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.

Thank You, President Obama!

Bracketed by the disastrous George W. Bush and the unstable Donald Trump, it’s clear that future historians will look kindly at Barack Obama’s presidency. On December 16, he held what was expected to be his final press conference. (He decided to have one more on 1/18/17.)  Below is a section of the opening remarks from that 12/16 session. I’ve reformatted some of the transcript to enhance the clarity and impact of his accomplishments. Nothing was changed, added or deleted from his words.

Typically, I use this year end press conference to review how far we’ve come over the course of the year.  Today, understandably, I’m going to talk a little bit about how far we’ve come over the past eight years.

  • As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent.  Today, it’s at 4.6 percent — the lowest in nearly a decade.
  • We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.
  • When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today, we’ve covered more than 20 million of them.
  • For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured.  In fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for  More than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.
  • We’ve cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half,
  • doubled production of renewable energy,
  • enacted the most sweeping reforms since FDR to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from punishing Main Street ever again.

None of these actions stifled growth, as critics predicted.  Instead, the stock market has nearly tripled.

Since I signed Obamacare into law, our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs.  And the economy is undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money.

Add it all up, and last year, the poverty rate fell at the fastest rate in almost 50 years, while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record.

In fact, income gains were actually larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top.

And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly two-thirds and protecting vital investments that grow the middle class.

In foreign policy, when I came into office, we were in the midst of two wars.  Now, nearly 180,000 troops are down to 15,000.  Bin Laden, rather than being at large, has been taken off the battlefield, along with thousands of other terrorists.

Over the past eight years, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed an attack on our homeland that was directed from overseas.

Through diplomacy,

  • we’ve ensured that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon — without going to war with Iran.
  • We opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba.
  • And we brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could very well save this planet for our kids.

And almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago.

In other words, by so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started.  That’s a situation that I’m proud to leave for my successor.  And it’s thanks to the American people — to the hard work that you’ve put in, the sacrifices you’ve made for your families and your communities, the businesses that you started or invested in, the way you looked out for one another.  And I could not be prouder to be your President.

And we, Mr. President, are proud we elected you twice to lead us. Your quiet grace and dignity in the face of unprecedented and unrelenting opposition, your deep and wide-ranging intelligence, coupled with your unbridled enthusiasm for America and Americans, have guided us through eight difficult years.

Thank you. Thank you so very much.

Thanks for caring about the truth.


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Obama’s Stock Market

Obama’s Stock Market

Remember all the horrifying predictions about what would happen if Obama became president? Millions more will lose their jobs! Runaway inflation will destroy your savings, and gasoline would hit $7 a gallon – or more! And the stock market would surely crash!  Obama, (and Obamacare) they said with certainty, is anti-business and the whole economy will tank.

You don’t remember? Well, I do, because those predictions were made daily and vociferously during the 2008 and then again for the 2012 re-election campaigns. Perhaps you don’t recall them because not one of them came true, causing the GOP soothsayers to now “forget” their own words.

This NY Times article focuses on just one aspect of Obama’s success, the U.S. stock market.

“The facts are inescapable: The Obama years have been among the best of times to be a stock investor, going all the way back to the dawn of the 20th century.

“Consider that had you been prescient enough to buy shares of a low-cost stock index fund on Mr. Obama’s first inauguration day, on Jan. 20, 2009, you would now have tripled your money. Stock market performance of this level has rarely been surpassed.”

Indeed. The facts are inescapable. You could have tripled your money!

I’m well aware that a president has limited impact on the economy in general, and the stock market in particular. Nonetheless, the scare tactics of the past have been proven wrong. Again.  Keep that in mind for the coming election.

Thanks for caring about the truth.


Obamacare and Jobs

The U.S. unemployment has stayed at 5.0% for a few months now. That’s very close to what economists consider “full employment.” Yet as recently as yesterday’s Republican debate, we heard several of their leading candidates say, again, that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is “a proven job killer.” They say it despite all evidence to the contrary. They say it with a straight face. They say it knowing it’s a lie.

Here are the facts in a nice easy to grasp picture.

ACA and jobs

That eye-opening chart is from an article published by the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. It’s accurate. But for those who might be suspicious, and since this blog is all about verifiable facts, check out all the amazing details from the Wall Street Journal, 1/8/16.

Here are a few highlights from the Journal.

  • Last year was the second-best year of job growth since 1999. The best year was 2014.
  • The share of Americans with jobs, known as the employment-to-population ratio, improved to 59.5%, the highest since May 2009.
  • As of December, the median jobless worker has been unemployed for 10.5 weeks, the shortest period since 2008 and a substantial improvement from 2010 when the typical jobless spell lasted 25 weeks.

And for those who say the jobs are part-time jobs, nope. “The economy has recovered all of the full-time jobs lost since the last recession hit eight years ago.”

Yes, the recovery could have been faster – and if the GOP had agreed to a bigger stimulus package years ago it would have been faster.

But now, whenever you hear a Republican complain about the ACA, or anything else under the Obama administration related to jobs, you know they are flat-out wrong!

Thanks for caring about the truth.


The REAL Scandal at the IRS

Republicans often tell us that the government ought to be run more like a business. Ok. Then suppose there was a business that knew for sure that for every dollar it spent it would get six dollars back. What business would turn its back on that kind of spectacular return on investment?

Well, thanks to the GOP and their blind frenzy to cut spending, that is exactly the intensely weird situation we have. The tax engine of the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service, must slash $346 million from its budget over the next nine months. That’s on top of the more than $1 billion already cut from the IRS budget since 2010. According to an article in Bloomberg Business, the estimates are that “the government will fail to collect at least $2 billion this tax season, or about $6 lost for every $1 of budget cuts. Over the past four years, there’s been a $4 billion drop in money collected through IRS enforcement actions.”

So since there will be fewer enforcement actions, “the cheaters gonna cheat” – and the rest of us will pay for it, one way or another. Brilliant.

The IRS Commissioner says the cuts will delay tax refunds, and more importantly for the long term, will reduce needed investments in technology. Meaning, things will get worse.

Also thanks to the cuts, hundreds of thousands of poor, handicapped and elderly citizens will not get the help they depend on to file properly. They’re on their own.

I would love a Republican explain how these cuts makes sense.

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It Should Have Been a Knockout.

As great as the President did in the second debate, it should have been a knockout.  The case for four more years is rock solid. Yet the Dems don’t seem able to match Repubs when it comes to pithy sound bites.

Here’s what I mean about going for knockout punches. At one point Mitt turned to the President and asked about oil production on Federal lands. (Yawn.)

In the same way, President Obama should have asked these questions…

“Governor Romney, thanks to the Bush tax cuts you paid only 14% in Federal taxes. That saved you millions of dollars. Please tell us how many jobs you created with those extra millions? How did your personal savings – much of which you sent overseas – help America in any way? “

“Governor Romney, when you ran for office in Massachusetts you campaigned as a ‘moderate.’ During the primaries you said you are ‘severely’ conservative. Which are we to believe?”

“Governor Romney, your position on abortion changed so many times that Ted Kennedy labeled you ‘multiple choice’ and you have continued to bounce from one position to another. Isn’t it true that you change your position just to get elected?”

“Governor Romney, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center said your tax cuts will cost the government $5 trillion over the coming ten years. You say you will offset those colossal tax cuts mainly by eliminating deductions and closing loopholes. That would be a massive shift in tax policy and vast numbers of Americans must feel the pain of those changes. Tell us specifically, who will feel the pain?  Homeowners? Students? Business owners? Charities? The middle class? WHO?”

“Governor Romney, for the past six years you have done nothing other than campaign for president. You had plenty of time to form your thoughts. Yet a few months ago, when you were speaking to other wealthy people, you disrespected almost half of all Americans.  That was no quick flub — you spoke at length about how you can’t be concerned with those people. Since you didn’t know you were being recorded, wasn’t speaking dismissively of 47% of Americans how you really felt?”

“Governor Romney, the main thrust of your campaign is that you know how to create jobs. Yet when you ended your one term as governor (with very low approval ratings) why was your state ranked third worst in the nation for job creation?”  (All fact checkers confirm that Mass. ranked 47th. Why is that not hammered home?!)

“Governor Romney, one of the TV ads your campaign runs the most claims that I gutted welfare reform. You approved that message. But governor, every fact checker in the country has said that ad is blatantly false. Why do you keep lying to the American public? How can we believe anything you say if you personally approve an ad that is 100% false?”

 President Obama, and all the other Dem talking heads, should be labeling Mitt a “Master Flip-Flopper.”  That phrase should have been repeated thousands of times. Mitt says only what needs to be said at the moment. He has no core beliefs. He has flipped on abortion, gun control, Afghanistan, healthcare, access to contraception, tax policy, and on and on.

And the President should come out aggressively and say, “Yes, as a matter of fact, you are much better offtoday. “ And then he should elaborate…

  • The stock market is up strongly and interest rates are down sharply.
  • Before any of my policies could take effect unemployment went all the way up to 10%. Now it is down to 7.8%.
  • Hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and their families are together tonight because I ended the war in Iraq … and we are winding down the war in Afghanistan.
  • Millions of students have (or will have) more financial help, at lower rates, than ever before.
  • Millions more Americans will have health insurance, and none of you will get jerked around by insurance companies.
  • As Joe Biden says, General Motors is alive and Bin Laden is dead!

And above all, the President and all Democrats must pound home the message that the Romney/Ryan plan of lower taxes for the rich and reduced regulation is exactly the same as George Bush and ALL Republicans – and those are the policies that brought us to the brink of a second Great Depression.  We CANNOT go back to those disastrous policies!

Romney Debates Himself

Character counts.

During the debate last week Mitt Romney looked into the camera and flat out lied. That is not an opinion.  During the entire campaign, Mitt has been saying over and over that he will reduce taxes for everyone. Obama must have been flabbergasted to hear his opponent suddenly declare “I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans.”

The following video has been viewed more than a million times.  It would be funny if the stakes were not so serious.

Watch the one minute video.  Then come back and read the transcript. Both the video and transcript are from the wonderful Daily Kos web site. And because you’re busy, I’ve added my own emphasis.

Mitt Romney, 10/3/12: I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans.

Mitt Romney, 2/22/12: There were so many misrepresentations in there it’s going to take me a little while. Number one, I said today that we’re going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by twenty percent—including the top one percent.

Mitt Romney, 10/3/12: The key to great schools? Great teachers. So I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.

Mitt Romney, 6/8/12: He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government.

Mitt Romney, 10/3/12: Actually, it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.

Mitt Romney, 3/27/12: If they’re 45 years old and they show up and they say I want insurance because I’ve got heart disease, it’s like: “Hey guys, we can’t play the game like that.” You’ve got to get insurance when you’re well, and then if you get ill, then you’re going to be covered.

It’s mind boggling. This man is running for U.S. President. I have no idea how any of this is defensible.

Mitt vs. Mitt is a recurring theme. He was a “moderate Republican” when he ran in Massachusetts, but now he swears he is “severely conservative.” He spoke back then with passion about a woman’s right to choose; now he holds a radical right anti-abortion stance.  And of course, he argued with skill about the merits of Obamacare, back when it was Romneycare.

Character counts. He won’t release his tax returns because, as Ann Romney said, it will provide “ammunition” to his opponents. (The gold-standard for transparency regarding tax returns when running for president was set by Gov. George Romney, Mitt’s father. George released 12 years of returns.)

Please, please pass this on to others. Or at least send the video link to people you know who will vote. Here’s the link again…

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