By Doug Porter
While the press obsesses over Alt-Truths (the same kinds of lies being told all along), the deconstructing of the United States safety net has begun.
Our thin-skinned President has busied himself between tantrums by signing executive orders inspired by likes of the Heritage Foundation, which has long held that our national wealth would be better served if it were in the pockets of the very wealthy.
First up will be the elimination of government spending on anything other than national security and corporate welfare. Second up will be privatized replacements for programs deemed irreplaceable wrapped in the swaddling of alternative truths about how beneficial this will be.
Killing the Beast from Within
While the Republican Congress has yet to come up with a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, one of the first White House executive orders sets the stage for the collapse of the existing system. By getting the federal government out of the business of enforcing mandates in the health law, the checks and balances built into the system will deteriorate rapidly.
Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times describes what’s coming:
What will insurers do? Those that have stayed in the market have done so because they expected costs and profits to stabilize, especially after a round of rate increases for 2017. Now chaos looks to be in the offing. Think of it this way: If you’re an insurance actuary and your CEO comes around tomorrow asking, “Obamacare for 2018 — in or out?” who among you would say, “Sure boss, things look great for 2018 — let’s stay in!” Expect more insurers to bail out, starting very soon.
Republicans and the White House will then blame the Obama administration and Democrats in general for the chaos that ensues, allowing them to enact an accessable-to-all-if-you-have-the-money health care act.
Medicaid Gets Blocked
In the coming days via the news media, you’ll be learning the difference between Medicaid and Medicare, seeing as it will be announced that a big part of the Trump agenda will be converting funding for Medicaid to block grants given to the States.
Medicare–the program providing some coverage for many seniors–won’t be affected for now. Medicaid, which pays for health care for those unable to afford insurance, will, in the alternative truthiverse of the administration, become a much ‘better’ program with more local control.
The reality is much different since the ‘fantastic’ block grants won’t keep up with the program’s costs, unless state legislators are willing to pay the difference by raising taxes. The results will likely include less coverage for the most vulnerable. Oh, and, by the way, there’s nothing in any of the schemes for block grants preventing cash-starved Randian paradises like Kansas for diverting funds to make up for other shortages.
As Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO and co-founder of PolicyGenius explains in a commentary published at CNBC, the proposed changes mean a lot for consumers – particularly low-income families and seniors.
First, we would see a rollback in coverage for low-income families. What didn’t get as much attention as the 22 percent average premium increase this Open Enrollment season was the fact that a large portion of shoppers wouldn’t be hit quite that hard thanks to subsidies and expanded Medicaid coverage offered by the government in an attempt to make health insurance more affordable.
Approximately 15.7 million people have enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP since the October 2013 expansion. Repealing Obamacare would cause an estimated 22 million people to become uninsured – including many consumers who are covered through the Medicaid expansion. Eight million children are covered by CHIP, so if that program expires (which it is currently set to do at the end of September 2017) as part of Medicaid’s rollback, that leaves even more people uninsured.
The Human Toll
Public health experts David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler have crunched the numbers involved in what the glorious, fantastic Trumpcare-for-all will mean for in the Washington Post:
Now that President Trump is in the Oval Office, thousands of American lives that were previously protected by provisions of the Affordable Care Act are in danger. For more than 30 years, we have studied how death rates are affected by changes in health-care coverage, and we’re convinced that an ACA repeal could cause tens of thousands of deaths annually.
The story is in the data: The biggest and most definitive study of what happens to death rates when Medicaid coverage is expanded, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that for every 455 people who gained coverage across several states, one life was saved per year. Applying that figure to even a conservative estimate of 20 million losing coverage in the event of an ACA repeal yields an estimate of 43,956 deaths annually.
While the Rich Get Richer…
While you’ll undoubtedly hear lots of rhetoric about how Trump and Company are saving the country as they steal your access to healthcare, their wealthy friends who know better are just thrilled about it.
From Josh Hoxie via OtherWords:
Great magicians are masters of diversion. They attract our attention with one hand while using the other to trick us into thinking a supernatural act is taking place.
But even the best street performers could learn a lesson from the folks in Congress who are trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
When we talk about repealing Obamacare, we almost never talk about the windfall payday it would bring to multi-millionaires and billionaires. In fact, this massive tax cut is the proverbial card hiding in the sleeve of lawmakers pushing repeal.
A new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the 400 richest Americans, a group whose average annual income tops $300 million each, would get a combined annual tax cut of $2.8 billion if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
Do Not Despair! Stand Together!
There will be many stories forecasting doom and gloom in the coming days. Stopping them from becoming reality and/or extracting a high political price is something YOU can do.
Here are today’s suggestions:
Watch the above video and visit www.unstoppabletogether.org. Scroll down past the opening yellow and black graphics, view the fifty or so organizations listed below that graphic, pick one that’s suitable for you, and click on the logo.
You’ll find opportunities to support and participate in organizations dedicated to jointly resisting the Trump agenda.
Stop That Tweeting
For those of us who are active on social media, consider #MuteMondays. Many people are unaware a “glitch” automatically enrolled them as followers of @POTUS on twitter over the weekend.
It’s no secret at this point that President Donald Trump is very attached to his Twitter account — so now, those looking to protest what he stands for are calling for people to unfollow him en masse.
On Sunday, feminist e-newsletter Signal Boost sent out a call to action encouraging people to unfollow @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS on Twitter; “follow someone working towards the progress we all still believe in” in their place; and then share who they chose to follow using the hashtag #MuteMonday. Offering a few examples, the newsletter suggested participants follow “an organization dedicated to protecting reproductive rights, or keeping families together and safe from deportation, an elected leader you want to hear from in 2020, a local progressive candidate who’s running to protect her community. Your choice.”
Don’t worry about missing anything. The all-too-compliant Washington press corps will be sure to let you know.
Trump has made Twitter his 21st century version of a “bully pulpit,” using the social media platform to drive the media narrative and push political leaders toward supporting his agenda. The #MuteMonday movement seeks to lower the impact of his bully pulpit by stripping him of followers and lessen the reach of his account.
“It’s #MuteMonday and on this day, we’re going to hit Donald Trump where it hurts him most: his ego,” Tom Perez, former secretary of labor and current candidate to lead the Democratic National Committee, tweeted. “Unfollow @realDonaldTrump and @potus.”
The Swamp Cabinet
Tuesday, January 24th, members of the Working Families Party, MoveOn.org, People’s Action, and their allies will hold “Stop Trump’s #SwampCabinet” rallies and media events at senate offices across the country. They’ll urge senators to do everything in their power to block, delay, and oppose Trump’s terrifying nominees. You can sign up to host an event here or search for an action near you here.
I’ll have other activities for people to participate in resisting Trump most every day this week, so stay tuned.
Look Beyond the Donald
Finally, I’d like to share a Facebook post from ex-Treasury Secretary Robert Reich, one showing the Washington Wise Guys know that Trump is just a useful idiot:
I had breakfast recently with a friend who’s a former Republican member of Congress. Here’s what he said:
Him: Trump is no Republican. He’s just a big fat ego.
Me: Then why didn’t you speak out against him during the campaign?
Him: You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.
Me: So what now? What are your former Republican colleagues going to do?
Him (smirking): They’ll play along for a while.
Me: A while?
Him: They’ll get as much as they want – tax cuts galore, deregulation, military buildup, slash all those poverty programs, and then get to work on Social Security and Medicare – and blame him. And he’s such a fool he’ll want to take credit for everything.
Me: And then what?
Him (laughing): They like Pence.
Me: What do you mean?
Him: Pence is their guy. They all think Trump is out of his mind.
Me: So what?
Him: So the moment Trump does something really dumb – steps over the line – violates the law in a big stupid clumsy way … and you know he will …
Me: They impeach him?
Him: You bet. They pull the trigger.
Alternative Truth Du Jour Debunked
Trump said he’s resigned from his businesses.
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) January 21, 2017
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