Yes! We Finally Have a Plan!

For a couple of weeks we have had this story about the secrecy that is surrounding the Senate’s health plan…of course we have also had those that tried to divert the attention by saying all sorts of stuff about when Obama was working on the ACA….that is a moot point…it is law and the Senate is trying to change that…..

After lots of angry diatribes about the secret bill we finally have word about what this new bill will contain……

Senate Republicans on Thursday finally unveiled their answer to the House bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and Vox has an explainer of what’s in it. Some major sticking points: The Better Care Reconciliation Act will ask poor and middle-class Americans to pay more for less coverage, and Medicaid would be cut after expansions are rolled back. Medicaid patients would be unable to get treatment at Planned Parenthood, which would be defunded for a year. The bill also includes a tax break for the wealthy. Here’s what else you need to know:

  • First, Politico has the full text of the 142-page document Republicans are calling a “discussion draft.”
  • Three Republican senators can defeat the bill by joining Democrats to vote against it. FiveThirtyEight reports the most likely candidates are Rand Paul and Mike Lee (who don’t believe it goes far enough; Paul recently said he doesn’t want “ObamaCare lite”) and Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski (who want more protections for Medicaid and pre-existing conditions).
  • ABC News reports four Republican senators have already said they won’t vote for the bill without more information and negotiation: Paul, Lee, Ron Johnson, and Ted Cruz. They released a joint statement saying the bill doesn’t do enough to repeal ObamaCare.
  • The bill’s writing was cloaked in such secrecy that the Week reports as of Thursday morning quite a few Republican senators still had not seen it; Murkowski, for example, told a reporter, “I am not a reporter, and I am not a lobbyist, so I’ve seen nothing.”
  • President Trump had called the House bill “mean” and in need of “more heart.” So Scientific American takes a look to see if the Senate version fulfills that requirement.
  • When asked by a reporter if the Senate bill had enough heart, Trump called it “very good” but in need of “a little negotiation,” CNN reports.
  • According to People, police dragged protesters—some of them in wheelchairs or wearing medical devices—away from Mitch McConnell’s office and arrested them. The protesters, members of a national disability rights group, say people with disabilities are threatened by the bill.
  • Finally, USA Today reports Senate Democrats plan to fight the bill through procedural requests to slow down the process. They called for any changes to the House’s bill to be made public for at least 72 hours and be subject to CBO analysis.

Not looking good for a quick pass of this in the Senate……but then all the opposition could just be political games…..

All this could be avoided and set into law quickly…..a single payer system (someone half brain will call it socialism…the problem with that is it is not free people pay into the program)….

I have even seen a conservative case for single payer…….

The GOP’s latest health-care push is a magic show featuring the same malnourished rabbit being pulled from the same shabby top hat Republicans have been reaching their fingers into for years before pronouncing their now-familiar incantations.

Abracadabra! they always say. Allowing companies to sell insurance across state lines! Alakazam! Block-granting — is there an uglier formulation in the English language? — Medicare to the states! Presto-chango! Medical malpractice reform! Hocus-pocus! Health savings accounts! And for my last trick, keeping the expansion of Medicaid but not paying for it!

Source: A conservative case for single-payer health care

This is a simple fix that could go into effect almost immediately and the Congress could move on to something else and get on to the business of the nation.

Why is simple so difficult for politicians?

Then We Have “Executive Privilege”

WE heard the term many many times during Watergate and now with this hearing thing in full swing we are hearing it again……but what is “executive privilege”?  What do they mean?

Let’s go to the definition….

The Constitution does not specifically enumerate the president’s right to executive privilege; rather, the concept has evolved over the years as presidents have claimed it. As the courts have ruled on these claims, their decisions have refined the notion of executive privilege and have clarified the instances in which it can be invoked. The courts have ruled that it is implicit in the constitutional Separation of Powers, which assigns discrete powers and rights to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. In reality, however, the three branches enjoy not separate but shared powers, and thus are occasionally in conflict. When the president’s wish to keep certain information confidential causes such a conflict, the president might claim the right of executive privilege.

The term executive privilege emerged in the 1950s, but presidents since George Washington have claimed the right to withhold information from Congress and the courts. The issue first arose in 1792, when a congressional committee requested information from Washington regarding a disastrous expedition of General Arthur St. Clair against American Indian tribes along the Ohio River, which resulted in the loss of an entire division of the U.S. Army. Washington, concerned about how to respond to this request and about the legal precedent his actions would set, called a cabinet meeting. Although no official record was kept of the proceedings, Thomas Jefferson described the deliberations in his diary. The participants, Jefferson wrote, concluded that Congress had the right to request information from the president and that the president “ought to communicate such papers as the public good would permit & ought to refuse those the disclosure of which would injure the public.” In the case at hand, they agreed that “there was not a paper which might not be properly produced,” so Washington provided all the documents that Congress had requested. This event, though notable as the first recorded deliberation concerning executive privilege, did not carry precedential value until after 1957, when Jefferson’s notes were discovered. In 1958, Attorney General William P. Rogers cited Jefferson’s remarks as precedent for an absolute presidential privilege. Legal scholar Raoul Berger declaimed Rogers’s arguments as “at best self serving assertions by one of the claimants in a constitutional boundary dispute.” Instead, Berger argued, Washington’s willingness to turn over the requested documents shows his recognition of Congress’s right to such materials.

In subsequent incidents, however, Washington and his successors did choose to withhold requested information from Congress, citing various reasons. In 1794, for example, the Senate requested from Washington the correspondence of Gouverneur Morris, the U.S. ambassador to France, who was suspected of aiding the French aristocrats against the revolutionaries despite the United States’ official stance of neutrality. Washington provided the letters, but he censored them first, acting on the advice of officials such as Attorney General William Bradford, who said that the president should “communicate to the Senate such parts of the said correspondence as upon examination he shall deem safe and proper to disclose: withholding all such, as any circumstances, may render improper to be communicated.” The following year, Washington refused to provide the House with information relating to Ambassador John Jay’s negotiation of a treaty with Great Britain, arguing that the House had no constitutional right to participate in the treaty making process and so had no right to request materials associated with it.

A short history of the situation and its use and legality……

You now more than you did before you read this piece……you are welcome!

Believe me we will be hearing this term a lot in the coming months and now you can write on the phenom with a bit more knowledge….

Closing Thought–15Jun17

What’s Going On In Congress?

The “good old boys” seem to be making news these days…..their thoughts that women should be seen but not heard……male senators cannot move past their out of date sexism…..

First, during the Senate intel committee hearings make senators tried to silence a female senator…..

Senators were accused of sexism and possible racism Tuesday after the only minority woman on the Senate Intelligence Committee was shut down by male colleagues during the questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, was reprimanded by GOP Sens. John McCain and Richard Burr for interrupting Sessions’ answers while she was questioning him, NBC reports. Critics accused senators of having a double standard, noting that male senators before and after Harris interrupted Sessions without being told off for doing so. Less than a week ago, the same scene played out with McCain and Burr interrupting Harris’s questioning of deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, CNN reports.

Harris, the second black woman ever to serve in the Senate, is a former prosecutor who uses what the New York Times calls “a rapid-fire questioning pace more commonly seen in courtrooms.” During Tuesday’s questioning, Sessions complained that she was making him nervous. “I’m not able to be rushed this fast,” he said. When Harris asked what policy allowed him to refuse to discuss his conversations with President Trump, she interrupted him when he started describing the principle instead of the policy—and was cut off by McCain. After the hearing, Harris tweeted: “It was a simple question. Can Sessions point to the policy, in writing, that allows him to not answer a whole host of our questions today.” She added: “The women of the United States Senate will not be silenced when seeking the truth.”

During a senate committee hearing on health Sen. Murray was interrupted by her male counterpart…….

In a meeting of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) tried to demand a public hearing on the Senate health care repeal bill. She was summarily denied by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN):

Alexander then proceeded to spend the next two minutes scolding Murray for supposedly going off topic, claiming he had no interest in a bipartisan hearing on Obamacare repeal because he already held one several months ago — before passage of the House bill — and Democrats “did very poorly” at that hearing.

Notably, Alexander did not at any point make an attempt to justify why nobody has a right to see the Republican health care bill. Nor did he address Murray’s point that the Democrats who passed Obamacare held months of bipartisan public meetings and let Republicans amend the bill. He simply silenced her and plowed on.

Then “good old boys” cannot stand the fact that they must treat the female Senators as equals……at least learn some simple respect…..advice for these tools…..”to get respect you must give respect”.

Time to replace this antiquated thinking and remove the Senate into the 21st century.

Time to smile and take a nap…..see you guys later….chuq

Crap! Someone Lied!

Yesterday was full of news…horrible news….the high rise fire in London, the shooting of a US Rep and others and then came the proverbial “other shoe”……

After many Tweets about the fact the he, Trump, was not the focus of any investigation…that damn “shoe” was thrown into the mechanism….

It’s not an entirely happy 71st birthday for President Trump as the Washington Post reports what it calls a “major turning point” in the FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct justice, officials say. Though former FBI Director James Comey repeatedly told Trump he was not personally being investigated, that changed days after Trump fired Comey, officials say. Until now, the nearly year-old investigation has focused on Russia’s meddling and whether the Trump campaign was involved with it. Now, as the probe widens to include the obstruction of justice question, five people who have been briefed on requests from Mueller say that he is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of that examination.

Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Adm. Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’ former deputy, Richard Ledgett, have all agreed to be interviewed, the officials say. The Post has details of exchanges with Coats and Rogers that are reportedly of interest to Mueller, including a March 22 conversation in which Trump allegedly asked Coats to intervene with Comey to get the FBI to back off on Michael Flynn. The response to the story from Trump’s personal lawyer: “The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.” As for what will happen if evidence of criminal activity is uncovered, the Post explains that it’s complicated. Congress would likely need to review the evidence and decide whether to start impeachment proceedings.

The people in the White House have chimed in…….

When the Washington Post reported its potential bombshell on Wednesday—that a special prosecutor is looking into whether President Trump obstructed justice—the newspaper noted that aides were urging the president not to comment about the development on Twitter. Those requests didn’t work: Trump fired off two tweets Thursday morning denouncing the “phony story,” reports Politico. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!” tweeted Trump, who didn’t specify the people he was talking about.

Trump also suggested that the obstruction development came about because his critics hit a dead end trying to prove his campaign worked with Moscow. “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice,” he wrote. The Post, and later the New York Times, say that special prosecutor Robert Mueller wants to interview three key figures to try to figure out whether Trump improperly sought their help to get James Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn. They are Dan Coats, director of national intelligence; Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency; and Richard Ledgett, former NSA deputy director.

As I heard this news I imagined my Right wing brethren having stroke…..but look at this way…now you guys have something fresh……. some new material to put down in your journals and blogs.

Let the ranting begin…..I look forward to what new insults that can be leveled at those that do not agree with my Right wing brethren.

“I Do Not Recall”

The next big thing was yesterday…..AG Sessions testifies before the Senate Intel Committee on the ever present Russian thing.

His opening statement was a rambling mish mash about his place in the Trump admin and then he went on about a desire to prosecute medical marijuana shops….an AG that has little knowledge about state’s rights….he showed his ignorance.  (but if he challenges that then other state’s rights issue should be challenged)

If one was having a drinking game during the testimony and “I do not recall” was the trigger term then you would have been hammered 30 minutes into his testimony.  It will be is most famous quote from the Hearing.

He was questioned and he answered…….

Attorney General Jeff Sessions began his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday by claiming interference in the US’ democratic process “can never be tolerated and I encourage every effort to get to the bottom of any such allegations” in his opening remarks. He went on to deny ever meeting any Russian officials to discuss interference in the 2016 election or campaign. Furthermore, he says he has no knowledge of anyone involved in the Trump campaign who held such meetings. Sessions says any suggestion he was involved in collusion with Russia is an “appalling and detestable lie.” Here’s what else you need to know from Sessions’ testimony:

  • CNN reports Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr had four things he wanted to learn from Sessions’ testimony, including: Sessions’ possible meetings with Russian officials, why he recused himself from the Russia investigation, and if he was involved in the removal of James Comey.
  • Sessions refused to discuss conversations he’s had with President Trump, according to the New York Times, saying: “I cannot and will not violate my duty to protect confidential communications with the president.”
  • The Daily Beast reports that led Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich to accuse Sessions of “impeding” the Russian investigation, telling him: “Your silence … speaks volumes.”
  • Sessions argues that just because he recused himself from the Russian investigation, that didn’t preclude him from recommending the firing of James Comey, according to the Los Angeles Times. Sessions says he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed the FBI needed a “fresh start” long before meeting with Trump about it.

Sessions responded to questions about his honesty by suggesting there are “secret innuendos” out there about him.

This was a waste of time and energy….if there is a closed door session then maybe more will be learned.

Basically, he could have gone home after his opening statement.  For he either has dementia or is lying.

As usual if you do not like what you read of my post then go to the transcript and make up your own…..or if you were smart and did not watch this circus but still want to know what was said……

Source: Transcript: Jeff Sessions’ testimony on Trump and Russia – POLITICO

My only question is…would the AG allow a witness to use the dodge ”
I do not recall” that many times without a suspicious eye?  Selective amnesia as it were.

Who Or What Killed The Middle Class?

The Middle Class has been disappearing for decades but what or who is to blame?

Easy answer….Reagan or better yet Reaganomics…..

It death spiral began with Reagan’s dash to slice taxes on the rich and it has continued ever since……

There’s nothing “normal” about having a middle class. Having a middle class is a choice that a society has to make, and it’s a choice we need to make again in this generation, if we want to stop the destruction of the remnants of the last generation’s middle class.

Despite what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or see on Fox News, capitalism is not an economic system that produces a middle class. In fact, if left to its own devices, capitalism tends towards vast levels of inequality and monopoly. The natural and most stable state of capitalism actually looks a lot like the Victorian England depicted in Charles Dickens’ novels.

At the top there is a very small class of superrich. Below them, there is a slightly larger, but still very small, “middle” class of professionals and mercantilists – doctor, lawyers, shop-owners – who help keep things running for the superrich and supply the working poor with their needs. And at the very bottom there is the great mass of people – typically over 90 percent of the population – who make up the working poor. They have no wealth – in fact they’re typically in debt most of their lives – and can barely survive on what little money they make.

Source: Reaganomics killed America’s middle class – Salon.com

The Dems have taken up the mantle of the Middle Class and so far they have failed miserably……but yet they keep trying the same failed policies that they have come to champion…..and there is NO end in sight…..

The Democrats don’t have a “white working-class problem.” They have a “working-class problem,” which progressives have been reluctant to address honestly or boldly. The fact is that Democrats have lost support with all working-class voters across the electorate, including the Rising American Electorate of minorities, unmarried women, and millennials. This decline contributed mightily to the Democrats’ losses in the states and Congress and to the election of Donald Trump.

Source: The Democrats’ ‘Working-Class Problem’ Is Worse Than We Think | Alternet

There is a slight chance that this situation can be reversed…..but the Dems are playing the same cards as they always play…..and they lose.

Sadly we are seeing the final days of the Middle Class….and few seem to care.

“Covfefe”–Closing Thought–13Jun17

“Covfefe” Returns!

Awhile back Trump Tweeted the term and the media went batcrap crazy….and yes I wrote about it….read for yourself…….

Source: “Covfefe” – In Saner Thought

It has returned……there is a move to make his Tweets part of the official record…..

First, covfefe made it into the Urban Dictionary. Now it could make it into the Presidential Records Act. Taking inspiration from White House spokesman Sean Spicer—who last week described Trump’s tweets as “official statements by the president”—Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley on Monday introduced the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically For Engagement (COVFEFE) Act, which would add “social media” materials to those preserved as official statements under the Presidential Records Act, reports Reuters. If passed, it would require the National Archives to preserve tweets from Trump’s official and personal accounts. The act would also bar Trump from deleting tweets, reports the Hill.

The COVFEFE Act isn’t meant as a dig at Trump, at least not entirely. It addresses “a legitimate issue,” per NPR, since the Presidential Records Act was crafted in 1978, before social media could’ve been imagined. “Tweets are powerful, and the president must be held accountable for every post,” says Quigley, who previously introduced the Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness (MAR-A-LAGO) Act. “If the president is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference.” The White House has yet to comment. (Here’s Spicer’s take on covfefe.)

I think that it is a stellar idea…..put all this in the presidential record or the Congressional record….it will make future research so much easier…..all other communications are on record….why not Twitter?

Time for me to put IST to bad…..I will go enjoy a nice Paella with a superb Spanish white wine, albarino….see ya tomorrow my friends.  chuq