House votes to repeal & replace Obamacare

640px-Obamacare_replacement_brainstorming_sessionThe House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace Obamacare, a long-time Republican commitment that they could not pull off in March. Now the measure must be passed by the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain and where further changes are likely.
The “American Health Care Act” still leaves us with a national health care program much like Obamacare, resting as it does on individuals buying health insurance.  But the mandate forcing them to do so would be eliminated.  Also the subsidies will be replaced by a different system of federal tax credits.  And states can opt out of various requirements, including being able to set up high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions.
For a detailed list and explanation of the differences between the proposed “American Health Care Act” and the previous “Affordable Health Care Act,” go here.
One complaint about Obamacare is that it is so complicated.  Trumpcare will also be complicated.  It is basically a revision of Obamacare, but one that is not so generous.  It will leave more people uncovered, since it is no longer forcing them to sign up.  The premiums should be lower, but so will the amount of government money available to help pay for them.
Do you think this new healthcare plan, assuming it gets through the Senate, will be more popular or less popular than the one it replaces?  Does it still do far too much, as far as conservatives are concerned?  Does it do far too little to satisfy the general public?  Will it be a net gain or a net loss for Republicans?
Photograph of White House brainstorming sessions for the American Health Care Act (March 2017) by Vice President Pence @ twitter – Caption; Picture URL, Public Domain,

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Will the government shut down?

512px-Important_government_shutdown_notice_for_the_Stature_of_LibertyBack when we had a divided government, with President Bush and a Democratic congress and with President Obama and a Republican Congress, we were always in danger of having the government shut down over an inability of the branches of our government to agree on spending bills.

Now both the presidency and the legislative branch are in Republican hands, but we still are facing a government shutdown.  The ability of the government to fund its operations will cease unless all sides can agree on a spending measure by Friday.

President Trump, who sparked some of the controversy by insisting that his wall with Mexico be funded, has walked back that idea. [Read more…]

Problems with the EXXON CEO as Secretary of State

Those ties themselves are problematic.  How can we have a Secretary of State with such known biases on behalf of a particular country, let alone one that has been our adversary?  But this looks especially bad since his nomination came just days after the CIA charges that Russia influenced our election in order to help Trump get elected.  True or not, Tillerman’s nomination contributes to the narrative that the Russians are taking over our government.
(3)  The appearance of plutocracy.  There are people on both the left and the right who say that our democracy is a sham because our country is really run by the big corporations.  Trump’s packing his cabinet with billionaires, Wall Street tycoons, and corporation CEOs plays right into that.
Trump hammered Hillary Clinton for giving speeches to Goldman-Sachs.  But he has appointed three Goldman-Sachs executives to his administration.  He owes his election to blue-collar workers the Democrats have ignored, but where is an advocate for that demographic in his administration?
Maybe the Trump phenomenon is just the return of the old pre-Reagan country club Republicans.  After all, Trump builds country clubs.  The Rockefeller Republicans were the party of big business, throwing in some socially liberal noblesse oblige.  
I had greater hopes than this.  Somebody, please, convince me that I’m wrong to worry.

Congress, marijuana, beer, and other election results

The presidency was not the only important election last night.

Republicans kept control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  We no longer will have a divided government.  Which means that the Republican administration could, conceivably, get something done.  (Although gridlock is not always a bad thing.) [Read more…]

The other races

Democrats need to take 30 seats to win control of the House of Representatives.  But they only need to turn four to take the Senate.The former is unlikely to happen.  The latter will be close.

Read about the closely contested seats after the jump. [Read more…]

Both parties have abandoned free trade

Whoever gets elected president will oppose free trade.  In fact, both parties are rivaling each other in condemning trade agreements such as NAFTA (which forms a common market with Canada and Mexico) and the not-yet-ratified TPP (which eases trade with Australia and Asian countries other than China).

Such a turnabout is astonishing, since Republicans have long championed free markets and Democrats have come around to agree with them.  Credit, or blame, for this new stance goes to the popularity of Donald Trump, who has roused the masses against American industries moving factories and jobs overseas and American products being driven out by cheaper imports.

I can see the appeal of a self-contained national economy, but getting there would seem to involve some dangerous tradeoffs.  If we erect trade barriers such as high tariffs and our trading partners retaliate, won’t that be economically disastrous?  American companies will suddenly lose a major part of their markets.  Prices for consumers will skyrocket.  After awhile, maybe new companies would take up the slack, but, in the short term at least, wouldn’t this cause recession and even more unemployment?

This is not my field, so I am open to instruction. [Read more…]