Tag Archives: Obamacare

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.

GOP needs to learn how to govern

It’s over. For now. Maybe it’ll be back. Maybe not.

Senate Republicans — along with their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives — had signed in blood (proverbially) their vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which they referred to colloquially and derisively as Obamacare.

They failed. Again. For the umpteenth time. The ACA remains the law of the land for the foreseeable future if not longer.

This begs the question for me: Can the Republicans ever govern?

The GOP face-planted on ACA repeal when three senators said “no” to the bill called Graham-Cassidy, named after GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. The senators who stuck the shiv into this effort were John McCain, Rand Paul and Susan Collins. They’ve all been in the Senate for a while and were part of the Republican pledge to rid the nation of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

This cluster-fudge reminds me a bit of how an earlier Republican insurgency, led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, stormed Capitol Hill in 1994. They took command of Congress and then had to learn quickly how to govern. They stumbled, bumbled and fumbled their way while battling a Democrat in the White House, President Bill Clinton.

But they managed, eventually, to find their way out of the darkness. The difference between then and now is that the the earlier GOP congressional leadership team worked with a president who knew how to govern, how to compromise, how to cajole the opposition when he needed to do it.

The Republican Party now controls Congress and the White House. Therein we have the difference between then and now.

Republicans fought tooth-and-nail with President Barack Obama over repealing the ACA. They never crafted an acceptable alternative. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress fought them off. Obama then left office in January. Donald Trump said he wanted a bill on his desk when he stepped into the Oval Office. He didn’t find one.

How come? The GOP was too fixated on the “repeal” part of the strategy and not nearly enough on the “replace” part of it. As for the president, he was clueless during the campaign about what it took to assemble a legislative alternative to the ACA — and is just as clueless at this very moment about how to negotiate with disparate members of his party’s congressional caucus to find a solution.

I keep circling back to the notion that the presidency requires knowledge of the complex and sometimes arcane system of governing the United States of America.

Donald Trump doesn’t know it and his ignorance of the details of his office has revealed that the political party to which he ostensibly is a member has yet to find its governing legs.

Buh-bye, latest GOP effort to kill the ACA

Well, here’s where we stand with the persistent Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a goner. Kaput. Finished. Party’s over, man.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, today announced she won’t vote for the latest Senate GOP-engineered effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with an abomination that we’ll call Trumpcare.

You know what interests me about this latest death knell being run over the GOP’s ACA repeal effort: The three senators who’ve announced their opposition to it have done so for wildly varying reasons.

Collins opposes the bill because it cuts too much money from state Medicaid assistance programs for Americans who cannot afford health insurance. Sen. John McCain of Arizona hates the partisan process that brought this bill forward; he wants Democrats to be involved in this effort. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky doesn’t like the block grant provision, which he says simply renders the replacement as an “Obamacare light” version of the ACA.

There might be more Republicans who’ll abandon this effort. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has strong reservations. So does Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who contends that his buddy Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also might vote “no.”

That all might be a moot point. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said today he doubts the bill will get to a vote. Senate Republican leaders have conceded likely defeat.

The Senate GOP has until Saturday to repeal the ACA with a mere 50-vote (plus one) majority; after that the rule shifts back to the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule.

What now?

Hey, here’s an idea: How about sitting down with congressional Democrats to work out ways to repair the ACA? Are congressional Republicans so hell bent on removing President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement from the books that they simply won’t look for common ground with their Democratic “friends”?

Premiums are too high. Health insurance isn’t as “affordable” as it was advertised. Surely there are ways to tinker, tweak and fine-tune the legislation to make it better. Aren’t there?

We aren’t re-inventing the wheel here, folks. Members of Congress did that very thing more than 50 years when they approved Medicare legislation. It wasn’t perfect, either, but they sought — and found — common ground to improve it to older Americans’ satisfaction.

That, I submit, is a sure-fire formula for furthering the cause of good-government legislation.

Hey, Mr. POTUS, McCain just doesn’t get scared

I have this hunch that John McCain isn’t one bit intimidated by the commander in chief, the head of state of the greatest nation on Earth.

The Arizona Republican senator has just announced his opposition to the latest Senate GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has enraged Donald Trump. The president has responded with his usual rant about McCain being disloyal to the Republican Party and to the president.

I’m going to give Sen. McCain all the respect in the world.

He said he cannot “in good conscience” support the ACA repeal effort. His stated opposition is steeped mostly in the bum’s rush process that has pushed this legislation forward. The GOP did it once again with no help from Democrats. McCain has called for a return to “regular order.” Senate Republicans ignored one of their own.

But you see, McCain is the midst of quite an important battle that has not a damn thing to do with politics. He is fighting for his life. McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is undergoing some therapy to battle the disease. But he’s back at work. He is standing up for himself, for his constituents in Arizona and against the president.

You know, of course, about McCain’s other big struggle that has nothing to do with politics. He was a Navy pilot in 1967 when he got shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He was taken prisoner. He was beaten incessantly and suffered many other forms of physical and emotional torture for more than five years.

Does anyone in this country really believe that this war hero is going to be intimidated by a politician? Moreover, does anyone further believe that this man — who’s currently engaged in the fight of his life — is going to be cowed by threats over a decision he has made regarding a mere public policy initiative?

I have not always been a fan of Sen. McCain. I did not vote for him in 2008 when he ran for president against Barack H. Obama. I haven’t always liked the tone he has taken in criticizing his former presidential campaign foe.

However, I’ve never lost respect for the life he has lived and the service he has given to this country. Nor have I ever stopped respecting the extreme hardship he has endured while serving the country he loves so much.

He has stood up to the head of his political party, the president of the United States. Sen. McCain is setting an example of leadership.

Count me now as one of this man’s biggest fans.