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A Top Republican Vows a Vote on Health Care, but Uncertainty Reigns

Jamie Florence

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A Top Republican Vows a Vote on Health Care, but Uncertainty Reigns

 

Mr. McCain’s surgeons are not giving interviews. His communications director, Julie Tarallo, said more information would be released when it became available.

Aides to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said it was unclear how long the delay would last.

The timing of the Senate vote is crucial. The more it is delayed, the more likely the bill is to fail, supporters and opponents say. Moreover, the Senate schedule will soon be packed with other legislation, like an increase in the statutory limit on federal borrowing and spending bills for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. In addition, Republicans are eager to cut taxes and simplify the tax code.

The Senate has struggled to pass a health care bill, delaying a vote on a previous version of the legislation in June.

Several Republican senators have expressed reservations or outright opposition to the new version as well, and Republicans need Mr. McCain’s vote to have any chance of passing it.

The bill, to repeal and replace major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, is a top priority for President Trump and Republicans in the House, which passed its own repeal bill in early May.

Mr. Cornyn acknowledged that “there’s uncertainty about what the final outcome will be.” Asked what would happen if the bill did not pass, he said: “I assume we’ll keep trying. But at some point, if Democrats won’t participate in the process, then we’re going to have to come up with a different plan.”

Critics of the Senate’s health care bill, taking advantage of the delay, said Sunday that Republican leaders needed to rework the legislation in fundamental ways. Given the additional time, they said, Senate committees should hold hearings to solicit opinions from the public and from experts on health care and insurance.

“We should not be making fundamental changes in a vital safety net program that’s been on the books for 50 years, the Medicaid program, without having a single hearing to evaluate what the consequences are going to be,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Roughly 20 million people have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act, a pillar of President Barack Obama’s legacy. But Mr. Cornyn described the law on Sunday as a failed “exercise in central planning and command and control.”

The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, declined to comment beyond wishing Mr. McCain a quick recovery, as did Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Trump has been urging lawmakers to pass the bill, saying he is waiting with pen in hand.

On Friday, Mr. Pence assured skeptical governors that “the Senate health care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society,” putting the program, which serves more than 70 million low-income people, on “a path to long-term sustainability.”

But Ms. Collins said: “I would respectfully disagree with the vice president’s analysis. This bill would impose fundamental, sweeping changes in the Medicaid program, and those include very deep cuts. That would affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, including disabled children, poor seniors. It would affect our rural hospitals and our nursing homes. And they would have a very difficult time even staying in existence.”

She added, “There are about eight to 10 Republican senators who have serious concerns about this bill.”

Republicans hold 52 Senate seats, and all Democratic senators oppose the bill. Ms. Collins and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, have said they will vote against even starting the debate, meaning all other Republican senators need to vote for the legislation if it is to pass.

Mr. Paul’s reasons for opposing the bill are very different from Ms. Collins’s; he says it retains too much of the Affordable Care Act. And he predicted that support for the legislation would erode because of the delay prompted by Mr. McCain’s absence.

“The longer the bill’s out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover that it’s not repeal,” he said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And the more that everybody’s going to discover that it keeps the fundamental flaw of Obamacare. It keeps the insurance mandates that cause the prices to rise, which chase young, healthy people out of the marketplace and leads to what people call adverse selection, where you have a sicker and sicker insurance pool and the premiums keep rising through the roof.”

Voters “elected us to repeal Obamacare,” Mr. Paul added. But with the bill drafted by Mr. McConnell, the senior senator from his home state, he said, “we’re going to keep most of the taxes, keep the regs, keep the subsidies and create a giant bailout superfund for the insurance companies.”

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said Sunday that he did not think delaying the vote would change the outcome.

“Time is not the problem in the present health care bill,” Mr. Schumer said. “The problem is the substance. It slashes Medicaid, which has become something that helps middle-class New Yorkers — millions of them, literally — and millions of Americans.”

The delay gives critics of the repeal bill more time to investigate numbers being used by the Trump administration to defend it.

The administration has been telling Congress and governors that the bill includes plenty of money to provide private insurance for people who would lose Medicaid coverage. But those estimates are based on particular assumptions chosen by administration officials. Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, a Republican, and others have questioned the validity of those assumptions.

The assumptions, made by political appointees in the Trump administration, specify how states would use money provided by the bill and how many people losing Medicaid would buy private insurance.

In a report on the House bill last month, the office of the actuary at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said most of the people who lost Medicaid coverage would “ultimately be uninsured, though a small fraction would choose to purchase individual insurance.”

Millions of people have gained coverage in the 31 states that chose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and many of them are projected to lose that coverage under the Senate and House bills, which would roll back the expansion of Medicaid.

When Congress convened in January, Republicans appeared to be on course to repeal the Affordable Care Act within a month or two, but they met with growing resistance as lawmakers, consumers, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies scrutinized the proposals. Mr. McConnell delayed a vote scheduled for the week before the Fourth of July. Then, with no visible progress toward agreement, he delayed the Senate’s August recess by two weeks so senators could keep working.

Administration officials will use the time provided by the latest delay to try to persuade undecided Republican senators to vote for the bill. They will also try to raise doubts about the work of the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that an earlier version of Mr. McConnell’s bill could increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million by 2026, compared with current law.

The nonpartisan budget office had been expected to issue a report on the latest draft of the bill on Monday, but it now plans to take more time.

Lawmakers are eager to see what the office says about a proposal added to the bill last week in a bid for support from the most conservative Republican senators. Under the proposal, insurers could offer cheaper, less comprehensive health plans if they also offered three standard plans with all the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act.

The author of the proposal, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said it would give consumers “the freedom to choose among more affordable plans” that were “free from Obamacare’s insurance regulations.”

The skimpier plans would cover less and presumably cost less, and insurers said they would also attract healthier people.

“These junk insurance plans could charge people more or simply deny them coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington.

Via: NYTimes

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WATCH: Ex-Bush Adviser – ‘If You Think Iraq Was A Bad War, Wait Until You See Iran’

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WATCH: Ex-Bush Adviser – ‘If You Think Iraq Was A Bad War, Wait Until You See Iran’

 

President Donald Trump has based nearly his entire political identity on positioning himself as the opposite of former President Barack Obama – the racist birther movement was the beginning of Trump’s foray into politics, and his obsession with disassembling the Affordable Care Act is probably his most publicized.

However, a former adviser to President George W. Bush seems to think that Trump’s desire to undermine his predecessor becomes most frightening when dealing with the Iran nuclear deal. He claims Trump, and complicit Republicans, will lead us into a deadly war with Iran.

Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Chief of Staff to Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, appeared on MSNBC’s AM Joy and stated that Trump and his congressional apologists are deliberately setting up for years of war with North Korea and the Middle East. He told MSNBC host Joy Reid:

“I think we are doing the same thing as we did in 2003, and I was very intimate with that process in Iraq. We are marching down the road to war. If you think Iraq was a bad war wait until you see Iran.”

Wilkerson argued that Saudi Arabia, a country which Trump’s team has shown all manner of favor towards, is actually the country destabilizing the Middle East, claiming:

“The Saudis are far worse than Iran and we are getting ready to make that situation even worse, more profoundly destabilizing, by taking on Iran militarily.”

Wilkerson was heavily involved with Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein, and he knows a thing or two about twisting intelligence and public perception to lead a country into war. He left Reid speechless with this ominous warning to our troops:

“I will tell every GI out there: You have had 17 straight years of war, get ready for 17 more.”

Watch Wilkerson’s conversation with Reid below. Is America great again?

Featured image via YouTube screen capture.

Via: LA

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WTF? ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Makes MS Snowflakes ‘Uncomfortable’ (TWEETS)

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WTF? ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Makes MS Snowflakes ‘Uncomfortable’ (TWEETS)

 

For more than half a century, Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” has been a staple of eighth and ninth-grade English classes around the country. It’s also been a fixture on lists of banned and challenged books due to its brutally honest depictions of racism and rape. According to the American Library Association, it was the 21st most-challenged book in the first decade of the new millennium.

Well, add another challenge to the list. Late last week, school officials in Biloxi, Mississippi removed “To Kill A Mockingbird” from the eighth grade language arts reading list. According to school board vice president Kenny Holloway, school officials had fielded a number of complaints that “there was some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable.” Ultimately, administration and English department officials concluded that they could “teach the same lesson with other books.”

While Holloway didn’t elaborate, the (Biloxi) Sun Herald received an email from one parent at Biloxi Junior High School that may have provided something of an explanation. According to the parent, eighth graders were still reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” when the decision was made to yank it from the curriculum. Now, according to this parent, they won’t be allowed to finish it “due to the use of the N-word.” This parent called the move “one of the most disturbing examples of censorship I have ever heard.”

“Disturbing” is being kind to it. This book teaches a number of important lessons–such as the need to have compassion and empathy for everyone, regardless of race or economic background. It also lays threadbare the outrageous reality of racism and prejudice in the Depression-era Deep South, and does so through the eyes of children. For those who don’t recall, Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and their friend Dill are forced to mature and quickly after seeing absolute evil first hand. If that makes people “uncomfortable,” it actually proves why kids in Biloxi need to be exposed to this classic.

A lot of people are of the same mind. The reaction in the Twitterverse has been unsparing.

These aren’t just the objections of “outside agitators,” though. The decision doesn’t seem to be playing very well on the Mississippi Gulf Coast either.

The Sun Herald editorial board blasted the decision, saying that the school board had denied eighth graders a chance to understand why, in the words of Atticus Finch, “reasonable people go stark raving mad” whenever race is even discussed. The Facebook comments sections for both the original article and the editorial are, with virtually no exceptions, filled with people blasting this decision.

Considering this area’s history, this is very refreshing. The Gulf Coast was one of the first areas of the South where the old-line Democrats started turning their backs on the national party after it became more receptive to civil rights. It has since become one of the most Republican areas of the South. Harrison County, home to Biloxi, has not supported a Democrat for president since 1960.

If the reaction to this decision is any indication, though, it does appear that the people in this area do have some standards. While the book is still available at the Biloxi Junior High library, district officials should be ashamed at their apparent decision to cave in to a few snowflakes.

Hopefully someone at either Biloxi Junior High or Biloxi High has the guts to allow their kids to continue reading this book, or at the very least allow them to watch the Oscar-winning film version that came out in 1962 and stars Gregory Peck as Atticus. Of course, though, the only real way to right this wrong is for the Biloxi school board to grow a pair and put this book back in the curriculum. Let them have it on the Web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

(featured image: screenshot courtesy Universal Pictures, part of public domain)

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Fox & Friends Loses It Over Female Thomas The Tank Engine Characters (VIDEO)

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Fox & Friends Loses It Over Female Thomas The Tank Engine Characters (VIDEO)

 

Taking a break from trying to remember whether or not President Donald Trump ever admitted to committing sexual assault, the hosts of Fox & Friends turned their shrieking ire to a new target: children’s cartoon Thomas and Friends.

Specifically, it is Thomas and Friends’ addition of two female characters that have ruffled the F&F feathers. Host Pete Hegseth really kicked things off with this brilliant observation, sputtering as he tried to string together an argument.:

“Traditionally, boys have probably loved trains and girls probably do too. But there are more boy engines than girl engines. They’re balancing it out. They’re getting rid of two of the males and replacing them with female trains, one from Africa. And then the other changes — they are going to make Thomas more sustainable. He’s going to follow U.N. goals and stop polluting so much, and start being more environmentally friendly.”

This then launches into an argument about allowing “childhood to be childhood,” because, apparently, a show that includes female anthropomorphic train engines is too much for some children to deal with. Male anthropomorphic train engines that love polluting, however, are just fine.

Host David Webb continued to express his concern for our children, trying to clarify his anti-female train stance:

“I’m not against girl or boy trains or any trains. I would like to see a nice high-speed train represented, whatever the case may be. You know, Abby, I just don’t see the agenda being the driver.”

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Third host Abby Huntsman is the lone voice of reason in the discussion, arguing that gender equality in the cartoon train world is okay by her, all while her co-hosts attempt to interrupt her:

“Adding more women faces to trains, as a woman, I think that’s great. Also, clean energy, I’m all for clean energy in this country. I’m all for being more energy independent in this country. So, if this is something to be worried about, I just don’t know if that’s on the top of my list.”

Webb claims that the female trains on Thomas & Friends are “killing childhood.” Huntsman questions that argument, incredulously stating:

“Does that kill childhood, though? Because I know I’m about to have a girl and to read her that book or show her that, I don’t think that ends her childhood.”

Adding women to popular entertainment has long ruffled the skirts of the far right; alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was booted off Twitter for (among other things) directing his fans to harass actor Leslie Jones, who was starring in the female reboot of Ghostbusters.

Keep in mind that this was a four minute segment on President Trump’s favorite morning news show, and it was discussing if the children of the United States are being indoctrinated because they added female trains to an animated children’s show. Watch the unbelievable exchange below, and especially note Abby Huntsman trying not to laugh in Pete Hegseth’s face as he introduces the segment:

Featured image via YouTube screen capture.

 

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