“This Tar Will Leave a Stain on the Republicans”

January 29, 2017     John Hanno

                      “This Tar Will Leave a Stain on the Republicans”

King Donald’s Court did it again; they showed they really can’t lead in a responsible manner. The Republi-cons don’t know how to govern because they despise government. This is what happens when you hire people to dismantle cabinet level departments instead of ones experienced in making government succeed. They think government and it’s regulators should just butt out of their patrons risky businesses. Their plan has always been to shrink government to the size it can be drowned in a bathtub. For eight years, they berated any attempt by the Obama Administration to bring America back, after Republi-cons steered us into the abyss.

If the President had cured cancer, this crew would have claimed Obama was grandstanding. Someone said that if he walked on water, they would have criticized him for not learning how to swim. They’ve been very adept at throwing sand in the gears of American progress, but now the bomb throwers are having trouble making the rubber from their soaring campaign rhetoric, meet the highly touted road forward. Leaked audio from a Philadelphia retreat this week revealed how flummoxed Republi-con lawmakers appear, attempting to replace the life saving Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act they’ve pledged to repeal for the last 7 years. Donald’s new promise to make that health insurance for 25 or 30 million folks much better and a lot cheaper won’t help their task.

Trying to make good on the promise to build a wall to hold back our southern neighbors, who actually stopped pouring in right after the financial collapse in 2008, was met with the same outrage around the world as was their bungled attempts to keep Muslims from entering the country. There’s been more people in the streets in the first 9 days of the King Donald administration as protested in the entire 8 years of the Obama Administration.

These hypocrites railed against each and every executive order the President signed attempting an end round Republi-con obstruction, calling it flagrant and unconstitutional abuse of power, but now think Trump’s flurry of nonsensical orders are a-okay. The difference here is that President Obama tried to use his executive power to do things for ordinary people, whereas Trump’s team stays up nights figuring out ways to do things to people.

King Donald’s approval numbers are tanking, so the diabolical pretenders are trying to somehow make good on his un-deliverable pledges to take America back to 1929. This latest order, taking shape at the nations airports, is looking more like a holy war than an attempt to make us safe from terrorists.

These folks know so little about what actually goes on in the government, they actually believe that the thousands of folks at homeland security and in our intelligence agencies, our military, our state and local police departments and in state and local governments throughout the nation have been doing very little to keep us safe since 9-11. The Obama Administration in 2011 and before him the Bush Administration have already instituted enhanced vetting of those trying to enter the U.S. They say this vetting takes almost 2 years. Most of America’s terrorist threats have actually come from home grown evildoers.

And even before Barack Obama was elected, the Republi-cons refused to even attempt to craft responsible legislation to raise up America’s sinking middle class. And now all of a sudden, they’ve refashioned themselves as populist proponents of American labor. Any legislation offered by these Republi-cons was hatched and prepared by either the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or by the affected corporate or industry lawyers and lobbyists. Some of ALEC’s latest and most popular efforts involve attacking public workers and unions and proposing right-to-work legislation throughout the country.

Republi-con health care reform will be drafted by the insurance industry and big pharma. Comprehensive energy policy or reform will be written by fossil fuel.  Any Republi-con comprehensive tax reform, as in the past, will be bought and paid for by the rich and corporations. Comprehensive immigration reform was passed 70 to 30 in the Senate during the Bush Administration, but never came up for a vote in the Republican controlled House.

Russian American Journalist and author Masha Gessen, believes this administration will cause her and America a “constant low level dread.” I’m beginning to think more like a “permanent state of high anxiety.”

The desperate folks in the upper Midwest rust belt, who grabbed onto the Trump Tarbaby will soon discover the same thing the little boy realized in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. No matter that Donald’s two trusted advisors Reince Priebus and Kelleyanne Conway faithfully tells him he’s doing so good and looking real fine, America will soon realize that King Donald the Emperor Has No Clothes.     John Hanno

 

P.S.    “Former Bush adviser Eliot A. Cohen says the first week of Trump’s presidency has been a “clarifying moment in American history”: “For the community of conservative thinkers and experts, and more importantly, conservative politicians, this is a testing time,” he writes in an op-ed for The Atlantic. “Either you stand up for your principles and for what you know is decent behavior, or you go down, if not now, then years from now, as a coward or opportunist. Your reputation will never recover, nor should it. Rifts are opening up among friends that will not be healed. The conservative movement of Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, of William F. Buckley and Irving Kristol, was always heterogeneous, but it more or less hung together. No more. New currents of thought, new alliances, new political configurations will emerge. The biggest split will be between those who draw a line and the power-sick—whose longing to have access to power, or influence it, or indeed to wield it themselves—causes them to fatally compromise their values. For many more it will be a split between those obsessed with anxiety, hatred, and resentment, and those who can hear Lincoln’s call to the better angels of our nature, whose America is not replete with carnage, but a city on a hill.”

“PPACA, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Tarbaby”

January 9, 2017,  John Hanno

 “PPACA, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Tarbaby”

You would think, after more than a year of congressional hearings, deliberations, debating, speechifying and amendments leading up to the passage of the PPACA, (signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010) and after more than 60 attempts, over more than six years, by Congressional Republicans to overturn the PPACA, and after every single Republican politician grandstanded and ran on repealing and replacing the law during the last 4 national elections, that at least one member of this “ult” right group might have put forth a better, cheaper or creditable alternative. Having described the ACA as the biggest threat to American Democracy in our history, you would think any number of conservative patriots could have devised a plan to save the country from the ominous threat of providing almost 25 million poor folks with affordable, high quality, lifesaving health insurance.

But you would be wrong. Now that these saviors are in charge of the White House and both houses of congress, their plan is simply, to quickly and definitively repeal the Act, but then only think about replacing it two or four years down the road; preferably after the next midterm or presidential election. It’s clear that the entire Republican party has grabbed hold of a particularly sticky Tarbaby. They’ve demonized the PPACA by negatively  attaching the Presidents name, to an overwhelmingly Democratic attempt, to Protect Healthcare Patients from abuse by the insurance industry and to slow down the double-digit increases in premiums for policies that were steadily diminishing in quality and scope.

The Act reduced by half the 45 million uninsured Americans, from 16% in 2010 to 8.9 % in June of 2016. That number has been further reduced by the 5 million or more folks who signed up during the recent enrollment period and since the election of Trump, in anticipation of the Republican’s promise to repeal. Of the 23 to 25 million covered by the Act, 12 to 15 million are covered by the exchanges and more than 11 million are covered by the expansion in Medicaid. 75% of those on the exchanges purchased insurance for $75 a month after federal subsidies, a bargain by anyone’s standards. My Medicare premiums are $104 and my hard earned employer supplemental is $146 a month, for a total of $250 a month.

When the Democrats had control of the White House, the Senate and the House in 2009, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress made the tough decision to spend their 2008 presidential election capital and mandate on doing something that Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have been trying to accomplish for the last 100 years, finally providing affordable health care to the 45 million uninsured Americans. Almost 25 million of those have taken advantage of that decision.

Now that the Republicans have control of the White House and both houses of Congress, they want to repeal that hard won health care and build a wall between neighbors. This is just more clear examples of the difference of the two parties philosophies. Democrats try to use government to solve problems for America’s middle class workers and the Republi-cons can’t wait to undo those efforts, undermine any government intervention unless it benefits them, and compound problems for the working poor.

To all those poor and middle-class folks in the red states, and for that matter those in the blue states that vote without fail, year after year, election after election for Republi-cons; what in God’s name have these politicians ever done for you instead of to you. We know what the Democrats have done to pull folks out of poverty and desperation and to help families stake their claim in America’s middle class neighborhoods. You can check their voting records over the last 75 years. FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great society, etc, etc, etc.

Yes, our healthcare system has problems. Depending on whose figures you use, we spend about $3.5 trillion, almost 20% of our GDP, $10,345 per person, or two to two and one half times what other developed countries spend on health care. America’s healthcare costs have escalated in relationship to it’s waistlines. More than half of American’s are overfed and under active. Stroke, emphysema, diabetes and heart disease in that order, much of which is preventable, are the four most expensive diseases to treat. Diabetes now afflicts 10% of Americans. The price for insulin has skyrocketed; has at least doubled in the last few years. Drugs costs of all types have escalated far more than the cost of living because most Republi-con’s and pharma state Democrats in congress refused to force drug companies to negotiate fairly with Medicare, Medicaid and other health care providers, just like the Veterans Administration has already done.

The $10,345 average per person spending is wildly different throughout the population. I know 70 year-old folks who have never filed a health insurance claim and some in their 50’s who’ve reached their $250,000 to $500,000 lifetime limits long before Obamacare ended those caps. The reality is that just 5% of the population, the oldest and sickest, account for almost half of that spending. 10% of families account for almost 50% of the spending. American’s 55 years and older account for almost 50% of spending. Half the population has very meager health care expenses, accounting for only about 3% of the total. People 35 and under represent 47% of the population but account for only 25% of the health care spending.

America’s healthcare is complicated. We have a lot of questions to sort out. Are we going to take care of the folks who, through no fault of their own, sometimes contract very expensive childhood or premature diseases? Are we going to care for folks who don’t do everything they can to keep themselves healthy; who smoke, take drugs, eat unhealthy foods, refuse to stay fit or engage in risky and dangerous behavior? Are we going to take care of old folks who end up spending astronomical costs trying to eke out a few more  years at the end of life or are we going to send them off to the “Soylent Green” factory? Obamacare attempted to address many of these questions, including emphasizing common sense preventative care.

White folks 55 and over and especially 65 and over spend more money on health care than black folks and statistically, significantly more than Hispanic and especially Asian Americans. Do we give a break on premiums to Asian and Hispanic policyholders for spending less? Are we going to honor the long held idea that insurance spreads the liabilities over a wide group of consumers? A lot of folks, especially healthy young people, who work hard at staying that way, don’t want to pay for those who don’t. Of the $3.5 trillion dollars we spend on health care, 32% goes to hospitals, 20% goes to doctors and clinics and about 15% goes for prescription drugs.

Where do we make the cuts? Before Obamacare was passed, I read a story that claimed 85% of hospitals, especially those in the rural red states that voted for Trump and the Republi-con’s in Congress who can’t wait to stamp out the ACA once and for all, were under severe financial duress. Because of generous campaign contributions, we know that most Republi-cons and pharma state Democrats will again refuse to force drug companies to negotiate fairly and ethically. And it’s already hard to find primary physicians willing to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients because of low reimbursement rates.

Healthcare is complicated; that’s why it took decades and more than 2,100 pages for the ACT and I think 10,000 additional pages of rules and regulations to finally get the ACA passed by the skin of it’s chiny-chin-chin. Most of those 2,100 pages are based on erstwhile Conservative Republican ideas, just like those that compose Massachusetts successful Romney-care. Many of those ideas were first proposed during the Eisenhower, Nixon and Regan administrations. But because the Republi-cons attached President Obama’s name to them, they all of a sudden became toxic solutions. Republican members of congress and Governors wanted to make Obama a one term President and did everything they could think of to make that happen, including opposing the expansion of Medicaid at every turn, even if it hurt poor folks in their own states.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/10/us/politics/marco-rubio-obamacare-affordable-care-act.html?_r=0

In this Robert Pear December 9, 2015 New York Times Article, “Sen. Marco Rubio Quietly Undermines the Affordable Care Act,” he describes how Rubio, along with other Republican Senators “got a little-noticed health care provision slipped into a giant spending law last year (2015) that tangled up the Obama administration, sent tremors through health insurance markets and rattled confidence in the durability of President Obama’s signature health law.”

This legislation drastically cut the reimbursements for insurance companies in the first three years of the ACA.

The article revealed “Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law have hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.”

“The risk corridors were intended to help some insurance companies if they ended up with too many new sick people on their rolls and too little cash from premiums to cover their medical bills in the first three years under the health law. But because of Mr. Rubio’s efforts, the administration says it will pay only 13 percent of what insurance companies were expecting to receive this year. The payments were supposed to help insurers cope with the risks they assumed when they decided to participate in the law’s new insurance marketplaces.”

Republi-cons harangue about the escalating costs of Obamacare, but they are as much to blame because of their relentless obstruction and refusal to join with President Obama and the Democrats to improve the Act. Still, in spite of this opposition, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that: “costs of premiums for employer covered health plans continued to moderate after the ACA was passed. Those plans rose by almost 70% from 2000 to 2005 but only 27% from 2010 to 2015 and slowed to 3% increases from 2015 to 2016.”

And their recent Kaiser Foundation Obamacare poll also found that: “majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike say they favor:

  • Allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 (85% of the public, including 82% of Republicans);
  • Eliminating out-of-pocket costs for many preventive services (83% of the public, including 77% of Republicans);
  • Providing financial help to low- and moderate-income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs to help them purchase coverage (80% of the public, including 67% of Republicans);
  • Giving states the option of expanding their existing Medicaid programs to cover more uninsured low-income adults (80% of the public, including 67% of Republicans); and
  • Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history (69% of the public, including 63% of Republicans).

“In contrast, a third (35%) of the public says they favor the law’s provision requiring that nearly all Americans have health coverage or pay a fine (63% have an unfavorable view).  A majority of Democrats (57%) favor this provision but far fewer independents (30%) and Republicans (21%) do.”

“Support for the law’s requirement that employers with at least 50 workers offer health insurance or pay a fine is more mixed, with a majority of the public (60%) supporting it, including majorities of Democrats and independents. In contrast, just 45 percent of Republicans favor this provision.

Overall attitudes towards the Affordable Care Act are largely unchanged following the election: 45 percent of the public has an unfavorable view and 43 percent has a favorable view. In addition, the poll finds health care played a limited role in voters’ 2016 election decisions, with 8 percent of voters saying health care was the biggest factor in their vote.

As many say repeal would worsen their family’s health care costs as say it would improve

Americans are divided on how repeal would affect health care costs for them and their family, with nearly equal shares saying repealing the law would make costs worse (30%) as saying it would make costs better (27%). Another four in 10 say their health care costs would be about the same. Most also say that, under repeal, they would expect their quality of care and access to health insurance to remain about the same.

Importantly, Trump voters are much more likely to say repeal would help them personally. Half (52%) of those who supported Trump say the cost of health care for them and their family will get better under repeal, and many say the quality of their health care (39%) and their ability to get and keep health insurance (35%) would get better.

The poll also probes the public’s views of whether President-elect Trump’s health care policies would be bad or good for different groups of Americans. The public is more likely to predict “bad” results for the uninsured (43%), lower-income Americans (43%) and women (36%), and more likely to predict “good” results for wealthy Americans (39%).

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, the poll was conducted from November 15-21 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,202 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (422) and cell phone (780). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.”

 

Mr. Trump and the Republic-cons in Congress have painted themselves into a tight, bright corner. After January 20th, all eyes are on them to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. They promised over and over and over that the ACA will destroy America as we know it and cause the loss of millions of jobs. Well, we’re still here and 25 million or more Americans are making appointments with their health care providers instead of showing up at emergency rooms with desperate health calamities. And instead of losing 800,000 jobs a month when Barack Obama took over, America has created more than 16 million jobs, more than all the G7 countries combined.

I know this is a lot of facts and figures to comprehend, but the most important ones for me are these numbers: After 9-11, we turned the whole world up-side down because of that terrorist attack. We invaded 2 countries, lost more than 6,000 young Americans, will have spent about $5 trillion dollars when the final bill comes due and we finally take care of all the 35,000 military folks injured in those campaigns. A couple of hundred thousand Iraq and Afghanistan people perished in those wars and we destabilized the entire Middle East, attempting to get revenge and justice for those 3,000 Americans killed on 9-11.

But before the ACA was passed, we lost between 22,000 and 25,000 Americans every single year just because they didn’t have health insurance. Just in the few years since President Obama signed that law and since almost 25 million American took advantage of the life saving legislation, 55,000 American lives have been saved. The Republi-cons who are jumping up and down waiting to dismantle Obamacare can’t in good conscience, ignore these numbers.

Before Obamacare, 45 million American had too much in common with poor folks in 3rd world countries and 65% of those filing bankruptcy, did so because of unaffordable medical expenses.

Any elected official who analyzes our health care system based on whats best for all Americans and not just for the special interests who contribute to their campaigns, must come to the conclusion that America, like the rest of the developed world, must transition to a single payer system before we bankrupt the treasury. Our government already pays more than 50% of the $3.5 trillion we spend on health care.

Even Mr. Trump realizes it’s the only viable alternative to this basically conservative Republican compromise called Obamacare. He came to that conclusion more than 15 years ago, probably based on the fact that when he signed the checks for his employees healthcare, he asked himself why he was sending almost 30% of those costs to the insurance companies. I’m sure he tried to figure out some way to pay the providers directly.

President Obama and the Democrats believed a public option was the best chance for the ACA to succeed. But the Republicans and some insurance company state Democrats in congress (probable based on a study that found a public option would have to be fazed in over a period of time), would not support that option. Many members of congress believed that pulling the rug out from under those who invested in the insurance industry and the large number of insurance company employees, some in their own states, could not be done overnight. But five or ten years from now, we will no doubt, have a single payer health care system.

Billionaire Trump and all the millionaires and billionaires he’s chosen for his cabinet have enough money to afford the best health care in the world. And every Republican Senator and Republican member of the House have the best taxpayer paid health care insurance America offers. I just can’t understand how these people can look at themselves in the mirror if they repeal life saving health insurance for 25 million poor folks? When all is said and done, does anyone believe that these Republi-cons in congress will try to provide or emphasize “Patient Protection” as their main legislative objective? If they eventually come up with a plan, I think an appropriate name might be the (IDCPUCA) Insurance and Drug Company Protection and Unaffordable Care Act, or Drumpfcare for short. This sticky Tarbaby will be hard to shake off.

For folks who wish to learn more about the complexities of the PPACA, please check out a book written in 2008 by the architect of Obamacare, Ezekiel Emmanuel, “Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will Improve our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System.”

John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

 

 

 

LA Times

Repealing Obamacare could be a matter of life or death for many Americans. Here are their voices

 

Michael Hiltzik Column January 9, 2017

 

For Julie Ross, the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act isn’t an abstract political issue. It’s a life-or-death matter for her 4 1/2-year-old daughter, who was born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition and spent her first month in the neonatal intensive care unit.

In the pre-Affordable Care Act era, when insurers could impose lifetime limits on benefits, hers was $500,000. “She would have reached that in her first two weeks,” Ross says.

For Colleen Mondor, whose 15-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 3 and controls it today with four visits a year to a pediatric endocrinologist, repeal would mean shutting down the aircraft leasing company that she and her husband started and finding a job with employer-paid insurance. “So instead of building our own company, we’ll be taking jobs away from people who need them.”

Senators say, without health insurance you can just go to the ER for care. For my daughter, that would be too late. She’ll die without these protections. — Julie Ross of Dallas

Pre-Obamacare, every insurer she applied to for coverage asked about her family’s medical histories. When she told them about her son’s diabetes, as she tweeted earlier this month: “That was the end of the conversation, every. single. time.”

Steve Waxman, 59, an independent filmmaker in Miami, had a heart attack before Obamacare was enacted, but he had insurance. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed and protections for those with preexisting conditions are eroded, he’d be red-tagged as a potentially costly repeat patient. “Life is a preexisting medical condition,” he observes. “Only in America can you go bankrupt because of it.”

On Obamacare repeal, GOP ideology is colliding with reality

David Zasloff, 55, of North Hollywood is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in 2015. Without the Affordable Care Act, treatment “would have cost everything I had, including my niece’s college fund,” he says. Now he has a Blue Shield silver plan via Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange, and pays $144 a month to cover most of his treatment and medication.

Ross, Mondor, Waxman and Zasloff, and countless more like them, live in abject fear that Republicans will follow through on their determination to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without passing a replacement that will maintain the crucial protections the law has given them. Obamacare’s critics have painted a picture of the law that is wholly negative: that it’s a “disaster,” that it’s in a “death spiral,” that it’s caused a “struggle” for families that use it. To people not directly affected by the Affordable Care Act — the 85% of Americans who get their coverage from their employers or public programs such as Medicare— these assertions seem plausible enough, especially since they’ve been repeated incessantly for more than six years. Repeat a big lie often and loudly enough, and you don’t need evidence.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) often repeats a mantra that “Obamacare has failed the American people.” But a Ways and Means Committee fact sheet he cites as evidence doesn’t include a single quote from an Obamacare enrollee. Not one.

The people who know the truth — those whose medical histories would make them uninsurable in a non-Obamacare marketplace, who would face bankruptcy if they faced a major medical need, whose condition would go unmanaged, or who would be forced to give up their dream of creating their own business and working for themselves — their voices are seldom heard. So we’re going to present a few.

Some are insurance customers who struggled with coverage — not from Obamacare, but in a pre-Affordable Care Act market in which carriers looked for any reason to reject applicants, limit their benefits or impose costly surcharges. They struggled with high deductibles, with high-risk pools such as those that Ryan says could easily accommodate Americans with chronic conditions. They know he’s wrong. Some took advantage of the freedom the Affordable Care Act brought them to start their own businesses, because now they could give up their employer-paid insurance without fear of going without coverage. And they know the frustration that comes from going unheard on Capitol Hill.

Julie Ross, 41, runs a home business in the Dallas area with her husband Mark, a commercial artist. She home-schools her daughters, 4 1/2-year-old Niko and her 7-year-old sister. Julie suffers from asthma, a condition that relegated her to a high-risk pool before the Affordable Care Act. Before Niko was born, she told me, she and her husband kept separate health plans, so that her own condition wouldn’t affect the cost of his coverage.

Niko’s conditions require constant pro-active management. “I hear senators say, without health insurance you can just go to the ER and get care,” she says. “For my daughter, that would be too late. She’ll die without these protections.”

Ross has reached out to Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Republicans, and her congressman, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas). The offices of Sessions and Cruz won’t return her calls. Cornyn’s staff met with her, but parroted his idea of giving families such as hers a tax credit to buy insurance, but it wouldn’t be enough.

“When I talk to Republicans, I tell them we’re everything you want us to be,” she says. “We’re self-employed, we’re pro-life.” But if she lost the access to coverage she gets from the Affordable Care Act, to replace it for her daughter, “I would have to get a divorce from my husband and move into Section 8 housing and go onto Medicaid and welfare. We are living in total fear.”

Colleen Mondor, a pilot and writer, is 48 and runs an aircraft leasing firm in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Ward Rosadiuk, 53. The family’s healthcare nightmare started 12 years ago when their toddler came down with a cold and didn’t get better. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“That changed everything,” Mondor recalls. The family got shunted into a high-risk pool, where the deductible was $10,000 per person and the coverage was sharply constrained. “The high-risk pool is a party no one wants to attend,” she says. “It was absolute misery. We had no control over which doctors we could see, and the deductible was ridiculous.”

Frustrated about a debate about Obamacare that seemed utterly irrelevant to her situation, a few days after New Year’s, Mondor posted a tweet about the difficulties facing small business owners post-repeal. What followed was a torrent of retweets and replies. “I thought I was alone, but I discovered it was not just me,” she says.

Mondor’s teenage son has received first-rate care for his incurable disease thanks to the family’s Affordable Care Act-protected health plan. But pondering the GOP proposals to repeal the law has become a dominating distraction. “I’m not thinking about how to grow my business or get new clients,” she told me, “but about what [Vice President-elect] Mike Pence or Paul Ryan are up to.”

Affordable Care Act plans aren’t perfect. They’re often more expensive and less generous than the health plans offered by big employers. But for people without access to such plans, they’re a lifeline. People such as Donald Goudie of Irvine, 68, who was forced into retirement ahead of schedule when his department at IBM was downsized in 2014. IBM gave him six more months of company insurance, but after that, his wife, Sandra, needed coverage for her chronic rheumatoid arthritis.

The Goudies knew from having tested the pre-Obamacare individual market a few years ago that Sandra, now 63, would be uninsurable without the law’s protection for preexisting conditions. So would Donald, who has a cardiac condition. Because of the combination of a premium increase and a reduction of their eligibility for Affordable Care Act subsides, Sandra’s premium will rise to more than $500 a month this year from about $150 last year. “That’s a big jump, but still affordable,” he says. But that’s only if Congressional Republicans don’t tamper with Social Security and Medicare, on which the couple depends and which also are in the GOP’s crosshairs.

“We’ve gone from our retirement with enough money saved and supplemented with Social Security,” he says, “to wondering if we have enough money to pay for the basics.”

Do the Republicans who talk so blithely about how Obamacare has “failed the American people” and how they will provide “relief” — despite not having any “relief” plan in place despite six years of promising one — have any idea what their plans mean to millions of Americans facing the challenge of health coverage in their daily lives? The evidence is that they don’t, because they don’t talk to the targets of their plans.

Those whose lives hang in the balance of the debate over the Affordable Care Act are beginning to speak up. They’re independent business owners. Parents with desperately ill children. Adults with chronic diseases. Workers who have been laid off. Families for whom an uninsured injury or diagnosis would mean bankruptcy. The Affordable Care Act helps them, and could help even more if Republicans in Congress cared enough about them to make it better.

But to know that, they’d have to listen. Michael Hiltzik

 

 

Yahoo Health  January 7, 2016

75% of Americans don’t want Obamacare repealed without an alternative

Melody Hahm

 

President Barack Obama challenged Republicans on Friday to present a feasible alternative to Obamacare instead of blindly adopting the “repeal and delay” strategy.

And it turns out the vast majority of Americans may agree with Obama.

Only one in five Americans supports flat-out repealing Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey conducted by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Of the 1,204 US adults surveyed, 75% either oppose the repeal entirely or want to keep the law until  the details of a replacement plan emerge.

Americans, however unhappy they may be with Obamacare, would rather know their alternatives before tossing their coverage — however costly — completely out the window.

This isn’t the only poll to suggest Americans aren’t on board with killing Obamacare now. Republican Congresswoman — and a passionate Obamacare foe — Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) took to Twitter (TWTR) on Wednesday to conduct her own poll on Obamacare, asking whether people supported the repeal of Obamacare, likely anticipating that many would vote to repeal the legislation. Nearly 8,000 people voted and the overwhelming majority — 84% — voted no.

President Obama considers the ACA one of his administration’s hallmark achievements, and has been spending his last days in office urging fellow Democrats not to “rescue” Republicans by helping them pass replacement measures.

Though there have been vocal and vehement opponents to the ACA, including Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the law’s opponents have yet to come up with a replacement.

Apart from its impact on consumers, the act of repealing the ACA without a replacement would also have dire business consequences. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget published a report this week warning the full repeal of the ACA would cost up to $350 billion over the next decade and leave 23 million people uninsured.

The report suggests “any changes to the ACA should reduce, not increase, the unsustainable growth in the federal debt. Savings from repealing parts of the ACA must be large enough to not only finance repeal of any of ACA’s offsets, but also to pay for whatever ‘replace’ legislation is put forward.”

Meanwhile, 50 states would suffer job losses and sharp reductions in business output without Obamacare, predicted a separate study conducted by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund and GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. In total, scrapping Obamacare could cost 3 million people jobs and trigger economic disruption, according to that study.

The report’s lead author, Leighton Ku, explained to NPR why the ACA is so tied up with the larger economy: “The payments you make to health care then become income for workers and income for other businesses. And this spreads out. Health care is almost a fifth of the US economy, so as you begin to change health care, there are repercussions that go across all sectors.”

Even medical professionals, insurers and hospital groups have been coalescing to argue they need to see a replacement for ACA before it’s repealed. The American Medical Association (AMA) wrote a letter to congressional leaders pointing out that though the health care system has ample room for improvement, “policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies” so that patients can make informed decisions.

We’ll find out soon enough whether senators are listening to their constituents when the vote hits the floor next week.

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Read more from Melody here & follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

 

 

Yahoo Health, January 7, 2017

Obamacare repeal costs: 3 million jobs gone, $1.5 trillion in lost gross state product

Dan Mangan

Spending less by getting rid of Obamacare could end up costing a whole lot more.

Up to 3 million jobs in the health sector and other areas would be lost if certain key provisions of the Affordable Care Act are repealed by Congress, a new report said Thursday.

At the same time, ending those provisions could lead to a whopping $1.5 trillion reduction in gross state product from 2019 through 2023, according to the study.

“Repealing key parts of the ACA could trigger massive job losses and a slump in consumer and business spending that would affect all sectors of state economies,” said Leighton Ku, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

Ku is the lead author of the report, which was issued by the Milken Institute and the Commonwealth Fund.

The report comes as President-elect Donald Trump and the new Congress are moving toward repealing parts of the ACA through the budget reconciliation process.

“The immediate and most visible effect of ACA repeal would be the loss of coverage and access to care for millions of people who have gained insurance because of the law,” said Sara Collins, vice president for health-care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund.

“This study points to even larger potential economic effects that would be detrimental to the health and well-being of millions more,” Collins said.

The estimate of job and state product losses are based on a scenario in which Congress defunds federal subsidies that most Obamacare customers receive to help lower their monthly insurance premium costs, and also gets rid of funding to cover adults who became newly eligible for Medicaid under the ACA.

Repealing both provisions would save the federal government $140 billion in health-care spending, the report found. And as that funding spigot dried up, it would lead to job losses and a drop in gross state product, the report said.

The study notes that most of the federal funding for Obamacare flows to hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies and other medical providers, who in turn hire and pay staff and purchase goods and services.

The biggest job losses would occur in California, with 334,000 lost jobs, Florida, with 181,000 lost jobs, Texas, with 175,000 lost positions, and Pennysylvania, New York and Ohio, each of which would lose more than 125,000 jobs, the report estimates.

One-third of the job losses would be in the health-care sector, according to the report. The remaining two-thirds of job losses are expected to come from construction, real estate, retail, finance and insurance.

As with other reports estimating the effects of Obamacare repeal, the economic downsides could be mitigated, or completely offset by a replacement plan for the ACA.

But so far, Trump and the Republican-led Congress have not committed to such a plan. So researchers have been unable to estimate the ultimate effects of a replacement plan. Dan Mangan

 

 

The Daily Kos

Dear Congressional GOP: Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned. (including your own experts)

By Brainwrap,  Tuesday January 3, 2017

 

definitely-NOT-comprehensive selection of opinions regarding the Republican Party’s imminent “Repeal & Delay” strategy for the Affordable Care Act:

What outside experts are saying about repeal and delay:

American Academy of Actuaries: “Repealing major provisions of the ACA would raise immediate concerns that individual market enrollment would decline, causing the risk pools to deteriorate and premiums to become less affordable. Even if the effective date of a repeal is delayed, the threat of a deterioration of the risk pool could lead additional insurers to reconsider their participation in the individual market.” (Letter to Congress 12/7/16)

Nick Gerhart (Iowa Republican Insurance Commissioner): “If you’re going to repeal this, I hope that there’s a replacement stapled to that bill.” (NPR, 11/21/16)

Governor Jay Inslee and Mike Kreidler (Washington Democratic Governor and Insurance Commissioner): “Decisions to cut funding before developing a replacement puts the health of Washingtonians at great risk through undermining and destabilizing their health care.” (Letter to Congress)

Sabrina Corlette (Georgetown University): “The idea that you can repeal the Affordable Care Act with a two- or three-year transition period and not create market chaos is a total fantasy.” (New York Times, 12/3/16)

Michael Cannon (Cato Institute): “What they are planning to do is absolutely insane.” (TPM, 12/18/16)

(Note: Michael Cannon, one of the architects of the infamous King v. Burwell case, by his own admission, hates the ACA more than anyone else on the planet)

Larry Levitt (Kaiser Family Foundation):

  • “The individual insurance market could collapse in between a repeal vote and a replacement vote” (TPM, 11/29/16).
  • “Any significant delay between repeal of the ACA and clarity over what will replace it would likely lead insurers to exit the marketplaces in droves” (Huffington Post, 12/1/16).
  • “Republicans are in a bit of box here, because the individual mandate is an anathema to them, but repealing the individual mandate immediately while keeping the protections for people with pre-existing conditions would likely lead to immediate chaos in the insurance market” (TPM, 11/29/16).

Stuart Butler (formerly Heritage Foundation), Alice Rivlin (former CBO and OMB Director), Loren Adler (Brookings Institution): “If replacing the ACA is truly the goal, though, repealing it first without a replacement in hand is almost certainly a disastrous way to start. First, a reconciliation bill would likely destabilize the individual market and very possibly cause it to collapse in some regions of the country during the interim period before any replacement is designed…If no replacement plan materializes, the hollowed-out individual market – for people without access to employer-provided or public coverage – could be left in shambles.” (Brookings, 12/13/16).

Topher Spiro (Center for American Progress): “Their strategy of repealing now and replacing later was designed to provide false assurance that everything would be okay. Now there’s a growing awareness that in fact this strategy would cause a lot of chaos and perhaps even collapse the market before a replacement plan can be put into place.” (TPM, 11/29/16).

Robert Laszewski (Health Care Consultant and ACA Critic): “Republicans are being awfully naive. They seem to be ignoring the risks in the transition period.” (Vox, 12/1/16).

Former Senator Tom Daschle: “It sends all the wrong messages to the private sector…You gotta have the replacement before you have the repeal.” Politico Pulsecheck Podcast, 12/1/16).

Joshua Blackman (Professor and former Cato Institute Scholar): “Passing it by itself is politically expedient, but would create a series of headaches very quickly for the Republicans.” (TPM, 12/18/16).

Linda Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, John Holahan (Urban Institute): “If Congress partially repeals the ACA with a reconciliation bill like that vetoed in January 2016…Significant market disruption would occur…Many, if not most, insurers are unlikely to participate in Marketplaces in 2018.” (Urban, 12/7/16).

Judith Solomon (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities): “Many people likely would lose coverage before any Republican health plan was fully implemented.” (CPBB, 12/5/16).

 

The Electoral College “Trump, A Political Tarbaby”

“Trump, A Political Tarbaby

John Hanno      December 18, 2016

 

Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki: Election meddling, Ukraine sanctions

President Obama is absolutely correct; there’s nothing Russia or Vladimir Putin can do to undermine our Democratic principles as long as we stand united. The reason he was able to influence and disrupt our election, was because we’re so polarized that 37% of Republicans approve of Putin. This is a direct result of statements by Trump, and repeated over and over in right wing nut media, stating that Putin was a better leader than President Obama. Trump believes a leader that righted an economy losing 800,000 jobs a month and headed into depression and who led the world’s most powerful country,  through eight years without a single whiff of scandal, is a worse leader than someone who has looted his country’s assets to the tune of $85 billion dollars, probably ordered an airliner shot down, and ordered the imprisonment and murder of opponents and journalists.

Cover art

Now reported to be the richest person in the world, richer even than Bill Gates, he’s amassed this fortune by plundering a corrupt, failed economic plutocracy, on the backs of millions of struggling and suffering countrymen and women. What would the Republi-cons say if President Obama had accumulated $85 billion as president, while having been unopposed and sham-elected for 20 years. Every American should be so outraged, that 10’s of millions of people should be in the streets protesting this Russian cyber attack on our electoral process. But the Republi-cons praise Putin and respect his predatious business acumen. It’s clear the Grand Old Party has been so corrupted, it’s no longer redeemable.

They’ve long ago exiled any moderate or conservative remnants of the Lincoln, Eisenhower, Rockefeller and even Nixon GOP. And President Obama is absolutely right; Regan is turning over in his grave. It’s become the Old White Party of Winuts. Winuts will forsake any moral integrity or principles in order to win. No level is too low to stoop. Racism, misogynistic and xenophobic conduct, violence, deception and lying are traits to be admired and praised. Trump’s supporters will believe anything he says or tweets, even if it’s a preposterous lie devoid of any credible fact.

Trump is a political Tarbaby of epic proportions. The Republi-cons have forsaken all core conservative, Christian or perceived family values simply because Trump somehow won the election. He told the winuts he would “Make America Great Again” by winning so much, they would get tired of winning. And the gullible  believed him lock, stock and blatant lie after lie. But he’s already done a 180 on virtually every promise he made. The desperate supporters reaching for the gold plated ring, and the never Trumper’s who’ve jumped on the victory merry-go-round, are stuck on the tar and headed for a rude awakening.

The Trump Administration intentions are no longer ambiguous. Nomination after cruel nomination has cemented their blueprint. “Draining the swamp” actually means siphoning the dregs into his cabinet. Hiring the “best and the brightest” means turning the wheels of government over to billionaire Trump toadies. “Bringing the jobs back” actually means giving his labor secretary carte blanche to replace minimum wage workers with compliant robots. Creating better paying jobs means turning multi-millionaires into billionaires. Making our schools better means destroying and privatizing public education, demeaning scientific discovery, and promoting creationism.

Making America energy independent means turning responsibility for protecting our air, water and land over to Exxon Mobil and the oil interests, pipeline companies and frackers, corporate polluters and Russian oligarchs; and also means exploiting every square inch of public lands, National Parks or National Monuments for private gain, no matter the consequences to our environment and America’s National Pride. Would anyone actually hire any of these folks if they had to pay their salaries. I don’t think so.

And “Making America Great Again” means time traveling what’s left of America’s middle class back to before FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society, equal rights for all Americans, and of course any common sense governmental regulation.  And balancing the budget means granting unnecessary and undeserved tax cuts to corporations and the richest of the rich, no matter how it blows up the deficit; and at the same time  means attacking social safety net programs and Social Security, privatizing Medicare, block granting Medicaid and replacing Obamacare with….. well with nothing.

Trump’s promises are like the sands of time; extremely fluid. We can only hope 37 patriotic Americans will come to Jesus, and for the sake of their country, their families and their soul, decide to cast their electoral vote for anyone but Trump. Will they shirk their Constitutional duty; will they take America’s future for granted?  Or are they stuck on the tarbaby?                  John Hanno  www.tarbabys.com

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The “Winuts”

 

The “Winuts”

Lessons (not) Learned From Aesop or Uncle Remus

John Hanno    October 31, 2016

Whether employing Aesop, the Bible, Big Bird and Sesame Street or Uncle Remus, most parents attempt to plant the seeds of morality into their children, soon after the age of reasoning. I believe you can relate each and every one of these lessons to the 2016 Republican primary and general election. Its clear that many neo-con politicos and corporate types, either failed to heed those formative lessons, or were tutored from the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, while they’re little brains were developing. Can we even guess what stories Donald Trump was reading or listening to from his parents when he was growing up? He obviously didn’t even read the Journal because from all accounts, he’s just not a very good businessman.

Many rich people like Trump, #324 on Forbes world’s list of billionaires (who by the way is opposed to raising the minimum wage for the working poor), and the Koch brothers, 7th and 8th richest billionaires in the U.S and tied for 9th in the world with $42 billion each, (who support ALEC legislative efforts throughout the country, opposing labor and union rights, living wages for teachers and others in the middle class, and supporting right to work campaigns), must have been reading books like, “The Art of the Deal” when they were very young. Each of the Koch brothers wealth ($42 billion each) is the equivalent of the yearly income of 840,000 average American families, or 1,680,000 families between the 2 brothers. How can they possibly begrudge middle class folks like teachers, mail carriers and union employees, a living wage or collective bargaining. How much wealth is enough for these people?  If they would have read the “Boys and the Frogs” maybe they wouldn’t try so hard to undermine the American worker. Its the story of boys throwing stones and killing frogs swimming in a pond. One of the frogs lifted his head out of the water and cried out: “Pray stop, my boys; what is sport to you, is death to us.” And the moral of the story is: “One man’s pleasure may be another’s pain.”

Charles and David Koch, pledged to spend $889 million on the 2016 election to promote an alt right agenda detrimental to working men and women, organized labor and the environment. The Donald and the Koch’s represent people who place winning above everything; who would do absolutely anything to win. I call them ‘Winuts’. They say America isn’t winning any more and our current leaders don’t know how to win, as if the only thing that matters is how much money or how many toys you’re able to accumulate. We all had friends like them when we were growing up; children who wouldn’t share. Their parents should have read them “Brer Rabbit and the Tarbaby.” Brer Rabbit wanted no part of working with his neighbors to provide water or food but just took what he wanted. Or read “The Miser and His Gold,” the fable about a miser who reduced all his riches to a lump of gold, which he buried. He came back every day just to look at it, but was spied on and his treasure was stolen. As the miser was crying about his loss, he was consoled by a neighbor, who told him that he might as well just bury a stone (or had returned each day to look at a big empty hole) because it would serve the same purpose for all the good his money had done him or had done to help others.

These folks also should have read: “The Dog and it’s Reflection.” A story about a dog carrying a stolen bone in it’s mouth. The dog is looking down as it’s crossing a stream and sees its own reflection in the water. Taking it for another dog carrying something better, the dog opens its mouth to bark at the other dog and drops the bone into the stream and loses it. For years, the Koch brothers have supported efforts by PERC and others to privatize our National Park System and public lands. They believe America should exploit public lands and our national parks for oil drilling, hydraulic fracking and the mining of minerals. They’re also big supporters of Governor Scott Walker and behind efforts to make the state of Wisconsin a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, in order to exploit the states silica sand deposits used by the Koch’s for fracking of natural gas. Aesop’s Fable “The Old Women and the Doctor” involves a women who asks a surgeon to cure her worsening blindness but would not pay for his services unless she was cured. While the surgeon applied salves to her eyes, he was stealing her valuables during each visit. Once she was cured, the women refused to pay his fees because she claimed her sight was worse than ever since she couldn’t see any of her valuable belongings.

The Donald, mimicking all Republicans and many businessmen, trumpets that America’s GDP is anemic. And he screams daily that China and Mexico are stealing our jobs. But China and Mexico aren’t stealing our manufacturing plants and jobs, multinationals have and will continue to chase the cheapest labor, the least amount of safety and environmental regulations and international partners who will turn a blind eye to their exploitation of labor. These companies have off-shored about 60,000 manufacturing facilities. China and Mexico are just the latest destinations. And if TPP is passed, there will be another half dozen of these cheap labor pools to chose from. We used to have a vibrant manufacturing sector that balanced out the rough times for our economy; but thanks to unpatriotic multinationals, our economy now depends on a retail sector representing 71% of America’s economy. And since America’s middle class is struggling, so is our economy. Business titan Henry Ford realized this many decades ago. If his own workers couldn’t afford the autos he was making, his company wouldn’t prosper. So he raised his workers wages substantially. Donald constantly claims he will bring back American jobs but then buys steel and aluminum for his buildings from foreign manufacturers even though it’s readily available from American workers.

In reality, our GDP growth is anemic because America’s middle class has been under siege, since the Regan administration declared war on organized labor. Boomers like myself don’t really buy much of the cheap crap coming from low wage countries. Our homes are mostly furnished and most of our income goes for necessities like food, transportation and healthcare. Millennials, 40% of which still must live at home, can’t spend much because they’re saddled with a student debt albatross around their necks. They can’t buy a home, get married, start a family or can’t even afford rent and expenses while paying down these student loans. This should trouble the family values diehards who support Trump, but it clearly doesn’t. Many Millennials who live in urban areas don’t even drive a car. Low growth will therefore be the new normal for the foreseeable future. And there’s not much a president can do without cooperation from congress. Republicans in congress pander to corporations and the super rich, who want still more tax cuts, so there’s slim to no chance of getting any legislation passed to help the middle class, unless the Democrats take control of the Senate and make strong gains in the House. The fact is, most of us who don’t have investment funds or wealth, couldn’t care less about GDP growth. 75% of America’s workers live paycheck to paycheck. Probably 80% of American’s wages have been stagnant, adjusted for inflation, over the last 25 years. All the benefits from steady increases in productivity over the last 3 decades, has gone to the upper 10%. And unless Citizens United is overturned, nothing much will change.

As always, when it comes to the Republican controlled Congress proposing or opposing legislation to help America’s middle class, they trot out the discredited trickle down economic ideology that hasn’t worked in the last 30 years and has only contributed to worsening income inequality. The first thing that comes out of their mouths is, tax cuts for the rich and cuts to entitlement and social safety net programs. Empathy is not their strong suit. These new tea party controlled Republicans continually bash social programs for poor folks, mostly women and children. They demonize food stamps, unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and even Social Security, which is the most successful government program in our history and a program that has raised 10’s of millions of seniors citizens out of poverty. And by the way, a program that is fully funded as long as tax cutting Republi-cons keep their hands off the $2.8 Trillion Social Security Trust Fund surplus. They also opposed every single jobs bill, proposed by the Obama administration after the financial collapse, to help put our middle class back to work. Mr. Trump brags about not paying federal taxes, and after he loses (on paper, thanks to favorable tax dodges) one billion dollars in a single year, experts surmise that because of that write off, he probably hasn’t paid federal taxes in the last 18 years. He says that’s being smart. He doesn’t contribute to our military, which he routinely denigrates, doesn’t contribute to the crumbling infrastructure he bashes daily and doesn’t contribute to our veterans, even though they made it possible for The Trump Brand to flourish. He and many 1% er’s and some successful corporations refuse to pay their fair share of supporting our governments and society even though they have prospered the most from them. This reminds me of the fable “The Horse and the Donkey” a variant of the story of the overburdened ass who asks it’s companion the horse to help him carry his load. The horse refuses and the ass dies. The horse is then forced to carry not only the original load but also the dead donkeys skin as well. But the burden here is placed on the American taxpayer. Again the moral comes from La Fontaine’s Fables in poetic form: “Neighbours here should each other aid, For if one dies, it’s on your back, His burden surely shall be laid”.

I realize many people have a jaundiced opinion, when it comes to the ability of politicians to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but Mr. Trump is clearly in a class by himself when it comes to lying. When he repeatedly stands before the American public and lies to their faces, sometimes twice in the same sentence, how can true Republicans still support him? How can they tell their children to tell the truth and then vote for a pathological liar? How can family values type evangelicals continue to support him in spite of his lying, bigotry, deceitful and vulgar conduct and revelations concerning sexual abuse toward women? These evangelical family value ‘Winuts’ place winning the presidential election above absolutely everything, even moral integrity. And you must blame the Trump supporters even more than Trump himself. He said he could shoot someone in times square and they would still vote for him. That’s actually one of the few times he’s told the truth.

I read an article last week in Politico about fact checking the Donald. Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent from Canada’s Toronto Star, thestar.com, said there’s multiple media, CNN, Politifact, Washington Post and others, taking on the monumental task of fact checking Mr. Trump, but he wanted to compile the actual total number of falsehoods. He found that in a 33 day period, Mr. Trump made 253 false statements. He also made 67 false statements (34 and 33) in the first 2 debates. Politifact’s Truth O Meter revealed that 204 of Hillary’s statements were true, mostly true or half true; the Donald had 87. And that 75 of Hillary’s statements were mostly false, false or pants on fire; the Donald had 219. During the final debate they found that 100% of Hillary’s statements were true, mostly true or half true, and 72% of Trump’s statements were mostly false, false or pants on fire. Many people have rightfully labeled Trump a pathological liar.

It’s obvious Mr. Trump never heard the “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “The Honest Woodcutter,” which tells of a woodcutter who accidentally drops his axe into a river; and because it was his only means of livelihood, sat down on the river bank and wept. The God Hermes (Mercury) saw him and took pity on the woodcutter. The god dove into the river and brought up a golden axe instead. Is this your axe, asked Hermes? No it wasn’t said the woodcutter, and said the same thing when Hermes brought up a silver axe. But Hermes then brought up the real woodcutters axe and the woodcutter said that was his. Hermes was so impressed by his honesty, the god let him keep all three. Hearing of the woodcutters good fortune, his neighbor threw his axe into the river and sat down and began crying. When Hermes appeared and offered him a golden axe the greedy man said yes it was, but was then denied that and his own axe because he was not truthful. The moral is obviously, Honesty is the Best Policy.

Donald Trump has consistently tried to divide America into two basic groups; those who have always been in power and are reluctant to give that up, even if it means dragging us back to the dark ages; “To Make America Great Again.” And in the second group, “the others;” women, people of color, immigrants and others who just want their share of the American Dream. He denigrates Mexicans, Muslims, women, gays and even disabled folks. He should have studied “The Four Oxen and the Lion.” A lion visited a field where four oxen lived. He repeatedly tried to attack them but the oxen turned their tails to each other so that their horns always faced the attacking lion. But when the oxen fought with each other and went off on their own, the lion attacked them one by one and killed them all. The moral: United we stand, divided we fall.

Donald, like many rich folks and corporate executives, lives in a world where no one ever tells them they’re wrong. They’re surrounded by yes men, revered and constantly praised. Mr. Trump’s ego is bigger than Mt Rushmore; he obviously failed to learn the meaning of humility. He should have read “The Fox and the Crow,” a story about a crow that found a piece of cheese and flew up to a branch to eat it. The Fox, wanting the cheese for himself, flatters the crow, telling him he’s beautiful and asks if his voice is as pretty. When the crow lets out a caw, he drops the cheese and it’s eaten by the fox. The moral, in the form of prose from the La Fontaine’s Fables taught to French and Creole children:

Flatters thrive on fools’ credulity. The lesson’s worth a cheese, don’t you agree.

The crow shamefaced and flustered swore. Too late, however, “Nevermore!”

Everything that comes out of Donald’s mouth is beyond exaggeration. “Only I can make America great again, he says; in spite of the fact America is still great.” “I’m the greatest businessman,” even though he lost a billion dollars in one year, filed bankruptcy 6 times and refuses to produce his tax returns to prove it. “I build the greatest buildings,” even though he merely puts his name in really big letters on someone else’s buildings and then promotes it for his own benefit. “I know more than the generals” or “I alone will destroy ISIS”, even though he hasn’t put forth one single sentence of a creditable foreign police plan in the last 2 years. Donald frequently refers to best selling book, “The Art of the Deal”, as the second best book of all time behind the bible and brags about it as his own work, even though Tony Schwartz actually wrote the entire book. He says he’ll build a wall (the biggest and best wall ever seen) and make Mexico pay for it, even though anyone with half a brain knows it’s a pipe dream. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines demagoguery as the “use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.” Aesop warned against these promises of politicians (“Great cry and Little Wool”) in the fable “The Mountain in Labour.” He also might have read “The Ass In the Lion’s Skin,” the fable about a donkey who puts on a lion’s skin to intimidate and terrify all the foolish animals, but as soon as the fox heard the donkeys voice he said: “I might possibly have been frightened myself, if I had not heard your bray.” The moral is of course: clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away.

Donald Trump  regularly brags about his charitable trust and all the charities he donates to but it’s been proven that he never gave what he claimed to schools, veterans, 9-11 victims and others. He took credit for the donations made to his trust by others. In contrast, the Clintons give 11% of their income to charity and their foundation has collected $2 billion for charities around the world, 90% of which goes directly to the various charities. Sen. Bernie Sanders gives about 5% of his income to charity. Mr. Trump should have read: “The Fir and the Bramble” It tells of a fir tree that boasts to a bramble. “You are useful for nothing at all; while I am everywhere used to build roofs and houses.” The bramble answered: “You poor creature, if you would only call to mind the axes and saws which are about to hew you down, you would have reason to wish that you had grown up a bramble, not a fir tree.” The brambles and scrub trees are small but strong and are used in the making of saw and axe handles. The moral: “renown is accompanied by risks of which the humble are free.

And of course Mr. Trump denigrates everyone just to pump himself up. I think he hides an inferiority problem. Mr. Trump led the campaign and propagated lies about President Obama’s birthplace even before he decided to run for office. The Donald hasn’t said one single positive thing about President Obama’s eight years in office. That, in spite of this administration’s success in turning around an economy in free fall, one that was losing 800,000 jobs a month and heading into a depression. They bailed out the American auto industry, which is again making a record numbers of autos. Job creation has averaged more than 200,000 jobs a month and the total is more than 15 million since 2009. The unemployment rate has been cut in half to 4.9%. And the President has cut the deficit by two thirds; you would think he could have at least gotten an at-a-boy from businessman Trump for that.

The New York Times used two full pages of their paper to print out every person and organization insulted by Donald Trump on Twitter since his presidential campaign launched more than a year ago. The list contains 281 “people, places, and things,” including each and every one of his fellow Republican competitors. When I first saw the supremely effective Hillary Clinton campaign video, depicting children watching Donald Trump repeating all the extremely vile and derogatory things he’s said about women, people of color, immigrants and disabled folks, it reminded me of the fable, “The Eagle and the Arrow.” The parable of the soaring eagle who was mortally wounded by an archers arrow. As the eagle fell to earth bleeding to death, he looked at the arrow that pierced his body and discovered the arrow had been made with his own feathers. The moral of the story is: “We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.”

It also reminds me of the “The Bee and Jupiter.” A queen bee ascended Mt. Olympus to present Jupiter with her fresh honey. As a reward, he granted her whatever she wished for. She said ” Give me, I pray thee, a sting that if any mortal shall approach to take my honey, I may kill him. Jupiter loved the human race, but had to grant his promise to the queen bee. So he told her “You shall have your request, but it will be at the peril of your own life. For if you use your sting, it shall remain in the wound you make and then you will die from the loss of it.” The moral: Evil wishes, like chickens, come home to roost.

“Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” a story originating in a sermon by Jesus from the New Testament and later told as an Aesop fable, told of a wolf who disguises himself in a sheep’s skin in order to get close to the sheep he wanted to eat. The moral is that: one’s basic nature eventually betrays itself. There’s a variant story that tells us the shepherd was fooled by the wolf’s disguise and he locked up the wolf with his sheep at night, but when the shepherd wanted to eat a sheep for supper, he mistakenly killed the wolf. The moral: Doing bad things can have unintended consequences.

Mr. Trump says over and over that he alone can save the Republican party, that he’s brought millions of new followers into the party. But who are these converts? They’re the voters who Hillary correctly labeled the “Deplorables.” These Folks (The Winuts) will stand by Trump no matter what he does, who he hurts, who he disparages, how deplorable his conduct is, how much he lies, how many folks he cheats, no matter his ties to Russia and their oligarchs and even if he were to shoot someone dead in Times Square. And the media has been fully complicit; giving him as much free rope and coverage as he’s was willing to take. And then Mr. Trump has the nerve to say the election is rigged against him. An apt Aesop fable here would be “The Mischievous Dog” a story about a dog that keeps biting people on the leg. It’s owner ties a bell around his neck to warn people. The dog thinks the bell is a reward so he prances around the town showing off his bell until an older dog tells him it’s really a sign of disgrace. The moral is: notoriety is often mistaken for fame.

This new collection of voters is well; you can’t really call them Republicans because they’re nothing like the Grand Old Party. Those moderates were all drummed out long ago. And you can’t call them conservatives because they’re the least conservative folks I know. Spending $4 or 5 trillion on an unnecessary war is not being conservative. You can’t call them a party because they’re as divided as any group can be. It’s an organization cleaved together basically to oppose, beyond all reason, the first black President in our history. And if Hillary is elected, they will continue to oppose, without rhyme or reason, the first female President in our history. These ‘Winuts’ will work against the “others” no matter the consequences to the country because compromising to them means total capitulation.

The Republican leadership created the environment for this (NTP) Neo Tea Party group to flourish when they got together on the eve of President Obama’s inauguration and hatched a plan to obstruct everything the President attempted to do. They wanted him to fail and become a one term president. They couldn’t care less if America and it’s middle class failed in the process. As long as America’s first black President failed, it was a “win.” Eighteen months ago, no one would have thought Donald Trump would be the standard bearer of the GOP. No one took his candidacy seriously and when they still could have stopped him, they didn’t because he was useful in bringing excitement to a moribund party. Then when he was exposed as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, its was too late.  Reminds one of the fable “Belling the Cat” or “The Mice in Council,” a story about a group of mice who crafted a plan to put a bell around the neck of a dangerous cat, so they were warned when the cat was near. But none of the mice would volunteer to put the bell around the cats neck. The moral: The story was used to teach the wisdom of devising a plan not only on how effective it was but also on how to execute the plan, the fundamental difference between an idea and its feasibility.

Or he should have read “The Blind Man and the Lame.”

A blind man was carrying a lame man on his back,
And everything was going well, everything’s on track,
When the blind man decides to take it into his head
That he needn’t listen to all that the lame man said.
“This stick I have will guide the two of us safe,” said he,
And though warned by the lame man, he plowed into a tree.
On they proceeded; the lame man now warned of a brook,
The two survived, but their possessions a soaking took.
At last the blind man ignored the warning of a drop,
And that was to turn out their final and fatal stop.

And in the end, the Donald should have read “The Fox and The Grapes,” about the fox in a vineyard trying to get at the grapes hanging from the vines. Hard as he tried, he couldn’t reach the grapes. He took solace in that they were probably sour anyway. The moral of that story is: people sometimes belittle things they can’t have. This fable brought about the popular expression, “sour grapes.” If he loses to Hillary, he’ll probably say that he really didn’t want to be president after all, that the job would have crimped his style. He wouldn’t have been able to speak his mind (what there is of it) or do exactly what he wants because, well “quite frankly” he would have had to sit down and compromise with the Democrats and even with those in his own party in Congress who disagree with him, and with the FBI and the CIA and the EPA and the IRS and the Pentagon and with NATO and Mexico and Canada and with our other neighbors like Cuba and with Arabs and Muslims and of course would have had to work with black folks and Latinos and with women (who now make up a majority of the work force) without grabbing them by the private parts. And “quite frankly,” he just can’t fire everyone who would disagree with him. And of course he’s said he won’t respect the results of the election “unless he wins.” If that’s not sour grapes, what is?

The simple fact is, 10’s of millions of American’s still haven’t recovered from the great recession of 2008. 100’s of thousands of innocent families, including mine, lost their homes and life savings. None of the culprits who perpetrated that calamity and crisis have gone to jail. Most of us can no longer say that our children and grandchildren will have a better life than we had. Many of the young people today are saddled with a 30 year mortgage of student debt and can’t find the living wage jobs necessary to get over that hump or shed that albatross. State after state is broke and on the road to bankruptcy because unpatriotic multinational corporations fled the country and abandoned the tax paying American worker for cheap labor and lax regulations.

America faces enormous problems. A large national debt that threatens necessary investments in social services and crumbling infrastructure, low tax revenue from low wage jobs, ballooning student debt, rich folks and prosperous corporations that aren’t paying their fair share and the angry taxpayers who resent having to pick up the slack for them and for the lowest 47% who can’t pay anything at all. We face the catastrophic threat of global warming and climate change and a congress half full of deniers. Because of gridlock and obstruction by the Republicans who wanted the President to fail, our congress has an approval rating in the single digits. That gridlock won’t allow constructive debate and compromise, on comprehensive energy reform that emphasizes alternative sustainable energy over destructive fossil fuel interests, on comprehensive tax reform that closes the loop holes that allowed Mr. Trump and others to shirk their responsibilities, on comprehensive immigration reform that takes into account fair treatment of families who took advantage of the welcome mat held out for workers who took the dirty jobs American’s really didn’t want, or cooperation from the Republicans to fix and improve the Affordable Care Act, instead of demonizing and repeated efforts (60) to repeal help for 20 million or more deserving Americans (20,000 of which die every year simply because they don’t have insurance) and on a whole host of other legislation, including real budget reform.

 Before you cast your vote on November 8th, ask yourself the tough questions, void of political bias. Who held out their hand for compromise, like the President did; instead of slapping it away, like the Republican leadership? Who’s not afraid to talk about immigrants without being derogatory? Who’s willing to face head-on the growing threat of climate change? Who will make the tough decisions on the national debt, tax reform and a budget with a line item veto? Who’s willing to compromise on these issues without holding them hostage to special interests or to political pressure from contributors? If you answer these questions truthfully, your choice on who to vote for will be apparent.

Some might be tempted to vote for a snake oil salesman barking miracle cures, but There’s an Italian proverb sometimes attributed to Aesop: “Jumping from the Frying Pan into the Fire” a story about some live fish thrown into a frying pan of hot grease. One of the fish talked the others into jumping out of the pan but of course they ended up on the hot coals. The moral: The fable warns us that when we’re trying to avoid present dangers, we should not fall into even worse peril. John Hanno,  www.tarbabys.com

Enbridge Oil Spill in Michigan

John Bolenbaugh WhistleBlower

October 23, 2016

SICK ENBRIDGE RESIDENTS PART 1

A few small clips of the hundred sick residents I’ve interviewed. Almost a dozen kids now have lukemia, in our small area. A must see. I am part cherokee and Blackfoot and I have always felt a deep love for the environment, animals and a need to protect our water. When the Enbridge spill happened in my back yard. I knew what Gods purpose for me was, it was to protect mother Earth against companies like Enbridge. Enbridgelies.com

SICK ENBRIDGE RESIDENTS PART 1A few small clips of the hundred sick residents I've interviewed. Almost a dozen kids now have lukemia, in our small area. A must see. I am part cherokee and Blackfoot and I have always felt a deep love for the environment, animals and a need to protect our water. When the Enbridge spill happened in my back yard. I knew what Gods purpose for me was, it was to protect mother Earth against companies like Enbridge. Enbridgelies.comWatch part 2

Posted by John Bolenbaugh WhistleBlower on Sunday, October 23, 2016

Proof ENBRIDGE lied. Please share all of these short clips. Many more on my facebook. They can help save future lives. I am part cherokee and Blackfoot and I have always felt a deep love for the environment, animals and a need to protect our water. When the Enbridge spill happened in my back yard. I knew what Gods purpose for me was, it was to protect mother Earth against companies like Enbridge. Enbridgelies.com

Posted by John Bolenbaugh WhistleBlower on Monday, June 20, 2016

Watch part 2