“TrumpCare” Is Dead – But We Should Fear What’s Next

Long ago in the States of America, Congress was a body that actually got some things done. They would battle it out on the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate and, after discussing an issue thoroughly, would usually find some way to make it work for not only each party to save some face but for the people of the country to benefit from the decision. Unfortunately, with the polarization of the political process since the mid-1990s, that has become almost as unlikely as the sighting of Yeti on the Las Vegas Strip. Thus, the information rolling out of Washington D. C. on Monday night wasn’t surprising in the least.

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Late on Monday night, the Senate, and particularly Yertle the Turtle (AKA Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), finally came to the realization that what they had fought against for almost a decade was all for naught. For all their complaining about the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” for simpletons), for all their protestations, for all the literal ink and digital bits spilled on the subject, they had nothing to provide – not one iota of an idea – that would solve the issue regarding health insurance in this country. They weren’t the only ones, however.

Earlier this year, the House tackled the issue as one that they could bamboozle the people of the States of America out of benefits while handing a huge chunk of cash to the wealthy in the nation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in his infinite wisdom and budget-wonkery, came up with a plan that “only” eliminated insurance from nearly 24 million people – the original “TrumpCare” or American Health Care Act (when the best you can come up with is only inserting one letter in the acronym, that probably should tell you that you’re going to have issues). It was only after pulling the bill off the table and rejiggering it (so that it only eliminated insurance for 23 million people) that the Freedom Caucus – those Tea Party bastards who didn’t think that the cuts hurt people enough nor go far enough to eliminate the ACA – came around and barely passed the bill through the House.

But McConnell would have none of that House BS. He decided he wanted to be the one to take responsibility for the AHCA with his own creation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. As such, he and a group of men – that’s right, despite health insurance having to cover women, not one woman was asked to be on the panel – wrote up a new bill that even other members of the GOP couldn’t see. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul even went on a hunt through DC attempting to find the group penning the piece of garbage that McConnell wanted to spin off, finally stopping when he couldn’t even find where they were writing it.

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McConnell proved to be about as flaccid on the issue as Ryan had been, unable to even draw in enough of his OWN PARTY to get the bill to the point of discussion on the floor of the Senate. Maine Senator Susan Collins protested over the cuts to Medicaid and the removal of protections for women (especially through Planned Parenthood); Paul stood against it because it was “ObamaCare-lite.” Then came the stunner:  Nevada Senator Dean Heller, facing reelection this fall and an angry electorate, said he wouldn’t vote for the bill due to the Medicaid cuts. After Utah Senator Mike Lee (like Paul, concerned that the new bill didn’t do enough to kill people) and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (ditto) got on the “no” side – and with Arizona Senator John “Sorry I started this crap with nominating Palin” McCain out of action following a serious blood clot surgery – McConnell’s efforts to eliminate health insurance for millions went out the window.

With the failure of the Senate to even bring something to the table for discussion, we can honestly say that “TrumpCare” is done and that “ObamaCare” is still the law of the land. The Democrats shouldn’t be celebrating, however, as what comes next may be much worse than what they thought a “repeal and replace” would look like.

Orange Foolius himself, who during the Presidential campaign said that “repeal and replace” was a mandatory action to take, is now so desperate for something to hang his sorry excuse for election on that he wants to see the Congress simply repeal the ACA. This is an impossibility. Such a repeal has absolutely no chance in either body of Congress because they have constituents that they somewhat must listen to, and “starting from scratch” will have absolutely no support from the Democrats. The scary part of the possibilities is that the GOP and the conservatives – who claim to be “Christians” even though they go against every tenet that the Bible set out – now will gut the ACA further, leading to more misery for the people.

Believe it or not, conservatives, but the ACA is neither collapsing, imploding, or failing. In April, Gallup found that most of the citizens of this country – 55% – were supportive of the ACA. Since 2014, there had been a slow and steady improvement in the ACA, according to such “pinko” organizations as the Kaiser Family Foundation, Standard & Poor’s and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. So why do there appear to be problems now? Because the conservative SOBs have cut off funding for the ACA.

Republicans weakened the market because they repealed provisions that were supposed to aid in supporting the market, such as the fine for those who didn’t have coverage or the taxes on medical devices and “Cadillac” insurance programs that would have kept them stable (not very good ideas, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In not fully funding the program, the GOP has tried to guarantee that the ACA will fail.

Now what do we look forward to?

The good side would be the realization by everyone in the GOP – from the dogcatcher in Podunk, AK to the cretin who sits in the most powerful seat in the world using his dinky digits to plunk out missives to a mass of followers that cannot comprehend anything beyond 140 characters – that it is time to work with their loyal opposition on a deal that BOTH can live with. The ACA was entirely based on the plan that former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney used (well) in that state. It was only after Barack Obama latched onto the idea that many in the GOP went against something they had been working on since the Nixon administration, something that was a theme throughout the eight years Obama was President.

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The Dems got to give up some of the taxation on the “Cadillac” plans, for example. These plans, which in some cases give the wealthy the opportunity to have a doctor on call 24/7, were hard earned through their labors and shouldn’t be punished in the slightest. The GOP would have to give up the notion that health insurance is a business that the “free market” should determine all aspects of medical issues; in this case, it should be determined by the government so that it is fair for all. There are many other areas, but the essential point in this scenario is that the buffoons who occupy the halls of power in this country should work together instead of continually damaging the country with their polarization.

The bad side? Orange Foolius gets his entire repeal (which isn’t going to happen due to the fact that 1) it would take 60 votes to push any legislation through the Senate, and 2) that the GOP doesn’t want to be responsible for killing Granny) and everything goes to Hell. The repeal of the ACA would cast the entirety of the health insurance system into chaos, send shockwaves through Wall Street and send medical costs skyrocketing. Most importantly, however, it would devastate families who would have coverage ripped away, families that for the first time were able to visit a doctor for care rather than the Emergency Room.

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The people of this country must get used to the idea that they look after their fellow man also. For those who grouse about the “increase in taxes” for the ACA, well…there’s always the increase in your own insurance costs for paying for those Emergency Room visits for a cold. Then there’s the factor that it is inherent in the human condition to help those less fortunate than you, not “I got mine…screw you.”

There’s plenty of growing up that needs to be done across the board. The two ruling parties need to fix something rather than destroy it. The people of the States of America better back up their talk about being a “Christian” nation, otherwise the hypocrisy is ripe. But the problem that we face is, now that “TrumpCare” is dead and the ACA is not being funded by the GOP, what is going to happen in the future, working together or trashing the country?

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Obstructionism Isn’t a Governing Style

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On Saturday night, I was preparing to go to a basketball game when the news came down. It was reported out of Texas that Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the more conservative Justices in the history of the Supreme Court of the United States, had passed away in his sleep at a hunting lodge in Texas. Justice Scalia reportedly was found dead on Saturday morning and the hunting lodge was so remote that news of his passing wasn’t announced until late Saturday afternoon.

Needless to say, I was quite surprised about this news. I didn’t take any particular glee in the announcement, however, although some did (and, for some of them who were directly affected by Scalia’s stance on several critical Supreme Court decisions such as gay rights and abortion, I can understand that). I decided to wait for a bit before making any sort of pronouncements or addressing any thoughts on the issue – 12 hours seemed about right in my opinion. If only some others would have taken the time to employ the same tactic.

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Virtually as soon as the word came from that ranch in Texas where Justice Scalia had been hunting, the Republican Party began to obstruct the thought of President Barack Obama putting someone in Scalia’s seat. The Senate Majority Leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, literally said an hour after Scalia’s passing, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” when other people – including ideological opponents of Scalia’s including New York Senator Chuck Schumer and current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – were offering condolences to the family. Another Senator, Utah’s Mike Lee (another Republican), who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn’t even have the guts to respond, instead sending a lackey, spokesman Conn Carroll, to say that the chances of President Obama putting someone in Justice Scalia’s seat was “less than zero.”

The odious remains of the clown car known as the GOP Presidential nominees (more on this later this week) sounded like a bunch of harp seals in responding about the subject on the Sunday morning talkers. On Twitter, Texas Senator Ted Cruz remarked that “Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him and the nation for the Senate to ensure that the next President name his replacement.” There is plenty of evidence that negates Cruz’s statements as Presidents have, since the creation of our nation, nominated Justices up until they left office.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio was especially ripped by the Sunday hosts for his incredibly stupid statements that he made on the subject. Apparently someone in the Rubio camp informed Super Mario that, when a sitting President is down to the final year of his Presidency, he just quits being President and lets shit fall where it may. On Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd directly said to Rubio, “Do presidential terms end after three years?” when Rubio said, “In the last year of a president’s term…there should not be Supreme Court nominees put into lifetime positions.”

Even on home turf with Fox News, host Chris Wallace drilled Rubio when he asked if any President should be able to make second term Supreme Court appointments. “I’m not saying it’s illegal,” Rubio said. “I think we should wait until after November before we move forward on confirming any justice to the Supreme Court.” Wallace then administered the smack down to Rubio – the last time that such a situation occurred was under President Ronald Reagan when he nominated – and the Senate confirmed – Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1988. “It doesn’t really matter what Reagan did back in ’87,” Rubio snottily – and incorrectly – said.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the obstructionism of the Republican Party in this particular circumstance.

Unfortunately, since the Republican “neocon” insurrection that led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment over a blowjob at the tail end of the 1990s, the politics of obstructionism is all the people of the U. S. have received. Whether it is the Democrats in control of the Congress and a Republican in the White House or vice versa, it seems that no one wants to actually govern this country anymore. The politics of – well, actually being political – have been pushed aside for partisanship, “point scoring” and bullshit “line in the sand” positions rather than actually trying to lead the nation. As a result, not a damn thing is getting done.

We like to think of our nation as a great example of something that should be the target for other people and other nations to be. Instead, we’ve become a fucking joke in that we cannot even meet in a room to hear about a budget plan for the upcoming year, sit through a President’s State of the Union speech without yelling out bullshit or even give that President the common decency of allowing him his Constitutional right to nominate a person to the highest Court in the land.

President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

If you don’t like the President, that’s your prerogative. You can allow him to nominate his candidate for the Supreme Court without being derogatory towards the man and the office. Then you can demonstrate your obstructionism (and your disrespect to doing your job) to the citizens of the United States, either by not meeting with the candidate or not holding hearings for said candidate. Then it is on YOU to explain to the citizens of the country why someone who was OK as a judge when they were reviewed and approved a few years previously (because trust me, the Obama Administration isn’t going to pick someone that hasn’t already been approved by the Senate previously and probably by close to a unanimous vote) is suddenly not good enough to be a Supreme Court Justice.

This is the point where the obstructionism may fall apart. The GOP is staking their hill on this Supreme Court seat and it could very well lead to their downfall. With a third of the seats in the Senate up for grabs in November – including some in battleground states that the Republicans need to maintain their grasp on to hold the majority in the Senate – it is possible that a divisive issue could swing the vote one way or the other. Such a subject as naming a Supreme Court Justice – or the resulting blocking of said Justice – could motivate a sizeable bloc of voters to come out against a particular party (in this case, the GOP) and end their Senate majority.

The other question is why would the GOP try to stake this hill? If they are successful in delaying the selection of the Supreme Court Justice until after the November elections, they have to win said election to be able to put in someone they prefer; those odds do not look good at this time (odds makers have pretty much every combination of Democrat versus Republican with the Democrat winning). The next Democratic President could nominate Obama, which would be anathema to any Republican, worse than any nominee that Obama could come up with. There is also the chance that, should a Republican win, Obama could put through a Supreme Court replacement once the new Congress is seated and before the new President takes over (tricky, but extremely possible).

Now conservatives are going to cry that “Reid was obstructionist to Republicans when he was in charge,” and they’d be right. But what was he going to put forward from a Republican House…one of the 50-odd passages repealing the Affordable Care Act? Bills that stripped away through the riders on the side other rights that President Obama had fought to earn for women, gays and other groups that Republicans love to oppress? Repeals of Planned Parenthood funding? Tell you what…when both sides start passing bills straight up, without any riders that bastardize the original purpose of a bill, then you can talk about not having them considered by the other body in the legislative branch.

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Both sides need to realize that obstructionism is not a governing style. It is time that people actually look at who they are voting for and put people in the Congress (and get rid of these Tea Party nutbags who pretend to be “small government” but are basically religious zealots masquerading as small government practitioners) that will work together – rather than against each other – and put someone in the White House who will actually come down to Capitol Hill and sit in the office of the leader of the opposing party and find common ground to lead the nation. Furthermore, the Congress itself needs to get off its ass and move – and do its job rather than hiding behind “listening to the American people” as a reason to not do anything. It could start with doing something as simple as putting someone in the seat of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.