Nel's New Day

June 8, 2019

Rep. Walden: These Are ‘Americans’

“It underscores the sanctity of life.”—AL Gov. Kay Ivey about the new draconian anti-choice law that she signed

 “We value life. That is what makes us unique.”—Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the immigration crisis

These statements honor fetuses and white people. As for the rest of humanity, here is their treatment from Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT):

Not only is DDT still separating children from their parents at the southern border, he is separating mothers from their newborn children.

Medications for migrants, including for issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are taken at the border. Other medications they lose are for prenatal vitamins, seizures, and asthma, but these medications are not replaced. ICE has tried to suppress information about an epidemic of mumps sweeping throughout the migrants. Not one case was reported last year. Migrant children are dying in federal custody because of no health care for the first time in a decade.

Border Patrol agents cage asylum seeking families who wait for processing and give them only Mylar sheets while migrants are forced them to sleep on rocky terrain where temperatures drop into the 30s. Every three hours they are awakened and forced to stand in a “sleep deprivation tactic.” Migrants also suffer from lack of food, water, and medical care, and agents spray them with water from water bottles. One El Paso (TX) facility meant to hold 125 people contained 900 people.  

Media attention and the threat of a visit from congressional Democrats caused the Border Patrol to move migrants from a fenced area under an El Paso bridge to “more space and more shelter capability”—tents in a parking lot. With temperatures in the low 40s, children were forced to remove additional layers of clothing. Border patrol agents threw away their clothing and blankets. [visual migrants]

The DHS inspector general reported expired food—even raw chicken leaking blood on refrigeration units—and other insanitary conditions in bathrooms in a surprise visit to four privately-operated immigrant detention facilities last year. The IG’s report expressed concern about nooses in detainee cells, misuse of solitary confinement, and delayed medical care.

Last summer, migrant youth and families were housed at polluted military bases with contaminated water. Exposure to the toxic chemicals can cause cancer, neurological damage, developmental harm, and many other diseases.  The problem was hidden for six months.

A child with a broken nose had no medical assistance for over a month. Children cannot go to the bathroom without writing a request and then are blocked from the bathroom if they ask too many times. The law has a maximum of 20 days for children in restrictive government facilities, but at many children are there far longer—sometimes over a year. The average length is 35 days. Migrant children aren’t even permitted to “give a friend a hug.”

DDT has canceled English classes, recreational programs such as soccer, and legal aid for unaccompanied minors in his migrant “shelters” as of May 22 to blackmail Congress for more funding. The illegal move runs counter to a federal court settlement and state-licensing requirements mandating education and recreation for minors in federal custody.

Last July, 37 migrant children ages 5 to 12 were left in the Texas heat in vans for up to 39 hours while waiting for reunification with their parents. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) expressed outrage, saying, “This is not who we are as Americans.” But government reports prove that it is.

Despite DDT’s “love” for the military, immigrant active service members migrants are denied citizenship at a higher rate than foreign-born civilians.

Last year, an investigation from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered that over 500 of their employees were arrested on charges from bribery to domestic abuse in 2016 and 2017. Most of the crimes involved drugs or alcohol. CBP didn’t report the killings of five women by two different border agents in 2018. DHS found that corrupt border agents are so dangerous that they “pose a national security threat,” but the government pays tens of millions of dollars to settle wrongful death lawsuits involving border officials.

A jury is now deliberating in a trial against defendant Scott Warren, 36, in Tucson (AZ), who gave humanitarian aid—food, water, clean clothes, and beds—to two undocumented immigrants in Ajo (AZ). The prosecutors assert that they weren’t in distress and want to put him in prison for 20 years. The government accused Warren of telling the men how to avoid checkpoints because he “pointed north.” Warren volunteers for a humanitarian aid group, No More Deaths, that recovers bodies of migrants and provides water and other aid to the living. 

The International Red Cross code of conduct lists orientation—knowing location—as a basic human right along with food, water and shelter. A normal part of orientation is pointing out immoveable objects in the distance. Prosecutors also accused Warren of conspiring with aid worker Irineo Mujica, but they failed to present Warren’s email to other volunteers to touch base with the Mexican shelter operator before going there. Mujica was not asked about Warren in an interview with border patrol agents. The Border Patrol admits that no one is legally mandated to call police if they know someone is illegally in the U.S.

Arrests and treatment of asylum seekers isn’t the only area in which the United States comes in below countries according to an evaluation in 12 human rights categories from the Human Rights Measurement Initiative. Discrimination and safety from the state, including police shootings, were the other two with “strikingly poor results.” The U.S. scored 4.9 out of 10 in empowerment with three political and civil rights: the right to assembly and association; the right to opinion and expression; and the right to participate in government.

  • Freedom of expression in the U.S. scored 5.2, and people of color are least likely to have the right to participate in government because of voter suppression.
  • In “physical integrity rights”—the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest, disappearance, execution, and torture—the U.S. is only three places behind Saudi Arabia. Lethal force by police against blacks and other people of color puts the U.S. below Mexico and Brazil. The 992nd police shooting resulting in death—that of a man with a gun but not fleeing—occurred on the last day of 2018. Included in this category is also the deaths of children at the southern border and prisoners denied necessary medical care. Eighty percent of the reports’ experts cited the risk of torture for refugees or asylum seekers, especially LGBTQ people seeking protection.
  • Blacks were identified as being vulnerable to abuses of every measured right, and Native Americans were next in having rights violated.

HRMI co-founder Chad Clay said, “On civil and political rights, the United States is the worst performing high-income democracy in our sample.”

A new report shows what I’ve long believed—that privatization costs taxpayers money than government workers. DDT promised to shrink the government; instead he gave his business friends money by paying them to hire people who would do the work for government cheaper. The result is much higher cost and lower accountability. Private businesses get contracts with donations to politicians and then write the rules. In general, private workers outnumber “government” workers three to one.

A prime example of this abuse is private contractors detaining migrants. GEO received $480 million in federal funds, and CoreCivic got over $331 million since DDT was inaugurated. These contractors supposedly saves money for the U.S. with less staff, less training, and less programming—resulting in more abuse, illness, and deaths. The same companies make even more money by using heir “inmates” to carry out forced labor. GEO spent $1.56 million on lobbying in 2018 and contributed $275,000 to DDT’s super PAC Rebuilding America Now in 2016; CoreCivic gave $1.23 million lobying and $378,000 in campaign donations, 93 percent to Republicans, in 2018. 

John Kelly, former chief of staff and DHS director, has joined the board of Caliburn International, parent of the only private company operating migrant shelters. One of its facilities, located in Homestead (FL), is the only shelter not subject to state child-fare inspections. People have observed a number of abusive actions toward children in the facility. The Homestead “shelter” gets $750 a day for each child and currently has about 2,300 young people. (That’s $1,725,000—every day.) The average stay in 2019 is about 89 days. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pointed out that Kelly is “cashing in” the same “cruel immigration policies” that he promoted and executed. Kelly backed DDT’s “zero tolerance” policy leading to forced separations of migrant children from their parents.

Other private contractors are being hired to transport hundreds of thousands of migrants throughout the United States.

Yes, Rep. Walden, that’s who “Americans” are.

May 24, 2017

Worst Budget Ever

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) left the country, his top officials delivered the proposed 2018 budget to Congress with $1.4 trillion cuts against everyone except the wealthy and large corporations. The winner is the military and increased defense for waging war throughout the world.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney tried to defend the document in a press conference. These are his talking points:

Instead of a budget, the document is tax cuts. Mulvaney said that the title should be “A Taxpayer-First Budget” instead of “The New Foundation for American Greatness.”

The plan is based on “compassion.” The “compassion” is only for people paying taxes.

DDT-economics demands a three percent growth. (Actually, it requires a 4.5 percent growth.)

The money goes for police, military, and border walls. That’s $54 billion that needs to be taken from helping people.

Only people in uniform deserve safety nets. All people other than veterans—disabled, students, etc.—are freeloaders.

Corporate privateers aren’t freeloaders. That’s the reason that education money is transferred to for-profit corporations running charter schools.

Spending freezes don’t apply to cuts.  “We are not spending less money one year than we spent before. What we are doing is growing Medicaid more slowly over the 10-year budget window than the Congressional Budget Office says that we should or says that we will under current law.”

Medicaid should be privatized or rationed block grants. States can provide it much cheaper than the federal government. (Cynical comment: That’s because they don’t provide services but put those grants into their general fund for something else.) The $800 billion cut for Medicaid of 47 percent will lead to “a better way.” (Cynical comment: That’s because it takes 23 million people off insurance.) Mulvaney said that breaking DDT’s promise about not reducing Medicaid isn’t important because it wasn’t that important.

The government could collect $500 billion in uncollected taxes. But Mulvaney thinks it’s not a good idea to collect that money because taxes are too complicated for people to know what to pay.

The EPA cuts are anti-climate science, but that’s not anti-science.  The new plan spends less on the environment (31 percent!) to reduce a focus on climate science. “Does it mean that we are anti-science? Absolutely not!” (Cynical comment: I can’t think of anything to say.)

There will still be a border wall. That was a DDT promise.

People on SSDI—disability—aren’t really on Social Security, and they aren’t really disabled. “It is a welfare program for the long-term disabled…. There are people who are getting SSDI who should not be getting it.”

People pretend to be hungry. People shouldn’t have food stamps because economic statistics show that the 2008 recession is over. (At least one Republican thinks that the economy is better—just for the wrong reason.

DDT’s budget reflects the values of Robert Mercer, the man who bought the presidency for him. The billionaire hedge-fund manager believes that “human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make,” “if someone is on welfare they have negative value,” and the government violates nature’s sacred hierarchy when it “helps the weak people get strong, and makes the strong people weak by taking their money away.” It’s Ayn Rand’s fiction controlling what used to be the greatest nation in the world.

Hard to believe, but there’s a bigger problem with Mulvaney’s budget: he counted $2 trillion twice, once anticipating a three-percent economic growth and the other one neglecting projected tax cuts. In one example of the problem, DDT promised to eliminate estate taxes of over $300 billion, but the budget lists this as revenue. To achieve the budget, the economic growth would have to be 4.5 percent—2.5 times the projected growth from the Congressional Budget Office. President Clinton achieved over 4 percent during his second term with tax increases, but George W. Bush’s tax cuts and two wars took the rate down to a minus .3 percent. The first quarter of 2017 grew at a .7 percent annual rate, the lowest in three years.

Mulvaney isn’t concerned about a $2 trillion budgeting mistake. In fact, he thinks it doesn’t exist. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that it’s a “preliminary document.” So no problem. (Mnuchin is the same person who made a $100 million mistake on his financial disclosures to the Senate before his confirmation.) The Treasury Secretary also claims that the abolition of the estate tax and reductions to rates on capital gains and income will provide “no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” maybe the most unrealistic perspective connected to the budget. The CBO estimates that these tax cuts would decrease revenue between $3 and $7 trillion during the next decade.

History proves that tax cuts for the wealthy don’t increase economic growth. The cuts also never fulfill the promises that they cause massive investment to help all. Corporations and the wealthy already possess a great deal of assets which they don’t invest in new enterprises and increase costs of real estate—like DDT does.

Red states that voted for DDT are hurt the worst by his budget. This source shows the way individual states are hit with his draconian cuts in food stamps, help for children and disabled, Medicaid—even farm insurance. Last August, DDT tried to woo black voters by say that they would be so impressed by what he does for them that he would get 95 percent of their votes in 2020. This month’s poll gives him a 12-percent approval rating among black people, one that will probably go down after his budget cut eviscerate their safety net.

The budget is so huge that it’s impossible to list all the horrible pieces of it. In the next decade, working families will lose $3.6 trillion in benefits and services while tax cuts of $6.2 trillion will go primarily to wealthy corporations and individuals. The deficit will grow by $7 trillion. Specific details are available here. The budget would totally eliminate these 66 programs. that the budget would totally eliminate. Axios also has an excellent overview of the disaster.

It’s not as if DDT’s budget has a good chance of passing. Republican lawmakers have responded negatively: “dead on arrival” (Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX); “anti-Nevada” (Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV); “terrible” (Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC); “I have some concern” (ultra-conservative Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue); and “went too far” (House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows, R-NC about cutting Meals on Wheels). But a White House budget shows a president’s policies—or at least those who are writing DDT’s policies.

One success DDT may have is selling off the nation’s assets so he will look as if he’s doing a good job. In addition to privatizing many governmental activities such as airport security, DDT is trying to put public lands and power transmission assets such as those administered by Bonneville Power Administration. As of October 2014, Bonneville paid the government $24.8 billion provided by ratepayers and receives no money from the federal government. The annual payment is now approximately $1 billion a year, thus Bonneville costs the federal government nothing and earns them about $1 billion annually. Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon’s only GOP congressional member, did not comment, but his office stated that the idea “demonstrates President Trump’s commitment to balancing the budget and responsibly prioritizing taxpayer dollars.” Private companies would likely raise costs Bonneville’s 12 million customers.

Luckily, DDT has no idea how to get legislation passed. History shows that his only MO is bullying. Typically the introduction of a budget begins with a president’s State of the Union speech revealing major policy proposals followed by leaks of details and trial balloons before high economic officials sell the plan to the public. After the budget is sent to Congress, the president holds a press conference to brag about his proposals, and federal departments and agencies hold briefings the same day for reporters. Cabinet members appear at congressional hearings on their budgets. The weekend talk shows then use the budget as the principal topic. None of this has happened.

As a business man, DDT relied on his public image of wealth and glamour to negotiate scams. If one deal fell through, he always found other marks. In his current position, he has 535 partners—no one else if he loses them. If he wins, people in the U.S. will get only a wall—which he promised would be supplied by Mexico—and never-ending wars around the planet.

May 4, 2017

Make America Suffer Again

The House passed its “We Don’t Care” bill this morning to take health insurance away from tens of millions of people in the United States. The 217-213 had 20 GOP “no” votes from those smart enough to know how furious their constituents would be with a “yes” vote. Only one of them belonged to the scorched-earth Freedom Caucus. Voters didn’t even have an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office to help them make a decision.

In their race to the bottom, the GOP also ignored the impact the 100+ million people who get insurance from employers. Because the bill allows large employers to offer the same benefits as state requirements, companies can skimp on benefit standards in states that get waivers to opt out of current ACA regulations. The same employers can also bypass any limits on out-of-pocket expenses for expensive illnesses and impose lifetime limits of cost. Premiums may cost less, as Republicans promised, people would have little health care covered. Congressional members and staff are lucky: the new bill exempts them from losing quality insurance.

In the time of DDT and the GOP, governance means voting for a bill that has a life-or-death impact with no information on costs and other affects. The legislators who voted for it hadn’t even read it and don’t want to know the outcome of their legislation that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Republicans leaders didn’t let anyone read the legislation in advance. All people know about the bill is that gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest in the nation and guts protections for everyone else. Now that it’s passed, people know what’s in the bill, and it looks even worse than previously believed.

Trumpcare winners:

  • The rich and corporations getting $600 billion in tax breaks.
  • Millionaires getting a $50,000 tax break each year for a total of $275 billion to the richest two percent.
  • The 400 richest families each getting an average $7 million each year.
  • Insurance companies getting $145 billion in tax breaks over ten years.
  • Drug companies rewarded with $25 million in tax breaks over ten years.
  • The richest two percent getting a $117 billion tax cut.

Trumpcare losers are the 24+ million low-income sometimes DDT supporters who lose health care (24 million) or people who will pay up to $13,000 more for premiums. No one will have protection from huge increases in drug costs, and the loss of $117 billion in revenue shortens Medicare’s ability to pay full benefits by at least three years.

Eight years ago, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said this about the Affordable Care Act on MSNBC:

“I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read, that we don’t know what they cost.”

At the same time, Mike Pence ridiculed the Democrats:

“Don’t blame us, we didn’t read the bill we voted for.”

In 2009, House Republicans had a fit about the possibility of voting for the ACA without a CBO score, and Ryan demanded that the CBO analysis be expedited before a vote. In fact, Congress and President Obama and spent 14 months writing that bill in 2009 and 2010 with dozens of hearings, committee markups, and consultation with the health care system that won support from hospitals and doctors while waiting for multiple CBO scores. No one in the health care system wants Trumpcare, and Republicans’ only rationale for voting in favor of the bill is that they promised to do it. Oh yes, and it gives massive cuts to the wealthy.

Perhaps most prescient is DDT’s 2014 tweet:

“It’s Thursday. How many people have lost their healthcare today?”

Today is Thursday, and we don’t know the affect of the House vote, but it’s sure to be tens of millions of people if the House bill passes the Senate.

According to DDT’s statements last Sunday, he hasn’t read the revised plan to satisfy the scorched-earth Republicans. On Face the Nation, DDT told John Dickerson that the bill keeps pre-existing conditions and “I mandate it.” Pressed for clarification, DDT added, “We actually have a clause that guarantees [protections to those with pre-existing conditions].” [No, “we” don’t.] The GOP bill clears the way for states to remove this benefit. DDT said that “Obamacare” “doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.” [Yes, it does.] Even VP Mike Pence said that Republican policymakers are “keeping our promises to protect people who have pre-existing conditions.” Of course, he believed that Michael Flynn didn’t have anything to do with the Russians.

According to a Harvard study about the health care bill, Trumpcare would “effectively end enrollment in the insurance markets for families that make less than $75,000 a year.” In 2015, that was over 70 percent of the people in the United States.

Another population that would suffer from Trumpcare are students needing special education help. Medicaid provides schools districts with such services as physical therapists and feeding tubes as well as preventative care like vision and hearing screenings. Republicans voting to do away with these services may not know about this issue because the House did not allow any public testimony before the vote.

If DDT and Congress are successful in repealing the ACA, discrimination can be the law of the land. One section is the ACA stops federal funds from going to anyone or any group discriminating on the basis of race, skin color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. That includes pregnancy, sex stereotyping, gender identity; religious-connected providers could deny contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, or anything else against “religious” beliefs. People could be turned away from emergency rooms for any reason. At this time, 20 percent of the hospitals in the nation have an affiliation with religion—up 50 percent since 2010, and many times small communities have only these hospitals. At the same time, the federal and state governments are rapidly closing non-religious clinics such as those operated by Planned Parenthood.

In addition to ethical reasons to keep and repair the ACA, its loss will result in the loss of 1.8 billion jobs.

Oregon’s only GOP representative was a leader in destroying the ACA. Greg Walden is now proud of his part in doing away with the small hospitals in his rural district and losing insurance for the largest number of people in his state. DDT acknowledged the part that Ryan and Walden played in taking insurance from Walden’s constituent when he said, “This is the group.” Walden’s district added more Medicaid recipients than any other GOP district and more than all except three Democrat-held districts. That makes it fourth out of 435 districts in helping people under the ACA.  One of Walden’s colleagues pointed out that 640,000 people with pre-existing conditions could lose their insurance, but Walden claimed, “We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Those conditions continue to be protected.” Either he has not read the bill, or he lies. People have said he’s a nice man. So sad.

The GOP is backing a losing horse with its argument for less government. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that a majority of people, 57 percent, thinks that government should do more—not less—to help solve the nation’s problems. That’s an increase of 14 percent in just two years and almost double the percentage since 1996. In that time the number of people who think that the government should do less has dropped by over one-third. A study from Baylor University has also found that more government enhances human happiness.

Last month the New York Times’ hired climate denier Bret Stephens. Now the NYT equates Ryan’s lie (“under no circumstance can people be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition”) and Pelosi’s statement (“up to 17 million children … who have pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers” thanks to the ACA) as both “misleading.” It may be possible that Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper while I wasn’t paying attention.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (3rd L)  after signing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to cut off federal funding of Planned Parenthood at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.

The bill that passed today and moved on to the Senate was even more draconian that the earlier bill, and that one got only 17 percent approval. Yet Republicans are celebrating their success at taking insurance away from 24 million people and allocating much higher charges for people with pre-existing conditions with cases of Bud Light rolled into the Capitol. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the other GOP leaders are even giddier than they were over a repeal in January 2016. Following their beer-bust in the Capitol, Republicans took buses for more celebration in the White House Rose Garden, historically a place where bills are signed into law. Never before have House Republicans reveled in passing a bill that may not survive the Senate. And certainly not a bill designed to create misery for millions of people in the United States.

It’s a new time: Make America Suffer Again.

March 25, 2017

Health Care Won—At Least for Now

Eighteen days ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) talked to reporters about the newly introduced health plan written behind closed doors, probably by aides:

 “We will have 218 votes. This is the beginning of the legislative process. We’ll have 218 when this thing comes to the floor. I can guarantee you that.”

Yesterday, just seven years and one day after the Affordable Care Act was passed, the GOP plan, distorted during the past few days by providing even fewer services than the original, died. House Republicans had entered over 50 bills to kill the ACA, many of them passing after the GOP gained a majority in the chamber, but Ryan was positive that the GOP takeover of both Congress and the executive branch would guarantee his success. Yet the Party of No is helpless in the face of Yes. Their work involved no stakeholders, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) followed his usual pattern of bullying threats instead of actually selling the bill.

Massive loud protests against the repeal of the health plan, steadily growing in popularity, pushed more moderate representatives to vote against the bill for fear of retaliation in their own district from people who would lose coverage. The Koch brothers’ promised to defend anyone voting no when they ran for re-election after DDT said that no voters would lose the next election. By the end of the debacle, only 17 percent of voters supported Ryan’s plan.

DDT blinked and lost the game of chicken. He canceled the vote rather than suffer the embarrassment of losing, but it’s obvious that he lost. With no experience or clout to lead his party, DDT lobbied 120 congressional members, “left everything on the field” in negotiations, and lost. In his ghost-written book The Art of the Deal, DDT claimed, “You have to be very rough and very tough with most contractors or they’ll take the shirt right off you’re back.” He repeats that the negotiator needs “to be willing to walk away or, more precisely, convince the people you’re negotiating with that you are.” DDT didn’t realize that legislators aren’t contractors. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) did a training session for the House Freedom Caucus on DDT’s book, complete with poster.

During his campaign, DDT managed to con voters into believing that he knows “the art of the deal,” that he can be the closer. Ezra Klein explains why DDT as president is a loser:

“Trump is not a guy who makes particularly good deals so much as a guy who makes a lot of deals — many of which lash his name and reputation to garbage products…. He licenses his brand and lets others worry about the details of the products. Trump’s partners often end up going out of business and his customers often end up disappointed, but Trump makes some money, and he gets his name out there, and it’s all good.”

DDT wasn’t alone in the Trumpcare con; he had company from Ryan, who Paul Krugman called “The Flimflam Man.” Ryan lied when he said that Trumpcare would lower premiums, end the “death spiral,” and increase choice. Premiums would have skyrocketed unless people chose junk insurance plans with no coverage, and the extra 24 million people without insurance, along with people who couldn’t afford full coverage, would cause a death spiral. Ryan proposed a tax plan for the rich under the name of health care and failed.

The bill began with a high “age tax”—raising premiums and expenses for older, working adults—and added the “mommy tax” that greatly added expenditures for maternity coverage while diminishing its availability. Asked about people living in a state that doesn’t require maternity coverage in insurance, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said, “Then you can figure out a way to change the state that you live in.” He clarified his statement by saying he didn’t mean move out of the state but to change the law. Republicans also ridiculed other insurance benefits for over half the nation’s population. For example, Alice Ollstein tweeted about her Kansas senator:

“I asked Sen. Roberts if he supports scrapping Essential Health Benefits. “I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms,” he snarked.”

Ollstein survived breast cancer discovered during a mammogram for preventative care. These are the people–no estrogen and largely white–who met to decide what services should be cut for women.

[A bit of humor….]

Trumpcare was so bad that Ryan’s only solution in getting it passed was speed. The cruel additions to woo ultra-conservatives by eliminating Essential Health Benefits was added only the day before Ryan hoped to call a vote. Among the items as unnecessary health care are maternity and newborn care, emergency room services, hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental illness care, laboratory services and pediatric services.

DDT’s “skill” is to always blame someone else. Finger-pointing shifted so fast that digits blurred. DDT with DDT’s his chief of staff Reince Priebus and Ryan, accusing them of faulty content and bad timing. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price also got blamed because he was put in the job to pass Trumpcare—although DDT assigned that job to Mulvaney. DDT claimed he wanted to start with tax reform that would have been “far less controversial.” (We’ll see!) Ryan was a popular scapegoat on the Fox network. The Wall Street Journal blamed the House Freedom Caucus for their “insisting on the impossible over the achievable,” and DDT took after this group too, telling them that he would tell their constituents that they were voting in favor of Planned Parenthood.

Despite 34 no votes from Republican representatives, DDT ultimately settled on the Democrats publicly when he whined that not one of them voted for Trumpcare, despite his failure to ask them for support. DDT and the GOP will continue to exaggerate any problems of the ACA, and the media will most likely focus on problems rather than the successes because a train-wreck films better than a satisfied person.  The GOP may also try to sabotage efforts to improve the ACA.

DDT is failing in office for the same reason that he succeeded in his campaign—weak party leadership. In a little over a day, he took a bill that no one likes and made it worse while alienating more members of his own party. In addition, he may have broken the law in his last-ditch try to save it. Tweets asking DDT supporters to call their representatives to save Trumpcare were sent by White House social media director Dan Scavino Jr, the official @POTUS account, and DDT’s personal account. The use of federal dollars, including paid White House Staff, in directly lobbying Congress to support or oppose a bill is against federal law. Press Secretary Sean Spicer used the Nixonian approach toward law by saying that the law is “not applicable to the president.” Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, disagrees because of the direct appeal to contact representatives in support of Trumpcare.

Hillary Clinton had a grand time tweeting the victories of people who need and like the “Obamacare” that DDT has daily excoriated in his daily message. Watching her is a reminder of how close the United State was to having a president who could “keep America great.”

DDT, Ryan, and the far-right Republicans aren’t the only losers with the downfall of Trumpcare. The wealthy won’t get their billions in tax cuts, and Wall Street won’t get the wealthy’s extra money. Insurance companies are also the losers, outside keeping funding for Medicaid. Big corporations would rejoice over getting rid of consumer protection rules that would have allowed them to vastly increase sales, marketing, and IRS deductions while selling junk insurance that wouldn’t have those “essential benefits”—like hospitalization.

One winner is DDT because Trumpcare would have lost over 1.2 million jobs—some people say as many as two million—that would have hurt his desire to be seen as the “jobs president.” GOP senators are winners because they don’t have to cast any votes on health care, at least in the immediate future. And constituents of Rep. Greg Walden, leader of the committee trying to destroy health care, are winners. In his rural district comprising two-thirds of Oregon, Trumpcare would have taken health insurance from 64,300 of his 684,200 constituents, almost ten percent of the people he represents. The remaining residents would have had far less access to the rural hospitals that need ACA money to stay open.

The next step is for Democrats to fight DDT’s “tax reform” shifting millions to himself and his wealthy friends. Meanwhile Democrats can introduce bills for improving ACA. The GOP won’t vote for them, but people will see that it can be fixed—and maybe vote blue in the next election.

April 12, 2013

Lawmakers Represent GOP Positions

The primary GOP strategies of 2013 were made obvious during this last week by three high-profile Republican legislators: (1) attack when caught in planning slimy attacks on opponents; (2) outrageously pander and lie to minorities; and (3) disagree with anything that President Obama suggests even if was originally the GOP position.

Item #1: The first fool of the week is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who, with his 37 percent popularity rating, is fighting for re-election in 2014. Caught on tape approving his campaigners’ suggestions to destroy potential opponent Ashley Judd, McConnell immediately called the FBI, an odd reaction for someone who wants “small government.”

On February 2, McConnell met with staff in Louisville (KY) and told them, “I assume most of you have played the, the game Whac-A-Mole? This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign…when anybody sticks their head up, do them out.”

Campaigners took McConnell at this word. They began their discussion with her progressive positions and then moved on to find ways to show that she is mentally unfit for McConnell’s position:

“She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.”

McConnell went into full-blown hysteria when Mother Jones released the tape of this meeting. He didn’t negate their underhanded tactics; he just tried to guess who had made the recording. First it was the “far-left” organization called ProgressKY and then “the liberal media.” He had the room swept for bugs and declared that the episode was “Nixonian,” ignoring the fact that Watergate was caused by a Republican, before he used the incident for raising funds.

Campaign manager Jesse Benton described the matter as “an ongoing criminal investigation” and described the taping as “Gestapo king of scare tactics” on Mike Huckabee’s radio show. “Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent,” she said.

McConnell should have stuck to his accusation that ProgressKY, a fundraising group, was responsible for the recording of the meeting. Shawn Reilly, head of the PAC, is cooperating with the FBI in witnessing the recording. And Benton was wrong about a “recording device” in McConnell’s “office.” The taping was done in the hallway outside the office.

After McConnell asked for the FBI to investigate the taping, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked both the FBI and the Senate ethics committee and the FBI to determine whether there was a violation of the law. “Using taxpayer-funded resources to pay staffers to dig up dirt on political opponents isn’t just an ethics violation, it’s a federal crime,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. Another ethics question is whether someone from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads SuperPAC led the group just five days before their hit piece on Judd.

Item #2: Rand Paul, riding high after his win at CPAC for top conservative presidential candidate, has started with reaching out to black voters at Howard University. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t an overwhelming success.

Words cannot describe the painful visual delivery of his presentation as he touted the strong Republican support for minorities—before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. While doing so, he queried his audience to see if they knew that Republicans had overcome slavery and started the NAACP, information that his college-educated black audience well knew. They even had to correct him when he referred to Sen. Edward William Brooke III, “the first [elected] black U.S. senator” as “Edwin Brooks.”

He told his audience that the GOP lost their votes because Democrats began offering “unlimited federal assistance,” while Republicans offered something “less tangible–the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets,” a repeat of Mitt Romney’s statement that the Democrats won in the last election because they gave the 47-percenters “stuff.”

Worse was his attempt to persuade the audience that declaring voter ID laws discriminatory is “demeaning” to the history of segregation. Paul hadn’t done his NAACP homework on this one: the organization’s president, Benjamin Jealous, said that voter ID laws are “pushing more voters out of the ballot box than any point since Jim Crow.”

The saddest part of Paul’s misguided attempt to woo black voters was his lie about his earlier position on the Civil Rights Act. “I’ve never wavered in my support for civil rights or the Civil Rights Act,” he stated. A member of the audience pointed out, “This [opposition] was on tape.” Early in Paul’s campaign for Senate in 2010 was that he disagreed with the Act’s ban on discrimination in private businesses such as restaurants. He later switched his position during the campaign, most likely because it didn’t play well, but his statement about never wavering is completely wrong.

Item #3: Rep. Greg Walden’s (R-OR) position to President Obama’s support of incorporating the “chained CPI” into Social Security’s COLA has caused him—and the GOP—a lot of trouble. Following the typical GOP caucus response of “disagree with anything this Democratic president says,” Walden, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee that determines next year’s House campaigns, said that reducing this vital source of income was “a shocking attack on seniors” and “trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors.” In fact, it’s just what the GOP wants: cut benefits to senior citizens.

In the past, Republicans have rejected their own proposals–cap-and-trade, Dream Act, EITC, payroll tax cut, etc.—whenever President Obama agreed with them. But disagreeing with the chained CPI seemed to go too far. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, “I’ve made it clear that I disagree with what Chairman Walden said.”

Press secretary Jay Carney dived into the fray, saying that this proposal comes from GOP leaders:

“This is a Republican proposal. And cynical attempts to make it otherwise by some represent, I think, dissonance within the Republican Party, and we’ve seen plenty of condemnation from conservatives and Republicans of that sort of flagrantly ridiculous and cynical attempt to disown a proposal that emanated from Republican leaders.”

From the other side, the far-right Club for Growth announced it will find a farther-right candidate for the 2014 primary because of Walden’s statements. Walden’s district covers two-thirds of eastern Oregon, and he knows it well, having represented it for 14 years. With a disproportionate percentage of seniors, the area, relying on farming and ranching, was one of the hardest hit by Bush’s recession. Typical of many rural areas, they hate outside agitators.

Good luck to the Washington, D.C. pressure group! The best thing that could happen to Democrats in this district is a far-right candidate in the general election who doesn’t want benefits for seniors.

As for finding someone more conservative, you can check out his record. He got 0 percent from FAIR on immigration, CAF on energy independence, ARA in senior benefits, and AU in separation of church and state; 13 percent from the AFL-CIO and ACLU; 20 percent from the National Educational Association; 30 percent from NARAL; and 96 percent from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

I’m guessing that all three of these legislators will stay in Congress, but I don’t give Rand much of a chance for becoming president.

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