Tag Archives: Obamacare

That Ole Time Division: Ideological Battle Threatens GOP

In 2017, everything’s coming up roses for the Republican Party. Fresh off the heels of a sweeping Electoral victory, the GOP has taken control and is working feverishly to Make America GREAT Again.

At least that’s what they thought they would be doing back on November 8th.  But now that post election reality has set in, the Republican-led Congress has revealed itself to be no more capable of actual governance than they were during the Obama era.  Their most recent attempt at a major legislative achievement, the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, went down in flames. With today’s resignation of embattled Chairman Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the Election has proven to be virtually invalid (if not damaging on its own.  And the hope of lawmakers to pass significant tax reform is proving far more difficult than originally anticipated.  And despite the President’s litany of controversial Executive Orders, his Administration is caught in their own ideological battle.  At least for the start of the Trump Era, governing is not getting done.

So as for what Republicans are doing well, what would be the answer?  To sum it up, they’re fighting with each other.  Freedom Caucus vs. Moderates, Speaker Ryan and the leadership vs. the insurgency.  Governing responsibilities be damned… the inner party Civil War has now been exposed for the American People to see.  As Kyle Cheney and Rachel Bade of Politico report, Obamacare is still a central point of contention…

Republican efforts to unite around a plan to repeal Obamacare devolved into a heated round of intra-party sniping Wednesday, as conservative groups publicly pummeled moderate GOP lawmakers — all while the White House talked of unity and progress.

The failure to reach a deal in late night talks Tuesday, which were held by competing factions of House Republicans and brokered by Vice President Mike Pence, led conservative advocacy groups Heritage Action and Club for Growth to lash out at centrist Republicans for resisting proposals to undercut Obamacare’s regulations.

“Each one of these members of Congress is standing in the way of compromise,” Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham said in a call with reporters, fingering the 50-member Tuesday Group as the culprit that “refuses to get to yes.”

“Their commitment to [repealing] Obamacare is one that existed on the campaign trail but does not exist in the halls of Congress,” he said.

It was an attempt to flip the narrative that has dominated in Washington after last month’s failed attempt to gut Obamacare: That the archconservative House Freedom Caucus was the singular impediment to the GOP’s progress on a seven-year priority.

Sounds like some of them miss the days when they had President Obama to kick around.

As readers to this blog know, Republican In-fighting has been the central characteristic of the party since Barack Obama’s election. But now that they are in total control, time is short for the GOP to prove they can run the government better than Democrats.  After nearly seven years of “show votes” to Repeal Obamacare, a failure actually do so when given the chance should be unacceptable to Trump supporters, Republican party faithful, and the general public.  Not only does this legislative debacle demonstrate a failure of ideas, it shows the Congressional GOP’s failure to put the most basic needs of the American People ahead of their own self interests.

As President Trump said, this behavior is a recipe for defeat.

All of this turmoil may not be good for the country, but it is definitely causing voters to have second thoughts about their support, or tolerance of the new Administration.  Mid-term Elections, like the one coming quickly for 2018, are rarely positive for the party in power.  But if that party is viewed as incapable of doing the People’s Business, Democrats could have much to gain.

IF Voter Turnout increases!!!!


Arkansas: ACA ‘Private Option’ Still In Jeopardy

In 2013 Arkansas lawmakers made a solemn promise to the state’s people. They crafted a landmark compromise to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act, and bring life-saving healthcare options to hundreds of thousands of Arkansans. What resulted was Arkansas’ Private Option… a deal that that uses ACA money originally meant to expand Medicaid, but instead covers citizens through the health insurance marketplace.

Before the plan was enacted, I had my reservations about this plan over just using Medicaid… especially if it could be applied to other states like Texas. But after a few months in, one thing is clear. The Private Option is a rousing success. Over 100,000 people have enrolled in healthcare plans, reducing the state’s uninsured population by one fifth in just four short months. Enrollment has been surprisingly swift, with hundreds, if not thousands of new enrollees coming from every one of the state’s 75 counties. It doesn’t matter if the county is politically red or blue, everyone needs healthcare.

It’s not just the new enrollees that benefit. For Arkansans that were already receiving Medicare and Medicaid, the ACA and Private Option increased their quality of care by lowering costs of prescription medications for patients, and providing new benefits such as wellness visits, dental and optical care, and even partnership with fitness centers to promote wellness. With fewer uninsured patients to see, the expansion saves money for the state government and lessens the burden on hospitals. The more than $90 million dollars in savings will be used to give Arkansas families a tax cut. I am convinced that this is a model that would work well for larger states like Texas and Florida.

Sadly, all of these monumental achievements are in jeopardy. Though passed in the Senate, a faction of 27 Republican legislators in the Arkansas State House have voted repeatedly to not only kick those one hundred thousand people off of their health insurance, but also raise taxes for Arkansas families and businesses. The only word that can describe one’s reasoning for such a vote is lunacy. Here’s more from David Ramsey of the Arkansas Times

For some, politics come into play, but those in the hardcore opposition – the Ballingers and the Hendrens – have sincerely held reasons for that belief. I certainly do not think that they wish to kick 100,000 people off of coverage out of spite, or lack of care. They simply believe that the private option is bad public policy.

But the outcome of their preferred policy — ending the private option — is precisely to kick 100,000 people off of the coverage they’ve gained this year through the private option, and to ensure that around 100,000 more eligible people never gain that coverage at all. It’s time for opponents to own that.

If there was ever a time for public pressure at the Arkansas state capitol, that time is now. These greedy politicians need to know that the Private Option is literally a matter of life and death. People across the state are able to go to the doctor for the first time in years. They now have peace of mind that if they face some serious illness, their family won’t have to endure financial ruin just to care for them. Many people have the potential to live longer and healthier lives because of the grand bargain crafted Little Rock. For everyone in Arkansas, I sincerely hope this isn’t thrown away.

(photo credit: Arkansas Times)

Shutdown? Blame the GOP

As many readers know, Texas Leftist is in the midst of a very interesting interview process. I have submitted Candidate Questionnaires (on here as the TLCQ) to candidates on Houston’s November ballot. Thankfully, the process is going well, and I must say it’s quite fascinating to read the myriad of answers given by the candidates.

Houston municipal elections are also non-partisan, and I wanted to garner some information about the political views of each candidate. But rather than ask them outright what party they belong to, I decided to ask candidates to share why government is important. In my opinion, the answer to this question can reveal a deeper truth than a particular party affiliation. It lets readers know what motivates this person to devote so much time, energy and money into running for public office.

Given what’s going on in Washington right now, I keep trying to also interpolate the answer to this question from someone like Texas Senator Ted Cruz or Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert. Judging by their actions, one can only conclude that their answer would go something like this…

Government is important to me because it gives me something to screw up. It is a vehicle by which I make lots of money and garner lots of national attention. When not serving me with self-promotion, government is wasteful spending aimed at society’s losers.

It’s no coincidence that one might associate this view with the Republican Party writ large. Their long-held plan to shut down the government has finally been realized. Most Republicans did not go to Washington to govern this country. They went to ruin it, and beat Obama. Of course GOP leaders will turn right around and say “no… this shutdown was caused by Harry Reid and the President. We didn’t want this.” They’ve said that or something similar a bunch over the last few days, and they’ve been lying.

I know everyone doesn’t watch the Rachel Maddow show, but I sincerely hope that you take a few minutes to watch this clip. She goes back and traces every move by the House GOP caucus, and proves that they have wanted a government shutdown since 2010, and would stop at nothing to get it. Democrats have been the ones held hostage to each and every of their growing list of demands. This is worth watching.

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George P. Bush Wants to Defund Obamacare

Though his candidacy for Texas Land Commisssioner technically started in July, George P. Bush actually started running for the office this week by offering his first set of firm opinions. From Grommer Jeffers Jr. of the Dallas Morning News, here’s the heir apparent finally speaking in something other than broad, non-committal platitudes…

Texas Land Commission candidate George P. Bush said Wednesday he supports controversial efforts by federal lawmakers to defund the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s a monstrosity of a law,” he said. “In terms of defunding it, that would be one way to reduce and mitigate the impact it’s going to have on practicing physicians and hospitals here in Texas.”

Bush was in Addison to deliver the keynote address at the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce luncheon celebration the George Herbert Walker Bush Elementary School.

Before his speech, the Fort Worth Republican told me that he hoped Congress would be successful in stopping the implementation of the new health care law, which is commonly known as Obamacare.

Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, want Congress to approve a continuing resolution that funds government operations, but does not leave money for the Affordable Care Act. Such legislation would be vetoed by President Barack Obama, setting up a showdown that could result in a government shutdown.

Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said he backed Cruz’s efforts.

“I agree with this effort to defund it, or keep Texas out of the program unless we can modify it to a Texas-specific solution,” he said.

Bush is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for Texas land commissioner. He’s considered one of the party’s rising stars and is expected to cruise in next year’s election.

He’s expected to “Cruz” through next year’s election, eh?

Unless there’s a strong Democratic candidate, that’s what will happen. In his quest for Land Commissioner, Bush is running unopposed in the Republican primary so far, and it’s quite probable that’s how things will remain. Conversely, He’s making a specific effort to stay well under the radar. Bush wants to get elected quietly and calmly… just how his uncle moved swiftly through the ranks before defeating Ann Richards in 1994.

But remember, when George P. Bush says he wants to defund Obamacare, that means he wants millions of Texans, eligible today for MediCaid, to continue to make due without any kind of health insurance. He wants hospitals all over the state to wade through the financial struggle of seeing patients without any compensation. He wants people to be denied health care due to a pre-existing condition. He wants insurance companies to keep spend money on executive bonuses, instead of providing the best health care for the hard- earned dollars of Texas families. What he and the Republican Party support is not better health care for Texas… it’s the continuation of Crisis Care.

This is a clarion call to Democrats. Most politicos in the state are pretty sure that George P. Bush is destined to win this seat. But a Democratic candidate can bring Bush out of the shadows by running a good campaign. A main reason why Texas Republicans are able to stay so dominant? Because Texans aren’t presented with reasonable alternatives. If Bush is running as a relative unknown, a Democratic candidate could, at the very least, force him into a debate so Texans get to see a true choice in this race. And of course… if they don’t run, there’s no way they can win.

Great, yet another member of the Bush family rising up through the political ranks. Which is why I agree with the family matriarch… “We’ve had enough Bushes” in Texas statewide politics. He just gave up some ammo here, and I hope Democrats choose to use it.

Paul Ryan not giving up on destroying health care

His words, not mine.

Fantastic catch by the Daily Kos. Hey you have to give Congressman Ryan a little credit for throwing a tinge of honesty into this morning’s budget bluster…

“This to us is something that we’re not going to give up on, because we’re not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people.”

Path to Austerity: The GOP Fantasy Budget

In the face of many storms we’ve weathered, a few aspects of the American experience have remained stalwart… death, taxes and Michelle Bachmann’s uncanny ability to be void of all logic and reason. These principles were sure, and come hell or high water, we could turn to them for stability.

But that third principle, though still very real, has got some new challengers in the “crazy town” department. Wisconsin Congressman and losing Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan unveiled the House GOP budget today. One read-through of this makes Michelle Bachmann’s ravings sound almost sensible.

We now finally have specifics on the US House plan for the federal budget. I of course am no budget analyst, so I highly recommend reading other opinions like Ezra Klein, Matthew Iglesias and Andrew Taylor for a thorough rundown. But here are the big points.

Some of the proposals we’ve come to expect from the GOP… promises to lower tax rates for everyone (though they’ve now relented to keep tax increases passed in January on the books) and of course the continued witch hunt to repeal Obamacare. But here is the real kicker… The GOP/Ryan budget assumes savings from Obamacare, while also assuming its repeal. That in itself doesn’t even make sense. How can you reap savings from a law that you don’t want to exist in the first place?

And then, as expected, there are massive cuts to social programs. The way much of this is achieved is by exchanging funding per constituent that states receive for block grants… a sum of money given to each state to spend the way they want to. That sum of money would decrease over time, and then pass on the responsibility for programs like Medicaid, SNAP and other vital services into state hands. That relieves federal responsibility by passing the taxing burdens onto the states.

Sounds great, only it will cause many already stressed state budgets to be pushed into crisis mode. As the state population increases and the block grant does not, people will continue to be denied these critical programs. All in the name of “fixing the deficit”. In a growing state like Texas, with a massive population of low-wage workers and uninsured, block grants are nothing short of creating a ticking time bomb. Nevermind that the policies President Obama has enacted are already bringing down the deficit as is, the GOP insist on robbing people that already have fewer options than everyone else. Under their plan, all of these cuts are made while increasing the giveaways to our nation’s wealthy.

And that’s why the GOP budget is a total fantasy. Let’s hope it stays that way too.

Mitt Romney’s next role: Health Care Advocate??

Though he may have tried to run from his record during the campaign, Mr. Romney does have a well-known, well-documented public record… he served four years as Governor of Massachusetts. And during that time, his single greatest legislative achievement was the passage of of universal health care reform.

As crazy as it sounds after 2012, historic health care reform is Mitt Romney’s legacy as a public servant. The state of Massachusetts still operates by the provisions he signed into law, and though not perfect, most Bay Staters would never go back to a time before universal coverage. Regardless of their opinion of Romney, they definitely like their Romneycare.

Of course we all know the next chapter of the story… President Obama, seeking to make significant progress for the nation, takes Romneycare as a blueprint to craft Obamacare. Though the bill passed without a single Republican vote (unless you count the “vote” of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to uphold the law after its 2012 challenge), it is truly some of the most bi-partisan legislation we have in recent memory. The provisions of Obamacare were born, tested and tried via Romneycare.

Listen to him defend his universal health care plan with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. I Had to transcribe my favorite part here…

Cavuto: “Let me step back from this Governor, if you don’t mind. When people are polled on this issue of universal healthcare coverage, a Fox Poll that we did… 2 out of 3 folks say ‘don’t want it, don’t see the need for it.’ What do you say about that?

Romney: “Well what they don’t recognize is they’ve already got it, and that’s the big surprise. Everybody in this country does get free health care. If people get sick… they go to the hospital and they get treated. And everybody else pays the cost of those individuals if they don’t have health insurance… So we have universal health care. For people that can afford to pay, it’s time for them to step up to the plate.”

Now that it’s 2013 and the President is officially a 2nd termer, the opportunity has been born for us as a nation to have an adult conversation regarding national health care reform. Both the President and Governor Romney are men that now have more in common than they ever had during the campaign. They are both powerful, influential people, both public servants, and both concerned about their legacy. After any election, win or lose, there is a critical window of time that things can actually “get done”. As Steve Leblanc of the AP and Huffington Post wrote today, states are looking to Massachusetts for leadership on how to implement Obamacare. That leadership should include Mitt Romney.

Of course many Democrats will rightly point out that Romney signed the legislation, but then chose not to run for a second term. That left much of the shepherding of “Romneycare” to the states next Governor, Deval Patrick. As a faithful Democrat, he and the Massachusetts legislature have worked hard to ensure that the law lived up to its goals of providing access to insurance for all Bay-Staters. The Boston Globe did a comprehensive review of Romneycare in 2011, saying that it has been (and continues to be successful in achieving those goals. In 2006, some 500,000 Massachusetts residents did not have health insurance. Today, that number hovers around 120,000 and continues to drop as more tweaks are put in place. Romneycare, though not perfect, is an example of what government can actually DO to improve people’s lives.

As the nation begins a rapid implementation of Obamacare, we still remain deeply, (some might say tragically) divided on what health care reform means for the country. Democratic Governors and legislators are going full-steam ahead by embracing the new provisions, while Repbulican strongholds are building a fort against them even if it defies logic and reasoning to do so. As Texas Governor Rick Perry, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and others toy with the lives of millions in need of access to affordable care, it may be of benefit to have a prominent Republican voice that can attest to the good that health care reform can do. Sure, Mr. Romney’s status was lessened as being the losing candidate, but that doesn’t erase what he did for the Bay State. If anything, this could also be an opportunity for the former Governor to restore his reputation and find new purpose in the public debate.

The term “Obamacare” was originally drummed up by the Right-Wing media to distort and shame the President’s efforts for health reform. But in the 2012 campaign, President Obama turned around saying “I like Obamacare, because I actually DO care!”. Despite what he may have said in 2012, the same actually holds true for Mitt Romney. It’s why he chose to put the universal symbol for medicine into his official portrait as Governor of Massachusetts… the portrait that will align the walls of the Massachusetts State House for all forseen time. But now, in this time, our nation’s health care reform is in need of advocates from BOTH parties. We’ve got the Democrats, and now we are looking to Republican leaders who can break with the tight- lipped opposition, and defend the importance of health care. After all, our health can never truly be a party issue.

It’s called “Romneycare” because, at least this writer believes, Romney does care.