Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

Help me understand this budget fight

A lot of things go over my head. I’ll admit to being a bit slow on the uptake at times.

Take the budget battle that’s building into a donnybrook — yet again — on Capitol Hill. I’m puzzled over why the Republican congressional leadership has allowed the tea party wing take it over and threaten to hijack the government because it dislikes a duly enacted law that’s been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Affordable Care Act has become a bargaining chip in the budget battle. The right-wing crazies in Congress say they’ll approve a continuing resolution on the budget only if it defunds the ACA, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. If they don’t get the resolution approved in about 10 days, the government shuts down.

Think about this for a moment. We’re still at war in Afghanistan; Social Security checks will need to go out to those who need them; so will veterans disability payments; roads are crumbling; Colorado residents are digging out from horrific weather events in their state … and there might be more weather-related misery occurring in Texas as storm clouds migrate north from Mexico.

You get the picture, yes?

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, a so-called “establishment Republican” who’s been whipsawed by the tea party cabal within his caucus, says the GOP-led House has “no interest” in shutting down the government. Who’s he kidding?

Everyone who hates “Obamacare” has forgotten that Congress passed the law, the president signed it, it survived a Supreme Court challenge when the high court ruled that the law indeed is constitutional. It has been settled.

What’s more, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t even been implemented fully — and still congressional Republicans have declared it a “failed policy.” Aren’t there independent studies out there showing that premiums have increased at a slower rate than predicted and aren’t there 30 million or so Americans who are about to have health insurance?

The moronic push to defund the health care law would deny those folks insurance. That’s a good thing for the country?

While our so-called “leaders” wage budget war, a lot of other pressing needs are being ignored. Does anyone remember immigration reform?

I don’t understand a lot of things. This battle is really pushing me to the limit.

Cruz is feeling the heat

Ted Cruz is my favorite U.S. senator. He’s providing so many opportunities to those who like to comment on the state of public affairs.

The latest on the junior Texas Republican lawmaker is that he’s apparently making as many foes as friends — among Republicans, no less — on Capitol Hill. Seems that some of those so-called “establishment Republicans” with whom he serves dislike the fervor with which he’s pushing for a government shutdown as a way to defund the Affordable Care Act.


Cruz has been on the job all of seven months and he’s acting as if he’s an expert on the nuances of governing, legislating and deal-making. Then he encounters the likes of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who actually knows about all those things and who says a government shutdown is a patently bad idea. “The problem is the bill that would shut down the government wouldn’t shut down Obamacare,” McConnell told NBC News.

McConnell wants to defund the ACA as badly as Cruz — or so he says — but doesn’t want to punish the entire country to do it.

Cruz, meanwhile, is blustering all over the place about how a shutdown would be good for the country if it accomplishes what he wants, which is to take “Obamacare” off the books.

I haven’t yet mentioned that Cruz is being mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. That likely explains why the know-nothing senator is hogging the spotlight with his government-shutdown rhetoric.

Cruz forgets that the Senate is full of capable individuals on both sides of the aisle who know how the place functions. Cruz would argue that the Senate’s long-standing traditions are part of the problem and that he wants to change it for the better.

Well, good luck with that, Sen. Cruz. He’s likely learning that good manners still count for something — or at least they used to — in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

Rand Paul making sense? Wow!

Someone pinch me. Throw some cold water on my face. Give me a slap. Pass the smelling salts.

I think I just read something regarding Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that actually made sense. Paul, the tea party golden boy and possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said a government shutdown to defund the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea.


He told his pals at Fox News Sunday as much this morning.

I think I’ve just entered a parallel universe.

Paul, of course, is right about the shutdown. His views on “Obamacare” need work. He’s swallowed the argument that the Affordable Care Act is some sort of evil deed perpetrated by the federal government, even though data are showing that its initial impact on the nation actually is proving to be a net positive.

The shutdown notion being pushed by his tea party brethren, though, is what deserves attention. The idea of shutting down the government — and punishing tens of millions of Americans who depend on government to help them get through the day — is an outrageous overreach by zealous partisans who have no clue about what it all means.

I’m glad to see Sen. Paul understand the consequences of what these goofballs are proposing. At least on this issue he is joining the shrinking ranks of sensible Republicans who don’t see the government as their mortal enemy.

Airline merger equals campaign issue

If I understand Tom Pauken correctly, the fact that the state’s attorney general actually supports the federal government’s decision to fight a proposed airline merger makes the AG’s position a non-starter.

Why? Because the AG has been fighting the feds for years and the state simply cannot possibly be on the same side as the enemy — no matter the merits of the case.

Ah … Texas politics. Nothing like it.

Pauken is running for the Republican nomination for Texas governor against AG Greg Abbott, who says he fears a proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways would result in fare increases and reduced service to rural areas.


The feds say the same thing about the proposed merger. Thus, Abbott and the U.S. Justice Department are on the same page on this very specific issue. Abbott and/or his staff of lawyers presumably have analyzed the specifics of the case and determined that, by golly, maybe the feds have a point.

Isn’t that what lawyers do? Pauken, himself a lawyer as well as a former Texas Republican Party chairman, ought to understand that principle.

Instead, he seems to be suggesting that Abbott — who is fighting on behalf those who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act — simply must remain opposed to President Obama, Eric Holder and the federal government because they’re just so darn unpopular in Texas.

This is where every single policy statement becomes a campaign issue.

Ain’t Texas politics grand?

Barbara Bush the Younger ‘endorses’ HRC

Well, that’s a shocker.

Barbara Bush, one of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, has declared that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is “unbelievably qualified” to be president of the United States.

Who knew the Bush family had a closet Democrat in its midst?


Barbara, 31, hopes Clinton runs for the White House in 2016. She did stop short of saying HRC would get her vote were she to take the plunge.

It’s interesting in the extreme, though, to hear the daughter of such a prominent Republican make a glowing statement about a prominent Democrat. That sets up the potential for an interesting tussle within the GOP, which already is turning on itself over disagreements on immigration reform, spending cuts, and a possible government shutdown as it relates to the future of “Obamacare.”

George W. Bush has stayed out of the fray. Good move, Mr. President. Now one of his daughters seems to be taking baby steps back into it with her comments about a possible Democratic presidential candidate who, without doubt, is one of the sworn enemies of the tea party movement within the GOP.

How will the tea party wing react to this virtual endorsement? Will it scold the former president for not “counseling” his daughter sufficiently enough? Might the tea party folks declare unofficial war on the Bush family for being so, so, so “establishment” in its Republican orthodoxy?

The big question might be, how will Democrats handle these glowing words if their party nominates Clinton to be their party’s standard-bearer in the summer of 2016?

My guess: very carefully.

Newt hates being negative?

Now I’ve heard just about everything there is to hear in contemporary American politics.

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the one-time bomb-thrower in chief of the Republican, the one-man wrecking crew against all things Democratic, now says his party has gone too “negative” in its effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act.


I need to have my hearing checked?

Gingrich is now trying to be the paragon of positive thinking in his party. Imagine that.

My favorite Gingrich tactic came to light in the early 1990s when, while building what would become the House Republican majority, once counseled his congressional colleagues to adopt a glossary of terms to demonize his Democratic opponents. Among them was this notion that Republicans had to label Democrats, get ready for this one, as the “enemy of normal Americans.”

Remember how he tore after then-House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas for his ethical lapses? Turned out that Wright was dirty and he resigned from the House, but he did so after being bloodied badly by Gingrich’s relentless attack.

Gingrich’s scorched-Earth strategy succeeded in 1994, as the GOP captured both houses of Congress in one of the party’s more stunning mid-term successes. He then sought to give first-term President Clinton the dickens masterminding the infamous government shutdown. That didn’t work out too well for Gingrich, as his party got clobbered in the 1996 and 1998 elections. He eventually quit the House a broken political leader.

Gingrich has become the poster boy for those who know to acquire the power to govern, but who don’t know how to actually govern.

So here he is today, giving advice to his Republican progeny on how to woo disaffected voters.

Good luck with that, Mr. Speaker.

Watch out, Stockman enters fray

Republican Steve Stockman, who in my mind is vying for the title of Texas’s looniest member of Congress, says he has a plan to defund Obamacare without shutting down the government.


Stockman hails from the Houston suburb of Friendswood. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 after a 16-year hiatus from Congress; he had served a single term from 1995 to 1997 before being drummed out because he was, um, a bit on the flaky side.

His flakiness hasn’t really subsided in the interim. He’s back with a vengeance, threatening for instance to seek to impeach President Obama for enacting executive orders to get some things done in Washington — given that the GOP-led House isn’t doing anything constructive.

Stockman now says has a plan to stop the Affordable Care Act.

Stockman’s resolution would suspend any federal funds that would support any provision of Obamacare. The bill attacks the health care program, stating that a majority of lawmakers believe it violates the Constitution, according to the Houston Chronicle. I believe the gentleman from the Gulf Coast misstates the level of belief in the law’s constitutionality. It might be that most Republicans — who comprise a majority of the House — believe the law to be illegal. It’s a stretch, though, to suggest that most of the entire House — which still has a significant number of Democrats — has lined up in that camp.

And if memory serves, the Supreme Court ruled that the law is constitutional. Aren’t the justices — most of whom were appointed by conservative Republican presidents — supposed to settle these things?

Chambliss makes sense on shutdown

Saxby Chambliss isn’t my kind of U.S. senator, but he’s trying to talk some sense into the rogue wing of his Republican Party.

His message today on Meet the Press: Shutting the government down to defund Obamacare would hurt the Republican Party and would hurt the American people.


It’s not that care what happens to the GOP. I don’t. My only concern about Chambliss’s remarks is that he didn’t hold the harm to the public up as the far greater concern. His remarks, as I heard them, seemed to place those consequences on equal footing.

He mentioned Texas’s very own bomb-throwing senator, Republican Ted Cruz, one of the leaders of the shutdown movement. Chambliss said he admires Cruz’s “passion” for tea party causes and shares his desire to defund the Affordable Care Act. Shutting the government down, though, is the wrong course to take, Chambliss said.

I guess the skulls of Cruz and other tea party lawmakers are so thick they just cannot be told how much damage this proposed shutdown would cause them — and the country — if it comes to pass. Republicans tried that once before, in the late 1990s, and it cost them dearly.