Monday, June 04, 2018

Despite Trump's Clown Show, Progress Can Be Made... IS Being Made


While the Trump Regime keeps trying to entertain the public with Trump as the ringmaster of the circus, there are actually real things happening, most of them terrible. Yes, everyone will now be talking about what happens if Trump pardons himself, discussions about Trump's mishandling of, say, trade may b e overlooked. As the Washington Post put it Sunday, Trump is blundering into unraveling "70 years of pain­staking effort that the United States has led to build an inter­national system of trade based on mutually accepted rules and principles" that was meticulously built up beginning "in 1947 from the ashes of World War II." Does Trump, an ignorant baboon, imagine he knows better than Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, the other Bush and Obama? I'm sure he does. "[P]residents of both parties have pushed this system as a way to strengthen alliances and promote the expansion of democracy and prosperity in Europe and Asia," all things Trump doesn't care about and Putin opposes. "[W]with Trump’s decision last week to enact aluminum and steel tariffs against U.S. allies in Europe and North America, he is subverting previously agreed-­upon trade pacts. The result is a brewing trade war with Canada, Mexico and Europe, which are expressing shock and bitter frustration while enacting tariffs of their own on a bevy of American products." But-- look what Giuliani just said-- and that crazy Michael Cohen... OMG, did he you hear what Jim Jordan told Alex Wagner!

And there's good stuff happening that the Regime would rather no one notice or think about too. Last week, for example, James Hohmann went to great efforts to explain why Virginia's Medicaid expansion-- the 33rd state to do so-- is more important that what Giuliani was babbling about in the latest twists and turns regarding Putin-Gate. The expansion, he wrote, is even more than the beauty of 400,000 low-income citizens now having access to government health insurance. "It’s another nail in the coffin for efforts to repeal Obamacare and a fresh reminder of how difficult it is to scale back any entitlement once it’s created. Many Republicans, in purple and red states alike, concluded that Congress is unlikely to get rid of the law, so they’ve become less willing to take political heat for leaving billions in federal money on the table. Years of obstruction in the commonwealth gave way because key Republicans from rural areas couldn’t bear to deny coverage for their constituents any longer, moderates wanted to cut a deal and, most of all, Democrats made massive gains in November’s off-year elections."

Hohmann explained how this all came together despite Señor Trumpanzee stepping up "efforts to undermine the law, from repealing the individual mandate to watering down requirements for what needs to be covered in 'association health plans' [and how] the administration’s willingness to let states impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients has paradoxically given a rationale for Republicans to flip-flop on an issue where they had dug in their heels."

Likely to follow Virginia-- making the number of states with it 37:

Mainers voted to "expand Medicaid by ballot initiative last fall, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage has blocked funding for its implementation and continues to fight the will of the voters in court. But he’s term limited and deeply unpopular, and it seems more likely than not that his successor will open the door for 70,000 poor Mainers to get insurance."

"Utah will vote on a referendum in November to further expand Medicaid to an additional 150,000 residents. The measure officially qualified for the ballot on Tuesday."

"Enough signatures have been submitted to qualify a ballot measure in Idaho. They’re now being reviewed by elections officials to make sure they meet that state’s strict requirements."

"Nebraska’s governor opposes Medicaid expansion, but there is a grass-roots campaign underway to get enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot. Organizers say they’re on track to get what they need before the deadline."
Expanding Medicaid in Virginia wasn’t easy. Big things never are. Four Senate Republicans defected to allow the measure to pass 23 to 17 in a special session. Then the House of Delegates, which passed its own version of expansion earlier in the year, approved the Senate’s measure 67 to 31.

There were 10 hours of procedural moves in the Virginia capitol on Wednesday. Police had to separate protesters who got into a shouting match. Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), of all people, even held a news conference to speak out against expansion. The majority leader of the state Senate tried a last-ditch parliamentary gambit to pigeonhole expansion during a Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday. But that was nothing compared to the five years of steadfast GOP obstruction.

“Opposition in the House crumbled after Democrats nearly won control of the chamber in November, amid a blue wave widely viewed as a rebuke to Trump,” Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider report from Richmond. “A chastened House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights), seeking to rebrand Republicans as results-oriented pragmatists, came out in favor of expansion if work requirements, co-pays and other conservative strings were attached. In February, 19 of the 51 Republicans in the House joined Democrats to pass a budget bill that expanded Medicaid, apparently concluding that they have more to fear from energized Democrats and independents than from potential primary challengers on the right.”

Easing their evolution was Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s assumption of the governorship in January: “The former state senator and lieutenant governor, a soft-spoken pediatrician and former Army doctor once wooed by Republicans, has close friends on both sides of the aisle. His predecessor, Terry McAuliffe (D), tried to expand Medicaid for four years but did not enjoy the same respect and trust from Republicans in Richmond.”

Virginia’s bill requires that most adult recipients who don’t qualify for disability either work or volunteer as a condition of receiving Medicaid. Cox, the Republican speaker, said the Trump administration’s openness to work requirements “was probably the biggest key” in garnering Republican support.

Rural conservatives also provided critical support. One of the four Republican senators who supported expansion, Ben Chafin, is a cattle farmer from a rural district where health care is hard to find. “I came to the conclusion that ‘no’ just wasn’t the answer anymore, that doing nothing about the medical conditions, the state of health care in my district, just wasn’t the answer any longer,” he told my colleagues.

The first Republican in the House of Delegates to explicitly endorse expansion was Del. Terry G. Kilgore, the chairman of the powerful House Commerce and Labor Committee.He broke the dam of GOP opposition when he announced in mid-February that the struggling swath of coal country he represents in southwest Virginia would get a desperately needed “hand up” if the uninsured could access Medicaid. “For my district, for my part of the state, it’s the right thing to do,” Kilgore said. Others from poor parts of the state quickly followed his lead.

These GOP defectors have experienced few repercussions back home. Americans for Prosperity, a political arm of the network led by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, ran ads attacking several of the 19 GOP delegates who voted for expansion in hopes that they would change their minds when the issue came up again in the special session. It showed that the anti-expansion effort was more bark than bite.

In Kilgore’s district, which went heavily for Trump, AFP radio ads broadcast his office phone number and urged people to call. “No calls, no comments,” Kilgore told Vozzella back in March. “I’ve been to Republican mass meetings. I’ve been out and about, ballgames, this and that. What I’ve heard people say is, ‘Hey, what you said made sense. We don’t mind helping people if they’re helping themselves.’”

The milder than expected blowback for those who walked the plank emboldened additional Republicans to break ranks. (To be sure, some of these incumbents might wind up drawing primary challengers in low-turnout 2019 elections.)

Another pivotal moment came in early April when state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), who unsuccessfully sought the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year and has served a quarter century in the legislature, announced that he had changed his mind. He said he could support Medicaid expansion on two conditions: that recipients not suddenly lose coverage if their earnings rise and that new tax credits be created to help middle-income people who already have insurance but are struggling to pay soaring premiums. Wagner played a key role negotiating the final deal.

“This is not just about helping this group of people,” Wagner said yesterday. “This is about getting out there and helping to bend the cost of health care for every Virginian... It is the number one issue on our voters’ minds. By golly, it ought to be the number one issue on the General Assembly’s mind.

”Some Virginia GOP strategists have been eager to take the Medicaid issue off the table. The most recent credible survey is from Christopher Newport University in January and February, which found that 58 percent of registered Virginia voters supported the expansion while 38 percent opposed it. The survey provided detailed arguments for and against the idea, which can lead to different results than a simple support-oppose question.

That poll corroborated a Quinnipiac University poll in April 2017, which found a similar 59 percent of registered Virginia voters saying a Medicaid an expansion is a “good idea” while 30 percent said it was a “bad idea.” Support was similar, 57 percent, when respondents were told the federal government will cover 90 percent of the costs while the state would cover just 10 percent.

Democrats believe they can play offense on health care in 2018 for the first time. Republicans used Obamacare to their advantage in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. But the law has become more popular as the GOP tried to repeal it, and the fear of losing coverage might galvanize lower-propensity voters to turn out in the midterms.

More than half of all ads run by Democratic House candidates since the start of this year have mentioned health care (53.3 percent), according to data from Kantar Media. That’s more than any other issue, including anti-Trump messages (which have appeared in 43 percent of Democratic commercials).

But the war is not over. “Some conservative activists unable to surrender their long-held dream of repealing Obamacare are poised to release a long-shot plan next month to resurrect their failed effort, despite massive political odds against such a measure ever becoming law anytime soon,” Paige Winfield Cunningham wrote Tuesday in The Health 202. “But these conservatives are right about one thing: Republicans don’t have a coherent health-care message this election cycle. And they need one. The plan isn’t likely to garner much-- if any-- attention from GOP House and Senate leaders, who after last year’s repeal-and-replace debacle resigned themselves to the impossibility of fully ditching the law as they’d promised for so long. Now, health care is one of the last policy issues Republicans want to discuss at this point in the midterm election season, although most of them won’t admit it.”

A wild card, as always, is Trump. He said yesterday that he’s not giving up on his efforts to eviscerate Obama’s signature domestic achievement. During a signing ceremony for right-to-try legislation at the White House yesterday, he said he’ll make a health-care related announcement in the next two to four weeks. “We’ll get rid of the individual mandate. Without that, we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing in a few weeks,” he said. “We’re going to have great, inexpensive, but really good health care... We’re going to have two plans coming out. For the most part, we will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare.” As the crowd applauded, Trump added: “[We] could have had it done a little bit easier, but somebody decided not to vote for it, so it’s one of those things.”
There are scores of Democratic congressional candidates running on Medicare-For-All. The DCCC is undermining many of them but many of them are winning the nominations despite the DCCC, the way, for example, Kara Eastman did in Omaha two weeks ago. This is what Kara has to say about healthcare on her campaign website:
It’s time for our country to acknowledge that quality healthcare and access to health insurance is an American right. Families deserve to be able to get the medical treatment and medications they need, when they need them, without breaking the bank.

We must ensure that no mother ever weighs the costs before taking her children to the emergency room when they are in the need of immediate care. No father should ever forgo life-saving medication because he is afraid of being unable to pay the medical bills. No family should ever need to claim bankruptcy because they had the audacity to live after an accident or illness.

Our country should move toward the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. We need to force big business and the pharmaceutical industry to offer more competitive prices.
The DCCC and establishment candidates may fight for the status quo ante but the horse is out of the barn and, with the exception of Biden-- easily the most corporate of all the serious Democratic potential presidential nominees-- they are all adopting Bernie's single payer ideas. And not just Kara, but congressional candidates all over the country are distinguishing themselves from DCCC candidates the way Levi Tillemann did when he said yesterday that "Over the last decade, the Democratic establishment’s reach for the center has lost us over 1,000 legislative seats nationally. Voters are looking for people who will fight for them. That’s why I’m fighting for Medicare for All, free college for middle-class Americans, a $15/hour minimum wage, and impeaching Trump and its why I’ve rejected all corporate and PAC money. It’s time to give voters a clear choice between a bought-and-paid-for rubber stamp like Coffman and a true progressive who will fight for them."

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At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since obamneycare's expansion was passed, I have wondered why nobody bothers to try to understand why the expansion is so needed. Is it because the numbers of truly destitute are mushrooming? Is it because the sick and destitute are only getting moreso? Isn't THIS worth looking at? Why has nobody, and I mean NOBODY, covered the massive shift from middle caste to poverty since the wall street theft of $20 trillion in 2008?

"It’s time for our country to acknowledge that quality healthcare and access to health insurance is an American right."

And the meme is still to give American insurance companies even more victims for whom they can deny care for bigger profits. It should be a fundamental right for people to be FREE of victimization by profit motive of the greediest, most evil motherfuckers on the planet.

If putting more people under the jackboot of health insurance and phrma for profit is the goal, by all means elect democraps. If you get enough of them, they'll hand millions more Americans' lives over to these corporate massas.

If the goal is MFA, the democraps are never going to be any help. If you vote for democraps hoping for MFA, you are a fool.

At 8:13 AM, Blogger edmondo said...

"There are scores of Democratic congressional candidates running on Medicare-For-All. The DCCC is undermining many of them but many of them are winning the nominations despite the DCCC, including Kara Eastman..."

That's one. What about the 40 Dems who supported MFA and were beaten by corporate Democrats who wouldn't vote for MFA if everyone in their districts begged them to?

1 versus 40 - and you think this is progress? Bullshit. It's time for a third party.


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