Finding the Fight: the Trump Challenges as They are Today

One of the biggest challenges in writing about the new administration is the rapid pace at which everything changes. No sooner is the research wrapped than it becomes dated and irrelevant. The past few weeks have brought a new reality and the events that define that reality are already set in stone. Depending on which side your opinions fall, you may or may not agree with your neighbor, your husband or even the Twitter handles you follow. Here are a few things that aren’t likely to fade into the background anytime soon.

The incredulous insistence of the president regarding wiretapping has taken on new meaning. After weeks of going back and forth about whether he has any kind of secretly recorded media of his meetings or conversations, he finally pulls back and says he has nothing. By my count, he’s not only wrongly accused the previous president of wiretapping him, but he also wrongly accused himself of wiretapping…himself.

Healthcare

The new healthcare plans have been hashed out, argued, debated and picked apart by every media outlet in the country over the past 48 hours. Keep in mind, for all the bickering and tweeting and debating, this bill is not likely to pass as there are at least five Republicans who’ve been vocal about the shortcomings of the bill. If just two Republicans opt to vote the bill down, it quickly becomes a has-been and a waste of time. Some have laughed at what’s included in this latest version. Here are a few of the biggest obstacles:

Medicare’s going to take a hit. They can dance around it and sugar coat it, but most are saying a hit between 15 and 20 percent reduction of services is how it shakes out. As the bill stands now, it’s a kick in the teeth to those who depend on these programs. AARP estimates 17 million older and/or poverty-stricken Americans will lose with this bill if it’s passed as-is. Just like the House bill a few weeks ago, many groups have come out against this latest effort, including many nursing and physician organizations.

As it stands (and the figures differ somewhat, though not substantially) around 500,000 veterans will lose Medicaid coverage.

Some media outlets are now saying the Senate decided at the last minute to include penalties, similar to the Obama tax, on those who have no coverage at all.

The Senate bill will also likely be to updated to reflect a six month suspension from coverage if even one insurance premium is not paid on time. That’s not been cemented, but there’s no doubt it’s going to be heated if it comes full circle.

Jobs

At the end of November, 2016, Carrier announced it had reached an agreement, courtesy of President-elect Trump’s negotiations, to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis, IN. One worker told Fortune, “I just couldn’t believe that this guy, all this stuff he said the whole campaign—he’s not even president yet and he worked on this deal with the company. I’m just in shock. A lot of the workers are in shock. We can’t believe something good finally happened to us. It felt like a victory for the little people.”

This week, those same workers learned their jobs were being relocated to Monterrey, Mexico.

In South Carolina, Trump was able to round up support – and votes – by striking a deal with Boeing to keep jobs in the state. He claimed success and said those workers’ jobs were safe.

This week, those same workers learned their last day at the Boeing plant will be August 25th.

Qatar

On June 9th, the president accused Qatar of being a “high level sponsor of terrorism”. On June 14th, he announced a newly-inked deal with Qatar, worth $12 billion, that would provide several fighter jets to the country.

Of course, this barely scratches the surface, but these topics are sure to remain front and center in the coming days. In the meantime, I’m working on an executive orders list of what’s been passed, what’s worked and what’s failed. I’m trying to figure out how to ensure it remains a living document, of sorts, with updates. I’m open for suggestions if anyone wants to toss any my way.

Think the Fed Financial Crisis Doesn’t Affect You?

It’s easy to get lost in all of the rhetoric coming out of Congress and the White House these days. For years, we’ve Wrong Way Signseen nothing but a series of lies, mistruths, selfish mindsets and ulterior motives. All the while, we’ve been forced to sit back and watch it unfold. Amidst all of this, there are the debt ceiling crises that have taken over mainstream media from time to time, only to fade into the darkness when a new and better “breaking news” story hits. Now, as yet another deadline looms, which really is just proof that the elected folks have drastically failed yet again, the repercussions are many. Don’t allow yourself to become indifferent because it seems so familiar. There’s a lot at stake.

Medicare and Social Security

This is a double whammy for seniors and the elderly. For around 70% of Medicare recipients, they’re protected from an increase in their Part B premiums. Part B is the portion of Medicare that oversees doctors and hospital payments. They’re protected because they are not receiving a cost of living adjustment – also known as COLA – from Social Security. Since there’s been no inflation, there are no increases for recipients. The law doesn’t allow Medicare premium increases if there are no COLA increases.

That still leaves 30% of Medicare beneficiaries who will shoulder 100% of the Part B premium increases. That equates to about 7 million seniors and elders. Now, we all know Congress can halt this, but we also know their track record. Couple this with everything else that’s going on: 2016 race to the White House, the absence of a speaker of the house and the general bickering they’re known for, and it becomes worrisome. Oh, and did I mention the deadline is November 2nd?

Remember: they could have prevented this – in fact, they PROMISED we’d not run up to another deadline the last time they run us up to a deadline. This could have been avoided. If you’re wondering what the Obama Administration is saying, you’ll appreciate this: “We share the goal of keeping Medicare’s premiums affordable, are exploring all options, and appreciate the interest and ideas of members of Congress,” said White House spokeswoman Katie Hill.

Shared goals and appreciated ideas. Great.

For those who are facing this 52% premium hike, it equates to around $60 each month. Currently the premiums are around $104.50. They will increase to 159.00 each month.

Who’s at risk?

  • New Medicare applicants in 2016
  • Medicare recipients with incomes over $85,000 or if they’re married, $170,000
  • Low-income income people whose Medicare premiums are paid by state Medicaid programs
  • Medicare recipients who don’t receive Social Security

Even if you’re still working – even if you’re in your 20s, these are the types of problems where Band Aids are applied and by the time you prepare for retirement, you’ll remember decades earlier when no one was willing to do the right thing. Odds are, all of us – no matter our age – have loved ones who will be affected today and tomorrow and next week. This matters to all of us.

Keep in mind a few more things that should provide a bit of perspective as well:

New numbers suggest a full 2/3 of Americans have absolutely no retirement savings. That’s huge…mostly because it’s a far bigger problem than anyone anticipated. Remember the MyRA retirement program Obama introduced last year? Not a single state has implemented it. Not one.

We’re working in the belief that employment is sound. The numbers have been so twisted for so long that it’s actually laughable. More companies are talking (and in fact are already in the process) of layoffs. These higher numbers aren’t all being reported as they should because they’re being referred to as furloughs and not layoffs, so the government isn’t taking them into consideration.

Our stock market is just as laughable. This has become nothing but a heavily modified “ideal” that has no degree of truth at all. Do you realize our financial sector is being determined by a Fed that can’t figure out how it backed itself into a corner, a global economy that’s worse than our own, but doesn’t realize it and backdoor deals and dynamics created to save taxes, keep more dividends and shift and change with very little regulation? Folks are getting rich. I’d say there are about 100 people benefitting from the shady practices built on non-existent foundations. When these strange business structures finally crash and burn – and they will, the taxpayer will be the one to cover those costs. And we will. But right now, we have a bigger crisis on our hands. Our senior citizens need to eat and have access to their medications.

Contradictions in Black and White

President Obama is expected to speak a bit later this morning. This, after a weekend of speculation about what lies ahead for the nation, is sure to ignite controversy and drive approval ratings even further down. So, with that in mind, I wanted to take a look at the speech he made on the 8th of this month and compare it to what will be announced later today. If you want to re-familiarize yourself with that speech from earlier this month, the text in its entirety can be found here.

Oh -but before I get knee-deep in this mess, did anyone pay attention to the Occupy Wall Street demonstration this weekend? What? Is it news to you too? That figures. The media in its entirety and for whatever reason, declined to cover it. This is definitely a major storm that’s on the horizon and one I’m sure will grow more desperate before any solutions are found. Use the hashtag #overhaulwallstreet if you want to follow it on Twitter because as of now, you won’t find media coverage. OK…so back to the Obama mess.

Here’s how I’ll do it – the president’s words from his 9/8 speech, verbatim, will be put in bold print followed by the Associated Press piece that’s currently running and includes the low-down on today’s speech. These, of course, are just a few of the contradictions, though there are many.

I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans

Today: President Barack Obama’s proposal to reduce long-term deficits with $1.5 trillion in new taxes will be announced today. The plan stands little chance of passing Congress.

(Yeah – nothing controversial with that, right?)

________

In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I’ve already signed into law, it’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts; by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid

Today: $580 billion in cuts in mandatory benefit programs, including $248 billion in Medicare and $72 billion in Medicaid and other health programs. Other mandatory benefit programs include farm subsidies.

(I’m thinking “modest” should be used loosely in this instance…seriously…$580 billion?)

________

But what we can’t do – what I won’t do – is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety.

Today: And if Congress fails to adopt the deficit-reduction recommendations of a bipartisan joint Congressional committee this fall, the Defense Department will be required under debt ceiling legislation passed in August to find about $900 billion in savings over the coming decade. Cuts that deep will almost certainly entail reducing personnel benefits for active and retired troops, Pentagon officials and analysts say.

(Maybe I’m confused about what “basic protections” are? Cuts in benefits for our military?)

________

Of course, so much of the brouhaha in Washington is subjective. What one says can be construed in a dozen ways, but it’s difficult to slow dance around much of what was said and what’s sure to be said today. One thing’s for sure: we’ll hear it from the president himself in a couple of hours.