The Weiner Component V.2 #22 – The Medical Insurance Scam

Virtually every industrial country in the world, with the exception of the United States, has an automatic government plan that medically covers all its citizens for doctors, hospitals, prescriptions, and medical devices.  They tend to be covered by taxes and are administered by the government of each country.  In all of these countries less money is spent on the medical coverage than currently in the United States.  These plans are administered by the perspective governments and do not exist for profit.  They exist for service to all the citizens.

 

The United States is the one exception to all this.  Here medical coverage, even with government backing exists for private profit.  All the medical plans are administered, directly or indirectly for private profit.  Affordable Health Care or Obamacare was based upon a Republican plan first developed by a Republican Think Tank for the State of Massachusetts and applied by Mitt Romney when he was governor of that state.  It incorporates private enterprise into a state system of universal state health care.

 

This plan was taken over by the Obama administration in order to glean Republican participation when it was first introduced in 2010 by a Democratic dominated Congress and President.  It got zero support from the Republicans in both Houses of Congress.  Not one Republican legislator in either House of Congress supported it.  In fact it has been loudly denounced by Republican legislators since its appearance in 2010.  Ironically President Donald Trump has complained that not one Democratic legislator has supported the Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

 

Interestingly Obamacare’s popularity has phenomenally increased now that the Republicans control both Houses of Congress and the Presidency.  Republican legislators are no longer holding Town Hall Meetings with their constituents in order to explain their “repeal and replace” Obamacare.  They don’t like being hassled by the people who elected them, over this issue.

 

Currently the House of Representatives has passed a bill which dramatically limits Health Care to those who can afford it.  The estimate is that this bill if it were to become law would remove over the next few years 39 million people from insurance coverage.  They would not be able to afford it.

 

It should also be noted that the Republicans are keeping the minimum wage at seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour.  And anyone earning that much with a family is not only well below the poverty line, they also have to apply for government aid to survive.  Even Walmart now pays their employees a higher wage.

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The Senate has secretly put forth its own version of Trumpcare.  This was developed by an elderly group of male, white senators.  There are Republican women in the Senate but none of them were on the committee that wrote the bill.  Since the Senate has a majority of two; there are 52 Republican Senators, 46 Democratic ones, and 2 Independents who vote with the Democrats, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate Republicans, can only lose two votes in order to pass the bill.  At present there are more than two Republican Senators, both on the left and right of the party, who refuse to support the bill.

 

The bill came out late on the week of June 19th and McConnell did not have the votes to pass it.  A revised version was developed on Monday, June 26.  He wanted a vote on the bill before the July 4th Recess.  He did not have the support needed to pass it. Most medical groups like the AMA announced that they are opposed to the bill.  McConnell has put off a vote on the current bill until after the July 4th Recess.  His new strategy seems to be that if enough Republicans in the Senate vote against the bill he will have to get together with Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic minority leader, to put a bill through the Senate.

 

It is also worth considering that if, by some miracle, a Senate version of “repeal and replace Obamacare” is passed, the bill will be different from the House version.  In order for the bill to become law both versions have to be identical and then the President has to sign it.  So far the only place Trump has put his signature has been upon his innumerable executive orders.  He has signed no major legislation.  In fact the Koch Brothers have gotten disgusted with the lack of conservative legislation and have stated that they will write no more checks until the Congress and the President pass some conservative laws.

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The entire concept of what the Congress and the President have attempted is a giant scam that they are attempting to perpetrate upon the American people.  The basic problem to quote President Donald J. Trump is to find out: “What the Hell is going on with his repeal and replace Obamacare?”  Is he hoping to set up a universal medical plan with “heart,” or is he throwing the general public symbolically under the bus?

 

Trump assumed the presidency on January 20, 2017.  It is now the beginning of July.  So far he and the Republican dominated Congress have achieved nothing legislatively.  No new major laws have been passed.  In fact the Congress was more effective under President Obama.  The basic question is: What the Hell is going on?  And what emerges is a dismal image of what Trump and the Republican legislators in both Houses of Congress are trying to do.

 

Trump and his cabinet are all millionaires and include some billionaires.  They are, among other things, touting Tax Reform.  This Tax Reform is lowering their own taxes, in some cases by millions of dollars.  They see lowering taxes for the very rich as Tax Reform.

 

Most taxes are regressive; that is, the more one earns the smaller a percentage of their total income is paid in taxes.  Among these there are use taxes which generally pay for road usage or sales or excise taxes which everybody pays equally.  In all these cases the richer a person is the smaller a percentage of their income they pay in taxes.

 

The one exception to this is the income tax which is paid to the Federal and some State Governments.  It is a progressive tax, that is, the higher a person’s income the greater a percentage of it is paid in taxes.  This is true up to a point.  At an income of $418,400 a taxpayer pays 39.6% of his taxable income.  Thereafter, no matter how much more the individual earns he still pays 39.6% of his taxable income to the Federal Government.  The income tax has now become regressive; the percentage paid decreases as the income goes beyond $418,400.

 

Trump and the Republicans want to lower the amount that is currently paid to twenty plus percent.  This is Tax Reform as far as Trump and the Republicans are concerned. They want to allow the upper two percent of the population and the rich corporations to keep a greater percentage of their earnings.  The price in order to do this is to gut Obamacare by reducing its cost by nine billion dollars.  It’s a case of helping the rich by taking from the poor.  And, of course, the Republicans can’t afford their tax reform unless they take the money from the poor and elderly.  Consequently, in order to reduce their own taxes, they have to gut Obamacare.

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What amazes me is that the United States is the richest country that ever existed.  Yet we cannot afford medical care for our entire population.  In order to allow for an additional tax benefit for the rich, such as Trump and all his cohorts we have to take benefits away from the overall population, particularly from the elderly and the young who desperately need the financial aid the Federal and State Governments are now applying.  Somehow our priorities are upside down.

 

The irony here is that medical care in the U.S. as it exists today costs about three times that spent in practically all the other industrial nations, which provide health care for all its citizens.

 

And why does this state of affairs exist?  The answer is the upkeep of our political system.  Elections are exceptionally expensive in the U.S.  The members of the House of Representatives run for office every two years; in the Senate it is every six years, a third of the Senate run every two years; and there is a Presidential Election every four years.  These elections are inordinately expensive.  They are paid for by non-tax-deductible donations.  The tobacco industry used to be one of the main contributors; but it has been proven and generally accepted today that smoking causes cancer.  I imagine that they are still contributing to political campaigns but they are today a minor player.  Tobacco has been replaced by pharmaceuticals.  Congress has fixed pharmaceutical laws so that they can charge more in the United States for their products than in any other nation.

 

Anyone living in the United States close to Canada or Mexico can get their medications at a percentage of what other American citizens have to pay.  The politicians are having the rest of us pay more so that they can get generous contributions from the pharmaceutical companies.  These medications being sold in the U.S. or other countries are all being produced by the same companies.  They are all identical.  Yet they are sold overseas for far less than in the U.S.

 

The Republicans are also against any form of socialism.  Having a single provider of medical care in the country is in their minds a form of Socialism.  This, to many people, equates to communism, which, by definition, is bad.  The Republicans believe in a Market Economy; that is, having different private concerns competing against one another handling the process.  That may have worked in the 19th and 20th Centuries, it does not work today.  There are limited numbers of health providers in each state today and they are actually oligarchies controlling their market prices for excessive profit.

 

Private enterprise, even those that are non-profit, work for a profit or to pay large salaries.  That added cost makes them all too expensive.  The governments function is to serve the public.  They are the largest employers in the country.  They operate Social Security, Medicare, and the different state Medicare programs.  These agencies exist for the public good, not for profit. The federal, state, and local governments also operate innumerable industries: TVA, city electrical systems.  There are innumerable water districts to name a few of the government run businesses.  Those operations have been going on for years.  They have not failed but have provided necessary services for the public good.

 

Medicare, throughout the industrial world, is paid for by taxes which everyone pays according to their ability.  It is equally distributed to all the citizens of the country paying their share progressively.

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Apparently the Trump plan with “heart,” to quote him, is to allow twenty-two million people to lose their health coverage.  Currently, I find, everything about Trump and the Republicans repulsive.  They are essentially a selfish group that want to serve a small group within the society at the expense of everyone else.  They are currently being frustrated by not being allowed to do this.  Historically, it seems, they would like to take the United States back to where the French were just before the Revolution of 1789.  I suspect the Midterm Election of 2018 should be very interesting.  The problem is the period until that election.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #5 Part 2 – President Donald J. Trump

Imagine a 17 year old adolescent in an over-fed 70 year old body with all sorts of insecurities who thinks of himself as being king of the world, and is surrounded by “yes men,” and you have an image of Donald J. Trump.

 

President Donald J. Trump is a Dorf.  In certain areas he is very secretive, while in other areas he makes constant dramatic public announcements, always talking about his great achievements.  Thinking back over former President Barack Obama’s eight year tenure as Chief Executive one remembers a formal signing of the Affordable Health Care Bill during his second year in office.  Looking back after Donald Trump being in office for three weeks there have been innumerable signings of his many Executive Orders.  He seems to take the position of a 16th Century European monarch, continually giving orders to the country.  But we are in the 21st Century and many of his Executive orders end up being suggestions for Congress to pass bills, which they may or may not do.  Most of his Executive Orders do not initiate anything.  Others are like his tweets: single sentences that tend to be fairly to very general in the area in which he is dealing.  The results of these can be obscure as his language use may not be clear.  All of them are in a black folder ready to be put on a shelf in his library after he retires from office.

 

Among other things President Trump ordered the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to not make any public reports about pollution or anything that would upset his plans to limit the industrial expansion by increasing pollution.  He also ordered other units of government to not release or publish any similar type of information.  In turn when the general public became aware and protested loudly Trump backed down.  One wonders how much repression he is going to attempt.

 

In addition all ads urging sign-ups for Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) were cancelled.  And this includes those that had been already paid for.  His actions in this area threaten to undermine the nation’s medical insurance market by continually changing the parameters under which these policies are written, causing the insurance companies to lose their predictability factors as to what to charge for their services.

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On Friday, January 24th, just four days after he had assumed the presidency, Donald Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the issuing of visas to Muslims for 90 days from seven specific countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia.  He did not bother with our close ally, Saudi Arabia from which Osama bin Laden, the organizer and head of al-Qaeda, came.

 

The Secretary for Homeland Security is in charge of this move that is protecting the United States from foreign terrorist’s entry into the country.  No refugee will be admitted into the country for the next 120 days.  No one will be allowed in from Syria at all.  Muslim students, who are in the process of going to a U.S university and have gone to visit their parents over the holidays, generally will not be allowed back into the country.  Non-Muslims (Christians) from these countries will be allowed into the U.S.  Trump has stated that this is not a Muslim ban.

 

The result of this has been mass confusion at the nation’s airports.  The immediate effect has been to cause immediate confusion since a number of people from these seven countries were already in airplanes flying to the U.S.  Also the Home Security Agents at the airports stopped all Muslims coming into the country even those who ordinarily live in the United States and are returning home to their families. 

 

The Executive Order was passed with no warning.  Military officers are contending that it will hurt their relations with members of these countries who are fighting ISIS.  In fact an Iraqi legislator wanted to bring up a bill that would exclude all Americans from that country.  Inside the State Department some officials are contending in a document that closing the nation’s doors to 200 million people in order to weed out a handful of would-be terrorists will not make the nation safer but might instead increase the threat of violence.  The State Department affirmed the existence of this internal memo on Monday, January 29th. 

 

Meanwhile it’s been madness at the airports across the nation with millions of Americans peacefully and loudly protesting Trump’s edict.  The ACLU has been present at all these airports ready to represent the incoming Muslims.  It should be noted that even some top Republicans criticized the directive. 

 

The White House defended the Executive Order rollout as a success.  On Friday it led to the detention of more than 100 people landing at airports across the nation with valid entry documents.  Well over 200 individuals with valid visas were denied permission to board flights to the United States.   

 

An emergency stay was issued by a Federal Judge in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday.  In other areas of the country four other Federal Judges issued temporary stays.  Trump tweeted about Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham objections that despite a rigorous existing security process, arrivals until now have not been properly vetted. 

 

The interesting note or irony to all this is that under President Barack Obama vetting of immigrants could take up to two years.  But under President Trump it is currently limited to 120 days.  Apparently Trump has a need to direct everything as President.  It as though in his mind nothing happened before he entered his new office.  In any event he does have the ability to increase his negative image among the American people.  He is probably the only president in the history of the country who can continually increase his unpopularity level among the people of the country.  And this during his first week in office.

                         

During the first week of February a Seattle Judge issued a national temporary restraining order on the ban after Washington State and Minnesota sued.  The Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit Court.  They argued that the president has the Constitutional power to restrict entry into the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism.  The states argued that Trump’s ban harmed individuals, businesses, and universities.  They cited Trump’s campaign promise to stop Muslims from entering the U.S., stating that the ban unconstitutionally blocked entry to people based upon religion.  All three Judges on the Appeals Court sided with the states.  The cancelation of the ban was continued. 

 

Trump stated that he will appeal the case.  If the second appeal goes before the Supreme Court with four conservative Judges and four liberal Judges and the result is a tie then the 9th Court Appeal’s decision stands.  The probability, however, is that at least one or two of the conservative Judges will probably uphold the Appeals Court decision, then it will be 5 to 3 or 6 to 2 in favor of upholding the lower court’s verdict.  Trump has a problem with rejection.  What does he do then?

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During his first twenty days in office President Trump has gone from crisis to crisis.  In all probability each new crisis was supposed to wipe out all objections on the preceding one.  In all it’s been a strong emotional ride for the American public.

 

First came his non-resolution for his conflict of interest.  He refused to get rid of his business interests and set up a blind trust.  Instead he turned all his business interests over to his older sons.  Presumably he will have nothing to do with them while he is president.  But as President-Elect he charged a multi-thousand dollar entry fee to anyone who wanted to spend New Year’s Eve at his party with him in his Florida club.  He brought back the Keystone XL pipeline which Obama had canceled and in which he invested quite a bit of money.  He also took on Nordstrom because they dropped his daughter’s business.

 

On his first full day in office there was the Women’s Protest March throughout the major and many minor cities of the United States and throughout Europe.  This was a historical first in the United States. 

 

Meanwhile he disrupted relations with our neighbor Mexico by insisting that Mexico will pay for the 12,000 mile Wall he is going to build between the two nations.  The Mexican President cancelled a diplomatic visit with the “world’s greatest negotiator,” as Trump has defined himself.

 

He has insisted that Obamacare is a disaster and that it will be replaced by a better plan.  The Republican Congress has begun the process of defunding Affordable Health Care but there doesn’t seem to be any replacements.  In fact the only plan there is in existence now is a voucher system, which has been discussed but not acted upon.  This will cost the recipients more every year since the probability is that medical costs will rise but the costs paid out in vouchers will not go up.  The Republicans talk about making access to what will be Trumpcare available to all but not about helping fund it for those who cannot afford to buy it.

 

Trump generated the Muslim Travel Crisis to the U.S. without any warning to anyone.  In essence he has shut the nation’s door to most refugees.  Even though, at least, five Federal Judges have put temporary bans upon the order from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Trump has declared his ban a success.  He has threatened to make it permanent.  An Appeals Court has found it unconstitutional.  To Trump the point that it not constitutional would seem to be beside the point.  He says that it is necessary to keep terrorism out of the country.

 

The former Acting Attorney General has refused to defend Trump’s Executive Order in Court.  His response has been to fire her.  An interesting note of interest here is the fact that when the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, was being questioned by the Senate, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the current, as of a few days ago,  Attorney General asked her who was primary in her carrying out her function in the Department, the President or the rule of law?  Her answer was the rule of law.  Trump fired her for doing just that.  He placed another person in her position who would use the Department to support the President rather than the rule of law.  And now that Jeff Sessions is Attorney General where will he place the emphasis?

 

Trump has appointed a reactionary individual, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, to replace the former conservative Justice, Antonin Scalia, who died about a year ago.  A large percentage of Democrats believe the Trump has stolen a Supreme Court seat that should have come under the jurisdiction of President Barack Obama since Scalia died about a year ago and Trump has been President for a little over three weeks.

 

We are also dealing with the question of lifting sanctions placed upon Russia after she invaded and seized sections of some of her neighboring countries.  And the issue of Sanctuary Cities where the local enforcement authorities cannot be used by the Federal Government to enforce Federal Immigration laws or edicts against Muslims.  The California Legislature is currently dealing with a bill to make the entire state a Sanctuary one.

 

The interesting note of irony here is that the Republican Party is the minority political party in the United States.  They have essentially gotten control of Congress by gerrymandering political districts and the presidency with a minority vote.  Can Trump and the Republicans continue to enforce their will upon the American People?  There is a midterm election in November of 2018 and a Presidential Election in 2020.