Tag Archives: ACA

Glad he spoke out, however …

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As glad as I am to hear former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner speak out against what he calls “political terrorism” within the Republican Party, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize an obvious element of history.

While the ex-speaker decries the harsh partisanship that has infected the current political climate, he needs to own his particular contribution to that infection.

He called the Affordable Care Act the greatest sin ever perpetrated on Americans. Boehner filed lawsuits to stop the implementation of President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. He did plenty of blustering and bellowing from the House floor about the evils of his Democratic colleagues’ intent.

Has the former speaker had an epiphany? Has he realized what he did contributed to today’s toxicity? I hope that is the case.

Still, to hear him refer to Sen. Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh,” and to express his profound revulsion over the insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6 remains music to my admittedly partisan ears.

Go big or go home

REUTERS/Mike Blake

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden appears to have adopted the theory that it is best to just “go big … or go home.” 

Thus, we have just witnessed the latest rollout of a massive economic recovery effort launched by the nation’s newest president. It is, as Joe Biden once whispered to President Obama after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, a “big fu**ing deal.” 

It is going to cost a lot of money, around $2 trillion. Yep, that’s trillion with a “t.” It exceeds the cost of the COVID-19 relief package that Biden managed to push through Congress.

NBC News reports that Biden has pitched “a sweeping proposal that would rebuild 20,000 miles of roads, expand access to clean water and broadband and invest in care for the elderly.

Speaking at a carpenters training facility in Pittsburgh, Biden urged Congress to act on his proposal, called the American Jobs Plan, arguing that failing to make the investments would contribute to a weakening middle class and leave the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage abroad.

“I am proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work, not just rewards wealth,” Biden said. “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago.”

The plan would create millions of jobs, Biden said, and jump-start the fight against climate change. The proposal, which would be spent out over eight years, would be paid for over 15 years by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, ending the Trump-era tax cuts.

Biden unveils sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure plan (nbcnews.com)

Is the Democratic president going to get any support from his Republican friends in both congressional chambers? Do not hold y our breath on that one. Already they are carping. So, too, are Democratic progressives, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said the Biden infrastructure bill doesn’t go far enough.

AOC needs to pipe down. It’s a huge deal. President Biden is planting his hope on the jobs that this major reconstruction effort will bring. In a way it reminds many longtime observers of the bold approach that a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had when he proposed building the nation’s massive interstate highway system. Ike sold the highway plan as a national security imperative. Joe Biden wants the nation to battle climate change with the same level of ferocity.

I am acutely aware of the up-front cost of this massive project. I also am willing to invest in that effort if it allows us to put millions of Americans to work, allowing them to achieve their dreams and allow the nation to deal head-to-head with our worldwide competitors.

You go, Joe! I’m all in!

Lesson learned from post-ACA debacle

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden, or more likely his White House team, has learned the lesson from an earlier legislative triumph that turned into a political debacle.

When Biden served as vice president in the Obama administration, he and President Obama’s team ramrodded through Congress a monumental legislative achievement: the Affordable Care Act. Biden famously whispered in Obama’s ear that its enactment was a “big f***ing deal.” And it was.

Obama then failed to sell the benefits of the ACA to the public. What happened then? Republicans took control of Congress in the 2010 midterm election, an event that President Obama described as a “shellacking.”

Fast-forward to this year. Biden has scored another huge victory with a massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Its aim is to help Americans suffering economically from the pandemic that still grips the nation.

But … the president, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses are fanning out for as long as it takes to talk directly to Americans about why this package also is a big … deal. They want to avoid the thumping that President Obama took after scoring a big win with the ACA. The 2022 midterms are coming up in short order.

I wish them well.

Saddened by Abbott’s posture

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Something has happened to the individual who was most recently elected as Texas governor. I refer to Greg Abbott, a Republican who is set to run for re-election in 2022 to his third term.

His behavior has disappointed me greatly. I now will explain why.

I have met Greg Abbott on numerous occasions. I was a journalist working at the Amarillo Globe-News in the Texas Panhandle. Abbott would visit the newspaper while he was running for election or re-election as a Texas Supreme Court justice and then as Texas attorney general.

I resigned from the newspaper in August 2012, so I did not know him while he ran for governor the first time in 2014.

The Greg Abbott that I got to know over the years did not display the kind of petulance I have been seeing in the man who became our state’s governor. He was gracious, a gentleman, a consummate professional. I knew him to be a man of good humor who delivered direct answers to direct questions, which is a trait I valued then as a journalist. He didn’t flimflam me with double-talk.

So I am now left to ask: What the hell has become of this guy?

His recent decision to rescind a mask-wearing order he issued as the state began battling the COVID virus brought a fairly harsh reaction from President Biden, who called it a form of “Neanderthal thinking.” Abbott’s response was to go on Fox News and say that Biden’s immigration policies have contributed to any surge in COVID virus cases along our southern border.

It took Abbott next to forever to even acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Perhaps I should have noticed this mean streak when Abbott served as Texas AG, as he was continually suing the Barack Obama administration over immigration matters and over implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

It has gotten worse, from my perspective, since he became governor.

To be candid, Gov. Abbott is sounding more like some right-wing crackpot than the reasonable, circumspect man I thought I knew when he held less-visible political offices.

 

ACA gets new life

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You might recall when Congress approved the Affordable Care Act. Then-Vice President Joe Biden warmed up the podium for President Obama and then whispered a remark got on a hot mic.

“This is a big fu**ing deal,” Biden said. Obama signed the bill into law and then commenced a decade-long fight with congressional Republicans who wanted to kill it. They never came up with an alternative. They never sought to improve the ACA. They wanted it wiped off the books. Why? Because the law had President Barack Obama’s name on it.

Donald Trump was the top GOP cheerleader, but he never had an alternative, either. Now he’s gone. Democrats control both legislative chambers. VP Biden is now the president.

And the ACA is still a big … deal.

Improvements to it are contained in a COVID relief bill that the House has approved. It’s now in the Senate and is likely to pass narrowly.

The New York Times reports: Now the Biden administration and a Democratic Congress hope to engineer the first major repair job and expansion of the Affordable Care Act since its passage. They plan to refashion regulations and spend billions through the stimulus bill to make Obamacare simpler, more generous and closer to what many of its architects wanted in the first place.

At Last, Democrats Get Chance to Engineer Obamacare 2.0 (msn.com)

The link I have attached to this blog post goes into detail what Democrats have in mind.

Suffice to say that the ACA isn’t perfect. Its rollout was a disaster. However, it has managed to provide health insurance to millions of Americans. Barack Obama always stated he would welcome improvements to the law.

Republicans who controlled the White House and Congress had their chance to produce an alternative to law they despised. They failed. Now it’s Democrats’ turn. Perhaps they can deliver the goods to Americans who continue to support the act, no matter how much venom is spewed by its foes.

Oh, Ted … please shut up!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Forgive this brief bit of “what aboutism.” I just cannot let this statement go without a response.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said this today regarding President Biden’s nomination of Xavier Becerra to become the next secretary of health and human services:

The fact that President Biden was willing to nominate Xavier Becerra — someone with zero experience in anything related to health care — to the Department of Health and Human Services during this pandemic, illustrates Biden prioritizes partisan politics above all else.

Oh, my. Where do I begin?

I’ll start with this: Cruz had no difficulty supporting the appointment of two members of the Donald Trump Cabinet with no experience at all overseeing the agencies they were selected to run.

Exhibit A is Dr. Ben Carson, the housing secretary and then we have Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education.

Dr. Carson was a renowned brain surgeon. Did he have a clue about public housing? Had he ever led an agency the size of HUD? No and no. Indeed, he was hard-pressed during his confirmation hearing to answer simple questions related to public housing policy. He got confirmed.

DeVos never attended public schools. Her children never attended them, either. She favors giving taxpayer funds to finance vouchers for children to attend private schools. She is anti-public education. DeVos was, and is, ignorant on basics about education policy. She, too, was confirmed … although it took a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence for her to take office.

Now we hear from the Cruz Missile saying that Becerra has no experience in health policy. Earth to Ted: Becerra served in the House of Representatives and was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act that Cruz has opposed since joining the Senate in 2013. Thus, Becerra had plenty to do with health care.

This kind of flippin’ nonsense from a loudmouth senator who doesn’t possess an ounce of introspection just sends me into orbit.

What’s more, to hear this kind of bullsh** coming from someone who sought to undermine a free and fair election and who ought to bear some responsibility for the hideous attack on our democratic system on Jan. 6 is reprehensible on its face.

My advice to Ted Cruz? Shut the hell up.

Welcome back, Barack Obama

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I feel obliged to say how glad I am to hear former President Obama’s voice once again as the nation continues its political discussion and debate.

He is critical of Donald J. Trump. No surprise there, right?

What is a surprise is that Trump’s immediate predecessor has weighed in now, at the end of Trump’s term as president. Then again, maybe it should not be such a surprise.

Trump spent a good bit of emotional capital during his term as president trashing the record compiled by President Obama. He took every chance he could find to denigrate Obama’s record, to declare his intention to undo the accomplishments Obama rang up.

The Affordable Care Act? Obama’s record on renewable energy development? Obama’s agreeing to join the Paris Climate Accords? Trump called them all a “disaster.”

So now it’s President Obama’s turn to strike back. Yes, the norm has been for former presidents to sit in a corner and let his immediate successor rise or fall on his own. Obama did that very thing during much of Trump’s term. No longer.

Welcome back, Mr. President. I enjoy hearing your voice.

Litmus test, anyone?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I must have been dreaming it, but I always used to believe that politicians never admitted to requiring judges or judicial nominees to pass a “litmus test” to determine their fitness for a particular judgeship.

I suppose we can toss that truism out the window.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is being grilled by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee over Donald Trump’s decision to nominate her to a spot on the Supreme Court.

She is known to be an avid anti-abortionist and a strong critic of the Affordable Care Act.

Trump has made it clear that he intended to nominate justices who were of that mind on both issues. He is now anti-choice on abortion after being pro-choice and he just cannot stomach having the ACA on the books because it comes from the president he detests with a passion, Barack Obama.

I am left now to ponder whether Trump asked Barrett — or two previous SCOTUS appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — questions related directly to those issues. I just wish I could have been a fly on the proverbial wall when he met with all three of them.

Trump’s lack of political savvy is well-known and well-chronicled at this point. A significant portion of me believes he likely asked them all directly: Will you rule against Roe v. Wade and against Obamacare? Just say “yes” and I’ll nominate you to the Supreme Court. Got it? Good!

It sickens me to believe this is possible. I fear that we’re now living in an era when the nation’s leading politician doesn’t give a damn about the appearance of litmus tests … other than to insist on applying them when they suit his political agenda.

 

Get set for the Fight of the Century

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

So, you thought that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier engaged in the Fight of the Century way back in 1971, yes?

Step aside, fellas. The bigger fight is about to occur with the pending nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The word is out that Donald Trump is going to nominate Judge Barrett to the court to succeed the late, great Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett is a darling of the evangelical Christian community. She is a far-right winger who vows to throw out Roe vs. Wade, the landmark SCOTUS ruling that legalized abortion; she wants to toss out the Affordable Care Act; Barrett intends to make constitutional decisions based on the will of God … which is a tough call given that the Constitution is a secular document.

Ginsburg, of course, represented the “other” wing of the Supreme Court.

So, the fight will commence as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell puts on his hypocrite hat and does the very thing he vowed shouldn’t happen, which is confirm a presidential Supreme Court appointment during a presidential election year.

Senate Democrats won’t sit still for it. Nor should they.

And in the House of Representatives, we hear faint rumblings of House members taking unusual steps to forestall this confirmation process until after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The founders intended to keep the federal judiciary above partisan politics. As smart as they were, they could not have foreseen what we are about to witness up close in real time.

Let’s hold on with both hands.

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.