Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump Doesn't Give a Rat's Patoot About Health Care for the People

MR. PRESIDENT! It’s me, along with at least 24 million other Americans, waving to you from this ship that you said on Friday was going to explode.  You failed to get the Trump Care bill passed and instead of offering us a lifeline by telling us you were going back to the drawing board to make a better bill, or say you will fix ObamaCare, you say you are going to move on. I took that to mean, “I don’t give a rat’s patoot about health care for the people.” You said all along that you wanted ObamaCare to explode.  May I remind you, Mr. President, health care is the right of all Americans and it is your job to see that Americans do not suffer from lack of health care. 

FURTHER, Mr. President, what if ObamaCare withers on the vine due to inattention by you and the lawmakers?  What if tens of millions of Americans find themselves with no health care at all?  I know that would make you feel vindicated, but “I told you so” is not an option for living, breathing humans out here who will die without health care.

YOUR HEALTH care bill was thrown together haphazardly and was cruel to the low and middle income Americans.  Your drive to placate the people on the hard right, alienated those moderates that you needed to pass the bill. Your attempt to blame Democrats was a bust.  Mr. President, your “art of the deal” may work in real estate, but now you are dealing with the lives of tens of millions of Americans.  You told Robert Costas of the Washington Post that health care was not your passion.  That’s obvious by your cavalier attitude when you delivered the news that you had pulled the bill.  Just remember, Mr. President, there is more than one-way to skin a cat.  Bless your heart.

FOLKS, if Trump is to be believed, there will be NO healthcare for anyone by 2017.  Trump says he’s moving on and by all appearances, so will the House of Representatives.  With no replacement plan in place and no talk of fixing ObamaCare’s flaws, now is the perfect time for Democrats to write and sell the “Single Payer” Plan.

HOW WOULD you like to go to the doctor of your choice without checking a list?  Just show your insurance card.  No more co-pays, no more deductibles and no more fighting with insurance companies?  That is “Single Payer.”

SINGLE PAYER means no more agonizing over picking your plan.  No more navigating this complex and bewildering system.  No more high priced drugs because the government would have the ability to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, much as they do for Veterans Affairs.  That is “Single Payer.”

YOU ASK, how will you pay for this insurance?  It’s easy, painless, and cheap.  It will be deducted from your income just as Medicare tax is now.  That is “Single Payer.”

THE ADMINISTRATIVE costs of this program would be cut drastically.  The doctors would submit their bills directly to the governmental agency over-seeing this.  That is “Single Payer.”

REMEMBER the reason Insurance companies gave for high premiums was the risk pool?  With coverage for everyone, there would be tens of millions more people paying into the plan and the risk pool would be a non-factor.   That is “Single Payer.”

THERE IS no better time right now for Bernie Sanders (don’t turn up your nose and stop reading because I mentioned his name) to dust off his very popular “Medicare for All” that was a centerpiece of his campaign.  At the time, polls showed that 58% of Americans agreed with his Plan.  For example, a family of four earning $50,000, would pay $466 per year amounting to a savings of over $5,800 for that family. It would save the U.S. 6 Trillion over the next decade.

I KNOW, even if you agree with me, you’re saying, “It can never happen.”  Yes, the insurance companies and lobbyists rule health care in this country.  However, after witnessing community activists accomplish the impossible, I have more faith than ever that the time is coming when all Americans will have healthcare and not just the kind Trump and Ryan want us to have. 

IF COMMUNITY activist groups are not on your radar, I’m giving you a heads-up.  They are cropping up all over Georgia faster than mushrooms in a cow pasture.  That’s just a sign of what’s happening all over this country.  Whether it is on-line groups of 25,000, 50,000, or three or four people around a kitchen table, they are organizing and taking action.  Never underestimate the power and wisdom of the people!  And that’s another way to skin a cat.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Trump Says: Forget the Food, I WANT Fighter Jets!

When I first started writing my opinions for the Monroe County Reporter, I received an email from a reader.  It read, “I just want to know why you think the way you do.”  I have been pondering that question for nearly three years now. I finally figured it out.

It’s because of SHOES!  You see, I was the youngest of nine and we were dirt poor.  That never bothered me; in fact, I never even knew we were poor.  Until it came to shoes.  I got two new pairs of shoes a year, one at Easter and one for back-to-school.  At home, I went barefoot to save my shoes.  When returning home from school, I would put them in a safe place so nothing would eat them.  I never, ever hid them in the oven, though.

My sister got a new pair of shoes for Easter.  She was very excited because she usually got hand-me-down shoes from her male cousin.  The older siblings taunted her about the shoes, probably out of jealousy, and warned her she should put them somewhere safe so nothing would eat them.  She put them in the oven.  The next morning my daddy built a fire in the woodstove.  You can guess what happened.  Those shoes were toast!  She was hysterical and my heart aches for her to this day. My sister NEEDED those shoes!  My feelings for shoes and what happened to my sister has a lot to do with how I think and feel about things today. With each pair of shoes I buy, I feel guilt.  You see, there is a difference in what you want and what you need.

Growing up poor gives you insight into what people need. I feel great empathy for those that are poor, especially children and old people.  I feel empathy for those that need a hand-up or find themselves in temporary situations beyond their control.  These people need things; it’s not just things they want. George and I have spent our life together helping people.  Whether it be relatives, friends, or people we hardly know, we’ve always tried to help them over the hump, sometimes even to our detriment.  We have campaigned for, and voted for, only candidates that supported those social programs for people who fall into these categories.  We see that at as our civic responsibility.

That’s why I took the budget news on Friday so hard.  Still reeling from Trumpcare targeting the poor and elderly, I was visibly shaken when I heard of the deep budget cuts to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The USDA’s budget will be cut by $4.2 Billion dollars. While many programs will suffer deep cuts, funding is being eliminated for many social programs, two of which are Meals on Wheels for the elderly and food for after-school programs located in low-income areas.  The White House spokesperson said, “We can’t fund programs just because they sound good and don’t work.”  I see no logic in that statement and find it cruel and heartless.  Any program that feeds the needy elderly WORKS!  Any program that feeds a hungry child WORKS!  Also, by cutting out the after-school programs, families will fall further into poverty as parents have to quit their jobs to tend to the children after school.  Or, these children will be left to their own devices either at home or roaming the streets.

Further, Trump’s budget calls for $6.2 billion dollars to be cut from the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).  This program has steadily decreased our infant and child mortality rates.  What is it that is not working with this program? These are our most vulnerable human beings.  Think people!  There’s a reason people supported these programs in the first place and demanded they be created.  Just because you may be able to cite one example of someone you felt unworthy, does not mean the program is not working. 

Our Government is losing sight of the programs needed and the programs wanted.  We NEED to help the elderly. Trump WANTS a wall ($15 billion).  He does not need a wall.   We NEED to help our children living in poverty.  Trump WANTS 90 new fighter jets ($8.5 billion).  He does not NEED 90 new fighter jets.  Trump WANTS to go to Mar-a-Lago ($3 million each trip).  He does not NEED to go to Mar-a-Lago.  I WANT new shoes.  I don’t NEED new shoes. 

Our community is once again in mourning over the loss of a local leader.   Dr. J. Ray Grant touched so many people and played a leading role in what our community is today.  He left us a legacy and we should honor him.  I think the “J. Ray Grant Fine Arts Center” has a beautiful ring to it.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Trump--Stop using President Obama as your "whipping boy"

I am sick and tired of Trump using President Obama as his “whipping boy.”  He enjoyed great success for many years by questioning Obama’s place of birth and his legitimacy as President.  Over the years of Obama’s presidency, Trump continuously questioned his “experience” to even be President.  Trump has said things such as “Obama is a threat to our country.”  “Obama is the worst President in the history of our country.”  “Obama is the founder of ISIS.”   “Obama is the number one enemy of America.”  And now, “Obama tapped my phone lines.” 

When anything goes wrong in Trump’s presidency now, he always blames it on President Obama.  It’s always worked for him in the past, because the same folks who hated Obama, love everything Trump.  I say to Donald Trump,  “Get over Obama.  Blame yourself.” 

For those of you who are quick to tell me “Trump won and is the President” and tell me to “get over it,” I say to you, “I’ll get over Trump in the same amount of time you got over Obama.” For whatever reason you hated that Obama was elected President (twice), you need to accept that he’s gone and you don’t have Barack Obama to kick around now.

Remember when General Flynn came out to the presidential press room podium and said, “Iran, you are on notice?”  We didn’t find out then, and now that Flynn is gone, I guess we’ll never know the meaning behind that tersely delivered statement.

The big news last week was President Trump said he did not know that General Flynn worked for the Turkish government before he hired him as his National Security Adviser and while he worked in his campaign.  Perhaps Trump should start reading the Monroe County Reporter.  In this Unfair and Unbalanced column in the November 23, 2016, edition, I wrote of General Flynn’s lobbying position with Turkey and pointed out that he was not a registered agent as required by U.S. law. 

Trump is a man who puts his name on everything.  Now he’s going to great lengths not to have his name associated with the new Republican healthcare plan.  Obama never wanted the Affordable Care Act to be called Obama Care, but Republicans pinned it to him like a donkey tail and it stuck. 

I can guarantee you Trump has not, and will not, read this Bill.  Since I feel I cannot talk about something I’ve never read, after hearing Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican surrogates urging people to read the Bill, I went to their advertised on-line address,  Just skip on through the denunciation of Obama Care and go straight to downloading and reading the Bill.  It’s only 123 pages, how bad could it be?  Bad!  It’s bigly bad!  I am firmly convinced it was not meant to be coherent.  But don’t take my word for it.  Always check things out yourself.

Let me tell you a couple of things that I was able to comprehend.  First, it is not a full appeal of Obama Care.  It just messes it up so bad you can’t recognize it.  Most of this Bill is aimed at making it tougher for poor and low-income people of our society to get and keep insurance.  You can read this for yourself starting on page 4, Subtitle B-Medicaid Program Enhancement. (What’s that old saying about putting lipstick on a pig?) One thing that jumped out at me in the “enhancements) was 6 pages of the 123 pages dealt with excluding high dollar lottery winners from receiving Medicaid.  I never thought that was such a complicated problem in our country.  Read it for yourself on pages 10-16. 

How many times have you heard Speaker Ryan tell us how horrible Obama Care was because it mandated coverage by charging a penalty?  There is still a penalty for the people, just not for employers.  Instead of paying the penalty to the government, you will pay it to the insurance company in the form of premiums 30% higher.  Read it for yourself on page 62, Sec. 2711, Encouraging Continuous Coverage of Health Insurance Coverage.

We should all be thankful that the Republicans are repealing the awful Tanning Services Tax.  Obama Care placed a 10% excise tax on Tanning Services to deter young people from the use of tanning beds because of the proof of its connection to skin cancer.  This 10% tax went to offset cost of the government’s insurance services.  Read it for yourself on page 68.  Hmmm.  That’s all the more reason to call it Trump Care.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Trump's Lying Tweets have to Stop!

In previous columns I have reminded you of what former Premiere of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev said 55 years ago.  It is worth repeating. “We will bury you without firing a shot.”  We never thought it could happen, but unless we are careful, that time has become a possibility.

A perfect storm came together to elect a President who openly supports a Russian dictator who wants to destroy our Democracy.  It’s a proven fact by all of our intelligence agencies that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s server.  That fact alone should be enough for an American President to castigate the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.  Instead, Trump castigated our intelligence community.  That’s the pattern we are seeing in this presidency and that mindset will do nothing but weaken our democracy, weaken our nation, and strengthen Russia.

We Americans need an explanation as to Trump’s total support of Vladimir Putin.  When point-blank asked by Bill O’Reilly of Fox News about Putin being a killer, Trump’s response was, “We are, too.” What an odd thing for an American President to say! This was a perfect opportunity for Trump to decry Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the senseless killing of civilians, as well as the many murders and imprisonment of anyone who speaks ill of the Russian President.  Trump’s comment weakened America.

This past Saturday in one of Trump’s tweet storms, he emphatically stated that President Obama wiretapped his lines in Trump Tower.   He simply repeated, as fact, what he read on Breitbart News, the baby of Trump’s top aide, Steven Bannon, and the leader in alt-right news.  If Trump was interested in reporting the truth and not merely distracting Americans, he would have picked up the phone and called the Director of the FBI and demanded the truth. The Director would have told him what he told America today, “Trump’s wiretapping claim is false and must be corrected.”  Most people will view this for what it was, a President who lies for his own sake.  Other people will believe this outrageous allegation and repeat it to anyone that will listen.  That’s what Trump depends on.  For a President to make up lies, not to mention accusing a former President of a conspiracy to undermine the current presidency, weakens our country and our democracy.

I admit, I’m disappointed the lines were not tapped.  Since more than a dozen connections have been linked to Trump’s staff and Russia, we may never know if we have a foreign agent in our White House.

 It was reported that on Friday before leaving for yet another weekend in Florida, Trump pitched a hissy fit because Attorney General Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Trump’s staffers colluding with Russia in interference in our democratic elections.  In my opinion his tweets about Obama were directly in response to calls by the Democrats and (some) Republicans for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself, and they won.  We know Trump does not take losing lightly and will always place the blame on someone else. 

Trump’s lying Tweets have to cease!  Trump is diminishing the good character and reputation the USA has held in the world.  The weaker we are, the stronger Putin is.  At some point, it may come down to the world being asked, whom do you believe?  Trump, or Putin?  That is when we may be buried without the Russians firing a single shot.  It will be deemed death of a country by suicide.

I love AARP!  Membership fee of $16/year is the best investment you can make if you’re over 50 years old.  As the Republicans in Congress, led by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, push forward to dismantle Social Security and Medicare as we know it, AARP has set the stage for one heck of a fight on behalf of seniors.  Their 30-second advertisement saturating television is brilliant!  It shows Trump at the podium during a campaign rally.  He emphatically says, “I am going to protect and save your Medicare and Social Security.”  AARP is making sure he cannot deny having made that promise. So, why is Paul Ryan wasting so much time and energy planning its demise? With the help of AARP, those young, legislative whippersnappers will learn that hell hath no fury like a scorned Granny, in a wheel chair, with a HurryCane.