Life Support

The Affordable Care Act, ACA or Obamacare, has proven difficult to kill off. In the next eight days we will see if the last, final, we-really-mean-it effort suffers the same fate as the previous attempts.

It should die for even more reasons than the last attempt. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t actually be something of value in Graham-Cassidy which might lead us to even better healthcare in the future. If that fails, it could well lead us to a final calamity for the Republican Party.

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United Nations. Sort of.

President Trump spoke to the UN today. In all fairness, it could have been worse. And, in many ways, it was a re-iteration of what America has been saying for a long time – we have a big military and we intend to use it, but don’t ask us for money to keep the other operations going.

Yet it was bad enough in one singular sense – there is no place for globalism even as we realize larger threats to the entire planet at once. It was a summary of everything that he and his followers stand for in many ways. But what will it mean to the rest of the world?

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E-Z Reform

Republicans need to produce tax reform, but can’t agree on much.  Here is a post from two years ago which outlines an easy way to make something happen and claim victory.  It may even be good policy.

Tax reform is on the minds of many Republican candidates, and that’s a good thing. Donald Trump revealed a plan, suggesting he may be a serious candidate after all. This announcement came as his poll numbers were slipping, so we may have a hint what voters think about actual policies. Jeb Bush released his plan earlier this month with the distinction of being called “weird”.

The point is that we are talking about taxes and serious tax reform, which is good. No one should expect one plan to suddenly spring forward and cut through the elaborate mess we have. Then again, once the knife is out, you could carve a better tax code out of a banana. But what really is needed? What is “simplification” or “reform”? Let’s start at the beginning.

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The Storms Behind, The Storms Ahead

How many disasters can we take at once? The short answer is that while the US is continuing to rebound nicely as the economy restructures, it’s still a very delicate process. Unemployment is low in much of the nation, or at least a lot lower than we have seen for a long time. But the process is uneven, bypassing rural areas and older workers unable or unwilling to essentially start over with entirely new careers.

Upsets like major storms are enough to put the whole process in jeopardy, especially when there are two right in a row. This should be the year when everything changes, but it hasn’t been working very well. A lack of leadership and a general sense of drift isn’t helping us take off. The storms? Big enough for a solid recession, without a doubt.

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Pay As You Go

Many people, especially Republicans, wonder about the need for health insurance in the first place. Wouldn’t it just make sense to pay as you go, whipping out the credit card for routine doctor visits?

This sounds ridiculous when considering serious illnesses, but it may make sense in any system for small things. When a sty in my eye became infected I realized I had the perfect opportunity to test out “the system,” to the extent there is one, to see how pay-as-you-go might work.

The short version: I got sick and don’t have insurance. We all have our adventures.

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Disaster

The worst natural disaster in American history is unfolding right now, and will continue to for days. The coast of Texas, particularly Houston, is being slowly drowned in what may wind up being 48 inches (120cm) of rain. It will continue for days more and will not recede completely for weeks.

The only thing most of us can do is pray. There will be opportunities to donate and volunteer and I urge everyone to do so. This is going to cause a lot of suffering for a long time. But even through the pain there is something valuable which I hope we can learn – we are indeed all in this together and our world is, defiantly, what we make of it together.

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Fighting Words

Is the appearance of the swastika and the chanting of a Nazi slogan so far over the line that the normal rules do not apply?

Generally, I believe so. But it begs the question as to what is “normal” and what are the “rules”. Citizen activism is a critical part of the processes of our democratic republic. In an age where nearly everything can be weaponized, from the deadly use of a car on a crowd to any statement twisted for use against anyone a clear understanding of the lines is more critical than ever.

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