There is an awful lot to watch this week. There was the open session of the House Intelligence Committee on the Russia Hack and we got some news that everyone kind of knew but didn’t expect to hear. Neil Gorsuch began his hearing to become part of the Supreme Court. And, the Republicans are pushing very hard to remove tens of millions of people from their health care coverage.
As I watched the hearing yesterday, I began to wonder if I was watching two different hearings. The Democrats were hammering away at the real purpose of the hacking by Russia while a lot of Republicans were hammering away at the leaks that basically led to these investigations. That is somewhat understandable. Republicans have wanted to deflect away from trump’s administration’s behavior so going after the leakers is their plan.
However, when Comey said that there was an active investigation not only into the Russian hacks, but also about whether or not trump campaign team members actually helped in that hacking scheme, the air seemed to go out of the room. When he said also there was no information to back-up trump’s claim of wire tapping of his tower, there was a moment of relief in the room. Everyone in the room had already expressed that was not true for a couple of weeks now.
The one thing I believe this hearing did prove is that we really do need an independent commission, complete with a special prosecutor, to investigate this matter. I don’t say that easily either. But, this matter is way too important for any appearance of politics interfering with the investigations. And, holding the investigation in Congress allows that to take place too easily.
An independent commission, with a special prosecutor, would be able to get to the real truth, regardless of what that truth is. The circumstantial evidence does not look good for trump, but it is circumstantial and I am not making any decisions on the guilt or innocence of him or his team. I want the truth.
Hopefully, the investigation at the FBI will go along smoothly, but since it is part of the executive branch, there is no guaranty of that either. Watergate proved that point very well in the past.
Just as importantly, the White House started distancing itself from some of the players in this investigation. Spicer even went so far as to say the Paul Manafort “played a very minor role for a very short period of time”. He also said that Mike Flynn “was just a campaign volunteer”.
Does the White House really believe the American People are that stupid? Paul Manafort ran the campaign from March through August. He was brought into the campaign to have a professional actually run it for them. He did not play a “very minor role”.
Mike Flynn was not just “a campaign volunteer”. He was the security advisor to the campaign. He even went onto become the National Security Advisor in the administration. That is quite a leap from just being a “campaign volunteer”.
Sometimes when I watch this administration I am dumbfounded by their ease in lying to the American People. On the other hand, that has been their way of doing business ever since trump began his campaign. But, now when it appears they just might have gotten caught with the whopper, they are hunkering down even more.
The problem is that I believe they are actually circling the wagons in a minefield. How many times have you heard that if the moron would just come out and say he made a mistake, even with a flimsy excuse, about the wiretapping claim he could get around it. But, trump never admits he is wrong about anything. And, this is no different.
Then, out of the blue, it was reported last night that our empty suit of a Secretary of State is going to skip the NATO meeting in April. They claim he is skipping the meeting to stay around for the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Washington. However, later in the month, he is going to visit Moscow.
That is a very bad message to send to our allies. Instead of trying to change either the NATO meeting date or the Chinese visit date, they are just going to skip NATO but still visit Russia. If trump had not been hammering away at NATO and trying to make it appear as a protection racket, maybe NATO members wouldn’t get nervous about this situation. But, since trump cannot stop calling NATO “obsolete”, I am guessing they are very nervous about this situation. And, I don’t blame them.
The Gorsuch hearings are ongoing and I will have more as this week goes on. But, this hearing is very important. I already pointed out one case that I believe should exclude him from serving on the Court. I want to hear what he says, and I really want to hear what questions the Democrats are going to ask. I already know the Republicans will just showcase their ideology rather than vet this candidate.
Now we come to the Americans Without Health Care Act. Republicans are trying very hard to placate other Republicans to get them to vote for this bill. They announced some changes to the bill and are touting that it will help older Americans better. That is nice, but it is also gutting more parts that will hurt many more Americans.
Some of the amendments geared towards conservatives include Medicaid and what is being called the Buffalo Bailout. One thing they want to add is a “work requirement” to receive Medicaid. That may sound nice, but it will hurt a whole lot of poor people and people with disabilities. There has been no clear definition of just who must follow this “work requirement”. They want to take a program that is intended to assist out-of-work people and poor people to have health care and put “requirements” on them.
About one-third of people on Medicaid are in nursing homes. Are they supposed to follow the “work requirement”? That may sound like a crazy question, but it is a very real possibility if there aren’t any definitions about who must obey this requirement.
This is just another example of the conservative viewpoint that anyone who needs help only needs help because they are lazy slugs who don’t want to work and support their families.
They are also going to “speed up” the tax cuts from the ACA, the repeal of expanded Medicaid and “block grants” to states for Medicaid. And, this small government party wants to dictate just how states do their Medicaid. Hence the Buffalo Bailout.
In New York State, and many others, the state requires counties to contribute to Medicaid costs. The Upstate counties complain that it means they must charge higher property taxes. So, conservatives in Congress have decided that they will step into each state’s operation and state that counties no longer need to contribute to Medicaid costs.
To show they mean business, they have even said that this applies to any county that has a population of less that 5 million people. They are not only interfering with a state’s operations, they are saying which counties are involved. So much for “small government” actions.
As far as the Americans Without Health Care Act goes, in order to help older Americans purchase insurance they have decided to include 75 billion dollars to increase tax credits for people between 50 and 64. Only, the cowardly House won’t say how that money should be used, they are leaving it to the Senate. In other words, they want the House to pass a bill that gives 75 billion dollars to it, but won’t say how it should be spent.
Additionally, they won’t say how they were going to pay for that 75 billion dollars. This is the party that says everything must be paid for before it is passed. Yet, here is 75 billion dollars that isn’t being paid for and still is expected to be passed.
None of these changes are going to do anything to lower health care costs. None of these changes are going to do anything to keep people from losing their health car coverage. The only thing this bill will do is give the rich massive tax cuts.
We don’t know if it will even get out of the House. The so-called Freedom Caucus is still against it, but there are serious cracks in their front. They need 21 votes to kill the bill in the House. If it gets to the Senate, it only needs 3 votes to kill the bill. So far, there are a lot more than 3 Republicans who are against it. So, this may not reach the president’s desk.
But, that is nothing to cheer about. If this bill does not pass, you can bet the next one, if there is a next one, will be far more conservative than this one is and many more people will lose their health care coverage. Or, Republicans will do nothing except cut the ACA even more through executive actions, and hurt even more people just for ideology’s sake and tax cuts.
Then there is the budget that trump wants to pass that will hurt the poor even more. It will gut the EPA and destroy our State Department. We have heard some really stupid things to justify this draconian budget like Meals On Wheels isn’t effective. Then over the weekend, one GOP congressman in Pennsylvania said that “god was guilty in helping pollute the Chesapeake Bay”. He came up with this brilliant answer when it was demanded in his town hall that he vote against gutting the EPA.
There are a lot of things to watch this week in Washington. But, with an FBI investigation hanging over the White House, things could get very interesting in the coming months. What was it that trump said during the campaign? Oh yeah, “you cannot elect someone who is being investigated by the FBI”.
I wonder if that means you cannot pass an agenda by an administration that is “being investigated by the FBI”? I guess you have to answer that question for yourself.
We keep hearing from Republicans to look at “what the president has done in such a short time”. Only, when you look at what he has done you discover he really hasn’t done a damn thing. Except for business owners. He has done nothing for the people who voted for him.
And, the shirts keep marching along.