Tag Archives: Donald Trump

The Congressional Death Panel: House GOP Votes To DESTROY Healthcare Protections

Let’s just say that today was a most remarkable day in Washington.

At the White House’s famous Rose Garden, members of the Republican leadership in the United States House of Representatives gathered around President Donald Trump.  It was clear that they were in a most jovial mood.  Today was indeed a first big step toward what could be a signature legislative achievement of the Trump Presidency and Republican members of Congress.

Here’s the story from Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear of the New York Times…

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday narrowly approved a bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, as Republicans recovered from their earlier failures and moved a step closer to delivering their promise to reshape American health care without mandated insurance coverage.

The vote, 217-213, on President Trump’s 105th day in office, keeps alive the Republican dream to unwind the signature legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama. The House measure faces profound uncertainty in the Senate, where the legislation’s steep spending cuts will almost certainly be moderated. Any legislation that can get through the Senate will again have to clear the House and its conservative majority.

So the House passed the sent it on to the Senate.  It seems worth a celebration… that is until you dig a little deeper.

This is the second push for the American Health Care Act.  But by most indications, it seems an even worse bill than the first try.  The new bill finds a back way to gut the requirement that pre-existing conditions must be covered by allowing states to opt out.  Which means a state like Texas could just decide that its most vulnerable citizens don’t deserve healthcare, and kick them off of the rolls leaving them to die.  And 217 Republicans actually voted for that.

They also voted to reinstate insurance high-risk pools.  You may remember what obtaining health coverage was like before the ACA.  If you’re completely healthy, rich and young, health insurance was no problem!  But if you’re someone that is already sick, or poor or elderly, obtaining health insurance was next to impossible because it was so expensive.  Again House Republicans didn’t see a problem with that system.

And perhaps the biggest shoe to drop… they voted to basically destroy the Medicaid Expansion starting in 2020.  If this bill became law, literally millions of our poorest citizens which have Medicaid coverage today would be phased out of that coverage.  Someone like Representative French Hill of Arkansas, who has over 80,000 people in his district which stand to lose Medicaid from the vote today, and he still voted for it.

But hey!!  If you didn’t read the bill anyway before voting , why would you care?  Yes, 217 Republicans voted for a bill they likely haven’t read, and have no idea how much it costs.  Who cares how many people might lose their insurance?  Who cares how many at risk children might die if they live in a state that “opts out” of covering folks with pre-existing conditions?  I guess they didn’t catch Jimmy Kimmel’s impassioned speech about his infant son this week.

Who cares??  The American People care.  These members of Congress now have some worries going into their next electoral cycle.  To even vote for such a travesty of legislation is shameful.  But this bill does not have to become law, nor do we have to send these 217 folks back to Congress.

Listed here are the 217 members which passed this bill.  If one of them represents you, let them know how you feel about the American Health Care Act.  Let them know that you would rather not be represented by a member of the Congressional Death Panel.   We may have to deal with these folks today, but come 2018, we can send this Death Panel packing.

Congress’ Death Panel

Trump, Congress Say U.S. Will Pay For Border Wall

Barely a week into the Trump Era and the United States has already seen one of the largest protest marches in American history, caught the new Administration telling blatant lies… or as they would like to say, “Alternative Facts”… about something as inconsequential as crowd size at the inauguration, and taken rapid moves to dismantle the American healthcare system with no signs of a replacement in sight.

Someone call Mary J. Blige, because if this isn’t the ‘Thick Of It’ then we are in for a very tough ride.

As one would suspect, the dizzying developments continue.  After the President signed a sweeping Executive Order to fast track deportations and build the infamous Border Wall,  House Speaker Paul Ryan has stepped up to support the efforts, saying Congress can approve funding for the wall.

But as Eric Werner of the Associated Press (via PBS News Hour) points out, this isn’t exactly what Trump promised on the campaign trail…

House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump’s border wall will cost $12 billion to $15 billion — and Ryan says Congress will pay for it by this fall.

Congress will move legislation this year providing up to $15 billion to build a wall along the Mexican boundary, Republican leaders said Thursday at their annual strategy retreat. But they would not say how they would prevent the massive project from adding to federal deficits. Ryan said the goal is to complete that and other major bills in 2017, but the leaders offered no details on how the wall would be paid for, saying they would wait until the Trump administration proposes legislation.

[…]

Trump has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for the wall, but Mexican leaders oppose it and have said they won’t finance it.

Congress will pay for “the construction of the physical barrier on the border,” Ryan said.

“We intend to address the wall issue ourselves,” Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Pressed on whether construction would increase federal deficits, Ryan said Republicans are fiscal conservatives. He said strengthening the economy and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care system were two of the best ways to bolster the government’s budget.

“If we’re going to be spending on things like infrastructure, we’re going to find the fiscal space to pay for that” in a budget Congress plans to write this spring, Ryan said.

Umm Mr. Speaker, saying that Republicans are fiscal conservatives is not an answer of how specifically you plan on paying for the wall without adding to the federal deficit.  And it’s certainly not an answer that Republicans would have even consider accepting if the former Administration had proposed legislation without a way to pay for it.  They didn’t support President Obama’s initiatives even when they were paid for, but now we’re supposed to “just trust them”??

Worse yet, it was Donald Trump who said that Mexico would pay for the Border Wall, but now Congress is ready to put up our tax dollars that could be going to educate our kids and pay for our roads.

Sounds less like an ‘America First’ policy, and more like ‘Mexico First’. And Mexican citizens don’t even want the wall.

Let’s revisit some actual facts for a moment.  The United States does not need a Border Wall, because it will not stop illegal immigration to or through the country.  Last time I checked, we live in the 21st Century.  If people want to come to this country illegally, they can get here by simply taking a flight and overstaying their VISA (by many estimates, this is now the predominant mode of illegal immigration).  We can build a wall halfway to the moon and put over a million guards along the Rio Grande. If built, the whole wall project will serve to do more harm than good by fracturing the economies of border communities, seizing land from private landowners, endangering American jobs and reinforcing corrosive narratives which play into the hands of America’s enemies and undermine the values which perpetuate this nation.

Far more important than sealing our borders to keep people out, Congress must do the real work to fix our broken system and pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Presidents on both sides of the political spectrum have tried and failed to get the real work of reform done, and it has been of great detriment to the nation.  Right now the country already spends north of $18 billion per year to enforce the border.  But if we brought our most vulnerable communities out of the shadows and forged a path to citizenship for those already here, we could not only make the American people safer, but generate billions of dollars (and lots of American jobs) in the process.

And let’s not forget, this is the common-sense conclusion that is shared across multiple political philosophies.  If you don’t believe me, take this statement on the border wall issue from the 2016 Gary Johnson campaign

“Having served as Governor of a border state, Gary Johnson understands immigration. He understands that a robust flow of labor, regulated not by politics, but by the marketplace, is essential. He understands that a bigger fence will only produce taller ladders and deeper tunnels, and that the flow of illegal immigrants across the border is not a consequence of too little security, but rather a legal immigration system that simply doesn’t work. Militarizing the border, bigger fences, and other punitive measures espoused by too many politicians are all simplistic “solutions’ to a problem caused by artificial quotas, bureaucratic incompetence and the shameful failure of Congress to actually put in place an immigration system that matches reality.”

Unfortunately for us, “reality” has been thrown out of the window for the next several years.  And soon, our view of it may be blocked from the wall.

 

Role Change: The 45th President

At long last, it is done.  From a field of over 20 candidates and the most divisive, insulting campaign in modern history, the government has fulfilled its constitutional duty and installed our nation’s 45th President.  So yeah folks the truth is upon us: Trump In, and…

Welcome to the new reality of President Trump.

But Donald Trump was not the only person to be installed today. This was an Inauguration of, for and by the American People.  For those that wished for a different outcome, let the words of our Former Secretary of State, Former First Lady and lifelong leader ring true today.  From Hillary Clinton’s concession speech… 

We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.
Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things; the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them.
Now — and let me add, our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear; making our economy work for everyone not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams.
We’ve spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone — for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.
And therein lies our rallying cry and  our new call to purpose.  The same way that Donald Trump went from candidate to the person in power, our roles have also changed today.  We now must stand up, speak out and work like never before to defend all of the values we cherish about our country.  For eight years, the Obamas gave us a voice in Washington like no President and First Lady had done before.  They may be gone from power, but we still have plenty to say.  Of the 324 million shareholders that the new Administration has just inherited, it’s our turn to speak loud and be heard.
So today, we wish the best for our 45th President and the nation. But tomorrow and for the next four years, we will demand it.  

After Latest Dust Up, FBI Finds Nothing New In Clinton Emails

For most Americans, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI is an agency which seems to live in secret.  There’s no doubt that public interest has likely increased since the hit ABC series Quantico, which delves into the world of FBI agent training.  But for the most part, the men and women of this agency focus much more on their work than talking about it because, well, they’re the FBI.

Sadly in 2016, those rules have flown out the window.  As of this summer, the agency had already played an unprecedented role in this year’s Election by not only revealing details of an investigation into Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, but clearing her of wrongdoing.  That was in the summer, but just a couple of weeks ago to the surprise of the entire nation, FBI Director James Comey set off yet another national firestorm when he revealed to members of Congress that the email investigation was being reopened after they found more communications on a computer owned by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband Anthony Wiener.

Could this be it for Hillary Clinton??  After 40 years in politics and 25 in the national spotlight, did this final set of emails reveal THE smoking gun Republicans have hoped for??? 

Umm, yeah… you guessed it.  The answer is NOPE.

Here’s the story from Eric Bradner, Pamela Brown and Evan Perez from CNN Politics…

FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Sunday the agency hasn’t changed its opinion that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges after a review of new emails.

“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey wrote in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen.
Comey dropped a bombshell on the presidential race last month when he sent a letter to Congress saying the FBI had discovered emails in a separate investigation that could be connected to the now-closed probe of whether Clinton mishandled classified information. The move infuriated Democrats and emboldened Republican nominee Donald Trump.
So after all the drama, the FBI basically concluded that they found more run-of-the-mill emails that were of a personal nature, and that while Clinton’s use of the private server was careless, she did not harbor malicious intent and will not be charged with a crime.
Wait… let’s repeat that last part…

In her emails, Hillary Clinton did not harbor malicious intent and will not be charged with a crime.  

As you can probably guess, Donald Trump and Republicans are not happy with Director Comey’s update, saying that it’s impossible for the FBI to review 650,000 emails in 8 days.  But like most of the things he’s said throughout this Presidential campaign, Donald Trump is wrong yet again.  Here’s more on that from Andy Greenberg of Wired
“You can’t review 650,000 emails in eight days,” Trump said Sunday in a campaign speech in Michigan hours after Comey’s latest update to Congress came out. “You can’t do it, folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty.” Trump supporter General Michael Flynn did the math on Twitter:

But fortunately for Comey’s eyesight—and for Clinton’s presidential campaign—Trump is wrong: the FBI can review hundreds of thousands of emails in a week, using automated search and filtering tools rather than Flynn’s absurd notion of Comey reading the documents manually. “This is not rocket science,” says Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics expert who’s consulted for law enforcement and worked as a systems administrator. “Eight days is more than enough time to pull this off in a responsible way.”

One former FBI forensics expert even tells WIRED he’s personally assessed far larger collections of data, far faster. “You can triage a data set like this in a much shorter amount of time,” says the former agent, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid any political backlash. “We’d routinely collect terabytes of data in a search. I’d know what was important before I left the guy’s house.”

So there’s some last minute fact to add into all the noise that is being bantered about by the Trump campaign and his ReTRUMPlican hounds.  For your sake and mine, let’s hope that this is the last week that we have to care about what Trump says about anything.

Speaking of that last point… Have you voted yet?? Election Day is tomorrow, so you’ve got one more chance!!  Go to I Will Vote if you have any questions about your polling place.  Let’s get Hillary Clinton in office, and Trump out of the picture.

comey

President Obama Urges Black Community to VOTE

In case you forgot Texas, today is Election Day.  Across the Lone Star State, voting is already happening like never before.  As of Thursday evening, over 3.7 million Texans had already voted.  This shatters previous records from 2012 when 3.1 million residents voted early, and there’s still one full day of early voting results to go!!

But even in this era of historic voter turnout, important questions remain, like who is turning out to vote at such high numbers?  According to the Washington Post, this turnout does not appear to be driven by the African-American community…

By most accounts, Hillary Clinton’s path to victory relies on substantial turnout among black and Latino voters. And while early voting numbers so far appear to favor the Democrats, reports in recent days have suggested that although Latino participation may be up, African American turnout may be lower than in 2012. How concerned should the Clinton camp be?

[…]

In 2012, African Americans overperformed in states such as North Carolina and Texas. But this year, black voting rates are trailing other groups relative to their size of the electorate, with some swings on the order of 5 to 10 percentage points.

Per the Texas Tribune, African-American Texans led the state in 2012, voting at a higher percentage of their total population than any other racial or ethnic group.  This is a very interesting fact given all of the negative stereotypes out there which suggest that the Black community is ‘uninformed’ or ‘uninterested’ in elections.  But so far in 2016, Black voters appear to be trailing other parts of the state in the early vote, and are significantly behind their landmark participation rates from 2012.

This lack of voter enthusiasm should be an alarm bell to Democrats.  How is it possible that a candidate as divisive as Donald Trump has not inspired huge turnout in all minority communities??

One prominent African-American is highly concerned, and that is President Obama.

This week on the Tom Joyner morning show, he had this to say, via Black America Web

If you really care about my presidency and what we’ve accomplished, you are going to go and vote. And if you don’t know where to vote, go to www.iwillvote.com .If you’ve already voted, but your mama hasn’t voted, your cousin hasn’t voted, your nephew hasn’t voted, I need you to call them and say that the President and Michelle personally asked you to vote. It’s not that hard. And I know it’s not that hard because we’ve done it before.

But if we let this thing slip and I’ve got a situation where my last two months in office are preparing for a transition to Donald Trump, whose staff people have said that their primary agenda is, to have him, in the first couple of weeks, sit in the Oval Office and reverse every single thing that we’ve done – all the work we’ve done to make sure people get overtime, all the work we’ve done to make sure women get paid the same as men for doing the same job, all the work we’ve done so that 20 million people get healthcare, all the work we’ve done to make sure we’re doing something about climate change, so that we don’t have a situation where the whole world is not scrambling to figure out where they’re going to live and where they get enough water and crops failing and bigger hurricanes – if I’ve got to look at that the last two months, because folks stayed home, even going on the Tom Joyner cruise won’t help me then. If I’m on the cruise, I might jump off.

So yes Black America, sadly the nation’s first Black President is not on the ballot.  It is a difficult fact to accept, but that should not be an excuse.  Donald Trump’s policies on education, banking, the economy and a myriad of other aspects of American life would decimate the black community.  He has promised time and again to pass on massive tax cuts to the wealthy, which will lead to divestment in minority communities.  If a President Trump were to actually scrap the Department of Education and end student financial aid to college, it would bring about the swift demise of universities across the country, with Historically Black Colleges and Universities among the first to close their doors.  Even if President Obama himself is not on the ballot, America needs to know that in 2016, Black Votes Matter.

Early Voting may be over for Texas, but there’s still a chance to vote this Election Day.  Don’t wait until it’s too late!!

your-vote-matters

Think SWING Texas– 2016??

If you’ve followed the blog, it’s been a frequent subject of discussion, and frankly, a sincere hope…

Will Texas ever become a Swing State?? 

 

Back when I first discussed the topic in 2012, here was the rationale:  With over half of the state’s population now concentrated in the 13 largest counties, the potential for Texas to be competitive is abundant.  But it remains a reliably Red State because of low voter turnout.  After the 2012 elections, these ideas seemed to be confirmed.

That’s the problem for Texas, but finding solutions has proven more challenging.  In 2013, Battleground Texas formed to with that very goal in mind.  After being written off by national Democratic organizations for over a generation, suddenly the state was abuzz with left-leaning political activity.  Of course we know that the end result wasn’t in BGTX’s favor, as neither Wendy Davis or Leticia Van de Putte were able to win their statewide races.  But even in losing the battle that year, BGTX played a huge role in an historic new high of voter registration, helped to connect and unite Democrats across the state, and gave us all something to fight for.

After laying a foundation, will 2016 finally be the year that sees this elusive house get built?  If the first week of Early Voting is any indication, the results appear promising for Democrats.  

How promising is still anyone’s guess.  But what we do know is this…

Voter Registration has reached another historic benchmark across the state, led by minority communities in urban counties. The state of over 27 million residents is now up to 15.1 million registered voters.

Early Voting is running a full 6 percentage points higher than in 2012, and nearly 800,000 more people at the polls.  More Texans have already voted than ever before, with most of the state’s 13 largest counties seeing one quarter or more of their voters at the polls. Exciting numbers, but it’s not yet clear whether this represents an actual increase in turnout (and a possible change in the makeup of the electorate), or simply a shift in behavior from voting on Election Day to voting early.  In any event, the answers will be revealed soon.

tx-counties-2016

The other X Factor in the 2016 race (besides the candidates themselves) is the interesting structure of campaigns.  While Hillary Clinton has certainly not made Texas a focal point of her election strategy, the state is not being totally ignored by Democrats.  Even miniscule investments can serve to motivate voters that may have otherwise stayed at home.  But oddly enough, the Trump campaign has also largely ignored the Lone Star State, instead opting for little organization and some social media activity.  As always, there is a strong network of Republican organization here, but it’s not from the top of the ticket.

So with such interesting conditions at play, could Texas voters yield an historic turn of events for Clinton?  The answer is ‘yes’, and even with a loss.  The last time a Democrat actually won the state was in 1976 thanks to President Jimmy Carter.  Since then, no Democrat has even garnered 44 percent of the vote statewide.  If polling is consistent with actual vote totals, Clinton should break this 40 year old glass ceiling with ease.

prez-texas

If past is prologue, we’re far from celebrating an huge sea change in Texas politics.  But if anything, 2016 will serve to move Texas ever closer into that competitive column, and hopefully give Democrats some needed momentum into 2018.

So hold on to your blue boots, and shine ’em up for Election Night!

 

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Wait… How Many Teachers Would Lose Their Jobs If Trump Is Elected??

Is it November the 9th yet?? 

No seriously… many Americans have had it up to HERE with the 2016 election.  For various reasons, they don’t like either choice being offered as the country’s next Commander-in-Chief for the next four years.  There will a be a follow-up post soon to hopefully help ease the pain of that choice, but for now, let’s just call the spade what it is:  a SPADE.

Ok now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to remember that the 2016 elections really ARE happening, and they’re really not a joke.  It’s unfortunate that so many in the mainstream media have simply refused to cover substantive issues in lieu of Hillary’s email saga and Donald’s daily antics.  But someone has got to step and speak the truth of why this election is important.  And, we also have to entertain the possibility that Donald Trump could become the next President of the United States.  This is happening… it is REALLY HAPPENING.

So what would the United States Education system look like under a Trump Administration, and a ReTRUMPlican-controlled Congress?  Well, from the, uhh… “plans” he has on his website, it’s kind of ambiguous.

I’m a tremendous believer in Education, but Education has to be at a local level.  We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education.  So Common Core is a total disaster, we cannot let it continue.  We are rated 28th in the world… the United States, 28th in the world, and frankly we spend far more per pupil than any other country in the world by far, it’s not even a close 2nd.    So here we are… we spend more money, and we’re rated 28th.  Third World countries are ahead of us.  We’re going to end Common Core, we’re going to have Education an absolute priority.

Umm… yeah.  That’s literally the whole Education section of his website.  A 51 second video, nowhere near a school, that cuts away to some random school kids like once.  Here’s a screenshot for those afraid to click…

trump-plans

 

It’s fair to say that Hillary Clinton’s Education Plans are a bit more detailed.

Lacking actual proposals or facts, serious voters have to turn to Donald’s Trumps public statements to try and piece together his views on education.  CBS News gives a decent attempt at comparing Clinton and Trump, though it’s hard to actually do so when one side lacks accountable facts.  For Higher Education, Trump acknowledges that students are in debt, but offers no solutions whatsoever to help those with student loans.  Instead, he suggest that debt would go down if colleges just “let in fewer people.”  Disturbing to say the least.

But the real scare with a President Trump lies in what could happen to our public school system.  In a word, it would be essentially destroyed, with “school choice vouchers” as the only alternative.  And just how many of our nation’s hard-working teachers would hear the signature phrase “you’re fired” if Mr. Trump is elected??  Per the Center For American Progress, nearly half a million educators would receive pink slips.  And for those wondering, a full 49,000 those teachers would be taken from Texas public schools.

cap-trump

Besides our decimated K-12 schools, the Trump campaign has apparently promised to eliminate the Pell Grant entirely, and eradicate most other forms of Financial Aid.  With a lack of ability to pay for college, students would be unable to attend or finish any degrees.  This is more than a way to reduce student debt… it’s a way to also destroy our nation’s higher education system.

This is real folks.  Please know before you vote.  The 2016 elections are more important than ever before.  Are we really willing to put our entire education system at risk for the guy who’s only experience in the field is operation of the ponzi scheme Trump University??

One more time… know BEFORE you V-O-T-E!!

 

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