Tag Archives: Congressional Republicans

Once again: What damage has Brennan done?

A few congressional Republicans have joined their Democratic colleagues in criticizing Donald Trump for revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.

The president’s reason? Brennan has acted “erratically” with his criticism of the administration.

I need to pose this question one more (and perhaps final) time: What has the ex-CIA boss said that has damaged national security?

The Hill has reported on the reaction. Read about it here.

Yes, he’s been harsh. And, yes, he has been vocal in his criticism of the president. Perhaps he should dial it back a bit, but he need not go silent just because Donald Trump dislikes the nature of his criticism.

The president’s reaction is, in the words of some Democratic members of Congress, the stuff of a “banana republic.”

ACA repeal vote illustrates what is wrong with Congress

Americans are now scheduled to receive an up-front view of what is so terribly wrong with their U.S. House of Representatives.

It is a body that doesn’t represent the nation. It represents political dogma.

House members are slated to vote Thursday morning on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act; yes, the vote also will include provisions on a replacement for the ACA.

Look at the polls, pols

Congress is dysfunctional in the extreme! Why? Because poll after poll shows that Americans support the ACA. Yet the Republicans who control the House — and the Senate — are hell bent in their determination to do away with it.

The vote Thursday won’t have any Democratic support and a few moderate Republicans are going to vote against the ACA replacement option. What we are seeing here is continuing fallout from enactment of the ACA in the first place. Congress enacted the ACA in 2010 with zero Republican support. Democrats had to go alone on this deal — despite concerted efforts from the White House to persuade Republicans to join in the effort to provide health insurance to Americans who couldn’t afford it.

Congressional Republican leaders said, “No way, man.”

Here we are, seven years down the road. President Obama is out of office. Republicans now control both congressional chambers and the White House. Has the new president sought to work with Democrats to bring them aboard? Umm. Nope.

Yet the congressional leaders have decided to blow the ACA apart because they contend it is a “disaster.” It isn’t. Independent analyses suggest that the ACA is continuing to stabilize and that Americans are signing up for health insurance.

Is it perfect? No. Premiums are still too costly. Insurance providers have bailed out.

I’m at a loss as to why Republicans cannot concede that much of the ACA is worth keeping, but that they could improve certain elements in it.

It can be mended without ending it, correct? Isn’t that how you legislate? You work with lawmakers from across the aisle, seek some common ground and then hammer out differences. Legislating is a complicated process at times. Providing health insurance for Americans has proved to be among the most complicated and contentious exercises we’ve ever witnessed.

OK, so here we go. House members will vote Thursday. The GOP leadership concedes the vote will be razor thin. If repeal fails Thursday morning, then the Republicans have nowhere else to go.

Once the details of the replacement legislation becomes more widely known, my trick knee tells me that our Republican congressional leaders are going to get a snootful from their constituents. Many of them have heard already at those raucous town hall meetings that voters are none too happy with what is likely to take place on Capitol Hill.

Yep. This is how you describe government dysfunction.

CBO numbers are in: not good for AHCA

Donald Trump promised that no one would lose their health insurance under a re-crafted plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The Congressional Budget Office’s verdict? Wrong, Mr. President!

There goes a major campaign promise.

As predicted, the Trump administration dismisses the CBO report, which is supposed to be the gold standard in determining the fiscal viability of sweeping, landmark public policies.

The CBO projects that 24 million more Americans will lose their health insurance by 2026 under the American Health Care Act. Not good, right?

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price — a leading critic of the Affordable Care Act — says the CBO report is incomplete and inaccurate. Well, of course he would say that.

As the New York Times has reported: “The much-anticipated judgment by Capitol Hill’s official scorekeeper did not back up President Trump’s promise of providing health care for everyone and was likely to fuel the concerns of moderate Republicans. Next year, it said, the number of uninsured Americans would be 14 million higher than expected under current law.”

The president has said “no one” would lose their health insurance. If it were anyone else, I would stand and applaud such a declaration. The problem, though, with this president is that I cannot trust that his word is true, that he’s actually speaking from his heart.

I just do not know any longer when or whether he’s telling the truth.

Therefore, I shall rely on the analyses of others, such as the CBO.


One more point …

The White House doesn’t want the AHCA to be nicknamed Trumpcare, much the way the ACA was given the name of President Barack Obama, who signed the ACA into law in 2010 and has become identified as the former president’s signature piece of domestic legislation.

Well, too bad. Trumpcare it is!

The Republican leadership in Congress has crafted it. The president has signed on to it.

Let’s hang the president’s name on it.

Obamacare repeal effort losing steam?

Some chatter is beginning to develop that suggests efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act might be subsiding among congressional Republicans.

A New York Times story lays out what appears to be an interesting scenario. It is that with President Barack Obama now out of power, the repeal-and-replace effort is being replaced by suggestions of tinkering around the edges of the ACA.

What gives?

It appears to me that the issue among House and Senate Republicans might have had more to do with the man who crafted the legislation than the legislation itself.

It’s not an unreasonable view.

ACA also is known as Obamacare, which has been a whipping boy for Republicans and other critics of the former president’s signature domestic policy initiative. Donald J. Trump has called for repeal and replacement of the ACA, calling the insurance plan a “disaster” for the country.

But … is it?

Twenty million Americans now have health insurance who didn’t have it before. Why? They couldn’t afford it prior to enactment of the ACA.

Then we’ve had those town hall meetings across the country. Citizens have been flooding meeting halls and shouting down members of Congress with demands to keep their hands off the ACA out of fear they would lose health insurance coverage.

There might be signs of lawmakers getting spooked by the anger they’re hearing out here among their constituents. Lawmakers also are finding out that crafting a replacement law is far more complicated than simply scrapping the old one. Go figure.

As the Times notes, Obama’s absence from the public stage now has turned attention to potential solutions. According to the Times: “But with President Barack Obama out of office, the debate over ‘Obamacare’ is becoming less about “Obama” and more about ‘care’ — greatly complicating the issue for Republican lawmakers.”

Republicans have had nearly eight years to come up with a replacement plan. However, for virtually the entire length of the Obama presidency, they’ve been hung up on repealing legislation that has the name of the man they detest.

Now they’re learning about the difficulty of replacing it.

Don’t mess with Planned Parenthood, GOP


What part of “Don’t Shut Down the Government” is the Republican caucus in Congress failing to understand?

Yet here we are yet again. Congress is threatening to shut down the federal government because some of its members dislike Planned Parenthood. The GOP caucus in Congress doesn’t believe that the federal government should fund Planned Parenthood because, they say, it provides abortion services to women who want to end their pregnancy.

Well, that’s just a small part of Planned Parenthood’s mission. As for abortion funding, Congress years ago approved a law — the Hyde Amendment — that banned federal money for abortion services, so the argument that the government funding of abortion falls flat.

The rest of Planned Parenthood’s mission? Oh, things such as exams designed to guard against cancer, contraceptive services … those kinds of silly things that help keep women alive and allow them to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

What’s more, we’re possibly treading into that minefield in which the government decides to deny government services and programs across the board that have nothing at all to do with Planned Parenthood.

Do these individuals in Congress forget what happens when the legislative branch acts in this petulant and ultra-punitive fashion? Do they not know how badly the public reacts when Congress does such a thing?

The public gets quite angry. At Congress. And, yes, at the those who belong to the party that run both legislative chambers. That would be the Republican Party.

A government shutdown is a fool’s errand.

If only the fools who comprise a significant segment of the majority party in Congress would just get the message.


Obama finds friends in GOP

Republicans have made it their mission — a lot of them, anyhow — to trash Barack Obama as some sort of wacked-out Marxist/socialist who is intent on the destruction of the country that elected him as president of the United States.

So, what does the president do? He locks arms with Republican members of Congress and decides it’s really all right to support a free-trade agreement with a dozen Asian nations — which runs counter to where the base of his Democratic Party stands, or so it appears.


The GOP-led Senate has just shut down a filibuster that had stalled the fast-track legislation to get the free trade agreement approved and sent to the president’s desk.

Obama’s major allies in this deal happen to Republicans. The Senate was acting chaotically as senators scrambled between discussion groups to hammer out some kind of deal.

What’s up with that?

I happen to believe in a freer trade than what we’ve had for so long. The world is shrinking and nations or even continents no longer can shield themselves from influences of other nations and continents.

So the free trade agreement likely now will get approved. It will end up on the president’s desk. He’ll sign it.

I’m hoping to see a lot of Republican lawmakers — along with centrist/moderate Democrats — standing with the president when he puts pen to paper.

It’s a scene we haven’t witnessed too much during the Obama administration, but which used to be a regular occurrence during the past presidencies of, say, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Government works better when both parties can find common ground. So help me, it works almost all the time.



'Insurrection' is such an insidious term

The word “insurrection” has been raised in the debate over opposition to President Obama’s constitutionally mandated authority.

I looked it up to be sure it is being used in the correct context. The trusty ol’ American Heritage Dictionary says this of the term: “The act or instance of open revolt against civil authority or a constituted government.”

Scary, yes? Absolutely.

Colbert King of the Washington Post suggests and insurrection may be mounting against Obama’s authority in states that are clinging to some notion that they can ignore federal mandates.


The lead in his column says this: “It’s a scary thought, but here it is: If some red states were to openly defy the authority of President Obama in the exercise of his constitutional duties, would today’s Republican Congress side with him? Or would they honor the insurrection?”

King isn’t sure Republicans in Congress would stand with the president. Take a look at his column.

He cites a recent Arizona House of Representatives decision, approved on party lines, that “prohibits this state or any of its political subdivisions from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with an executive order issued by the President of the U.S. that has not been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.”

Do you get it?

It means the Arizona legislature would oppose a constitutionally valid executive order that didn’t have congressional approval.

Arizona’s elected representatives are trying to stick it in the president’s eye.

The state Senate has to approve it before it becomes law.

Suppose it does. Arizona then would claim authority to ignore any federal decision made by the White House that is supposed to affect all 50 states. Arizona is one of the 50.

Colbert wonders why this issue has gotten the silent treatment on Capitol Hill: “The word ‘insurrection’ does come to mind. Yet the resistance out West to federal authority has been received in virtual silence on Capitol Hill. It’s almost as if the GOP Congress wanted an uprising against the president.”

It’s one thing to disagree with a president, or with Congress, on policy matters. The idea, though, that some Americans are pondering the idea of open revolt — an insurrection — simply goes beyond the pale.

Something quite dark and sinister seems to be brewing out West.


Iran nuke deal worth the gamble

The more I read about the Iran nuclear deal framework, the more inclined I am to give it a chance to work.

It’s not going to gather much support among Republicans who control the U.S. Congress. They’re going to oppose it no matter what, given that it was hammered out by a negotiating team sent to the bargaining table by President Barack Obama.

The Los Angeles Times has editorialized correctly that the framework requires some patience, but that it does hold the promise of making the Middle East safer.


The critical point, according to the Times, lies in the verification process.

Nuclear agency officials will have ample opportunity to ensure that Iran complies with its pledge to reduce its centrifuges. Iran also has agreed to limits on its enrichment of uranium. The economic sanctions? They’ll remain until Iran complies. If it doesn’t, the sanctions remain.

That won’t stop congressional Republicans from a knee-jerk opposition to the agreement. They are dead set against this deal. Their reasons baffle me. They use fiery demagoguery language by referring to the U.S.-led negotiating team to the “appeasers” who gave Europe away to Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s.

How about settling down?

This framework could fall apart. There remain a lot of details to work out. Absent a binding agreement, Iran will be free to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon as it sees fit. What then? Do we bomb them? Do we start a war in the Middle East? Do we really want to let the bombs fly, putting the entire region at risk?

The agreement needs a chance to work.


Waiting for some language in Iran deal

The Iran nuclear deal is going to require some major salesmanship in the United States.

The “sales team” must be headed by President Obama, who now needs to persuade Americans — notably Republicans in both houses of Congress — that the deal brokered with Iran will prevent that country from developing a nuclear weapon.


But some of us — me included — are waiting for some language to appear in the framework agreement hammered out by U.S. and other nations’ negotiators.

The language should include something like this: “Iran agrees that it will not ‘weaponize’ uranium at any time, ever.”

I haven’t seen such language in all the discussion since the announcement of the framework.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will abide by the terms of the deal if the other side — meaning much of the rest of the world — lifts the economic sanctions against Iran. He says his leadership isn’t “two-faced” and does not lie.

That’s good enough for me — not!

My understanding of the agreement is that there will be careful monitoring of Iranian intentions as it moves ahead with what’s left of its nuclear program. Iran has said all along it intends to develop nuclear power for domestic energy consumption only.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns the agreement, saying it “legitimizes” Iran’s nuclear program and poses a grave threat to Middle East and world peace. Netanyahu’s concern is legitimate, given Iran’s stated objective of wiping Israel off the face of the planet.

However, as long as the powers can keep all eyes on Iran to ensure that it complies with the nuts and bolts of the deal — which still have to be worked out — then Netanyahu will have far less to worry about in the future.

Still, I am waiting for some written commitment from Iran that it won’t build a nuclear bomb.

Just, you know, for the record.


Iran nuke deal: good or bad for the world?

I’m going to withhold final judgment on the Iran nuclear deal for a little while as I try to wrap my arms around what President Obama calls “historic” and what his critics — to no one’s surprise — call an “appeasement.”

I remain hopeful that the framework, as I understand it, is going to cut off “pathways” for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, as the president said today.


If I had one misgiving about the impending deal it is the end of the economic sanctions. The European Union is going to end the sanctions on Iran almost immediately, while the United States will lift them in accordance with verification that Iran is remaining faithful to the terms of the agreement.

The U.S. portion of the sanctions removal sounds reasonable and verifiable, to my understanding of what was hammered out over the course of several months.

There are lots of nuts and bolts to this deal. The Iranians are going to stop enriching uranium at some locations, will transfer capabilities from one nuclear plant to another and juggle all kinds of contingencies in accordance with what the bargaining nations agreed on.

The result, though, must ensure that Iran does not build a nuclear weapon.

The Israelis, of course, oppose the deal. They’ve said all along that no deal is better than virtually anything that was discussed publicly with regard to the negotiation.

Congressional Republicans are blasting the framework. One GOP lawmaker used the “appeasement” language, conjuring up memories of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s declaration that Europe had found “peace in our time” in negotiating with Adolf Hitler just before all hell broke loose in September 1939.

Let’s not go there.

Instead, the principals have until June to hammer the details out. Congress will get to weigh in.

Iran’s nuclear program appears headed in another direction — away from its construction of a nuclear bomb.

I’m left to wonder initially: What can be so wrong with that?