Tag Archives: Donald Trump

CBO verdict is in: health care bill is ‘mean’

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t use language such as “mean” to assess its analysis of legislation, but that’s what one can surmise of its latest analysis of a key Senate bill.

The CBO today turned in its “score” of the Senate Republican-passed health care legislation and it has told us:

* 22 million more Americans are going to be uninsured.

* The budget deficit will be cut more than $300 billion over the next decade, but that’s because of cuts in Medicaid spending for those Americans with financial need.

* There will be lower premiums, but there also will be less coverage.

It’s still a “mean” overhaul

Donald J. Trump said he wanted a less “mean” health care insurance plan than what the House of Representatives approved. The CBO score suggests that the Senate version of health care overhaul doesn’t make the grade.

Is the GOP plan in trouble? That depends on who’s doing the talking. Since this blog gives me a voice to speak out, I’ll suggest that Senate Republicans on the fence or leaning against the overhaul well might be inclined to vote “no” on this new plan if it comes to a vote later this week.

The president promised he wouldn’t touch Medicaid, that Americans who rely on Medicaid will continue to rely on it once he repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act with something else.

It looks to me as though this promise won’t be kept.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his work cut out for him as he looks for the votes to approve this bill.

Court (more or less) restores Trump’s travel ban

The notion of banning people from entering this nation because they come from places where most citizens practice a certain religion remains repugnant to me.

The United States of America is supposed to stand for a principle that welcomes all citizens of the world. That’s no longer the case.

Donald J. Trump’s ban on folks coming from six Muslim-majority nations has been kinda/sorta restored by the U.S. Supreme Court, which today issued a 6-3 ruling to back the president. Today’s ruling overturns a lower court decision that threw out the ban on the basis that it discriminates against people because of their religion.

What does it mean? I guess it bans anyone who comes here who lacks any “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Others can come in, according to the court.

My question remains the same: Will any of this make us safer against international terrorists? I do not believe that’s the case.

It’s just a partial ban

Nothing in the president’s initiative prevents U.S. citizens from committing acts of terror. The U.S. Army psychiatrist who killed those folks at Fort Hood in November 2009 is an American, to cite just one example.

I continue to cling to the notion that “extreme vetting,” which the president also has called for, isn’t a bad thing by itself. Indeed, U.S. customs and immigration officials need to do better at ensuring at points of entry that everyone coming here does not pose a threat; they’re doing that already.

Today’s ruling only settles it temporarily. The court’s next term begins in October and the justices will take it up fully then.

Score one for the president, though. He got a ruling he can live with, even though it won’t do a thing to make us safer against those who would harm us.

Trump and evangelicals: strangest union of all

Donald J. Trump has just selected Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead a task force aimed at overhauling public education policy.

The president of the United States has linked arms with the head of a leading faith-based university; Falwell also is the son of the late televangelist who used his pulpit to attack President and Mrs. Bill Clinton throughout the president’s two terms in office.

This appointment brings to mind a curiosity I’ve harbored ever since Trump entered political life, which is when he announced his candidacy for president in June 2015.

Falwell joins Trump team

My question of the moment is this: How does this man, Trump, continue to win the support of many within the Christian evangelical movement?

Falwell Jr. has called Trump a “dream come true” for evangelicals. He just cannot say enough gushy things about the president, who delivered his first commencement speech at Liberty University, the school that Falwell’s father founded.

If you think about it, though, the relationship strains credulity to the max.

Trump has not been known as a major contributor to religious causes; he hasn’t been associated with faith-based charities; his whole life has been filled with glitz and glamor, chiefly through his association with and ownership of beauty pageants; he is married to his third wife and has boasted publicly about his infidelity involving his first two marriages; Trump also has boasted about how he can grab women by the p**** because his celebrity status allows him to do it.

But he’s tough on Muslims, vows to destroy the Islamic State, wants to impose a travel ban on refugees coming here from Muslim-majority nations. Maybe that’s why Falwell and many within the evangelical community are smitten by the president.

I concede that political alliances can take form among groups or individuals one might not imagine banding together. This one, though, baffles me greatly.

The president’s history is full of episodes that would seem to send devoutly religious voters scurrying for someone more, um, to their liking.

Go figure. I cannot fathom it.

‘Hoax’ becomes fodder for blame-shifting?

I need to follow this stuff more carefully, I reckon.

Donald John Trump had been telling us that the Russian-meddling story was a “hoax,” a product of “fake news,” a figment of progressives’ and Democrats’ overactive imagination.

The president has yet to condemn the Russians for doing what intelligence agencies have concluded, which is that they sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through use of cyber activity.

Oh, but then comes this. He now blames the Obama administration for failing to stop the Russians in their tracks when President Obama was in office.

Which is it, Mr. President? Is the Russia story a made-up tale of intrigue meant to discredit your election as commander in chief? Or is it the real thing, something that now enables you to shift responsibility for ending it to your immediate predecessor as president of the United States?

Good grief, Mr. President? Keep it straight for us.

Hard to keep track of what Trump likes, loathes

If you’re keeping tabs on the president’s tweets and assorted public statements, then you’ve got your hands full.

When the U.S. House of Representatives approved its American Health Care Act by the narrowest of margins, Donald J. Trump called the GOP-authored-and-passed bill “spectacular.”

Then he tweeted that it is “mean.”

Then tweeted about the draft U.S. Senate plan — again crafted solely by Republicans. He says now, with a vote scheduled for later this week, that the Senate plan is far better than the House plan.

OK, Mr. President. We keep hearing how you make decisions based on the last person to have your attention. Which of these plans is the suitable replacement for the Affordable Care Act, which you once said would be “easy” to replace, but now you say is “hard”?

I cannot begin to possibly keep up with this guy’s ever-evolving stance — on anything and everything!

Trump blames Obama for the ‘Russia thing’ … imagine that

Leave it to Kellyanne “Alternative Facts” Conway to set the record (sort of) straight on the Russian interference controversy.

It’s the fault of the Obama administration, said the president’s senior counselor/policy adviser, echoing the sentiments of her boss. Donald John Trump.

President Obama could have stopped any effort by Russian government goons to interfere with the 2016 election, but he choked, she said.

Imagine that, will ya? Blame the predecessor. Who’da thunk that would happen, ever?

That all said, I just slogged through the epic Washington Post story detailing how the terrible options the Obama administration faced when it learned — through credible intelligence — about the efforts by Russian government officials to meddle in our election. The Post called it an “assault on our democracy,” which it was.

Here’s the Post story.

Indeed, the former president and his senior staff look back now and regret not taking more forceful action than it did. Obama eventually kicked out some Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds as punishment for the Russians’ meddlesome ways.

He also unloaded verbally on Russian strongman/president Vladimir Putin and the country he governs, calling Russia a “weaker” country than ours and a place with nothing to sell around the world than “oil and gas and arms.” The president said Russia was unable to intimidate the United States because of the two nations’ relative strength.

Conway went on TV this morning to say: “It’s the Obama administration that was responsible for doing absolutely nothing from August to January with the knowledge that Russia was hacking into our election. They did absolutely nothing. They’re responsible for this.”

Absolutely nothing? Is that right, young lady? Not really. The Obama administration sought to weigh its options carefully, given the enormous political consequences at stake. The nation was involved in a heated, and increasingly vitriolic presidential campaign. Trump was ratcheting up the pressure on Hillary Rodham Clinton over e-mails, Benghazi and a host of other issues.

The Obama team believed — as did virtually every political analyst on Planet Earth — that Clinton was going to win the election.

Then she lost.

How should the administration have reacted to circumstances it didn’t see coming? Were they alone in their ignorance? Hardly.

I keep coming back to this point: The president and his administration have yet to issue a full-throated condemnation of what every intelligence expert has said, which is that Russia meddled in our electoral process.

The blame game won’t get to solving the problem … and oh, brother, we have a problem!

Get set to watch further politicization of federal judiciary

Now there are “reports” that Anthony Kennedy is considering an end to his judicial career.

The Supreme Court associate justice’s retirement, if it comes next week as some are thinking it might, is going to produce something I suspect the nation’s founders didn’t anticipate when they wrote the U.S. Constitution.

That would be the extreme politicization of the judicial selection process.

Those silly men. Sure, they were smart. They weren’t clairvoyant.

The present-day reality is that the process has become highly political. When did politics play such a key role in selecting these jurists? It’s hard to pinpoint the start of it all. Some might suggest it began with President Reagan’s appointment in 1987 of Robert Bork to succeed Lewis Powell, who had retired. The Senate would reject Bork largely on the basis of his vast record of ultraconservative writings and legal opinions.

Clarence Thomas’s nomination in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush also produced plenty of fireworks, owing to the testimony of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment and assorted acts of impropriety.

On and one it has gone, through Democratic and Republican administrations ever since.

The founders wrote a provision into the Constitution that allows federal judges to get lifetime appointments. The idea was to remove politics from their legal writings. Indeed, some judges have taken seats on the U.S. Supreme Court with their presidential benefactors expecting them to toe a philosophical line, only to be disappointed when they veer along uncharted judicial trails.

It’s too early to tell whether Justice Neil Gorsuch will fall into that pattern. He was Donald J. Trump’s initial pick for the high court. The president might get to make another appointment quite soon. Then again, maybe not.

Whenever that moment arrives, you can take this to the bank: The next Supreme Court pick is going to ignite a whopper of a political fight if one side of the Senate sees a dramatic shift in the court’s ideological balance.

Something tells me the founders might not have anticipated these judicial nominations would come to this.

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!

Celebrities’ comments have this way of reverberating

Johnny Depp has joined a list of celebrities with big mouths.

Depp, the movie actor, mused out loud the other day about the last time an actor assassinated a president. He seemed to suggest that’s what he wants to do, follow in the footsteps of another actor, John Wilkes Booth, who shot President Lincoln to death in April 1865.

Bad call, Johnny.

I guess what these folks need to grasp is the notion that their celebrity status not only acquires loyal followings for them, it also magnifies their idiotic statements or actions. For the record, I am not a fan of Johnny Depp.

The “comedian” Kathy Griffin? She was video recorded holding up the image of a severed head depicting that of Donald J. Trump.

The over-the-hill rocker/guitarist Ted Nugent has said a multitude of hideous things about Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Now we have Depp popping off, trying to be clever. Instead he sounds stupid.

Donald Trump’s son, Don Jr., has slammed Depp. You’d expect a son to come to the defense of his father.

Depp has apologized for his idiocy. It doesn’t erase it, sad to say.

These folks are entitled to their political opinions, just as you are entitled to yours and I am to mine. I don’t know about you, but I express my opinions freely on this blog.

The difference, though, between us and those who have some kind of celebrity status is that — in my case, at least — I can sound like a dumba** and relatively few people are going to pay attention. When someone such as Johnny Depp says something stupid, then many others’ ears perk up.

That includes the Secret Service.

A word to wise ought to go to Johnny Depp and other celebs with strongly held political opinions: be circumspect.

Ba-rack, Ba-rack, Ba-rack!

I know this won’t surprise you, but I’ll say it anyway.

I am one of millions of Americans who wishes Barack Hussein Obama was still president of the United States of America. My desire to see him back in the saddle intensifies every time I witness the current president stumble and bumble his way through the office he occupies.

Donald Trump’s tweet tirades annoy me. His constant bald-faced lies enrage me. His dissembling and poorly executed verbal dodges are outrageous on their face.

I grow weary of the constant state of chaos, confusion, controversy and contentiousness that surrounds this man.

I would want Barack Obama back on the job.

Then I stop. I consider something we all ought to ponder. He had eight years as president. Obama lived under the intense glare of public scrutiny, the likes of which take their toll on even the strongest of individuals.

About the time I get carried away with my desire for Barack Obama to have remained president, I have to ask myself: Does the 44th president really want more of what he got during his two terms in office? Does he really want to endure the constant battles he had to fight with Republicans and, oh yes, with the media?

The Constitution limits the number of terms someone can serve as president. Barack Obama had his time. His immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, wisely stepped completely out of the limelight when he left office in January 2009.

Occasionally, I try to put myself in former presidents’ shoes. Then I realize that their return to semi-normal lives as (more or less) ordinary American citizens is the perfect tonic for them.

I’m left only to wish it were different. I know. It’s so selfish of me.