What is the Trump record? – letter to the editor

While may newspaper has not published the following, I thought readers might like to see a brief comment.

Almost daily, I read Trump’s record as either the second coming or atrocious. If we set aside his boorish behavior for the moment, I see an economy continuing at a pretty good clip at 127 consecutive months of growth, but Trump has only been president 36 months. I see tariffs and trade fights which have and will dampen economic growth. I see the US global leadership diminished because of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, Pacific trade deal and Iran nuclear deal and 63% of Europeans not trusting the US president. I see US debt and the deficit exploding at a time when we should be making strides to pay down both.

And, smart deregulation is fine, but allowing companies to pollute more has a human and economic price tag. Finally, I see us not adequately addressing climate change, healthcare, gun governance or poverty issues.

The overriding problem is we cannot set aside his bullying, untruthfulness and denigration of critics which has made us less a democracy.

Republican Joe Walsh on Trump

The following are excerpts from an op-ed written by Republican Joe Walsh, who is running against Donald Trump. I fully recognize he is adversarial to Trump as a candidate, but this is one of two people who are saying Trump does not and should not represent the GOP or America. The quotes speak for themselves.

“Donald Trump has visited Iowa fewer than five days since he took office, but tonight, four days ahead of the Republican Caucuses, he’ll descend upon Des Moines for one of those grandstanding rallies that have become his trademark: A spectacle long on self-indulgent bravado and lies, and short on substance and unity.

In typical form, the President will leave as quickly as he comes, spending just a couple of hours in Iowa campaigning for his reelection. He’ll listen to no one, he won’t engage in dialogue with any student, parent, or senior citizen, and he won’t take a question from one single Iowa voter. He never does. He’ll bask in himself on stage, and then he’ll get out of Dodge. One more reminder that Donald Trump doesn’t care about the hardworking people of Iowa. He cares only about Donald Trump.

I believe our country is strong enough to turn the page on these last four years if we rise up and act, but I fear for our country if we are forced to endure four more years of Trump.

I’m exhausted by this President, a narcissist who makes everyday about himself. Our country deserves a President focused on our country’s pressing issues, like our falling-apart infrastructure, broken healthcare system and rapidly changing workforce. Most of all, we deserve to have a president who is capable of basic human decency.”

I find it of interest, Walsh saying he is “exhausted” by the president. Many use the same term or its sister “wearied” in defining the impact of this president. What I find interesting is the lengths the GOP and its leadership have gone to squelch dissent in their party to avoid making the president look bad. No witnesses must be called. Fox News airing the Democrats case with no audio. Walsh and Bill Weld cannot get on certain states’ primaries. Last time I checked, this was supposed to be a democracy.

Disappointment – letter to a GOP Senator

Senator Burr, as an independent and former Republican, I have voted for you in the past. I have applauded you when you have gone out of your way to be bipartisan, especially with your and Mark Warner’s handling of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I did not expect the Senate to remove Donald Trump, even though the testimony I have seen and his actions to block evidence and witnesses indicate someone who is guilty. The why question I want an answer to is why did the White House try to bury the infamous phone call, if it was so perfect? And, frankly, I am troubled that we have a shadow diplomacy going on which keeps our diplomats in the dark. I would say this if the person was Mother Teresa, but Rudy Giuliani is a far cry from her exemplar.

What does trouble me is the insistence that the president did nothing wrong and the Senate’s lack of interest in getting at the truth. I have concerns that we have a national security risk in the White House. It is already clear, that he feels empowered to be regal. We are not a kingdom.

So, I am disappointed in your stance. What troubles me further, is many Republicans know that Trump is guilty, yet they cannot say it. The rationalization of his corrupt and untruthful actions and statements is wearisome and numbing. My question to you and other GOP leaders, is what will you have to defend next week, next month, and the months thereafter? Adam Schiff asked an important question that the GOP needs to heed – do you want to know now or later? To be brutally frank, the GOP may want to rethink allowing Bill Weld and Joe Walsh on the primary ballots in all states.

That is my two cents. I will not be voting for the junior Senator from NC nor will I vote for the incumbent president. I would consider Weld or Walsh as a candidate, but do believe they need a fair chance, which the president has denied. I want to look up to my president and expect what he says is truthful. Neither of these apply to Donald Trump.

Near universal health coverage achieved in six states and DC

An article by Michael Rainey of The Fiscal Times (see link below), called “How six states achieved near universal coverage” noted the success of covering at least 95% of their people. These six states are Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Vermont. The District of Columbia also fits the bill. Per the article:

“A half-dozen states and the District of Columbia have health care insurance rates of over 95%, achieving near-universal coverage. Three researchers at the University of Pennsylvania — including Ezekiel Emanuel, a key architect of Obamacare — said Monday that the Affordable Care Act has everything to do with those results.

Here’s how the states achieved such high insurance rates, according to the authors:

Expanding Medicaid: States that expanded their Medicaid programs as allowed under the ACA had about half the uninsured rate (6.6%) in 2018 as states that did not do so (12.4%). ‘Nearly 5 million people would gain health insurance if the remaining 14 states expanded Medicaid,’ they write.

Extending enrollment periods: High-coverage states countered the Trump administration’s efforts to shorten enrollment periods and reduce informational assistance.

Lowering premiums: States enacted additional subsidies and reinsurance programs to keep premiums low, a crucial factor in maintaining insurance coverage from year to year.

Simplifying options: Some states limited the number of options available to counteract “choice overload,” which can reduce signups through consumer paralysis.

Maintaining individual mandates: Five low uninsured states maintain some kind of individual and employer mandates, which may help persuade healthy people to sign up.

The lesson, the authors say, is that near-universal health coverage can be achieved without national legislation. ‘While it is easy to dismiss the ACA and focus on the promise of Medicare for All, there is a more straightforward path to universal coverage,’ they write, ‘adopting a handful of relatively simple policies and programs at the state level can ensure health insurance coverage for nearly all Americans.’”

This article echoes what can be achievable if Medicaid is expanded and the other above steps are taken. The three states who drag the results down for the country – Texas, Florida and Georgia – did not expand Medicaid nor run their own Healthcare exchanges. Of the six states over 95%, it should be noted Iowa and Hawaii use the federal Healthcare Exchange, while the other four run their own exchanges.

I have long said Medicare for All is something to be explored, but it requires detailed analyses (and time) of its costs and impact. In the interim, I have strongly advocated improving the Affordable Care Act. The goal is access to care, in my view. The employment paradigm has been changing for some time, where fewer full-time workers are being used than before. We are seeing several industries move to a largely part-time workforce, such as in the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries. We have seen contractual employment continue as well as the growth of gig economies. Health care access needs to come from somewhere.

What I do not care for is the hyper-politicization of this topic. Republicans (including the president) have actively sabotaged the Affordable Care Act, cutting funding to insurers, not mentioning the negative talk about it. It has still survived. Some Democrats choose to throw progress out and go full bore with Medicare for All. Again, that is a detailed undertaking and no candidate can accomplish this without buy-in from both parties.

So, let’s improve what we have. States who have not expanded Medicaid have been economically short-sighted and harmed their citizens. I have argued for repaying insurers who were harmed by the reneging on funding commitments, inviting them back into markets. Where choice is not available, introduce a Medicare option. I would also lower the eligibility for Medicare to age 60 or 62.

These are practical options that may move the needle upward like in those six states. Let’s talk about that.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/6-states-achieved-near-universal-224827646.html

Those imperfect candidates

The search for nirvana, whether it is the perfect partner, job, setting, workout, dinner, vacation, etc. is an endless search. There is no such thing. The same goes for presidential candidates, regardless of party, country, state, locality, etc. And sadly, the better candidates get tainted once they have been elected as they make compromises and decisions which you may not like. Or, maybe when looked back on with a different context, those decisions look foolish.

I have been watching the circular firing squad of the Democratic party candidates for several months. I see more fanatical followers of candidates use a scorched earth mindset to destroy the candidates that are not their favorite. I witnessed this in 2016, when some Bernie Sanders were so adamantly against an imperfect Hillary Clinton, they could not bring themselves to vote for her. The current US president used this ammunition to create even more distaste and get those voters to stay home, vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or even vote for him as a change agent. It worked as he needed less than 100,000 voters spread among three states to win.

Every Democratic candidate has good selling points. And, every Democrat candidate has faults. I will not belabor either one of these lists, as my purpose is not to analyze the veracity of one or the other here. I will save that for a future post, when the slate gets more manageable. I will add every Democrat candidate has a better moral and ethical compass than that of the incumbent president. Conservative writer David Brooks noted that Trump does not seem to be able to show empathy. Almost every situation is exploited to elevate himself. Yet, in so doing, he reveals a very shallow and egomaniacal person. At times he reveals his corrupt nature.

Yes, I want the next president to focus on climate change, healthcare, career training for new and emerging jobs, better gun governance, etc. Yes, I would like them to deal with the debt and deficit. Yes, I would like them to restore America’s reputation as a trusted, fair and reasonable global partner. But, I would like my president to represent our better angels, not our worst demons. The current one does not. Issues are used to divide, not galvanize. I want a president to shine a spotlight on poor behavior, not condone it or discount it.

So, as people look for perfect candidates, remember this biblical example. We had only one perfect person walk the earth – and we killed him. Let’s not kill the Democrat candidate in search for nirvana.

A few why questions – sample letter

The following is a draft letter I forwarded to my newspaper. It is short and sweet given their word limitations. I hope they will print it. Please feel free to adapt and use if you like the concept:

I am troubled by a few why questions:

– why did White House staff try to hide the president’s so called perfect call?
– why would Ukraine leaders meet with Lev Parnas if he did not have the “juice?”
– why would real diplomats be kept in the dark by the Giuilani/Trump shadow diplomacy?
– why did Rep. Devin Nunes not recuse himself if his name appeared in the Parnas documents?
– why do 63% of Europeans feel the US president is untrustworthy (per a recent Pew survey)?

Please feel free to share any success or sample letters that you have gotten printed or sent to Senators and Congressional representatives.

Parnas evidence, GAO assessment on Ukraine funding and Yovanovitch intimidation

As the Donald J. Trump impeachment trial started out with the serious and sober presentation of the articles of impeachment and swearing in by the Chief Justice, two news bullets of the last two days are shaping the trial. With the evidence from Lev Parnas, who is one of Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen, and his interview that notes “of course Trump knew” what Parnas was up to, coupled with the non-partisan GAO stating Trump’s withholding of funding of Ukraine broke the law, the president and those close to him have questions to answer.

As an independent and former Republican voter, I have been asking Senators for some time to call witnesses as we need to get to the bottom of this. I want to hear from Messers. Bolton, Pompeo, Giuliani, and Pence among others. Rep. Adam Schiff noted nine witnesses that Trump denied access to obstructing Congress. Having watched these honorable diplomats and public servants testify under oath and at great risk, having watched Rep. Devin Nunes not recuse himself from the questioning since his name shows up in the dirt gathering, and seeing the president’s people try to hide the “perfect phone call” from view, I have concerns about the president as a national security risk.

I am also concerned about the treatment to defame and intimidate an honorable diplomat named Marie Yovanovitch as she would not play ball with the Giuiliani and Trump narrative. This is beyond bad behavior and could be criminal. But, there is one thing I am very clear of as he did it out in the open – the president obstructed Congress. How any reasonable person could say otherwise is beyond me. We are not a kingdom – we are a Republic with three equal branches of government.

Politico published the attached piece called “Parnas and Ukraine bombshells jolt impeachment trial” yesterday. Please click the link below and read the article. It is important. It is up to Americans to demand the Senate to remember their oaths to the Constitution and that oath they just took with the Chief Justice.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/parnas-and-ukraine-aid-bombshells-jolt-impeachment-trial/ar-BBZ1PJl?ocid=spartandhp