Tag Archives: Obamacare

Here it comes again: attempt to repeal ACA

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spilled the beans recently.

Congressional Republicans are going to make another run at trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, after the midterm election.

Now, it well might be that Democrats will wrest control of the House of Representatives from Republicans, which likely means that McConnell and short-timer House Speaker Paul Ryan will convene a “lame-duck” congressional session to get rid of the ACA.

Hmm. What a load of horse dookey.

Republicans all over the country — even here in Texas — are campaigning on a pledge to retain insurance for people with “pre-existing conditions.” They actually have accused Democratic candidates of trying to get rid of that provision.

The stark reality is that when Barack Obama was president and Congress was wrestling with ways to repeal the ACA, they fought tooth and nail, hammer and tong to get rid of that provision. Now they want to save it?

As former President Obama noted the other day, “that is a lie.”

McConnell’s stated desire to repeal the ACA also simply goes against prevailing public opinion about President Obama’s signature domestic triumph. Polls have revealed significant public support for the ACA, given that it has provided millions of Americans with health insurance who couldn’t afford it.

Many of us agree that the ACA is far from perfect. But, why repeal it? Why not mend it, repair it, improve what needs improvement?

That kind of mending and repairing has been done. Medicare? Yep. Medicaid? Yes again. How did it happen when Congress enacted Medicare, for example, in 1965? It occurred when Democrats and Republicans sought common ground, worked toward compromise and — presto! — re-created a law that has been an indispensable part of Americans’ lives.

Compromise and common ground, though, has escaped the vocabularies of today’s politicians.

They need to look for them. Once they find them yet again, put those principles to good use.

Do you recall the GOP lawsuit to toss out Obamacare?

Once upon a time — it now seems so long ago — then-U.S. House Speaker John Boehner filed a lawsuit that sought to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Barack Obama was president of the United States. Boehner and his congressional Republican colleagues had tried but failed to toss out the ACA. So, Boehner thought he’d try another course, through the court system.

Then a funny thing happened. Boehner quit the speakership and left Congress. He got really frustrated with the TEA Party wing of his Republican caucus in the House. So he walked away.

Oh yeah, then we had this election in 2016 and a Republican, Donald J. Trump, got elected president. He’s tried to toss out the ACA, too. He cannot get the job done.

I keep wondering: Whatever became of that lawsuit? Boehner seems to have walked completely away from the public policy discussion that fueled so much of his awake time when he was speaker of the House.

As for the court system, I keep wondering if it has taken a powder on this notion of adjudicating a civil lawsuit that seeks to rid the law books of the Affordable Care Act.

Is the law perfect? No. Is it the “disaster” that Donald Trump says it is? No. It has put millions of Americans on health insurance who otherwise didn’t qualify or who couldn’t afford it.

As for the Boehner lawsuit he filed with considerable fanfare before he decided he’d had it up to here with the TEA Party, its dormant status suggests to me that when it came to throwing his weight around, the House speaker was all hat and no cattle.

Time to praise SCOTUS selection

I am feeling so good over the rescue of the Thai boys and their soccer coach from that flooded cave in northern Thailand that I want to offer a good word for Donald John Trump’s selection to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I’ll stipulate up front that you’ll deem this to be faint praise, but it’s praise nonetheless.

Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has angered the crackpot Trump “base.” They’re none too happy with Kavanaugh, fearing that he doesn’t appear to be as firmly opposed to Roe v. Wade as the base continues to be. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania chided the president for surrendering to what he called the “Washington elite” by selecting Kavanaugh.

To be sure, the justice nominee is a conservative. He appears to be what one could call a “mainstream conservative,” not a goofball/wack-job conservative.

He has pledged to be independent and to study the law as it is written, not as one wishes it were written.

Is this the kind of judge I would have selected? Of course not! However, Trump is the president of the United States.

By anyone’s measure, Kavanaugh is supremely qualified to serve on the high court. He’s a Yale Law School grad, meaning that the entire Supreme Court would comprise Ivy League legal eagles if Kavanaugh is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate will nitpick the daylights out of Kavanaugh’s lengthy written record. Senators will need to examine Kavanaugh’s views on health care, as well as on whether sitting presidents can be indicted for criminal offenses. His record suggests he might tilt the “wrong way” on both of those issues.

I continue to believe that while Kavanaugh’s conservative credentials might solidify the court’s right-leaning bias, it doesn’t guarantee it necessarily on every single key ruling that would come before the Supreme Court.

That seeming uncertainty, I submit, is what might be driving the Trump bloc of “base” voters nuts.

Get ready, Negotiator in Chief

Donald John Trump bragged about many of his so-called superlative traits while campaigning for the presidency.

One of those traits was that he is a first-class, top-tier negotiator. I mean, he said that’s how he built his real estate business into a multibillion-dollar empire.

Didn’t he say it? Umm, Yep. He sure did.

So, now we’re going to witness whether those alleged negotiating skills translate into statecraft.

Trump has accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The meeting will occur no later than May. The place is to be determined. In fact, so are many of the preconditions that usually accompany meetings of this magnitude.

Trump would be the first U.S. president to meet with any of the North Korean leaders since the end of the Korean War that, technically, hasn’t actually ended. The sides only signed an armistice; there’s no peace treaty.

So, Kim Jong Un has built a small — but still dangerous — cache of nukes that he has threatened to use against the United States, South Korea, Japan and anyone else.

Trump accepted the summit invitation, but reportedly has prepared not one lick for it. Lower-level prep hasn’t happened. There have been no high-level briefings by deputy secretaries of state or defense with their North Korean counterparts.

What gives? I am presuming that Trump — who famously declared that “I, alone” can do everything — is going to take the lead on the preparation leading up to this summit.

And will we get to witness arguably the sternest test yet on whether the president is the negotiator he has boasted of being. His track record here at home — the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, providing the best example — isn’t so hot.

Maybe he’s gotten better at it, although the evidence doesn’t suggest that statecraft comes easily to this utter novice at politics and governing.

We can hope. Can’t we?

CPAC crowd shames itself with boos of Sen. McCain

I cannot stomach what I heard today about the Conservative Political Action Conference reaction when the president of the United States mentioned a critical vote cast by a member of the U.S. Senate.

Donald Trump didn’t mention U.S. Sen. John McCain’s name. He didn’t have to. The CPAC crowd knew he was referring to McCain’s vote on the Senate floor that sunk the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Then the CPAC audience started booing. They booed a Vietnam War hero, a man who has given more for his country than I suspect anyone else in that CPAC room. They booed a man the president himself once denigrated as being a war hero “only because he was captured” by the North Vietnamese; candidate Trump then said, “I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Good grief! Trump simply disgusts me.

CPAC disgraced itself with that hideous display of callousness. Indeed, the president has disgraced himself as well with his own boorish behavior over this and, oh, so many other instances.

I am compelled to mention, too, that Sen. McCain is fighting for his life at this moment against an aggressive form of brain cancer.

For the president to bring up McCain’s vote against repeal of the ACA in that CPAC venue was disgraceful enough. For the CPAC audience to boo a gallant warrior who persevered more torture than anyone ever should have to endure was disgraceful in the extreme.

Shame on them.

Mend, don’t end the Affordable Care Act

Donald Trump believes congressional Republicans and Democrats are going to find a way to craft a new national health care insurance plan.

That’s a bold prediction, Mr. President, given the record so far.

GOP and Democratic lawmakers couldn’t agree on the time of day, let alone a fix to the Affordable Care Act. The president didn’t help any search for common ground, mainly because he couldn’t articulate any reasonable alternatives to the ACA. Congress tried twice to “repeal and replace” the ACA, but face-planted over arguments over the cost — and the impact any replacement would have on Americans’ future health insurance availability.

I continue to believe that a total repeal of the ACA is unnecessary and draconian. Millions of Americans now have health insurance who couldn’t afford it before. Every alleged alternative to the ACA has been deemed too harsh and too punitive.

I share the thoughts of many analysts who say that if Medicare and Social Security — to other landmark legislative achievements — can be tinkered and tweaked to make them necessary to Americans’ way of life, so can the ACA.

Whether the president’s prediction comes true will depend on whether Republicans — who want desperately to remove Barack Obama’s name from this achievement — are willing to improve the ACA, rather than destroy it.

Mend it. Don’t end the Affordable Care Act.

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?

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.

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.