President Obama reacted to the health care bill put forth by the Republicans today. It is somewhat longer than the 140 character tweet our current “president” is capable of composing, so it may take you a minute longer to read…
Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.
I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.
Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.
And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.
We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.
At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.
That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.
But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.
Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.
I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?
To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.
After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.
This is very, very strange…
President Trump declared on Monday that he had led a “record-setting” pace of activity and been one of the most productive presidents in American history.
He made the remarks at a highly unusual cabinet meeting in which he sought to deflect attention from his faltering agenda and the accusations leveled against him by his former F.B.I. director by basking in the adulation of senior members of the government.
Days after James B. Comey charged that Mr. Trump had lied and inappropriately sought to influence an F.B.I. investigation into his campaign’s possible ties with Russia, the president said the country was “seeing amazing results” from his leadership. He also promised to hold a news conference within two weeks on combating terrorism, including the Islamic State.
“I will say that never has there been a president, with few exceptions — in the case of F.D.R. he had a major Depression to handle — who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than what we’ve done,” Mr. Trump told a cabinet meeting as reporters looked on. “We’ve been about as active as you can possibly be and at a just about record-setting pace.”
Mr. Trump has yet to sign any major legislation since taking office. His effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was delayed after a failed first attempt, and his administration is months away from unveiling either a major tax cut package or the sweeping infrastructure plan he has promised.
After his introductory remarks on Monday, the president went around the table asking for a statement from each cabinet member. One by one, they said their names and paid tribute to Mr. Trump, describing how honored they were to serve in his administration as he nodded approvingly.
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve at S.B.A.,” said Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration, touting “a new optimism” for small businesses.
Ben Carson, the housing secretary, called it “a great honor” to work for Mr. Trump, while Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, offered congratulations for “the men and women you have gathered around this table.”
And amid fresh reports that his job is in danger, Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, outdid them all, telling Mr. Trump — and the assembled news cameras — that “we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing to serve your agenda.”
The loyalty pledges unfolded the day before Attorney General Jeff Sessions is due to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about his involvement with Moscow and his role in the firing of Mr. Comey. Mr. Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation.
The tableau in the White House’s Cabinet Room struck many observers, including former White House officials familiar with the day-to-day workings of the president and the senior officials in his administration, as extraordinary.
Donald Trump gave another show on the lawn of the White House today during which he announced that he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. The only problem is he can’t do that…
Countries can’t withdraw until three years after the Paris Agreement went into effect.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016 — so this means the US would have to stay with it until November 2019.
After that, the rules mandate a one-year notice period, which would mean a withdrawal in late 2020 — after the next presidential election on November 3, 2020.
Here’s what the Paris Agreement‘s Article 28 stipulates:
1. At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary.
2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.
Another Trump failure.
Once again the state of Texas takes steps backwards…
Texas lawmakers call it a push for conservative values. Critics call it discrimination.
In a flurry of activity before the state’s legislative session wraps May 29, Texas lawmakers are pushing through controversial bills that affect children and touch on hot-button issues of sexuality and religion.
On Sunday, the state Senate passed a bill that would allow adoption agencies to turn away potential parents they find objectionable on religious grounds. The bill already had House approval and now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.
And lawmakers weren’t done. The same day, the Texas House of Representatives approved a limited “bathroom bill” that would require public high school students to use restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. The measure now goes back to the Senate, which previously approved a broader version mandating that standard for everyone using public restrooms.
Abbott had made the issue a priority for the legislative session. Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers also have proposed bills or amendments allowing “religious liberty” exemptions for lawyers, pharmacists and nurses.
Someday Texas may join the 21st century. I, for one, am not holding my breath.