Friday, May 5, 2017

Op-ed: Two Bills...One Should Have Never Passed...One Needed to Be Passed

Two Bills...One Should Have Never Passed...One Needed to Be Passed
By: Diane Sori / The Patriot Factor / Right Side Patriots on American Political Radio

Last Friday, Congressional House members, in a vote of 382-30, approved a stopgap funding bill that kept the government up and running for one more week and today that week is up. But the question that remained after said vote was, could a final what was referred to as a compromise bill be reached and then passed to fund the government through the rest of fiscal year 2017, which ends on September 30th?

And yes it was reached, and late this past Wednesday afternoon the House passed the $1.07 trillion omnibus spending bill (as I write this it still has to go to the Senate) in a vote of 309-118 with 103 Republicans rightfully voting against it.* And why…because certain thought to be written in stone ‘must haves’…like funding for the border wall, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the withholding of monies from sanctuary cities…were not in it and all in the name of compromise…more like in the name of selling-out I say. And while the bill did contain some good things, I still believe the entirety of this dysfunctional government should have been shut down while ‘draining the festering swamp’ took place while it was.

But first, let’s look at how the temporary funding vote was reached…simply it was reached by blackmailing the Republicans. How so…the bill only went to vote after Democrats threatened that they would vote as a whole against the stopgap bill if Republican leaders went ahead the following week (which was this week) with a new vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare before this stopgap bill came to the floor.

What a sorry lot some of the Republicans are as they just laid down and did the Democrats bidding for the ObamaCare repeal and replace bill did come to the floor but not until the final funding bill was passed. And House Speaker Paul Ryan’s words that the repealing and replacing of ObamaCare would not come to vote until he was sure he had the numbers to get it passed does not fool anyone anymore for we heard and saw this song and dance just one month or so ago.

And so now with Wednesday’s vote we face a bloated 1,665 page omnibus spending bill that provides an annualized total of $1.07 trillion in base spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. And while this $1.07 trillion package does give extra monies to the military…to the tune of about $18 billion in supplemental defense spending without a corresponding increase in domestic spending…something that Obama always demanded…even this turns out to be only about half the amount sought by President Trump for the much needed rebuilding of our Obama decimated military. And this military funding is being designated as Overseas Contingency Operations spending, which does not count against statutory budget caps.

And while $1.5 billion in spending was included for additional border security and technologies needed for the repairing and securing of the existing border wall, no funding whatsoever is designated for the promised new and better wall or for the administration wanted and much needed ‘so-called’ deportation force.

Some other key points in the omnibus spending bill are $1 billion in funding for coal miners’ health care; $8+ billion in emergency and disaster relief funding to help fight wildfires, flooding and other extreme weather events; $34 billion for the National Institutes of Health (a $2 billion, 6.2% increase from current Obama designated levels); year-round Pell Grants for low-income college students; $103 million to combat opioid abuse; $68 million to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for the costs of protecting President Trump and his family; and $990 million in emergency famine relief, including $300 million for Food For Peace for South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Nigeria…odd to say the least as what happened to Americans first I wonder…and why give any aid to countries that sponsor terrorism…which these countries do.

But even with the above stated inclusion of some good things of sorts, let’s not forget that some major things Republicans demanded to be defunded unfortunately will still continue to be funded. And that includes that the ObamaCare subsidies will continue on for the time being, and that as previously stated not one bloody dime will be cut in funding from the horrific baby killers known Planned Parenthood or from the monies allotted to sanctuary cities. Also, there are no major cuts in funding to wasteful spending departments…departments like the EPA and the Department of State.

Hard to believe that the Republicans caved on these ‘must haves’ and yet they did making this omnibus spending bill no real victory for our side no matter how hard the Republican spin-meisters try to make it so…and why…because the cowards and obstructionists on our side sold us out yet again. Simply put, the Republicans caved and let the Democrats walk all over them, and if truth be told I view this spending bill as surrendering to the enemy…and know that the Democrats led by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are indeed the enemy…the continuation of Obama’s enemies within.

And really, what would have been so terrible about letting the government be shut down now (remember that essential services like police, fire, and such are never shut down)…it has happened before and the country did not come to a crashing end…and know it will eventually happen again during either this president’s or a future president’s term in office. President Trump himself understands this well as he said in a tweet from earlier this week that the country needs a government shutdown to clean up the mess that is Washington DC, and how right he is. And Trump also stated that while he is personally against the now House passed bipartisan deal that will run through September, he might sign it just to let the fiscal year run out.

And knowing that a government shutdown remains a very strong possibility come September, Congressional Republicans are already cowering in fear saying that we as a country cannot tolerate or afford another round of partisan bickering over whether to keep the government open or not or even if a shutdown is the best thing in the long run…as in its being the ultimate draining of the swamp. But I say if President Trump truly feels that a government shutdown would be in the best interest of our country then he should veto this omnibus spending bill when and if it is passed by the Senate and not wait until September.

And as usual keeping the government open all comes down to votes in Congress where its more conservative members feel President Trump has either sold out to the Democrats or been played by them to get what they want. But if either scenario be the case there is a way to remedy that and allow the Republicans to get what they want…to get everything promised to ‘We the People’…maybe not now but in as short as two year’s time. And how so…simply get more Republicans elected to Congress, especially to the Senate.

President Trump has said just this in recent tweets, pointing out that as it stands now any budget package that is not revenue neutral requires 60 Senate votes for passage thanks to the use of the filibuster. And really what is the filibuster but long-winded bloviations used by both sides of the aisle to stop partisan legislation…legislation that at times actually might benefit the public no matter which side proposed it. So maybe all bills should be passed by a vote of the majority if for no other reason than to expedite the process and get the business of the government done in a timely manner, but unfortunately a majority of senators…who relish in hearing themselves speak…have shown little interest in eliminating the legislative filibuster forgetting that sometimes a few carefully chosen words actually are the most effective.

So now while we wait for this omnibus spending bill to go to the Senate, yesterday afternoon the ObamaCare repeal and replace bill came up for House vote after Republicans said on Wednesday night that they had the required 216 member votes to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA)…sometimes referred to as TrumpCare…and then send the measure to the Senate for consideration where it could still face difficulty winning passage.

And like with the omnibus spending bill to keep the government up
and running, this eleventh hour deal has some Republicans rightfully both unhappy and more than a bit nervous over concessions made not only to the left but to far right obstructionists…aka the Freedom Caucus…as well.

And while some say this bill got better by not passing it during its first go-round a month ago, obstructionist involvement notwithstanding, everyone on the right is in agreement that ObamaCare had to go. And now ‘go’ it has in a vote of 217-213 as four Republicans (Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., Billy Long, R-Mo., Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Michael Burgess, R-Texas)…switched their original ‘nay’ votes to ‘yea’…when certain concessions were thrown into the mix.

Basically, this new bill changes the way the federal government subsidizes purchases of individual health plans, how it funds Medicaid, and eliminates ObamaCare taxes. So what are some of the specific issues and concessions that some Republicans and the Freedom Caucus had problems with that are now ‘fixed’ if you will so that it finally had their support?

First, the current requirement that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates is now rescinded, and fines are eliminated on people who choose not to buy insurance.

Second, as proposed by ‘nay’ to ‘yea’ switchers Reps. Fred Upton and Billy Long…the AHCA via an amendment added $8 billion over five years to fund high-risk pools and go towards patients with pre-existing conditions in states that seek waivers under this new legislation, thus putting what they call ‘downward pressure’ on premium costs.

Third, insurance companies are banned from discriminating against people based upon their past medical conditions.

Fourth, the AHCA eliminates taxes on the wealthy, insurers and others, and does away with the individual mandate while providing Americans with refundable tax credits… based mainly upon age…to purchase health insurance. A downside to this is that it allows insurers to charge higher premiums to those in their 50s and early 60s, compared to younger consumers.

Fifth, federal support for Medicaid is reduced while allowing states to rightfully require able-bodied adults to work. After 2020, states that expanded Medicaid would no longer receive enhanced federal funding to cover low-income adults, and those that had not expanded would be immediately barred from doing so.

And lastly, states can cutback some main ObamaCare protections of those with pre-existing conditions, and could apply for waivers to allow insurers to offer what they call ‘skimpier policies’ that do not cover the ten essential health benefits mandated by ObamaCare. Also, insurers can charge higher premiums to those with medical issues if they let their coverage lapse, while states requesting waivers would have to set up programs, like high-risk pools, to protect insurers from high-cost patients.

However, one of the few things the AHCA leaves in place is that children stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26.

And so now that the American Health Care Act has passed the House it…like the omnibus spending bill to keep the government running through September… must go to the Senate for passage and then on to President Trump’s desk for his signature. But know that neither bill will have an easy time of it in the Senate for neither bill is the panacea…especially for our veterans…that we had hoped it would be…a panacea to help lead the way to putting our country’s ills to rest. And Congress could have done better on both accounts but did not for the festering swamp is still long overdue for draining, and Republicans have yet to keep all their promises made for the monster known as politically correct concessions still seems to be the rule of their…not ‘We the People’s’…day.
* The final tally was178 Democrats voted for the $1.07 trillion funding bill, and 15 were against it. Among Republicans, 131 voted yes, and 103 voted no.

Copyright © 2017 Diane Sori / The Patriot Factor

Today, Friday, May 5th from 7 to 9pm on American Political Radio, RIGHT SIDE PATRIOTS Craig Andresen and Diane Sori discuss France at a crossroads, two important bills that came up for vote, and important news of the week.

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