Tag Archives: Obamacare

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.

Is the party over for ACA repeal? Let’s hope so

On the day earlier this summer when he voted “no” on a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made an impassioned plea for the body where he has served for three decades to return to “regular order.”

Meaning that both parties, Democrats and Republicans, need to work for common ground, to seek compromise, to actually get things done for the good of the citizens they all serve.

The Vietnam War hero’s plea fell on deaf ears. Senate Republicans decided — against logic and good judgment — to proceed yet again with a GOP-only repeal of the ACA.

Sen. McCain has stuck the shiv into the GOP’s efforts by announcing he plans to vote “no” once again on this ACA repeal effort. It likely blows the effort to smithereens. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will vote against it because it doesn’t go far enough in getting rid of the vestiges of the ACA; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is a likely “no” vote, as is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Senate Republicans — who have hardly any room for defections given their slim Senate majority — face a Sept. 30 deadline to get this deal done with a 50-vote plus one (Vice President Mike Pence) majority; after that, Senate rules return to a 60-vote supermajority requirement.

So, what about that “regular order” thing that McCain sought earlier this year?

The ACA isn’t perfect. It likely isn’t even a good piece of legislation. Barack Obama’s signature bill needs work. It needs to be amended, nipped and tucked. To do that, though, requires that “regular order” that McCain wants to see restored. That would mean bipartisan cooperation, the search for commonality.

That’s how legislation gets done.

President Lyndon Johnson knew how to legislate. He employed his overpowering persuasive skills to bring Republicans along. President Richard Nixon was no slouch, either, at working with Democrats. Nor were Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton or Bush 43.

President Obama needed to work better at developing that skill. Then again, the Republican intransigence was too big a hurdle for him to overcome.

Sen. McCain has called repeatedly for a return to the old way of legislating. His decision today only drives home that call even more deeply.

The question now becomes: Is anyone in a leadership position going to heed those calls ever again on Capitol Hill?

ACA repeal foes keep adding up

For those who might be keeping score on the Who Hates the ACA Repeal Bill the Most list, I’ll offer a quick review.

The list of medical and related professional organizations that oppose the Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with God-knows-what is growing.

They include the American Medical Association, the insurance industry, the assorted medical specialist groups within the AMA umbrella, every single state Medicaid agency (yes, all 50 of them oppose the GOP repeal/replace option), political think tanks covering virtually the entire political spectrum.

Who favors the bill about to be decided next week in a U.S. Senate vote? As near as I can tell, the list comprises just two key groups: the Republican Senate caucus and the president of the United States, Donald John Trump Sr.

They are intent on tossing millions of Americans off the list of the insured; they want to all but eliminate Medicaid subsidies for those Americans who rely on them to afford health insurance … and some other things, too.

To what end? They want, according to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican and a key Senate heavyweight, to fulfill a campaign promise. Grassley said recently he could think of “10 reasons” why the Senate shouldn’t even consider this legislation, but they’re pushing ahead because of pressure from the Trump base of supporters who want to get rid of anything with Barack Obama’s name on it.

So, who do these folks represent? The various and sundry — and powerful — interest groups that oppose repealing/replacing the ACA, not to mention the vast majority of the American public? Or do they represent only the shrinking minority of voters within their own party?

I don’t need to remind these folks — but I will anyway — that they govern a nation comprising millions of Americans who would prefer the federal government to amend and repair the ACA to make it better. There is no compelling need to toss the entire legislation into the crapper.

Trump gives political ‘cred’ to entertainers of all stripes

I just heard a recorded interview with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in which the governor said late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel “is not a serious person.”

Why, I never …

Kimmel has become a point man for the effort to block the Senate Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with what critics call an abomination. Kimmel recently went on the air with heartbreaking news about his infant son being born with a heart defect. The funnyman then urged members of Congress and the president to ensure that all Americans can have affordable health insurance regardless of their income level.

He has established the “Kimmel Test” for health care overhaul.

But he’s just a celebrity, right?

Sure he is. However, he owes his newfound political credibility to the celebrity/entertainer in chief, the guy who’s now the president of the United States, Donald John Trump Sr.

Think of it for a moment or maybe two. Trump joined the 2016 presidential race with zero public service experience. He’d never run for public office. Then he ran for president. And won!

He gamed fame first as a big-ticket commercial real estate developer. Then as a beauty pageant owner and host. Then as a reality TV star.

Now he’s the head of state, head of government, commander in chief of the greatest nation on Earth. Along the way, this cult figure/politician has given credibility to any other such political novice who wants to enter the public service arena.

Kanye “Kim Kardashian’s Husband” West? Kid Rock? They’re considering running for president and the U.S. Senate, respectively.

Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert’s TV show’s monologue is devoted exclusively every night to commenting on Trump. Now we have Jimmy Kimmel become a spokesman for health care reform.

Donald Trump likes to take credit when he doesn’t deserve it. I’ll give him loads of credit, though, for paving the way for other entertainers who want to follow him from the world of glitz and glamor into public office.