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Affordable Care Act More Popular Now Than Ever

February 22, 2017

One of the reasons for the loud and energized blow-back at congressional town meetings nationwide is the growing level of support for the Affordable Care Act and the tensions with those who wish to repeal it but have no idea how to replace it.   Adding to the political strain is the lack of appreciation by some among the GOP base who desire tax reform.  The fact is first there needs to be a budget package prepared with the health care component included so that a simpler procedure for passage can be used to enact the tax overhaul.  Try and explain that to an angry room who disdain civics.

The 2010 healthcare law is becoming more popular, even as it heads toward the chopping block — further complicating efforts by Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal and replace it. While both Trump and Republicans in both chambers of Congress campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act — passed exclusively with Democratic votes and signed by then-President Barack Obama – a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows voters are now split evenly on the law. Forty-five percent of registered voters approve of the law, the poll shows, and 45 percent disapprove. In early January, before Trump took office, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showed only 41 percent of voters approved of the health care law, compared with 52 percent who disapproved. And now there’s little consensus on what Congress and the Trump administration should do next. Only 12 percent want to keep the law in place, while 24 percent want to repeal it entirely. But there’s a sharp divide between the 27 percent who want to repeal parts of the law, but not all of it – and the 26 percent who want to expand the existing law.”

International Medical Students Being Harmed By Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban

February 22, 2017

The fact there was a not an inter-governmental process applied to the efforts by Donald Trump regarding his Muslim travel ban means many have been adversely impacted.  News today that international medical students are being harmed is truly upsetting.  Men and women who are vastly more intelligent than Trump are having their lives upset due to bigotry from this White House.  Think of the potential good these future leaders in medicine might have on the places they come from and the lives they would touch. 

Hospitals are under intense pressure to reject qualified international medical students applying for residencies in the United States because of fears that Trump’s immigration policies may bar the students from entering the country, educators and hospital administrators say.

As many as 1,000 medical school graduates may be unfairly penalized because of their country of origin, medical school officials say. Massachusetts could be hit particularly hard because the state is home to some of the world’s leading teaching hospitals as well as smaller community hospitals that typically depend on a large pool of foreign medical talent.

The concern over Trump’s policies — particularly his restriction on travel from seven majority Muslim countries — has added an unusual amount of anxiety to the upcoming “Match Day,’’ when medical students learn which hospital has accepted them to a residency program.

How Did My Day Go?

February 21, 2017

It was really great.

We had 25% turnout at my polling place on the Madison isthmus. That is awesome for a February Primary where I voted wearing shorts and deck shoes!

Trump Trying To Trick Trade Numbers To Show Imbalance

February 21, 2017

Phony numbers are now a part of the planning for the Trump Administration’s efforts to attempt to show the downside of free trade.   This blog remains in support of trade and agreements that are vital to international efforts to build economic stability and  social mobility in developing countries.   What Trump wishes for is chaos on the international scene.

The Trump administration is considering changing the way it calculates U.S. trade deficits, a shift that would make the country’s trade gap appear larger than it had in past years, according to people involved in the discussions.

The leading idea under consideration would exclude from U.S. exports any goods first imported into the country, such as cars, and then transferred to a third country like Canada or Mexico unchanged, these people told The Wall Street Journal.

Economists say that approach would inflate trade deficit numbers because it would typically count goods as imports when they come into the country but not count the same goods when they go back out, known as re-exports.

Data on trade balances and surpluses, widely followed by Congress, are at the center of a political battle over whether existing trade agreements should be retained, renegotiated or tossed out altogether.

A larger trade deficit would give the Trump administration ammunition in arguing that trade deals need to be renegotiated, and might help boost political support for imposing tariffs.

Career government employees objected last week when they were asked to prepare data using the new methodology, according to the people familiar with the discussions. These employees at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office complied with the instructions, but included their views as to why they believe the new calculation wasn’t accurate.

One person familiar with the discussions said the employees were told the new calculations were to be presented to members of Congress.

The effect of such a change would be particularly stark on data involving countries that have free trade deals with the U.S., this person said—and in some cases the new methodology could even change a trade surplus into a trade deficit.

Facts Prove Trump Wrong About First Month In Office

February 21, 2017

Like my readers I was aghast at the tone and lack of substance or fact during last week’s press conference by Donald Trump.   He claimed his administration is running like a “fine-tuned machine” and has made “incredible progress” since the inauguration.

He even had the hutzpah to state “I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done.”

Plainly Trump is not a reader of much of anything–especially history.   So lets set the record straight and add the facts Trump is scornful of over and over.

When Ronald Reagan took over the White House in 1981, he proposed his historic tax-cut plan on Feb. 15. When George W. Bush moved into the Oval Office in 2001 he proposed a tax-cut plan on Feb. 8. And when Barack Obama became president, Congress actually passed a giant economic stimulus package so he could sign it into law on Feb. 17. All those dates now have passed and the most we can say for Trump during the first month is that he likes to bitch about his daughter’s treatment form Nordstrom’s.

Donald Trump And Family Taking Advantage Of American Taxpayers With Lavish Living Style

February 21, 2017

I was in high school when President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime minister Menachem Begin held a historic summit meeting at Camp David.  I recall feeling at the time, given all the video and newspaper images from this presidential retreat, that this location must be quite wonderful.  Over the years I have grown even more attached to the history of Camp David and know it should suit anyone who resides in the White House.  After all there is the presidential helicopter available for transport, chefs prepare meals, plenty of hiking paths abound, and all that fresh air would make it ideal for any leader of this country who needs a break from the fast-pace of living in Washington, D.C.

There is also for the taxpayers a dividend in that this place is already paid for and has all the safety measures and communication capabilities needed for the leader of the free world.  Citizens have no eagerness to deny our presidents a place to relax and recharge the batteries.  Camp David seems simply perfect.

But that is not the way Donald Trump sees things.

For the third straight weekend Trump traveled to his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.  Also this weekend  Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., with their Secret Service details in tow, traveled 8,000 miles to the United Arab Emirates where they attended the grand opening of a Trump-brand golf resort in the “Beverly Hills of Dubai.”  Meanwhile, New York police kept watch outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, the chosen home of first Lady Melania and son Barron.

Hold on, I am not finished yet!  In the tiny township of Bedminster, New Jersey they are preparing for the local Trump golf course to serve as a sort of northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year!

Let me he honest with a non-partisan fact.  The Trumps have an unusually elaborate lifestyle that is taking great swaths of the Secret Service staff for their use while creating financial and logistical concerns.  The costs for these outlandish excursions and expectations is costing far more than that of your average president. The estimates are that all the travel and security costs will balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term. 

Trump’s three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million.  Palm Beach County officials plan to ask Washington to reimburse tens of thousands of dollars a day in expenses for deputies handling added security and traffic issues around the cramped Florida island whenever Trump is in town.  In New York, the city is paying $500,000 a day to guard Trump Tower, according to police officials’ estimates, an amount that could reach $183 million a year.  This month it was reported that Secret Service and U.S. Embassy staffers paid nearly $100,000 in hotel-room bills to support Eric Trump’s trip to promote a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay.

And we are just starting the second month of this type of extravagant spending.

As noted often on this blog–and above in this post–I do not begrudge elected officials taking vacations and unwinding.  Lord knows they need to have free time to relax.  But at the same time citizens and taxpayers do not like to be taken advantage of in the way described above.  The Trump family has made an art form of making money.  Good for them.  But the American taxpayer’s pocket should not be the newest source for their greedy hands.

Trump’s Bashing The New York Times Makes For More Readers–And That Is Good For America

February 21, 2017

The Economist reports a most interesting outcome of the press bashing that has consumed Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office.    His problem is that autocratic actions on his part have major push-back from the American public.

Donald Trump calls it the “failing” New York Times in his tweets, but his presidency has breathed new life into the newspaper and other mainstream media outlets. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have all received boosts in subscriptions and page views; cable news networks, such as CNN and the Fox News Channel, are getting huge increases in viewers at a time when most other channels are losing them; and even the long-suffering stocks of newspaper companies are rallying. Since the election shares in the New York Times Co have risen by 42%, outperforming even the mighty Goldman Sachs.

The unprecedented nature of political events has kept American eyeballs glued to pages and screens. The pace of change, especially since the election, compels Mr Trump’s fans and foes alike to stay abreast of developments. Many do so using Twitter. But many others seem to want the kind of analysis that established groups provide. Mr Trump’s bashing of certain outlets also may have encouraged some to subscribe or watch in defiance.

The Trump bump has been most pronounced at the New York Times. It managed to sign up more than half a million digital subscribers last year—including 276,000 in the fourth quarter alone, mostly after the election. It now has 3m subscribers in total, including about 1.7m digital-only subscriptions. By one measure traffic to its site is nearly a third higher than a year ago. A never-ending flow of big stories helps. “In the evening you put the non-Trump pages to bed so you can focus on the late-breaking Trump news,” says Mark Thompson, its chief executive.

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