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The Bad News and the Good News

December 3rd, 2016 · No Comments · Capitalism, Democracy, Health Care, Human Rights, Lobbying, Politics, Populism

The bad news is here. And it will keep coming. Trump is elected and we see already what he has in store for us. It isn’t pretty.

He nominated or selected Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation. This is only bad news if you work for someone in a field that has anything to do with transportation. And that is because Elaine Chao never met a worker whose wages she did not want to reduce.  So, if her job is to support transportation companies against workers…say, making them drive longer hours, requiring fewer safety checks by companies, cutting spending on interstate road maintenance…well, those are just lives we’ll have to risk, folks. After all when hubby Mitch McConnell is doing his part by trying to deny affordable health care to 30 million Americans, then wifey Elaine must do her part to strengthen industry at the cost of as many human lives as possible.

And she has. When she was Secretary of Labor, she did her part by simply ignoring the complaints of workers against their employers for unpaid wages or unfair labor practices. One worker said that he waited 17 months for an answer on unfair labor practices. She was eventually investigated in an almost unprecedented undercover investigation by the impartial Government Accountability Office, GAO, which stated in its report that she virtually left abused and underpaid workers, “with no place to go” for any assistance with illegal actions by employers. In the undercover investigation of worker complaints that the Labor Department was totally unresponsive, approximately three-quarters of calls made by GAO investigators posing as workers with serious problems went unanswered. Of those that were answered, it often took longer than two weeks to get a reply. Calls about child labor went unanswered. In the last few months of Chao’s tenure, in a test of ten calls from GAO undercover investigators about serious issues, only one…one…was addressed at all.

Chao’s approach was simple. Run a totally dysfunctional an unresponsive department. That is what she will do, only with much greater danger to public safety, under Trump. And if Elaine Chao were the only bad pick, that would be bad enough. But look at the others. There are real problems for the People and big, big benefits for Trump’s fellow billionaires.

He chose Representative Tom Price for Secretary of HHD, whose job it will be, presumably, to supervise the removal of affordable health care services for the poor, the aging but not on Medicare (Medicare’s turn will be coming) those with chronic medical conditions that cost health care companies a lot, and others, about 30 million Americans, about 1 out of 10 who do not now get health care…a growing number…from their employers. Remember that one excellent way to tie workers to you is to offer them health care. They may have health care problems, which now, under Price, may not be transferable to other health insurance providers. We don’t know yet.

First, understand this…even though it is too late now for you to do anything about it…Obamacare has provided health care for 30 million Americans who did not have it before. We still have 33 million people living in this country who do not have health insurance. About 7 million are non-citizens living here (some non-citizen immigrants do have health insurance.) Of the remaining 26 million uninsured, 3.8 million fell into the Medicaid gap. In other words, they are the ones that the Supreme Court ruled out by stating that the states had the right to decide which ones would be on Medicaid. Not surprisingly, the Republican state governors decided not to participate in Obamacare and that meant that the very poorest of the–working–poor would not get Medicaid. And because of the Supreme Court decision and the way the law was written, but never intended, they could not get insurance subsidies. So…before you think that everyone is covered, remember that 33 million still need coverage. Some of those are young people who are not on their parent’s policies, and even though they do not have insurance, they are paying in to the overall health care costs with a tax surcharge…not much…but then they don’t cost much to the system either.

So now, here comes Price as HHD Secretary. Who is he? Well, sit down because, if you don’t, it may knock you down. He is against abortion and the funding of anything that will allow abortions. He is for guns and against any restrictions on gun ownership. He was for terminating aid to Americans who were being foreclosed on by big banks after the Bush Stock Market Crash and Depression. He was and is for terminating Public Radio. He is for the severest provisions of the American Patriot Act, that is, to snoop in to your library records, your video records and your bank accounts and phone records without your knowledge and kept secret from you. He is for the repeal of Obamacare. He wants to offer a $3000 tax credit to you to help you buy a $20,000 insurance policy (that’s what a family policy costs these days) and allow you another $1,000 into your newly created “health savings account.” Now this insurance will undoubtedly have a deductible, so let’s say it’s $1,000. You have to pay for the insurance. You have to pay for any costs that are not covered by the insurance….which could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars….and you have to pay the deductible. And he would put no restrictions on health insurance premiums. The industry will sort it out in the “free market.” There is no free market, folks. As Trump would say: the system is rigged. Do you not remember double digit increases on your health care premiums for ten years before Obamacare started. (In which…nationwide…premiums have come down to near zero.) So…this is the guy you voted in as Health and Human Services Director! But that’s not all.

Price wants to privatize Medicare. He wants to offer seniors vouchers to get private health insurance and end Medicare completely. He wants to raise, not lower the age for registration…to 67 or higher. He has also said that by 2017 he would like to have “balance billing” in which doctors can charge Medicare patients for services that they feel go above and beyond Medicare basic services. He is against Medicare, against Medicaid and against Obamacare. He believes that the government has no place in health care. In this, he contradicts the best advice, not of some orthopedist from Georgia, but of every major health institution, not only here in the U.S, but anywhere in the world. Were it not for health care industry lobbyists and their alliance with some of the richest Neo-Fascists in the world, plus sell-outs like Price, this country, like Canada and like 30 other advanced countries with health care ranked far above our “highly touted” health care system, we would have basic Medicare, not just for seniors but for all Americans.

Now let’s go to an easy one. Betsy DeVos. DeVos is the wife of the inheritor of the Amway business. Amway is a $20 billion, world-wide marketing company for a huge variety of products sold by Amway independent distributors. Disregarding for now the questions about Amway itself, we know that the DeVos family is one of the largest and at times the largest contributor to the Republican Party, having contributed one year, for example, over $4 million. So it is natural that Ms. DeVos should be marked for some kind of cabinet post. Her concerns, however, are about education and religion–combined. Together. She would like to create a system in which there are charter schools that are religious based. And by religious she means her particular variety of Christianity in which Jesus excludes gays from the Last Supper or any public property. Not only is she anti-gay, but Ms. DeVos is anti-public education. This is understandable if one understands that she has been riding this same horse for twenty years, promoting what would become the destruction of one of the best educational systems in the world. She would take public education, create some charter schools (not all schools could be charter by the virtual definition of “charter”) and leave other public schools with less money, lesser students, poorer teachers, larger classes, weaker facilities and–you guessed it–according to those actually knowledgeable about public education, leave those abandoned schools in the very ghettoized districts that Betsy DeVos says she would enervate with charter schools.

But let’s move on to more interesting stuff, like Rep. Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA. This is a good choice if you like your CIA torturing prisoners. Not guilty prisoners, just suspects…to see if they have any information or if they are just screaming at the top of their lungs from pain. Pompeo is smart, as was Napoleon and other tyrants, and finished West Point at the top of his class and Harvard Law School similarly highly ranked. He doesn’t believe in global warming. He doesn’t believe in abortion even when a girl has been raped or even when she has been raped by her father. He is opposed to universal health care but is a long time supporter of the NRA. In a nutshell, he is a very smart guy, on the side of the rich and the energy producers, who, if he felt you were his definition of a terrorists (maybe one promoting wind power….which he is against)…he might be inclined to torture you a little bit..an arm or a leg…until you give it up for the Corps. Pompeo has received considerable support from both Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers directly. His attitude can be summed up in one sentence: “Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed.” In other words to save his version of Democracy from people not as intelligent, not as capable as he is, in his own mind, we should let him run wild over your civil rights.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the heart of the good-old-boy-so-long-as-you’re-white South will be Attorney General. So if you are arrested, shot, beaten up, maced, knocked down, kicked or generally abused by a cop….and you’re black….you just lost an advocate for you at the top of the prosecutorial ladder. Jeff Sessions is the typical white southern former segregationist. He is also a card-carrying Conservative. He wants to cut your taxes, cut your Social Security, cut your Medicare, cut out unions, cut out any kind of government welfare (Social Security and Medicare are not welfare. They are in fact insurance programs. But if, like Senator Sessions and his Republican pals, you steal from the insurance company’s funds to buy M-16s, it could become insolvent.) Law enforcement will be tougher and if you see military shooting at American citizens demonstrating about cuts to government programs, those will be cops dressed up as military by the new Neo-Fascist government under the leadership of the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Former Governor Nikki R. Haley of one of the Carolinas will be UN Ambassador. To be honest, I know very little about Nikki Haley and what I know makes me even less interested in knowing about Nikki R. Haley. Sorry, but I’m moving on.

Reince Priebus will be Trump’s chief of staff, a reward, similar to that of Session’s for loyalty during the campaign. Priebus was the chairman of the Republican Party and continually supported Trump after his comments degrading women and  Hispanics and after numerous rape allegations. Reince Priebus deserves this reward as he is a hard worker, a diligent advocate for Right Wing positions and because of he were not, he would disappear into the woodwork and would not–perhaps even by his wife–be recognized if passing him on the street. He is without any question the dullest man in politics.

There are more appointments sure to come. But for now, this is all we can absorb in one session.

 

 

 

 

 

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