Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Washington State Budget

Washington lawmakers go into second special session on the state budget. Inslee takes capital gains tax off the table.
Washington State Lawmakers Hard at Work on the Budget?
The Republican-led Washington Senate and Democratically-controlled state House can't agree on how to raise the money needed to meet a state Supreme Court mandate to adequately fund public schools. Republicans proposed an increase in property taxes, and an elimination of local school levies. Inslee and Democrats proposed a capital gains tax, and a carbon tax. No one has proposed a state income tax. Odd.

Washington is one of just four states that doesn’t tax any individual or corporate income. We get most of our revenues from sales taxes -- 78%. Our combined state and average local sales-tax rate is 8.9 percent, the nation’s fifth-highest. Washington is No. 1 for liquor sales tax, and we’re in the top 10 for taxes on gasoline and cigarettes. And now Washington expects to make about $730 million from sales of legalized marijuana over the next two years. Sounds like a lot, but it's a pittance relative to our $41.3 billion total revenues that bankroll the state.

Let's either find something else to tax, say vitamin water (we already taxed physical fitness services) or institute an income tax. That way we won't be known for socking it to the poor to pay for operating the state.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kendall Miller's Remarks on He and Heidi Hill Receiving the 2017 Norm Miller Leadership Award

Heidi & Kendall, 2017
Thanks to the Norm Miller family for making this event possible and for all the hard work by them and the other organizers. You’ve done a wonderful job.

I think there is no way you can honor the two of us without honoring yourselves for all the work that has been done both over the years and most encouragingly, since 11/9/2016. I find it truly heartwarming and personally validating to see the power of democracy in action as so many people rise off their respective couches and say, Here I am, I need to do something. Most of all I thank Heidi for her support of my passion for this. We want to thank our family, our friends (both long-standing and our fresh, new ones), our many mentors, and all of you kindred spirits who have put your energy into this work.


It has been stunning that so many common-sense and beneficial aspects of living in the United States have become so surprisingly fragile. We have seen how easy it is for a non-representative Congress and a non-representative President to endanger and disassemble so many good things on which so many good people depend. As members of our society and as people who seek to be responsive to the best our consciences offer, we simply cannot be idle in the face of this threat to our social fabric.


I have no doubt that academic careers will be made on analyses of the 2016 election. But frankly, we don’t have the time for that. Things are just moving too fast. And they’re moving in the wrong direction. We must grasp the tools that we know are effective and quickly capitalize on the new challenges and opportunities that appear, literally, each and every day.


We must expand our models of organization in this fast-paced environment. The classic geographic model of organizing is the neighbor to neighbor network. We must augment this classic model by building and nurturing more networks in every way possible. There are two dimensions for growth in networks: nurturing the networks you already have and expanding your constellation of networks to include more people and more networks. We have new forms of electronic communications that make some of it easier. And yet, we cannot let technical skills become a barrier that leaves good people behind.

Our behavior and our message needs to be attractive and consistent. We must communicate, on all fronts, common values that unite people with diverse cultures and backgrounds into a movement of solidarity and reconciliation. Diversity must be our strength. These times demand that we allow our associations and circles to be “reached into” by people who have different life experiences than our own, whatever our own experiences may have been.


Diverse organizations of people have people problems. There will be bullies and slugs.  There will be saints and skunks. And, honestly, each of us will likely be different things at different times. But if we are to save democracy in this country, we need to recognize and stop our bad behaviors and exercise and strengthen our good ones. There will always be areas of irreconcilable differences. But we move forward when we use grace, patience, reconciliation, and the overarching audacity to unite our efforts despite our differences to serve the needs of vulnerable people. 


Make no mistake about it. We all are vulnerable. Some are experiencing that now. For those who aren’t, you must understand that in circumstances beyond your own control, your time could come.
The power of democracy is seen when a set of key principles unites diverse individuals into taking united action. Let’s find those principles that unite us to face the challenges of this point in history.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Big Energy Question: How Do We Make Cities Sustainable?

Big Energy Question: How Do We Make Cities Sustainable?: From better mass transit to a stronger mix of renewable energy, what is the most important thing we can do to make cities smarter when it comes to energy use?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Speical Counsel Named

by David McLaughlin and Andrew M Harri
Bloomberg Politics, May 17, 2017, 3 PM PDT

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is being named special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election, the Justice Department said.

The naming of Mueller, who oversaw the FBI during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, comes as the White House is reeling from President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey and allegations that Trump asked Comey in February to end his probe of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn

The FBI’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and potential links with Trump’s campaign has been overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year recused himself after it was revealed he had not disclosed conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Rosenstein made the decision to name Mueller, the Justice Department told reporters Wednesday. It isn’t clear if Trump had a role in the decision

Mueller, 72, served as FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and was the longest serving head of the bureau since J. Edgar Hoover. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, as the U.S. was ramping up security, he joined then-Deputy Attorney General Comey in threatening to resign if the White House overruled a Justice Department opinion that domestic wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional.

Before joining the FBI, Mueller served as a U.S. Attorney in San Francisco and held other positions in the Justice Department. Obama asked Mueller to stay in office two years beyond the normal 10-year term.
____________________________________

So, why a "special counsel," and not a special prosecutor?

According to an article in PBS, the 1977 law that created the role of the “special prosecutor,” placing few limitations on the length, cost or scope of independent investigations, expired in 1999. As a result, that option is effectively off the table, unless Congress reauthorizes the law or passes a new one. Neither scenario seems likely right now, with Republicans in control of Congress and Mr. Trump in the White House.

The decision to appoint a special counsel would normally be made by the Justice Department’s top official, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But Sessions recused himself in March from any DOJ probe involving Trump’s 2016 campaign. Sessions, who served as an adviser to the campaign, made the announcement after several news organizations reported that he failed in his confirmation hearings to disclose his meetings with a Russian official during the election.

A special counsel is an investigator with less freedom than a special prosecutor, and whose investigation could be curtailed or stopped altogether at any time by the Trump administration.

Mueller receives the authority of a U.S. attorney to carry out the investigation. But the rules give the Justice Department’s top official final say over the scope and jurisdiction of the inquiry, and the authority to remove the special counsel essentially at will.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Demand an Independent Investigation

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson's email (see below) urging us to sign his petition calling for a special prosecutor was distributed before the news that President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week. According to current and former U.S. officials, Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. So we can add that to our motivation for signing the petition.

But we must do more than that. First thing tomorrow call your Senators and your representative and demand a special prosecutor, or independent commission to launch a nonpartisan investigation. The next FBI head likely would not be seen as fairly pursuing the probe because he/she will have been directly appointed by Trump -- the man being investigated. Plus, they'd have to deal with the U.S. AG Jeff Sessions, who said he'd recuse himself from dealing with the FBI investigation, then had his deputy recommend firing Director Comey. Of course, Donald Trump said subsequently that he'd have fired Comey anyway, because of the Russia investigation, which was a hoax. You can't make this stuff up!

Call/Tweet Marie Cantwell: 202-224-3441, @SenatorCantwell
Call Patty Murray: 202-224-2621, @PattyMurray
Call Dan Newhouse, 202-225-5816, @RepNewhouse
(I know he's grieving, but you can convey the message to his staff)

Bob Ferguson's email follows:

Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is deeply troubling. Comey’s dismissal came just days after the FBI Director requested more resources for his independent criminal investigation into whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence our presidential election.

America’s institutions must be above partisan obstruction, and we deserve answers: Sign my petition for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the extent of Russian meddling – and any collusion by the Trump campaign.

I am calling for an independent special prosecutor, armed with full powers and resources, to ensure Americans are provided the truth, and any guilty parties are held accountable.
Are you as deeply troubled as I am?

If so, add your name right now to join my call for an independent special prosecutor to investigate.

Bob

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Redress of Grievances

Will Crow, VP of Act Yakima and protest organizer
I drove to Yakima to join a dozen or so people holding an “Accountability Protest” in Yakima today. Act Yakima organized the protest.

We stood on the corner holding our handmade signs seeking a “redress of grievances." It was a diverse group. The man on my left was a Vietnam veteran. He worried for survival of the Republic. The man on my right had his two young nephews with him. Their tee shirts promoted equality. I commented on a woman’s artistic sign showing a blond-haired shark eating Lady Liberty. A woman next to her leaned in and pronounced proudly, “I’m 72 years old!”

The reaction of motorists was mixed, with some thumbs up, some thumbs down, and some displaying other digits. One beat-up Hummer slowed, the window rolled down, and a man yelled, “You lost! Get over it!”
The lack of awareness in this reaction to what I hope are continuing protests is startling and distressing. Those of us protesting Donald Trump are doing so not because “We lost,” but because we were conned. Mr. Trump took an oath to, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He is violating that oath. As a result, we all lose.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

White House Memo -- Is it a Joke?!

In order to restore the public confidence in the FBI, President Donald J. Trump accepted the recommendation of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and removed FBI Director James Comey from his position yesterday. It was a necessary move to reinstitute faith in America’s crown jewel of law enforcement after a series of high profile and political missteps. The search for new leadership that restores public trust and confidence in the FBI's vital law enforcement mission will begin immediately.

 

10:30AM: President Trump meets with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia
 _________________________________________
No, this is an actual White House memo emailed to me b/c I subscribe. Why? b/c you can't believe everything the "fake news" tells you, so you have to hear it from the horse's mouth (or another part of his anatomy).

Monday, May 8, 2017

End Debtors' Prisons

House Bill 1783 is about giving people a fair chance to get back on their feet once they get out of prison. Our current system prevents offenders from being able to get their lives back on the right track. The bill prioritizes restitution and establishes a more rational standard for determining ability to pay. Imposing intereston legal financial obligations (LFOs) was first thought to be an incentive for offenders topay, but instead it has been shown to be an impediment. The current 12 percent interest rate is onerous and makes the LFO debt skyrocket. This results in what amounts to a debtors' prison. H.B. 1783 would change this. The bill is currently in the State Senate as E2SHB 1783.

We want offenders to rebuild their lives once they are released from prison. There are many barriers to reentry, but LFOs are one of the hardest to overcome. Ask your state senator to support E2SHB 1783.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happening Now!

To all Democrats in our local area:

Come join the Benton, Franklin, Tri City, and Young Democrats in a show of solidarity to show our town we are here!! We've got a lighted float for the Cinco De Mayo Parade this Friday. Meet us at 1st and Columbia in Pasco across from Mission Gospel no later than 6:30. Grab a bag of candy and come walk with your people. Kids and those who don't want to walk are welcome to sit on the float.
You can text or call Allison at 859-803-5905 or you can email her at alliedab25@gmail.com

This is the facebook event link:
We look forward to seeing you at the event!

Thank you for your continued support,

Skye 
Chair 8th LD
509.554.7208

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Republicans Determined to Pass AHCA, But Hurdles Grow

Michigan Representative Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), a respected moderate Republican lawmaker came out against the latest iteration of the GOP American Health Care Act (AHCA), throwing another hurdle in the way of Paul Ryan's all out push to get the measure passed. Upton said the AHCA in its latest iteration would undermine insurance protections the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the current law, gives people with pre-existing illnesses, a view disputed by supporters of the legislation.

The Detroit Free Press writes,

"Under Obama’s 2010 law, insurers may not charge seriously ill customers higher premiums than healthy ones. The latest revised GOP bill bars insurers from limiting access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But states can obtain federal waivers letting insurers raise premiums on people with pre-existing illnesses, though only if the customer has let their coverage lapse during the previous year. The state must also have a high-risk pool or another mechanism to help such people afford a policy. Supporters of the GOP legislation say it protects people with pre-existing conditions and that the exclusion would affect only a small proportion of them. Opponents say it diminishes their protections by letting insurers charge unaffordable prices. They also say high-risk pools have a mixed record of effectiveness, often because the government money provided to finance them proves inadequate."

Speaker Ryan and other GOP House leaders are working with reluctant members to try pushing the AHCA measure through before the end of this week.

For 4th CD voters, Rep Dan Newhouse may be contacted via form email, or telephone ((202) 225-5816).

Please don't harangue Rep. Newhouse about his wife's illness. Just say your piece about why you oppose GOP efforts to repeal the ACA and replace it with an inferior measure.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Only Two Weeks Left

"Every echo system performs 'services' that maintain the conditions necessary for all life. Forests store and pump out vast quantities of water, thereby modulating weather and climate; they remove carbon dioxide from the air and generate oxygen by photosynthesis; they inhibit erosion; and they provide essential habitat to countless other species. Such 'echosystem services' are priceless: they keep the plenty healthy." (David Suzuki, The Legacy, 2010)

An article in "The Hill," points out that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking for all those dreaded "onerous and burdensome" regulations, especially Obama-era regulations, to repeal.
A regulatory reform task force, established by President Trump’s Feb. 24 Executive Order 13777, is seeking public input on which rules to roll back, the agency said Wednesday in the Federal Register.
The task force is also working with program heads inside the agency to identify rules that they believe impede job growth and impose more costs than benefits, according to The Hill. Republicans are, of course, speaking to the costs levied on their big business campaign donors, and the negligible benefits of preserving a livable planet.
The task force will take this information into consideration before it recommends to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt which rules to repeal. Pruitt, who denies CO2 has promoted global warming, blamed the Obama administration for “abusing the regulatory process to advance an ideological agenda.” Presumably, Obama's ideology was to prevent wholesale destruction of the biota.
“We are supporting the restoration of America’s economy through extensive reviews of the misaligned regulatory actions from the past administration,” Pruitt said in a statement.
“Moving forward, EPA will be listening to those directly impacted by regulations, and learning ways we can work together with our state and local partners, to ensure that we can provide clean air, land, and water to Americans,” he added.
Frankly, I don't believe that Denier Pruitt gives a hoot what you, the general public think about the regulatory rollback. And whatever regulations are left in place will be hard to enforce with a looming 31% cut to EPA funding. Nevertheless, if one doesn't comment, Scott Pruitt will sleep soundly thinking the public doesn't really care about what kind of shithole we leave to future generations.
So go to the EPA comment page here, read the memo containing the criteria for identifying "repealable" regulations, then click the "Comment Now" button in the upper right corner, and make your input. You have until May 15, 2017, to do so -- because Administrator Pruitt thought one month (he posted his memo April 13th) was plenty of time to allow the public to comment on his dismantling of environmental protections.

Two weeks from now.

Do it now!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Jen Hofmann's Activism Checklist

Here are Jen Hofmann's recommendations for this week's political activism.

I believe in creating a healthy planet for future generations.

Action: Oppose using National Monuments for resource extraction and mining.
Call: Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior 202-208-3100

Script: Hi. I’m calling to oppose Trump’s executive order. (Mention any NMs in your state and) Bear’s Ears NM is (are) a treasure. National monuments are protected, citizen-owned land, and I oppose efforts to extract resources from them.

Action: Support funding for the Energy Star program.
Create: Make 3 postcards with a hand-drawn Energy Star logo.
Address: Your 3 MoCs (lookup).

Script: I’ve purchased (list appliances) with the Energy Star rating. Americans have saved over $300 billion in energy costs since this program was created. Don’t eliminate this important program in the upcoming budget. 

Bonus: Take a photo of your cards and post on social media with #energystar.

Action: Keep marching for climate and science.
Challenge yourself to walk somewhere—instead of drive—to reduce pollution.

Priority Action: Vehemently oppose Trumpcare 3.

If you have Republican elected officials, call them asap (okay to leave a message). The GOP is working frantically to get something passed. This is not diplomatically worded because they’ll only listen if they think their job is on the line

Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from _ZIP_. If _NAME_ votes for a bill that removes any health coverage for any American, s/he will lose her job. Full stop. Healthcare is a fundamental human right. Not tax credits. Not health savings accounts. Actual care. For all Americans. Anything less than this, and I will work hard to make sure _NAME_ is out of a job at the very next opportunity. Thanks.

Action: Advocate for a special commission to investigate 45-Russia ties.
Newly-confirmed Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein can approve a special prosecutor or commission, but has previously hedged on this action. Speak up.

Call: Dept. of Justice comment line 202-353-1555

Postcard: USDoJ, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001

Script: I am among the 58% of Americans who want an independent commission to investigate Trump-Russia ties. Trust in the four current investigations is compromised, and the Attorney General’s credibility is tarnished. Only an independent commission or special prosecutor will restore confidence.

Action: Oppose 45 running his business at taxpayer expense.
Call: Your 3 MoCs (lookup). Blue or red.

Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from _ZIP_, calling because I want to know why I my hard-earned tax money is sending Trump to Florida to play golf, paying for his kids’ security while they fly around the world to make him money, and funding Secret Service members staying in Trump’s hotels? This is not normal. It’s corruption. I’d like to know what _NAME_ is doing about it.
Bonus: Install the Don’t Pay Trump Chrome extension.

I believe in a vote for every American.

Action: Advocate for automatic voter registration in your state.
Call: Your state (not federal) legislator (lookup).
Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from _ZIP_, calling to express my support for automatic voter registration in our state. Can you tell me where _NAME_ stands on this issue? (Share a relevant story about registration hassles.)

I believe in being a good citizen of the world.

Action: Support the health of impoverished women worldwide.
45’s withdrawal from the UN Population Fund leaves women without basic care. You can help.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Climate Festival at John Dam Plaza on Saturday

Citizens’ Climate Education is hosting the Peoples’ Climate Festival at John Dam Plaza in Richland on Saturday, April 29th, beginning at 2:00 p.m. The family friendly festival will help people of all ages understand climate change, how it affects us, and what actions we can take. Attendees may also wear nature-based costumes and create signs to carry along George Washington Way during a “Species Climate March or Procession” to conclude the festival. 

The event will include a variety of speakers, music, and educational and hands-on activities.  The notable speakers will share scientific, public health, and faith-based perspectives about climate change and climate action. Children’s activities include sign and mask making, rope labyrinth, play parachute, puppet show. There will also be food vendors and face painting.

Speakers Include: 
2:00 Opening Words and Blessing (Shannon Truex and Doak Mansfield, CUUC)
2:15 Jessie Dye,  Program and Outreach Director for Earth Ministry, Seattle, will discuss climate change from a faith perspective. 
2:30  Music by Mary Hartman
2:45 Dr. Rick Smith, Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Columbia Basin College, will discuss responding to climate change in the Tri-Cities. 
3:00 Music (CUUC choir?)
3:15 Dr. Noel Hubbs, Naturopathic Doctor with Stellar You Wellness Center will present the connections between human health and the health of the planet. 
3:30 Music (Mike and Shannon?)
3:45 Dr. James Conca, Senior Scientist, UFA Ventures, Inc., Richland,  will talk about the role of nuclear power in the mitigation of climate change. 
4:00 Music (Reg Unterseher and others)
4:15 Dr. Amy Persons, District Health Officer for the Benton-Franklin Health District, will focus on climate change as a public health concern. 
4:30 Dr. Richard Badalamente, will touch on policy approaches to addressing climate change.
4:45 Closing Words and prep for March  (Shannon)
5:00 Species Climate Procession/March – dress up, bring signs and join others!

Tables:
Faith Action Network and Earth Ministries
Friends of Mid-Columbia Wildlife Refuges
Go Green Tri-Cities and SEENet (Sustainable Energy and Environmental Network)
Tri-Cities Citizen’s Climate Lobby
Solar WA
Stellar You Wellness Center
WA Environmental Council (WEC)
WA Native Plant Society
Electric Vehicle show

John Dam Plaza is located at 815 George Washington Way in Richland. Parking is available at the Federal Building, City Hall and around the downtown area. 

For more information, visit Tri-Cities Citizens’ Climate Lobby on Facebook or  www.facebook.com/events/603493363173714/

Monday, April 24, 2017

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas's life affirming poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, speaks powerfully to us about living life to its fullest, never surrendering to affliction, and in old age to "Rage, rage, against the dying of the light."

The poem is thought to have been inspired by Thomas's father going blind in his old age, and Thomas's own battles against depression and alcoholism. Yet despite his own failures and infirmities, Thomas urges us to burn with passion until we draw our last breath -- never, ever give up.

For me, the poem has always been an inspiration to fight passionately for the things about which I feel passionately, no matter how hopeless the cause may seem at the time. And at this time, things do feel hopeless.

We felt passionately about our nation, our republic, our democracy -- an America of which, despite its blemishes, we could be proud. Donald Tump's election was a body blow to that pride. It left us disillusioned, wounded.

How could we overcome the onslaught of xenophobia, racism, bigotry, and divisiveness that followed Trump into the White House?

How could we overcome the onslaught by Trump and his cabinet picks on those government policies and institutions that we value; health care, women's rights, caring for the underprivileged, appreciating the arts, valuing science, valuing the truth, being good stewards of our fragile Earth?

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 I am heartened by the self-affirming things I see happening in our community of believers in truth and social justice, and beauty, and love. Whether its an older couple walking hand-in-hand in the March for Science, or a 14 year-old boy speaking openly about his sexuality in order to make life a little easier for others struggling with the issue, or a 50+ year-old man wearing a pink knit "pussyhat" and standing for hours at a table asking for people to sign a pledge to support TRUTH (I saw you, Carl).

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
So, we must keep marching, writing, talking railing, raging, running, loving, burning with passion for all that we believe in. Never, ever give up.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Barack Obama's First Public Speech Since 2016 Election


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Celebration and March for Science

The Celebration and March for Science Saturday, April 22, 2017, was by all measures, a terrific success. Upwards of a thousand people, from all ages and stages participated in one way or another. The event took place at John Dam Plaza in Richland, Washington, and lasted for several hours, culminating with a march that seemed to last forever.


The event was organized by a group whose principal objective was to show appreciation for all that science has given us. Organizers promoted no political ideology, but the mood reflected a feeling that the Trump Administration and some Republican members of Congress, were immune to scientific facts.


There were a variety of demonstration/information booths at the event, on everything from body armor to bees.
You can ask Dennis McQuerry (pictured above) about biofuels as well as bees.

The Celebration and March serve to raise awareness about the role of science in our everyday lives, and to question how politics impacts the practice and application of science. Railing against the "politicization of science" is futile, because, for better or for worse, science and politics go hand in hand, as this article in The Verge explains.

The scientific method and the way real science is practiced insulates us from fakery, but not politics. As we've seen, "a president who clearly picks and chooses facts to suit his own version of the world changes the relationship between science and culture, in potentially destructive ways" (Lopatto, 4/21/17).

The challenge for scientists and those who support science is to remain objective, while rejecting "alternative facts," and promoting, ACTIVELY (not universally accepted), the application of scientific findings to policy making. One place to start is with the coming budget debate. Write your members of congress and tell them not to cut or hamstring the National Science Foundation (NSF), the EPA, NIH, and other science agencies. Our lives and the lives of future generations will depend on how vigorously and effectively we defend science today.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Observations on the GOP's Health Care "Plan"

by our Facebook Friend, 'Roberto' Macdonald

Caught an interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. He was questioned by CNN's Sanjay Gupta. Both men are surgeons.

Price was touting the latest version of a Republican "health care plan" (an essential component of which is "no plan"). The Republican plan does not include a "mandate". Price says that people should not be forced to buy health insurance if they do not want it. To do otherwise, Price argues, is unbecoming a free society.

Gupta asked if an uninsured person would be taken care of in case of an accident. Price's response was (in paraphrase), "Of course. We are a compassionate society." In a different context (food stamps, welfare), people who received the benefits of a "compassionate society" might be called "freeloaders", but not in the context of health insurance opt-outs!

Price wrapped up by proclaiming "everyone should have health insurance."

Price's "should", of course, speaks volumes: everyone "should" do what they ought to do, and "ought" to do what they should do, but no one "should" or "ought" to be compelled to do what they don't want to do. 

This is more than mere hypocrisy, which is an easy game to play. It's easy to find a reason to label someone a "hypocrite" for one reason or another. But the use of arguments like Price's essentially enshrine and codify hypocrisy. Price's arguments are not just slick, they're sick, which is a good metaphor in the context of the healthcare debate.

It is not possible to provide health care for everyone without a "mandate" in some form, either through taxes in a single-payer system, or through compulsory participation in an insurance-based system (which, Chief Justice Roberts tells us, amounts to a tax). 

It should be obvious to everyone that anything the Republicans come up with will not include a mandate and, thus, will not cover pre-existing conditions. Essentially, the country will revert to the previous "market-based" system which provided the best health care one could afford. 

Of course, they will claim to provide for pre-existing conditions through state-operated "high-risk pools". These pools work like this: those denied conventional coverage will go on a waiting list, because the high-risk funding is inadequate to cover everyone. Eventually, a small percentage of those on the waiting list will get coverage. For the rest, they'll get a handy little map with directions to the nearest emergency room.
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Tom Price is an uncompromising conservative, is a strong foe of abortion and Planned Parenthood, an Obamacare opponent and a supporter of efforts to privatize Medicare. Read more here.