Tag Archives: ACA

From dark to light

Joe Biden vows to lead us from the darkness into the light. He says Donald Trump has steered the nation into the proverbial darkness through his incompetence, incoherence and lack of empathy.

Donald Trump says Joe Biden’s policies will result in a loss of guns, God, freedom … and maybe even our very lives.

Who’s version do you prefer? Well, I am all in with Joe Biden. I did manage to watch a lot of this past week’s Democratic National Convention. I could take only one night of the RNC, so my comments about the GOP convention will be based on that first night.

I heard a dark and foreboding tale coming from the likes of Don Jr., his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and assorted other fans/toadies/lackeys of the president, all of whom told bald-faced lies about the character of the individual they are facing in the upcoming presidential election.

They are trying to paint Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris with the far-left progressive/socialist paint brush.

What about them? Let’s see: Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972; he made friends with Republicans and Democrats; he served as chair or ranking member on the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees; he crafted legislation that protected women and sought to toughen federal laws against certain crimes. He also endorsed the Defense of Marriage Act, which chaps progressives’ hides. He was in a position to lead efforts to take away our guns, but didn’t do it. Nor did he do anything that diminished the role of religion in people’s lives.

As vice president, he helped craft the Affordable Care Act, he led the fight against the Ebola pandemic and sought greater accountability from government agencies.

Man, that’s scary stuff.

What about Sen. Harris? She was a career prosecutor. She served as California attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2016. A prosecutor and an AG? Does that speak to a career aimed at disarming Americans or taking God out of our homes?

The RNC no doubt is going to paint Biden and Harris as monstrous cretins. They’re both well-educated, seasoned in the mechanics of government and are battle-tested.

I’ll get to this God matter in a blog post in the near future. For now I want merely to challenge the assertion that Joe Biden is beholden to far-left ideologues. Indeed, for Donald Trump to suggest any sort of fealty to ideology — given his own penchant for tilting toward right-wing TV talking heads — is laughable on its face.

Except that I ain’t laughing. Neither should anyone else.

Reform the ACA

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

Joe Biden has made himself quite clear on a number of issues as he seeks to remove Donald J. Trump from the presidency.

One of those issues is health care. He doesn’t favor Medicare for All. Instead, he wants to improve, reform, tinker with the Affordable Care Act to make it work better for millions of Americans.

I happen to agree with the former vice president who, you might recall, whispered into Obama’s ear at the signing ceremony that it is a “big fu**ing deal.”

Indeed, The Hill newspaper reports: Biden’s campaign sent a press release to supporters advertising the gift of a sticker reading “Obamacare: It’s a BFD” after his fellow 2020 contenders attacked his health care policy that seeks to “protect and build on Obamacare.”

Biden helped craft the ACA. The rollout was pretty much a catastrophe, shutting down the government’s website created to assist Americans in signing up for the health care package. However, they fixed that aspect of the ACA.

The rest of it hasn’t gone swimmingly, although millions of Americans now have health insurance who didn’t have it before the ACA was enacted in 2010.

Donald Trump swore when he was elected that he would eliminate the ACA. He calls it a “disaster,” just as he calls anything associated with President Obama a “disaster.” Of course, Trump has no plan to take the ACA’s place. The Supreme Court has delivered a body blow to the dump-the-ACA movement by ruling against legal challenges to the law.

The ACA isn’t perfect. President Obama even recognizes that reality. He has said repeatedly he would welcome improvements to the law. Improvements aren’t part of the Donald Trump strategy. He wants to erase Barack Obama’s name from everything in sight. Why? Who the hell knows?

Joe Biden’s resistance to Medicare for All is partly due to his role in crafting the ACA and his public service career as a mainstream center/left Democrat. He is not a socialist, as Trump would have us believe. He wants to work within the current government and economic system to provide, among other things, affordable health care for Americans.

To that end, my hope — should Biden win the election for president — is for him to craft a comprehensive improvement package that makes the Affordable Care Act truly affordable for all Americans.

Wish list for next POTUS

I want the next president of the United States to undo the damage done by Donald J. Trump. My to-do wish list is a lengthy one.

And by the way, I hope the next president is Joseph R. Biden Jr.

So, for the record and in no particular order of importance, I want the next president to:

  • Reinstate our participation in key international agreements, such as the Iran nuclear arms deal; the Paris Climate Accords; remaining a part of the World Health Organization.
  • Issue a new executive order reviving the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals for those undocumented immigrants who were brought here illegally as children by their parents.
  • Look Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the eye and tell him he faces severe economic and diplomatic sanctions if he continues to interfere in our electoral process.
  • Restore environmental protections seeking cleaner air and water.
  • Revive our alliances within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • Start working immediately on comprehensive immigration reform. Accordingly, I also want the next president to strengthen border security without erecting a wall along our southern border.
  • Restore policies that welcome gay men and women who want to serve in our nation’s armed forces.
  • Stop the effort to kill the Affordable Care Act and instead work immediately to improve it and make it truly more “affordable” for millions of Americans.
  • Develop a sensible and comprehensive national strategy to fight the pandemic that continues to kill and sicken too many Americans every day.
  • Redeploy resources to developing clean energy.

I am sure there are other initiatives worth pursuing once we get a new president.

My hope remains that the day will arrive next Jan. 20 and not four years after that date.

Biden is no far-left lackey

We had better steel ourselves for the onslaught of demagogic attacks from Donald J. Trump’s campaign against Joseph R. Biden.

The current theme is laughable and disgraceful all at once.

Trump is contending that Joe Biden is a puppet of the far left, that he is intent on “defunding” local police departments and creating a lawless society.

Stop! Whoa! Hold it!

Joe Biden has said categorically that he does not favor any effort to “defund” police departments. He has said they should be examined and that police practices perhaps need to be reformed and improved. That, I want to assert, has nothing to do with whatever garbage is coming from Trump’s political campaign.

Biden also has argued that he does not favor “Medicare for All,” which has been a favorite talking point among the progressive movement. Instead, he has taken a more reasonable approach, which is to tinker with the Affordable Care Act, to improve the legislation he helped create.

Donald Trump is facing someone  I consider a traditional Democrat. Joe Biden comes from a working-class background. His legislative legacy is full of efforts to lend a hand to aid working families. His alliance with traditional Democratic constituencies has become legendary in political circles.

Donald Trump will not dissuaded from facing political reality. His poll standing very well is filling him with some sense of urgency to say damn near anything he believes will drag down the frontrunning challenger. So … he’s settled on the “far left lackey” argument.

It won’t work. It shouldn’t work. My hope is that Joe Biden’s team will ensure that it is ready to respond with equal or greater force to any demagogic lie that Donald Trump is willing to throw.

Game on!

Biden needs to be held to his own campaign pledges

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Joseph R. Biden Jr. is making his share of campaign promises as he seeks to unseat Donald J. Trump Sr. from the presidency.

I am extremely cautious in my hope that he’ll be able to fulfill them. I man, Trump does have a way of pulling rabbits out of his hat … if not his a**. He could do so again down the stretch toward Election Day.

Biden is making some promises that I want to see him keep. For example:

He vows to improve the Affordable Care Act, not scrap it; he vows to rescind Trump executive orders removing us from the Paris Climate Accords and the Iranian nuclear arms deal; Biden promises to work closely with our worldwide allies and cease scolding them; he pledges to hold Russia accountable for the attacks it has launched on our political system and to force answers on the issue of paying bounties for the combat deaths of American service personnel; he vows an energy policy that stresses “clean” sources of energy.

Biden wants to restore our nation’s “soul.” I’m all in. Our soul has been co-opted by the fraud who occupies the Oval Office. Biden vows to lead the entire nation, not just the base that is most loyal to him … which is a promise we never have heard from Donald Trump.

Once the dust settles and Biden — or so I am hoping — is elected the nation’s 46th president, I am going to insist that the new guy keep faith with the myriad pledges he has made.

I am acutely aware that I won’t be alone in that effort. Good. The more of us the better … for the nation.

Terminate ACA … now? Heartless!

Is it possible that there is a more heartless, inhumane or incompetent governmental administration than the one that runs the executive branch of the United States government? I have trouble thinking of one.

The Donald Trump administration, which is losing its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Think of the ramifications here. Donald “The Imbecile in Chief” Trump has no replacement lined up to succeed the ACA, the legislation that has brought tens of millions of Americans into the realm of those covered by health insurance. Dismantling the ACA would push about 20 million Americans back into the world of the uninsured. Meanwhile, the nation is fighting the pandemic and, to my eyes, is losing the fight.

This is just one more example of Donald Trump seeking to eliminate all vestiges of his immediate presidential predecessor, Barack H. Obama. The reasons why remain somewhat of a mystery to me, except that Trump simply cannot stomach the notion of the country’s first African-American president accomplishing anything of significance.

This is yet again a fundamental demonstration of Trump’s petulance.

Why in the world he continues to insist that the ACA is a “failure” is another mystery to me. Is the ACA perfect? No, it isn’t. However, President Obama has said many times during his time in office and afterward that he would welcome changes to improve the standing law. That doesn’t fly with Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans.

And now he is asking the high court to strip away the ACA while the nation is engaging in this fight against an “invisible enemy” that is sickening and killing thousands of Americans every day.

Reprehensible!

In defense of NPR

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo needs yet another lesson in just how the media do their job.

They ask tough questions. They seek direct answers. They also seek to report those answers to the public they serve. You and I depend on the media for answers to our own questions about what our government — especially at its highest levels — are doing ostensibly on our behalf.

National Public Radio reporter Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo why he hasn’t defended former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch against criticism leveled at her by the current president of the United States, Donald John Trump.

He dodged the question, saying he has defended “everyone” in the State Department. Kelly sought a specific example of how he has defended Yovanovitch. He cut her off, summoned her to his private quarters, then lashed at her with a profanity-laced tirade, saying that NPR is part of the “unhinged” media that demonstrate a hatred for Trump.

Kelly was doing her job. She has not done a thing for which she should apologize.

Time for full disclosure: I work as a freelance blogger for a public radio station, KETR-FM, based at Texas A&M University-Commerce. 

With that out of the way, I want to tell you that NPR goes the extra mile in ensuring that it reports the news fairly and without overt bias.

A friend of mine who works in public radio explained to me once about NPR’s policy that it enforces strictly. He said that during the coverage of the health-care changes that resulted in the Affordable Care Act, NPR reporters were counseled by their editors to refrain from using the term “reform” to describe the ACA. “It isn’t a ‘reform,'” my friend told me. NPR affiliates were told us call it “overhaul.”

You see, the term “reform” implies an improvement over the status quo. Thus, to describe the ACA as a “reform” would be to endorse it as a policy in NPR’s news coverage. That’s how my friend characterizes the ethos that drives NPR’s reporting of important issues of the day.

And so, it is against that backdrop that I find Mike Pompeo’s tirade against a seasoned, well-educated, dedicated reporter such as Mary Louise Kelly to be just another ignorant tirade coming from a senior official in the Donald Trump administration.

Reprehensible.

Hoping for an issues debate in 2020 race for POTUS

You may choose to believe or disbelieve what I want to say next. That’s your call. I have no control over what you believe.

I want a serious issues discussion to unfold as we move into the guts of the 2020 campaign for the presidency of the United States. Sadly, and I say that with sincerity, I fear we’re going to devolve into a sort of 2016 Campaign 2.0.

Donald Trump will survive the Senate trial that will commence soon. He will run for re-election. Democrats will nominate someone from the field of contenders vying for the chance to run against Trump.

My serious fear is that Trump’s impeachment will dominate the campaign. What’s more, I also fear that the president will not want to veer away from it, given how I suspect he’ll spin the expected verdict from the Senate into an “exoneration.”

What should we discuss?

  • Climate change ranks near the top of my issues wish list. Trump has called it a hoax. Democrats say climate change poses the greatest existential threat to the nation’s security. Trump has rolled back environmental regulations. Democrats want to restore them.
  • Health care ranks up there, too. Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an unknown plan. Democrats keep saying they want to tinker with the ACA, improve the parts of it that need work. Democrats want to protect the insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Trump isn’t making that commitment.
  • Federal spending? Yep, that’s a big one. Donald Trump has stood by while the budget deficit piles up to record levels. Democrats have become “deficit hawks,” trading places with Republicans who used to own that title.
  • Immigration reform is necessary. Trump keeps saying “Mexico will pay for The Wall.” Democrats don’t like building a wall along our southern border. They want to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Trump doesn’t have a plan.

All of this presumes naively, I’ll acknowledge, that Donald Trump is willing to discuss these issues in detail. He won’t go there. The president doesn’t read anything. He keeps telling us he is the smartest man in human history. He governs by “gut instinct.” Sigh.

I fear the president is going to concoct scandals where none exists with whomever he faces in the 2020 election.

There you have what I think will occur juxtaposed with what I hope happens. The idealistic side of me hopes for the best. The realist within me is preparing for the worst.

As if Sen. Cornyn needs to bend more to the right

I hear that Pat Fallon wants to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn next year.

Who is this guy Fallon? He’s a rookie Texas state senator from down the road in Prosper. He got elected to the Senate in 2018 by upsetting longtime Republican incumbent Craig Estes; Fallon is no political novice, though, having served in the Texas House of Representatives before moving to the other chamber at the other end of the State Capitol.

Fallon seems to think Sen. Cornyn isn’t conservative enough. He wants to steer public policy even farther to the right than Cornyn is willing to take it.

Hold on here! Cornyn, to my way of thinking, is pretty damn conservative. What in the world is young Sen. Fallon intending to do that Cornyn hasn’t already done?

Cornyn fought against the creation of the Affordable Care Act, along with everything else that President Barack Obama pitched during his two terms in the White House; he has resisted efforts to strengthen laws controlling firearms purchases; he is avidly anti-abortion rights; he stands pretty damn firmly in Donald Trump’s corner as the impeachment forces start gathering steam.

That isn’t good enough for Fallon … or so it might appear.

Fallon is a darling of what used to be called the TEA Party in Texas. The term “TEA Party” has fallen out of favor. It now operates under the name of the True Texas Project, apparently believing that only the most fervent right-wingers represent the “True Texas.” I happen to believe that is just so much horse manure.

As for Cornyn, he needs a strong challenger from the left, not the right. Cornyn has demonstrated, the way I see it, that he is as conservative in his thinking as almost any member of the U.S. Senate Republican caucus.

Fallon, for his part, sounds more like a stooge for Empower Texans, that ultra-right wing outfit led by Michael Quinn Sullivan, who’s waging a fight of his own with fellow conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Good grief! Texas doesn’t need another GOP primary challenge to yank the state’s senior U.S. senator farther to the right. He’s already on the fringe!

Chief Justice Roberts merely shows his independence

Political conservatives are angry with one of their own.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has turned on them, they say, because he is siding with liberals on the court … on occasion.

Interesting.

The chief justice, to my way of thinking, merely is showing what happens when these men and women get lifetime appointments to the federal bench. They toss aside their partisan labels and start deciding cases on matters relating to the law.

That’s not good enough for many conservatives who believe Roberts should remain the conservative they knew he was when President Bush appointed him to the high court in 2005.

Roberts this week joined the court liberals by turning aside the Trump administration’s insistence on including a “citizenship question” when taking the 2020 census.

The previous day, according to Politico: “Roberts was the sole GOP appointee to side with the liberal wing in a case many legal conservatives were hoping would deal a major blow to the much loathed administrative state by overturning decades of precedent allowing federal agencies wide leeway to interpret their own regulations.”

Roberts earlier was the swing vote on the court that helped save the Affordable Care Act, which the right wing in Congress — and the president — detest merely because it was proposed by a Democratic president and enacted by congressional Democrats.. He also sided with the court progressives in declaring gay marriage to be legal in all 50 states.

Conservatives are angry. Some activists want him impeached. Why? Because he isn’t true to their cause.

This is utter nonsense! The founders established an ostensibly independent judiciary understanding that judges who take the federal bench well could upset the proverbial “conventional wisdom.”

Roberts has not flown off the rails in the 14 years since he joined the Supreme Court. So, he sides with liberals from time to time. The chief justice is entitled under the provisions set forth in the U.S. Constitution to interpret the law and to rule according to his understanding of what the law tells him.

Will there be rulings from Roberts that disappoint me? Sure. Am I going to yammer for Chief Justice Roberts’ impeachment?

No. Never.

Get a grip, righties.