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It is very easy for people on the left to poke fun at our conservative brothers.  It seems that almost every day some conservative says something that most rational people would consider inappropriate.  It also is true that almost every day a conservative controlled state passes another law that infringes on the rights of its citizens, all in the name of “liberty.”

There has been a lot of talk about these so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, anti-abortion bills, one state even passed a law that allows for carrying concealed guns without a license!”  Conservatives are continually railing about the “red menace” still threatening our way of life.  They argue the Iran Nuclear Deal is “giving in” to Iran.  They continue to harp that the ACA is bad for your health, although they don’t have any alternative to offer.

Conservatives deny that climate change is real.  There are states like Florida that actually ban public workers from using the words “climate change.”  They claim that man has had no influence on the weather.  Texas conservatives are hugely against doing anything about “climate change” all the while the western end of their state is getting hotter and drier by the day.

But, rather than poking fun at these conservatives, I think it would be better to try to understand them, just a little.  That is the only way to really fight back and gain the support of the American People.  See, conservatives are really living in the past.  Conservatism by definition favors the status-quo and hates progress.

Face facts, do you really think that all of the crying about evolution and not teaching the bible in school has anything to do with religion?  No!  It has to do with the fact that conservatives want to remain in a time when bad things that happen like drought, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes could all be handled by saying it was “God’s will.”  If you allow science to teach something other than “God’s will” you don’t have any basis for your fantasies.

As I said once before, the phrase “it’s God’s Will” is a convenient excuse to believe that nothing is really anyone’s fault.  That explains their consistent denial about climate change.  They want you to believe that man is not helping the climate to get warmer, it is “God’s Will.”  Therefore we just have to put up with it.

Conservatives use the abortion battle to say “life begins at conception.”  But what they are really saying is that they want to be able to tell women what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.  The last thing a conservative wants is for women to decide for themselves or for that matter even think for themselves.  In our days of yore, women were subjugated to the will of men.  That is how they want it to be in the future.

As a result of their backwards thinking, they have nothing to offer America except fear.  The Red Menace is still a threat.  ISIS is coming to America to kill us all in our sleep.  Gay couples are destroying the American family and the institution of marriage.  None of this is true, but they do make for great headlines.  Especially aimed towards other conservatives who are afraid that tomorrow will be different from today.

So, how do we fight against such backwards thinking?  We need to call them out for their stupidity, yes, but we also need to educate the populace on how this kind of backward thinking is ruining our economy, defense, and country.  Let’s look at climate change as an example something the DOD even says is a threat to national security.  See, everyone who is fighting the conservatives on climate change are making the wrong arguments.  If you really want to see a change in our energy policies, you need to hit them where it will hurt the most.  People’s pocketbooks!

Those who are arguing that fossil fuels are hurting the planet are correct.  But, they don’t take the argument far enough.  They only talk about how climate change is changing our planet.  That is serious enough, but if you want to get everyone on board, you need to show that changing our energy policies to renewable energy will actually create a boom to our economy.  You need to show that these conservatives are really stopping the creation of millions of jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Using renewable energy, like wind and solar power, helps reduce the costs of energy for every single American.  It reduces energy costs for manufacturing and other businesses.  It creates jobs that cannot be outsourced.  It creates education opportunities so people who currently work in the fossil fuel industry, like coal miners, can learn a new trade and secure economic stability in the future.

I don’t know a single business owner who would not like to see their electric bill cut.  I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t like to see their heating and air conditioning bill cut.  This can happen if we stop using fossil fuels whose costs are subject to the whims of Wall Street.

Of course changing our energy policies costs money.  We need to rebuild our energy infrastructure.  We need to upgrade our electric producing plants.  We need to reeducate our workers so they can benefit from the changes.  However, in terms of return on investment, we would probably recover these costs in less than 20 years.

It doesn’t matter to me if the rest of the world is going to follow us or not.  In my opinion, they will be forced to follow us because using renewable, cheaper energy will make America more competitive in the global market.  It will allow us to restore our manufacturing base at a lower cost, thus creating even more jobs.  More people working at livable wages means more tax dollars coming into the Federal coffers.  More money in the treasury will help pay off our debt.

The conservatives want to eliminate things like SNAP, WIC, and welfare.  What better way to eliminate the need for these programs than to create an environment where people can actually get a real job that cannot be given to someone in China?  What better way to help the poor than teaching them a trade that they can earn a livable wage with?

But no, conservatives would rather fall back on their tried and true method of claiming that climate change is “God’s Will.”  They are not interested in creating a better future for our country.  They are not interested in creating a better future for our children.  They are only interested in living in the past.  That is where they feel safe.  That is where they feel in control.

It isn’t hard to show the economic benefits that the average American can acquire if we change our policies.  Just look at what we gained from NASA and the space program?  Hell, we never had Tang before the space program.  We didn’t have personal computers either.

The benefits of changing energy policies would have just as much benefit to the average American as the space program had.  Maybe even more because these policy changes would put money into people’s pockets.  It would create job security.  It would return our manufacturing base.  It would create more research into things like cars that don’t need to burn gasoline or be limited to a few hundred miles on a battery charge.

It is time we show the American people that conservatism is holding back our economic growth.  It is holding us back from a future that would be far better than the present.  Be honest, you are not going to win the argument by telling people that New York City will be underwater in 100 years.  The people today won’t be around then, and frankly don’t care.

But, if you tell them they will gain economically by a shift in energy policies, if you show them that their children will have a more secure lifestyle, they will listen.  It doesn’t matter if you earn $1 Billion per year or $10,000 per year.  It is all about personal economics.  That is where we need to take the battle.

Naturally the conservatives will use the argument that it will “cost too much.”  But, the American people have shown in that past that if they benefit from changes, they won’t care how much it costs.  They will want it.  That is how you beat conservatives and take our country into a better future for our citizens.

 

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The junior Senator from Arkansas is at it again.  The other day, he claimed that we don’t have to go to war with Iran, we simply have to drop a few bombs on Iran.  He seems to think that if the U.S. decides to bomb another country, that isn’t war.  That is a remarkably stupid thing to say.

According to Cotton:

Even if military action were required – and we certainly should have kept the credible threat of military force on the table, it always improves diplomacy – the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq. That’s simply not the case.

It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days of air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior, for interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough in the protection of America’s national security interests as Bill Clinton was.

There is a major difference between what Bill Clinton did and what we are talking about right now.  Bill Clinton had military forces in the area because the Kuwaiti War made sure we kept troops in the area.  Then there is the fact that we told the Iraqis that they would face more military involvement if they did not comply with the treaty signed.  It included a “no fly” zone in southern Iraq.

But, in Iran, we have no real reason to bomb them.  We have not fought a way with Iran.  We have no legal standing to “drop a few bombs” on Iran.  And, as we already know from Bill Clinton’s bombings, they didn’t achieve anything.

The right-wing isn’t interested in bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.  They are interested in a “regime change” in Iran.  They want to overthrow the current government.  We did that once in Iran back in the 1950s.  The CIA masterminded a plot to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran because the right-wing thought it was leaning too much towards the Soviet Union than to us.

After the government was overthrown, the Shah was placed back on the throne by Eisenhower’s administration.  That set up a right-wing dictatorship that terrorized its own people.  As all dictatorships do.  The result was the eventual overthrow of the Shah of Iran.  How well did that work out?  Why not ask one of the couple of hundred embassy workers who were taken hostage for over a year.

We already know that at least some of Iran’s nuclear program is underground.  It would be very hard to destroy those facilities.  Additionally, if we begin to bomb Iran, it will only result in Iran being more stealthy in their pursuit for a nuclear weapon.  If what they are currently saying is true that they are only interested in peaceful nuclear energy, bombing them will certainly make them want a bomb.

Once that happens, how do we know what activities they are involved in, and how do we stop it?  We have to invade just like we did in Iraq.  I guess then Cotton will say we will really be at war.  It doesn’t take ground troops to be at war.  When you start bombing a sovereign nation, you are committing an act of war.

The other real danger in Cotton’s use of bombing is where does it end?  If America bombs Iran, what will their response be?  Will they bomb Israel?  Will they bomb Saudi Arabia?  Iran’s military is quite formidable.  They are within reach of many countries in the Mideast.  If they are bombed, what is stopping them from doing the same thing to someone else?

If they do bomb another country, like Israel, that would mean war across the board.  What will stop Russia and China from backing Iran?  If they do, would Russia invade the Ukraine?  Would Russia invade western Europe?  Would China invade Japan?  What about North Korea?  We know they have nuclear weapons, will they turn them on South Korea once we are engaged elsewhere?

The “Letter to Iran” that Tom Cotton authored and was signed by 47 Republican senators was bad enough.  But his comment about bombing Iran has rightly taken him out of the right to take part in any discussion on the Iran deal or anything else for that mater.  Being so reckless as to not consider the reactions of others in this matter, which could lead to another global war, is so irresponsible that he needs to be censored.

The deal being worked on may still fall apart.  It may become necessary for other drastic measures.  But, unfortunately, there are too many other idiots in Congress who think the same way as Cotton.  They are actively trying to sabotage the deal before it is even struck.  That says more about their willingness to go to war than their claim to be defending our national security.

Sorry, but these are very dangerous times, and too many of our elected officials are actually fanning the flames of war.  For the sake of our children, and the world, let us hope that calmer heads prevail.

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Climate change is something that can rile up almost anyone on both sides of the issue.  We have seen the peak winter arctic ice at its lowest levels in history this past winter.  The planet has just suffered through its warmest winter in history.  The GOP is still arguing that climate change is a hoax, and are looking to defang the EPA from doing its job in protecting our air and water.

Maybe it is time to stop talking about pollution being the cause of climate change, and refocus it back to pollution being a health hazard instead.  Maybe, if politicians are bombarded with complaints from constituents that pollution from coal-burning electric plants, or other manufacturing is affecting their health, they might listen.  But then again, I doubt that will happen either.

There are two cases pending in two different courts that exemplify this to a tee.  Two lawyers Brendan and Nessa Coppinger apparently live in a row house in Washington, D.C.  They have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.  That is right, they have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.

“This is a health concern,” Nessa Coppinger, who is 38 and pregnant with her second child, told the Washington Post. “We don’t smoke. We don’t allow smoking in our home. We have smoke in our house all the time.”.  In the law suit they are seeking damages in the amount of $500,000

D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck ordered that all smoking, of all substances, be banned in the neighbor’s home until the lawsuit is resolved.  Of course, this whole mess raises intriguing questions about a person’s right to smoke in his own house.  Or, for that matter what rights a homeowner really has when it comes to his own property.

Now, this may all seem like something reasonable.  Except for one thing.  Records indicate that Nessa Coppinger, an “environmental lawyer” — often litigates against the environment, including cases in which she’s defended industry clients against people besieged by pollution.

Suncoke Energy, Inc. is being sued by four Ohioans.  The plaintiffs claim that a local metallurgical coke plant, operated by a subsidiary of the billion dollar corporation, “emitted and released blue/gray Noxious and Hazardous Substances-containing clouds or haze,” which poisoned their water, soil and, yes, air, with just about everything one might consider to be a health concern: “sludge-like deposits, strong odors, particulates, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, creosote, coal-tar pitch, coal-tar pitch volatiles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzo(a) pyrene and chrysene) (“PAHs”), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, dioxins, volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), hydrochloric acid (“HCL”), volatiles, carbon monoxide, benzene, flue gas, chemical clouds and haze, other solid and hazardous wastes, other hazardous substances and pollutants, and mixtures containing such substances.”

The lawyer defending the billion dollar giant is none other than Nessa Coppinger.  The plaintiffs reported experiencing unpleasant odors infiltrating their properties, claimed to suffer respiratory symptoms from the smoke and said they “are concerned and apprehensive about risks to their and their family members’ health from their past and ongoing exposure to said substances.”  No court order has prohibited the plant from spewing the pollutants, as alleged, onto its neighbors’ property.  This lawsuit has been ongoing for five years.

So we have a lawyer who is seeking $500,000 from a neighbor because his smoking in his own house is seeping into her house causing “second-hand smoke” issues defending a company who is polluting its neighbors with even more toxic pollutants.  The biggest difference is that the “smoker” is smoking within his own house.  The company polluting its neighbors are not polluting inside their own facility.  Rather they are openly polluting the entire area.

If this sounds rather familiar, remember the Exxon CEO who, last year, joined an anti-fracking lawsuit after nearby drilling activity threatened to lower his own property values.  The same Exxon CEO who claims that fracking is perfectly safe and won’t cause harm to the environment or property values.

I firmly believe that these cases point out the simple fact that the fight to protect polluters has nothing to do with climate change or anything like it.  It is to defend the billion dollar companies that are killing our planet and us.  But, as long as it happens to someone else, it is okay.  Just keep it from our neighborhood.

That is why the GOP will continue its stupidity on climate change and its attack on science and the EPA.

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It is time I said something about the latest controversy – emails.  Since it came out that Hillary Clinton used a personal email address while Secretary of State, you would think that the entire world was set upside down.  There are some questions that do need to be answered that I believe are valid.  The major one is if the email server Clinton used is really secure.

Look, I know about maintaining classified material and secure communications.  If she used her personal email account and personal server for official business, then it must be made certain that the server has the proper security level necessary.  If not, it is possible that something may have been compromised, and that is not good.

On the other hand, the rest of this new controversy is total bullshit!  This is not defending Clinton.  It is merely making a point.  With the possible exception of Lindsey Graham who claims to never have sent an email, everyone in government uses private emails.  This includes Trey Gowdy who is demanding that Clinton turn over every single email she ever sent or received while Secretary of State.

He isn’t alone either.  The business card for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who succeeded Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to be head of the House’s Government Oversight committee lists a Gmail address.  Why not his official email address?  It also came out that Secretary of State Colin Powell used a personal email account while in office.

What makes Clinton’s use of personal email such a controversy is the never-ending Benghazi Investigations.  I lost count of how many there have been, but so far none of them came up with anything.  Now the email “scandal” is supposed to be the smoking gun.  Gowdy claims she must be hiding something in her personal email account.

Clinton has already released over 55,000 printed pages of emails.  Gowdy wants every single personal email she sent while Secretary of State in the name of transparency.  There is that word again.  Transparency.  We have seen that word used way too much to justify any witch-hunt someone wants to conduct on both sides of the aisle.

I am all for transparency.  But, everyone doesn’t seem to think like I do, not even Gowdy.  For example, AlterNet asked Gowdy’s press secretary how he segregates work he conducts through his personal domain vs congressional work. They also inquired about where his personal email server is stored and how it is secured.  They even tried to contact Gowdy’s campaign manager George Ramsey but he did not return the phone calls.  As of yet, no response was received to these questions.

I don’t know what the “law” everyone talks about actually says about email accounts.  But, if we are going to constantly talk about transparency, then it is wrong to criticize anyone without following your own words about transparency.

I know that a lot of trolls out there would love to peer into the personal email accounts of public officials.  I find that disgusting and an invasion of privacy.  However, if you are going to make a scandal over emails about one person, you must follow through and release your own personal emails so we can judge if you are as pure as you say you are.  Or, is this another case of Congress exempting themselves from laws they pass about other branches of government?

Hillary Clinton wants to be president.  We know that there are a lot of people who are completely against her even running for the office.  That means anything is fair game as far as they are concerned.  The problem I have with all of this is more about judgment.

You know I ask some questions that others won’t, so I will ask this one.  What the f**k was she thinking?  She should have known that anything that even appeared to be wrong would come back to haunt her.  She was slow in her response to the “scandal” too.

In the meantime, this email scandal will go on forever.  The news media loves covering stories about the Clintons.  Either good stories or bad stories.  But, remember, she is not alone in combining personal emails with business.  Only we won’t know who is and who isn’t doing the same until all personal emails are made public for every elected or appointed official.

Hell, if we are going to be a tabloid news nation, what better way to feed the rags than letting everyone see your emails.  As I said before, I find that totally disgusting.  Then again, I can think of a few people whose email accounts I might be interested in seeing.  I am sure you can too.  What gems might they contain?

 

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The FCC ruled on its net neutrality decision.  The new regulations bar companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from blocking or slowing online traffic, or offering faster service in return for payment.  The idea is to ensure that the internet remains open to everyone.

The FCC vote seeks to settle more than a decade of debate about whether the Internet should be a highway offered to all users on equal terms, or whether broadband providers can levy fees and restrict access.

Of course, Republicans are against net neutrality.  Or, at least the type where companies can’t slow down or charge extra for faster service.  House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said lawmakers would try to stop what he called the FCC’s “misguided scheme.”

The vote also brought wireless service under net neutrality rules as well.  That didn’t sit well with Meredith Attwell Baker, president of CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington-based trade group with members including AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc., who said the ruling was  “disappointing and unnecessary.”

Under this ruling, the agency has taken authority to judge whether Internet service providers offer fair terms for accepting Web traffic from the likes of video streamer Netflix Inc. and data shippers such as Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. and Level 3 Communications Inc.

It also allows the agency to judge mobile deals that exempt services such as music streaming from counting against subscribers’ data caps. The agency can accept complaints and might ban an anti-competitive plan.  Venture capitalists had told the FCC that these deals violate the concept that all Web traffic should receive equal treatment.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said:  “The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the Internet.”  Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak was one of the people in the spectator gallery and said that this action is “an indication that the people can sometimes win.”  He went on to say “This is a victory for the people, the consumers, the average Joes.”

You may wonder why the Republicans are so against this ruling?  Well it is very simple.  They only see dollars and cents for their contributors.  If internet providers are allowed to decide which sites will be in their infamous “fast lane” and which will be slowed down, the internet providers will essentially be allowed to control what you see or get on the internet.

You will hear the Republicans complain that all of this is “government overreach” and that is why they are against it.  They are lying.  They want companies to control the highway known as the internet.  They want to be able to bully certain providers to say what can be seen and what cannot.

Republican legislatures all across the country are slashing education funding including university funding.  They have been attacking education like it is a cancer that is making our citizens too smart.  The internet offers open access to sites that help us learn more about today’s world.  With an intelligent constituency, Republicans fear their “fear mongering” won’t work anymore.  So, they want to put the clamp down on the internet as well as public education.

Since the internet and wireless are both monopolies, it would be easy to bully them into doing just that.  This isn’t just about streaming like Netflix, it is about education as well.  As a result, they want internet providers and wireless providers to be able to charge extra for internet users to get into their “fast lane” so their streaming will not be hindered.

How long do you think it would be before special interest groups started bullying internet providers to “slow down” or deny access through their services to users who do not comply with their ideals?  The AP History curriculum is under attack in several states.  What would stop them from bullying or passing a law that denies access to the very parts of the curriculum they don’t like over the internet?

We will see various lawsuits over this ruling.  We will see Republicans introduce legislation trying to overturn this ruling.  As David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, said the FCC action portends “inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty.”

The real problem for Republicans in this ruling is that these rules are designed to preserve the Internet as an open medium.  Open mediums are not what the Republicans want.  They want control.  They are even willing to let internet providers be their arm for control over what’s on the internet.

This fight isn’t over.  We still have too many conservative judges , even a conservative Supreme Court, that can overturn these rulings.  Only time will tell if they stand or not.  If they do, then the people have finally won one over the oligarchs and Republicans.

 

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There has been an awful lot written about Brian Williams and his fall from grace at NBC News.  When it first came out that he “exaggerated” his helicopter flight in 2003 when he said they had been fired on, I thought: What was he thinking?”  This was the nightly anchor for a major network’s news reporting.  He needn’t exaggerate anything.  He wasn’t there to show how brave he was.  He was there to report the news.

But you see, that is what is wrong with the nightly news today.  Rather than simply reporting what happened, news reporters believe they should become part of the story.  Worse, if there isn’t anything “sexy” to report, then something needs to be made up.

The real issue in all of this is integrity.  If news reporters have no integrity, they have no right to be on the air.  I don’t care who they are either.  If Williams is guilty of exaggerating other stories, he deserves to be fired, not just suspended.  But, Williams is just a symptom of the problem, not the cause.

Brian Williams is not alone in this either.  When Ronald Reagan got the part about, equal time, dropped from the airways, the real problems in reporting began in earnest.  As you my remember, if a news organization, or TV station said something political, then the other side was given the right, by law, to respond to those comments.  Reagan got that little law erased.

With that erasure, people like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and others started hitting the airways.  It was simple.  Since they did not have to offer air time to their opponents, they could simply say whatever they wanted and get a way with it.  The unfortunate side effect of this was that it began to bleed into “regular” news outlets as well.

With the success of those “talk radio” hosts, Fox News was invented.  It claimed to be “fair and balanced” but we all know that isn’t true.  Unless you believe that “fair and balanced” means you attack anything that isn’t male, white and rich.  As a result of all of this, we have seen our nightly news on the major networks become something other than news.  It has fallen into the trap of “entertainment” which is what the conservative media really is.

When you become entertainment, you lose sight of what your real purpose is.  You lose tract that you are supposed to “report the news” and not become a part of it.  It really doesn’t matter if you lean left or right as a person.  You are supposed to simply report the news without a bias.  Yes, that is hard to do, but it has been done in the past.

We remember news anchors like Cronkite, Smith, Brinkley, and Huntley.  These people understood their jobs.  They didn’t need to overly dramatize what was happening.  But, as with all things, times change and people change.  As a result, the news has changed, too.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of seeing news people on-screen showing “deep emotions” whenever a tragedy occurs.  I am tired of news reporters standing in front of some scene of tragedy with tears in their eyes blubbering about “how terrible this was.”  We already know how terrible it was.  But that is what happens when news becomes entertainment.

The news is supposed to let us know what is happening in our world.  It is supposed to give us information so we can make up our own minds when it comes to politics or issues.  It is not supposed to be our decision maker.  It is not supposed to “entertain” us.

I can remember only two times when the past news anchors showed emotion on air.  Once when JFK was killed, and the other was when we landed on the moon.  Unfortunately, showing emotion and becoming part of the story is common-place today.

I am not trying to pile on the Brian Williams bashing bandwagon.  I don’t know what his motivation was, and frankly I don’t care.  Rather, I am simply saying that Brian Williams is a product of today’s news organizations trying to be entertaining instead of informative.  That is no more evident than Bill O’Reilly defending him on the Kimmel Show the other day.  But then, when you make a living fabricating the news for your living, it is easy to defend someone else who fabricated a story.

The Brian Williams issue simply shows a light on how bad the nightly news has become.  It places a spotlight on everything that is wrong with today’s news.  News is news, it is not entertainment!  When the networks and other news organizations come back to that simple reality, maybe we will get nightly news that is worth watching again.

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It is time to wake up, the cows have finally come home!  With unbelievable timing, the Republicans suddenly have shown us a “replacement” to the Affordable Care Act.  Well, “replacement” is about all I could call it.  It is not very pretty.

The proposal was devised by Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Finance Committee; Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, a member of the Finance and Health committees.

One of the biggest reasons they decided to put their proposal forward is that they anticipate, as many people do, that the Roberts Court will gut the subsidies from the Affordable Care Act later this year.  Since almost everyone who will lose their subsidies, and therefore their insurance, are in Republican controlled states, they figured they better come up with something.  Plus they want to be able to argue against Democrats who say they haven’t got a plan.

I am sure you are all anxiously waiting to hear what is inside their “plan.”  So, here are some of the key points:

It will eliminate the mandate that individuals must have insurance and employers must offer it to employees or pay a penalty.  “If consumers do not want to buy coverage, they don’t have to,” according to a document describing the Republican plan.  That means we go back to hospitals losing money because people without insurance coverage will still have to be treated without paying for it.

The plan repeals the new taxes placed on insurance companies and manufacturers of prescription drugs and medical devices.  The very taxes that pay for the subsidies many people need to afford health insurance.  Yet, the government would offer subsidies, in the form of tax credits, for the purchase of “health care coverage or services,” according to the proposal.

The subsidies would be available to people with incomes up to three times the poverty level, compared with four times the poverty level under the Affordable Care Act.  That is real nice.  But, with the taxes that pay for subsidies eliminated, how are the Republicans going to “pay for” these subsidies?  Also, it means that millions of low-income earners will lose their subsidies, and probably their insurance as well.

Under this proposal, states would be provided a “capped allotment” to finance coverage for certain Medicaid beneficiaries. Money would be allocated according to the number of poor people in each state.  Increases in future years would be tied to the CPI  plus one percentage point and would “reflect demographic and population changes.”

The proposal says “no one can be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition.”  But there are “conditions” for this coverage.  It mostly goes to people who have had continuous coverage.  They don’t define how long “continuous coverage” is.  If you have not had “continuous coverage,” you may get a one-time chance during an open-enrollment period to get coverage.  If you don’t enroll then, you are out of luck of getting that protection.

You will be able to keep your children on your insurance plan up to age 26.  That is of course if the state you live in doesn’t “opt out” of this provision.  Republicans seem to love that “opt-out” phrase.

Only the states will be able to tell insurance companies what must be covered.  In other words, things like the maternity coverage that the Federal Government says must be included in health coverage, can be eliminated if your state doesn’t want it in there.

I saved the best part for last.  I really think you are going to LOVE this part.  Or, maybe not.

Workers would have to pay federal income tax on the value of employer-provided health benefits that exceed certain annual thresholds — $12,000 for individuals and $30,000 for families. Health benefits above those levels would be treated and taxed as regular income for the employee. The thresholds would increase over time.

Employers could still take tax deductions for the cost of employee health benefits as an incentive to continue providing coverage, Republicans said. Moreover, a summary of the proposal says that “economists across the political spectrum largely agree” that the current tax break for employer-provided insurance is fueling the growth of health costs.

How about that!  Bet you didn’t know that you getting a tax break on your health insurance is fueling the growth of health costs, but the tax break your employer gets isn’t affecting the health costs.

There are the usual Republican talking points in the proposal as well.  Like tort reform, deregulating insurance companies, abortion restrictions, you know their usual laundry list.

So, there you have it.  With one fell swoop, the Republicans have a “replacement” to the Affordable Care Act.  And as expected it favors the health insurance companies and employers.  But, as usual, it punishes the people who need health coverage, mainly the American People.

This proposal is even worse than the status quo that we had before the ACA.  This plan is reportedly being backed by the Republican leadership.  I must give the conservatives some credit here.  They truly live up to the conservative credo:  “Backwards, ever backwards!!”

 

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