I admit it, I’m a liberal Democrat and quite partisan. I am for progressive taxation where the wealthy pay high amounts through steep upper income brackets. I support strong regulation on corporations to protect consumers from inherent greed that those institutions enable. I also believe that quality health care is a fundamental right for all and not a privilege for those who have the means to afford it.
Really. It has been 117 days since the gavel dropped in the houses of Congress and Republicans knew it was just a matter of time before President Obama would be heading off to Palm Springs and the British Virgin Islands. A real estate mogul with zero experience in public office, no legislative agenda beyond bare-bones campaign rally slogans and a transition woefully behind in appointments of key staff positions necessary for a functioning executive branch was to take the oath of office in a matter of days providing the rubber stamp president they needed to move an ultra-conservative agenda forward and erase the Obama legacy in a matter of weeks. They were so excited about the opportunity, that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell declared repealing Obamacare was priority number one and his members passed a reconciliation instruction resolution to effectively repeat the dry run they did in 2015 where they forced President Obama to veto a repeal of his signature accomplishment. In the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan saw a sea of red in which to set sail with the first major tax overhaul in 35 years. This has been Ryan’s dream over the 18 years and 10 terms in office as he worked his way to chairing the Budget Committee and Ways and Means Committee. The table is set and by now the United States should be a fledgling beacon of laissez-faire capitalism in the context of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, however something happened along the way. The GOP has forgotten how to govern in a representative republic.
Today the U.S. Senate will likely go nuclear on Supreme Court nominations. I’m not going to point out the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell, because there is plenty of that to go around on both sides of the aisle in what is now a decades long deterioration of appointing and confirming Supreme Court nominees. I’m also not going to engage in a tit for tat over Republican refusal to even schedule hearings for Merrick Garland, again because the roots of obstruction on court nominees has a very long history and both sides have exhibited despicable behavior. What I do want to talk about, however, is what it is about the Senate that has changed to enable and even encourage this behavior. Continue reading “Nuking the Senate”
Tuesday night, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) debated on national TV about healthcare and the Affordable Care Act. Both senators made statements we have come to expect from them. Sanders generally supported the ACA, but argues that it doesn’t go far enough and should be replaced with Medicare for all. Cruz hammered Obamacare and recycled squishy claims about people losing their insurance and that government intervention is the main problem with healthcare. Both candidates took shots at each other, suggesting the Republicans are going to kick millions off of their health insurance and that Democrats support government intruding in decisions between people and their doctors. In some cases, there was actually agreement between the two senators, especially in their support for allowing the importation of prescription drugs.
Within hours, Barack Obama’s presidency will end. The word legacy is something we hear a lot as the peaceful of transfer of power between president takes place, especially when the political party opposed to the outgoing president has significant power under the new administration. The Republicans and their incoming president are focused on quickly destroying the Obama legacy by repealing signature legislation and reversing policies enacted through executive order. They very well may have some success in doing this, especially if they pass a reconciliation bill proceeding through Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and substitute their own version of healthcare. Trump promises to reverse much of what Obama has done through executive power and I expect he will within the first few weeks of his administration. Continue reading “The Obama Legacy will Hold”
I make no secret that I am a big fan of Vice President Joe Biden. I tuned in yesterday for what I expected to be touching tribute to Joe and his half-century of public service. I expected President Obama to shower personal praise and celebrate one of the closest friendships ever between the two top executives in our country. I even expected some friendly banter and the famous Biden grin that everybody has grown to love. However, when President Obama called up the Marine officer carrying the Medal of Freedom to join them on stage, this event billed as a tribute to Biden took on a whole new meaning. It was truly an emotional moment for Biden and those of us who have always honored his service to our country. Continue reading “Congratulations Joe Biden”
Senate Republicans beginning confirmation hearings today with the goal of pushing the nominations through as quickly as possible to avoid what could be some very contentions and uncomfortable fights around some of Trump’s nominees. Trump will assume office next week as one of the most unpopular presidents in the history of this country, and Republicans know that many of the characteristics that Americans can’t stand about him are reflected in his cabinet picks. If Republicans line up in lock step behind these nominees, Democrats lack the power to stop all but one nominee. The political objective for Democrats will be to focus on particular nominees where there is a chance of picking off three Republicans as well as making the confirmation process as painful as possible for Republicans desperate to assert power behind their new president. Continue reading “Trump’s Chumps”