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Day 138. 

There are two things on trump’s agenda today.  The first is to sign an executive order that will repeal a regulation that was designed to keep shady contractors from benefiting from tax dollars.  The rule said that companies with an egregious record of violating wage and safety laws would lose their government contracts if they didn’t come into compliance.  What that means is that if a contractor stole wages through shady payroll practices, or had too many safety violations, they could lose their contract.

But, Republicans said t was too punitive and a “job killer”.  Yeah, everyone wants to work for a contractor that does not adhere to safety rules and is willing to steal their workers pay for themselves.

Heidi Shierholz, a labor policy expert at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement.

When President Trump has a chance to stand with workers, he chooses not to.  By blocking this rule, the president and congressional Republicans will ensure that taxpayers will continue to support contractors with a history of wage theft and health and safety violations.

The other thing he has on his agenda is to sign another executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plant regulation.  This could have a major impact on our environment in a negative way by allowing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  But, then again, who needs clean air or even a climate for that matter.  Remember, the only thing that counts to this administration is money.  To hell with the people.

What is not on his agenda, and probably should be, is a troubling problem over at the State Department.  This problem isn’t about the State Department but rather about the Secretary of State.  Another possible scandal is brewing there, and it could actually put the Secretary of State in jail if he isn’t careful.

This scandal goes back to his day at Exxon/Mobile and a very shady character named Wayne Tracker.  It begins decades ago when Exxon/Mobile scientists concluded that carbon dioxide emissions, an inevitable byproduct of burning fossil fuels, are causing climate change. Yet the company buried those findings and instead funded pseudo-scientific studies purporting to deny or downplay legitimate science.

The problem is that the New York States Attorney General’s office considers this as a possible massive financial fraud.  It has been investigating this problem for quite some time now.

It kind of works like this.  Publicly traded companies like Exxon are required to make annual reports on their financial condition to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Federal law requires their CEOs to personally certify that those reports do not contain “any untrue statement of a material fact.” Just as importantly, they must also swear that the reports don’t “omit to state a material fact” relevant to the company’s financial health.

It appears that Exxon/Mobile failed to disclose the full truth on its own scientific research in their SEC filings.  In its 2015 statement, the last one certified personally by Tillerson, the company reported net property, plant and equipment – which includes its oil reserves – valued at about $252 billion. That constituted almost 75 percent of its total assets of $337 billion.

Here is the problem.  If ecology friendly governments or action groups succeed in cutting oil production by enforcing more clean air laws, that oil in the ground would lose value.  If it resulted in a large drop in the valuation of the company’s assets that could lead to a massive “impairment charge,” potentially driving the company into the red.

Hmmm.  The document does not mention this concern.  And, in a 2014 report that claimed to address shareholder concerns about climate risk, the company dismissed the possibility of deep cuts in carbon emissions as “highly unlikely.”

This is potentially misinformation to investors.  And, it isn’t just billionaires and hedge fund managers that would be hurt.  A lot of teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and other retirement plans for individuals could also be hurt, and badly.

You may be asking how Wayne Tracker fits into all of this.  Well Wayne Tracker is an alias email account set up by Exxon/Mobile for non other than Rex Tillerson.  The State of New York suspects it was used by Tillerson to discuss climate change science research to other executive members of Exxon/Mobile in order to conceal the information.

In a subpoena, the company was required to turn over all internal communications about climate risk.  However, it failed to turn over the bulk of Wayne Tracker’s emails.  The company responded with a long letter posturing their position, but the gist of it was its “technological processes [for finding materials responsive to the subpoena] did not automatically extend to the secondary email account.”

As you might imagine, the judge was not impressed and ordered these emails to be handed over by March 31.  But, here is the rub.  If it shows in these emails that Tillerson privately acknowledged larger climate risks to the company’s business than what was disclosed in SEC filings, he could face criminal penalties under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

If you think he would be immune because of his position, you are wrong.  This possible criminal act took place before he took office.  Plus, consider if this information had come out during his confirmation hearing.  It is possible he would never have been confirmed in the first place.

If all of this plays out, then our Secretary of State could find himself in court defending himself in a major fraud case.  We are not talking about peanuts here.  We are talking about billions of dollars in investments from people who trusted Tillerson to tell them the truth.

It appears that Tillerson was hiding the truth, and lying to the SEC as well.  You may remember this case a little.  A couple of years ago, members of the Republican Caucus in the House tried to usurp the State of New York and force a close to this investigation.  At the time, these Republicans were worried about Exxon/Mobile’s own scientific research in how bad emissions are to the environment might get out.  Unfortunately, they ignored the bigger picture here about the crime of fraud.

The thing you need to realize is this is what the trump administration is doing to our country.  He claims to be for the “little guy” yet does away with a regulation to protect that protects them from reckless contractors who also may be stealing the worker’s wages.

He named the most anti-environment person on the planet to head up the agency that is supposed to protect the environment.  Then he repeals a clean air regulation designed to make t easier for us to breath and to protect our climate.

He has named most of the executives from Goldman Sachs which was a major contributor to the 2008 economic melt-down to head up our finance departments.  Goldman has paid out billions in fines because of their actions, all of which took place while these executives were running the company.

Now, it turns out that his Secretary of State may be a crook.  Someone who deliberately hid scientific research from his own scientists in order to defraud the public into investing into his company.  Is it any wonder that the only thing his State Department has done so far is approve the Keystone XL pipeline?

You know the pipeline that will allow a private foreign corporation to use eminent domain to steal Americans land for their pipeline route.  And the pipeline that will be built with German Steel rather than American Steel as our beloved leader promised.  And, pipe oil across the U.S. that will not wind up in our markets but will be shipped to China after is has been refined.

Our beloved leader promised to stand up for the working guy.  He has failed.  He promised to repeal and replace the ACA with something “great”.  He has failed.  He has promised to create jobs.  He has failed.  He promised to surround himself with quailed, intelligent, and honest people.  He has failed.

If you want to “drain a swamp” you need to place the suction hose of the sump pump into the swamp.  In this case, trump has put the suction hose of the pump into the Potomac River and is flooding the swamp.

But, what do you expect from an incompetent buffoon.  The timing of the Tillerson upcoming scandal could have been better.  It could have come out before he was confirmed. But, it is not too late to make him pay for defrauding his investors if that turns out to be the case.  I am just wondering what his alias email account at the State Department is today.  Once you start hiding things, it becomes common practice so it would be unreasonable to believe he isn’t hiding things at State.

If you are planning a visit to Washington this year, may I suggest you take along a pair of wading boots.  You will probably need them to wade through the overflowing swamp.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

Day 137. 

About three weeks ago, trump went on one of his tweet rants.  In those rants he accused the prior President, President Obama, of “tapping my wires”.  There was no evidence offered, and the White House said it should be investigated.  Things simmered for quite a while.

The House Intelligence Committee started an investigation into the hacking of our election process by Russia, and decided to include this accusation as part of their inquiries.  The Chair of this Committee is Devin Nunes.

Last week, the committee held an open hearing with Director Comey and Adm. Rogers testifying.  Both men said they had “no evidence nor have I seen anything that shows that Trump Tower had been wiretapped or surveilled”.  They were both emphatic about that.

Then the bombshell came falling down out of the blue sky.  Comey said that the FBI had been investigating the trump campaign for possible colluding with Russia and their hacking into our election.   He said the investigation had been going on since last June, months before the election.  He called it a “counter intelligence” investigation.  That kind of investigation is usually reserved for espionage.

There was an almost deafening hush fall over the room with that announcement.  And from there, to coin the phrase, the shit really hit the fan.  The media went nuts, as you could imagine.  Nunes almost seemed stunned at the announcement.

But things got even crazier after that.  According to a report, and confirmed by Nunes spokesperson, Nunes was traveling in an Uber cab one night with staff and got a message.  He immediately left the cab without telling his staff what was going on or where he was going.  He basically disappeared.

The next morning, Nunes held a news conference and announced that he had been shown information that said that some of trump’s transition team had been incidentally been picked in recordings under FISA warrant.  He also said he would inform the president, and then got in a car and headed down to the White House.

After briefing the president, he held another press conference to discuss what he told the president.  The real problem is that he never shared this information with anyone on the committee.  He never informed Rep. Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee of the information or that he intended to tell the president.  He just hopped in his car and did his worst.

Then on Friday, he held another press conference to announce that he wanted to speak to Director Comey and Adm. Rogers again in a closed-door session.  As a result an open hearing scheduled for tomorrow would be postponed for another day.  Today we learned that the closed-door session has also been postponed.

The last bit dropped today.  It was discovered, and confirmed by Nunes himself, that the night he disappeared, he went to the White House to meet with his “source” to get this information.  He claims there is nothing special about this because he goes there all of the time.

But, I know something about how the White House works.  You do not get into the White House, or even on the grounds without prior approval from someone inside the White House.  It doesn’t matter if you are a member of Congress either.  This is especially true at night.

Once you are signed in, you are normally escorted to where you are going.  That is standard operating policy.  So, his other claim that “I could have sneaked in and no one would have even known” is a lie.  If he had sneaked in, he just might have been shot.  Especially considering the fence jumper the past weekend.

As a result of all of this, it is clear that Nunes is hiding something.  I don’t buy his story about his belief that the president deserved to know the details he saw in the information he got at the White House.  Nor, do I believe his statement that it does not involve the Russia investigation.  If it didn’t have anything to do with the investigation, why was it so important to brief the president?

Additionally, this is a man who is supposed to be conducting an investigation into this White House and their ties to Russia.  His briefing the president on anything he discovers is like the FBI briefing a Mafia Head about an investigation into their family’s criminal activities.  You just don’t do that if you are seriously trying to get to the bottom of a real investigation, regardless of where the evidence leads you.

This all brings me to the one question that not one of our marvelous journalists have asked.  Nunes claims he is “concerned” about U.S. citizen names being unmasked.  So, I would ask him if his name was on that list of people who were legally incidentally surveilled in FISA warrants of foreigners.

That question is not unreasonable.  Nunes himself said this was done during the transition.  Nunes was a Senior Advisor to the trump transition team.  As a result, it would not be impossible for him to call someone maybe he shouldn’t.  Is that what he is afraid of coming out?  Why else would he not share the information with anyone else on the committee?

Maybe, just maybe, Nunes isn’t just a shill for trump.  Maybe, just maybe, Nunes is complicit in what is being investigated.  So, the question should be asked.  Obviously, he will either outright deny his name is on the list, or he will obfuscate and just not answer the question.

Democrats are calling on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.  He says he will not step down.  But, as things keep dripping out in this case, Nunes’ integrity will be questioned as things move along.  And, if it turns out he lied about his “briefing of the president” and what was covered, and/or his name is on the list, he could be in much more serious trouble.

This whole thing is getting crazier and crazier.  Nunes seems to be way over his head in this investigation.  He is acting more like an informant for the president than the one who is supposed to oversee the president’s actions.  He has no one to blame for his hell hole but himself.

I dare someone in the journalistic world to ask the question if he, Nunes, was one of those picked up.  Nunes always appears to me as looking like a deer in the headlights.  It would be interesting to see how he reacts to this one reasonable question.  So, someone with guts, please ask it!

Day 137. 

Well, a new week and new issues.  The trump administration is fresh off of getting its clock cleaned by his own party, so he plans to move on.  The first thing he did was name his son-in-law to head up a new thing to remake the government with a “business view”.  Bad idea from the get go.  Don’t forget, trump’s business savvy resulted in six bankruptcies.

Before conservatives start to howl, think about it.  Every state that elected a “business man” to be their governor, the state’s economy crashed.  Look at states like the Soviet Socialist State of Kansas.  It was supposed to be the Tea Party Utopia.  It has failed miserably,  The massive tax cuts only raised the debt so much that basic essential government operations have been cut to the bone and are basically ineffective.

The State of Kansas is struggling so bad that the Republican controlled legislature even passed a tax hike bill to save the state from bankruptcy.  Only Chairman Brownbeck vetoed the bill and the Republicans couldn’t overturn the veto.

It was said that there would be some “privatization” of some government services.  That is also a bad idea.  Everything that Republicans have “privatized” in government services has wound up costing us more money than it did when the government ran it.  There is a basic reason for that.  Companies need to make money, the government doesn’t.  We already know what will be the first thing to be “privatized”.  The Veterans Administration.

It is trump’s view that after serving our country, we veterans should be handed a voucher for our benefits.  Forget that those vouchers won’t cover the cost of our care, that is what they will try to do.  The administrations’ view towards veterans is simple.  “Risk you life to serve our country, and get your voucher.  Then just go away”.

Then trump and his crooks are going to “reform the tax code”.  Reforming the tax code may be necessary in the long run, but the attention to detail that trump showed the Americans Without Health Care Act, or rather the lack of attention, doesn’t speak well that we will really get tax reform instead of a huge tax cut for the rich.

As usual, we will need to look and watch what the wacko fringe groups in the House do.  Already, the so-called deficit hawks are backing away from their idea that we need pay for the tax cuts to avoid raising the deficit.

“I think there’s been a lot of flexibility in terms of some of my contacts and conservatives in terms of not making it totally offset,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told ABC News on Sunday on “This Week,” arguing that tax cuts would provide financial relief for ordinary American families.

“Does it have to be fully offset?” Meadows asked. “My personal response is no.”

As usual, the Republicans do not have a plan ready to talk about.  Again, they have only had like 30 years to put one together, but they didn’t bother until now.

Some of things that Ryan and trump want are huge cuts in tax rates.  Ryan want to eliminate all personal deductions with the possible exception of mortgage deductions and charitable giving.  That might not go far enough for some in congress.  There are still those who are looking for a flat tax with no deductions at all.

As discussed several times in the past, a flat tax would hugely help the rich pay even less taxes and the middle class and poor working class would pay on average $2000 more in taxes.  Which is exactly why conservatives love it so much.

Then there is the big kicker.  Under what Ryan has been talking about, these tax cuts would explode the deficit.  Even taking into consideration economic growth, it is estimated that Ryan’s plan would add $2.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

One way Ryan figures he can offset some of these losses is by implementing a “border tax” on imports.  He has talked often about a 20 percent tax on all products coming into the country.  But, in typical Republican fashion, Ryan has never considered exactly what that would mean.

Ryan claims that with the border tax, we would see more growth in American industry.  But he also forgets to mention that prices would explode as well.   There are a host of business interests that are against the border tax.  But, Ryan, as usual, doesn’t care about that.

Nor does Ryan consider that his border tax could result in an import tax war.  If we are going to raise import taxes at our borders what makes you think other countries won’t do the same thing to us.  Meaning our exports would be severely cut due to higher prices for our products overseas.  How is that making American Products competitive in the export business?

You can also bet that this massive tax cut for the rich will result in Ryan and Republicans going after the social safety net.  You can bet that we will see them try to “privatize” Social Security.  You will see them try to make Medicare a voucher program.  These two actions would have a severe adverse impact on our senior citizens.

But, Ryan and the Republicans don’t care about that.  They only care about the tax cuts for the rich.  If poor people and the elderly must suffer for that end, so be it.  And don’t feign surprise at that thought.  Ryan and the Republicans have pushed this for about 40 years now.  And, since they have an incompetent president now, they are licking their chops to get it done.

Republicans also tell us that corporate taxes need to be massively cut.  They say that our corporate taxes are too high.  Only, about half of the corporations in America do not pay a single dollar in taxes now.  Are they going to make it so corporations will have to pay taxes who don’t now?  Are they going to ensure that all of the loopholes that favor corporations are eliminated?  Yeah, like that will happen.

If there is one thing you would think would bring the Republicans together, you would have thought it would have been the repeal of the ACA.  It didn’t happen.  There are a lot more, and bigger, differences between Republicans on tax reform.

Like repealing the ACA there is only one goal they share on taxes.  Cutting taxes for the richest and corporations.  How they cut those taxes and how much they hurt the rest of the people and how big they are willing to let the deficit grow to achieve these cuts is where these differences lie.

As I wrote yesterday, Democrats in Congress is not the opposition to Republicans getting anything done.  Their main opposition is their own party.  The other thing to consider is that we are at the end of March.  The Republicans do not have anything firm in writing as to what they see tax cuts would look like.  Yet, they plan to have it done by August.

It took them seventeen days to fumble the ACA repeal bill.  It took them less than three months to totally screw up their health bill.  Now, they plan to put together a “tax reform” bill in four months.  Really?  Does anyone in the Republican Party even think about what they are saying?

The tax code has not seen a major reform in 30 years.  What makes them think they can do a “reform” in four months?  Are they planning to write their bill in a closet like they did the ACA repeal bill?  Are they going to try to ram through a bill like this without holding any real hearings complete with witnesses from both sides of the argument?  That is about the only way they can do this in four months.

And, what about their dear leader?  Are they going to allow him to have any input in the bill?  It is already known that trump is “cool to the idea” of the border tax.  Of course he would be cool to that idea, it would affect his family’s businesses directly since they don’t make anything in America and don’t have any plans to do so.

The resistance cannot take a rest because the ACA repeal failed.  There are issues that are just as dangerous to the American people on the horizon.  The “businification” of our government will kill our people.  And, the tax cuts they are looking to impose will allow the rich to save hundreds of millions in taxes while the rest of us pay the price.

If you think this is all a bad idea, don’t forget that trump still wants some kind of infrastructure bill that will cost about $1 trillion dollars.  He still wants to build the Berlin Wall on the southern border that will cost about $21 billion.  Those numbers are not included in the deficit explosion that Ryan’s tax cuts will already cause.

Trump promised his base that he would not touch Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.  The ACA repeal bill proved he was lying on Medicaid, so what makes you think he will keep his promise when it comes to Medicare and Social Security?

Nothing trump or the Republicans have done so far was done to benefit the average American.  Everything has been done to benefit the wealthy.  The Americans Without Health Care Act was nothing but a tax cut for the rich masquerading as a health care bill.

The proposed budget from our beloved leader shows us just what he thinks is important.  It isn’t the people.  He wants to cut Public Broadcasting, Education, Environmental Protection, Science Research, Health Research, the State Department, and other areas that you depend upon.

Republicans and trump have brought the knives out, and we the average people are the ones who are going to bleed to death.  The class war to eliminate the middle-class and make this a two class society is in full swing.

Watch what they are doing very carefully.  When the “facts” start coming out about theses bills on the horizon, be ready to resist just as much as you did against the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Our resistance and actions is all that stands between what is right and wrong for average Americans.  Republicans have proven time and again they are on the wrong side.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

Day 136. 

You can point to a lot of reasons that the American Without Health Care Act failed.  For one it was a really bad bill.  Secondly, the president can’t figure out that dealing with over 400 people in the House is not like threatening some other contractor that he fails to pay.  Third, Ryan is a lousy leader.

But most importantly, you can look at the Republican Party as the major fault.  And, I am talking about something that began years ago.  Things started becoming really partisan under Ronald Reagan.  But, once Barak Obama was elected President, things really went from bad to worse.

That fact that a black man could actually win an election and become President was too much for the wacko fringe of the Republican Party.  They started organizing under different banners, but the one that stuck out was the Tea party.  With huge money backers like the Koch Brothers, this movement gained momentum.

In 2010 the ultra-conservative nut jobs known as the Tea Party started pealing off seats in the House.  In 2010, the Republicans took control of the House and things started to get worse and worse.  Obstruction became the normal political practice of the Republican Party.  No matter what President Obama wanted, it would be voted down or simply ignored in the House.

This became the entire policy of the Republican Party.  After the Sandy Hook shooting and 70 percent of the country wanted universal back ground checks on gun purchases, the House said no.  When the Senate passed a bi-partisan Immigration Reform Bill that was really good, the House put it in a drawer and it has remained there since.

These actions were not because any of the bills that reached them were bad, it was simply because the House made a concerted effort to declare that nothing that was supported by President Obama would see the light of day.  There would be no hearings, no discussions, and especially no votes.

The Republican Party simply rolled over and let the wackos take charge of their party.  They allowed the so-called Freedom Caucus run Boehner out of town.  They failed to fight back for the principles that the majority of Republicans in the country stood for.  Instead, they let the wacko fringe begin to dictate policy.

They could have stopped all of this simply by talking to the Democrats in the House in order to get things done that would move the country forward.  In the past, they were able to work with the Democrats and there were compromises in legislation that helped everyone.

However, the party stuck to a Reagan Era rule known as the Hastert Rule that said no bill could go to the floor of the House without the party ensuring passage without Democrat help.  That was a huge mistake.  As a result, the wacko Freedom Caucus found themselves with way too much power for their little number of members.  The Freedom Caucus has about 40 members in total.

Only, that number of people is just enough to kill any bill they don’t like.  If a bill is going to help anyone but rich people in the country, the Freedom Caucus simply says no, and the bill fails.  If the party reaches across the aisle, the Freedom Caucus starts complaining that they are RINOs and fires up the country’s fringe against the party.

This whole mess came to light this past week.  In their absolute hate for the Affordable Care Act, a bill one of their own wrote in the 1990s, they ran on the “promise to repeal and replace” the ACA.  They have had seven plus years to put together a plan that would replace the ACA.  Only, the Freedom Caucus wackos would not support anything but a repeal with no replacement.

Being too afraid of the caucus running to Fox News and complaining about how establishment Republicans are trying to pass a health care bill that helps poor people, they simply sat on their hands and did nothing.  They complained and complained about the ACA.  They did everything they could to undermine the bill.  They did everything they could, except write a decent replacement bill.

Then came the election surprise of 2016 and donald trump became our president.  Here they were with control of both Houses of Congress and a Republican, well sort of a Republican, sitting in the White House.  Repealing and replacing the ACA was going to be a slam dunk.

Only they didn’t have anything to replace the ACA with.  They never even bothered to write a plan.  They showed their total incompetence when it comes to actually governing.  As a result, Republican leadership locked themselves in a closet and wrote a bill in secret.  Then a couple of weeks ago they held a Press Conference to show off their work.

The bill had some things that most Republicans loved.  They did away with the mandates in the ACA.  They cut way back on the subsidies intended to allow poor people, poor working people, and the elderly get health insurance which would have either thrown people off their health care or make it so expensive they would pay half of their income to keep it.  And, of course, they eliminated the taxes on the rich and corporations that paid for the ACA.  And, finally they were going to gut Medicaid.  Everything was smelling like roses for Ryan and his leadership team.

But, as usual when Republicans are in charge, something happened on the way to the Forum.  First, people found out that they were going to be severely hurt by the plan, especially trump supporters.  They would either lose their insurance or see their premiums go through the roof.  Then it was figured out that up to 24 million people would lose their health coverage mostly due to the gutting of Medicaid.

That was bad enough.  People started showing up at town hall meetings and blasting their Representatives for taking away their health care.  They demanded they vote against the bill.  But, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The Freedom Caucus showed just what freedom they were interested in.  Freedom from poor people.  They dug in their heels for one reason only.  The tax credits that were in the bill to help people actually purchase health care coverage.  Forget that these tax credits were miserly compared to the subsidies, it was still something that the “little people” could use.  Their whole philosophy on health care is that it is a privilege not a right and if you can’t purchase it on your own, simply get sick and die.

Republican Moderates went into a tizzy as well.  They started realizing that the bill would surely mean they wouldn’t get reelected.  They started to realize that the old white people they counted on to keep office would be the big losers and that would certainly mean a loss in their next election.

Ryan and company were in trouble.  They started negotiating with the two different groups one by one.  They even relied on trump and his “great deal making” abilities to help them out.  Ryan and his cronies talked to the moderates, and trump would bring along the Freedom Caucus wackos.

The problem was every time Ryan made a promise to the moderates, the right-wing wackos dug their heels in deeper.  When they made promises to move even further right to appease the wackos, the moderates said no even louder.  In order show how things are done, trump sent his hitman, Steve Bannon to speak with the right-wing wackos.  Rather than speaking with them, Bannon threatened them.

A presidential threat of support or taking away support in the upcoming elections would usually work.  But, with trump’s approval rating at just 36 percent, the wackos were not afraid of him.  In the end, the Republicans had to pull the bill without even a vote.  The wackos claimed victory.  The president blamed the democrats who were never even asked to participate in the process.  Ryan said that “governing is hard, but we were really close”.  No shit!

I don’t care if you like Nancy Pelosi or not, but she had some good advice for Ryan and the president.  She said” You don’t pick a date for a vote and then try to ramp up support.  You get the support you need and then hold a vote.”  The one thing about her is that when she was the Speaker of the House, she knew how to get legislation passed.  Something Republicans apparently forgot how to do.

After the calamity of this loss for the Republicans, trump said that Ryan did all he could and he doesn’t blame him.  Only on Saturday, trump told his followers on twitter to watch a Fox News show that night.  The show was Judge Jeanine.

During the show, she directly went after Ryan and said he should step down immediately.  She went after Reince Priebus for having just as much blame as Ryan.  She claimed that trump had no blame in this disaster.  So much for trump backing Ryan.  Obviously, Judge Jeanine is backing the wacko fringe.

This is what happens when a political party puts party over country.  It happens when a party decides to complain and not rule.  It happens when they allow the fringe groups of the party take control.  In the name of obstruction and hate the Republican Party made a pact with the devil and they are now seeing just what that pact has done to its soul.

Instead of looking for ways to work with Democrats for the last eight years, they sold their soul to the wacko fringe groups in order to gain numbers to they could get power.  Now that they have power, they are being defeated by those very people they thought would make life beautiful.

The problems Republicans are facing in the House and Senate are of their own making.  The very fact that our president is trump, is all because Republicans sat quietly back and let the wackos into the mainstream.  They made a pact with the devil, and now they are paying the price for that pact.

This is not going to end with the Americans Without Health Care Act either.  The whole mess over climate change, the environment, education, the economy, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and a whole host of issues will meet the same fate if Republicans keep to partisan politics instead of governing.  The wackos are driving the policy of the party in these matters as well.

If the Republicans are really interested in moving the country forward and governing in a way that will help the average person on the street, they need to cast off of their fringe wackos and start to talk to the Democrats.  They will need to understand that compromise is the best solutions for the country.  They need to get over their hate and start to act like reasonable people wanting to do the best they can for the American People.

Until Ryan and his cronies in the party understand this simple fact of life, we will continue to be held hostage by the wacko so-called Freedom Caucus.  True Republicans with real policies for the country need to grow a spine and fight back against their own fringe groups.  In normal times, I might think this would be possible.  However, since the Republican party is more interested in power than they are in governing, I don’t expect anything reasonable to come from them.

It is a very simple fact.  Republicans will not be able to govern until they wipe out their opposition.  That opposition is not the Democrats, it is the wacko fringe of their own party.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the will or the courage to take them on.

As a result of their cowardice, the shirts keep marching along!

 

Day 134. 

The great deal maker failed.  The leader of the Republican controlled House of Representatives failed.  For trump, this is his second strike.  The first was the Muslim Ban that was stopped by the courts.  Yes, there is Muslim Ban 2.0 that is still being held up in the courts with the case to move forward, but the first one made him back down and try again.

Today was strike two since they had to pull the Americans Without Health Care Act.  They had to pull the bill because the “great dealmaker” couldn’t make a deal.  The bill was so bad, conservatives and moderates were both against it.  Conservatives were against it because it wasn’t cruel enough.  Moderates were against it because it was too cruel.

In typical trumpism he went on to blame the Democrats.  You know, the party that was never asked for their input.  The party that was completely locked out of the process.  The party that doesn’t want to see millions of Americans lose their insurance.  The Republicans claimed they would “repeal and replace” the ACA despite the Democrats because they didn’t need them.

So, naturally, it is all their fault trump couldn’t make his great deal and fulfill his promise that “the first thing we are going to do is repeal and replace the terrible Obamacare”.  Republicans thought this would be a slam dunk.  Only it wasn’t.

But, don’t start celebrating just yet.  Don’t even think that trump is telling the truth when he say he is going to now move on to tax reform and “let Obamacare fail”.  The other day I wrote about how Rubio and the Republicans stopped paying back losses to insurance companies as the law said it would do for ten years, and that caused them to pull out of the exchanges.

That is just the beginning.  Remember, Tom Price is still the Secretary of HHS.  That is the department that runs the ACA.  If you think that Price will not do everything he can to undo as much of the ACA as he can you are kidding yourself.  Price is the number one enemy of the ACA.  He hates the ACA more than the thought of dying and going to hell.

He will issue administrative orders wherever he can to undo the ACA.  He will probably start with the mandates and regulations.  He will probably move on to the taxes that actually pay for the ACA so it will be starved of the cash it needs to work.

He will ensure that more companies pull out of the exchanges by promising something stupid in the future that will help them make more money.  And, don’t forget those same for profit insurance companies will be hammering away at him to do everything I just mentioned and probably even more.  The trump administration will do everything they can to make sure the ACA fails.  And, he will get Ryan to help out by repealing the taxes in the bill so it will be starved if Price can’t do it administratively.

You must keep in mind that trump is a very vindictive son of a bitch.  Every time he loses on something, he goes after someone he believes stopped him from getting what he wants.  In this case, he will figure out that he couldn’t get enough votes because House Members were scared to death of losing their seats if they voted for it.  In other words, the real villains in trump’s world right now is the American People and he will go after them with a vengeance.

If that vengeance means that you lose all of your health care, so be it.  If it means that you suffer bankruptcy over health care costs, so be it.  If it means you die because you can’t get coverage after his revenge mission, so be it.  All trump cares about is trump, and you stopped him from looking good to himself, and you must pay the price for that slight.

The ACA can work with some tweaks to the bill.  But, I still say the real answer is a universal health care law like Medicare for all.  The time to end the stupidity of “free market insurance” has come.  This is when the resistance movement that has taken room must demand universal health care, now.

It is the time when the resistance demand from their representatives to put together a bill making universal health care the law.  It is time to only support candidates, from both parties, that will support and make universal health care a reality.

This cannot wait until next year either.  It must begin today.  Letters, email, tweets, and phone calls must be made to demand universal health care.  It is the only way that we will really reduce the cost of health care and make sure that everyone in the country really has health care coverage.

Of the 11 most developed nations in the world, we rank 11th in health care costs.  We rank 11th in life expectancy.  Of fifteen different categories of health care, we rank no higher than 5th in any category.  We rank at the bottom in 10 of those categories.

What is the difference?  The other 10 most developed nations all have universal health care and pay about one half of the costs per person for health care as we do.  If you want to see health care costs go down, if you want to see Medicaid and Medicare not needed as separate costs to the country, then you must demand universal health care.

If you are a conservative, think about it.  With universal health care we don’t need a separate thing called Medicaid.  We don’t need a separate thing called Medicare.  Look at the saving in just those two programs.

If you are a progressive and believe health care is a right and not a privilege, then you must demand universal health care.  And, if you are a progressive and you help get a bipartisan universal health care law to the floor of both Houses, you will help kill the so-called Freedom Caucus.  They only have power because Republicans don’t want to work with Democrats.  If they did, the Freedom Caucus would become the lonely fringe group they should be now.

Yes, trump just got strike two against him.  But, the fight isn’t over, and it won’t ever be over until we get what most Americans want.  Affordable Health Care for all.  Only universal health care coverage is the answer.

Don’t fall asleep.  Keep resisting.  Keep calling your Reps.  Keep writing them.  Keep showing up at town halls and demand universal health care.  Make them toe the line.  If they won’t find a candidate who will and then and vote the bums out!

Now is the time for the people to get what they have been demanding.  Now is the time to rise up and make the politicians do what the American People want.  Right now, Republicans still don’t get that.  All day you kept hearing them say they will vote yes because that is what the American People want.  But, only 17 percent of the people were in favor of the Americans Without Health Care Act.  So, what people were they listening to?  Not the vast majority.

Every now and again, the people get a chance to make their voices heard and make their demands become reality.  Even trump supporters hated this abusive law.  They finally realized that they were the people who would lose their health care coverage.  Don’t leave them on the sidelines in the fight.  Bring them along with us so we have real power that even Republicans won’t dare to fight against.  The Americans Without Care Act has shown everyone that health care includes everyone.

Everyone needs health care coverage.  Democrats, Independents, AND Republicans need to join this fight.  So, with the wackos on the right holding up their own party and the incompetent trump sitting in the White House, now is one of those special times.  Don’t let it go by without acting.

It is the best chance we have to keep the shirts from marching along.

Day 134. 

As you know, one of the main plans in the trump administration and the Republican Party is to pass laws that go uncovered because of all of the distractions going on at the same time.  This week is no different.  While you were all watching the Americans Without Health Care Act fight, and Nunes showing just what a trump shill he is, the Senate was busy passing something that will affect you personally, and you probably didn’t notice.

Naturally, it was an appeal of another of Obama’s rules that were made in order to protect the general population from exploitation.  If this bill gets to trump’s desk, there are a lot of companies who will be able to make money off of you and there will be nothing you will be able to do about it.

There rule involves the internet, something we all use.  The rule, which hasn’t even taken effect yet said that internet providers could not sell your personal information without your permission.  This included things like using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

In the usual Republican lying mantra, McConnell said that the repeal of this rule was necessary because the rule “makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”  What he really means is that if you use the internet, you are supposed to be a cash cow for internet providers whether or not you want to be.  And, they don’t have to give you anything in return.  Hell, they don’t even have to let you know they are selling your information.

The Internet and Television Association, a trade group, in a statement praised the vote as a “critical step towards re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online.”

There is a law called HIPPA, which makes your health information confidential.  Yet this repeal allows a third-party to sell your health information to anyone they wish in order to make more money.  Isn’t that a violation of HIPPA?  Apparently, McConnell and the Republicans don’t care.  According to them, your health information is open for sale without your permission.

I also find it amazing that this rule change is being made right at the same time that Congress is trying to remove 24 million people from their health care coverage.  More people will be using the internet to find insurance they can afford.  With this rule change, you are going to be bombarded with advertisements because your private information isn’t private anymore.

Part of dismantling democracy is to remove privacy for the citizens.  More than that, it is making each and every citizen a cash cow for people you don’t know, who is selling your personal information to anyone and everyone.

This rule would not have hampered the playing field, complexity, competition, innovation, or infrastructure investment as McConnell said.  It would simply make it possible for you, as a consumer, to tell Internet Providers they could not sell your personal information.

Republicans have actually made it easier for Russia and terrorists and criminals to get your personal information without having to bother to hack into your computer.  They just have to set up a shill company and buy everything they want from Internet Providers.  And, they say they want to keep us safe from these criminals.

All during the Obama Presidency the right-wing was complaining about “losing their rights”.  When asked which rights they lost, they couldn’t name a single one, because they never lost a right.  So, what is one of the first things they do?  They pass a law that takes away your privacy when it comes to your financial and health information.  This is the second right lost under the trump administration and we are only in month three.  The first was your right to clean air and drinking water with his rollback of EPA rules that protected those rights. How many more are on the horizon?

This presidency is all about rights for corporations and screw the “little people”.  The proposed budget, if passed, will screw the “little people” even more.  And, I can’t wait for the so-called tax reform on the horizon that will really screw the “little people”.

Our right to privacy is one of our most fundamental and important rights we have in our government system.  Republicans just told you that your rights are not as important as corporation’s money.

I consider health insurance not only a right, but a necessity.  Republicans have told us we don’t need clean water to drink or clean to breath.  They have now told us we don’t have a right to privacy.  And, if the Americans Without Health Care Act passes we won’t have a right to health insurance.

Yes conservatives, our rights are being stripped away.  Only it wasn’t President Obama that stripped them, it is trump and his Republican gang of thieves that are stripping them away.  Hope you are happy.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

Day 133. 

Later today the House is scheduled to hold its vote on the Americans Without Health Care Act.  There are a lot of things to take into consideration as you watch this vote and what appears to be a defeat for trump and Ryan.  The hypocrisy on the right is getting very loud and everyone should pay attention to that.

You have heard that the Republicans are claiming that the ACA is crumbling under its own weight.  You have heard about insurance companies pulling out of the program and that premiums are rising.  What they are not telling you is that all of that is their fault.

In 2015, Marco Rubio got a little measure put into a budget bill which is what is really killing the ACA in some states.  Here is what happened.  The ACA promised insurance companies to help make up for losses in coverage in the first decade of the law.  It was understood that there would be losses because getting some people to purchase insurance would be tough, and it would take some time for those without insurance at the time who were sick to get healthy and let everything balance out.

In 2015, it was estimated that this part of the bill would cost $2.9 billion.  However, Rubio and the Republicans decided to cut that amount of money down to about $440 million.  That meant that insurance companies did not get their help to stay in the market.  As a result, most started to pull out, especially in Red States that were fighting the law in the first place.  And, the ones that stayed in the program were forced to raise premiums.

If that little budget line item was not there, we wouldn’t see the problems in some states that we see.  It should also be pointed out that very recently, the courts ruled that the federal government reneged on the law’s deal and now owes these insurance companies $80 billion.  It won’t help in the short-term because you know it will be appealed.  Plus, insurance mergers have been going crazy and many non-profit companies that provided health insurance through the ACA were forced to go bankrupt due to this change in the law.

If the ACA is really failing, it is the fault of the Marco Rubio and his Republican cronies, not the fault of the ACA itself.  They sabotaged the law in order to help kill it.

Then we have the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House.  These wackos claim to be all for freedom.  Yet, their only agenda is to ruin the social safety nets and cut taxes.  Their goal is to get rid of the ACA, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.  They are opposed to the Americans Without Health Care Bill, because they call it “Obamacare light”.  They argue that it won’t cut the deficit enough because of the tax credits to help people get insurance.

What they really want is to repeal the ACA and they don’t care if anything replaces it at all.  In fact, they would prefer that no replacement bill even be introduced.  But, they are negotiating to get some changes they “might be able to accept”.  Only, those changes will make getting real insurance even harder than it already is.

The thing they have latched onto is the requirement that companies cover essential health benefits.  They want to cut that requirement from any health law.  Those essential health benefits number 10 and they are:

  • Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization (like surgery and overnight stays)
  • Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care (both before and after birth)
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care (but adult dental and vision coverage aren’t essential health benefits)

These are now all required to be covered in health care coverage.  The Freedom Caucus wants them to go away.  So, for example if you work for someone who believes that they don’t need to cover pregnancy, they can get health coverage that drops that protection.  It currently costs roughly $15,000 just to have a baby.  That doesn’t even touch pre-natal and post-natal care.  The states that have an opioid epidemic right now won’t be too happy about dropping substance use coverage either.

The Freedom Caucus has only been negotiating with trump.  The Republican House leadership wants him to placate this wacko group.  In other words, they are reeling him in to take ownership of the bill, especially if it goes down.

The irony of the so-called Freedom Caucus is that they claim to be “fiscal conservatives” who are only interested in the deficit.  Yet, they are not disappointed with the huge tax cuts in this bill for the rich.  They are not opposed to increasing defense spending or in spending 21 billion dollars to build our Berlin Wall.  And, you can bet you bottom dollar that they will be all for huge tax cuts that trump wants down the line for the rich and companies.  Naturally, according to them, if you reduce revenue and let the rich keep more money, the deficit will magically go down.

Ryan and his group have been negotiating with moderates who also hate the bill.  Their reason is that it will cut off their constituents from health care.  But, in order to placate them, the tax credits will need to be increased, especially for older people.  That won’t go over well with the Freedom Caucus.  As a result, it is difficult to see how this bill can get past the House.  Though anything is possible.

Over in the Senate, the bill will face much tougher opposition.  Especially if the Freedom Caucus gets trump to include the changes to the essential benefits part.  See, they are trying to get the bill passed through reconciliation.  That only works in the Senate if it only affects the budget.  The changes to the essential benefits part will not affect the budget, and it could cause it to go through normal procedures which includes the 60 vote threshold.

The Republican Party has made their living crying about the ACA.  They have undermined the bill wherever they could in order to cause it to fail.  They have promised over and over to “repeal and replace” the ACA.  They have had seven years to come up with a workable, viable plan that the American People could get behind.

In all of those years, they did absolutely nothing to craft a replacement.  They did nothing to make the ACA better.  They passed laws that made the ACA harder to enforce and do what it had promised.

Now, they have control of both the House and Senate, and trump is sitting in the White House.  And, the Americans Without Health Care Act is the best they could come up with?  Oh, Ryan says this is only part one of a three-pronged plan.  First is this horrible bill.  Then, they will let Price make administrative decisions on doing more.  Then, they will pass another law to fully replace the ACA and it will be much better.  Yeah, that sounds like one of the three great lies like the check is in the mail.  Hell, even Ted Cruz says the third part is a “bucket for suckers”.

The simple fact is that once Americans saw this bill, they lost their minds.  They realized that their own health care coverage lies in the balance, and it doesn’t look good for them.  They flooded “town hall meetings” and expressed their dissatisfaction about his horrible bill.

I guess the real problem the Republicans have right now, is that they are having a hard time explaining why they need to repeal the ACA since it was their bill to begin with.  Almost every line in the ACA came from the Heritage Foundation’s plan to help defeat universal health care in the 1990s.

They claim that the ACA was passed too fast.  That the Democrats went with reckless speed to pass it.  It took the Democrats nine months to get the law written and passed.  They tried to include Republicans, but they didn’t want to talk about their own bill.  Democrats also talked to health organizations and insurance companies to get their input.  They at least made an effort to pass a good bill.

This bill was kept secret until about a week ago.  The Republicans held no hearings on the bill.  They called no witnesses to testify about the bill.  They never spoke to Democrats to get their input.  They never talked to health organizations or to health insurance companies to get their input.   And now, they are trying to ram this bill through both Houses of Congress in less than 10 weeks!  If nine months of work is reckless speed, what do you call 10 weeks?

The Americans Without Health Care Act is nothing more than a tax cut bill for the rich.  It has nothing to do with your health care simply because Republicans don’t give a damn about hour health care.  It has brought to light the terrible “management” skills of Ryan and Republican leadership.  And, it has brought to light the terrible “deal making skills” of our beloved leader.

If this bill fails to even pass the House, both Ryan and trump will have a huge black eye.  It will call into question everything that they want to pass, even their tax reform bill.  It will especially call into question their ability to actually govern.

In the two plus months of the trump administration nothing has been done that will help bring down premiums for health care.  Nothing had been done to increase jobs.  Nothing has been done except help trump’s own companies and pollute our water and air.

This bill was supposed to show us how “great trump really is”.  It doesn’t look like very promising on that front.  If this bill passes we know that up to 24 million people will lose their health coverage.  Medicaid will be cut so badly that old people will be thrown out of nursing homes.  Premiums will go up even more.  And, deductibles will go up as well.  The Kaiser Foundation said yesterday that deductibles will increase an average of about $1400.

The good news of this bill is that the upper 2 percent of income earners will gain about $250 million in tax cuts over the next 10 years.  If you are not one of them, you lose.

If this bill does not pass, and it is looking like it won’t.  The health care industry will be thrown into a tizzy.  It is even doubtful if it will survive.  Since Republicans have done everything they could to kill the ACA over the last six years, and with no replacement, uncertainty will rule the health care industry.  Uncertainty is never good for any business.

If I were in the Democrat caucus right now, I would be writing a Universal Health Care bill to walk down to the White House after this disaster plays out.  I would put it on the desk of trump and say:  “You promised health coverage for all.  Here is the bill that will make your promise come true.  Support it and force your party to pass it with us and you will look good”.

You may be thinking that is crazy.  Why would I want trump to look good.  I don’t.  But, I would rather take care of the American People as I was sworn to do and worry about things later.  If you think about it, it could be a win-win for Democrats.  At least they would have a real plan to run against the Republican do-nothings.

Especially when you consider that the majority of the public favors keeping the ACA.  Just think of the political capital you could earn by doing even better.  As it is, all we can do is watch, wait, and hold our breath.  That is no way to run a government.