Elizabeth Warren: “People Will Die”

Published on June 22, 2017

“Medicaid is the program in this country that provides health insurance to one in five Americans, to thirty million kids, to nearly two out of every three people in a nursing home. These cuts are blood money. People will die. Let’s be very clear: Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives.”

—Senator Elizabeth Warren, commenting on the newly-released GOP healthcare bill

A as I was resting comfortably this morning, making my way through Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s latest book, Giant of the Senate, I had the TV on in the background. I saw protesters, many of them in wheelchairs, being removed from Mitch McConnell’s safe Image result for protesters in mcconnell office on capitolspace on Capitol Hill. I heard their passionate pleas. Then I saw the police take them away.

Today, of course, is the unveiling of the latest reactionary plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, which is essentially a typical Republican scheme designed to take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich (and defund Planned Parenthood, which would, sadly, increase the number of abortions Republicans say they hate). So, other than a few details, what was revealed today should not have come as a surprise to anyone. The wheel-chair protesters, obviously, knew what was coming.

Now, it so happens that I was on page 80 of Franken’s book, when MSNBC was showing the protesters and discussing not whether the latest GOP plan would do damage to people, but how much damage it would do. That’s where we are these days. In any case, starting on page 80 of the book Franken explains what happened the day after he announced his run for the Senate in February of 2007. I will quote it at length:

…I visited a health clinic in Minneapolis where my friend Dr. Margie Hogan worked. I spent time meeting with health care providers and patients and listening to some of the horror stories that were commonplace before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

One of the stories Margie told me became a mainstay of my stump speech. It involved an incredibly promising seventeen-year-old girl from a Hmong family [the Hmong fought on the U.S. side during the secret war in Laos during Vietnam; many thousands settled in Minnesota after the war] who was doing college-level work as a junior in high school. But she had lupus. And her family earned just enough money to no longer qualify for MinnesotaCare, a program that covered low-income families in the state. The girl lost her health insurance.

Lupus is a chronic disease, and the medication that controls it is extremely expensive. The girl told her parents to stop buying it so they could afford to take care of the other kids in the family. It broke their hearts, but she was right: They couldn’t afford the medicine, not with everything else weighing on the family budget. So they stopped buying it.

The next time Margie saw the girl was six weeks later, back in the hospital. But this time, she was in the emergency room, suffering from renal failure. She had to be put on dialysis, and doctors thought she might have to be on dialysis for the rest of her life.

“Now, that’s wrong,” I would tell crowds that had invariably gone quiet by this point in the story. “But it’s not just wrong—it’s stupid! How much is it going to cost our system to give her dialysis throughout her life? And how much is this going to cost her, in terms of her potential and her quality of life?”

According to the most recent data when my campaign began [in 2007], there were 46.6 million Americans living without health insurance, including 21.5 million who worked full-time and, worst of all, 8.3 million children. And on my radio show, I talked about this issue all the time with guests like Elizabeth Warren, who told me that half of all bankruptcies in America were tied to a medical problem.

But at bean feeds, I met people who had lived it. Or who would tell me about their sister or their cousin who had lived it. And traveling around Minnesota, stopping in cafés and coffee shops and VFW halls, I couldn’t help but notice the flyers up on bulletin boards announcing barbecues or potlucks or spaghetti dinners to benefit families that had gone broke because someone had gotten very sick or been in a terrible accident.

Getting to universal health care was always going to be a central focus of my campaign. But now, instead of talking about it just as a policy issue, I was also talking about it as a personal issue—because that’s what it was for so many Minnesotans.

Policy issues may be dry. They may be dull. They may be tough to talk about, what with all the numbers and legal writing and arcane parliamentary procedures. But this issue, this health care issue, this one that affects so many people—either directly and/or indirectly through an aging parent who needs nursing care—is personal. It is personal.

We all have heard stories like Al Franken heard from his doctor friend at a health clinic in Minnesota. We’ve all seen the donation jars or boxes with homemade signs in convenience stores asking us to help an unfortunate person with medical expenses. And we all know, or at least we should know, that things shouldn’t be that way in an unfathomably wealthy America.

They just shouldn’t.

___________________________________

[photo: Doug Mills]
Advertisements

Meanwhile, Republicans Aren’t Focused On How Corrupt Tr-mp Is. They’re Busy Doing Stuff—In The Dark.

Missouri’s own Claire McCaskill produced a video that has gone viral. In it she calls out Senate Republicans—to their faces—for what they are doing on healthcare. Wouldn’t you know it, it fell on a strong Democratic woman to mount a strong attack against dirty old GOP men.

By now, most of you have seen the three-minute video below, but I urge those who haven’t to watch how Senator McCaskill reduces Orrin Hatch, and by extension the entire Republican Party, to a quivering blob of perspiring, I-got-caught-exposing-myself-in-the-park indecency:


As the great Steve Benen put it:

Even by the low standards of contemporary American politics, the dynamic sounds ridiculous: Congress’ majority party is prepared to overhaul the nation’s health care system, making life-or-death decisions affecting tens of millions of Americans, and senators are writing legislation in secret. No hearings, no amendments, no transparency, no input from subject-matter experts, and no effort at bipartisan negotiation.

A group of conservative men are meeting behind closed doors, crafting a plan that will be brought directly to the floor for a vote. There is no precedent for anything like this in the American tradition.

But it’s precisely what we’re watching unfold.

And while I’ve seen some health care proponents express confidence that the Senate GOP’s secret proposal is doomed to fail, I think that confidence is badly misplaced. Republicans have made considerable progress this week on a far-right plan that may have enough support to pass.

While we all have been, understandably, focused on how corrupt Tr-mp and his administration and the Republican Party are, the GOP’s agenda moves on, an agenda that is not only worse than we, as Democrats, think, but worse than we can think.

They Own It Now. The Fight Is On.

As House Republicans crudely celebrated what is right now only a symbolic screwing of the sick, the poor, the middle class, and anyone who doesn’t have great wealth; as they rudely rejoiced in doing what their rich donors wanted them to do; as they bathed Image result for republicans celebrate with trump at white house todayin the orange glory of one of the most shameful votes in modern times, they did so while all of us in the Resistance are watching.

And waiting and working for 2018 and 2020.

The Republican Party, no matter what happens to BillyCare in the Senate, now will be held officially responsible for all of the problems with our health insurance and healthcare system. All of the problems. Every single one. As my hero Nancy Pelosi put it to her GOP colleagues before the vote:

Some of you have said … well, they’ll fix it in the Senate. But you have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark on this one.

As we wait for the calendar to turn, as we save our pennies to donate to Democratic candidates in competitive districts, our job as Resisters is to keep up the pressure, keep up the protests, keep writing our representatives, and keep demanding the press pursue and tell the truth about Tr-mp and what the GOP is doing to the country. Keep tattooing Republicans. Keep them glowing in the dark.

Let’s go over a few numbers. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats between now and 2019 to take back the House. In 2016, Republicans won 23 seats in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton. That is the place to start, of course. Today, only nine of those 23 voted against that legislative monstrosity laughingly called a “health” bill. So, at least 14 of those 23 who voted “yes” are absolutely vulnerable next time (several of them waited until the last minute to see if their vote was needed; turned out it was). The other nine will have to go too, of course. Even though they didn’t support the bill (although some of them undoubtedly were ready to do so if necessary), they should remove the “R” tatoo from their bodies after today. If they don’t, they will glow in the dark right along with their reactionary friends. But we can’t just focus on those 23 House districts. That wouldn’t be enough and we may not win them all. There are a least a couple dozen other seats currently held by Republicans that, given Tr-mp and Tr-mpism, we have to fight for. NBC News’ Bradd Jaffy pointed out that “25 of 35 House GOP in competitive districts voted ‘yes'” today. The Democratic Party has to recruit good candidates in all those districts and fund them to the hilt.

In the 2018 Senate elections, Democrats will have to defend a staggering 23 seats and Republicans only nine (the two “independents” are also up). Those elections will be tough because many of those Democratic seats are in states, like Indiana and here in Missouri, that Tr-mp won last time and won big. But we have a good chance of taking Nevada from the Republicans and, believe it or not, Arizona is in play and, if things get really crazy, so is Texas. Probably the most optimistic view is that Democrats hold all their seats and win two, meaning a 50-50 Senate split and, sadly, Mike Pence would be king. Probably the most realistic view is that Democrats hold most of their seats and pick off a Republican and either end up where they are now or slightly worse or slightly better. And in case you have your hopes up for 2020, where Republicans have many more seats to defend, I suggest you take a look at this sober and sobering analysis of those elections from a Daily Kos contributor. As I said, it’s tough.

But we don’t know what politics will look like in four years, where the defeat of Tr-mp, if he’s still around, is certainly going to be paramount. For now, the focus is 2018. And Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and those on that side of the Democratic Party have to stop attacking it and start talking it up. Centrist and conservative-leaning Democrats will have to do the same, even as we all properly make Tr-mp and the resulting Tr-mpism the focus of this fight. As many have said, it’s “all hands on deck” time.

I mentioned that we need to start saving our pennies to help fund good candidates. They might not be the most liberal or progressive candidates in some cases. They may not share all of your or my ideological preferences. But if they believe in the basics of the Democratic Party—like insuring that the economy and our political system works for all Americans, not just the rich—they deserve our support. I just want to emphasize something important: the protests are great; our letters and emails and calls to Congress are great; expressing opinions in local papers is great; writing blogs is great; engaging others on Facebook and Image result for dollar signTwitter and elsewhere is great. But our political system, as we all know, operates on money. It shouldn’t but it does.

So, when I say save your pennies for the upcoming fight, I mean to say that money is a big part of this, too. Democrats need your determined spirit, your energy, your commitment. But they also need your money. If you don’t have a lot of dough under your mattress or you don’t have a wad of cash buried in a jar in the back yard, start some kind of formal or informal savings plan to make sure you have some financial resources available to share with the only mechanism we have that can stop what we saw today.

Say what you want about Bernie Sanders and the campaign he ran last time, but he managed to rake in a lot of cash from “little guy” donors. Millions of them. And, according to Open Secrets, Hillary Clinton’s campaign (not including the big SuperPAC supporting her) raised over $105 million from “small individual contributions.” So, especially now that the reality of Tr-mp is sinking in across the country, we know plenty of people are willing to part with their hard-earned money to fight the good fight.

Save up. In fact, toss a buck or two in a jar right now and get it started. The 2018 campaign has already begun.

______________________________________________

[photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty]

Friedrich Nietzsche On Tr-mp

“Being is an empty fiction.”

—Nietzsche

If you’ve ever taken a philosophy course or read an introductory book on philosophy you know something about Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher known for his doctrine that “change” is the underlying reality of the universe, captured in this famous statement:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

The great 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche affirmed this observation:

Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction.  The “apparent” world is the only one: the “true” world is merely added by a lie.

As we have seen lately, Tr-mp and his policy positions are a river flowing. He is not the same politician today that he was year ago. He is not the same politician today he was two weeks ago. And we know he will be yet a different politician two weeks hence. There is no “true” Tr-mp, nothing to hold on to, nothing about him that is real except his mindless modulation and mutation, his careless contraction-expansion-contraction, his numbing novelty. Tr-mp is an empty fiction.

We have now watched him metaphorically stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and murder his previous assertions about NATO, kill his prior criticisms of China’s currency manipulation, shoot down his past promise to stay out of Assad’s business, assassinate his old position on the Export-Import bank, and liquidate his past dislike for Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and turn it into love. Oh, and he now has a gun aimed at Steven Bannon, who helped get him elected but has lately been in the way of “family” business.

Today we find out that, after holding numerous and contradictory positions on healthcare and the health insurance system, Tr-mp may have a new plan:

Tr-mp threatens to undermine Obamacare to get Democrats to negotiate

That ABC News article says:

Since the failure of the GOP health care bill in the House nearly three weeks ago, President Donald Tr-mp has suggested letting Obamacare explode to bring Democrats to the negotiating table.

Now, he’s threatening to push the detonator.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Trump suggested the federal government would hold back key subsidy payments made to health insurers offering insurance to low-income Americans.

“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” Trump said. “I haven’t made my viewpoint clear yet. I don’t want people to get hurt.”

He doesn’t “want people to get hurt.” That’s today’s Tr-mp. Tomorrow’s Tr-mp could override today’s Tr-mp and we could see what Republicans have wanted to see and tried hard to accomplish ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed: the murder of Obamacare and the collateral damage that will come with that killing. But don’t bet on that happening. Tr-mp told the Journal the purpose of his threat:

What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.

The alleged master of The Art of the Deal (a book he continues to get credit for writing even though he did not write it) thinks he might set himself up for a big deal with Democrats, who being the good-hearted folks they are, won’t let Tr-mp hurt millions of Americans and will come running to work things out with him and the Republicans. If nothing else proves Tr-mp has no talent for deal-making, it is this pitiful and quite nasty attempt to hold millions of Americans hostage to get what he and Paul Ryan want. Jonathan Chait explains why this is a dumb political strategy:

If the exchanges collapse, the public backlash will redound to the benefit of the opposition party. Democrats may have a strong humanitarian rationale for preserving the system, but their political interest runs in exactly the opposite direction. Trump is threatening Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to meet his demands or else he will give them a majority in Congress.

This whole thing is insufferably stupid. We have a president who is lost in the complexities of governing, who is facing an ocean of problems without a seaworthy ship. To move from philosophy to literature, Stephen Crane, in his most famous short story, “The Open Boat,” wrote:

A particular danger of the sea is the fact that after successfully getting through one wave, you discover that there is another behind it. The next wave is just as nervously anxious and purposeful to overturn boats.

Image result for ocean wavesIf only Tr-mp could figure out, like the characters in Crane’s story, that the waves he faces, the issues that face each and every occupant of the White’s House, are not really out to get him, not bent on overturning his boat. They are simply problems to confront and, if possible, solve. And they should be confronted without threatening to hurt millions of Americans just so Tr-mp can make a deal, just so Tr-mp can claim a win, just so Tr-mp can prove he is more than an empty fiction.

But he’s not. He is Tr-mp.

%d bloggers like this: