The Weiner Component Vol.2 #17 Republicans & Affordable Health Care

Official photographic portrait of US President...

English: Nations with Universal health care sy...

English: Nations with Universal health care systems. Nations with some type of universal health care system. Nations attempting to obtain universal health care. Health care coverage provided by the United States war funding. Nations with no universal health care. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The existence of Universal Health Care exists in most of the industrial nations as a right for every citizen.   In the United States this concept came into being in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.  Traditionally, in the U.S. up until that time health care was provided by many employers or it was for people who could afford to pay the required premiums.  The idea of Universal Health Care as a right of all citizens began in the United States in 1945 with President Harry S Truman.  It remained an idea because no legislation was passed by Congress.  Under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 Medicare was passed for senior citizens and the disabled.  Former President Harry S Truman received the first card, numbered 1.

 

For younger people, those under 65 years of age, medical coverage had to be purchased.  Millions didn’t have any coverage.  Either their jobs didn’t provide it or they couldn’t afford the required premiums.  In medical emergencies these people had to go to E.R. in hospitals or attempt to ignore their illness.  The hospitals had to provide services even if they could not collect fees for them.

 

It should be noted that even with Medicare medical services are not completely paid for.  Even today many seniors have limited financial resources.  They may have to choose between medicine, food, and/or rent.  Medications also tend to be very expensive.

 

President Bill Clinton had a committee headed by his wife, Hillary, attempt to develop a Universal Health Care Bill during his presidency.  It was finally totally defeated with the slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no Health Care Bill.  The concept was defeated during his first four years in office.

 

Under President George W. Bush a prescription payment was added to Medicare.  This did not do away with payments for medication but it reduced them considerably with the Federal Government picking up the balance.

 

It should be noted that one of the main groups of contributors to Congressional Elections, particularly Republican elections, is the pharmaceutical industry.  In turn Congress has protected their rights to charge outlandish prices for medications.  Most medications produced by these companies cost far less outside the boundaries of the U.S.  Ironically it is the taxpayers who now pick up most of the cost for medication so that politicians can more easily get contributions.

 

During the second year of the Obama administration, 2010, with the Democrats having control of both houses of Congress, the Affordable Health Care Bill was passed.  As a put-down the Republicans dubbed the bill Obamacare.  President Obama stated that he liked the title and it has been largely called that since.

 

Ironically, in order to make the bill palatable to the Republicans the Democrats built Affordable Health Care from a Republican plan, utilizing private enterprise, the insurance companies, to build a universal health plan.  Obamacare was modeled after a plan that had been developed and used by the state of Massachusetts under the Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

 

Not one Republican voted for Affordable Health Care.  They had all in caucus agreed to not support anything President Obama favored.  They were determined to make him a one term President.  The Bill was passed by the Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.  Not one Republican voted for the Bill in either House of Congress.  In fact from 2011 on, when the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, they voted over sixty times over the next six years to repeal the Bill.  Up until 2014 the Democrats had a majority in the Senate.  In 2015 the Senate barely achieved a Republican majority.  At that time President Obama vetoed the anti-Obamacare Bill.

 

With the election of the Republican Donald J. Trump as President of the United States and with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress their goal seemed within reach.  But poles ascertained that repeal of that Bill had only 17% approval among the general public.  The majority of Americans want to keep it in existence.  Affordable Health Care had become even more popular than it had been during the time when Barack Obama had been President of the United States. The number of people signing up for it in 2017 increased considerably.

 

Suddenly the Congressional Republicans had a tiger by the tail.  When the Republican legislators went home on their numerous breaks to their districts they faced unhappy constituents who were vociferous in their protest against doing away with Obamacare.  This was particularly true when the Non Partisan Congressional Office that reported upon this bill stated that 14 million people would lose their health insurance coverage if the initial Republican “repeal and replace” health bill became law.

 

After failing to get their “repeal and replace” bill through the House of Representatives the Republicans members were careful to take their two week Easter break.  When they returned there was presumably a new “repeal and replace” bill which was rushed through the House and passed before it had been evaluated by the Non Partisan Budget Office that vets all bills as to their effects.  Since the bill would be massive in size the probability was that most of the Republicans who voted for it had not read it.

 

The new bill is called The American Health Care Act.  From what I understand it makes Health Insurance available to everyone if they can afford the premiums.  Whereas Affordable Health Care attempted to make Health Insurance a right for every citizen the American Health Care Act makes it a privilege for those who can afford it.  The Federal Government will give each state a fixed amount of money which the states can use in helping their citizens pay healthcare premiums.

 

The overall amount which the Federal Government will save is estimated to be around eight billion dollars.  This will allow the Congress to pass what it calls, tax reform.  Congress and President Donald Trump intend to reduce income taxes for the upper 1% and for corporations around eight billion dollars.  The principle here strikes me as reverse Robin Hood, that is, take from the poor and give to the rich.  If this goes through Donald Trump will reduce his taxes considerably.

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Fortunately the House of Representatives passing a bill is just that, passing a bill.  The bill then goes to the Senate and the Senate has to pass the bill.  First the bill actually goes to a Senatorial Committee where hearings on it will be held and it will be marked-up, changed or rewritten into a Senate version.  A number of Republican Senators have already stated that they have their own ideas about a Senate version of a Health Care Bill.

 

Once the Senate Committee has come out with their version of the bill it then goes to the full Senate where Senators can still amend the bill before voting upon it.  After amendments are added, and each one must be voted upon separately, the bill is again voted upon by the full Senate.  At best it will have three more Republican votes than Democratic votes.  The count in the Senate is now 52 Republicans to 46 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus and vote with the Democrats.

 

It is very possible that the Republicans will not be able to get a majority vote and the bill will die in the Senate.  But even if it passes it will be different from the House bill.  Consequently the two bills will go to a Conference Committee made up of members of both Houses of Congress.  They, in turn, will have to come up with a Compromise Bill that is acceptable to both Houses of Congress.  If that were to occur then the new Compromise Bill would have to go to both Houses and be voted upon and passed in both Houses without any changes or it would have to go back to a new Conference Committee.

 

The chances of much of this happening is very small.  The probability is that the bill will not even reach the Conference Committee.  And even if it does it could easily die there.

 

What this bill will achieve is to upset the 14 million people who would lose their current medical coverage if the bill were to pass.  There is a Midterm Election coming up on the first Tuesday in November of 2018.  I am sure the Democrats in each District and State will be happy to remind their constituents of how their Republican representatives voted in 2017 on health care.  It would probably also be worth notifying them that the Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.  The probability is that the Senate will once again gain a Democratic majority and the House of Representatives could also achieve one.

 

President Donald Trump will likely be tweeting half the night if one or both Houses of Congress had a Democratic majority.  He has essentially been able to get nothing done with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.  He will probably get less than nothing done with one or both Houses of Congress in Democratic hands.

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As a point of interest, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is or was a follower of Ann Rand, at least until he found out she was an atheist, is largely responsible for the original new health bill and after the Easter Congressional break for the so-called new version of that bill that the House of Representatives passed.  He says that it is “a bogus attack from the left” to claim that the health care bill was rushed.  I suppose the “left” is the Democratic Party, as the bill was passed strictly along party lines.  No Democrat voted for it.

 

Ryan did not wait for the Non Partisan Congressional Office to study and give the over-all effects of the bill.  Rushing the bill through the House meant, not giving the constituents a chance to complain.

 

It is also interesting to note that Ann Rand basic philosophy, which she applied to her novels dealt with the Hegelian method, thesis vs. antithesis which she turned into individuals acting against each other in her two major novels: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  Her form, in both novels dealt with the super individual functioning or struggling against the uncaring group.  In essence it would be the super human vs. the uncaring masses.  I suppose to Ryan it means him against the masses.

 

This philosophy was developed in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century.  Its prime example would be Germany’s concept of the Master Race.  I would guess that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives mentally includes himself among that group.  This is the man that pushed through the current House Health Bill which will, if passed, take medical insurance away from 14 million people and also increase the wealth of the well to do by decreasing their taxes.

The Weiner Component #108 – What Do the Republicans Stand For?

Breakdown of political party representation in...

Breakdown of political party representation in the United States Senate during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican Light Blue: Independent (caucused with Democrats) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 2014 Midterm Election there was a 37% turnout of voters, the smallest since 1942. People made a statement by not voting. It seems that the statement made was a negative one. The majority of voters were very unhappy with both major political parties. The Republicans denounced virtually everything and the Democrats gutlessly distanced themselves from the President and everything he’s done. The 113th Congress for the 2012 to 2014 period had accomplished less than any other Congress in the entire history of the United States. The people were disgusted with their government.

Even though the election was a denunciation of the current political system in Washington and many of the state governments, the election, with the low vote, favored the Republicans. They achieved a majority in both Houses of Congress. Many of their leaders announced mistakenly or stupidly that this election was a referendum on their policies.

If in their minds they acted as though the election were a referendum on their positions, then what do they stand for?

Numerous members of the Tea Party have been elected since 2010. These people constitute a fair percentage but not the majority of the Republicans in Congress. Their goals seem to be the smaller the government the better. Their basic attitude seems to be anti-scientific; they do not believe in science, at least not in the fact that carbon emissions can effect climate conditions, that people by their poor uses of resources are changing weather conditions.

They also, with the evangelicals, are against abortion. Many of them oppose it in all cases, including rape and incest; some of them even oppose contraception use as a form of abortion. They are ready to force women to have unwanted children but do not see any point in helping raise these unwanted youngsters with financial or any other type of help.

They want to get rid of Obamacare (Affordable Health Care). If they were capable of doing this it would bring immediate hardship to millions of Americans who have benefited significantly from this law. Ironically this law was first designed by a far right think tank, Citizens United and applied by former Republican governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. It uses private enterprise as the base in establishing universal health care for the people of the state. The Democrats chose it to satisfy the Republicans. Obviously it did not.

The majority of advantages from this law apply mostly but not completely to those who didn’t have any health care. The Act was designed to reduce overall health care costs by making services available to those 32 million who did not have any medical coverage. Preventive services are included which lowers health care costs by treating diseases before they become serious. The government pays for people who can’t afford health insurance. Insurance companies that now get a lot more business cannot deny children or adults coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies can no longer drop anyone from coverage once they get sick. Parents can put their children up to age 28 on their health policies. The Act lowers the budget deficit by 143 billion over the next decade. Because of this plan the increase in medical costs are about 4% for the 2014-2015 year rather than the usual 10 or 11% yearly.

If the Republicans were to be successful in canceling Obamacare there would be a lot of people in the country who would suddenly lose their family health care for themselves and their adult children who generally would be in college. This would not help those who would find their policies changed because of a family member with a prior condition. They would be extremely upset if they had to pay more for less coverage. There’s no question but this would seriously affect their votes in the next major election in 2016.

The Republicans are very good at being against things, but very poor at being for anything. What would they offer the people in place of Obamacare? They have mentioned nothing positive. The few things that they tend to be for are lowering the tax rate for the upper 10 or 15% of the population. These people currently pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than the rest of the public. They are also for the Keystone XL Pipeline and protecting our southern border. There is no problem with protecting our northern border.

Their overall desire seems to be to go back historically to France before the Revolution when the rich and nobility paid no taxes; all taxes were paid by the poor. After all John Boehner has numerous times called the rich the “job creators.” Congress, according to the Republicans, doesn’t want to tax the “job creators.” Of course the question could be raised: “Where are the jobs these people are creating?” Boehner likes to make meaningless comments.

The question on immigration is an interesting one. The system is essentially broken in the United States. Families are constantly being broken, parents are deported but their children are citizens because they were born here. Young men and women going to college are not citizens because they were brought here as small children. The entire system is not functioning in a sane manner. Approximately a year and a half ago, five hundred and some days earlier the Senate, working with both Democrats and Republicans, painfully developed an immigration bill and passed it. Even though it had enough support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, refused to bring it up before the House. It seems that a minority of the Republicans, the far right opposed the bill. It appears that Boehner felt that he would lose the Speakership if he brought up the bill. Because of John Boehner’s ego needs the immigration bill did not become law and President Obama has taken executive action which the Republicans loudly denounced before going home for Thanksgiving. They have threatened a law suit, shutting down the government by not funding it, and impeachment. In the end they just left Washington, D.C. quickly for the holiday.

It should also be noted that immigration reform is popular with the general public. In essence here the will of the people is being thwarted by a reactionary minority and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

They also go ballistic over protecting our borders, particularly our southern border with Mexico and South America. This, I understand, is included in the immigration bill that the Republicans have refused to take up in the House of Representatives. The immigration policy will not go as far as electrifying the fences, which, I understand, some Republicans would like to do.

Historically the Republicans freed the slaves with the Civil War and have always favored business growth. They still favor business growth by wanting to reduce the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and lowering taxes for corporations.

Also they traditionally want to increase the military and lower all entitlement programs. In essence they support the rich at the expense of the rest of the society. Their attitude does go back to France as it was organized before the late 19th Century Revolu

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

tion.

Can we trust this political party with all their negative imagery to run the United States? If you weren’t among the top 10 or 15% what would you expect to gain from them. Their anti-abortion and contraceptive programs could well rapidly increase the population; but their decrease in entitlements and anti-Obamacare possible legislation could cause a lot of these youngsters to die prematurely.