Ruling Striking Down Obamacare Moves Health Debate to Center Stage

First off…you Democrats in Washington have got to stop freaking out and running all over the news acting like this is a disaster. It is serious but the Titanic isn’t sinking immediately here…it’s just taking on a little water.

So let’s make sure that everyone understands that coverage under the Affordable Care Act for 2019 is NOT affected. No One loses their coverage in 2019!

The decision by a federal judge in Texas to strike down all of the Affordable Care Act has thrust the volatile debate over health care onto center stage in a newly divided capital, imperiling the insurance coverage of millions of Americans while delivering a possible policy opening to Democrats.

Now this is a simple federal court ruling. There are already groups in play to appeal this ruling. The states run by Democrats will appeal and it sounds like the House will appeal once the Democrats gain control in January. So that will probably take the better part of a year…and guaranteed…no matter who loses, the case will be appealed to the US Supreme Court. So there is a good chance that no new changes to the Affordable Care Act will occur before 2021. And it will most likely be a major discussion point in the 2020 Presidential Election unless a solution is approved prior to that. But it sounds like the president is ready to provide some serious comprehensive health care for all Americans…just ask him!

Now I am not putting much faith in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but soon to be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seems to have a mandate from the White House here…plus the aforementioned…a possible policy opening to Democrats.

So the Democrats already have a natural starting point for discussion with the American people. They ran on protecting the Affordable Care Act. They ran heavily on protecting the ‘pre-existing conditions’ protections…one of the major items in the ACA that the majority of America wants to maintain…AND something that many Republicans ran on as well. Let’s step up the conversation on protecting ‘pre-existing’ conditions.

Then let’s explain how we got to this court ruling. That Republicans have constantly been undermining the tenets that the ACA has been based on and those changes allowed the judge to make this ruling which seems to reverse the original 2012 Supreme Court ruling. Actually it doesn’t, it plays off that ruling based on the individual mandate and the ‘tax’ for not buying insurance. But there are other conflicting rulings in the federal courts as well…so this whole thing may be a moot point before the conventions in 2020.

But now I am ready to throw out the Affordable Care Act. It’s clumsy. It’s incomplete. It’s complicated. It doesn’t meet the needs of the American people.

Long time readers know that I am a proponent of comprehensive universal single payer health care. A plan that would cover every resident of the nation. A plan that provides for complete medical coverage…including wellness services, reproductive services, dental coverage, drug coverage, mental health care, vision care, etc. No provider exceptions or networks or whatever. And I am not opposed to a minor co-pay per visit…something like $20…just so patients are involved in the process.

And no, Medicare For All, is a bad idea. It sets up unrealistic expectations…everyone thinks they know what Medicare is…but it isn’t exactly that …and it doesn’t cover a lot of things on the list I have above. So throw that name out. Get rid of it. It has baggage just like ‘Obamacare’ does. And Medicare too is clumsy and complicated and it doesn’t get the job done either. You want a clever name? Call it Americare or Patriotcare or Homeland Security Care or Eaglecare or something. But leave the politician name and legacy names like Medicare behind. A new plan…and comprehensive plan…and a new name!

And then sell it to America. Over and over and over again. Directly to the people. Let them weigh in. Make sure they know what they are getting. Comprehensive Universal coverage…that covers everything…for everyone…without it being tied to your employment!

Can we get this done? Maybe not in the near term. But if it is presented correctly, eventually the American public is going to demand it. Maybe after the 2020 elections.

But there is an opening right now. We have the president’s tweet pictured above…and we have the soon to be House Minority Leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, ready to help:

“President Trump has made clear he wants a solution, and I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure America’s health care system works for all Americans”

Let’s hold him to his word and let’s do this right this time! Universal Comprehensive Single Payer Healthcare Coverage…and presented to the American people clearly, logically, and repeatedly so there is no misunderstanding.

Do this and the rest of the world will welcome finally the United States to the 21st Century!

Every fifth grader knows that!

I acquired this screen capture from a third party. I couldn’t find an active version on President Trump’s Twitter account. This would be sad if it weren’t quite so scary. But confirmation of the Tweet is included in the link above.

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I started composing this last night…but now…as I am writing it here on Blogging Blue…the news is reporting that Governor Scott Walker is signing the various bills from the lame duck legislative session that will limit the powers of future Wisconsin governors and attorneys general. But lets get back to my original thoughts.

So lets start with Kimberly-Clark! I have lost track of how many times the Republicans in Madison and the governor in particular have wrung their hands over the proposed closing of a number of Kimberly-Clark plants in Wisconsin. Earlier the state assembly had passed a bill granting KC financial incentives to keep plants open that reportedly could reach $70 million. But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald never brought it to a vote in his chamber because he said he didn’t have the votes to pass it. huh?

KC claimed they needed the incentives to remain in Wisconsin and they needed the bill passed sometime last fall or they were gone. It is December 14th 2018 and they are still here.

And of course the extraordinary session that the governor called after the November mid-term elections was intended to resolve the Kimberly-Clark incentive package. Instead the GOP leadership in both houses passed the lame duck power grabs taking power away from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.

So yesterday Governor Scott Walker announced a state incentive of $28 million in tax breaks or in this case credits if KC will keep some plants open, maintain a level of employment in the state and buy goods and services from other Wisconsin companies. Less than half the original bill that the GOP couldn’t pass…so how much blackmail was involved in KC’s original threats? Keep in mind that they are a profitable international company with ties to a Republican member of the US House of Representatives.

But here’s where it starts to get interesting…where the irony hits the road…and the governor pushes the hypocrisy transmission into overdrive. Because of the amount involved and the timing of the incentive, the governor could put together this package and present it to Kimberly-Clark and didn’t need to get permission from the state legislature. Since KC essentially pays no corporate income taxes in Wisconsin, most of us will be giving $28 million to a profitable corporation. And our elected officials (other than the governor) have had no input! And the governor proceeded with it despite the fact his party’s majority in the Senate couldn’t pass the original legislation.

So here’s the kicker. Governor Walker announced this tax incentive yesterday, December 13, 2018. He needed to do that because this afternoon, Friday December 14, 2018, he signed the lame duck power grab legislation (apparently without any of the anticipated line item vetoes) which removes the governor’s ability to negotiate the exact type of programs he had just handed Kimberly-Clark. Timing is everything!

So not only has the GOP done everything it can to negate the will of the people in the November elections, but the governor just negated the will of the people (or the will of the people as espoused the by the GOP electeds in Madison…feel free to put gerrymander in that sentence if you want to) by sneaking through an exercise of power that future governors will no longer have.

So: Governor Walker gave away taxpayer money (money we don’t have…and money he won’t ever have to justify in a future budget) which the next governor won’t be able to undo because of the new law…and money that the legislature probably won’t call back since they can get the advantages without taking the blame even though some of them didn’t support the original proposal. What a stinking pile…

Health law sign-ups lagging as Saturday’s deadline looms!

So if you or someone you know relies on their healthcare coverage via the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) it is time to act!!

And for those of you who haven’t been paying attention to previous posts:

Here are places to get help and other information:
The federal government’s toll-free 24-hour hotline at (800) 318-2596 (TTY: (855) 889-4325).
To find in-person help, go to the Find Local Help tool on You also can find information on agents and brokers in your area at the site.
Covering Wisconsin has information on its website including on where to get help.

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Now this time at least, the onus is fully in the GOP camp since they hold unassailable majorities in both the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate. But apparently there was a 2013 agreement to limit the late night activity under the dome at the Capitol. Whoops…the 2018 Lame Duck sessions blew that all to hell!

The 2013 agreement

State Assembly leaders from both parties struck a deal in January 2013 to cut down on their body’s frequent and contentious overnight sessions, with time clocks installed to track the length of future floor speeches.

“We are going to stop all-night sessions; that is the reason we got together and made this agreement,” Vos said at a news conference with Democratic leaders.

“We think it’ll be the exception rather than the rule and maybe it won’t happen at all this session,” Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said of overnight sessions.

HUH! The 2018 Lame Duck Sessions (sounds like the name  of  a bootleg album by a 1970s punk band but I have been letting nostalgia creep in) proved to be anything except EXACTLY a late night session.

How it played out

The 2013 agreement had several specific provisions. Here’s a look at how they played out during the lame-duck session (sometimes referred to as an “extraordinary session.”)

In 2013, lawmakers said they would meet before each Assembly session to set time limits on debate for each bill. In 2018, there was no agreement for time limits for the special session.

In 2013, lawmakers vowed to strictly follow the scheduled start time. In the 2018 session, the start time was supposed to be 1 p.m., but lawmakers didn’t start until hours later.

In 2013, lawmakers planned to have private caucus meetings between the members of each party in advance. In 2018, they did do that, but also met in caucus after the official start time.

In 2013, the plan was to minimize the number of contentious bills on any session day and ensure a minimum of 30 minutes of debate on the final vote on each bill unless leaders of both parties agree otherwise. In 2018, lawmakers appeared to adhere to this, as there was no complaint from Democrats of debate getting cut off early.   

In 2013, the aim of the new rules was to end debate by a “reasonable time” each session day, though there was no curfew set for debate as Democrats had sought.

In 2018, no one could claim the latest session ended at a “reasonable” time, since a 4 a.m. bill unveiling and a 8:20 a.m. vote are not reasonable hours.  

LOL. So Politifact labelled this a Full Flop.

But this gets back to something we’ve discussed earlier about legislative sessions. There is absolutely no reason that legislative sessions should run well into the night. There is absolutely no reason that voting should occur at night or even at first light. There is absolutely no reason that legislative sessions should occur outside of normal business hours…and if they need to proceed later…why the legislative day shouldn’t end by 10 PM or earlier.

And there’s no reason that an evening session should start after 7 PM (and stop at the previously noted 10 PM).

And I realize legislative rules are the responsibility of the individual houses, but they should actually be rules and not ‘agreements’ and they should consider the legislative responsibilities to the residents and constituents of the State of Wisconsin.  Unless of course you need to ‘hide’ something!

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As most of you remember Merrick Garland was the very qualified jurist that President Obama nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. But the obstructionist Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that tradition prevented him from considering the nomination in the Senate and that the next president instead should have the right to select Justice Scalia’s replacement. That resulted in a short handed Supreme Court where a number of 4 – 4 votes left lower court decisions as the law of the land and possibly shortchanged Americans for decades to come.

So as one of their first actions during their power grabbing lame duck session, the Republican controlled Wisconsin Senate ‘honored’ the memory of Judge Merrick Garland by pushing through 82 nominees put out there by lame duck Governor Scott Walker. These were ‘vital positions’ that needed to be filled immediately despite the fact that some of them had been open for nearly a year. Yikes! And they did it in ONE day. No hearings, no debates, no public comments. Just fire brand partisan mean spirited poor loser activity.

And if any of you were worried about what Attorney General Brad Schimel will be up to come January…never fear…Governor Walker took care of his own:

Walker also recently gave the outgoing attorney general a seat on a court in Waukesha County ― a position that doesn’t require state Senate approval.

So the next time there is a transition in the Capitol…I suggest that Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald keep their heads down unless we elect them out of office on the next go round.

{snark alert}

Way back in 1948, the United States and a number of Latin American countries formed the Organization of American States. It acted as a defense pact for the Western Hemisphere and a Cold War deterrent…sort of. But some of its other functions were to provide aid for economic support and stability, bolster regional co-operation, and foster equality and human rights in the Americas.

So as the refugee crisis continues to play out at the US/Mexican border…and thousands more continue to flee Central America…and millions of Venezuelans migrate into Colombia…where is the Organization of American States?

I imagine it’s atrophied since the end of the Cold War but wouldn’t it be the ideal organization to get involved in solving the economic and legal issues that are causing these various mass migrations? Shouldn’t the OAS help in  overcoming poverty across the Americas? Shouldn’t they help provide military or police help in areas that are essentially out of government control?

Here are some of the essential purposes of the OAS:

Article 2 then defines eight essential purposes:
To strengthen the peace and security of the continent.
To promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of non-intervention.
To prevent possible causes of difficulties and to ensure the pacific settlement of disputes that may arise among the member states.
To provide for common action on the part of those states in the event of aggression.
To seek the solution of political, judicial, and economic problems that may arise among them.
To promote, by cooperative action, their economic, social, and cultural development.
To eradicate extreme poverty, which constitutes an obstacle to the full democratic development of the peoples of the hemisphere.
To achieve an effective limitation of conventional weapons that will make it possible to devote the largest amount of resources to the economic and social development of the member states.
Over the course of the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War, the return to democracy in Latin America, and the thrust toward globalization, the OAS made major efforts to reinvent itself to fit the new context. Its stated priorities now include the following:
Strengthening democracy: Between 1962 and 2002, the Organization sent multinational observation missions to oversee free and fair elections in the member states on more than 100 occasions. The OAS also works to strengthen national and local government and electoral agencies, to promote democratic practices and values, and to help countries detect and defuse official corruption.
Working for peace: Special OAS missions have supported peace processes in Nicaragua, Suriname, Haiti, and Guatemala. The Organization has played a leading part in the removal of landmines deployed in member states and it has led negotiations to resolve the continents’ remaining border disputes (Guatemala/Belize; Peru/Ecuador). Work is also underway on the construction of a common inter-American counter-terrorism front.
Defending human rights: The agencies of the inter-American human rights system provide a venue for the denunciation and resolution of human rights violations in individual cases. They also monitor and report on the general human rights situation in the member states.
Fostering free trade: The OAS is one of the three agencies currently engaged in drafting a treaty aiming to establish an inter-continental free trade area from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
Fighting the drugs trade: The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission was established in 1986 to coordinate efforts and crossborder cooperation in this area.
Promoting sustainable development: The goal of the OAS’s Inter-American Council for Integral Development is to promote economic development and combating poverty. OAS technical cooperation programs address such areas as river basin management, the conservation of biodiversity, preservation of cultural diversity, planning for global climate change, sustainable tourism, and natural disaster mitigation.

So why can’t the United States or Mexico or anyone of the affected nations ask for OAS assistance? Just thinking out loud.

And wouldn’t financial support of the OAS prove more productive and maybe even less expensive for an ineffective wall?

P.S. And why isn’t the United Nations concerned either?

How long before Colt, Walther, Remington or Ruger comes out with a smocking gun?

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently published an article about a City of Milwaukee defense contractor heading for Menomonee Falls!

Defense contractor Leonardo DRS could have developed its new $56 million factory and offices, with more than 400 workers, at Century City Business Park — less than a mile from its outdated facility on Milwaukee’s north side. 
Instead, armed with up to $25 million in state and local government financing help, the company will move to the Woodland Prime business park in Menomonee Falls.

Now this is troubling at base. The MJS article goes on and questions what would be the issues at Century City Business Park that prevented Leonardo DRS from moving there. And looking into that is something that Milwaukee needs to do…and remediate it if at all possible. Being at just a mile from their current headquarters would seem to make it a logical move. But I am not going there right now.

My question relates to the second paragraph in the quote shown above. Financing help from the state and local government. Hmmm. Should the state actually be providing funds to state companies to move from one municipality to another? This is my mind raises all types of questions.

Is there a conflict of interest on the part of state officials in intra-state moves of this type? There is always a question of governments picking winners and losers…should they be benefiting one village over a neighboring city? Shouldn’t state monies be used to grow businesses in their own neighborhoods (or to keep them from leaving the state)?

Not apparently in this case…screw you Milwaukee:

The state will give DRS up to $18.5 million in income tax credits over the next seven years. Also, Menomonee Falls is providing $6.4 million in tax incremental financing for the new facility.

I understand the Falls eagerness to add a new business and their willingness to spend millions to do it. But the state is spending $18.5 million and allowing a company to leave one municipality for another. I understand DRS’ desire for a bigger modern plant but there is plenty of space at Century City.

So briefly, why is the state allowed to pit one municipality against another in business development and actually encourage pirating businesses while providing state funds to do it?

A final word from DRS:

The company “looked all over the state, including sites in Milwaukee, and the Menomonee Falls location met the requirements for us to best serve our U.S. Navy customer,” said Michael Mount, senior director of public affairs.

Yeah, Menomonee Falls is so much closer to any US Navy base or facility than the City of Milwaukee… ha ha ha!

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