Friday, March 24, 2017

Killing health insurance essentials echoes GOP "freedom" blueprint

[Updated from 3/23/17] So now Trump and Paul Ryan want to pull so-called essentials out of health insurance coverage requirements in the name of "choice," which means you would have insurance coverage if you're hit by a bus, but not if you're pregnant, or are addicted to opioids, or were born with a mental illness, or are a child and so forth.

Of course, that's cruel and insane, as it would force women and children and others into poverty - - and even premature death - -  but we all have to understand what Republicans and their extremist, misnamed "Freedom Caucus" are really trying to repeal.

It's not just upending Obamacare, which if the repeal/replace goes through also gives the richest Americans a huge tax break, thus more financial "freedom," if you will. 

It's a big step towards repealing government itself - - and its supportive financial and regulatory and power-sharing underpinnings in place since the New Deal - - that Republicans have long been after, and a Trump/Ryan/McConnell/Chief Justice Paul ("Citizens United") Roberts alliance gives them their best shot ever at achieving.

Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.
It's precisely why one of Trump's first administrative actions was blocking the implementation of a rule requiring financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients.

You'd think such basic fairness would have already been in place, but it isn't, and may never be, but the fact that Trump moved quickly to keep if off the books speaks volumes about how the GOP intends to use government power and who will benefit from this perverse interpretation of "freedom."

Trump's huge budget reductions in federal health and safety agencies like the US EPA - - and these won't be the last deep cuts he carries out should he remain in office - - are designed to give the most powerful corporations and wealthiest individuals more "freedom" to take and use land, water and clean air as they see fit.

On a more local level, it's precisely why the libertarian/conservative Koch brothers' interests and other well-heeled friends saved Scott Walker in the 2012 recall election, and still adore him.

It's why the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources which Walker has been running aggressively for seven years with his publicly-declared "chamber of commerce mentality" is green-lighting the filling of wetlands.

And has intentionally been easing back on pollution inspection and enforcement, and is likely to hand out permits to a major Walker donor to cut half the woodlands on a 247-acre nature preserve, fill in some wetlands, and obtain several acres in an adjoining state park  and convert the land into a high-end golf course along Lake Michigan.

Rarely have we seen something so perverse about one-sided small-government: Walker reduces the size and authority of the DNR, yet has assembled a major team there to privately help the golf course owner/donor edit and smooth his golf course permit drafting so it can navigate a smoother, faster route to approval.

This GOP attack on government authority when the "freedom" of the wealthiest among us dares be put into a public-interest equation is precisely why Walker doesn't believe the government should even establish a minimum wage, and why in Wisconsin Walker has refused to allow that poverty-guaranteeing wage to rise above the federal floor of $7.25 an hour, Trump's potential future callousness not withstanding.

And why Walker has used state power to promote and sign so-called "right to work" and other blue-collar wage-depressing laws, while giving tax breaks that distribute more wealth and embed more social control at the higher end of the scale.

Here's a longer list of Walker's fake freedoms.

He talks a small government game - - benefiting from government that transfers to him $12,000 a month, and provides him cars, chauffeurs, airplanes, expense accounts and a mansion to live in - - while continually minimizing as policy what government on his watch will allot to the poor and working class.

Ditto for Trump.

The Billionaire has said wages in the US are too high.

And he somehow managed to amass a fortune in real estate and development despite building codes and construction standards (and with public financing and other government-provided hypocrisies), and is now in a position with his Ayn Randian and Koch brothers allies in Republican Congressional leadership to eliminate rules, regulations and entire social safety nets in the name of "freedom" that actually keep working people and the middle class alive.

Ryan's Trumpcare plan devastates Medicaid and lays the groundwork for turning Medicare into a voucher-driven benefit for private insurance companies.

Update - - A last-minute change as described by The Washington Post to Trump[/Ryancare to help push the bill through the House now includes a transfer of funding from the Medicare Trust Fund to upper income Americans. Meaning, perhaps, that cuts to Medicare are looming because, 'hey, look - - Medicare is short of dollars!'

The Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, would draw on Medicare's financially distressed trust fund to put money back in the pockets of some of the country's richest people. 
Republicans would repeal the Medicare tax, a 0.9 percent surcharge on annual salaries of at least $200,000 for individual taxpayers or $250,000 for married couples. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that over a decade, repealing the tax would forego $117 billion that those wealthy households are currently expected to pay into the trust fund, which is used to cover the costs of health care for elderly Americans.
Nothing is off the table for this group of self-interested takers who say they want small government, or no government, but are always willing to take an extra share for themselves, their acolytes and donors.

Republicans from the Governor's mansion in Wisconsin to the halls of Congress to the White House itself have turned the party of Lincoln into a special-interest juggernaut enthusiastically locking down an even more disproportionate share of power, wealth, land and water.

All in the name of "freedom."

For a select few.

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