Saturday, December 31, 2016

The GOP's political cowardice and bait and switch: repeal Obamacare now with replacement details 3 years later


The GOP  members of Congress are planning to pull the wool over the eyes of voters. What they are proposing  to do is to make good on campaign promises to repeal Obamacare immediately , delay its implementation, and then in three years to tell consumers what they will do to replace it. The timing for the next election cycle could not be more obvious, since changes would not go into effect until after the next general elections for Congress, Senate and presidency. That is political cowardice at its worst and bait and switch consumer fraud as well. 

GOP politicians are aware they must come up with a replacement because of the political backfire if they do not. Repeal without replacement would give Colorado consumers hard times again. In Colorado, 67 thousand plus received on the average of over $300 in subsidies awarded based upon their low income levels. That is 60% of the total who bought insurance through the Colorado exchange. Over 39% of subscribers of exchange offered insurance did not require subsidies. To buy insurance on the open market, those 67,000 would have to make up the difference but due to low income, could not. These figures  do not take into account another nearly 60 thousand   receiving Medicaid  plus CHP (Child Health Care), with Medicaid  expanded to include them under provisions of Obamacare..In Grand County individuals earning less than  $15,856  or $30 thousand for a family of four have been covered by  expanded Medicaid.  Individuals earning between $15, 856  a year and $45,960  and families of four earning between $32,499 and $94,200  have qualified  for reduced cost premiums  per  income level.  Those subsidies would go away if some current GOP proposals were enacted.

For eight years GOP members  have tried to come up with a replacement plan that even comes close to the coverage, consumer protection standards,  and affordability of Obamacare , and have not found one. Pres.elect Trump's cabinet pick for Health and Human services, Tom Price, has a plan, but experts looking at it conclude it would leave consumers sicker and poorer.18 to 27 million would lose health insurance and premiums would increase 20 to 25%, per the Congressional Budget Office. Implementation plans also creates such uncertainty  that within that three year period, insurers will pull out of Obamacare, not because they are being mean-spirited, but because the uncertainty will lead to business decisions inherent in the insurance industry. What should be demanded, not that it will since the GOP controls both houses of Congress, is that any repeal  must be accompanied with replacement at the same time so that the public can see who  of the current near 20 million getting benefits from subsidized medical insurance or expanded Medicaid   and those receiving employer provided insurance now meeting high standards  will get screwed.


GOP members are talking about retaining popular provisions of requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions and permitting kids under 25 to be covered by their parents' insurance. How to pay for pre-existing coverage is the question not answered since under Obamacare the healthy insured expand the pool to spread the cost around. Attempts to provide subsidies to premiums restricted to those with pre-existing coverage have failed in states  including Colorado that have tried it because of the costs.
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Furthermore those left without insurance would once again burden hospitals' ER rooms and require more charity care, with costs passed on to consumers who had insurance in the form of higher premiums.

There are some hidden benefits to those receiving employers insurance and Medicare that could go away if the GOP had its way. What those receiving insurance from their employers do not often realize is that Obamacare requires 80% of premiums to be used for actual coverage, and not for advertising or high exec salaries or extravagant overhead. Large employers are required to provide insurance. Lifetime caps on benefits are forbidden. Cancer screenings and annual checkups are required with no co-pays.   Furthermore, Obamacare cut health care  increasing costs to the federal government enough to extend the life of Medicare  at least 12  years to 2029 and that would have to be made up in some way. Obamacare also requires Medicare to cover cancer screenings and annual checkups without co-pays and closes the donut hole in drug coverage.

Addendum:  My comments posted on Facebook January 4, 2017.
For the  life of me wonder why it is helpful for the struggling middle class to take away their health insurance and replace it with either nothing or a worse, more expensive one devoid of protections from such as life time caps, high or no coverage of annual physicals or cancer screenings. These benefits affect all of those getting medicare, medicaid, employer provided insurance or insurance bought on the exchanges. Let us see how much the GOP intends to keep these protections and benefits. Bet they won't. Stay tuned. I noted, too, in an earlier statement by the GOP that the reason the GOP is planning to replace Obamacare gradually is their concern for the business interests of the insurers. Ha. It certainly isn't out of concern for the interests of the struggling middle class. The Democrats need to shout that one from the mountain top, too.

Addendum: Feb. 27, 2017:
Ali Velshi  on CNN interviews person from Columbia U. Half of the 20K covered by Obamacare get Medicaid Expansion (11 mil).. 31 states did Medicaid expansion; half have GOP governors.  Right now states and federal government split costs and GOP proposals floated would give the states a block grant, but no guarantee in future would be enough or would the block grants be the same.
Currently subsidies for those on Exchanges based upon sliding scale of income. GOP proposals would change that to one based on age and young people would get $2K credit (enough for catastrophic, but not much more) and older people would get $4K credit. However, cost of older people 5x younger so not enough for the older, sicker. 

http://arstechnica.com/science/2017/01/under-tom-prices-aca-killing-plan-18m-lose-insurance-and-premiums-rise/
http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/articles/2016-12-02/republican-replacement-plans-for-obamacare-likely-to-make-health-care-worse
http://files.kff.org/attachment/Issue-Brief-High-Risk-Pools-For-Uninsurable-Individuals
http://www.denverpost.com/2012/01/15/colorado-high-risk-health-insurance-pool-runs-up-claims-twice-the-u-s-average/
https://www.healthinsurance.org/colorado-state-health-insurance-exchange/
https://www.medicare.gov/about-us/affordable-care-act/affordable-care-act.html
 https://www.healthinsurance.org/colorado-state-health-insurance-exchange/
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-insurance/articles/2014/11/14/will-obamacare-affect-medicare-myths-and-facts
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/hospitals-medicaid-obamacare-trump.html?emc=edit_th_20161228&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=33304952&_r=1
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/hospitals-medicaid-obamacare-trump.html?emc=edit_th_20161228&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=33304952&_r=0

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The death of populism by its own hands

The populists may have killed off populism with their  own votes in November.
Wonder if those blue collar, struggling middle class voters who voted for Trump realize the Congressional agenda flies
in the face of most Trump promises to replace Obamacare with something better, lower their taxes, and create jobs with infrastructure investment. None of that will happen if Congress gets its way. Both Medicaid and Medicare will be in jeopardy, as Trump promised not to touch Medicare and Social Security.  Millions may lose affordable health insurance. Remember?  While Trump will struggle to make good on campaign promises, he not only will run up against Congress, his own choices for cabinet, a team of billionaires,  will  be a problem for him, too.  Or will Trump just roll over to Congress' will and heed the pressure from his own cabinet members?


There seems to be general consensus by political observers that this was a change election. It was loudly  amplified by Donald Trump’s call  to drain the  Washington swamp. (He has repudiated that phrase since the election). The platform he ran on has been described as pragmatic populism. What has happened since the  election is that he has  introduced an invasive species to the Washington swamp and his cabinet, the  billionaires. Where the rub comes is if the solution to everyday health, safety, and pocket book problems of the struggling middle class conflict with the solutions offered by the business oriented billionaires .

These billionaires anti-populists if there ever were.   They come with preset notions that what is good for their business  is therefore good for all ,  with agendas that are contrary to the mission of the departments they are going to lead ,and histories  of supporting  ideologically based crusades. Neither is Donald Trump, when he declared his goal to eliminate 75% of laws and rules constraining business from it appears practices harmful to consumers and the environment.. They have no record of caring for the public interest as a whole, but their care has been for the bottom lines of the business or medical sectors they have served. Where the rub comes is if the solution to everyday health, safety, and pocket book problems of the struggling middle class conflict with the solutions offered by the business oriented billionaires .


The Trump theory of economics is to free  business  from government regulation and the economy will soar, lifting all boats of  the rich and blue collar workers alike. This theory has never worked, but if it does, and creates some jobs, there are some unintended harmful consequences for the middle class.   Scrapping regulations that are considered unnecessary or burdensome  to a business’  bottom line can also be painful to  families where pennies count. Many of those regulations which billionaires consider anti business were once carefully crafted in response to some  public outcry. How rules are enforced, the kinds of legislation advocated to Congress, the kind of appointments  to boards and commissions ,and how  budgets can be revised  all can be used to subvert environmental and consumer protections.


Here are a few of some worrisome possibilities: Will families be able to afford health insurance without the subsidies Obamacare once provided and will they once again have to choose between losing their homes or bankruptcy to get the health care they need? Will caps on the amount of benefits  once again result in  bankruptcy and foreclosure for  even those who get employer health insurance?    Will the  cost of annual physicals and cancer screenings come out of the pocket of  those who get any health insurance now from either employers or Obamacare? Will the donut hole emerge to cost seniors more for drugs?


Will we have more Flints and Love Canals due to business people/now regulators who sympathize with the polluters.? Will we drive more cars unsafe at any speed or will reducing time and need of testing drugs result in ineffective treatment or fatal and debilitating side effects? Will students graduating from college or trade school have any relief from tuition debt? Will future seniors have their social security be at the mercy of the financial markets?  Will Medicare be replaced with vouchers which may or may not keep up with insurance costs and  make life of seniors more risky and complicated?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/presidents-backers-want-action-on-jobs-taxes-immigration-1485945003 https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/trump-cabinet-tracker/510527/
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-is-enlisting-the-rich-to-help-the-downtrodden-183942038.html
http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/16/planning/tom-price-trump-health-and-human-services/
http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/donald-trumps-14-billion-cabinet/
https://www.yahoo.com/news/2017-gop-congress-sees-mandate-undo-obamas-agenda-163447989.html

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/his-very-first-hour-office-trump-moved-screw-low-income-homeowners


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Pay for play

The partisans of Donald Trump will excuse his embryonic administration for anything, it appears.   Listening to all of the rationales the apologists have raised regarding his sons' fundraising for a charity by offering palling around with themselves as a premium for big donors is truly an exercise in   hypocrisy.

 During the campaign Trump had called Hillary Clinton crooked in part because he claimed big donors to the Clinton foundation were buying access to her while she was Secretary of State. There was never any proof that the  Clinton foundation donors got special treatment, even when they were allies of the US. (A Saudi prince was referred to normal diplomatic channels when he attempted to cash in  about which the Trump partisans attempted to show an actual connection).

The issue has nothing to do with whether the charity was worthy (nor was there any evidence the Clinton Foundation did not do good deeds or was not well managed, getting  high ratings from charity monitors).  The issue has nothing to do with whether Pres Bill Clinton rewarded donors to campaigns with a  night  in the Lincoln Bedroom...because that was wrong, too.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  The issue is whether the reward of rubbing elbows with family who have the ear of Pres. Trump is ethical is pay to play.  That is the question and it is difficult to see how  it does not look like pay for play.  The Trump sons were right to withdraw their association with the charity drive, that what was once considered ethical  has changed now that their father is president elect.  The Trump family understood that even if their fanatical supporters do not.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Trump's foreign policy: Make Russia Great Again...revisited

The heartbreak of the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo has created a great deal of finger pointing. Many wish Pres. Obama had not decided to have taken a hands off position. . However, the puzzle is what Donald Trump would have done differently and what he will decide to do when he takes office. He indicated in the campaign he would have done even less, leaving the country's civil war to Russia and Assad. Those two were the perpetrators and deserve universal condemnation. The irony may be that by the time he takes office, facts on the ground will have already made any decision by him moot. The winners, Russia and Assad, will have become the reality. Barack Obama, justly or unjustly, will have a blot on his legacy for being the enabler by his decision to ignore the crossing of the red line he himself painted several years ago.

To see this in a larger context going forward, what is going to be Don Trump's relationship with Russia? Will he also abandon the Ukraine, the Baltic states to Russian stealth takeover? Will he lead NATO into an eclipse by not evoking military and political protection of the Baltics who are members of NATO? Will he recognize Russian takeover of eastern Ukraine and the de facto annexation of the Crimea? Will he see Russia as a threat to the US, in spite of the US intelligence agencies verifying their interference in our elections, or Vladimir Putin as a friend and mentor to him personally?

To take clues of where he had been in the campaign as a way to predict the future, it is possible that he will support Russia's foreign policy, and would have supported it in Syria, too.

This is a partial reposting of a blog I authored September 8 and it was written even before Trump tapped the President of Exxon who had received a medal of friendship from Vladimir Putin to be our new Secretary of State.

"Donald Trump in the recent "Commander in Chief" forum called Vladimir Putin a better leader than President Obama.  That bromance between Trump and Putin is more than just a matter of flattery and egos.  It has real repercussions for future conduct of foreign policy if Trump is elected. Trump supports foreign policies that dovetail neatly with Russia's,, excusing the Russian grab of the Crimea, going along with the stealth invasion of Eastern Ukraine, calling NATO obsolete as a military defense alliance, and fuzzy about whether Russia's ally Assad in Syria must go. None of those policies are in America's or our allies' interests."

In fact, if Pres. Obama's leadership in the region is regarded by his critics as "weak", Donald Trump's leaving the field to Russia in areas of conflict in Europe, would be even weaker, and hardly is a way to make "America Great again" as a world leader. Instead, it helps make Russia great again.



http://mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/trumps-foreign-policy-make-russia-great.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/vice-presidential-debate-putin-mike-pence-donald-trump-229147

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/28/politics/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-quotes/

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-exclusive-idUSKCN12P2PZ

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Why Islamphobia again in 2017.

Updated 9/19/2017

Every once in a while there is a flurry of Islamphobia coming into my Facebook pages. It cropped up again in Grand County with a controversial speaker recently at Constitution Week in Grand Lake.  I did not attend nor did I hear the speaker, but I am relying on the report in the Sky Hi News.

 I first noticed anti-Muslim shout-outs  in 2011 and blogged about it then and several times since .  The viewpoint  mostly promotes fear that Sharia law will become the law of the US, or it is asked in terms, do you want your neighbor to practice Sharia law and be able to beat their wives.  Recently I am getting some such postings and I was puzzled why. It appears that the only reason must be to justify something that is happening in the US. The newest wave seems to have started with Donald Trump's proposal for a Muslim ban.  However, it has risen to a new pitch since the November elections.  Why:  I have, I think, found the key: It has to do with Donald Trump's appointment of General Michael Flynn to one of his close advisers in the White House. (Flynn  since resigned in the midst of controversy and is a major figure in the Russian connection investigations).

First, my answer to such postings and sentiments.  Yes, of course Sharia law in not compatible with our Constitution.  But also thanks to our Constitution, we cannot establish any state religion. Religious practices which contradict US criminal law are also considered criminal and subject to prosecution, including domestic violence and assault. Practically speaking it will not happen. To gin up fear of Sharia law in the the US only adds to the hatred of all Muslims. have no political clout since they have less than 1% of our population. Our own US criminal laws would punish assault, domestic violence regardless of religious motivation, including those who assault anyone claiming my religion made me do it, Christian or Muslim. Sharia law is interpreted many ways in many different countries and this type of abuse is not condoned by all Muslims and clerics, and Islamic scholars. The only purpose I can see to these kinds of postings is to promote hatred of all Muslims and somehow to excuse bigotry and bigots and to legitimize and justify it.

Second: the Flynn connection. He has made statements that condemn all Islam as a cancer that needs to be excised and ginned up fear of Sharia law. Fact checkers of similar statements and postings in the past by others rated this "pants on fire". Instead of just repeating his hate speech and his bigotry myself, visit http://www.politifact.com/florida/article/2016/nov/22/donald-trumps-security-adviser-pick-michael-flynn-/

What was interesting as reported by the Sky Hi News, is that the speaker felt confident she could be as safely outspoken against Islam as she could because there were no Muslims in Grand County. I wonder how many in Grand County have ever met a Muslim. That may explain why such one sided,
extreme  opinions have such fertile ground to grow here. I have spent a good part of my lifetime interfacing with Bosnian Muslims, since my encounter with it in the late 1950's. Bosnian Muslims   are closer to the Turkish more moderate practice since they were a province of Turkey for five hundred years. Ironically, General Flynn did  not let his anti-Muslim  sentiments stand in way of his being an agent of the Turkish government and is under fire for not having registered as a foreign agent.

 I translated that personal experience into independent study of Islam's interface with the West  in my senior year in Northwestern and I have followed the subject closely, writing about it frequently in my blog.  Those who practice Islam are  more diverse in their application of their scriptures  and theology than even Christianity.  The practice of Islam varies from country to country and cultural and customs are as much an influence as the interpretation of theology.  Even within those predominately Muslim countries, there are debates and sects about the role of government in enforcing and applying Sharia law. There are extremists and moderates and secularists  (separating religion from government)  throughout the Islamic world. The largest numbers of Muslims are in India and Indonesia, not those encountered by the Constitution Day speaker.  Extreme applications of Sharia law are concentrated in a minority of countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.  Isis is considered by most Muslims to be heretical. Blanket indictments of all Muslims and their practitioners is part of  the current wave of Islamphobiacs  who  want you to believe the exceptions are the rule. Their viewpoints  are often  based upon ignorance, political bias,  and/or  limited personal experience. The danger is that divisive hatre and bigotry are increased by them and then get translated into domestic and foreign policy that harms our ability to get along with a major part of the rest of the world.   For those who would like to follow the subject more closely, visit www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com and do a keyword search  of Sharia law.

Also, not to repeat other of my  blog postings on the subject, and additional links to the subject  visit:

http://mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-is-it-i-am-writing-about-middle-east.html

http://mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/leap-of-faithless-muslimphobia-in-us.html

http://mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2016/11/michael-flynn-donald-trumps-national.html

http://mufticforumblog.blogspot.com/2016/11/defining-racism-and-bigotry.html

Updated 3/6/17:
An Oklahoma State Representative, John Bennett, refused to meet with Muslims at the Oklahoma State Capitol, on Muslim Day (a project to improve relations between the Muslim community and politicians). on the bais that they had to first answer a set of questions posed by a Mulsimphobia group...such as the Koran says men can beat their wives and asked it they beat their wives  Perhaps Bennett should also not meet with Christian  or Jewish groups either since scriptures in the Bible also exhort similar violence.

 http://www.alternet.org/30-mlent-exhortations-bible-torah-and-quran#.WDjnAVgJ2L0.ost-vio


Take the test at the above site.
Michael Flynn resigned soon into the Trump administration under a shadow of suspicion that he did have  contacts with the Russians and was untruthful.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

The facts of life and politics. We are a nation of fact deniers. (updated)

Updated 3 6 2017

This is a reposting of a December 20 2016 blog. A recent CNN report also causes a tactic known as gaslighting. It is a manipulative technique used by dictators and abusing spouses, to throw the public or victims off balance, confusing, contradicting, and leaving them so confused, they cannot find what is really reality so they just believe the dominator or the "great leader". Take a look at how Putin has used this to gain control: Trump is also a master at it. Visit

One of the most disturbing trends of 2016 is that true believers of a cause or a candidate  are gullible travelers and are sailing on the ship of  the fooled when  there are actual facts to the contrary.  The danger is  shaping public policy based on non-facts that impact the lives of us, the public. Garbage in is garbage out and the garbage out  could lead to public policies that may be harmful to our own health, safety and well-being.

The old saw, “you are entitled to your beliefs but  not to your facts,” is now turned on its  head to “ You are entitled to your facts, but not my beliefs those facts may contradict”.  One Trump surrogate, Scottie Nell Hughes,  was quoted: “there is no such things as facts anymore”.  The view of most of the major issues and facts are highly partisan, per a recent PEW opinion poll. No wonder political candidates can get away with lies and ignore the fact checkers and Donald Trump is the 2016 champion of fact twisting  per  fact checking scorekeeepers.

Psychologists have explanations for fact deniers.  “Human beings are frequently reluctant to accept uncomfortable facts. theory of cognitive dissonance describes the unease which comes when reality conflicts with our beliefs, and how we often go to extreme lengths try to ignore or distort evidence, so that we can maintain our beliefs. “

Here is the problem:  There are facts out there. They are put together by data gathered from many sources by those who have no bones to pick or who are just numbers crunchers,   actuaries , and trained and objective national security professionals.. It makes for  boring news and  requires  a ton of critical thinking and getting into weeds  to sort them out.  

Here is the danger: If public policy is shaped by the wrong facts, the policy may fix something that is not broken, have unintended consequences,  or even endanger national security. The reports that Pres-Elect Trump dismisses intelligence briefings as not factual, boringly repetitive, or  slanted, for example, is the most frightening.   He certainly does not have his own intelligence service at this time  to provide evidence that differs from the current services. The question is whether Trump is open minded enough to take seriously evidence that does not support his suppositions.

This is playing out in Trump’s transition plans. He does not “believe” Russia interfered in our elections either on his behalf or either to undermine faith in democracy in spite of seventeen intelligence agencies and the CIA telling him otherwise.  Here is the danger: He is picking  as Secretary of State an Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson, who has done so much business with Russia that the CEO got a  high medal of honor from Vladimir Putin. However, Trump has supported  a Russian foreign policy that is  similar to Russia’s.   It is likely there will be  unintended adverse repercussions to the security  of our allies, especially in eastern Europe.


The challenge  for all in this democracy even finding the facts in these days of fake news and a media that has become partisan for one side or another.  It is easier to kill the media  messengers than to take individual  responsibility of paying attention to findings of non-partisan, non-profit, data gatherers and multiple sources  and go where the facts lead  you.

www.businessir.com/sociology-alternative-facts-2017-2nside







http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-briefings-idUSKBN13X2M9

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/10/cia-concludes-russia-interfered-to-help-trump-win-election-report

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/jun/29/fact-checking-2016-clinton-trump/











Tuesday, December 6, 2016

67,000 in Colorado would lose health insurance if Obamacare is repealed

Take a look at where the 9 million plus live  in states who bought their subsidized health insurance through Obamacare state exchanges. Repealing without adequately replacing Obamacare subsidies of health insurance, 67,000 in Colorado would lose their health insurance. In addition, repealing will create a dilemma for many members of the GOP dominated Congress. Except for California, the states with the largest number of beneficiaries of the subsidies are in red states.and those whose majority voted for Donald Trump.

In Colorado, 67 thousand plus received on the average of over $300 in subsidies awarded based upon their low income levels. That is 60% of the total who bought insurance through the Colorado exchange. Over 39% of subscribers of exchange offered insurance did not require subsidies. To buy insurance on the open market, those 67,000 would have to make up the difference but due to low income, could not. These figures  do not take into account another nearly 60 thousand   receiving Medicaid  plus CHP (Child Health Care), with Medicaid  expanded to include them under provisions of Obamacare.

 https://www.healthinsurance.org/colorado-state-health-insurance-exchange/

State data from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimate that 9.4 million Americans who bought health plans through Affordable Care Act marketplaces will receive a total of about $32.8 billion in premium tax credits for 2016. A repeal of the health law would eliminate these subsidies.
KFF.ORG

Saturday, December 3, 2016

If you think it ain't fixed, break it with a voucher.


The advocates of privatizing everything, from education to medicare  are in love with the voucher solution. This turns the old saying , "if it ain't broke, don't fix it " on its head to "  If you think it ain’t fixed ,don’t fix it; instead  break it " with a voucher and the GOP is going voucher crazy. Vouchers are a sneaky way to privatize popular taxpayer funded programs like Medicare and public education.

The Medicare system "ain't broke", but the GOP wants to "fix" it anyway by privatizing it with vouchers which the elderly would use to pay private insurers instead. Voucherizing Medicare makes a successful low overhead cost system risky and more complicated for seniors, and would feed the profit margins of insurance companies. Imagine you are given vouchers subsidized with taxpayer money  with the choice to purchase Medicare insurance on the open market. That is what GOP House members want you to do. Right now polls show seniors  do not think it is broken and want it to continue as is. There is good reason that candidate Donald Trump pledged not to tinker with this program. He should be held to his promise.Trump should tell Congress in advance he will veto any voucher plan.

Vouchers needlessly complicate the lives of seniors. It would mean elderly consumers would have to be extremely  sharp to read the small print of the benefits to make good choices and sign up annually like any other health insurance.  Would the vouchers keep up with the unbridled increase in insurance costs and premiums offered by for-profit insurers or is this a ruse to cut benefits for seniors for years?  It is an unnecessary gamble.

Concerns are legitimate regarding future financial soundness of Medicare. That killing Obamacare would save it is an outright GOP fib. Obamacare has actually extended its life by twelve years. There are better ways to extend Medicare's life than with vouchers that privatize it. One is simply to raise the age  of eligibility to get Medicare which was proposed by the Simpson-Bowles Debt Reduction Commission.  The other is to raise taxes on benefits even more for consumers with  higher income levels or to raise the pay-in to the system by future users. A cost reduction measure extending its life  is to require competitive bidding on prescription  drugs approved in a plan, also proposed by Donald Trump.

The education voucher  for private schools is a Trojan horse. For those who depend on public education, per pupil of public funding would be diverted from them. That "fix" could be a more “broken” public education. Vouchers are no "fix" for our education system, either .  If just school choice is the rationale  for vouchers, publicly funded charter schools can and have already filled that need. Evidence is those using vouchers for private education had lower  or mixed test scores than students in public schools. Many states spend less per pupil than what is the cost of tuition at a private school.   It is an upper class subsidy plan if  the cost of private schools’ tuition is much higher than the per pupil public school system, requiring parents to cough up the difference between the voucher and the private school's tuition. That would be of no benefit for the cash strapped middle class. 

The Constitution and court decisions forbid vouchers  to be used for providing religious based instruction. The nominee for Education Secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is an advocate for using taxpayer money for religious based schools. She has no education backgound other than being a parent and advocate for religious based education. No child of hers ever attended public schools.

. (http://www.epi.org/publication/book_vouchers/)
  http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/09/attorneys-battle-it-out-in-federal-court-on-douglas-county-voucher-program/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelman_v._Simmons-Harris

." http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2016/07/ohio_vouchers_have_mixed_impact_on_student_performance_study_finds.html

www.privateschoolreview.com
 "The private elementary school average is $8,522 per year and the private high school averageis $12,953."   

http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2011/09/20/medicare-is-more-efficient-than-private-insurance/

http://kff.org/medicaid/poll-finding/medicare-and-medicaid-at-50/

www.forbes.com/sites/.../2016/.../hillarys-right-obamacare-reduces-medicare-spendin...

Oct 23, 2016 - ... Affordable Care Act, Hillary Clinton correctly points out the Obamacare law hasextended the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund until 2028.

www.cbpp.org/research/health/medicare-is-not-bankrupt

Jul 18, 2016 - Medicare has grown somewhat stronger financially in both the short ... these parts ofMedicare do not face insolvency and cannot run short of ...
https://www.washingtonpost.com/.../paul-ryans-false-claim-that-because-of-obamacare-...Nov 14, 2016 - Paul Ryan's false claim that 'because of Obamacare, Medicare is ... The net result was that the “insolvency” date was extended by 12 years..

Sunday, November 27, 2016

School Voucher Plans: Who benefits more: the students or the holders of ideological beliefs?

Betsy DeVos has been tapped as Donald Trump's Education Secretary. She is an  ardent supporter of charter schools and vouchers for private education but she  is  reproted to be also in favor of testing which may or may not mean Common Core (which Donald Trump wants to trash).. She is getting hit from both the left and the right.  

 Ideology should not be the basis of providing education that is good for our children. .The goal of some is to get religious based education paid for by taxpayer money.  They have  had to buck numerous court decisions that upheld the Constitution's separation of church and state.  However, there are two questions involved:  One is the Constitutionality of a voucher program that can fund religious based education . The other is it good public policy that improves  educational outcome for all.   Will education teach kids to read, write, at least calculate using math, have critical thinking, understand history, its lessons and, yes civics?

 From the public policy persepective, will students' education benefit?  We do have some experience with vouchers and the results are contrary to expectations of many. advocates of vouchers.  From the public policy perspective, Students using vouchers to attend private schools in Ohio performed significantly worse on state tests than their peers who remained in public schools, according to a new study. In Wisconsin, a study  finds little or no indication that pupils in those Milwaukee public schools that have more school choice possibilities nearby made significantly greater year-to-year gains in primary school tests than pupils in other Milwaukee public schools. (http://www.epi.org/publication/book_vouchers/)

So what is wrong about those who support  using taxpayer money vouchers  in support of "religious education" .  What is at issue is the separation of church and state in the Constitution and if funding religious schools violates that. provision.There was an attempt in a Denver suburbs, Douglas County , to allow vouchers to be used  for relgious based schools.   The effort failed in a federal court.  http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/09/attorneys-battle-it-out-in-federal-court-on-douglas-county-voucher-program/

On the other hand, the Supreme Court  in a 5 to 4 split ruiled in favor of a voucher  program in Ohio if it went to parents, not to schools, had a secular purpose,  and did not fund religious education.  The Private Choice Test developed by the Court, for a voucher program to be constitutional was that  it must meet all of the following criteria:

  • the program must have a valid secular purpose
  • aid must go to parents and not to the schools
  • a broad class of beneficiaries must be covered
  • the program must be neutral with respect to religion
  • there must be adequate nonreligious options
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelman_v._Simmons-Harris
However, the results have had mixed performance on student tests. From the public policy veiwpoint, it has not been a great success.
." http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2016/07/ohio_vouchers_have_mixed_impact_on_student_performance_study_finds.html

The conclusion from these experiences  is that vouchers do not benefit the students so much as it satisfies  ideological and political beliefs that choice that includes private schools  is the most important  criteria or that anything private is better than that which is  government funded.. .


Posted on Facebook in the comment section of the posing of this was a very well expressed comment: by Maggie Orth.
"The problem with vouchers is that they create a baseline cost for education. Those who can only afford the vouchers will get crap. Those who can supplement will get more. Moreover, vouchers assume that working parents have the resources and time to weed through a complex marketplace-- just as medicare vouchers do with seniors. I shudder to think of my poor parents who are struggling with my father's alzheimer's trying to sort through "market based medicare options." The only thing education vouchers guarantee is a parent's right to indoctrinate their children and deny them access to ideas the parents don't like. There are facts in the world- like geology and science. If people think the US can be a world class stable democracy and economy when people can teach their children whatever facts they want, they are very wrong."



The private elementary school average is $8,522 per year and the private high school averageis $12,953.   ..

Michigan has gone from a middle-of-the-pack state to the bottom tier in just 12 years. The state's NAEP ranking on fourth grade reading has dropped from 28th in 2003 to 41st in 2015, the latest results. The fourth grade math ranking has dropped from 27th in 2003 to 42nd, writes Ravitch. The Detroit Free Press runs down the numbers here.  http://www.prwatch.org/news/2017/01/13206/devos-math-reading-scores-tanking-michigan