Just because you promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act doesn’t mean you have to put just the first piece of nonsense that comes into your head…something that doesn’t actually solve the issues Americans face affording health care nor fixes the issues around Obamacare.

And when does one promise supersede the other one? Which one? Donald Trump’s promise to cover everyone and reduce the cost of insurance…than one!

It’s a rare day when I agree with anything that comes out of the mouth of Wisconsin’s Republican Senator, Ron Johnson. Even though he’s hard core tea party, he recognizes when the health insurance plan being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan is totally whack.

Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin expressed deep skepticism Tuesday about the Obamacare replacement bill his party is struggling to pass in the U.S. House this week.

“I’ve got a lot of problems with the House bill as it’s written right now,” Johnson said at a gathering hosted by WisPolitics.com.

But normally you’d expect his skepticism would be based on his hard core tea party leanings, but he actually makes serious sense in his opposition:

Johnson told a reporter that “skeptical” was an “understatement” in describing his attitude toward the plan.

He noted that the House proposal reduces the overall pot of money available under Obamacare to subsidize the purchase of insurance by enrollees.

But at the same time, it makes subsidies available to a larger number of people by expanding eligibility to those with higher incomes.

“Why spread out the subsidies to more people? Why expand the entitlement? It doesn’t make any sense,” he told a reporter Tuesday.

The effect, Johnson noted, is to reduce the subsidies going to poorer people while giving some people with higher incomes an entirely new benefit.

Lower-income people get less, he said, “but we’re helping (higher-income) people that Obamacare never helped. Politically, it doesn’t make any sense. Economically, it doesn’t make any sense.”

No, it doesn’t make sense to cut subsidies from people who really need support to afford health insurance and then award subsidies to those of us who don’t need help. So Senator Johnson’s got it right.

Unfortunately Senator Johnson isn’t actually going to step up and present a logical comprehensive health insurance repair bill nor a functional replacement bill…but we can be a little hopeful:

Said Johnson: “Let’s be honest. Not a whole lot of people are loving the (House bill) right now. I will not vote to support it until I have enough information that whatever we’re going to pass will work.”

Missed a day or two…

US Officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians : The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN. This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source. The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.

Citizen Action Research Shows Massive Increase in Health Premiums in Wisconsin Cities under House GOP Replacement Bill : Statewide: On a media call this morning Citizen Action released a research brief showing dramatic increases ranging from 313% to 910% in health insurance premiums for older moderate income Wisconsinites under the House GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
WSJ: Trump clings to wiretap claim ‘like a drunk to an empty gin bottle,’ damaging his credibility : President Trump is clinging to his wiretapping claim “like a drunk to an empty gin bottle,” the Wall Street Journal said in a scathing editorial published Tuesday night. And that claim, floating in the president’s “seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods,” is severely damaging his credibility, both at home and abroad.

Chuck Berry, rock’s first singer-songwriter : Remembering a music icon and storyteller

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Apparently the White House doesn’t realize there are a number of things that could be done to improve health insurance options for all Americans. They are just seeing this as a Black and White choice…either you support the American Health Care Act or you have to live with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) forever. Of course we all know that that is not even close…but let’s hear from Sean Spicer:

Apparently Republicans haven’t concocted a health-care back-up plan. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Wednesday that the American Health Care Act — which is dangerously close to not having enough votes to pass the House in a scheduled floor vote Thursday — is the GOP’s one and only bet for repealing and replacing ObamaCare. “There is no plan B,” Spicer said at Wednesday’s press briefing. “There’s a plan A and plan A. We’re going to get this done.”

But of course there are other options:

Pass your stupid bill
Fix Obamacare
Provide a better bill all around
Medicare for all
Do nothing

When are they going to get tired of losing?

For the past two weeks everyone has dissected and bisected the American Health Care Act and everyone other than Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump have found it abominable. And of course the Democrats in the Capitol are heartily opposed to AHCA in every way, shape, and form as they should be. But other than that opposition what have we heard from them? Pretty much of nothing…

I have espoused this point of view before but no one has taken it to heart yet…but it’s long past time that the Democrats actually sell the Affordable Care Act to the American people. Something they have never gotten on board to do since day one. Why do they think so many people have bought the lies and hyperbole coming out of the GOP? Because they have never actually countered with facts and figures. It’s not too late…yet.

So instead of pointing out the shortcomings of AHCA, tout the benefits in ACA! And Americans do realize and value some of the headliners…the GOP is keeping the two most popular: no refusing insurance for pre-existing conditions and keeping adult children on policies through the age of 26 for a reason. But what about all of those other points…many that I have raised over the past two weeks in my sporadic Whither Obamacare posts.

Shouldn’t the Democrats and the ACA supporters be outlining the benefits that will be going away with Speaker Ryan’s bill? Free wellness checkups? Free vaccinations? Free colonoscopies? Free mammograms? No life time caps? No drug donut hole in Medicare? The rules around insurance companies paying out 80% of revenues for health care? Women’s health care enhancements? etc, etc, etc!

That’s step one…sell Obamacare!

And then someone in Washington needs to introduce a bill to fix the items that are broken in Obamacare. It shouldn’t be that hard. We’ve had seven years to see what the pitfalls are and our ‘friends’ across the aisle have been pointing out its sins for years. Yes, I know that’s dead on arrival but it puts the GOP on the defensive and it puts better ideas out there. Right now we are on the defensive and Speaker Ryan and cohort are controlling the conversation. Get a Affordable Care Act Repair bill out there. Have Senator Sanders and Senator Warren waving copies around on TV and in the press. Take the right message to America NOW!

Share this with your elected officials…share this with your friends…share this across the boards. We can’t sit back on our heels and wait.

Found in the inbox from Russ Feingold:

Friend —

Less than two months into a new administration, we are now facing the biggest crisis of legitimacy of our democracy in a generation or more.

That’s why today, I am announcing the formation of a new project to mobilize citizens in restoring the legitimacy of our democracy: LegitAction.

Click here to receive updates from LegitAction and stay involved in the fight to restore legitimacy to our democracy.

Normally, our democracy is considered the most legitimate form of government because the power rests with the people. But when this power dynamic is altered and citizens lose their influence, the legitimacy of the system is threatened.

And that’s what we now face: a system in which money speaks louder than voters, voting is increasingly difficult, and the votes that are cast may not matter because of an archaic system known as the Electoral College.

As a result, we, as citizens, are governed by representatives who do not reflect or respect the values and priorities of the majority, and our democratic legitimacy is in grave danger as a consequence.

The mission of LegitAction will be to work with citizens to understand the political forces and special interests driving this crisis, and to organize civic action to restore our legitimacy. We will respond as a citizenry, as a movement, to the broader threat to our democracy, by taking action from the local level on up. And we will refuse anything less than the restoration of the power of the people — and our democratic legitimacy.

To accomplish this mission, we will focus on four pillars of democratic legitimacy:

First, our democracy is built on the pillar that elections are determined by the voters–not by money. In my recent race for the US Senate, I saw personally how much influence dark-money groups now enjoy, and how normalized their influence over down-ballot elections has become. This era of massive institutional corruption must end, and the only way to end it is by returning elections to the voters with a system that puts power back into their hands. We must overturn Citizens United.

Second, the fundamental right to vote and access to vote must be protected for all. Voter suppression is a cynical political ploy used by those who do not trust or respect voters. Voter-ID requirements may be the latest tactic, but we’ve seen this evil before, in the form of the literacy tests and poll taxes of Jim Crow, which unconstitutionally suppressed the voting rights of African Americans. We must fight back, both by using litigation to overturn voter suppression laws and by working directly with the communities these laws disenfranchise. We cannot allow a new generation of voters to face exclusion from our most sacred right. Similarly, the equal value of votes must be upheld by fighting back against hyper-partisan gerrymandering, which is used to cynically dilute the influence of minority votes.

Third, we must restore the power of the popular vote. Two of the last three presidents have been elected by the Electoral College in defiance of the national popular vote. The Electoral College is a historic relic designed to balance power between slave-owning and non-slave-owning states, and has no role in our modern democracy. The best solution is a constitutional amendment that removes the Electoral College and ensures that the popular vote decides national elections. But states also have the power to at least nullify the Electoral College by joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact; 11 states have already done so and more should join.

Finally, the legitimacy crisis facing our democracy extended to the judicial branch, when, last year, GOP senators decided to abandon their constitutional responsibilities by refusing to grant even a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I have never seen a politics more cynical than this strategy. The severity of this action and the resulting precedent cannot be overstated. This time it was the last year of a president’s term, next it will be the year before midterm elections. It won’t be long before it extends to the whole two-year presidential campaign, amounting to three years of any presidential term where a Supreme Court seat cannot be filled. We cannot allow this precedent to stand, or the legitimacy of the Court will be questioned for a generation.

This is the crisis of our lifetime, and it must be met with a call to action — to restore our democratic legitimacy. As citizens, as voters, we have work to do.

If you’re ready to get to work helping restore our democratic legitimacy, join LegitAction today.

We may not have another national election for four years, but there are nationally relevant laws being debated and issues being addressed right now. What happens in four years depends on what we do today. And nothing less than the legitimacy of our democracy is at stake.

Thanks for all you’re doing — and all you will do — during this crucial time.


Russ [Feingold]

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Just like they didn’t know health care was complicated, the Trump family apparently didn’t realize hiring agricultural workers was so difficult.

As President Donald Trump touts job creation for Americans as a top priority, his son’s Virginia winery is seeking permission to hire foreign workers to cultivate its grapes.

Trump Vineyard Estates, better known as Trump Winery, asked to bring in 29 workers this season through the federal H-2A visa program, The Daily Progress reported. The program enables agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to do agricultural jobs or perform other temporary or seasonal services.

Trump Vineyard Estates, owned by Eric Trump, initially applied for six foreign workers in December. Two months later, the company applied for 23 more. Both job orders for Trump Vineyard Estates say the primary tasks include planting and cultivating vines, adding grow tubes and pruning grape vines.

“It’s difficult to find people,” said Libby Whitley, an attorney who has worked with employers, including Trump Winery, on labor issues.

Just like finding enough dairy farm workers in Wisconsin, finding enough people willing and able to work in agriculture is difficult. The work is hard, the pay insufficient and there are no benefits. Go figure…why would anyone want to do it?

But given the president’s take on creating jobs for Americans…this is just a little bit weird…well maybe not by Trump standards…but I sure hope they extreme vet them.

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In all of the debate around the repeal of the Affordable Care Act…terms sometimes get lost in the discussion. The GOP likes to talk about improving health care or increasing access to health care. Well their bill does nothing of the sort. Health care as we know it has existed for decades. We have doctors, doctor offices, clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals. That really hasn’t changed in my life time. The ACA didn’t change that and the American Health Care Act won’t change that.

Health Insurance is how we pay for health care (for those of us who are fortunate enough to have it). And that has changed significantly…particularly in price as health care has gotten more expensive. Don’t let the GOP confuse the two.

side note: something that may impact health care in the country in the very near term. Restrictions on H1-B visas and the cost of medical school.

Prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies imposed a lifetime cap on how much coverage any individual was entitled to. There is no longer a life time cap…my guess that goes away under the American Health Care Act.