Obamacare repeal exposes House Republicans’ policy nakedness (update #2)

After seven years of political games without having to govern, House Republicans are damned if they repeal Obamacare, and damned if they don’t.

(Image credit: The Nation)

Updated: Added WaPo link and quote at the bottom.

Update #2: Paul Ryan pulls the AHCA. See CNN link and details at the bottom.

So the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was supposed to go to a vote yesterday. That didn’t happen. So the AHCA is being debated on the House floor and voted on today instead. After Donald threatened to “walk away” from repealing Obamacare if the House couldn’t pass the bill today. And after the Congressional Budget Office re-scored the amended bill as still costing 24 million people their health insurance and reducing the deficit by less than half of what the introduced bill did ($150 billion over 10 years for the amended bill vs. 334 billion originally).

The wonderful thing is that, no matter what the House Republicans do today, they lose. Either they overreach and risk losing their seats in 2018, or they fail to deliver on their “repeal and replace Obamacare” campaign promises and risk losing their seats in 2018. Either way, they lose. Continue reading

The Congressional Budget Office scores Trumpcare: immoral

Obamacare gave 23 million people medical insurance; Trumpcare will strip it away from 24 million.

Congressional Budget Office logo

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Trumpcare will cost 24 million people their health insurance, with 14 million of those losses coming next year (assuming Trumpcare passes this year).

As the end of 2016, Obamacare lowered the uninsured rate from right before Obamacare took effect to 10.9%. That’s about 23 million more people with health insurance.

Medicaid (the medical insurance program for the poor) would be cut by $880 billion over the next 10 years. That reverses the tax increase levied on the wealthy to pay for the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and the CBO estimates that Trumpcare will result in 14 million poor people losing Medicaid over the next 10 years. 14 million people.

I’ve been happily paying higher taxes without complaint for years so that my income could subsidize health insurance for people who couldn’t afford it – like friends and former coworkers who had been out of work and either had to self-insure for an insane amount of money or go without insurance and pray they didn’t get sick. It was the moral thing to do in 2013, and it still is. Continue reading

Nearly everything you need to know about TrumpCare

Trumpcare (image credit: NotionsCapitol)

TrumpCare’s first draft was written in secret. Obamacare was written largely in the public view.

TrumpCare was written over the course of a few weeks. Obamacare was written over the course of four months.

When drafting Trumpcare, Republicans didn’t get public input from doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, or patients’ advocacy groups. Democrats held public hearings with doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and advocacy groups to get their input on early drafts.

TrumpCare was introduced to the House before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance to estimate how much money TrumpCare would save or cost, or how many people would lose their insurance. Obamacare went through multiple revisions, most of which were reviewed by the CBO. Continue reading

What is a liberal? Fairness is my core value

Liberals should talk about our values. And we should start with fairness.

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Over the last few years, I’ve read liberals saying that we need to talk about our values more openly, to own them, to assert that they are just as much American values as conservative values are. But I’ve never been comfortable talking about my values. Partly that’s because I’m an introvert. Partly because sharing such important stuff about myself feels a bit like everyone’s nightmare of showing up to give a presentation and realizing you’re naked before the crowd. And partly it’s because some of my values have shifted over the years as I’ve matured and experienced more of life, and I’m sure that some of them will shift again in the future.

But since Donald’s election I’ve been thinking about my values a lot. I’ve already chosen to fight for my values via my writing, and I’m prepared to fight for my values by putting my personal safety on the line if need be. So I figured that, if I’m going to be willing to risk my career or my physical well-being, I’d better be damned sure I know what my values are.

After a great deal of thought, I’ve finally realized what my core value is. The one value that matters more to me than any other. The one value against which all my other values are weighed, and from which most of my values spring. The one value with which I weigh the character of everyone I encounter.

Fairness. Continue reading

Next time, ask the Reagan question before you vote

On January 1, 2019, as President Trump approaches his third state of the union address, people in America should pop the Reagan question: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Those in the United States should ask, for example:

“Is my health insurance costing me more out of pocket than under Obama? Am I getting better, more affordable benefits?”

“Can I still get health insurance?”

“Have work restrictions been placed on my Medicare benefits? Has my state limited Medicare benefits?”

“Has my property tax bill gone up or down?”

“Has the rusty bridge carrying my daughter’s school bus been fixed?”

“I live in a city. Has my child developed asthma in the past year?”

“What’s the interest rate on a new car now?”

“Do I have to pay more for my prescription medications?”
Continue reading

You have to be OK with a lot of awful stuff to vote for Donald Trump

You don’t have to believe everything Donald Trump does to vote for him, but you do have to be OK with everything he believes and everything he’s done.

Image Credit: DiversityInc.com

Image Credit: DiversityInc.com

You don’t have to be a liar to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with lying.

You don’t have to be a hypocrite to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with hypocrisy.

You don’t have to enjoy mocking the disabled to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with other people mocking the disabled.

You don’t have to be a narcissist to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with narcissism.

You don’t have to be an adulterer to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with adultery.

You don’t have to be a misogynist to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with misogyny.

You don’t have to be a sexual assaulter to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with sexual assault. Continue reading

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Four

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part four of a series.

FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, TX – FEBRUARY 26: (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Click here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Kevin Passmore

Cardiff University’s Kevin Passmore developed another definition of fascism for his book “Fascism: A Very Short Introduction.” The entire definition is available in Passmore’s book and at Wikipedia, but the most important parts are addressed below.

Fascism is a set of ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community.

Trump’s rhetoric is intended to appeal to a definition of national identity that is white and racist. In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump said that “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice,” which is coded racist rhetoric as well. Note that Trump didn’t contrast “failing” with succeeding, but rather “safe.” The implication is that failing schools are dangerous and that safe schools are succeeding. And where are most “failing” and dangerous schools located? In minority neighborhoods and in urban areas. His anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim positions are similarly coded to appeal to whites who are afraid of brown people moving into their neighborhoods. Continue reading

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Three

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part three of a series.

trump-sloganClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Roger Griffin

Roger Griffin, historian and author of “The Nature of Fascism” and numerous other fascism-related books in the 1990s and 2000s, has defined fascism as follows:

Fascism is a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra nationalism.(from “The Palingenetic Core of Fascist Ideology,” a chapter in A. Campi (Ed.), Che cos’è il fascismo? Interpretazioni e prospecttive di richerche (pp. 97-122). Rome: Ideazione editrice, 2003., via libraryofsocialscience.com)

This statement is Griffin’s attempt to create an objective definition of a “fascist minimum,” the minimum criteria that all fascisms share. Unfortunately, this single sentence is so nuanced and uses enough academic language that it takes Griffin several pages to explain what it means. Continue reading

Politics: Don't Tread on Me

It’s time we stopped worshipping the Constitution and our “founding fathers”

For our founding fathers, “people” was a euphemism” that meant “rich white men.” Sadly, the same is true for many of our current leaders.

It’s been a momentous couple of weeks. Obamacare won a key victory, and as a result it’s going to be much harder for Republican politicians to roll it back in the future. There is a great deal wrong with the Affordable Care Act, to be sure, but at least it represents the acknowledgment that the general health of the nation’s citizens is a legitimate government concern.

The Confederate flag – specifically, the famous Stars & Bars battle jack – and the deeply ingrained racism it represents took a major ass-whipping. No, striking a symbol of treason and prejudice won’t make racism go away – any more than electing a black president did – but it’s a meaningful symbolic victory in a long cultural war. If that flag flies on the grounds of the statehouse, it’s an express acknowledgement to everyone that it’s okay to celebrate a “heritage” built on slavery. Continue reading

Should the First Amendment protect lying?

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus case asks SCotUS to extend constitutional protections to to those who intentionally lie to voters.

I do not know anyone whose parents or church taught them that lying is permissible and bears no taint of sin: Thou shall not bear false witness is ingrained from childhood in everyone I know. Do not ever lie, we are taught.

So why, then, is an anti-abortion advocacy group asking the highest court in the land to allow it to lie with impunity? At stake in the case is whether the federal government has the legal right to police political advertising for lies. The case involves claims by the anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony List, against then-Rep. Steven Driehaus (D-Ohio). From Politico’s Bryon Tau:

During the 2010 election cycle, Susan B. Anthony List accused Driehaus of voting in favor of taxpayer-funded abortions by supporting President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

Most conservatives don’t know “Obamacare’s” success, not failure, aligns with their agenda

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Conservatives, as usual, are conflicted. On the one hand, they’ve been mounting a massive assault against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called, as you know, ACA). Their arguments run something like this (taken from the subtitles to a series of Heritage Foundation papers): ACA … violates personal liberty, cuts jobs and wages, busts the budget, undermines state flexibility, raises premiums, crowds out private coverage (our cue to shed a few tears for health insurance companies), undermines seniors by cutting into Medicare Advantage, and, that old standby, reduces patient choice. Continue reading

The Republican response to healthcare exchanges – oblivious and shameless

Oblivious and shameless – two observations about Tea Party Republicans and healthcare exchanges.

I’ve had two minor epiphanies recently, both brought to me by (mostly) Republican-led states and the Tea Party-dominated Republicans in Congress.

First, many Republican governors and/or state legislatures refused to implement health care exchanges in their own states. As a result, these conservatives gave up their state’s right to form a healthcare exchange and forced their citizens to use a big government federal program, all supposedly in the name of “small government” and “states’ rights.” Irony or hypocrisy? You decide. Continue reading

Why we’ll continue to face shutdown battles and debt ceiling debates

Stocks End Week Lower As Govt. Shutdown Deadline Approaches

U.S. stock indexes fell on Friday as the September 30 deadline for an emergency budget deal in Washington to avoid a Government shutdown loomed ever closer.

Is it correlation or causation? Tough call. The way McSherry puts it in the Forbes article, one thing happens as another thing happens. Sounds like correlation, right?

But it was more company-specific issues that affected many stock prices on Friday.

McSherry provides several supporting examples following that last statement. I would think rational-sounding answers replete with performance figures, even bad ones, would do more to placate nervous shareholders. Bad figures are things that management can do something about. The last thing shareholders want to hear is that their investments are entirely at the mercy of a capricious DC establishment engaged in a junkpunching contest. Continue reading

CBO's overlooked caution: 'ObamaCare' impact on deficit 'highly uncertain'

I don’t think anyone in this town believes that repealing ObamaCare is going to increase the deficit.

John Boehner, speaker of the House, Jan. 6, 2011, at his first press conference as speaker.

The Congressional Budget Office, in response to a request from John Boehner, opined Tuesday in a letter to the speaker that GOP-sought repeal of the Affordable Care Act would increase the nation’s federal spending deficit, adding $109 billion from 2013-2022.

And, as might be expected following the release of the CBO’s letter, partisan voices are either assailing the nonpartisan CBO estimate as illusory or using it as a cudgel against the health care law’s opponents.

Virtually all miss the nuances of the CBO’s letter regarding the fiscal impact of H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act. No one really knows if the deficit will increase or decrease whether the ACA survives or is repealed.
Continue reading

Q: Was the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare a victory or a defeat? A: Yes, it was.

Depending on your perspective, Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the “Obamacare” program was either a thumping victory for progressives everywhere or a clever corporatist / conservative flanking maneuver that makes it even less likely American citizens will ever enjoy the kind of basic access to healthcare that the rest of the developed world takes for granted.

I’ve been harshly critical of the president on the healthcare issue because I see it as something that helps a few people here and there, but that’s mainly designed as a gravy train for private health insurance interests. Many of Mr. Obama’s … I know I should say “supporters” here, but part of me is dying to use “apologists” instead … argue that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an important foot in the door. In their view, this may be a small victory, but it paves the way for ever greater incremental reforms that lead us ultimately to a single-payor system (or at least a robust public option). Continue reading

The Obama Doctrine and Snooki Nation: declaring victory and victory are the same thing

So, it appears campaign season is under way in earnest. Mr. Obama officially kicked off the festivities in Virginia and Ohio yesterday, and we saw our first Mitt-scorcher on Denver TV a couple days ago. I’ve been thinking about the Obama administration’s performance to date for a few months, and perhaps now is as good a time as any to summarize what I think has been the dominant theme of his presidency.

My home state, North Carolina, has a wonderful motto: esse quam videri – to be, rather than to seem. Continue reading

When doctors follow the rules, are they violating the Hippocratic Oath?

– I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I went to my doctor a few weeks ago for the first time in months. During the course of conversation about my health and how I was doing, etc., we stumbled onto the question of why I hadn’t been in for a visit in so long. I told him that in the wake of my separation from my wife I had lost my insurance coverage (I was on her work plan) and had been unable to get insurance as a result of my pre-existing condition.  Continue reading