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  • milwaukiedave 15.00 on March 30, 2017  

    Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: A Healthcare Saga

    Back in 2009, then President Barack Obama proposed and Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the seventh anniversary of its passing, the Republicans in Congress are still trying to repeal the ACA having attempted more than 50 times. The Republicans latest attempt was the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The AHCA would have repealed parts of the ACA that were part of the federal budget including the individual and employee mandates, changes to Medicaid, and the repeal of taxes on Cadillac policies and medical equipment.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the number of people with health insurance would be reduced by 24 million over the next nine years with a savings of $150 billion over a decade. Insurance premiums would go up, but would supposedly be offset by grants by 2020. Insurance companies could charge as much as five times more for premiums for older people than younger ones.

    The good news is the expenditures for Social Security would decrease $3 billion from 2017-2026 due to early death. Even better news, Planned Parenthood would get less for birth control, so that means teen pregnancy would be on the rise. Less old people and more out-of-wedlock pregnancies is what the AHCA would bring us.

    Thankfully for now the Republicans have failed miserably. Republicans can’t manage to get the votes in the House. The Senate would be just as difficult.

    At least three presidents in modern history have now staked their legacy on healthcare at the beginning of their administrations (Clinton, Obama, and Trump). Of the three, only President Obama was able to pass a bill a healthcare. Why is this?  The answer is politicians are making it too complicated.

    The problem could be summed up in two words: universal healthcare

    Go ahead and scream “socialism”! Make broad-brush comparisons to Europe where people are taxed heavily. Are you done? Then let’s look at the facts.

    Twenty-four countries have universal healthcare around the world. Which countries are they? (hint: they are not all in Europe)

    Besides Canada and most of Europe, other countries that have universal healthcare include Israel, Chile, Turkey, Australia, Japan and South Korea. Well these all must be socialist countries as well right? Wrong. In fact none of the countries listed are socialist, they instead treat healthcare as a human right instead of a privilege.

    In South Korea for instance, the premium is shared 6.12% of the employee’s gross earnings shared between the employee and employer. If you are self-employed or unemployed you can purchase health insurance. The elderly are provided insurance by the government at a reduced rate or at no cost of they are indigent. A person can walk into a doctor’s office or hospital and get seen whenever they need to. 

    The United States has a population of over 300 million people and many of them could now afford healthcare before the ACA. While the ACA is not perfect, we need to continue to push to reform it and eventually turn it into a universal healthcare system where no one is turned away from a hospital and no one has to go bankrupt to get medical care.

    Update: HR 676 has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would give Medicare to all. Currently 116 Democrats are not co-sponsoring the bill. If one of your representatives is on the list please call them.

    tagged as: medicine, , universal healthcare   
  • milwaukiedave 18.53 on March 26, 2017  

    Trump Supporter’s Husband Deported

    File this under things that make you go “hmm…”.

    The Huffington Post Reports that Roberto Beristain is being deported after being in the United States for almost 20 years from Mexico City. He owns a restaurant and has a wife and four daughters. Roberto’s wife, Helen, is a Donald Trump supporter. Helen agrees with Trump’s stance on immigration, but doesn’t understand why her husband is being deported.

    A little bit of background on the reason for the deportation. In 2000, the couple was on their way to Niagara Falls and went the wrong direction ending up in Canada. When they came back across the border Roberto was detained and he was told he had 30 days to leave the country. He chose not to and was given a waiver and told if he worked and did not have a run in with the law that he could stay.

    Obviously under Presidents Bush and Obama there was not a big push to deport those who had not committed a crime. Enter Donald Trump. Right from the start he promised that he would deport anyone who was not in the country legally. At a rally where he announced he would run for president, Trump stated:

    When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

    Trump made it abundantly clear from his statements that any immigrants that did not have the proper paperwork would be thrown out of the country. There was no ambiguity about it. A vote for Trump was a vote for mass deportation. Yet Helen Beristain still voted for Trump and professes to agree with his stance. This makes no sense at all. Are people really dumb enough to vote against their own best interest? Obviously, yes they are. Now we can begin to see why Trump won the election and why many of his supporters are not happy.

    Now the family has to pay the piper. You get what you deserve.

    Here is a clip of his exact words:

    tagged as: deportation, , Mexico,   
  • milwaukiedave 23.59 on March 25, 2017  

    The Church and Politics

    According to the NY Times, Donald Trump has said he wants to fulfill a campaign promise to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment and intends to sign a bill repealing it. Now if you don’t know what the Johnson Amendment is, don’t feel bad, neither did I. The amendment that was passed by a Republican Congress in 1954 and signed by President Eisenhower prohibits any tax-exempt entity from either directly or indirectly participating in any political campaigning. If a tax-exempt organization engages in political activity, they risk losing their tax-exempt status. Some examples of tax-exempt organizations are churches or charitable organizations.

    Why is Trump so hell bent on repealing the Johnson Amendment? According to NPR the repeal is about more than just “free speech” for churches and pastors, it is also about money. If the law is overturned the churches could give tax-free donations to a political candidate or campaign. This would allow religious organizations to become a source of money in politics. Which side would this favor? The Republicans OF COURSE (channeling Cenk Uygar). Large churches like the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Catholic Church could give money hand over fist to help elect a political candidate or push their own agenda.

    Yet once again public opinion is not on Trump’s side. A poll by Public Religion Research (PRRI) showed that 71% of Americans opposed allowing churches and places of worship to endorse political candidates while keeping their tax-exempt status. Even more damaging the same PRRI poll showed that 56% of white evangelical Protestants and 63% of Republicans oppose this.

    Is the Johnson Amendment enforced? The answer is no. The most common example of the lack of enforcement of the law is Measure 8 (the anti-gay marriage amendment) in California which passed in 2008 by about 400,000 votes. According to the Huffington Post, the Mormons fessed up in a filing to the California Secretary of State to spending $189,903.58 to help pass Measure 8. Yet no action was taken by the IRS. The threat of action up until now has for the most part stopped churches from participating in political activities.

    If passed, the repeal could open the door to allow churches to help fund Republican candidates and causes. What causes would churches help fund? The causes would be anti-woman, anti-choice, pro-gun, pro-charter schools, anti-science (there goes global warming) etc., etc. What is the worst part? Churches could help fund measures to bring religion into school.

    What about the Constitution? Amendment one to the Constitution of the United States says:

    Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Congress cannot pass a law that respects or prohibits a religion. In other words, the government must stay neutral in term of religion. Other than the prohibition of churches participating in political activities, Congress is not supposed to be involved.

    Instead of repealing the Johnson Amendment, what should happen is that churches and charitable organizations (which could be an off-shoot of a church in the case of the Catholic Charities) should be taxed on ALL revenue (including donations) and property at a flat 10%. Also eliminate the tax write-off for charities that people take on their taxes every year. The combination of the two causes the loss of billions of dollars in taxes per year. Stop allowing religion to dictate how people are helped in our society as they use it as a recruitment tool to get the poor and homeless in the doors of their churches. We should not allow churches to get away with amassing large sums of money and property (the Catholic Church and the LDS are perfect examples) and using it to control people.

    In short, we should be going the other direction on the role of churches in society. It is time for churches and charities to pay the piper and contribute to society rather than allow the burden to be placed on the people.

    tagged as: church, constitution, government, money,   

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