AHCA Is Inhumane, Immoral

How can you call it a “health care plan” when it would deny millions of people insurance and raise medical costs for everyone else?

The American Health Care Act, passed by Republicans in the House last week, is inhumane, an abomination, heartless and a death sentence for millions of Americans. There is no language too strong to describe the cruelty of what the GOP just did. If the AHCA becomes law, it will lead to massive death and pain-filled, excruciating lives. It’s as if the GOP has voted to commit an act of war against American citizens.

It allows states, for example, to opt out of a provision in the current law that prevents insurance companies from gouging people with preexisting conditions. That’s why the “opt out” provision is in the bill. It’s there for a reason. It’s obvious millions of people will get priced out of insurance altogether.

It also slashes funding for Medicaid, leaving 14 million people without any coverage, according to earlier estimates. Oklahoma, which never accepted the federal expansion of Medicaid under the current law, would be hit hard, and even more people would go without much needed health care.

Employers insurance costs are sure to rise under this non-plan, which will be passed on to employees.

Let’s face it: (1) People will either lose their health insurance altogether (2) or pay much more for less coverage while rich people get a tax cut under the AHCA. That’s the Republican plan in all its clarity. It’s not an over-simplification. It’s not an issue of choosing one’s doctor or “freedom” of choice when it comes to treatments.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a former Democratic presidential candidate, had this to say about the bill:

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Where Is The Money For Teacher Raises?

Oklahoma legislators have apparently yet to come to an agreement on how they plan to fund proposed teacher raises and with their session scheduled to end in about a month that’s not an encouraging sign. reported that the Oklahoma Senate has not scheduled a hearing on a proposed House bill that would raise teacher salaries by $6,000 spread out over three years. This means it missed a Thursday deadline, although by rule it could still be worked out by the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget, according to the article.

The Oklahoma Legislature, at least in recent years, has been noted for bringing up companion legislation and passing budget deals at the very end of the session, which is a practice that sometimes gives little time for public input on crucial matters impacting the state.

The teacher pay raise, which is a crucial matter given that some teachers here are flocking to other states for better salaries, has been endorsed by a number of Republicans in the GOP-dominated legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin. The sticking point, of course, is that the state faces an $878 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year. How will the raises be funded?

The lack of an agreement on a funding plan may well mean at least some legislators want to be perceived as trying to fight for teacher raises when, in fact, they know that given the dire budget situation there’s no way any significant increase is possible.They want to have it both ways. Even a nominal raise would help, but committing the state to a three-year, $6,000 teacher pay increase without significant tax hikes or additional revenue streams would mean drastic cuts elsewhere in the budget.

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The Donald Goes To The Oklahoma State Fair

Image of Picasso's Guernica

I don’t get all the love here for The Donald.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to a huge, mostly adoring crowd Friday at the Oklahoma State Fair, and a state poll shows potential GOP voters here clearly favor him over his rivals.

We should probably assume that the state is going to go clearly Republican in the 2016 election, but besides Trump’s “build-a-wall” mentality when it comes to the Mexican border, I don’t see much for Oklahoma Republicans to like in his candidacy given their own special brand of conservatism.

The blunt-speaking Trump is no social conservative, for example, or right-wing religious fundamentalist, and he’s already talking about raising taxes on the rich if he’s elected. Don't Republicans here hate ALL taxes?

Still, there they were Friday night, the conservatives, running all over themselves trying get a photograph with him, trying to see him in person as if they haven’t seen enough of him through the years on The Celebrity Apprentice. News 9 covered the spectacle live.

Make no mistake that Trump does have a certain populist appeal on a few issues and can deliver an entertaining speech, but he still doesn’t seem like he would be an appealing candidate for Okies or Texans for that matter. Perhaps, he’s simply the Republican du jour right now.

Trump’s stump speech, which I endured for as long as I could watch it on television Friday, seems to pretty much center on how the United States is getting taken for a ride by every other country in the world and that he’ll make the country great again.

The City Upon A Hill rhetoric has always been a simplistic trope of global politics uttered by Republicans and Democrats alike, but Trump takes it to a new level. Trump even criticized Germany for currently taking advantage of us somehow in his Friday speech as if our military bases around the world haven’t been also dictated by our own aggressive defense posture. Last I checked, the U.S. was clearly aligned with most western European countries, including Germany, and it should remain that way.

Do we really want someone like Trump overseeing our international policy?

I guess Trump taps into the displaced anger of Oklahoma voters who have clearly voted against their economic interests in recent years and joined with the corporate media here in a seven-year President Barack Obama-hate fest, but let’s be clear that the billionaire Trump has very little in common with the vast majority of Okies.

Trump lives a life of tremendous privilege unlike most ordinary Oklahomans. He has nothing to be angry about. His anger, of course, is only play-acting, much like the acting he did on the television show he formerly hosted. I’m sure he’s getting a kick out of all the attention he’s receiving, and I even find myself laughing in agreement sometimes at Trump’s faux outrage against the media. I like a good joke just like anyone else, but I hope even Trump recognizes the danger in his polemic vision of the U.S. and the rest of the world.