The Russian Connection

You see it on social media every day: Trumpsters question why Congress and others are looking into, as Trump likes to say, “what the hell is going on?” between Russia and Trump’s inner circle.

OK, Trumpkins. Let’s look at what we know for sure.

  1. FBI director James Comey announced on March 20th that his agency is actively investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election. We can assume evidence had already been discovered by his team or else he would not have gone public with that disturbing news.
  1. The Russians wanted to tip the scales in Trump’s favor. Fake news stories about Hillary were sent out by the hundreds from Russia and its neighbors. As Hillary kept pointing out in the debates, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered in our presidential election—and every bit of it was against Hillary and therefore pro-Trump. Why? What were they expecting for their efforts?
  1. Over the past few years Trump has criticized seemingly every person and entity except Russia and Vladimir Putin. Why?
  1. His hidden tax returns. Lots of smoke there…

We know Trump lied about his tax returns when he said, “I’ll be happy to release them once the audit is over.”  But we now know that an audit (if there really is an audit!) has nothing to do with the ability to release returns. Plus he could have released tax returns from other years. By being the only presidential candidate in decades to hide his returns we can say with certainty that he has something he doesn’t want you to see. For just one worrying concern: To whom does he owe money?  If it’s Russia, as many suggest, we need to know that. (Check my earlier column on what he’s likely hiding.)

  1. The list of people close to Trump who have questionable connections to Russia keeps growing. And those folks – including new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, senior advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and others – lied or tried to mislead about those connections.  Why?

Those are the facts.  And every one of these points is A BIG STORY.  New evidence pops up daily.

So please don’t say “this is a witch hunt.”  It’s not.  In this case, there is a thick layer of smoke, and where there’s smoke, there’s liars.

Spread the word. We have to keep the pressure on. Our democratic values and America’s reputation as a trusted world leader are at stake.

Thanks for caring about the truth.

Ken

 

Trumpcare’s Pre-Existing Condition

Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. It may turn out that Obamacare will be seen in a similar light.

Democrats readily acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act needs revision. This is a massive program and we knew going in that it would take years to work out the kinks. It is certainly not in a “death spiral” as some say. The uninsured rate is low and millions of folks have health care insurance for the first time in their lives. (For a quick reminder of what Obamacare really is and why it was needed, check out this column.)

But Republicans are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to come up with something better. Right now CNN is reporting that 21 GOP members of Congress are leaning towards a NO vote on Trumpcare. That puts it on the cusp of failing to pass. Politically, they’re stuck; if they make the plan more lenient the conservative wing will bolt, and if they make it even more stringent (the CBO says 14 million people will lose insurance in the first year!) more “moderates” will defect.

Here’s the GOP’s problem in a nutshell. Insurance is pure numbers. The insurance companies need to balance X expected income against Y expected outflows. When Obama said those firms could no longer discriminate against those with a pre-existing condition, and that they could no longer set life-time caps, it was based on having large numbers of younger, healthier folks sign up for health insurance. Hence the mandate; it forced those younger people to buy the insurance.

But now President “Nobody knew health care was so complicated!” (um, everyone knew) has promised to keep all of Obamacare’s good parts. Heck, he went further and promised to deliver health care for all Americans. Great.  Now go figure out how to do it. Without Medicare for everyone, or some sort of mandate to increase the pool of insured people, you can’t make the numbers work. Period. Thus the Republicans have boxed themselves into a corner.

The great irony is that if any form of Trumpcare passes a vast swath of Trump voters will be the ones hurt most by the new plan. Then again, they are the ones polls show are most likely to not know that Obamacare is the Affordable Care Act. Which would be funny … were it not a matter of life and death.