Tag Archives: ACA

GOP repays Democrats with ham-handed strategy

Do you remember the days when congressional Republicans accused congressional Democrats of ramming legislation through without consulting them?

They were angry, man! Barack H. Obama wanted to enact sweeping health care insurance reform. He reached out to Republicans. They were having none of it. So the Democratic president turned to his allies in Capitol Hill.

Why, that just infuriated Republicans.

The GOP’s response once they took control of Capitol Hill? How did the Republicans decide to legislate when one of their guys, Donald Trump, was elected president?

They chose to do the same thing. They sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something else. They had no Democrats on board with that fight. The ACA repeal-and-replace effort failed.

Donald Trump just had to have a legislative victory. So he turned to tax overhaul.

Here we are. Both legislative chambers have approved versions of a tax overhaul bill, except that it was done with a Republican-only majority. The debate has been joined, with both sides arguing from across the room at each other. It’s going to blow up the federal budget deficit, which Republicans used to hate; Democrats say the rich will get a break, while middle-class Americans get the shaft.

Thus, we have more of precisely the same kind of ham-handed bullying that Republicans alleged against Democrats.

As the fictional philosopher Tonto once told The Lone Ranger: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Senate GOP makes yet another run at the ACA

Here we go … again!

U.S. Senate Republicans have come up with a scheme to pay for the big tax cut they’re trying to enact that involves the Affordable Care Act. They want to repeal the individual mandate portion of the ACA, which they say will save more than $300 billion over the next decade.

The savings would be used to pay for the tax cuts being pitched for many wealthy Americans.

This is so very maddening, in my ever-so-humble view.

Congress trying again to repeal ACA

Congress has been unable to repeal the ACA and replace it. The president has been unable push his Republican pals across the finish line. They have tried and failed since long before Donald Trump took office as president of the United States.

Now comes this bit of Senate trickery: attach the individual mandate repeal to a tax cut they say would jumpstart the economy. Moreover, is anyone on Capitol Hill or the White House worried any longer about the national debt and our annual budget deficit, which economists say are going to explode under the GOP tax cut?

I want to make a couple of points.

One is that the economy is rocking along just fine. The U.S. Labor Department announced earlier this month that non-farm payrolls jumped by 260,000 jobs in October; the unemployment rate is at its lowest rate in 17 years. Not bad, man!

Two, enrollment for the ACA is moving along at a brisk pace. Hundreds of thousands more Americans signed up for insurance when open enrollment began at the beginning of the month, despite the president’s efforts to undermine the ACA.

I remain totally opposed to any wholesale repeal of the ACA. I continue to insist that it can be improved. It can be made more affordable. 

Removing the individual mandate — which requires Americans to purchase health insurance or face a penalty — is certain to do one thing: It will toss millions of Americans off the rolls of the insured.

How is that supposed to help?

Is a political wave developing out there?

What do we make of the Democrats’ big wins for governor in New Jersey in Virginia?

OK, I’ll now lay out for you my extreme bias on the matter … as if you’re going to be surprised.

Phil Murphy’s win in New Jersey and Ralph Northam’s victory in Virginia sang to me. I was happy to see what I believe might be a wholesale rejection of Donald J. Trump’s effort to remake the Republican Party in his own seedy, isolationist, nativist image.

The president has hijacked the Republican Party. A man with zero political activity in his professional background ascended to the world’s most exalted office in 2016.

Republicans are reeling

Republicans now have to deal with the president’s lack of accomplishment as his first year in office approaches. GOP prospects for enacting “tax reform” now appear to be in serious jeopardy.

What’s more, Republicans now are beginning to lament out loud that the 2018 midterm election for both houses of Congress bodes grimly for their chances of retaining control of the legislative branch of government.

To which I say … cry me a river.

I am not the least bit concerned about Republicans’ political prospects. Given that we all have our bias, I’ll lay out my own.

I want Democrats to do well next year to rein in the Republican-led stampede to undo what Donald Trump’s immediate predecessor as president, Barack Obama, sought to implement.

The Affordable Care Act needs refinement and improvement, not repeal; the nation needs to do more, not less, to protect our environment; America must remain engaged in world affairs, working closely with our allies.

Trump’s agenda seeks to divide Americans and seeks to separate the world’s greatest nation from the rest of the planet. He has vowed to “put America first,” and pledged to “make America great again.”

Democrats have been handed a tailor-made theme on which to campaign against those who are running under the banner of the party that is led by the most unqualified, untruthful and unfit man elected to the presidency in the nation’s history.

Don’t hate me just because I have declared my bias. Those on the other side of the divide have their own bias, too.

Let’s have this debate … beginning right this minute.

GOP plans to read tax bill eventually

Let’s call it the same song, second verse … or just the same ol’ same ol’.

U.S. Senate and House Republican leaders have cobbled together a tax cut bill that the rest of their GOP colleagues haven’t yet read. They say they plan to examine the legislation before voting on it.

Gosh! What a concept!

The tax bill is drawing some independent analysis, however, from those who tell us it will jumpstart an economy that’s already moving along pretty well. Others say it helps the rich more than it helps the middle class.

Donald Trump calls it the biggest tax cut in U.S. history.

What I find most amazing/amusing/troubling is that the GOP plans to rush this bill through before Thanksgiving. I am not alone in wondering about the wisdom of such a fast-track effort. The most recent landmark tax reform package took months of debate and hearings before it went to President Reagan’s desk in 1986. How in the world does this version of GOP leadership plan to enact the nation’s most historic tax cut in such short order?

The idea that legislators haven’t read it, of course, isn’t new. Democrats said much the same thing before they brought the Affordable Care Act forward in 2009 and 2010. Yes, the ACA had some serious hiccups during its rollout, but it is working — despite what GOP leaders keep saying to the contrary.

Congressional Republicans are feeling the heat to do something of substance. They couldn’t repeal and replace the ACA; they haven’t secured money to build the president’s “beautiful wall” across the southern border. Now they’re hanging their fortunes on tax reform.

They haven’t read the bill. They aren’t commenting on its specifics.

I keep wondering the same thing that I asked about the ACA repeal/replace effort: Why can’t — or won’t — these majority congressional members work with Democrats to get their input in legislation that affects all Americans?

Watergate-style blowout awaits GOP?

Ted Cruz thinks congressional Republicans face the possibility of a “Watergate-style blowout” in 2018 if they fail to enact a health care overhaul and reform federal taxes.

I think the Texas Republican U.S. senator is on to something, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Indeed, I agree that the GOP is vulnerable to a big mid-term election shellacking, but I disagree with the reasons cited by Cruz.

Republicans might take their hits if they seek to enact a health care overhaul similar to what they sought to do already. As for tax reform, those big cuts for the wealthy aren’t going over well, either, with the public.

The president of the United States already has drawn a bead on the Affordable Care Act. He is using his executive authority to dismantle the ACA even before Congress approves any sort of replacement.

All the while, the president hasn’t yet spoken with any semblance of detail about how he intends to replace the ACA. He just keeps yammering about the “disaster” that awaits if the ACA remains on the books.

As for tax reform, Donald Trump is equally vague about how his planned tax cuts will boost a national economy that’s already rocking along fairly nicely.

And so the drama continues. Sen. Cruz thinks the public will vote Republicans out of Congress if they fail to deal with these two issues. I tend to believe the public will rebel if they proceed along the wrongheaded paths they’ve already staked out.

Should the Republicans suffer those kinds of losses, count me as one American who won’t shed any tears.

Trump continues his rampage

Donald J. Trump is having a busy week, indeed.

The president has taken direct aim at (a) the Affordable Care Act, (b) the Iran nuclear deal and (c) the United Nations. To what end? To show the world he’s putting “America first” and that he doesn’t care what the rest of the nation that didn’t vote for him thinks about the policies he is dismantling.

* Trump this week declared his intention to discontinue the subsidies the government pays to reduce health insurance premiums for Americans who need them to purchase insurance under the ACA. He’s seeking to destroy former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, no matter how many millions of Americans he hurts along the way.

* The president has decided against recertifying the Iran nuclear pact that Obama’s foreign policy team negotiated with five other nations. It seeks to demand that Iran quit developing nuclear weapons. International analysts say Iran is complying with the deal; Trump says the Iranians aren’t complying. Hmm. Who do you believe, the experts or a pathological liar?

* Trump has decided to pull the United States out of UNESCO, a UN-affiliated organization dedicated to developing world peace through collaborative educational, scientific and cultural reforms. That sound pretty nefarious, right? He cites an alleged “anti-Israel bias” in the UN. So, he’ll just pull us out of UNESCO. That’ll teach ’em.

The president just cannot stop doing things that make many of us angry. Sure, he pleases a lot of folks around the country with this so-called “no-nonsense” approach to domestic and international policy.

In my own view, though, he is forsaking policies only because they were crafted by his predecessor, the fellow Trump defamed by suggesting for years he wasn’t qualified constitutionally to serve as president; it’s that “birther” thing.

As for the UNESCO pullout, Trump is managing to anger allied nations who do not view the world through the same distorted prism the president uses.

But, by golly, he’s telling it like it is.

Trump doing all he can to destroy ACA

The Affordable Care Act isn’t dying on its own. Donald J. Trump just cannot stand the thought of the ACA surviving, so he’s taking measures to kill it.

Congress has failed to repeal the ACA and replace it with an abomination called Trumpcare. So what does the president decide to do? He plans now to eliminate the cost-sharing reduction subsidies that have helped low-income Americans afford the health care the ACA is intended to provide them.

That’s right. The CSR is slated to be toast. The president is intent on wiping the ACA off the books. No matter what it takes or who it hurts. He’s going to hurt a lot of Americans by eliminating the CSR provision.

Vox.com reports: The White House announced late Thursday that the administration would stop the payments. The move comes as the Trump administration is also cutting funding for Obamacare outreach and pursuing new regulations to blow holes in the law, changes that collectively threaten a program through which millions of Americans purchase insurance.

I get what’s happening. The president is taking some executive action to do what couldn’t be done legislatively. The irony is that Trump and other Republicans were so damn critical of President Barack Obama for exercising his constitutional authority time and again on issues of the day.

CSR helps provide insurance

The subsidy is intended to provide a cushion for Americans seeking insurance under the ACA. I have some knowledge of this, as my wife applied for health insurance under the health care law, and was able to purchase it with the CSR allowance. She’s now on Medicare — as am I.

The president is now intent on denying that benefit to millions of Americans. He said the ACA was “dying.” Medical analysts have disagreed with that assessment. So the president has decided to pull the trigger himself.

Shameful.

Donald Trump = Loser

Donald J. Trump is such a “loser.”

He backs losers. He listens to the advice of loser advisers. The president who promised to make America a “winner” again is, um, just another loser.

There, Mr. President. How does that feel?

You see, “loser” is a favorite epithet of Trump’s. He hurls it at political foes. He even calls international terrorists “losers,” which if you think about it is a fairly mild form of insult one might toss at mass murderers and genocidal maniacs. 

CNN reports that Trump is furious at his political team for talking him into backing U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican Party primary election, which Tuesday night nominated former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. GOP voters spurned Trump’s guy and went with Moore, the man known for his rocky tenure as head of the ‘Bama high court. He got tossed from his judicial perch for violating the constitutional prohibition on promoting an official religion and for refusing to back a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affirmed gay marriage.

Trump is steamed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who persuaded Trump to back Strange. He’s mad at Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, who urged the same thing. The president just hates being associated with losing, according to CNN, which reported: “Losing is bad for his brand,” another GOP adviser to the White House said of Trump.

The president is on a bit of a losing streak. Not only did he back the wrong pony in the Alabama U.S. Senate race, his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have face-planted for the umpteenth time. Oh, and special counsel Robert Mueller has kicked in his legal after burners in his efforts to get to the bottom of “the Russia thing” that Trump has acknowledged caused him to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

This is the gospel truth, but I take no real pleasure in calling the president a “loser.” He’s beginning to exhibit the first glimmers of getting it by reaching out to congressional Democrats on this immigration matter involving those who were brought here illegally as children. They want to stay here and want to achieve citizenship or permanent legal immigrant status.

But … that’s about it.

Trump disrespects McCain … one more time

This doesn’t surprise me. Nothing that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth should surprise anyone, for that matter.

I’m still baffled that the president of the United States can utter the kind of cheap criticism at an American hero who’s in the midst of a life-and-death battle with brain cancer.

U.S. Sen. John McCain announced this week he would oppose a Senate Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump favored the GOP plan. It’s the second time in just three months that Sen. McCain has scuttled a GOP effort to repeal and replace the ACA.

So … what does the president declare via Twitter? He calls the Republican McCain a flip-flopper, suggesting that he went back on his pledge to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

Did the president make any public mention of McCain’s battle with brain cancer? Did he salute McCain for the service he has given the country — as a U.S. Navy aviator who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, suffering unspeakable pain and torture at the hands of his captors and then as a member of Congress for three decades?

Ohhh, no! The president chose to stay on the low road. He chose to lampoon Sen. McCain’s vote just a day after the senator revealed to the nation that he has received a “very poor prognosis” from his doctors.

This kind of cheap, petulant politicking is what I suppose we should expect from the president of the United States. That doesn’t mean we should accept it. I damn sure don’t.

Shameful.

GOP needs to learn how to govern

It’s over. For now. Maybe it’ll be back. Maybe not.

Senate Republicans — along with their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives — had signed in blood (proverbially) their vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which they referred to colloquially and derisively as Obamacare.

They failed. Again. For the umpteenth time. The ACA remains the law of the land for the foreseeable future if not longer.

This begs the question for me: Can the Republicans ever govern?

The GOP face-planted on ACA repeal when three senators said “no” to the bill called Graham-Cassidy, named after GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. The senators who stuck the shiv into this effort were John McCain, Rand Paul and Susan Collins. They’ve all been in the Senate for a while and were part of the Republican pledge to rid the nation of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

This cluster-fudge reminds me a bit of how an earlier Republican insurgency, led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, stormed Capitol Hill in 1994. They took command of Congress and then had to learn quickly how to govern. They stumbled, bumbled and fumbled their way while battling a Democrat in the White House, President Bill Clinton.

But they managed, eventually, to find their way out of the darkness. The difference between then and now is that the the earlier GOP congressional leadership team worked with a president who knew how to govern, how to compromise, how to cajole the opposition when he needed to do it.

The Republican Party now controls Congress and the White House. Therein we have the difference between then and now.

Republicans fought tooth-and-nail with President Barack Obama over repealing the ACA. They never crafted an acceptable alternative. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress fought them off. Obama then left office in January. Donald Trump said he wanted a bill on his desk when he stepped into the Oval Office. He didn’t find one.

How come? The GOP was too fixated on the “repeal” part of the strategy and not nearly enough on the “replace” part of it. As for the president, he was clueless during the campaign about what it took to assemble a legislative alternative to the ACA — and is just as clueless at this very moment about how to negotiate with disparate members of his party’s congressional caucus to find a solution.

I keep circling back to the notion that the presidency requires knowledge of the complex and sometimes arcane system of governing the United States of America.

Donald Trump doesn’t know it and his ignorance of the details of his office has revealed that the political party to which he ostensibly is a member has yet to find its governing legs.