Tag Archives: Congress

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.

Rep. Murphy quits Congress … see ya later

Tim Murphy is about to become a former member of Congress from western Pennsylvania. He had toiled in relative obscurity until he decided to make a politically fatal mistake.

This Republican lawmaker got involved intimately with a young woman, who became pregnant as a result of their extramarital affair.

Now, what grows legs under this story is that Murphy — whose main claim to fame as a member of Congress is that he has been fervently anti-abortion — asked his paramour to obtain an abortion. 

As the saying goes: Oops!

Murphy had intended initially to retire at the end of his current term. He has decided to quit the House and will depart Capitol Hill in about a month.

Good. I recognize that Congress is full of hypocrites. There will be more hypocrites coming along even as some of the current congressional hypocrites depart the scene.

When one of those hypocrites sacrifices his moral authority in such a callous matter, it’s good to show him the door and urge him to avoid letting that door hit him in the … you know.

Politicians ‘play politics’? Shocking, simply shocking!

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is incensed that congressional Democrats worked out a debt-limit deal with Donald J. Trump. He accused them of “playing politics” with the suffering of Americans living on the Texas Gulf Coast, who are trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey’s savage assault.

Why, I never …

The speaker needs to look inward just a bit to understand that Republicans have perfected the art of “playing politics.” They do it quite well, too. Indeed, the practice of kicking issues around like the proverbial political football is a bipartisan endeavor.

Allow me, though, to look briefly at two examples of GOP politics-playing.

In 2011, a tornado tore through Joplin, Mo. Republicans decided to hold money for relief in that community hostage to finding ways to pay for it. They wanted to cut money from other budget line items to finance the Joplin aid package. At the time, it was virtually unheard of for members of Congress to balk at rushing to the side of Americans in desperate trouble.

In this case, led by then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the GOP did that. Playing politics? You bet!

Example No. 2: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016. President Obama nominated an eminently qualified jurist to replace him, U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared only hours after Scalia’s death that Obama wouldn’t be allowed to fill this seat. The Senate would wait for the election to occur and then give that opportunity to the next president.

It was a huge gamble at the time. It paid off, though, for Republicans when Donald Trump was elected president. McConnell and Senate Republicans, though, managed to thwart a sitting president’s constitutional authority to nominate a federal jurist purely for political gain.

Did the Senate GOP leader play pure partisan politics with that issue? Uhh, yeah. Just a tad.

So, spare me the righteous indignation, Mr. Speaker, about Democrats “playing politics” with the debt ceiling. Your guy in the Oval Office — the self-proclaimed “greatest dealmaker ” in the history of Planet Earth — caved to Democrats’ demands.

Is he playing politics, too? Hmmm?

So much for compassion: Trump dumps DACA

Donald J. Trump is likely to demonstrate yet again that his presidency is the product of a diehard Republican “base” and that he owes the base every favor he can bestow.

He has decided, according to Politico, to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But, get this: He’s going to wait six months before he pulls the plug. The president’s announcement is set for Tuesday.

What does this do? It allows the president to say he’s kept this campaign promise that the base loves; it also gives Congress a window to legislate a solution to allowing U.S. residents who as children were brought here illegally by their parents.

I had maintained a sliver of hope that Trump would agree to let Barack Obama’s executive order stand. DACA residents comprise those individuals who came here as children — some of whom were infants and/or toddlers. Their parents entered the country illegally, but those children have grown up living as Americans.

The United States is the only country they know. Yet they remain “criminals” in the minds of those who want ’em all tossed out.

Many of Trump’s Republican Party “allies” in Congress have broken ranks with the president on this issue. House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t want to rescind DACA; neither does U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Senate’s senior Republican; other key Republicans across the country have weighed in against efforts to repeal DACA. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a leading conservative GOP executive, wants DACA to remain.

Not the president. At least not six months from now.

As Politico reports: Some Republican lawmakers, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have said that Congress needs to pass a law to protect the so-called Dreamers.

“My hope is that as part of this process we can work on a way to deal with this issue and solve it through legislation, which is the right way to do it and the constitutional way to do it,” Rubio told CNN in June.

Here’s the Politico story.

How would that legislation work? What would it look like? Would the president sign it or veto it? I guess the answer to the last question would be whether Congress could approve a DACA law with a veto-proof majority.

Given the tensions that have roiled the nation in recent weeks and the growing belief that the Trump administration cares damn little about sticky issues such as comprehensive immigration reform, such a majority might be in the cards.

This decision isn’t as stark as it could have been. It’s still pretty damn heartless of the president to toss aside millions of residents who have known no other life than what they’ve established in the United States of America.

My advice to Congress? Get busy. Right now.

Teamwork, not warnings, is in order, Mr. President

Teamwork, Mr. President. Teamwork.

You need to reach out for help from Congress, not issue warnings of an “or else” consequence if lawmakers fail to enact a “once in a generation” tax overhaul.

Donald Trump ventured to Missouri today to hawk a plan to change the federal tax system. His public remarks were, typically, short on details. The rough outlines suggest that the president wants to cut tax rates for wealthier Americans and perhaps simplify the monstrous tax code — which I read the other day comprises 78,000 pages.

Yikes, eh?

But as his the president’s style, he is putting pressure on Congress to do his bidding. What we learned, though, from the failed Republican-only effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is that the president needs to weigh in with detailed analysis and must be willing and able to argue the fine points of what he prefers from the lawmakers he needs to make it become law.

Time to pull together.

Trump failed famously to do any of that as the ACA repeal effort floundered and failed in the U.S. Senate.

Now he’s implying a threat to congressional leaders. “I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I’ll tell you what, the United States is counting on it,” Trump said in Missouri.

I need to mention, too, that the president’s relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone from frosty to frigid. Trump needs McConnell at least as much as the other way around. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan — who presides over the body where all tax legislation originates — isn’t exactly singing the president’s praises of late, either.

Get in the game, Mr. President. If you want any sort of success, then it’s time for you to stop threatening and start cajoling.

Politics isn’t easy. Or simple. You can’t just make demands of legislators and expect them to march to your cadence. They have actual “bosses” back home, in their states and congressional districts, who they need to please.

They work for them, Mr. President. Not you.

Trump engages in another game of chicken

The president of the United States seems to have an addiction to the game of chicken.

He keeps throwing down challenges to those in the legislative branch of government to do his bidding … or else!

The latest or else is a big one.

Donald Trump wants Congress to provide money to build a wall along our southern border, or else he’s going to force a shutdown of the federal government. That’s right, the president of the United States is holding the entire federal government hostage to a political promise he made to voters en route to his being elected to the nation’s highest office.

This is a grotesque form of political extortion.

For starters, the president doesn’t possess unilateral authority to shut down the government. Congress plays a huge role here by appropriating money for public projects. If Congress chooses to increase the debt ceiling, for example, without setting aside wall construction money, the president can veto it — but then he risks being overridden by Congress.

The way I see it, members of Congress — particularly the Republican leaders who run the place — don’t like being dictated to by the president. They understand that Trump does not, which is that they share in the responsibility of governing the United States of America. They know what Trump doesn’t know, or refuses to know, or simply is too damn ignorant to figure it out.

I’ve long opposed construction of a “big, beautiful wall” along our border. It won’t prevent illegal immigration; there are myriad eminent domain issues to resolve; a wall won’t prevent illegal immigrants from tunneling beneath it.

And I need to point out, too, that a key part of Trump’s campaign promise to build the wall contained this provision: Mexico is going to pay for it! Mexican government officials say categorically, in plain English and Spanish, that they will not pay a nickel for the wall.

Now the president is going to foist the cost of this monstrosity on U.S. taxpayers, the very people he said he wouldn’t have to bear this burden? And if the wall isn’t included in congressional action, that he’s going to shut down the government and, thus, deny citizens access to services they might need?

I’m not issuing a medical diagnosis here … but the president is a loon.

Impeachment? Not so fast, folks

Social media are chattering and clattering like a newspaper newsroom full of typewriters on deadline. Those of you who are old enough to remember actual typewriters will understand the analogy.

But the social media are abuzz with viral statements, requests and demands that Donald John Trump Sr. gets impeached.

Let’s hold that thought. At least for a while, OK?

The president of the United States is demonstrating plenty of disturbing behavior. He holds those rallies in which he ad-libs his way into nonsensical rants. Then he reads reasonably crafted speeches, looking for all the world as if he’s been asked to eat every bite of the squishy spinach on his plate. The next day he tears into the media, members of Congress and virtually every political foe who’s lined up against him.

Serious-minded folks like former head spook James Clapper say they doubt Trump’s “fitness” for his job. He’s acting like a maniac. Sounding like a blithering, blathering fruitcake.

Does any of this behavior rise to the level of an impeachable offense? No. Not as I understand what’s written into the U.S. Constitution.

Article II, Section 4 spells out the specifics of a presidential impeachment. It calls for such an action in the event of “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives must bring formal charges against the president. Then the Senate conducts a trial; to convict a president and toss him out of office requires a two-thirds vote by senators.

Has the 45th president committed any sort of “high crime and misdemeanor”? No. Indeed, there is an open debate on just when we’ll know of any potential charges being brought. Many of us have our opinion on whether there should be charges brought. To date, we have none. We don’t even have any compelling evidence to suggest that there will be charges brought.

What about the president’s behavior? My reading of the Constitution suggests that loopy conduct does not, by itself, constitute an impeachable offense. But let’s not kid ourselves here. Donald Trump’s behavior on speech podiums is weird in the extreme.

I’ve never heard a more inarticulate president than the one we’ve got now. Never have I seen someone trash tradition in the manner that he does. Given an opportunity to heal a nation divided by myriad issues of many stripes, Donald Trump does precisely the opposite. He lashes out. He hurls insults at his foes. He cannot even bring himself to offer a word of good wishes to one of his critics — Sen. John McCain — who is in the midst of a life-and-death struggle against cancer.

Trump disgraces his office almost daily. I’d say he disgraces himself, but he seems to lack the capacity to look inward.

Is any of this impeachable? No.

None of it will stop the social media chatter. I just think it’s important to put some of this hysteria into some perspective.

Meantime, let’s wait for the special counsel looking at “The Russia Thing” to do his job.

Shut down the government … over a wall?

So much grist poured out of the president’s relentless and reckless rant in Phoenix …

Let’s take a nibble at this tidbit: Donald John Trump Sr. says he’s willing to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t approve money to pay for the wall to be built along our nation’s border with Mexico.

Yep, the guy who said this past summer that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems now is blackmailing congressional Democrats to provide money to build the wall. If they don’t, he said, the government shutdown is on their hands.

But wait!

Trump has vowed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto says “no … we won’t!” Trump reportedly has zero relationship with the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who has declared there is “zero chance” the government is going to shut down; “We are not going to default,” said McConnell.

The president is insulting congressional Republicans as frequently as he insults Democrats. He is destroying — one insult at a time — any chance of getting anything done once Congress returns from its summer recess.

So now the guy who wants to “unify” the country, who declares it is time to “heal our divisions” is now threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t do something he has promised never would happen.

I believe former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — a serious and sober man — has it right. Donald Trump is unfit for the job to which he was elected.

Now for Main Event: The Donald vs. Mitch

It’s a rare event indeed when a president beset with unanimous opposition from the “other party” decides to declare virtual political war on someone who’s aligned with him in the same political party.

Donald John Trump Sr. is now tweeting his angry thoughts about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Here’s the best part: McConnell offered a perfectly reasonable, rational critique of the president’s difficulty in enacting legislation, while the president responds with a typically juvenile tweet.

I’m shaking and scratching my head at the same time.

McConnell noted that Trump is “new” to the political process, and said he set “excessive expectations” about how quickly he could enact his legislative agenda. The president’s newness is an honest assessment; the man had zero public service experience prior to running for president. He doesn’t understand government and doesn’t grasp the notion that effective governance is a team sport, that it requires the executive branch of government to work hand-in-glove with the legislative branch. It also requires pols from both parties to compromise while searching for common ground.

Good grief! McConnell could have said it much more harshly than he did. He sought instead to be the diplomat.

Trump fired back with that tweet reminding us that Congress had seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but still hadn’t gotten the job done. Trump’s allies in the right-wing media — namely Fox News commentator Sean Hannity — weighed in, calling for the Senate majority leader to resign.

The utterly ridiculous aspect of this is that Trump and McConnell supposedly are on the same team. The president needs McConnell to assist him in furthering his agenda. Is this how he intends to harvest that help, by continuing these attacks?

Meanwhile, the loyal opposition on the other side of the political chasm — congressional Democrats — are remaining quiet.

Smart.

POTUS remains an angry man

Donald John Trump is an angry old man. The 71-year-old president of the United States marked his 200th day in office with a series of tweets.

He blasted Democrats, the “fake” media, turncoat Republicans, Congress in general. The only folks who escaped his Twitter tirade it seems are his kin and Vladimir Putin.

What gives with this guy? The honeymoon period presidents traditionally get never materialized with this buffoon. Perhaps it was the tone of his inaugural speech, the one that talked about vowing to end the “American carnage” and painted a dark portrait of the world’s greatest, most powerful nation. There was no high-minded prose coming from the president. There was plenty of anger.

It’s gone downhill … from there!

He hasn’t filled a huge number of key staff posts. Judgeships remain vacant. Federal prosecutors need to be named. He’s changed his White House chief of staff, booted out his press secretary, fired the FBI director and the acting attorney general, tossed his national security adviser, kicked out his communications director. Am I missing anyone? Whatever.

My point is that the president is an unhappy man who this morning decided to torch a Democratic senator over an issue for which the senator has apologized. Take a bow, Richard Blumenthal.

Nothing of consequence has been accomplished — legislatively. Yes, he issued those executive orders removing the United States from the Transpacific Partnership and from the Paris climate accords. He tweeted something about banning transgendered Americans from serving in the military, only to get push back from the Pentagon brass at the highest levels of all the military branches.

Trump keeps getting caught in lies and duplicitous comments, thanks to the “leakers” inside the White House who are exposing his countless shortcomings as the head of state and government.

Those “easy” tasks, such as repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act? Not done! The leader of the party that controls the Congress and the White House couldn’t get that one pushed across the finish line. So … he blames Congress for his own failures.

Getting Mexico to build a wall along our nations’ shared border? Forget about it. Tossing out the North American Free Trade Agreement? Pfftt!

Here’s the best part of all of this: We’re at Day 200 of the Trump administration. That means we’ve only got 1,261 more days of this ahead.

Maybe.