Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

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.

 

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.

Mitch is striking ‘bipartisan’ tone for new year

Can it be true? Is the Senate majority leader finding some form of “religion” on how to govern?

Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is talking about a more “bipartisan” approach to legislating in the coming year. Well now. Imagine that.

The New York Times is reporting that McConnell is going to shy away from highly partisan measures and concentrate more on issues that have broader bipartisan support. He’s going to look for more Democratic support to go along with the Republican majority that controls the flow of legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Dodd-Frank, which governs the financial industry, has bipartisan support for overhauling the law enacted in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis. McConnell said he virtually certain to push that overhaul forward.

Mitch is going bipartisan

As Politico reports, McConnell and other Republicans failed in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this year. “I wish them well,” he said of efforts to continue to repeal the ACA and replace it with … something!

As an American who favors a bipartisan approach to legislating in Congress, I welcome the majority leader’s stated intention to seek another way to govern.

Now … if only Sen. McConnell can persuade the guy in the Oval Office that cooperation works far more effectively than confrontation.

What? They haven’t read the tax cut bill? Shocking!

Congressional Republicans got all over congressional Democrats for their alleged failure to “read the Affordable Care Act” before enacting it into law in 2010.

So, what’s been the GOP response? They’ve done precisely the same thing with regard to the tax cut that’s about to become law.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who famously said he didn’t want to blow up the budget deficit with the tax cut, now says he favors it. He also admits to not yet reading the bill before changing his mind.

How is it that it’s OK for one side to do the thing they castigate the other side of doing?

Democrats, to be fair, need to be mindful of their criticism of Republicans’ failure to know the nitty-gritty details of the bill they’re about to approve.

Politics ain’t pretty, man. Neither is legislating. Someone once compared legislating to sausage-making. It’s messy, a bit grimy and greasy at times and it requires those we elect to legislate to do their homework.

Democrats and Republicans are afflicted with the same malady: laziness that gives way to political expediency.

Does the GOP serve the public … or itself?

First it was the Republican-led initiative to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an unknown alternative.

Americans weren’t having any part of that cluster-flip. The ACA repeal/replace effort fizzled and failed.

Now the GOP leadership in Congress is trying to enact a massive tax cut. How is that plan faring in the world of public opinion? Not much better than the ACA repeal effort.

So now congressional Republicans are poised to send a tax cut to Donald J. Trump’s desk. The president will sign it. It’ll become law before the end of the year. Every Republican in Congress will declare victory.

But is this what Americans really want? Some critical analysis is reporting that middle-class Americans won’t get a permanent tax break, while corporations and gazillionaires will get longterm tax relief. It’s also going to add more than a trillion dollars to the budget deficit over the next decade. Aren’t Republicans supposed to be “deficit hawks”?

Thus, public opinion appears to be lined up against this tax overhaul.

So … why do the men and women in command of the legislative and executive branches of government insist that this tax cut is going to answer all our prayers?

I keep wondering if these political leaders represent the interests of all Americans or just those who have sway over the policies being enacted.

Another one bites the dust

Blake Farenthold has given a new, but strangely ironic meaning to the “Me Too” movement.

The Republican member of Congress from Corpus Christi has said “Me, too … I’m ‘retiring’ from the House of Representatives because of sexual harassment allegations.”

Farenthold reportedly is going to call it a career after the 2018 midterm election. He won’t seek re-election.

He joins a growing and infamous list of members of Congress who’ve bowed to immense and intense public pressure brought on by their sexual misbehavior. We have seen the departures of Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Democratic Rep. John Conyers, Republican Rep. Trent Franks and now this guy, Farenthold.

Read more about it here.

Are there other individuals out there? I’m thinking … yep. There are.

Farenthold is a back-bench member. He’s not a GOP leader in the House. He’s just sort of a loudmouth who once implied he would like to engage in a duel — you know, with pistols — with female members of the House who voted against the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Then it got even worse!

Farenthold was revealed to have spent $84,000 in public money to settle sexual harassment complaints against him. To his credit, he took out a personal loan to pay it back.

That’s not the end of it. CNN reports that new allegations have come forward, accusing Farenthold of being verbally abusive and sexually demeaning.

I guess that signaled the end of the line for this guy. I would prefer he would just walk away now and allow someone else to win a special election and represent the Coastal Bend district with dignity and honor. We’ll have to settle for this clown serving until the end of his term.

This is the new culture in Washington, D.C. Women are coming forward, emboldened to speak out strongly against those who they contend are abusing, demeaning and threatening them.

Now … if only we could just get the goods on yet another leading politician, the guy who calls the shots in the Oval Office.

Maybe that day is coming, too.

Government is nothing like a business

We all have heard at least one political candidate say something like this: “I am going to insist that we run the government like a business.”

Donald John Trump Sr. took that boast to a spectacular level while campaigning for the presidency in 2016. He kept pointing to his business empire; he kept reminding us how rich he is; he said he would bring all of his immense business acumen into the White House, that he would get things done.

“It will be easy!” he bellowed time and again.

His election as president has shown us all — if not the president himself — that governing bears no resemblance to business.

All those “easy” tasks have become “hard.” Repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act? Exterminating the Islamic State? Reforming the federal tax code?

One man cannot do those things by himself. The president needs Congress to assist him. He needs the legislative branch to do its part. He needs to cajole and convince those who oppose him to support him.

Trump entered the political arena from a different universe. He parlayed an inheritance handed him by his father into a substantial business empire. He became the CEO of everything named “Trump.” He didn’t have to answer to anyone. Trump snapped his fingers and things got done. His sole goal was to enrich himself.

His business ventures have produced a mixed record. He’s had great success and great failures along the way.

Donald Trump brought that all of that business experience into a world that bears zero resemblance to the world that he departed.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said Trump had set “excessive expectations” on how quickly he could enact his agenda. What is so wrong with that analysis? It makes perfect sense to many of us. A man with no government experience — and who exhibits no interest in learning how government works — expects to rack up achievements in the manner he did when he was the business empire CEO.

I’ve noted for many years that running government like a business is the height of naivete. Businesses do not operate under the principle of co-equal partnerships, but that’s what Donald Trump inherited when he took that presidential oath.

The president is learning — and I use the term “learning” with extreme caution — the hard way.

Health care is ‘hard,’ yes, Mr. President?

What once was “easy” has become “hard.”

So said the president of the United States. Yep, Donald J. Trump has told TV interviewers that efforts to overhaul health care legislation is a “hard” task, that it’s going to take time.

Who knew?

Certainly not the man who, while running for president, called it “easy.” He boasted from many campaign podiums that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act almost immediately upon taking office and replace it with … um, something else.

“It’s easy!” he bellowed.

Sure thing, bub.

It’s not so easy. The American Health Care Act barely cleared the House of Representatives. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to discuss and debate this matter. Except that only Republicans are doing the dickering; Democrats aren’t in the game.

And, oh yes. Now we have five Republican senators saying they dislike the current Senate legislation “in its current form.” The Senate, with a 52-48 GOP majority, can afford to lose only two votes; that would result in a tie and Vice President Mike Pence could cast the deciding vote, as he did when the Senate confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to her Cabinet job.

So, the president bragged and blustered about the ease of overhauling one-sixth of the nation’s economy. Today’s reality is telling him the hard truth, which is that legislating is a complicated job.

It’s hard, man!

13 men writing major legislation — affecting women

There’s a certain sense of astonishment at this bit of news.

Thirteen members of the U.S. Senate have written a draft of a bill that affects one-sixth of the nation’s gross domestic product.

They’re all Republicans; no Democrats are allowed.

They’re all men.

And here’s the astonishing part of it: The draft legislation seeks to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a leading provider of health care services for women.

Where are the women of the Senate? Why are none of them working on this bill?

It’s like the Senate has become a boys’ club. I am now waiting for the sign on the conference room door that tells us “No girls allowed.”

This is how you produce legislation affecting such a huge portion of the national economy? This is how the Senate Republican leadership is developing a bill that seeks to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

It’s un-democratic. It’s un-American.

If you’re going to craft legislation that has a tangible impact on more than half of the nation’s population, it should be incumbent on lawmakers to include members of that demographic — the women of this nation — in putting it together.

GOP now reaping what it has sown

John Boehner was angry, man. He was furious when he took the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republican congressman from Ohio was furious that Democrats had pushed a bill that sought to reform health care without even reading the massive piece of legislation.

He bellowed, blustered and berated his “friends” on the Democratic side of the floor for shoving this bill down the throats of their Republican colleagues.

Boehner’s anger was righteous.

The Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. Boehner would eventually become House speaker. He would file a lawsuit to get the law repealed. Speaker Boehner, though, bailed on public service after continuing to fight with the TEA Party wing of his Republican House caucus. He’d had enough.

Then the 2016 election occurred. Donald J. Trump was elected president. He promised to “repeal and replace” the ACA. This past week, the GOP-controlled House approved a bill we’ll call “Trumpcare.” It’s an alternative to the ACA. It passed by just four votes out of 430 cast in the House.

But wait! Did the GOP leadership know what was in the bill? Did they read the legislation? Did their GOP caucus members read it? Do they know all the nuts and bolts of it?

Hah! Hardly.

They’ve repeated the sin of their colleagues. Does it make their effort to “shove it down Democrats’ throats” any more palatable? Not in the least.

Instead, GOP House members are hearing loud and clear from their constituents a ringing message: The folks back home don’t like what they’ve passed and what they have foisted onto the Senate for its consideration.

Meanwhile, the president who has crowed about keeping his campaign pledge now has to persuade the Senate to follow the House’s lead. Trump, the guy with zero government experience or knowledge of how it works on Washington, D.C., is going to¬†recieve yet another lesson in how Congress just doesn’t do the president’s bidding whenever he barks the order.

And those Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted for Trumpcare are going to get a taste of what they sought to deliver to Democrats in 2010.

Payback truly is a bitch … you know?