Posts Tagged GOP

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT THAT DONALD TRUMP JUST DOESN’T GET?

It is common knowledge that Iran finances terrorists and terrorist organizations!  There is little doubt, if any, about that fact.

The major nuclear powers, (U. S., China, Russia, Germany, France and the U. K.), referred to as the “P+5,” negotiated with Iran to curtail its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.  The Agreement was finally agreed upon—with Iran downgrading most of its enriched uranium, shipping 95% of the centrifuges to a third country, and enabling the IAEA to monitor its activities and make unannounced inspections.  The Agreement was finally signed on November 24, 2015.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had told the U. N. General Assembly, in a speech on November 27, 2012, that Iran was within two or three months of having a nuclear bomb.  And then again, in a March 3, 2015, address to a Joint Session of the U. S. Congress, he said that the Iran deal  “would all but guarantee that Iran gets [nuclear] weapons, lots of them.”  Of course, Mr. Netanyahu did not mention that Israel has had a nuclear weapons arsenal for three decades.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, stated that such an agreement would be a positive move. The Saudis are the de facto leader of the more moderate Muslims in the Middle East; however, they also finance extremist factions and terrorism.

Given the length of time involved in addressing just this one—obviously most important—problem, there was no way for the nuclear powers to work-out an all-inclusive solution to all of its contentions with Iran.  Accordingly, those other dangerous activities are not part of the Nuclear Agreement.

The Republicans in Congress had never favored the Nuclear Agreement, and when (then) Speaker John Boehner invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, they didn’t even pay sitting President Barack Obama the courtesy of an advisory phone call.  Neither did Prime Minister Netanyahu even call to suggest a short visit with Mr. Obama.

Once again, Donald Trump appears ignorant of the importance of keeping Iran from having nuclear weapons, and he cannot understand why its other activities would have to be handled separately.  Additionally, while Iran’s nuclear arms program might be somewhat narrow in scope, its many other offensive activities reach far and wide, and certainly could not be dealt with all at one time.

As usual, Donald Trump appears to have learned nothing during his nine months in office. Secretaries Rex Tillerson, of State and James Mattis, of Defense, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and the Joint Chief’s of Staff had all recommended that Trump not change the Iran Nuclear Agreement.  Trump, however, apparently ignored that expert advice, and he just might go along with what he had proclaimed on the campaign trail, several years ago!

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TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER, IS INTENDED TO UNDERMINE THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT! WILL CONGRESS LET HIM?

Donald Trump and the Congressional Republicans have been hell-bent on Repealing “Obamacare,” (A/K/A The Affordable Care Act) either literally or figuratively.  Although today’s Executive Order directly effects small businesses, as it pulls participants from Obamacare, the eventual effect will be to weaken it.

Early polls show that a majority of Americans, based on a poll sample, are leery of their intentions.  Personally, I believe that the Order will face a severe Court attack, by a number of state Attorney’s General.

Let me suggest several key health insurance considerations:

1. Health insurance is something that you buy when you are healthy, so that you will be covered when you are sick or injured.

2. Just “having insurance” is not enough if it doesn’t cover a wide range of potential health problems.

3. Insurance companies set their premiums through an actuarial analysis of the “risk pool”—the demographics of the total number of plan participants.  Such statistical analyses become more accurate as the pool size increases, thus reducing the wide swings in health problems covered, as well as the cost.  Furthermore, premiums will also generally rise and fall as the demographics—average age and projected health—change.

As with any Trump policies, this Order has been wrapped in secrecy, and virtually devoid of specifics.  But, based on assumptions by tax analysts, the following comments are relevant regarding what we know so far.

Small companies would be able to band together, forming “association health plans” throughout the country, and buy insurance outside of Obamacare.  This would constitute a dual-tiered national health care plan, which could possibly add to the participants out-of-pocket expenses.

Association health plans would also permit the purchase of low-cost, limited, and short-term plans.  Low cost, and limited, plans appear to take us back to the pre-Obamacare days, when coverage was quite limited—including maternity and mental health—and “pre-existing conditions” was often used to deny coverage.

Insurance, as noted earlier, should not be considered as a short-term investment.  Yes, investment!   Generally, when you buy any type of insurance, you are hoping that you will never have that serious injury or illness, auto wreck, house fire, etc.  Accordingly, short-term health care plans are insane!

Tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts are also included.  HSAs have traditionally been available only to somewhat higher-paid employees, employed by corporations, and the money grew tax-free until used.

If the new association health plans pull participants out of Obamacare, they would generally be the younger and healthier workers, who might prefer the lower premiums, as compared to the consumer protection guarantees under Obamacare.

Donald Trump has been, little-by-little, weakening Obamacare and, then, blaming it for its own demise. So far, the American People are pleased with Obamacare and, hopefully, they will convey that message to their representatives in Congress!

NOTE:  Aside from today’s Executive Order, Trump will also terminate the insurance subsidies—funded by health insurers—for low-income participants in Obamacare.

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WHAT DONALD TRUMP PREFERRED NOT TO SEE IN PUERTO RICO!

Last Tuesday, Donald and Melania Trump jetted into San Juan, Puerto Rico, supposedly to survey the situation.  He held court with Commonwealth, Local and Federal officials, in which he did most of the talking.  During the photo-op, he reminded the People of Puerto Rico that they were lucky not to have suffered a Real Hurricane, like Katrina in 2005.

The Federal Government has failed miserably to respond to the needs of the American Citizens who live on Puerto Rico, as well as the US Virgin Islands.  But Donald Trump, in his delusion, boasted of what a great job he and his Regime had done.

Then, Trump also suggested that the clean-up—skipping over the immediate need for basic human needs—will cost his budget quite a lot of money.  Wouldn’t that be an issue for him to take up with Congress, rather than with people who have nothing—few working ATMs to get cash, nothing available to buy, and no jobs!

Donald and Melania then traveled ten miles from San Juan, to a very upscale, gated community, where there was only negligible damage.  If the Trump convoy had only traveled another ten miles, where the average Puerto Ricans live, he would have seen the real horror that is Puerto Rico, and no doubt the Virgin Islands, today!

As U. S. Citizens, the residents of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are free to migrate to the Mainland.  Florida has one million Puerto Ricans, only surpassed by New York; however, many of those (up north) had arrived several decades back.

Florida, on the other hand, has become a mecca for Hispanics—predominately in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale—but, 500,000 Puerto Ricans also live along the I-4 Corridor, the East-West highway, connecting Tampa, Orlando and Cape Canaveral.

The major Florida air and seaports each have processing centers, to provide for the basic humanitarian needs for the new arrivals, and to offer a voluntary health screening to determine what, if any, health care needs the incoming Puerto Ricans might need.  Consider some of the problems which need to be identified:

1. Besides the voluntary Q & A screenings at arrival points, all health care providers, as well as social service workers and educators are encouraged to identify problems to be referred to doctors or hospitals.

2. In the aftermath of violent storms: bacterial infections; puncture wounds; and diseases spread by mosquitos and animal bites can be harmful, and even contagious.

3. Some chronic conditions, such as flu and scabies, can become chronic conditions when not treated due to a lack of power.   They can also spread easily in communal shelters.

4. Herpes B is of particular risk due to the release of a group of captive macaque monkeys in Puerto Rico during the storm, and they could spread the disease through bites and scratches.

With the predominance of senior citizens and children on the island, the usual conditions of dehydration, malnourishment, head wounds, fatigue and depression should also be considered.

Unlike major hurricanes on the Mainland, there are no major highways available to bring supplies and assistance overnight.  Also, the San Juan International Airport was not fully operational.  With SOUTHCOM, the military command having responsibility for Latin America and the Caribbean located in Miami, just 1,100 miles from Puerto Rico, a military airlift would have been relatively simple.

Over the past several decades, as major corporations had closed their facilities, many of the younger workers had moved to the Mainland.  With an inordinately older, non-working population of 3.4 million, just half of what it had been, Puerto Rico no longer needs some of the infrastructure and utility capacity financed by Commonwealth and Utility bonds.  The debt service, however, continues to be due and payable!

Last Thursday, Donald Trump’s trip was choreographed, so that he would only see what he wanted to see, speak with whom he wanted to speak, and basically confirm what he already “knew” to be true.  Unfortunately, the horrific devastation—both currently and it’s lasting after-effects—were just not on his agenda.

For a more in-depth description of the potential long-lasting effects of Hurricane Maria, on Puerto Rican’s Health, these recent articles–from the Miami Herald, and The New York Times–provide on-site descriptions.

 

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THE GREAT RECESSION—PHASE TWO!

When Bill Clinton passed the keys of the Oval Office to George W. Bush, on January 20, 2001, the American Economy was in great shape!  Clinton had just balance the Federal Budget for the first time since 1964.  The Unemployment Rate sat at 4.40%, somewhat lower than what the Federal Reserve deems “Full Employment,” at 5.00%.  (The 5.00% is an assumption for those between jobs, changing jobs, recent lay-offs, etc.)

George Bush then took the Economy and devastated it, in order to accomplish ideological goals.  He commenced to take the country into two never-ending wars, first, in Afghanistan, in 2001 and, then, Iraq in 2003.  Both wars are still going on, which causes one to wonder what our Mission Statement was.  Were they necessary? Will we ever leave?

Also early in his First Term, Bush decided to implement a series of Tax Cuts, which were primarily skewed toward the very wealthiest Americans.  Why?  Generally, a nation doesn’t lower taxes when it has one war to finance, let alone two!  Also, tax cuts for the wealthy do not usually encourage consumer spending.  On January 1, 2005, just after he had won his re-election, the Unemployment Rate was 5.30%, and the National Debt had increased from the tax cuts.

That rate began to edge up as the Economy began to stagnate.  Banks, which were undercapitalized had been taking undue risks.  Sub-prime mortgages were sold to homeowners who could least afford them.  Even worse was the packaging of these questionable loans, which were sold to unknowing bond investors as AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities.  And in the end, many of the banks, insurance companies, auto makers, etc., had to be bailed-out by the Taxpayers.

That Banking Crisis, which is commonly referred to as “The Great Recession” was first made public in October of 2007, when George Bush forced the very largest banks to take tens of billion of dollars, at virtually no interest.  He described the scenario as such: “America is looking down into a Financial Abyss.”  If you hadn’t been deeply concerned during the fourth quarter of 2007, when this all began, you certain became so after Bush’s announcement!

The Unemployment Rate of 5.00% at the beginning of 2008 quickly rose to 7.80% at the beginning of 2009.  The Bush Tax cuts, coupled with financing two wars caused the Federal Budget to spike, and the interest on the, now higher, National Debt absorbed a larger slice of the budget, as well.  Lay-offs reduced the tax polls, consumer spending declined considerably, and many small businesses closed their doors.  And credit became virtually non-existent.

Just after Barack Obama took office, on January 20, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped to 6,500, from the prior high of 14,015 in October of 2007.  Unemployment continued upward to 10.00% in early 2010.

The Obama Administration did the reverse of what George Bush did by allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire; but, he lowered rates for the middle class who, unlike the wealthy, spent their excess cash, thus giving new life to small businesses—the real job creators!  Obama’s combination of Monetary and Fiscal Stimulus began the economic recovery, which continues to this day.  The Unemployment Rate stood at 4.80%, when Obama left office last January.

Let’s consider how the two prior presidents—before Donald Trump—managed the American Economy.  George W. Bush took over a nation, which had balanced its budget, and he ran it into the ground—turning the budget surplus to a deficit, lumping the expense of ineffective tax cuts and two unnecessary wars, doubling the Unemployment Rate and halving the stock market.

Barack Obama took a completely different stance.  He almost balanced the budget, allowed the ineffective Bush Tax Cuts for wealthy to expire while lowering taxes for the middle class—the consumer class, put many small businesses back on their feet, tried to withdraw from the two Middle East wars in a gradual and rational manner, and he halved the Unemployment Rate while doubling the stock market.

Donald J. Trump seems dead set on following President Bush’s scenario.  Are we ready for another Great Recession?

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THE OPTIONAL ELIMINATION OF FREE CONTRACEPTIVES IS MORE THAN AN ATTACK ON WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE. IT DIRECTLY EFFECTS THE POOR WOMEN WHO CAN AFFORD IT LEAST!

Contraceptives are used regularly, for Family Planning, by a majority of women in America, as well as most industrialized countries.  The multitude of reasons as to why they’re ubiquitous ranges from: unexpected pregnancies; a lack of financial support for another child; rape; incest, etc.

The cost of having regular check-ups for most women would still be covered under their private or employer plans, even if they had to pay extra for the contraceptives. For lower-income women, however, the expense could be burdensome, especially if one of the major reasons for the health care plan was to gain free access to birth control.

Many low-income families rely on Medicaid, a Federal Health Care Plan, which is intended for the lowest income families in America.  Besides providing many company plans a reason to revoke free contraceptives, it is almost certain that, once the idea is tested, Medicaid would be next.  Let’s consider who requires Medicaid for their Health Care.

Medicaid enrollees are generally among the poorest of our society, those who often lack high school diplomas, and work at minimum-wage Jobs. Black and Hispanic women are disproportionately represented in this group.  Additionally, Congress could reduce the payments to health care providers, thus encouraging them to drop out of the program.  In fact, OB/GYN’s who accept Medicaid in aTexas, for instance, is already down to 33%.

Some Conservatives ask why poor people have so many babies anyway, suggesting that they just have a few?  Besides the natural course of events, anthropologists and biologists have found that early man, since they had shorter lives, tended to have their children early.

Down through the ages, poorer workers, especially those with more physical jobs, lived shorter lives, and they also had their children earlier.  And oftentimes, they reared more children due to premature death, and squalid living conditions.

The optional elimination from Health Care Plans is obviously an attack on Women’s Health Care.  Ironically, we never seem to hear about a similar elimination of Viagra—the erectile dysfunction cure—for the men!  But, while most middle and upper-income women can still make due, it is the poor, and often minority Women who are forced to suffer the most!

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AMERICA’S KILLING FIELDS—THE FORGOTTEN MASSES.

Sure, the mass murders get our attention!  There have been so many, in fact, that we can’t keep track—Columbine, Virginia Tech, of course Sandy Hook when 20 First Graders and six adults were massacred, last year’s Pulse in Orlando, and this week’s 59 deaths in Las Vegas.  But above and beyond all that, the everyday (unfortunately) shootings take the lives of many, many more Americans, some 8,121 in 2014.  Yes, these murders have become so obscenely common that they are only reported in the local newspapers.

Some Americans have breathed a sigh of relief recently, since Donald Trump, the GOP Majority in Congress and even the National Rifle Association—the face of the Guns and Ammo Industry—have agreed that something must be done about “Bump Stock” devices, which convert semi-automatic riffles into automatic.  That means they can spew their deadly cartridges at the rate of nine per second, rather than only one.  In essence, the death dealers and enablers might be throwing us a bone; but, let’s read the fine print!

Most people in America are killed by handguns, rather than rifles.  Consider: the seven year old girl playing on her front porch who was caught in a drive-by; the 18 month old who reached into his grandmother’s purse for candy; suicides; the boy walking to his high school graduation who was killed in a cross-fire; domestic abuse; neighborhood arguments; armed robbery; drug gang shout-outs; and so many, many more.  When will this madness end?

In 2014, a mass murderer drove around Santa Barbara California, near the University of California-Santa Barbra, shooting people at random—just after he had earlier stabbed a family to death.  Richard Martinez, the father of slain Christopher Martinez, posed a very important question.

As the pro-gun lobby, namely the NRA, led the call to preserve our Right to Bear Arms, Mr. Martinez asked: “They talk bout Gun Right…What about Chris’ Right to Live?” Toward the beginning of our Declaration of Independence, which states the premise for America’s Independence, the “Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are clearly presented.

So, before we get too euphoric about the potential “Bump-Stock” legislation, let’s keep our focus on the need to control all guns—from purchase, to use, to possession to training.  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are inalienable rights, which are more basic than the questionable interpretation of the Second Amendment, demand it!

NOTE:  Earlier today, I outlined my basic ideas for acceptable Gun Legislation, enabling law-abiding citizens access to firearms, while also protecting the rights of all Americans to live in peace and safety.  If you wish to plow through it, the outline is as follows:

In the beginning of The Declaration of Independence, which lays the groundwork for who we are, as a People, it states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…”  Life is a given, without context and wouldn’t change, throughout the years.

Now, Amendment II of the Constitution–“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  This right was added, as part of The Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments, on December 15, 1791, in response to the British Quartering Act, among other unjust laws of England.

Placing this in context, the Right to Bear Arms was intended to enable the Colonies to defend themselves against external forces.  Additionally, at that time, all men and boys of a certain age, owned muskets to hunt game for the family table.  This was just before “rifling”–the curved groove within the barrel, which enhanced accuracy by spinning the bullet–became common.

I believe that, in that context, universal ownership of guns–especially semi-automatic and automatic assault rifles, high capacity magazines, silencers, bump-stock rifles, and other “Toys of War”, would have required new legislation.  Additionally, safeguard–a 72 hour waiting period to purchase, registration of gun shops and shooting ranges, background checks, a National serial number registry, required courses for the proper use, maintenance and storage should be included.  Background checks should be required periodically.

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TRUMP REPEALS CONSTITUTION! REPLACEMENT DETAILS TO FOLLOW…

On May 4, Donald Trump bussed the GOP Members of the House of Representatives to the White House, so they could all grandstand together, to celebrate the passage of the latest iteration of TrumpScam!  But, poor Trumpie, in his exuberance, forgot that there’s another House of Congress, the Senate; which, doesn’t have the large majority that the lower house enjoys!

As America has now come to realize, there are some GOPpers in the Senate—and wouldn’t you know that that includes three of the five Female Republicans, along with some of the Gentlemen—who most actually do have Hearts, Minds and Souls.  After never feeling comfortable in bringing any of the Senate attempts at TrumpScam to the Floor for a Vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had decided that it was time, to meet with the Democrats and update President Obama’s Affordable Health Care.

Not to take defeat lightly; however, although he merely sat on the sidelines and let the Leadership do the heavy-lifting, Donald Trump decided to hold a command performance, once again, Lunch with the GOP Senators at the White House.  But this time, Donald Trump—star of Surreality TV, Asininity and the Twitter World–“ordered” the Senate not to Recess until he has a TrumpScam Bill to sign.   Now, this is not one of Donald’s normal irrational comments; rather, in my opinion, that “order” is both a violation of his Oath-of-Office, and the U. S. Constitution!

Donald Trump should be knowledgeable of our Constitution; which, established a government “…of the People, by the People and for the People!”  And in it, our Forefathers established three branches of government:  the Legislative; the Executive and the Judiciary. This provides for a “System of Checks and Balances,” mostly between Congress and the President, with the Supreme Court acting as referee.

So Donald, the role of the Administrative is not to order or to intimidate, either the Congress or the Courts, as to what to do or how to do it!  If you do, you would certainly be usurping the duties and authorities of other co-equal branches of government, and you might possibly be subject to harsh civil or criminal penalties.  Either the Senate Majority Leader or the Attorney General should provide you guidance in this matter.  STOP IT!

NOTE:  As we know, just like the schoolyard bully, warnings don’t work with this Jackass.  The GOP must take action; but, how many times can we continue shouting that?

 

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