Tag Archives: Obamacare

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.

 

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.

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.

ACA repeal effort pushed back . . . to what end?

Donald Trump thinks of himself as a master political strategist, the consummate dealmaker, the toughest guy on the block.

Of course, he is none of that.

He is the president of the United States, who also keeps changing strategies, his mind, his goals. He confuses me to no end.

Now he says he wants Congress to withhold plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act until after the 2020 presidential election. This comes after he declared — with the most conviction he could muster — that he wanted it done now. He didn’t have a replacement plan, but he damn sure did promise that the Republican Party would become the “party of health care.” Yep. That’s what he said.

How will that occur? That’s a mystery. To Trump. To congressional Republicans. To the White House staff. To the Department of Health and Human Services.

The strategy du jour is to wait until after the election next year. Trump says the GOP will retake the House of Representatives, strengthen its control of the Senate and, let’s not forget, re-elect him as POTUS.

There you have it. Trump predicts that the GOP will regain total control of two of three co-equal government branches.

But wait! They had that control before. They couldn’t repeal the ACA, let alone come up with a suitable replacement. Why do you suppose that happened?

I think it’s because the ACA has become more popular with Americans, the folks who are the actual “bosses.” It ain’t Congress and it certainly isn’t the White House.

Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing.

GOP secretly rooting against Trump on ACA repeal effort

Psst. This isn’t really a secret, but I’ll treat it like one anyway.

Republican congressional leaders are “secretly” rooting against Donald Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Why? They don’t have a replacement ready to go. They aren’t even close to having one on the back burner.

Plus, they got roasted in the 2018 midterm election because Democrats made enough of an issue of ACA repeal to give them control of the House of Representatives.

ACA fight scares GOP

GOP officials are scared, man. They don’t want the president to succeed in his effort to toss aside President Obama’s signature legislative triumph.

It’s not as though they like the ACA. They don’t. Reasonable Republicans see ways to improve the ACA with their own repairs to make it better. Wow! What a concept! Legislating improvements to landmark laws to allow it to deliver on the promise that its sponsors made when they enacted it in the first place.

They did that with Social Security in the 1930s. And with Medicare in the 1960s. Republicans linked arms with Democrats and improved both of those groundbreaking laws to make them suitable for most Americans. Now, who can live without either of them? Uhh, that would be no one.

It’s being argued that the president didn’t think about the follow through when he announced this past week that he intends to seek judicial rulings to toss aside the ACA. Gee, do ya think? Trump tends to avoid thinking about anything before acting on impulse.

But, there he was. Flush from a victory of sorts with the conclusion of Robert Mueller III’s investigation into The Russia Thing and he steps on his own applause line. Trump trumpeted “no collusion!” and “total vindication!” and then gave Democrats a gift by declaring war on the ACA, giving Democrats loads of ammo to launch at Republicans as they prepare for the 2020 election.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of thinking that the president doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t know with whom he is dealing and doesn’t understand the consequences of his impulsive behavior.

GOP still bent on ACA repeal; replace . . . not so much

Congressional Republicans and their pal in the White House — Donald J. Trump — remain committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The replacement component remains an iffy deal.

Donald Trump has instructed the Justice Department to push for a judicial ruling that would toss out the ACA. He surprised many in Congress, not to mention some of his key Cabinet deputies, such as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William Barr; they argued against repealing the law.

However, many GOP members in Congress have endorsed the president’s effort.

Where, though, is the replacement? Where is the legislation that would make Republicans the “health care party” that Trump said will occur?

It remains a secret. Or, more likely, there is no replacement. They just want to scrap President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement because it happens to have Obama’s name on it.

Absent a replacement, the end of the ACA will deny health insurance to millions of Americans. That is how you “make America great again”? I don’t think so!

So, the fight over the ACA will commence yet again. The GOP couldn’t repeal and replace it when they controlled the entire Congress and the White House. Democrats have seized control over one congressional chamber, the House of Representatives. So the White House is seeking a judicial solution to what should be a legislative one.

The Republican goal? Repeal the Affordable Care Act!

The rest of it, a suitable alternative? That is nowhere to be found.

What happened to that ‘pre-existing conditions’ promise?

So much for Republicans’ promise to protect those suffering from “pre-existing conditions” in the ongoing battle over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The Donald Trump administration — namely the Justice Department — has asked the courts to toss out the ACA, all of it. The decision marks a stunning reversal from the 2018 midterm campaign when GOP candidates across the nation — along with the president himself — pledged to do all they could to protect the portion of the ACA that protects those who suffer from pre-existing conditions.

I should mention here that there is no replacement remedy in place should the court system toss out the ACA. This latest effort is expected to deny more than 20 million Americans of health insurance. Then what?

Donald Trump has joined yet another chorus that goes back on that hollow pledge.

Another broken promise

Democrats who were stung by special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to essentially clear the president of “collusion” with Russians during the 2016 campaign were given a gift of sorts. They wanted to change the subject. Donald Trump changed it for them.

I continue to scratch my head in wonderment over the GOP’s fixation with tossing out former President Obama’s signature domestic triumph. Republicans tried for most of Obama’s time as president to repeal it; they failed. Then when Trump got elected in 2016, they kept trying; they kept failing, even when they controlled all of Congress and the White House.

The 2018 midterm election changed the political calculus when Democrats took control of the House largely on fear that the GOP would continue to seek to end a health care insurance law that is growing in support across the nation.

What’s maddening, too, is that the administration decided to join this anti-ACA action despite arguments from Cabinet officials against such a move. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was one who resisted the effort.

The ACA isn’t perfect. I get all that. Why not mend it? Why not improve those portions of the law that need work?

Congressional Republicans and the president remain intent on removing Barack Obama’s fingerprints from existing law. To what end remains as muddy as ever.

Shameful.