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Saturday, 19 November 2016 07:20

How Republicans Intend to Kill Obamacare

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

obamacare32 (Photo: Tabitha Kaylee Hawk)

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

There are standard dictionary definitions of the word reconciliation – “the restoration of friendly relations” and “the action of making one view or belief compatible with another” among them – and then there is the Congressional process called Reconciliation. The former suggest comity, the latter is the process by which debate is closed down and a budget bill can be passed through the Senate. With Republicans holding a 52 to 48 advantage over Democrats (including two Independents), Reconciliation is how Republicans intend to overturn the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

“House and Senate budget leaders, along with conservative lawmakers, are beginning to unite around a proposal that would avoid a filibuster from Senate Democrats and put a bill repealing key provisions of Obamacare on President-elect Donald Trump’s desk not long after his inauguration—a bill that is likely to earn his signature,” Melissa Quinn, a senior news reporter for The Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal, pointed out in a piece headlined “Republicans Begin to Unite Around Obamacare Repeal Plan.”

According to Quinn, the process for repealing Obamacare, an effort that was an epic fail for the GOP over the past few years, is now being honed for immediate action as soon as Trump takes office. And while Republicans are not quite ready to come up with their own health care plan, the process to dismantle is taking on a life of its own.

Under ordinary circumstances, Republicans would need 60 votes to actually pass a bill in the Senate to repeal Obamacare. However, as Quinn reported the day after Election Day, “GOP lawmakers are likely to use a budget tool called reconciliation—a procedure used in the Senate that allows a bill to pass with 51 votes—to roll back key provisions of Obamacare and avoid a Democratic filibuster.”

2016.17.11 BF Chow(Photo: Kevin Gill)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is one of the most intelligent individuals on the planet, which is why his assertion that humanity has only 1,000 years left on Earth and must find another place to colonize is incredibly frightening.

"[W]e must ... continue to go into space for the future of humanity," professor Hawking said in a lecture on "The Origins of the Universe" at Britain's Oxford University Union earlier this week.

According to the Daily Express, the 74-year-old scientist warned that humans are using up Earth's ecological resources faster than it can be replenished.

"I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet," Hawking said.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

savemedicareMedicare is neither an entitlement nor free. (Photo:Glyn Lowe)

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to raise the Lazarus of privatizing (and phasing out) Medicare from the dead. Paul Waldman of The Washington Post writes of the latest Republican effort to put a dagger through the heart of Medicare:

As part of his strategy, Ryan must convince people that Medicare is all but dead already, so we don’t actually lose much by putting it out of its misery. That’s why he says things like, “Because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.” This is not just a lie but the precise opposite of the truth, and Ryan knows full well it is; in fact, the ACA extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by over a decade. And be warned: Any time you hear Republicans say the phrase “entitlement reform,” understand that phasing out Medicare is what they’re talking about....

If Ryan gets his way, Medicare as a universal insurance program will cease to exist. It will be replaced by “premium support,” or vouchers which seniors will use to buy private insurance. If you can’t afford any of the available plans with what the voucher is worth, tough luck. The whole point is to transfer the expense from Medicare to the seniors themselves. Half a century after Medicare brought health security to America’s seniors, Republicans would snuff it out, leaving some unknown number without any coverage at all and breaking the fundamental promise the government made.

The first deception here is calling Medicare an "entitlement" program. US workers pay into Medicare -- as do their employers -- through the FICA payroll tax, which is deducted from every paycheck. Self-employed individuals have to pay the full FICA tax (which includes) Social Security as part of their income tax. Therefore, Medicare is not a gift. It is an earned benefit.

Furthermore, one of the biggest deceitful conservative talking points about Medicare is that it is "free." Nothing could be further from the truth.

2016.17.11 BF Quigley(Photo: Courtesy Bill Quigley)BILL QUIGLEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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Andrea Burton, a 30 year old Ohio criminal defense lawyer, was rocketed onto the national social justice scene this summer after she was handcuffed and jailed for refusing to take off a Black Lives Matter pin while in court. 

Burton's stance received international attention.  "I think that you can't remain silent or you remain a party to oppression," she told The Washington Post. "I am usually a pretty agreeable person. I'm always smiling.  I'm polite. I have manners. But at some point it eats away at you how any time people see you talk about Black Lives Matter, then you're being sensitive, you're the person who's racist."   In interviews with local media Burton insisted "I'm not anti-police, I work with law enforcement and I hold them in the highest regard, and just to say for the record, I do believe all lives matter. But at this point they don't all matter equally."

Thursday, 17 November 2016 06:35

Election Theft and Racist Elitism

2016.17.11 BF Koehler(Photo: Todd Lappin)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

At Truthout and BuzzFlash, we don't pull any punches when it comes to criticizing the forces in power. Don't wait to hold the next president's feet to the fire: Make a donation to independent media today!

"All great changes," said Deepak Chopra, "are preceded by chaos."

That starts to get at it -- how to understand, and start healing, the national wound inflicted on this country, and the world, by the 2016 presidential election. But I need to throw in a little John Oliver as well.

"We are faced," he said on his TV show, "Last WeekTonight," "with the same questions as the guy who wakes up after a Vegas bachelor party deep in the desert, naked, tied to a cactus and a dead clown. Namely, how the fuck did we get here and what do we do now?"

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

24538311184 4d3d040bc1 zDonald Trump would not have been elected president without the profiteering enabling of the mainstream corporate media. (Image: John W)

At Truthout and BuzzFlash, we don't pull any punches when it comes to criticizing the forces in power. Don't wait to hold the next president's feet to the fire: Make a donation to independent media today!

When Donald Trump entered the presidential race, some television executives anticipated a boost to their network profits, and promoted coverage of his every outrage above all else. We are now about to enter the second stage of corporate TV's enabling of Trump.

CBS Chairman Les Moonves' now-infamous remark that Trump's entrance into the presidential race was "damn good" for the network's finances sums up the rationale for mainstreaming Trump. “It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going,” Moonves was quoted as saying in a Fortune article earlier this year. 

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter on March 29 of this year, Moonves was positively gleeful about Trump's value to CBS's bank accounts:

Moonves called the campaign for president a "circus" full of "bomb throwing," and he hopes it continues.

"Most of the ads are not about issues. They're sort of like the debates," he said.

"Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now? ... The money's rolling in and this is fun," he said.

Fun? Are racism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, sexual assault, ableism and Islamophobia cause for endless mirth? For the networks, of course, they are certainly sources of profits.

2016.15.11 BF spear(Photo: US Department of State: South and Central Asia)STEFANIE SPEAR OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Those of us who want to build a better world will have our work cut out for us in the months and years ahead, and the commentary and analysis at Buzzflash will be more important than ever. Can we count on your support?

U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry, while speaking in New Zealand Nov. 13, vowed to do "everything possible" to prevent president-elect Donald Trump from pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.

"I believe the evidence is clear, and the question now that we, this administration, are going to continue to address is how we will implement the Paris Agreement," Kerry said. "And until January 20th when this administration is over, we intend to do everything possible to meet our responsibility to future generations to be able to address this threat to life itself on the planet.

2016.15.11 BF Berkowitz(Photo: Gage Skidmore)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

At Truthout and BuzzFlash, we don't pull any punches when it comes to criticizing the forces in power. Don't wait to hold the next president's feet to the fire: Make a donation to independent media today!

Hillary Clinton may have made a huge rhetorical gaffe when during the campaign she labeled more than half of Donald Trump's supporters as occupying a "basket of deplorables." That term, however, may be much more applicable to some of the people heading up Trump's transition team. As proof that Trump intends to consummate his affair with conservative Christian evangelicals, he has named Kenneth Blackwell, the senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council -- an organization named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – to head his domestic transition team.

Blackwell, the former mayor of Cincinnati, UN Ambassador, and Secretary of State of Ohio, is a controversial figure, in part stemming from being accused of voter suppression while Secretary of State of Ohio and honorary chair of George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

Monday, 14 November 2016 07:25

Jim Hightower: Takeaways From the Election

2016.11.14.Hightower.BFDonald Trump is in the White House, but the takeaway from voters in this election is a mandate for progressive economic populism and more diversity among public officials, says Jim Hightower. (Photo: Michael Rosenstein / Flickr)JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Buckle-up, friends, it's going to be a hairy ride.

Start with Day One for President Trump (gotta get used to saying that). He will need to be up-and-at-'em no later than 12:01 a.m., for during his campaign he promised to get oodles of big stuff done on his very first day in office: Repeal Obamacare; begin working on impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall; meet with Homeland security officials and generals to begin securing the Southern border; fix the Department of Veterans Affairs; repeal every single Obama executive order; suspend Syrian refugee resettlement; get rid of gun-free zones in schools; end the war on coal; defend the unborn; start taking care of ... our military; and convene top generals and inform them they have 30 days to come up with a plan to stop ISIS.

Good grief! Americans have actually put a xenophobic-misogynous-racist-nativist blowhard in the Oval Office. Has our country gone right-wing? 

BILL MCKIBBEN FOR ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from Ecowatch

2016.11.14.McKibben.BFSolidarity with Indigenous leadership -- in Standing Rock and beyond -- is more important today, not less, says Bill McKibben. (Photo: Peg Hunter / Flickr)

So, the question everyone's asking me this week is: What now?

I don't have a great answer -- the Trump saga will play out over time, and we'll be learning how to resist as we go along. But resist we will.

I do know that the election last Tuesday made this Tuesday's demonstrations in support of Standing Rock even more important. We'll be gathering in nearly 200 cities worldwide to demand that the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Obama Administration, do their jobs and reject the Dakota Access Pipeline's final permit.

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