The Slow Death of Obamacare

Posted May 5, 2017 on 2:36 pm | In the category Healthcare, Politics, Press, Taxes, TRUMP, U.S. Domestic Policy, Uncategorized | by Jeff

“Trumpcare isn’t a replacement of the Affordable Care Act. It’s a transfer from the sick and poor to the rich and healthy.” – Robert Reich

The near death of Obamacare, long prayed for by Tea Partiers and Republicans arrived yesterday in the House of Representatives, but once again a stupid, useless bill from the Paul Ryan Chamber of Horrors will most likely suffer a slow, painful, disappearance in the Senate. As for Potentate Trump – this victory will not satisfy him, because nothing really satisfies him other than a standing ovation, which he will not get for this atrocity.

The Republican members of the House of Representatives voted yesterday for a bill that will make health insurance too expensive for those with pre-existing conditions and others including those older Americans not yet on Medicare, while lying about the actualities of the bill. This is obviously a time for the American press to do its job. Report the facts and tell the truth.

The plan is a classic trump “deal”, promise and renege. Trump’s history of not paying for services is well known and well reported. Bankruptcies and simply refusing to pay for services rendered is the playbook of a petty crook and thug – well documented – joined in this instance by Paul Ryan in applying this tried and true Trumpian approach to scamming people – this time out of their health care. In joining forces with Trump, Ryan is learning from the master scammer. A recent obvious example is Trump University which had to pay out $25 Million to scammed students.  There is a useful and entertaining catalog of his scandals and scams in a recent issue of the  Atlantic, which can be found here.

Here is how this scam works – for those with pre-existing conditions – like cancer, diabetes, birth defects, (even pregnancy!) etc. , insurance companies no longer would have to accept them at normal insurance costs, but the federal government would provide some financial assistance to those states that develop high risk pools to help cover the costs associated with insuring these people. There is absolutely no question that the amount of money in the bill is inadequate to cover such costs but those mythical “moderate” Republicans felt they had sufficient cover to vote for it.

In Republican America that is all that is required – sufficient cover to allow a vote that is inexcusably dishonest and venal. And what are the chances of states like Kansas and Wisconsin providing that kind of support? How about zero.

It is no longer a reasonable expectation that Republican Representatives will vote on reason, facts or the good of the country. But as long as the Senate avoids drinking the Kool Aid it remains a meaningless vote. Ryan’s crew may think they have fulfilled their wildest dreams, might need to change their pajamas, and can go home to their districts and boast that they voted to screw several million people out of health insurance. Witness the bizarre, obscene celebration at the White House yesterday afternoon.

This really is a time for the press to step up and explain to their readers/listeners just what it all means: That the losers are: the poor, the middle class, the old, Planned Parenthood, state governments, hospitals, medical professionals, people with pre-existing conditions, and veterans.

The winners include: the rich, who get a nearly $600 billion tax break by reducing healthcare taxes that primarily affect the wealthiest 10%, insurance companies who can now charge 5X for premiums for older people, and of course, Congressmen/women, who are exempt from the rules of the bill. A good analysis of the financial aspects of the bill is provided by Robert Reich.

Pressure now lies on the Senate to prove that America has not gone totally insane. I’m not recommending anyone bet on that; save your money for your increased healthcare costs.

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Canada joins up

Posted October 12, 2014 on 5:52 pm | In the category Canada, Iraq, Taxes | by Mackenzie Brothers

No doubt it was no big story out in the big world when Canada’s ruling conservative government – with both main opposition parties opposing – announced last week that they would seven jets to the Middle East, as well as small number of elite troops as advisors,  to join the US-led t multi-national attempt to stop ISIS from taking control of a large swath of the Middle East, murdering many thousands of civilians on their way. After all a number of other NATO countries had already done so, some middleweights – Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, along with Australia, and a number of smaller Middle East countries,- along with supposed NATO heavyweights like Germany, the UK and France, even Turkey, although its motives seem very complicated and unclear.

A number of these countries, including Canada, refused to join the US campaign in Iraq 15 years ago, and it seems certain that none of them regret that decision. So what has changed , since it’s also clear that, at least in Canada, a majority of the pubic support the decision to send in jets against ISIS in 2014?   It seems certain that the main difference is that, while  for many back then there was wide-spread skepticism (as it turned out completely justified) about US claims that the Iraqui government had devastating weapons that it was ready to employ, while there is no question at all about whether ISIS has tremendous military and monetary resources – much of it stolen from deserting opposition armies – and is capable of using it in the most brutal fashion. There is also a religious element this time – ISIS threatens and kills the remaining Christians and other minority religious and ethnic groups.  This time is also a domestic one – ISIS ha successfully recruited its killers in all the western countries involved in the coalition and has threatened violence against these same countries. Canada is in this one, whether it like it or not.

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School Daze: America Commits to Dumbing-Down

Posted June 23, 2010 on 8:21 pm | In the category Economy, Education, Taxes, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

Facing budget deficits with little or no hope that the federal government can bail them out (nowadays bail outs with public money are reserved for private corporations like Goldman Sachs, AIG, etc.) cities, towns and states are faced with a Hobson’s choice; raise taxes or reduce services. And in almost all cases the people opt for the latter.

Concord Massachusetts recently decided to turn off street lights in certain parts of town unless the nearby homeowners would pay a special fee of $17 a month per light. By calling it a fee they obviously avoid the “T” word.  Boston has eliminated 58 library staff positions and proposes closing several branches, and a town in California is now charging a fee for ambulance service  – to be paid in advance as a hedge against needing it later.

But America’s schools are taking the biggest hit and cities and towns are coming up with strategies that range from bizarre to simply inexcusable. Many schools are dropping “less important” courses like art, civics, physical education, foreign languages and music. Others are charging fees for what used to be important services – school buses, sports programs, school clubs – even books! In Utah the possibility of simply eliminating the 12th grade has surfaced for consideration. Other areas are moving from a five day to a four day week. But the typical approach is to simply reduce the number of teachers, consequently increasing classroom size and reducing teachers’ ability to provide the kind of one on one instruction that can make the difference between success and failure.

In some areas citizens are raising funds outside the tax structure to provide additional support to their children’s schools; increasing the disparity among schools in different socio-economic districts, and excusing citizens from a basic responsibility to support the education of  our future  citizens. It is clear to many that in short-changing our children we are contributing to a serious decline in America’s ability to compete in the global economy and to move toward a higher quality of life. We will reap what we sow and at present it looks like a lot of weeds in our future.

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