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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Governing from Behind

Uploaded: Mar 5, 2017

Republicans were surprised to learn in November that they would control both Houses of Congress and the Executive Branch, starting in January of this year.

So far, the record suggests that they were ill-equipped to actually govern, after eight years of earning the nickname “Party of No.” The GOP-controlled House, for example, had voted more than 50 times in the last term to repeal the ACA/ObamaCare, but they never proposed anything to replace it. And in the four months since the election bestowed those majorities, they still haven’t.

Some suggest that’s because the ACA was actually a GOP proposal -- witness its roots in the rightist Heritage Foundation as an alternative to ‘single-payor’ approaches, and its earlier implementation under Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. Others believe that no proposal could ever lure-in the Freedom Caucus and other uber-conservative House members. Obstructionism, we are learning, is easy – it’s governing that is hard.

But this edition of the RC is not about the GOP’s inability to lead – it’s intended to chastise the Dems for not learning the GOP’s lesson. The current void gives them a perfect opportunity to present an alternative vision – something Hillary created but failed to articulate during the last campaign. Instead of sitting on their hands, GOP-style, they could be putting forward proposals from both Establishment and Progressive (read: Bernie) wings, to capitalize on the coming GOP civil war, and lay the groundwork for a 2018 resurgence.

Take infrastructure – EVerybody agrees that major upgrades are needed. Infrastructure is a bedrock governmental function, after only Defense in most folks’ minds. It’s a job booster, a pump primer, and it always pays off. Indeed, it’s likely that something could have passed during the previous six years of gridlock -- except for the fact that it would have had Mr. Obama’s name on it, which fundamentally offends the GOP DNA.

Not only that, but we’re not just talking about pot-holed roads and crumbling bridges – there’s plenty of evidence that other countries are investing aggressively, societally, in 21st century infrastructure around faster internets and universal availability. (In my own dampish reveries, we might even do something to directly address climate change, but realistically not yet).

Mr. Trump has made noises about some hybrid public/private initiative, but details are notably absent as he strives mightily to divert attention from his smoldering Russian scandalette (so far). So why not come up with an alternative that puts a stake in the ground – and might even draw-in a few GOPers concerned about their 2018 prospects, or even about good governance. Bernie and Hillary both had plans – put ‘em out there!

Or what about health care? ACA popular support now commands a national majority, and the Dems’ talking points have been laced with calls to “improve it, not replace it.” Okay, do it! Maybe national competition is a good thing. Or maybe a bill could address the Actual reasons why health care is so expensive, as in sky-high drug costs and an opaque medical services market that forecloses price competition (Steven Brill’s 'Bitter Pill' was, and is, right about that).

Why not take a shot at it? The Republicans are very likely to gridlock in the House (Ayn Rand vs. Milton Friedman, in a deadly intramural stand-off). The Senate is a close question, and the Administration is hopelessly flummoxed by the fact that policy is complicated (who knew?) and the credible economists have fled.

Further, if it was an alternative to a GOP plan that only addresses costs by effectively kicking millions of now-covered Americans to the curb, it might look mighty good when the Congressional Budget Office got through with a comparison.

Moreover, Resistance to the Trumpistas may be a civic duty, but fear is not inspirational, and might not sustain the necessary momentum. Why not give Ms. and Mr. Resistor something positive to rally ‘round?

Nature, but apparently not the Democratic Party, abhors a vacuum. If that doesn’t change, they deserve the consequences of consistently squandered Opportunity.

It’s a-knockin’ -- let it in!
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 5, 2017 at 6:48 pm

rosalindr is a registered user.

I might be naive or biased (who, me?), but the simple solution to the replace Obamacare is Medicare for All. Yes there is a Government run medical plan THAT WORKS. Ask even the most right-wing senior citizen if he/she wants their Medicare taken away and hold onto your helmets for the bashing you would get.

Yes, I'm old and I'm on Medicare, and I buy a moderately-priced supplement that covers all the missing pieces. Now that all of the baby boomers aging into Medicare, it will be closer to Medicare for All soon anyway, so why not sooner than later?


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 5, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Roz, I like your suggestion.
As you pointed out Medicare doses not cover all of it.
If Medicare were provided to all, all those folks will be enabled to purchase their supplemental Medicare through, payroll deduction, tax refund deduction, etc. However, this will balloon the supplemental rates for all.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 6, 2017 at 7:41 am

Careful 'Erma' -- seditious talk like that could cost you your biggest local fan. I agree that single-payor is the best ultimate answer to address health care costs, but I fear that it gets tarred with the 'S' word in the short run.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 6, 2017 at 7:58 am

Hi Michael -- I'm not sure why you believe that supplemental rates would balloon. Ol' folks are already covered, and they're the group that uses expensive medical services the most. Mixing-in younger, mostly healthier people should lower the overall group rates, should it not?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The younger generation may be healthier, but their life styles are not healthy for the most part. Example, smoking dope, getting passed out drunk at sorority parties, rioting on campus getting their heads bashed in.

I found that the more people seeking supplemental insurance raises the premiums for all because of the higher demand for services with the new enrollments seeking service.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 6, 2017 at 10:45 am

Michael: sure glad I never did any of That stuff.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 6, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.


Can you explain why the everyday American is not allowed to participate in the same health care program that our elected officials, serving in Washington, have for themselves and their families?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

Michael: most people get their health insurance via their employers. This phenomenon started in the 1940s, as an extra enticement to prospects in a competitive job market. It eventually became a pretty standard employment benefit (or do we call it an 'entitlement?').

The terms included in those employer-sponsored plans vary dramatically, as to coverage, deductibles, visit fees and employee contributions, etc. I do not know how the Congress runs its coverage, but others have indicated that it's a pretty generous program. I suppose that anyone with the means could get similar coverage individually, but it'd be very expensive. It's good to be da king -- or even in his Congress.

Posted by Hotslide, a resident of Oak Tree Acres,
on Mar 9, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Hotslide is a registered user.

Tom, I think your vagina had is 2 sizes too small. You know exactly why the repeal and replace of obamacare is slow and methodical. Remember, we had to "pass it to see what was in it" and were then purposively lied to by your hero obama about keeping our doctor and health care we had established. All lies, right? It took the dems 9 months to work this BS up and 8 years to perpetuate thousands of regulations to help block repeal. You libs are so dishonest, come out of the closet, you are a Soros kiss butt true blue socialist. What is wrong with people making their own health care decisions? Not socialist enough? You are just begging for another federal handout system, but I think you are in for a big surprise. Millions will lose their healthcare, right, millions of illegals. There are no more insurance companies willing to be involved with obamacare after this year, you know that I hope. Now go back for another chat with Maxine Waters for your info.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 9, 2017 at 5:17 pm

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

I've decided to leave the invisible adolescent's comment up -- not because it adds any value, but because it works so hard at trying to offend.

Please remember to vote, folks, every time.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 9, 2017 at 6:50 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Lock the anonymous poster out as you did with another anonymous poster.

Posted by Hotslide, a resident of Oak Tree Acres,
on Mar 10, 2017 at 4:15 am

Hotslide is a registered user.

I realize that you libs are far smarter and intuitive than the rest of us, demontrated daily. But you constantly blog as if there are no other entities that think differently. The bent of your statements and those of hosts on CNN, MSNBC, etc. do not allow for statements to the contrary of your blurbs content. Completely one sided thoughts, not even a hint that the reader should even venture to listen to the other side. Regarding obamacare, couldn't you allow yourself to bring up one sentence like " remember folks, obamacare was drafted behind closed doors, instantly put on the desk of obama, signed without one Republican aboard, and congessionals/we the people were told it had to be signed to find out what is in it". In addition the president LIED about people being able to keep their own doctor and healthcare if they wanted to, and the individual that masterminded the plan later "mocked" the American public for being so stupid as to buy into it! Is that "adolescent" to you? The discussion is about "insurance" not aother handout (take from achievers & give to non-achievers, socialist handbook essentials). And as Mr. Austin says, if you don't have people that agree with you Tom, just block them out. Disagreeing is not adolescent, I think the First Amendment is a good idea, don't you?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 10, 2017 at 7:19 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

All anonymous posters should be blocked, locked out.
That action would enable this forum to be what it was intended to be, a place for reasonable discussion with varying view points.

Posting anonymous on this forum simply demonstrates ones total lack of courage to be responsible for what they write. That is the same characteristic of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi. Not taking responsibility for the disaster of the Obama Care which they wrote.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a blogger,
on Mar 10, 2017 at 11:09 am

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

The First Amendment is precious, HS, but it doesn't apply in the private sector (disagree? Try telling your boss what you Really think of her). See next blog post.

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