The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Shake Hands

Rich Galen

Thursday July 20, 2017

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  • Every time The Story out of Washington, DC threatens to move toward a full examination of an important policy issue, it veers into the oncoming lane and crashes into Donald Trump, his family, and/or his advisors.

  • A rambling interview with the New York Times, does nothing to ease my mind that Trump has anything on his mind other than protecting the reputations of Donald Trump, his family, and/or his advisors.

  • The policy failure of the week was the inability of Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get 50 votes to proceed on a health insurance bill that would replace Obamacare. It doesn't look like he will be able to find 50 votes to cover his fall-back position: Repeal Obamacare with a timeline of two years to come up with a replacement plan.

  • This is no minor back-of-the-paper new article. Healthcare, as we have been told many times per week, accounts for about one-sixth of the Federal budget.

  • Federal budget outlays, by the way, are about $4 trillion. Six into 4 trillion is $666,666,666,666.67. Almost seven hundred billion dollars.

  • As Everett Dirksen never said: "A hundred billion here; a hundred billion there and soon you're talking about real money."

  • The Republican Party - at least that portion of the GOP based in Washington, DC - finds itself hoist on its own petard after passionately repeating "repeal and replace" each and every day from March 23, 2010 (the day President Obama signed the ACA) until now.

  • 2,676 days.

  • The crack in the Health Care Bell occurred when the Congressional Budget Office (known, popularly, as the CBO) "scored" the original Senate bill and found that, over time, 22 million people would lose coverage.

  • The vast majority - maybe all of them - would be due to reductions in spending on Medicaid.

  • According to the Social Security Administration's website,
    Medicaid is a jointly funded, Federal-State health insurance program for low-income and needy people. It covers children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments.

  • According to the statistics website, in 2017 there are about 73.5 million Medicaid recipients. In 2000, this number was 34.5 million. Thus, Medicaid has expanded by 130 percent this century.

  • That's all the math for today.

  • I don't understand the mechanics of Medicaid expansion. I do remember that the shut-down fight between Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton in 1995-1996 largely centered on what was known as "bending the growth curve" of Medicare and Medicaid.

  • That growth curve has not been bent.

  • Then, just as now, any reduction in the growth of future spending on these programs was labeled a "cut" by the press and we then, as now, had no good way to combat that.

  • When the CBO says 22 (or 24 or whatever number) million people will not be covered, who otherwise would be covered, that's an easy number to remember. If you begin to explain what that number actually means, you've already lost the political argument.

  • Whether Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid conspired to pass what has become known as Obamacare without any Republican votes, or whether Republicans refused to dive into help develop a comprehensive program is not worth having typed the words.

  • With the GOP stumbling and bumbling for the past six months without either being able to either repeal or replace Obama care plays into the Democrats' hands. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the current Democratic leader in the Senate, see no political advantage to helping bail the Republicans out of the mess in which they find themselves.

  • Here's what I would do: I would have Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the establishment of a select bi-cameral, bi-partisan committee to immediately form and come up with a solution to health insurance for Americans by the end of the year.

  • If the Democrats don't show up, then that's on them. They will have put politics ahead of the health of much of their core constituency.

  • As the saying goes, I can stick out my hand for you to shake, but I can't make you take it.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Trump interview in the NY Times, to the Federal budget, to a discussion of the Everett Dirksen quote, and to the statistics of Medicaid.

    The Mullfoto is a very telling license plate supplied by a loyal reader.

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