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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.

 

 

 

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Day 132. 

There is a lot of talk about Neil Gorsuch’s performance at the hearing about is nomination.  A few of the Democrats have tried to hold his feet to the fire over some of his rulings, but the rest seem to be rolling over.  Even those who try to hold him accountable, don’t always ask the correct questions.

For me, there is one huge red flag flying over the Gorsuch camp.  This red flag is typical retorts from conservatives, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court.  That one retort is simply that judges, even Supreme Court Justices, are merely rubber stamps for whatever a law says.

As an example, Sen. Durbin brought up a case about a truck driver whose case came before Gorsuch.  Here is a brief explanation of the case.  This truck driver was forced to pull his truck over because his breaks froze.  As a result, he could not drive the truck because it was considered an unsafe vehicle.

The driver’s dispatcher told him to move the truck, but he said he couldn’t because the brakes would not work properly because the brakes were frozen and couldn’t stop the tuck with the trailer properly.  The dispatcher told him to stay put until help arrived.  The truck, for reasons I don’t know, did not have any heat in the cab.  The temperature was about minus 14 degrees.

After waiting for sever hours without help arriving, the driver was near freezing to death.  He then got out, unhitched his trailer and drove the truck to a place to get it fixed and warm up.  The company fired the truck driver for “operating an unsafe vehicle”.

Seven different courts sided with the truck driver citing his safety and desire to stay alive.  Then the case got to Judge Gorsuch’s court.  He ruled in favor of the truck company and the driver lost his job.  According to Durbin, he is still without a job and seems to be blackballed from driving again.

During the hearing, Gorsuch said he “felt for the driver” but the law was the law.  The driver drove what was considered “an unsafe vehicle” and therefore he should have lost his job.  He even went so far as to tell Congress that if they don’t like the results they should change the law.  “I was merely adjudicating the law as it was written”.  However, judges do have the right, and the responsibility to say when a law is unjust and not adjudicate is as it is written.

In this case, the driver had two choices.  Take a chance and get the cab somewhere he could get it fixed and save his life, or simply sit still and freeze to death.  Gorsuch says that he should have sat still and froze to death.  This a very real case that proves that extenuating circumstances should have ruled the day and not just the letter of the law.  Gorsuch, once again placed the company’s interests in front of the person involved.

Gorsuch also said that the same-sex marriage situation is “settled law”.  But, he would not say the same thing about Roe v. Wade.  If you are wondering why, just look at his stance on the so-called “Freedom of Religion” laws he favors.  The ones that allow companies to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on “religious beliefs”.

If anyone would ask me, I would have suggested a few questions for Mr. Gorsuch that would not involve any cases of the past giving him an out.  But, they would let everyone know exactly where he would stand if these kinds of cases came before him at any level.

These questions would be something like this:  Do you believe that there are two different types of laws, one type being secular which rules civil society and one type being religious law that rules religious beliefs?  Do you believe that religious law should be considered when making secular law?  If, yes which religion’s or religious sect’s religious laws should be considered?  Do you believe that religious law should take precedence over secular law in civil matters?

Those questions would unmask anyone’s beliefs on issues like Roe v. Wade.  Let me explain.  I believe that civil society is ruled by secular law.  In a country like ours that offers freedom of religion, secular law must be the law of the land.

Religious law should never be considered when making secular law.  If you really believe in freedom of religion, then it would be impossible to say one religion’s laws should be considered and another’s religious laws should not.

Religious laws should never take precedence over secular law in a civil society that claims to be open and free.  If someone believes their religious laws take precedence over secular laws in civil society, you know where they stand on a myriad of issues.

The case of Roe v. Wade is a case of secular law v. religious law.  The entire case hinges on the definition of life and when it begins.  Religious law, especially with Catholics and Evangelicals, says that life begins at conception.  However, there are differences between religious life and secular life.

One could easily argue that life does not begin until the fetus is capable of surviving outside of the womb.  The arguments are purely based on different beliefs of secular law or religious law.  The pro-life group is based on the idea of life begins at conception.  The pro-choice group says otherwise.

If someone asked Gorsuch if religious law takes precedence over secular law, and he said yes, it would be a clear indication that he would override Roe v. Wade if it came before him.  I believe I already know that he does believe that religious law supersedes secular law with his stance in the Hobby Lobby case and his support of these “freedom of religion” laws that allow discrimination against groups based on religious beliefs.

That is not someone I would want on the Supreme Court.  But, since Democrats are not interested in getting to a person’s true feelings and beliefs, these types of questions are never asked.

Additionally, if you simply look at our own history, you will discover that conservatives always believe that religious law supersedes secular law.  You can see that in laws that banned intra-racial marriage, same-sex marriage, separate but equal laws, and many more.  All of those laws were justified by “religious beliefs”.  If a judge cannot interpret the law and declare it unconstitutional, we would still have those laws on the books.

That is why conservatives argument about “minimal justices” is totally wrong.  It is the responsibility of judges, especially on the Supreme Court to interpret laws for their constitutionality.  The Constitution is secular law, and NOT religious law.  The Constitution protects all minorities from bad laws passed by the majority.  If judges are simply rubber stamps for Congress, then we would still have slavery in this country.

I do not believe that Judge Gorsuch belongs on the Supreme Court.  His rubber stamp mentality, his willingness to let someone die just because he is too lazy to include extenuating circumstances in applying a law, and his apparent belief that religious law supersedes secular law, makes him unqualified to sit on the highest court of the land.

However, I don’t think that the Democrats are willing to go full-bore on rejecting him.  I am not convinced that they are willing to dig in too much on this nominee.  There are a lot of old people on the Supreme Court.  And, I don’t think they are willing to fight one nominee that might make it easier to get a more conservative wacko on the court with the next opening, which could be any day.

But, in my mind he doesn’t belong there.  He appears to me to be just another sleazy snake oil salesman in a fancy suite with a fancy haircut masquerading to be “mainstream”.  He isn’t mainstream.  He is a far right social conservative activist and his rulings have proven that to be the case.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 127. 

All I can say is this has been one week from hell.  First we have the Americans Without Health Insurance Act, then we have the budget for the rich, and then we have trump still claiming “my wires were tapped” by the former President even though everyone including the heads of two congressional committees have said there is no evidence that it happened.  But, don’t worry, the reason is because Obama apparently had the British tap his wires so there won’t be any evidence.  Something the British claim is patently false.

One of the beneficiaries of the massive cuts to federal agencies, Rex Tillerson from the State Department, said that the cuts were okay with him because “we won’t be in as many shooting wars” anymore.  What?  The very next day he told North Korea that “we aren’t taking any options off the table, including military options, if they don’t comply” and denuclearize.

Does this clown have ant idea what his job is supposed to be?  It is the job of the Secretary of State to help keep us out of shooting wars, not get us into them.  He is supposed get our allies to support us and to even get our adversaries to help stop North Korea.  In other words, he should be talking to China to help us get rid of the nuclear weapons in North Korea rather than threatening war that China will not look favorably on since they border North Korea.

China is the only real ally North Korea has.  If we can get them to do something, then we won’t have to go to war.  But, trump administration is more interested in flexing muscle than in keeping the peace.  Remember Seoul, the capital of South Korea is only 30 miles from the border.  And, North Korea has it lined up in their sights of artillery.  There are only 20 million people living in Seoul, but what the hell, they are just “foreigners” and not white ones either.

Then we have trump’s budget director Mick Mulveney trying to justify all of the budget cuts with absolute stupidity.  For instance he claims cutting off all funds to Meals on Wheels is justified because, “it hasn’t shown it has worked”.  In other words, “do those old farts really need to eat?”

He also claimed that the wipe-out of the Public Broadcasting Corporation is “good for the single mom who has two kids.  She shouldn’t pay for that program anymore”.  Only, that is the best place for her children to get educational television that is also entertaining.

On the other hand, it is perfectly fine for that single mom who has two kids to lose her health insurance so Mulveney and his kind can get a huge tax cut.  It is perfectly fine for her to pay more in taxes so the rich get even deeper cuts.

You can see where this is taking us.  The rich matter.  Everyone else does not.  It is okay to take people off their health care if the rich get the benefit.  It is wrong to pay for good educational television since the rich needs to kick in also.  Just so long as you claim that you are being “nice to that single mom”.

There is not a singe item in the budget cuts proposed that will have a negative affect on the rich.  But, every proposed cut will have a negative affect on everyone else.

That single mom must pay for the Berlin Wall on the southern border that won’t do anything to secure our borders.  But she is being saved from paying for something that she actually uses and probably needs.  See how wonderful and nice this administration is to this poor lady?

As far as Meals on Wheels go, it is reported that the programs helps keep people out of nursing homes.  What is the benefit of that?  Only about one-third of the Medicaid budget for each state.  But, we apparently don’t have to worry about that either.  With the proposed Medicaid cuts, there won’t be any money to put these old people into nursing homes either.

This is what the administration wants to do.  Health Care, cut it.  Workplace Safety, cut it.  Diplomacy, cut it.  Meals on Wheels, eliminate it.  Public educational television, eliminate it.  Environmental Protection, cut it.  Climate change research, eliminate it.  Health Science research, cut it.  Weather forecasting, cut it.

You can see the pattern.  When trump said he wanted to “drain the swamp” what he really meant was that he would bring in a bunch of billionaires to pass budgets and laws that make life better for themselves.  Screw the rest of us.  What he has done so far proves that he is keeping his campaign promise.  He is screwing us really good.  Hope you like it.

Maybe he is beginning a new phase of eugenics.  Maybe he is making a mockery of the old adage of “only the strong survive” and making it “only the rich survive”.  Maybe he is just trying to cull the surplus population.

I am sorry, but our beloved leader is on a definite mission.  That mission has nothing with America being exceptional or even normal.  That mission is to make sure the rich get richer, non-whites are kept out, and the rest of us struggle to survive.

Today our beloved leader will meet with the Leader of the Free World, Angela Merkel.  Doesn’t is sound weird that we will meet with the leader of the free world instead of the way it used to be?  But, that is what trump has given us.

But don’t worry.  Things will definitely get better.  Congress just passed a law that will allow veterans who suffer mental health problems to buy guns easier.  Since only 20 vets commit suicide per day, so let’s give people who should not have guns because they are a danger to themselves to add to the numbers.  How’s that for culling the surplus population and helping our vets with their health problems?

And, the shirts keep marching along!

 

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Day 121. 

The trump administration has put all of us in a conundrum.  That is basically this.  Can we trust anything they say anymore?  I am not asking this rhetorically either.  They have shown over and over that they will lie to the American people with so much ease that it is frightening.

How can we believe the president if he tells us that some other country, say North Korea, is beginning to cross over the border with South Korea?  Will we ask for proof first, or just go to war as he wants?

This lying goes throughout the administration.  We have all accused Kellyanne Conway of lying.  We have accused the president, Sean Spicer, and Mike Flynn of all lying.  Now we also know that Mike Pence is a liar as well.  The latest proof of their willingness to openly lie is the Mike Flynn being a “foreign agent” during the campaign, the transition, and while he was National Security Advisor.

The administration is trying to claim that they “did know that Flynn was lobbying for Turkey” something that the facts prove is a lie.  Mike Pence said yesterday on Fox New of Flynn registering as a foreign agent retroactively that was the first time he heard of it.

Spicer during the press briefing yesterday said that Flynn had kept his lobbying secret and that no one in the administration knew about it.  He said:

We trust that employees are filling out forms in the legal manner, we advise them to do the proper and legal thing, and we expect every employee to follow the law.

He lied when he said those words.  We know that all of this is a lie from Mike Pence and Sean Spicer because on Nov. 18, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect, detailing concerns about Flynn’s lobbying on behalf of a foreign government’s interests. Flynn even consulted a lawyer, who called a member of Trump’s transition team to disclose Flynn’s work for his Turkish client.

So, how can Pence claim that the other day was the first time he heard about Flynn’s activities on behalf of a foreign country?  The letter was addressed to him. Is he expecting us to believe that he doesn’t read the letters he receives from member of Congress?

They just won’t give up on lying, even when they know they will get caught in their lies.  They will go to any lengths to distance themselves from their self-made conflicts.

At one point yesterday Spicer, when asked about Flynn again, accused the reporter of trying to “impugn” the reputation of Flynn.  His response was:

What dealings are you referring to, the fact that he had a client?  He was also head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, unbelievably qualified impeccable credentials. What is exactly are you getting at?

Flynn was also fired from his position as head of the DIA because of his horrible leadership abilities.  The entire DIA staff was almost in open rebellion because of a lack of his management skills.

What this all boils down to is that the administration knew that Flynn was lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.  While he was doing so, he sat in on Intelligence Briefings during the campaign and the transition, and while in office.  If that sounds like something that should never happen, you are correct.  It should never have happened!

Spicer seemed to end his comments on the matter by saying:

At the end of the day, when [Trump] found out that Gen. Flynn betrayed the trust of the vice president, he let him go.  The president has high standards for everyone that works in the administration.

Then he added:  “I can’t tell you that every single person has done everything.”

This also shows just how frighteningly incompetent this administration is.  When you are looking to hire someone for a serious position in our government, you are supposed to do something called “vetting”.  If you properly “vet” someone, you will discover just what they have been up to.

I hate WalMart.  But, even WalMart does a better job of screening their future employees than this administration does.  This administration is absolutely pathetic.  If they cannot properly vet those they wish to serve in the government, how can we trust them to safely analyze the intelligence they are receiving to keep us safe?  We can’t.

When you couple their incompetence with their constant lying, we cannot believe a single thing they say.  And, that is the really frightening thing about this administration.

We are now faced with a government that we cannot trust.  Think about that for a minute.  We cannot trust the president, vice-president, or any other member of the administration to tell us the truth about anything.

Then, to make matters worse, Republican leaders in Congress let them get away with all of their lies without batting an eye or opening their mouths.  These are not good signs for our country.

It has been said that “the truth shall set you free”.  I guess trump and his administration don’t believe in that old adage.  They believe that the best way to totalitarian government is to lie like hell every time they open their mouths.

The supporters of trump are about to find out just how much he lied to them, too.  When the Americans Without Health Insurance Act passes, and they lose their health coverage, they may finally understand.  When the retired coal miners in West Virginia lose their pensions and health care because Republicans won’t extend their coverage, maybe they will finally understand.

Our beloved leader and his gang of thieves have lied to the very people who got him elected, and they are openly defying them.  They are showing with each passing day that they lied to these people.  Let’s hope these people wake up and see that they were lied to.

I never thought that we would ever have a government controlled by one party that we cannot trust.  Unfortunately, that is what we have.  Talk about torture!

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 119. 

With all of the hoopla going on about the Russian connections between trump’s administration a Russian officials, the Republicans in Congress have fired off several rounds in their war on the people of this country.  And, it is going to get much worse before it gets better.

There has been one battle cry from Republicans since the income tax was first introduced.  They say this is what has been going on.  Rich people are being “unfairly” taxed and the money is given to the rest of the lazy worthless people who live in the country for free.

You really have to understand where Republican priorities are.  According to their mantra, if you are rich, you are blessed and worked hard to get your money.  If you are not rich, you should be “thankful” that some rich guy has been nice enough to let you work at the factories that make him rich.  Even if the wages he pays you don’t let you support your family.

You are looking at everything the wrong way.  These rich people are our saviors.  If not for them, we would all be even poorer than we are.  They have all the power.  They have all the money,.  They have all the land.  We should be thankful that we are fortunate enough to live among such great people.

The way things are supposed to work in our country is that the rich, who are marvelous caring people, should pay little or no taxes.  Instead the rest of us should pay all of the taxes the country needs and just shut up.

The rest of us do not deserve the things that we already have.  We don’t deserve a secure retirement through Social Security even though we have paid taxes all of our lives to get it.  We don’t deserve health care when we are old through Medicare even though we paid taxes all through our lives to get it.  We don’t deserve health care at all.  If we can’t afford to pay ridiculous premiums so Insurance Company CEOs can get a bigger tax break, that is our problem.

We don’t deserve proper housing.  We don’t deserve food that has been inspected to make sure it isn’t bad and make us sick.  We don’t deserve clean water to drink or clean air to breathe.  We don’t deserve to have our children receive a good public education.  No, we don’t deserve any of that because we are just slime that is allowed to labor for the rich to get richer.

According to the Republican worldview, there are two kinds of people. The marvelous, wonderful rich people and everyone else.  Everyone else must be fully dependent on the rich letting us work for low wages and we should be very thankful for their generosity.

When it comes to the nation we live in, our rights are all dependent upon their view as well.  They say the government cannot get between a doctor and his patient, but it is okay for the government to get between the doctor and patient if that patient is a woman.  See, women are stupid ignorant forms of life that need a man to tell her what is right and wrong.  She needs that man to tell her how to live.  And she needs that man to tell her how to behave.

I know you think I am being facetious.  I am not, this is exactly the current Republican view of the world.  What Congress has been doing behind the curtain is very showing of this view they have.

Let’s examine what they have been up to.  The very first thing that they got their brainless hand to sign hurts first time home buyers.  Under President Obama, the rates for the Mortgage Insurance that is usually required for first time home buyers was to be reduced.  NO shouted Republicans.  They killed that decrease and instead raised it so people buying their first home will have to pay $500 more per year in home mortgage insurance costs.  Even if that is the drinking water for their workers.

The second thing they did was kill a clean water provision.  Mines have for hundreds of years polluted the water around the mines.  There was a rule that said that mines could no longer dump their byproducts into streams and rivers thus polluting the water.  The Republicans again shouted NO, and passed a law killing that rule.  So, now mine owners can pollute the water anytime they desire just to save a few bucks.

Then there was the rule that made it so brokers handling your retirement plan had to serve you and not his commissions.  They were required to let you know the disadvantages of buying a new stock, and get your permission.  Again a loud NO came screeching from the right.  So, now they passed another law that allows these brokers to simply change your portfolio without your consent even if that change will increase their commissions and hurts you.

Then we come to the proposed budget from the trump administration.  You can see there what the Republicans worldview really is.  This budget targets the vulnerable people in our country, as well as the middle-class with massive cuts while giving our best equipped, strongest, and best military in the world a $54 billion increase in their budget.  Plus, they need another $21 billion to build the Berlin Wall on the southern border.

How are these massive unnecessary increases gong to be paid for?  Well, you guessed it.  Out of your pocket.

The administration has decided that we don’t need a State Department anymore, or at least not one that works.  They are planning to slash at least 30 percent from the State Department’s budget including from USAID.  These programs that are being targeted are the very ones that help us maintain our leadership throughout the world, but since trump appears to be wanting to partner with Putin, we don’t need to hold on to that leadership role anymore.

The budget also calls for a 35 percent cut in the budget for the EPA.  Who the hell needs a department called the Environmental Protection Agency if you don’t care if the people get clear air and drinking water?  That is obviously an unnecessary agency.

We will also see a $6 billion cut to HUD.  These cuts will be made to cut back on major repairs to buildings.  Why should we fix buildings that people live in?  They are just poor schmucks and should be happy they have a roof over their heads.  Quality of life means nothing to them.  Hell, this works nicely for the wealthy.  Our own president made millions doing just this type of ignoring properties in private business.  The biggest cuts will hit the community planning and development grants, which have been used to clean up struggling neighborhoods.  That area will see a $4 billion cut.  Who needs to clean up struggling neighborhoods.  Rich people don’t go there.

Other cuts will include direct rental assistance payments — including Section 8 Housing and housing vouchers for homeless veterans — would be cut by at least $300 million, to $19.3 billion. Additionally, housing for the elderly — known as the Section 202 program — would be cut by $42 million, nearly 10 percent. Section 811 housing for people with disabilities would be cut by $29 million, nearly 20 percent. Money available for Native American housing block grants would fall by $150 million, more than 20 percent.

But, what is the problem here?  These are worthless people who don’t really contribute to the rich people’s pockets.  They merely take up space and breathe some of that clear air we won’t have very much longer anyway.

In addition, we are looking at deep cuts to the Coast Guard and TSA.  Two vital organizations that are part of our vital national security to keep us safe.  We are going to se massive cuts to FEMA.  We only need FEMA if there is a natural disaster or some major large-scale terrorist attack relief responses.  But, since there is no climate change, natural disasters won’t happen.  And, since the military will get a massive increase in their budget and we will have our marvelous Berlin Wall on the southern border, there won’t be any terrorist attacks either.

We are going to see huge cuts to the Department of Education, Health and Human services and much more.  The only things that won’t be cut are defense and ICE.  They will increase “hugely”.

Finally we have the Americans Without Health Care Act that is currently being rammed through Congress.  Under this plan, the likelihood of you losing your health care coverage is better than 50/50.  If you are one of those “takers” who get subsidies so you can afford to get health insurance, you will lose those subsides.  Instead you will get a smaller amount in “tax credits””, which you won’t be able to use either.

If you are someone who got coverage under expanded Medicaid, you can forget about having any coverage after 2020.  If you have pre-existing conditions, you can look forward to higher premiums and higher deductibles in those nice fancy “high risk pools” they want to set up.

If you are someone who is between age 55 and 65, you can expect a doubling of your premiums since the company will be able to charge you five times more than a younger person for the same coverage.  Plus, if you are making less than $75,000 per year your subsidies will decrease up to about $10,000 per year to purchase your health coverage.

If you live in a rural community and have less access to health insurance on the open market, you will get even fewer choices and the chances are your hospital will close down due to lack of funds.  With fewer people with health insurance, hospitals will have to go back to giving out free treatment thus losing money forcing them to shut the door for good, just like before the ACA was enacted and saved many of these hospitals.

And, if you are wondering, everyone loves this new plan.  Well except the American Medical Association, The American Hospital Association, and AARP.  But, so what, the Republicans didn’t ask their opinion to begin with so who cares what they think.  They are just the professionals and who knows more rich tax cut friendly Republicans or health care professionals?

Besides, what is most important in this bill is that the CEOs of the companies about to be allowed to rip you off will get a tax cut.  And, those nasty taxes that made the ACA possible without hurting the deficit will all go away too.  Meaning those who make over $250,000 will also get a tax cut.

We all know that tax cuts for those people are far more important than the average American scumbags having health care coverage.  How dare anyone think that their health is more important than the rich’s tax cuts?  You must be on some illegal drug to think that.

Paul Ryan said two things yesterday about the Americans Without Health Care Act.  First he said this was “sound, good conservative plan”.  Then he said “this plan is an act of mercy”.

And, according to the Republican worldview, he is absolutely correct.  This plan is a “good conservative” plan because it throws overboard everyone who isn’t rich.  And, it is “an act of mercy” because it ensures that more rich people get more tax cuts.  That is exactly what Republicans think their job is.

As you can see, you have been looking at the real world upside down.  The only people who matter are the rich.  You and me and the rest of America who slave away trying to make ends meet are just in the way of the rich.

We are all just supposed to fall in line and do what we are told by the rich.  If we dare to ask questions, or we dare to expect fair wages for our labor, or if we dare to consider ourselves equal to them, we need to be put back in our place.

So far, everything that the Republicans in Congress and what has been done by our beloved leader are intended to put us back in our place.  If you are willing to go along with this, I feel sorry for you.  If you are willing to allow this dehumanizing of our people to continue, then you need help.

All of this is just the tip if the iceberg that is heading towards our Titanic.  Soon you will hear about how Medicare should be voucherized and how Social Security should be prioritized.  The vouchers for Medicare won’t be nearly enough to purchase proper insurance for seniors, and the privatization of Social Security will only be set up to allow bigger commissions to crooked brokers.

Remember, these cuts are not just aimed at the poor. They are aimed at everyone who is not rich.  The massive tax cuts on the horizon are not intended to help your, they are aimed at the rich and corporations.

In the current Republican worldview, there are two classes of people.  The rich and everyone else.  Everyone else are on their own.  If they can’t make ends meet, it is their fault.  If they can’t get a good education it is their fault.  If they can’t afford health care coverage for themselves and their families, it is their fault.

We are all supposed to bow down to the oligarchs and thank their golden idol for their existence and great generosity for allowing us to work for slave wages.  That is what the Republican Party is giving us.  That is the world they want for themselves and us.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 118. 

Well, it is out, and it is as bad as everyone thought it would be.  Paul Ryan and his Republican cronies have unveiled their repeal and replace plan for the Affordable Care Act.  And, though the numbers are still not firm, it is going to be very bad for anyone who needs health care and anyone who doesn’t make about 1 million dollars per year.

And, of course, the poor, the working poor, the elderly and the middle-class will be the biggest losers.  Who else is there to target?  Their donor class?  I don’t think so.

Some things won’t happen until 2020, because they are afraid of the consequences to their immediate political future.  Things like Medicaid expansion are on the chopping block.  So, the poor and the elderly will be hurt the most when this ends in 2020.

The Republican plan for Medicaid is to “block grant” Medicaid to the states.  Only, they will receive less money than do today.  Today Medicaid is open-ended in that states get enough money to cover the costs of the program.  Instead, the Republicans want to set the bill at the number of people “on Medicaid” per state, which means a substantial cut in the program funding.  That means millions of people will lose their health care under the killing of expanded Medicaid.

But, it isn’t just the poor people who get hurt under this plan.  Most people who live in nursing homes get their funding through Medicaid.  If that is taken away, we will have more people who cannot afford to stay in the nursing home.  But, what the hell, Republicans seem to believe that since they are so old they should just die.

Then we have the case of the subsidies which help people afford to purchase health insurance.  That is also going away.  Instead, the Republicans say they will give “tax credits” so you can buy insurance.  But, the numbers just don’t add up.

Those tax credits will range between $2,000 and $4,000 per year.  Those numbers are based on age not income.  Those numbers are not even close to what people need to purchase health insurance.

For example, Martha Brawley of Monroe, N.C., said she voted for President Trump in the hope he could make insurance more affordable.  But having seen reports on the new plan she has become increasingly nervous.  Under the ACA she pays about $260 per month for a Blue Cross plan and receives a subsidy of $724 per month to cover the rest of her premium. Under the House plan, she would receive $3,500 a year in tax credits — $5,188 less than she gets under the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m scared, I’ll tell you that right now, to think about not having insurance at my age,” said Ms. Brawley, who underwent a liver biopsy on Monday after her doctor found that she has an autoimmune liver disease. “If I didn’t have insurance, these doctors wouldn’t see me.”

The plan hurts elderly people eve more.  Beginning next year, health insurance companies will be able to charge up to five times more for the elderly premiums than for younger people.  Under the ACA that is capped at three times as much.

That means for people like Alan Lipsky, a self-employed consultant in Arden, N.C., the Republican plan could have a huge financial impact. Mr. Lipsky, who is 60 and whose wife is in her 50s, receives a tax credit of $2,097 a month for his family of four and pays $66 a month out of his own pocket. His family’s total annual tax credit of $25,164 would be reduced to $11,500 under the new plan, covering less than half of the total cost of his current coverage.

“I don’t think the Affordable Care Act is perfect,” said Mr. Lipsky, whose family deductible is $12,000 per year, “but at least for people like me it gives a baseline, and I’m worried I won’t have that baseline anymore. What they’re talking about is unaffordable for me.”

S&P analysis says that 64-year-old could see annual premiums increase by almost 30 percent to $13,100 on average.  The tax credit for these people will be a whopping $4,000.  As you can see, these people won’t be able to afford insurance if this plan becomes law.

Some of the biggest losers will be people who live in rural areas.  That is because rural areas have fewer hospitals and fewer insurance plans than large cities.  Before the ACA, rural hospitals were closing at terrifying rates.  Since the ACA, that has been significantly reduced because rural hospitals were not seeing more uninsured people.

Then there is the dropping of the mandate that everyone will have to purchase insurance.  I know a lot of people don’t like that part of the ACA, but without it, young healthy people will probably opt out of insurance altogether.  That means health insurance companies will need to raise their premiums to cover the more expensive older and sick people who have coverage.

The result, said Donald H. Taylor Jr., a health policy professor at Duke University, is that people who buy coverage are sicker, causing the cost of premiums to soar. “This looks like to me adverse selection on steroids,” he said. “I don’t see how it doesn’t crater the individual market.”

There are other side effects to the plan that no one has talked about yet.  Remember the Ebola scare a couple of years ago?  Remember the Zika Virus scare in our country last year?  Those diseases have not gone away.  They are waiting for another round.  Especially Zika which is just waiting for warmer weather and hungry mosquitos.

The ACA set up the Prevention and Public Health Fund to try to lower health costs by preventing diseases before they happen.  Well, this fund will be slashed by $1 billion.  What does it do you ask?

The CDC uses it to help states deliver vaccines, watch for infectious diseases, keep an eye out for lead in water, promote breastfeeding in hospitals, prevent suicide and watch out for hospital-associated infections. It totals $931 million for 2017.

“It really is a core activity,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director.  But, this is just the beginning of these cuts to this program.  In the 2018 budget being proposed by trump, domestic spending like this program will be cut even more.

“These funds are used to prevent diseases such as hypertension, cancer and diabetes, which are drivers of the major causes of death in the United States,” said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner.

“They also help ensure that our nation is prepared against emerging threats such as bioterrorism and Ebola and other infectious diseases. Cutting these funds will hurt patients’ health in the short-term and compromise national security in the long-term.”

Then there is the point where the plan will allow large companies to opt out of offering health care coverage for their employees.  So, if you think since you work for one of these large companies so you are safe, you are wrong.  You could lose your company sponsored coverage and have to go on the open market by yourself.

When Democrats worked on the ACA, they included health insurance companies and health experts in the working groups.  The Republicans have not done the same thing.  They have worked on this in some dark closet in Capital Hill and no one outside a small group of people saw it before yesterday.

As a result, most insurance companies are against the bill.  The problem is that the conservative wackos in the house absolutely hate it.  Not because of what it does in terms of taking away health insurance coverage from their constituents, but because they say it is too “generous” and not bare bones enough.

One of the main talking points for Republicans is that we need to allow insurance companies to sell across state lines.  But, what they won’t tell you is that they already can sell across state lines.  The problem is that each state has their own set of rules when it comes to health care coverage.  In order to sell across state lines, companies must meet those standards.  If they don’t they cannot sell across state lines.

In other words, this is a perfect example of “states rights” that Republicans love so much.  If they really want companies to sell across state lines, they must remove each state’s requirements.  Or, they must eliminate the “state’s rights” to let insurance companies make more money.

Of course women will be hurt the most.  They will see their sex become a “pre-existing condition” again and be charged more for health insurance just because they are women.  Those with preexisting conditions will eventually be forced into “high risk pools” in order to keep their insurance.  That means they will pay substantially more for their coverage.

Because of all of the rules protecting our water and air are being wrecked by the trump administration we will see more diseases like asthma and lead poisoning from our drinking water increase.  That will also cause costs to increase.

Of course, the rich will get their tax cuts.  This bill even includes a tax cut for health insurance company CEOs who make more than $500,000 per year.  How the hell does that make my premiums go down?

I know that conservatives don’t like to hear this, but the real only answer to our health care coverage crisis is a one-payer system.  In other words, Medicare for all.  Before you all lose your minds, think about this.  We pay twice as much per person for health care coverage than countries who have universal health care.

Yes, we pay twice as much per person for health care.  How is this plan going to reduce that fact?  It won’t.  It will merely mean that more people will have to go without health care.  That means our total costs will increase just like they were before the ACA.

As a result, rural hospitals will begin closing again leaving large swaths of our country without any care for the citizens.  Large swaths of our country, mostly Red State areas will see health care become a luxury, not a common practice.

This is the future of our health care.  The plan really needs to be called the “Americans Without Health Care Plan”.  That is going to be the ultimate result.  As I wrote earlier, the number one problem Republicans have seen in our country is that too damn many people have health insurance.  They promised to do something about that problem, and this plan is the first step to resolve it.  They won’t be hurt by it, but you will.

After seven years of bitching about the ACA and promising to “lower costs” their ultimate plan is to take away insurance from the elderly, poor, working poor, and middle-class.  WOW!  What a bunch of assholes.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 117. 

Yesterday two major things happened.  First the Republicans unveiled their massive tax cut for the rich calling it “Obamacare Repeal”.  This wonderful plan of theirs will probably cut 4 million people from their health care, but it ensures that the CEOs of Health Insurance Companies get a tax cut.  We will talk about this so-called plan later in the week as it moves through committees.

The other thing that happened was trump unrolled his revised Muslim Ban.  All three puppets who announced the plan all mimicked trump’s claim that it is designed to keep us safe from terrorism.  But, they are lying.  It won’t really do anything.  Plus, the border wall won’t do anything either.

If you are wondering why, just look at the proposed budget that was also released over the last few days.  According to this proposed budget, DHS is due to receive an increase in funding of 43.6 billion dollars.  Sounds great, yes?

Problem is you have to look beyond the overall budget and look at what is really inside the numbers.  And, what is inside the numbers is very disturbing at best.

For example, did you know that there are three organizations in DHS, two of which are directly tied to national security and one that helps after natural disasters or major terrorist attacks?  The two involved in national security are the U.S. Coast Guard and the TSA.  They are involved in relief after natural disasters is FEMA.

Most people do not actually know what the Coast Guard does.  The Coast Guard is one of the five branches of the U.S. military.  However, it does far more than that.  Most people know that the Coast Guar is involved in search and rescue at sea.  They are also responsible for a myriad of law enforcement activities that usually go unnoticed.

The Coast Guard is involved in drug interdiction.  They catch billions of dollars of illicit drugs attempting to enter the country every year.  It is also responsible for port security.  At one point after 9/11 there were scare tactics about nuclear bombs coming into our ports and being detonated.  Well, it is the responsibility of the Coast Guard to help stop that from happening.

The Coast Guard is also responsible for intercepting masses of people from entering the country from the sea.  We have been involved in this operation long before trump even thought it was a problem.  All of the boats full of people coming from Latin and South America are intercepted by the Coast Guard.

We are also responsible to respond to oil pollution on the navigable waterways of the U.S.   When the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened, it was the Coast Guard that was responsible to get it cleaned up.  The Coast Guard is also involved in disaster relief after natural disasters.

Those are just a few of the missions that the 41,000 men and women of the Coast Guard are responsible to accomplish.  As you can see, it is vital to our national security and drug interdiction.  Actually, it is the only sea service involved in our national security at home and abroad.

To give you an example of what the Coast guard does, consider these facts.  In fiscal 2016, the Coast Guard intercepted 6,346 undocumented migrants, patrolled 3.4 million square nautical miles and removed 201 metric tons of cocaine and 52,613 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $5.9 billion. It also responded to 35 oil and 17 hazardous substance incidents, analyzed and investigated more than 13,000 and 1,800 cyber events, respectively, and conducted 139 airborne intercept missions over the Washington area at the request of the Department of Defense.

In addition, the demand for Coast Guard assets to train Central American forces in interdiction efforts has increased 320 percent this year.  And, the Coast Guard is the only “law enforcement” agency that is also military, so no one else can do these jobs.

Our beloved leader said he was going to increase military spending.  But that only includes the four military branches under the Department of Defense.  He also wants to build his great Berlin Wall on the Southern Border and increase Customs Agents by 5,000 people and ICE by 10,000 people.

He needs to pay for all of this somehow.  So, he has decided that the Coast Guard doesn’t need more money, he has decided to cut their budget by 14 percent.  The overall budget for the Coast is 9.1 billion dollars.  If this budget passes it will be cut by $1.3 billion, to $7.8 billion.

Where this is really going to hurt is in the procurement of new equipment like ships and helicopters.  The Coast Guard needs new equipment, but under this budget, they will probably have to cut operations like air flight time and ship patrols.

Stephen Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander who is director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University said:  “As you harden the land border you open up the maritime border.  It makes no sense. You are going to have this balloon effect.”

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft in an interview with Politico, before the proposed cuts were revealed said:  “Our intelligence is extremely good on the movement of drugs.  And where we’re really challenged is we just don’t have enough resources — enough ships, planes — to target all the events. So on the best of days we could probably target maybe three out of the 10 known events.”

Rep Hunter, (R.-CA) who chairs the Coast Guard subcommittee said even more.

The OMB treats the Coast Guard like a lunch fund to fund their other priorities in DHS.  Congress funds (through appropriations) and we’re not doing what they are doing.  They are off in la-la land.  If they want to be irrelevant they are off to a good start.

So, you can see the Coast Guard is really wasting money and their budget needs to be cut.  And, it gets even better.  In addition to the cuts to the Coast guard, this budget also plans to cut 11 percent from the TSA.

The TSA will be the recipient of a $500 million reduction that includes cutting $65 million for behavioral detection officers and $55 million for local law enforcement grants to airports. On the other hand, it proposes a $1 increase to the TSA security fee in fiscal 2018 to generate an extra $470 million in revenue.

Do you remember the several people who walked through security at JFK just the other week and three of them set off the metal detectors and were never stopped?  These cuts will do nothing to improve incidents like that from happening again.

How is cutting 500 million dollars from the airport security agency going to make our air travel safer?  It won’t.  It will make it more dangerous.  The TSA has struggled through its existence.  It has been mostly proficient, but it only takes one missed passenger to cause real havoc.

Instead of improving airport security and helping the Coast Guard secure our harbors, the trump administration is more interested in headline grabbing things like the Berlin Wall and are therefore are making us less safe.

Now that you know just how unsafe trump is making us, let’s look at FEMA.  FEMA will get a $370 million cut, which includes a 25 percent reduction, or $280 million, in the agency’s program for countering violent extremism and preparations for a wide-scale terrorist attack, as well as a 40 percent cut of $80 million for FEMA’s port transit security grant program.

As you can see, if there happens to be another wide-scale terrorist attack, FEMA won’t be able to efficiently respond to that attack.  All in the name of national security!

This is just another example of how much trump does not know about how things work.  He doesn’t know the vital role that the Coast Guard does is securing our borders.  He doesn’t think that TSA does anything to help us be safe while flying.  And, he doesn’t know that if there is a major attack that FEMA is responsible to coordinate response to that attack.

He only knows that he promised to build a stupid wall and that is what he is going to do.  He only knows that he promised to remove 11 million people from the country, and that is what he is going to do.  Those will get him headlines, these other agencies won’t.

Airport security?  Who needs it.  Port security?  Not a problem.  People running at sea?  No problem.  Responding to a major terrorist attack?  Who needs it.

If Congress goes along with these cuts to vital agencies that help keep us safe and respond to disasters, we will be far less safe than before trump was elected.  His wall will only force people from coming ashore from sea.  Without proper screening at our airports, more terrorists will be able to attack our planes in mid-flight.  And, if a major terrorist attack does happen, FEMA won’t be able to coordinate an efficient response.

I promised that I would keep an eye out for stupid things like this.  You probably have not heard about these cuts before.  And, if trump and his cronies have their way, you would never hear about them.  They expose the big lie that trump is making us safer.

The travel ban has been great propaganda for terrorists to use in recruiting new terrorists.  These cuts will make it easier for them to gain access to our country and make us less safe.  Tell me again how trump is doing such a great job.  That is another lie!

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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