Living Large in Carson City: The “My Yacht is Bigger than Your Tiny Boat” Edition

 Image result for medicaid cartoons

When it comes to Trump and his administration, it’s easy to overlook an important news items among the mine field of political missteps these people so deftly make. Sure, his wacky endorsements (Judge Roy Moore), outrageous pronouncements (I would love to see a shutdown) and overall obtuseness (We wish him (Rob Porter) well . . . he did a good job) are attention grabbing and incendiary, but all too predictable with what has become the Trump reality.

It’s all and elaborate smoke and mirrors game calculated to take the public’s attention off the bread and butter issues under attack by Trump and his administrators on a daily basis. Take any major topic from climate change to the environment to tax laws to deregulation of Wall Street to countless other vitally important topics to the American electorate; all are under seige. His policies are literally destroying the fabric of what really makes America great.   

Here is a case in point:

After approving Medicaid work requirements, Trump’s HHS aims for lifetime coverage limits

February 05, 2018 06:58 PM

Say what?  “Life time coverage limits” should read “lifetime coverage ‘Caps'”. Tony Pugh wrote,

After allowing states to impose work requirements for Medicaid enrollees, the Trump administration is now pondering lifetime limits on adults’ access to coverage.

Capping health care benefits — like federal welfare benefits — would be a first for Medicaid, the joint state-and-federal health plan for low-income and disabled Americans.

If approved, the dramatic policy change would recast government-subsidized health coverage as temporary assistance by placing a limit on the number of months adults  have access to Medicaid benefits. 

Granted, there can be confusion about the difference between Medicaid and Medicare. Medicare is a federal program attached to Social Security and is available to all Americans over the age of 65 and some people with disabilities There are no income restrictions attached to Medicare. It has become the go to “base” insurance asset for most elderly Americans but limited in its coverage. Generally, most seniors have to carry a supplemental insurance policy to help cover out of pocket costs, but still, it is a life saver when it comes to insurance for the vast majority of Americans over the age of 65. 

Medicaid is different. Medicaid is a state and federally run program that targets low income individuals, children and the elderly to aid in medical and long-term care expenses. The federal government pays states up to 50 percent of of the states’ Medicaid costs. The program is on a sliding scale so that wealthier states receive less federal dollars as opposed to states with fewer dollars to contribute to the fund.  Unlike Medicare which is offered to all Americans, Medicaid has strict income requirements that individuals cannot exceed. Since not all states are created equal, and given the sliding scale used by the federal government, essentially, each state has its own unique Medicaid program. Red states have their rules; blue states have theirs. 

This is where it gets tricky and where the Trump administrations sees a window of opportunity by capping benefits. 

The move would continue the Trump administration’s push to inject conservative policies into the Medicaid program through the use of federal waivers, which allow states more flexibility to create policies designed to promote personal and financial responsibility among enrollees.

However, advocates say capping Medicaid benefits would amount to a massive breach of the nation’s social safety net designed to protect children, the elderly and the impoverished.

In January, the Trump administration approved waiver requests from Kentucky and Indiana to terminate Medicaid coverage for able-bodied enrollees who do not meet new program work requirements. Ten other states have asked to do the same.

Need it be stated that the vast majority of these petitioners are deep red states who supported Trump in the 2016 election. What is disturbing is the attempt to target “able-bodied enrollees” who fall outside the new requirements with no regard to their income or ability to pay for medical care on their own. Frankly, if a person is able-bodied and fit to work, they should if circumstances allow. However, the problem is who is defining what able-bodied means. These are states like Arkansas, Utah and Kansas, notoriously tight-fisted when it comes to monetary concerns and governance.

All of this smacks of a lack of empathy. Not to single out the above three states, but more to the overall Republican quasi Tea Party mentality that comes with small government. It is understandable to strive for fiscal responsibility and elimination of waste. All Americans think these are good ideas regardless of their political affiliation. But one has to wonder at what costs? Trimming the military budget to make it more efficient or reeling in out of hand spending is one thing, but on the backs of those less fortunate seems cruel and petty. 

In the scheme of things, this is not a monumental issue that is going to excite a huge amount of concern for most Americans. It is, however, indicative of the new Republican Party that is afoot in America under Trump’s leadership. America is losing an essential sense of equality that has been the guiding principle that has made this a great country. Historically, as Americans, the rule, as JFK was so fond of saying, was, “A rising tide lifts all the boats.”

No longer it seems in Trump’s America. 

Living Large in Carson City: The “Everything You Say Bounces Off Me and Sticks to You Edition

The White House has a favorite excuse to explain away some of Trump’s most controversial statements

Donald TrumpDonald Trump. Jonathan Ernst/Reuter

“When the White House is asked about some of President Donald Trump’s more controversial comments, they’ve frequently returned to one favorite excuse:

He’s just joking.

Both White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the president made the remark in jest. Sanders said the president was “clearly joking,” while Gidley said the comment was “tongue-in-cheek.”

At first it was funny then a little pathetic. Trump apologists were everywhere. Now, it’s become a dangerous obsession. It boggles the mind how Republicans can go on national television and make obscene claims that are meant to justify Trump’s daily outbursts. Of course, the Republican primary and presidential race should have been warning enough that a storm of half-baked, utterly insane Trump justification by his army of sycophants was on the horizon. Remember this?

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”

He was talking about his supporters, both hired and from his 33 percent basket of deplorables. America laughed at him then and thought surely this will sink any chance he has of taking the top post in our American democracy.  It didn’t. Still, there was the hope that his base and hirelings would some day come around and see him for the blowhard that he is in a gesture of American solidarity. They haven’t.

This week, Trump accused Democrats who didn’t clap for him in the State of the Union address as treasonous. Just so it is crystal clear, treasonous means betraying one’s country or being guilty in an attempt thereof. Besides being ludicrous, self-serving and just down right wrong, it sets a dangerous precedent for the days ahead.

A true statesman’s job is not to point out the differences between the people, but their job is to find a way to unite disparate beliefs in spite of their differences. Trump’s take no prisoners who disagree with him attitude and his often-incomprehensible antics and snide statements are divisive and beneath the office he seems bent on destroying.

One could argue this is just the ugly side of political infighting. Shit happens, but not to the degree or the regularity that Trump seems to think is acceptable. Paid advisers and talking heads of the media earn their living doing this day in and day out. It is what American politics is about, whether we like it or not.

What is most disturbing is how Trump supporters are beginning to react. Get involved in any online debate on Facebook or other social media outlets. The level of vitriol has ratcheted up to a degree that is both disturbing and a bit darkly comical. There is no reasoning with these supporters. Facts mean zip. They have swallowed the lies and innuendos as the truth. And it is spreading to the absurd.

The Trump administration’s attack on American free press is especially disturbing. Every totalitarian regime begins by attacking and trying to control the press. Trump has been at this task since the presidential campaign. Next, they begin attacking the opposition party like he did his week by labeling Democrats treasonous for having the courage to show their displeasure with his actions. What comes next? Obviously firing Mueller and/or Rosenstein in an attempt to shut down the Russia investigation seems logical.

Logic, however, has never been a synonym applied to Trump’s thought process. What he does next is anyone’s guess.

 

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