Medicare

Sixth Anniversary Of ObamaCare, The Third Great Social And Economic Reform, Alongside Social Security And Medicare!

It was six years ago on March 23, 2010, that the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, was signed into law by President Obama, after a year long fight, with only three Republican Senators early on giving any support, and no House members.

The fact that ObamaCare was just like the Heritage Foundation–Newt Gingrich–Bob Dole program of 1993, designed as an alternative to HillaryCare, was ignored.

Also, the fact that Mitt Romney accomplished much the same thing in Massachusetts as RomneyCare was denied, even by Romney himself when he ran for President in 2012!

The hypocrisy and pure obstructionism of Republicans and conservatives was so obvious, and is obvious, to anyone who looks at the subject dispassionately!

Today, six years later, ObamaCare, while having its definite quirks and shortcomings, is a success, in the sense that it covers 20 million people who did not have health care before; has lowered the uninsured from 14 percent to 9 percent of the population; and has saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives of people who, without coverage, would have died in the past six years!

This is the ultimate Pro Life movement, the acceptance of the idea that ALL Americans should be entitled to health care as a basic human right, especially considering that every other modern industrial nation in Europe, along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand have it, and all of them way ahead of us!

So this is a time to salute Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, for having accomplished one of the three greatest economic and social reforms of the past century, alongside Franklin D. Roosevelt and Social Security (now 81 years old), and Lyndon B. Johnson and Medicare (now 51 years old)!

Try to imagine America in 2016 without Social Security and Medicare, and yet, if left up to the right wing Republican Party, they would not only repeal ObamaCare without any replacement for the 20 million Americans who have gained health care coverage, but also would repeal both Social Security and Medicare, “privatizing” both of them, and giving useless “vouchers” to millions of elderly, poor, and disabled people!

This is why the Republican Party, as it now is constituted, is doomed to be in the dustbin of history!

Obama’s Last “State Of The Union”: A Moment To Reflect On The Past Seven Years Of Accomplishment, And Set Future Goals!

Barack Obama gave a dazzling State of the Union address last night, showing flashes of the original Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he first came to public notice.

The President used this last major speech of his administration to set the record straight on what had been accomplished, and what he saw as his goals for the long term future of the nation.

Obama made clear that he will dedicate his post Presidency to a war on cancer; a seeking of criminal justice reforms; a promotion of the climate change agenda; and continuing to promote the struggle against international terrorism.

As we look back seven years, despite all of the bitter recriminations visited against the 44th President, we have to marvel at what he has accomplished:

A massive revival of the American economy, including halving the unemployment rate, more than doubling the stock market, and rescue of the auto industry. after the tragedy of the Great Recession.

A major social change on the issue of gay rights and gay marriage, the new human rights initiative of the 21st century.

A path breaking law, ObamaCare, which will have a long range effect, after fine tuning, as Social Security and Medicare  in earlier generations, so Obama is carrying on and adding to the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The pursuit of diplomacy over engaging in more warfare, although using modern methods including drones, to pursue terrorism, and having major, unsung success, without committing our young men and women to the battlefield as cannon fodder!

The promotion of civil rights and equality on a level long overdue, to continue the legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Barack Obama proved once again how compassionate and sincere a human being that he really is, a trait which will play well in history, and the odds of his Presidency being ranked as one of the more significant and transformative  in our history have greatly increased, as he nears the end of his time in the Oval Office!

 

Donald Trump Is The New “Southern” Demagogue: Combination Of Huey P. Long, Strom Thurmond, George C. Wallace!

Anyone watching Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign will notice, if they are using their brain matter, that his greatest appeal is among Southerners who want the “glorious past” returned to them, a time of racial discrimination and prejudice against any minority group which is not white Christian!  Thousands flock to see Trump in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and other Southern states.

The Trump supporters are poorly educated, including many high school dropouts and barely graduates of high school; lower income whites living in rural areas of the South, Appalachia, and the Midwest non urban areas bordering on the South; heavily racist and nativist and blaming minorities for their own shortcomings and inability to earn a decent living; and those who admire narcissism, bullyism, and braggadocio, due to their own mentally unstable and insecure personalities.

The Trump supporter base want a strong man, who promotes obedience to authority and to those, whether religious or political demagogues, who have an appeal that simplifies all of the problems that most people without education and knowledge find appealing.  They want women to go back to the “good old days” when they focused on the bedroom and the kitchen, rather than compete with men.

The Trump supporters also support action to put African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims under control, working against their basic human rights and civil liberties, so they want a return to the days when white male Christians (fundamentalist and evangelical) were in charge, not having to deal with the rise of Catholics and Jews who started to become influential in the time of the New Deal of FDR and since.

So Trump supporters want a return to pre 1930s government intervention, so would support erasing much of the New Deal, Great Society, and Obama reforms,, even though they would be far worse off without Social Security, Medicare, and a multitude of programs that help the white poor and working class!

They want a new “Southern” demagogue, a combination of Huey P. Long, Strom Thurmond, and George C. Wallace, even if its leader is a multi billionaire New Yorker, who only vacations in Florida, and really has no respect or regard for the typical Trump supporter, who he looks upon privately with disdain!

With Jeb Bush Floundering, Opportunity For John Kasich Potential To Rise Grows Dramatically!

It is clear that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is floundering in his Presidential bid, with his expression of exasperation at the toil and turmoil of campaigning, his complaints about being attacked by Donald Trump, and his wish he was able to do other things rather than waste his time, is stunning.

Despite his family name, one can say that Jeb Bush is probably done, unless he makes a major revival in today’s  Republican Presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado, sponsored by CNBC.

This opens up opportunity for John Kasich  to emerge as the “Establishment” candidate, and be able to combat the fact that Donald Trump and Dr. Benjamin Carson are in a massive lead in public opinion polls.

Marco Rubio is already showing signs that he is about to destroy his chances, by his announcement that he plans to vote against the budget deal negotiated by outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner, designed to keep the economy and budget stable until 2017 and the next President, and give incoming Speaker Paul Ryan a breather as he takes over House leadership. This is simply designed to gain support of the extremist right wing Freedom or Tea Party Caucus in the House, a massive error by Rubio.  It is almost as if Rubio, who has now condemned his job in the Senate, saying he has never liked it, is about to push himself out of politics altogether by his reckless behavior.

But also Rubio complaining about being unhappy as a Senator makes one wonder about his character, as the people of the third largest state, Florida, gave him the gift of serving in the Senate, which many people, including this author and blogger, would “die” for, and yet he is complaining about a “plum” job, one of the best one could attain for.  So this also makes Rubio far from the ideal candidate for President, because it makes one wonder whether he is interested in being President no matter what challenges he will face, and would he be able to handle the frustrations of the job, just by asking Barack Obama!

John Kasich has now expressed total exasperation about Donald Trump wanting to deport 11 million people and build a “Trump Wall”, which he considers preposterous; about Dr. Benjamin Carson, who now says he wants to end Medicare and Medicaid completely, along with his many whacko statements and revelations about his background; about Rubio, complaining about being a Senator; and about Bush, who seems not to want to work for the Presidency and wants the job handed to him on a silver platter, as if he is “entitled” to it!

Kasich is expressing what moderate conservative Republicans and outsiders, such as this blogger, feel, and the belief that John Kasich remains the best choice for the GOP, with his long career in the House of Representatives; his business and media career; and now his popular leadership as Governor of the most crucial state for any Republican Presidential nominee, the state of Ohio.

If the GOP had any sense, and its voters had mainstream ideas, John Kasich would be the nominee, but right now, the odds on that seem long.  The question is whether the party will overcome its extremist right wing Tea Party-Freedom Caucus and come into the light of a mainstream alternative to the Democrats, having lost the popular vote five of the last six times for the White House.  If they do not, the Republican Party long range future is doomed!

Rand Paul Attacks On Bernie Sanders As Future Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, And Pol Pot Is Outrageous And Preposterous!

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has not been doing well in polls, fund raising, or in the two Republican Presidential debates held so far.

As a result of his failures, and the complete disaster that his libertarianism represents to any intelligent person, Paul has gone on the attack against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is doing very well in public opinion polls, particularly among millennials, despite his “Democratic Socialist” advocacy.

Paul has said that Sanders would bring dictatorship and a mass genocide to the world, similar to Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Mao Tse Tung of China, and Pol Pot of Cambodia, a totally outrageous and preposterous assertion.

One would think that Bernie Sanders is somehow dangerous, when he is not one bit dangerous, while Rand Paul’s vacant libertarian Ayn Rand philosophy of selfishness, greed, and lack of concern for the poor and disabled is the true sickness and evil in political discourse!

Paul is doing what Donald Trump is doing, asserting that Socialism in the American variety is the same as Comunism, as the Soviet Union, Communist China, and Fidel Castro’s Cuba, demonstrating that neither Paul nor Trump have a clue as to the massive differences between American Socialism and Communism, as practiced in totalitarian dictatorships.

The fact that Sanders is advocating Scandinavian style Socialism (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), and that the New Deal of FDR, the Great Society of LBJ, and Barack Obama’s reforms represent similar ideals and goals is made out to be something to panic over, when we have been living with “Socialism” for a century, and not many Americans, even those who say they hate Socialism, are about to give up the benefits and successes of the New Deal and Great Society, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, labor reforms, consumer reforms, and environmental reforms!

To label Sanders a dangerous Communist reminds us of the Joseph McCarthy era, already being started on right wing talk radio and Fox News Channel, and the American people should not allow themselves to be subjected to such hysteria and mass panic, when there is not an iota of truth to the allegations of the right wing, and the libertarians, led by a failing Presidential candidate, Rand Paul!

“No Labels” Convention Being Held Monday In New Hampshire To Promote Bipartisanship

Today, a convention under the name “No Labels Problem Solver Convention”  is being held in New Hampshire, promoted by former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman and former Democrat and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

The convention expects a thousand or more participants, including eight Presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump and George Pataki.

The purpose is to promote bipartisanship, the dealing with important issues in a way that brings progress, rather than the constant deadlock now prevailing in our political system on the national level.

The convention is gaining attention of the news media, and it is hoped that it will lead to a new attitude that will benefit the nation at large.

The goals include the creation of 25 million new jobs over the next decade; making American energy secure by 2024; protecting Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years; and balancing the federal budget by 2030.

This is the time to unite around a future which avoids confrontational scenes like we are now seeing from the so called “Freedom Caucus” of Republicans in the House of Representatives!

Happy 107th Birthday, President Lyndon B. Johnson!

107 years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson was born, destined to have a career that would change the lives of more Americans than any other President, including Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Many will remind us of the disastrous Vietnam War, which LBJ waged, and which forced him out of office, giving up a chance to be only the second President to serve more than eight years, the only one doing so being FDR!

Many will point out that LBJ is accused of being involved in the assassination plot against John F. Kennedy, well spread by several authors, but still seen as highly speculative.

Many will tell us of the statements that LBJ was possibly the most corrupt President in American history, and the one who enriched his own fortune more than any other, without any positive proof of their allegations.

Many will look to find other chinks in the armor of the 36th President, and certainly, LBJ would be the first to declare his own imperfections, including his tendency to use racist Southern terms for African Americans, common in Dixie in his lifetime.

But even with whatever shortcomings there were, and whatever mostly unprovable accusations that are lodged against him, there is certainly another LBJ–the man who used the powers of his office to better the lives of more Americans—-the elderly, the sick, the poor, the uneducated, the ethnic minorities, deprived whites, women—-than any President before him, and unmatched by any President since his time.

The Great Society did so much good, much of it still with us 50 years later, a goal that LBJ had, to match and surpass his “idol”, FDR, and his New Deal programs of 30 years earlier.

Poverty was cut dramatically in the time of LBJ; more people had a chance to get an education than ever before; Medicare and Medicaid came into being, providing a “safety net” added to the Social Security programs of FDR; Civil Rights laws finally fulfilled the purpose of what Abraham Lincoln had promoted a century earlier; the environment, consumer protection, transportation and urban affairs improvement became the priority of the federal government; public radio and television offered enlightenment and still do; and we saw the beginnings of opportunity for top positions in the federal government for ethnic minorities who had never played a role in government affairs before.

So despite obvious faults and shortcomings, Happy 107th Birthday, Mr. President!

July 30, 1965 To July 30, 2015: 50 Years Of Medicare!

Today is the 50the Anniversary of Medicare, finally brought about by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

An idea originally proposed by Theodore Roosevelt in his Progressive (Bull Moose) Party campaign of 1912; further conceptualized by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the mid 1930s, but thought to be moving too rapidly for Congress, when there was the fight over Social Security in 1935; and promoted by Harry Truman in his promotion of his Fair Deal, it was signed into law with former President Truman sitting next to Johnson at the Truman Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri.

Johnson accomplished what John F. Kennedy wanted to fulfill in his New Frontier agenda, but was unable to do because of the opposition of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills of Arkansas, but Johnson convinced Mills to move ahead, as part of LBJ’s great “wheeler dealer” abilities to promote his Great Society.

Medicare was a “God send” to millions of senior citizens, who no longer had to go into poverty as a result of medical and health issues, and it made the last years of the elderly a lot less stressful and worrisome.

Of course, the issue of cost overruns and corruption has arisen, and with people living longer, there is a long term problem in Medicare, but careful administration and some tax increases will manage to keep Medicare afloat for the long run, although present House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate in 2012), wants to phase it out over time.

Many Republicans want this, but Democrats will fight tooth and nail to insure the continuation and financial stability of the greatest social program since Social Security, an essential part of the “safety net”, and part of the social justice agenda of liberals and progressives since the time of Theodore Roosevelt!

Donald Trump Democrat, Donald Trump Independent, Donald Trump Republican: Which Is The Real Donald Trump? None Of Them!

At this point, Donald Trump is surging ahead for the Republican Presidential nomination, but one has to wonder if he has the staying power to go all the way to the convention in Cleveland with enough delegate support to become the GOP nominee for President.

Right now, Trump sounds like a conservative Republican, but he has been a public figure for decades, and when one investigates his entire public record, Trump comes across as inconsistent, and wishy washy in his political views and statements.

Trump has been a declared Republican,then an Independent, than a Democrat, then a Republican although registered as an Independent.

Trump gave money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President in 2007-2008.

Trump once praised a single payer health care system, similar to Medicare for all, but now he opposes ObamaCare, although ten years ago he supported “health marts” very close to RomneyCare and ObamaCare.

Trump opposed the war in Iraq, but now says he would use military force to fight ISIL (ISIS).

Trump once supported a surtax on the rich, but now want the top income tax rate cut in half, and is against the inheritance tax.

Trump is best at attacking everyone personally, but has no set stands or details on most public issues, and prefers to use slogans and emotion to gain public support of those disillusioned with government as it is.

Trump has become most notorious for his “Birther” claims about Barack Obama, but otherwise is constantly contradictory on many issues.

Trump is hard to figure out, as he supports private sector labor unions; is against cutting Social Security and Medicare; reluctant to send military forces all over the world; and against the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

But he is against teachers unions and public employee unions generally; against an increase in the minimum wage; against those who claim there is climate change; against gun control; and against any path to citizenship for undocumented workers, and already infamous for his attacks on Mexican immigrants and Mexico.

Ultimately, Donald Trump is for Donald Trump, a person who will prostitute himself and change his views when it is convenient; a man who is a publicity hound who is more in this race for the attention he gains; a man who appeals to fears and frustrations and discontent among average voters unhappy with their government, and easily accepting conspiracy theories.

In that regard, Donald Trump is a demagogue, in ways like Huey P. Long on the left; and like George C. Wallace on the right, and sadly, we know what happened to these two men, one assassinated, and the other paralyzed for life by an assassin.

The story of Long and Wallace are covered in my forthcoming book on Presidential Assassinations, coming out August 15 from Rowman Littlefield, entitiled: “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama”, available on this website at a 30 percent discount, using the discount code 4M15ATAP with order from the publisher!

The Top Ten Transformational Presidents

The issue of “transformational” Presidents has revived lately, as it is clear that we are living through a “transformational” Presidency of Barack Obama, with still a year and a half to go in his tenure in the Oval Office.

With all of the controversy that surrounds Barack Obama, there is no doubt now that Obama has been a transformational President in so many ways.

So the question arises, who among our Presidents has been “transformational”? And in what order would Presidents on this list be ranked?

It seems clear that the top of the list would have to be George Washington, for having established standards and traditions that would be long lasting; and Abraham Lincoln, for keeping the Union together during the Civil War, and ending slavery.

Following Washington and Lincoln would be Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took America through the Great Depression and the Second World War, and changed the relationship of the federal government with the population of the nation, promoting a safety net that would help those most needy. He also created a large federal government that would never become smaller again, due to the Great Depression and the Second World War, and then the Cold War.

Once we go beyond Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, ranking gets much more difficult, but this author thinks the rest of the top ten would be as follows from number four to number ten:

Theodore Roosevelt, who would revive the Presidential office from slumber and use the “bully pulpit” to accomplish reform and federal government regulation of the economy, and started America’s role in world affairs.

Lyndon B. Johnson, who would promote the passage of massive reforms, including civil rights laws, Medicare, and a War on Poverty.

Woodrow Wilson, who would promote major reforms domestically and involvement in world affairs, taking America out of isolationism as a policy during the First World War.

Ronald Reagan, who changed the direction of the nation to Conservatism after a half century of Liberalism, and negotiated arms agreements with the Soviet Union, and helped to bring down the rival super power.

Barack Obama, who brought about health care coverage for most Americans; avoided a massive war; promoted social change in many areas; presided over a major revival of the economy only matched by FDR; and became a major environmental supporter.

Harry Truman, who responded to the Cold War with the Soviet Union in an effective way and determined the direction of foreign policy for a half century, and institutionalized the New Deal of FDR.

James K. Polk, who accomplished the great expansion of American territory by treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, creating the continental United States.

Notice that Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton do NOT make this list!

Commentary on this analysis is welcomed!