Elegant and Sophisticated: Not This Tea Party

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Speaker John Boehner stepping down means the drama is heating up.

It started a few years ago when the Tea Party Republicans came to Washington.  Back then, actor, singer-songwriter and social activist Harry Belafonte said at the Congressional Black Caucus annual dinner, “Don’t worry about the Tea Party. You know what happens when you put a tea bag in water? (He paused)  It sinks!”

That’s exactly what happened with my party, The Republicans, it’s sunk.

The dysfunction in Washington has disgruntled voters in the party believing three political candidates Trump, Carson or Fiorina with no political experience can fix Washington!

Boehner’s resignation and the drama in DC is going to boil over and show Americans willing to watch, how bad the Tea Party is for America.

That’s what this resignation is about. Boehner wasn’t the problem, he was managing it.

The Tea Party are made up of Americans afraid of change and equal access for all Americans to have Healthcare, immigration reform, programs that help young people forge ahead in education, and women the right to choose what they can or cannot do with their bodies.

Tea Partiers this just in! America isn’t just for you.

Boehner tried to avoid shutting down the government and save you. Why? It isn’t a viable option for the country or the Party!

Tea Party extremists don’t know what Republican stands for. Nor are you what the founding fathers and those who fought for a representative form of government intended when creating Congress.

Republican used to represent the idea “preserving the Republic.” The Tea Party is destroying the Republic with its inflammatory tone, representating “I” not “We”.

Look at history and Abraham Lincoln for an example of a Republican who saved the Union.

Tea Party consider when you want to defund programs that protect women, or not paying employees during a government shutdown that your idea of taking back is grounded in fear. Fear that hit you in the face, when you lost the 2008 and 2012 presidential election that.  Your fear is that America is no longer just for you. And you’re right.

But that’s been the case a long time. The CHANGE was that millions of other Americans finally realized that America was also for them.  America changed long before that election.  It took a bit longer for all to recognize the power of doing it together. That all of us make America wealthier and stronger. This is a lesson now for you to learn.  Without all of us, America is far less wealthier America and not nearly as strong.

Take into consideration three American groups and their spending power, groups you often target.

First, according to Nielson, women contribute between $5 and $15 trillion a year.  In the next decade that is expected to grow to being two thirds of the consumer wealth in America!

Second and third Black/African Americans contribute 1.4 trillion and and Hispanic/Latino $1.6 trillion.

Together that’s $8-18 trillion annually that goes into the U.S. Economy!  Where would itbe without those you attack?  Think the recession last decade was bad? Imagine it without these Americans!

Tea Partiers if you want to defund something, defund oil, not healthcare or organizations targeting and helping women.

If you end oil company subsidies, you would save $16.4 billion a year.  In fact, it would be a smart divestment if you consider, last year in the second quarter, Exxon Mobil had $111.6 billion in revenue and $8.8 billion in profit. For one quarter! That’s half of what all US oil the companies get in subsidies!

On the other hand, Planned Parenthood received $528.4 million last year combined in federal, state and local dollars. It received another $303 million in outside government dollars. $254 million in private donations. And $54 million in other fees and services. The clincher is that because of federal law enacted in 1976, no federal dollars can be used for abortions which is what Congressional members say they’re aiming for to defund the organization! Private donor and foundation dollars do that.

Abortions account for only 3 percent of what the organization does or makes in dollars!  Did you know that?  Surely you didn’t if you want to take more than 50 percent of the organization’s to make a point!

Stop holding Americans hostage and threatening to shutdown the government!

Instead of taking America back and attacking organizations like Planned Parenthood, be the best example for the Nation and move us FORWARD together.

Be the faction of the Republican Party that increases the minimum wage so that more money goes into the U.S. Economy.  And we have stronger families because parents instead of working two, three and four jobs can spend quality time with their children.

Be the party that guarantees equal pay for equal work for women and all Americans!

Be the Party that protects all Americans and make our streets safer by creating policies that end unlawful killings of Americans by police officers.

Be the Party that instead of creating dysfunction, creates opportunities for all.

If the Tea Party does these things and invests in our greatest commodity Americans, instead of divesting and cutting, in twenty years our economy will be stronger for it.  And so will the Party!

If it invests in educational opportunities, it can in one generation lower crime.

Stop wasting time attacking the Affordable Care Act and find ways to invest in a healthier workforce so that we are the healthiest in the World.

More importantly, stay out of the life choices of women.  Stop “being the problem and become the leaders of implementing solutions!”  In other words stop sinking the Party and the country!

Let’s let the Tea Party go back to those who are elegant and sophisticated!

Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm in Washington, DC and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow him on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

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The Truth about ObamaCare

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The government shutdown began with cries to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The shutdown ended with a political assault on ACA’s website malfunctions. Now reports are that the President lied when he promised insurance policies would not be cancelled if you liked your current plan.

In Florida, 300,000 people are being informed they cannot keep their current insurance option. Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Executive Patrick J. Geragthy summed it up like this, consumers may find new and better options with new benefits and government subsidies available to low- and middle- class people.

What is the truth?

Companies like Florida’s Blue Cross are letting their customers know that they cannot keep their current option because the ACA requires insurers to provide “essential benefits” in the plans they offer. Politifact, says that “while letters were going out to hundreds of thousands in the form of cancelation letters to those who buy their own coverage, that “consumers will have ‘continuous health care coverage’ and will insurers will assign them a particular plan, or gave them the option to contact Florida Blue and choose another plan.”

Here is why. Many of the plans purchased by individuals before the ACA didn’t cover essential benefits required now by law in the ACA. Now all insurance plans must cover:
1. Outpatient care without being admitted to a hospital
2. Emergency room visits
3. Hospital inpatient treatment
4. Pre- and Post-natal care
5. Mental health and substance use disorder (behavioral treatment, counseling, & psychotherapy)
6. Prescription drugs
7. Medical services and devices after suffering an injury or for a disability or chronic condition. (Includes physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, psychiatric rehabilitation, and more.)
8. Lab tests
9. Preventive services including counseling, screenings, and vaccines to keep you healthy and care for managing a chronic disease.
10. Pediatric services including dental care and vision care for kids

Experts at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute say “Under the ACA, beginning January 1, 2014, insurers must renew their policyholders into policies that cover a minimum set of essential health benefits and provide a minimum level of protection from catastrophic out-of-pocket costs. They are also no longer allowed to increase premiums based on a policyholder’s health status.

As a result, many insurers are discontinuing old policies that do not comply with these new consumer protection standards. And the underlying federal law has not changed. If they discontinue a policy, they must provide policyholders with 90 days notice and they must offer them the option to enroll in an alternative policy.

But, for the first time, most consumers have a new option – they can shop for a plan on their state’s health insurance marketplace. For most people shopping on the marketplace, the policies available there will be a better value than anything they have been able to buy on the individual market.”

So there, the President didn’t lie, he just didn’t fully explain and people didn’t learn that their plans may not be the same. They actually may in some instances provide better services that insurance companies must cover. The term “cancellation” of a policy does not mean loss of coverage.

• Many insurance companies will automatically enroll consumers in a recommended health plan.
• And consumers who lack affordable coverage can shop the Marketplace and choose from an array of health plans.

Further:
• A majority of Americans have employer-based health insurance that fit the ACA’s requirement of essential benefits;
• The ACA strengthens not weakens employer-based health insurance and provides for newer protections in your health insurance plan available in the individual marketplace;
• Prevents companies from charging more for a pre-existing condition;
• Requires insurance companies to provide 10 essential benefits;
• If your plans already had these protections when the law was passed you will keep it as it will be grandfathered out of these changes.

The letters people are receiving from insurance companies are in large part, because their plans are changing or being upgraded to include new benefits. As insurers have made clear – they aren’t dropping people.

A majority of people in the individual market today qualify for discounted or free health coverage when signing up for coverage through the Marketplace. One study found that 48 percent of people who buy insurance through the individual market will get a tax credit that averages at over $5,500. An additional 1 million in the individual market today will qualify for Medicaid in states that choose to expand it next year.

Although the law allows people to stay in plans they had when it passed with no changes “grandfathered plans” many insurance companies have started upgrading their plans to improve the quality of coverage.

Nothing in the ACA makes insurers force people out of plans that consumers were enrolled in before the law passed – but it does require insurance companies that didn’t provide the essential benefits to upgrade these plans.

Almost half of those buying in the individual marketplace will find they are eligible for tax credits that will lower their premium and should visit http://www.healthcare.gov to learn more.

The law provides millions with better coverage they choose. Most in the individual market today can get that coverage through their same insurance company.

A few simple but important things to know about the ACA:
• 43% of Americans in the individual insurance marketplace can no longer be discriminated for having a pre-existing condition.
• Children can stay on their parents plans now until they are 26 years of age.
• 8.7 million women who buy insurance in the individual marketplace can no longer be charged nearly double for the same plan as men;
• No annual dollar limits on benefits or dropping folks when they get sick;
• 34% of enrollees lacked mental health coverage, 9 % lacked prescription drug coverage, and 625 lacked maternity coverage, these basic benefits like mental health, prescription drug, and maternity coverage are now covered.

Republicans YOU Are To Blame! Get Over It

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As a Republican, I say, YOU are too blame! Get over it and stop keeping the nation from moving FORWARD! I am disenchanted with the words coming from the Party. To hold American salaries hostage is immoral. To shut down the government and hold the debt ceiling as a negotiation ploy is immoral. To blame the President for wanting 100% of the Affordable Care Act is immoral. To keep 40,000,000 Americans from having affordable access to healthcare is immoral!!

I agree with you on some things. One is we have too many entitlement programs. Like the ones that provide billions in corporate tax breaks. And the ones that provide subsidies to oil companies and farmers.

What I believe and what others in the Party used to believe is, we have a moral obligation to help all those in need. That means we are obligated to help the every day working American who was affected during The Great Recession. YOU use terms like, we need to do this and that to cut programs that help the poor and disadvantaged. Is that American exceptionalism?

I don’t know what your brand of American exceptionalism is? Is it American exceptionalism to take food out of the mouths of hungry children by cutting food lunch programs and SNAP. Is it American exceptionalism to cut funding for Meals on Wheels programs that feed the elderly who are stuck in their homes?

Is it American exceptionalism to forget more than 8,000,000 Americans who lost their homes during the Great Recession? The unemployment rate increased dramatically! Is it exceptionalism when you don’t vote or pass a Jobs Bill?

It was exceptional that our nation saved the auto, banking and housing industries. Further that it also bailed out Wall Street after its irresponsible reckless behavior came close to crippling ours and the global economy.

In the process, everyday working Americans lost their jobs. Five years later, many are still trying to get back on their feet! Yet you want to cut funding to programs that are helping them stay at the water line, not even afloat?

You want to cut funding to small children, small businesses and many others who have served this nation. You want to take the food out of their mouths, the roof from over their heads? Is this your brand of American exceptionalism?

This argument about healthcare is sad! It shouldn’t be part of the discussion. The Individual Mandate that YOU want to extend for a year, is a smoke screen!! In order for the ACA to work the uninsured must be on the insurance roll! But YOU wont say that YOU are in bed with the insurance companies. This is deeper than wanting to extend the mandate. Say what it is! It is about fighting progress.

The Party lost its way a long time ago. I hope this self inflicted implosion makes the Party refocus and move it to the center. If it doesn’t, it will be the minority party, not just in the Senate or in the House of Reps, but also in the Presidency.

Your action is a play from yesterday, that no longer works!! YOU see, when President Obama was elected, CHANGE happened. Those who voted for the President did it again in 2012. They reaffirmed what many in this nation want to deny. We the People, moved FORWARD! It is time for YOU, the Republican Party to do the same, or be left further BEHIND!

How We Got Here: The Path to America’s 2013 Government Shutdown

The government is shutdown, and the world is watching how America treats its citizens in a battle of wills.  As Ezra Klein said, before the clock struck midnight starting the shutdown, “This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it. That’s why the Republican Party might shut down the government and default on the debt.”

Below is info on the path to the shutdown.  Thank you to the budget expert with experience at the White House Budget Office and U.S. Senate for sharing information used below.

Here is what happened.

  • House and Senate have been fighting about the overall spending levels for months.
  • The Republican controlled House wanted the 2014 budget level at $967 billion for discretionary spending.
  • The Democratic controlled Senate wanted the level at $1,058 billion (to include a plan that replaces sequestration responsibly).
  • Democrats agreed to a level at $986 billion, which is the level of the continuing resolution (CR) that was under debate.
  • Democrats took the compromise even though it is below the desired level, thinking they would have a clean CR without any crazy ideological riders.

Fast forward to this past week.

  • The House passed a CR with a provision defunding the Affordable Care Act – (A law passed four years ago and a law tested by an election and the Supreme Court.)
  • The Senate voted against the CR
  • Senator Ted Cruz held his personal version of a filibuster.
  • The Senate voted, stripping out the ideological riders the House put in and sent a clean CR back to the House.
  • The House did not take up the Senate bill.
  • The House in turn attached more riders that are unacceptable to Senate Democrats.
  • The Senate voted and tabled those amendments, sending a third clean bill back to the House.
  • After more back-and-forth, the House asked to appoint conferees to work out an agreement and negotiate.
  • Leading up to this shutdown for six months, the Senate asked 18 times to appoint conferees for a budget conference.  Every time Republicans objected.
  • Not once has the House voted on a clean CR – which the Senate sent to the House.  Meanwhile, the Senate along with the President made it clear that anything other than a clean CR would not pass the Senate and if it was it would be vetoed by the President.

When the House declined to vote on a clean CR passed by the Senate before midnight Tuesday, the fiscal year ended.  Appropriations lapsed and the government shut down.

So now we wait!

“THE FACTS” on Obama Presidency

2009

  • STIMULUS –  Passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to spur economic growth.  Since its passage, the private sector for 23 consecutive months has produced more jobs than it has lost.
  • AUTO INDUSTRY – $62 billion in federal dollars along with $13.4 billion loan during Bush administration kept auto industry from collapse. Since, the industry has added more than 100,000 jobs.
  • TORTURE POLICIES – Ended policy that allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo “enhanced” interrogation techniques considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions.
  • PAY EQUALITY – Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.  Gives women paid less than men for the same work, the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if the discrimination happened years ago.
  • NATIONAL SERVICE – Signed Serve America Act, authorizing tripling the size of AmeriCorps. Program grew 13 percent to 85,000 members across the country by 2012.
  • WILDERNESS AND WATERSHED PROTECTION – Signed Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (2009), designating  more than 2 million acres as wilderness, created thousands of miles of recreational and historic trails, and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.
  • FDA TOBACCO REGULATION – Signed Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Law mandates tobacco manufacturers disclose ingredients, obtain FDA approval for new tobacco products, and expand the size and prominence of cigarette warning labels.  Bans the sale of misleading labeled “light” cigarette brands and tobacco sponsorship of entertainment events.
  • CREDIT CARD REFORM – The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, prohibits credit card companies from raising rates without advance notification.  Mandates a grace period on interest rate increases, and strictly limits overdraft and other fees.
  • HATE CRIMES – Signed Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands existing hate crime protections to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender, or disability, in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.
  • FEDERAL AGENCIES AND GREEN LEADERS – Signed executive order that requires all federal agencies to plan to soften their environmental impacts by 2020.
  • RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGY – In 2009 stimulus, invested $90 billion in research on smart grids, energy efficiency, electric cars, renewable electricity generation, cleaner coal, and biofuels.
  • MINORITY FARMERS – Claims Resolution Act provided $4.6 billion in funding for legal settlement with Black and Native American farmers who the government cheated out of loans and natural resource royalties in years past.
  • CARBON DIOXIDE –EPA declared carbon dioxide a pollutant, allowing the agency to regulate its production.
  • HEALTH COVERAGE FOR CHILDREN – 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Authorization Act allows the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover health care for 4 million more children, paid for by a tax increase on tobacco products.
  • STEM CELL – Eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research which shows promise in treating spinal injuries, among many other areas.
  • U.S. SUPREME COURT – Nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and third woman to serve, in 2009.
  • INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CRISIS – Secured from G-20 nations $500 million for the IMF to provide lines of credit and support to emerging market countries keeping the world’s economy out of recession in 2009 and 2010.
  • BANKS – Treasury Department plan to bring private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” approved along with a public-private fund that bought banks “toxic” assets, allowing them to avoid collapse and get back on their feet at zero cost to the government.
  • RECOVERY.GOV – Web site by independent board of inspectors general looking for fraud and abuse in stimulus spending, provides public with detailed information on every contract funded by $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

2010

  • HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2010 – Affordable Care Act is passed insuring that an additional 30 million Americans will have health insurance by 2014. 
  • WALL STREET REFORM – Mandates large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits banks ability to trade customers’ money, and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to eliminate abusive lending products and companies.
  • STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM/PELL GRANT SPENDING – The 2010 health care bill also included provisions to end the practice of banks providing college loans. This will save $67 billion over ten years.  Students now get federal student loans directly from federal government.  $36 billion of savings goes to expand Pell Grants to low-income students. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 strengthened the Pell Grant program and provided investment in community colleges, historically black colleges and minority serving institutions and makes it easier for students to pay back college debt.
  • VETERANS – Increased 2010 Veteran Affairs budget 16% and 2011 10% for soldiers with serious physical/mental challenges returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Signed new GI bill providing $78 billion in tuition assistance and multiple tax credits to businesses who hire veterans. 
  • IRAN – Signed Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act punishing firms/individuals aiding Iran’s petroleum sector. With major Western powers imposed sanctions on Iran’s banks.  Pushed Japan, South Korea, and China to shift their oil purchases from Iran.
  • FAIR SENTENCING ACT – Signed legislation that reduces sentencing disparity between crack versus powder cocaine possession from 100 to1 to 18 to1.
  • TRIMMED AND REORIENTED MISSILE DEFENSE – Cut the Reagan “Star Wars” missile defense budget, saving $1.4 billion in 2010, and canceled plans to station antiballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of sea-based defense plan focused on Iran and North Korea.
  • SCHOOL NUTRITION – With Michelle Obama, signed Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 mandating $4.5 billion spending boost and higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. New rules double the amount of fruits and vegetables and require only whole grains in food served to students.
  • U.S. SUPREME COURT – Nominated and obtained confirmation for Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve, in 2010.
  • START TREATY – Signed with Russia (2010) and won ratification in Congress (2011) of treaty limiting each nation to 1,550 strategic warheads (down from 2,200) and 700 launchers (down from more than 1,400), and reestablished and strengthened a monitoring and transparency program that lapsed in 2009, through which each country can monitor the other.
  • GULF OIL SPILL – Though lacking statutory power to compel British Petroleum (BP) to act, used moral authority of the office to convince BP to a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • RACE TO THE TOP – $4.35 billion in stimulus funds used to create competitive grants to encourage and reward states for education reform.
  •  NEXT-GENERATION SCHOOL TESTS – Devoted $330 million in stimulus money to pay consortia of states and universities to create competing versions of new K-12 student performance tests based on latest psychometric research. New tests could transform the learning environment in vast majority of public school classrooms beginning in 2014.

2011

  • OSAMA BIN LADEN – Special forces killed the 9/11 architect and head of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden.
  • IRAQI WAR – U.S. military forces removed from Iraq.
  • HOSNI MUBARAK – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year rule ended on February 11, 2011
  • MOAMMAR GADHAFI – March 2011, US joined a coalition of European and Arab government’s military action to defend Libyan civilians from Gaddafi regime and forty-two-year rule.  No American lives were lost.
  • FUEL STANDARDS – Released 2011 fuel efficiency standards that nearly doubles the fuel economy of cars and trucks by 2025.
  • ASIA “PIVOT” – In 2011, shifted American military/diplomatic priorities and focus from the Middle East and Europe to the Asian-Pacific region. Executed strategy of positively engaging China while reasserting U.S. leadership in the region by increasing American military presence and crafting new commercial, diplomatic, and military alliances with neighboring countries made uncomfortable by recent Chinese behavior.
  • MINI STIMULI – To assist families hurt by the recession and spur economic growth extended to December 23, 2011 unemployment insurance and cut payroll taxes.
  • FOOD SAFETY – In 2011, signed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  Increased FDA’s budget by $1.4 billion and expanded its regulatory responsibilities to increase number of food inspections, issue direct food recalls, and review food safety practices of countries importing products into America.
  • BAD FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES – To fight predatory practices of for-profit colleges, the Department of Education issued “gainful employment” regulations in 2011.  This cut off commercially focused schools from federal student aid funding if more than 35 percent of former students aren’t paying off their loans and/or if the average former student spends more than 12 percent of his or her total earnings servicing student loans.
  • BROADBAND COVERAGE – Obtained in 2011 Federal Communications Commission approval for a shift of $8 billion in subsidies from landlines to broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.
  • DIRTY POWER PLANTS – New EPA restrictions on mercury and toxic pollution, issued in December 2011 will likely close sixty-eight to 231 of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
  • POST-9/11 MILITARY BUILDDOWN – With bipartisan support in summer 2011 reduced projected defense spending by $450 billion.  Proposed new DoD budget to shrink ground forces from 570,000 to 490,000 over the next ten years while increasing programs in intelligence gathering and cyber warfare.
  • SPACE SHUTTLE AND MOON MISSION – The expensive ($1 billion per launch) shuttle program made its final launch on July 8, 2011.  Cut funding for problem-plagued Constellation program to build moon base.  Supported private-sector low-earth orbit ventures, research on new rocket technologies for long-distance manned flight missions, and unmanned space exploration, including the largest interplanetary rover ever launched, which will investigate Mars’s potential to support life. 
  • NO SCANDAL – As of November 2011, served longer than any president in decades without a scandal, as measured by the appearance of the word “scandal” (or lack thereof) on the front page of the Washington Post.
  • “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL”: REPEALED – For the first time, gays/lesbians serve openly in the military.

2012

  • AMERICA’S IMAGE – Favorable opinion toward the United States rose in ten of fifteen countries by an average of 26 percent in poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.
  • AFGHANISTAN – U.S. forces are expected to complete combat mission by the end of 2013.
  • AFFORDABLE CARE ACT – Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote upholds the constitutionality of the ACA.