ACA, too. He cannot get the job done.

I keep wondering: Whatever became of that lawsuit? Boehner seems to have walked completely away from the public policy discussion that fueled so much of his awake time when he was speaker of the House.

As for the court system, I keep wondering if it has taken a powder on this notion of adjudicating a civil lawsuit that seeks to rid the law books of the Affordable Care Act.

Is the law perfect? No. Is it the “disaster” that Donald Trump says it is? No. It has put millions of Americans on health insurance who otherwise didn’t qualify or who couldn’t afford it.

As for the Boehner lawsuit he filed with considerable fanfare before he decided he’d had it up to here with the TEA Party, its dormant status suggests to me that when it came to throwing his weight around, the House speaker was all hat and no cattle.

Time to praise SCOTUS selection

I am feeling so good over the rescue of the Thai boys and their soccer coach from that flooded cave in northern Thailand that I want to offer a good word for Donald John Trump’s selection to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I’ll stipulate up front that you’ll deem this to be faint praise, but it’s praise nonetheless.

Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has angered the crackpot Trump “base.” They’re none too happy with Kavanaugh, fearing that he doesn’t appear to be as firmly opposed to Roe v. Wade as the base continues to be. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania chided the president for surrendering to what he called the “Washington elite” by selecting Kavanaugh.

To be sure, the justice nominee is a conservative. He appears to be what one could call a “mainstream conservative,” not a goofball/wack-job conservative.

He has pledged to be independent and to study the law as it is written, not as one wishes it were written.

Is this the kind of judge I would have selected? Of course not! However, Trump is the president of the United States.

By anyone’s measure, Kavanaugh is supremely qualified to serve on the high court. He’s a Yale Law School grad, meaning that the entire Supreme Court would comprise Ivy League legal eagles if Kavanaugh is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate will nitpick the daylights out of Kavanaugh’s lengthy written record. Senators will need to examine Kavanaugh’s views on health care, as well as on whether sitting presidents can be indicted for criminal offenses. His record suggests he might tilt the “wrong way” on both of those issues.

I continue to believe that while Kavanaugh’s conservative credentials might solidify the court’s right-leaning bias, it doesn’t guarantee it necessarily on every single key ruling that would come before the Supreme Court.

That seeming uncertainty, I submit, is what might be driving the Trump bloc of “base” voters nuts.

Meghan McCain won’t ‘forgive’ POTUS … good!

Meghan McCain clearly loves her father with all her heart.

Thus, she is taking a deserved hard line against the man who has disparaged, disrespected and disregarded her war-hero dad.

U.S. Sen. John McCain is battling brain cancer. He has faced down the toughest foes imaginable, given his more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

So, when Donald John Trump insults Sen. McCain — and doesn’t ever rebuke a White House staffer who did so as well — one can expect the senator’s daughter to take it personally.

Meghan McCain has become a celebrity in her own right, as a co-host of “The View.” She said this recently about the president, according to Time.com: “[Trump’s] comments are never going to be OK with me, especially at this moment in my life. I’m never going to forgive it,” the co-host of ABC’s The View said on stage. “I’m never going to move on from it.”

Why should she?

Trump once disparaged McCain’s Vietnam War service by saying he is a hero “only because he was captured.” Then he has continued to harp on the senator’s thumbs-down gesture that doomed Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

And then we had the gem fly out of the mouth of former White House aide Kelly Sadler after McCain urged his Senate colleagues to reject Gina Haspel as the CIA director, given her role in torturing enemy combatants. “It doesn’t matter” what McCain said, Sadler muttered. “He’s dying anyway.”

Has the president called Sadler out? No. He got angry because her comments were leaked.

Meghan McCain said this, too: “If anyone wants to say anything to me in any way, they have to do it publicly,” she said. “I don’t take private phone calls from the Trump Administration anymore.

As for Sadler’s crack, Meghan McCain said this: “Kelly … it is not how you die. It is how you live.”

John McCain has lived a life of public service that is totally foreign to the president of the United States. I, too, admire Sen. McCain’s sacrifice in defense of our nation.

As for his daughter’s declaration that she cannot “forgive” the way the president has treated her father, I am in her corner.