Today, Donald Trump took steps to dismantle President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing climate-changing carbon emissions that are warming the planet, resulting in melting icecaps at the Arctic and Antarctic, rising sea levels that are making island nations and coastal communities uninhabitable, contributing to catastrophic weather events that are producing floods and famine and triggering millions of climate refugees, and was incentivizing a transition to a clean, renewable energy economy and away from a society run on fossil fuel. Trump claimed it would save money and reinvigorate the coal industry, restoring jobs to coal miners. But you pay now or later in terms of repairing infrastructure, not to mention the public health impacts of air and water pollution, wildfires, heat exhaustion, and so forth. Trump is pitching it as “energy independence policy” but the US already is becoming energy independent and there are far more people permanently employed in an emerging clean energy industry than there are coal miners.
In the announcement, the White House made sure to emphasize how Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise, giving the beleaguered Donald a “win.” But instead of it being an American Energy Independence Policy, it is an American Dependence on Fossil Fuel Energy Policy. It will be up to states like California and New York, whose governors’ announced a commitment to continuing to meet or exceed the Clean Power Plan targets.
Here are the details from the White House on Trump’s “Energy Independence Policy.” – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
“I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities.” – Donald J. Trump
MUCH NEEDED REFORM: The past Administration burdened Americans with costly regulations that harmed American jobs and energy production.
The previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan could cost up to $39 billion a year and increase electricity prices in 41 States by at least ten percent, according to NERA Economic Consulting.
The Clean Power Plan would cause coal production to fall by 242 million tons, according to the National Mining Association.
27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and 3 labor unions are challenging the Clean Power Plan in Federal court.
AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: President Donald J. Trump’s Energy Independence Policy Executive Order reverses the regulations on American jobs and energy production.
President Trump’s Executive Order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend, revise, or rescind four actions related to the Clean Power Plan that would stifle the American energy industry.
o President Trump’s Executive Order directs the Attorney General to seek appropriate relief from the courts over pending litigation related to the Clean Power Plan.
President Trump’s Executive Order rescinds Executive and Agency actions centered on the previous administration’s climate change agenda that have acted as a road block to energy independence.
o President Trump’s Executive Order lifts the ban on Federal leasing for coal production.
o President Trump’s Executive Order lifts job-killing restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, and shale energy.
President Trump’s Executive Order directs all agencies to conduct a review of existing actions that harm domestic energy production and suspend, revise, or rescind actions that are not mandated by law.
o Within 180 days, agencies must finalize their plans.
President Trump’ Executive Order directs agencies to use the best available science and economics in regulatory analysis, which was not utilized by the previous administration.
o It disbands the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases.
By revisiting the federal overreach on energy regulation, President Trump is returning power to the states – where it belongs.
FREEING AMERICA’S POTENTIAL: President Trump has worked tirelessly to free American industry and ingenuity from the constraints of Government overreach.
President Trump has signed four pieces of legislation to clear burdensome and costly regulations on energy production from the previous Administration.
President Trump has required that for every new Federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated.
President Trump has directed each agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to identify costly and unnecessary regulations in need of modification or repeal.
President Trump has directed the Department of Commerce to streamline Federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens on domestic manufacturers.
President Trump signed legislation, House Joint Resolution 38, to prevent the burdensome “Stream Protection Rule” from causing further harm to the coal industry.
President Trump ordered the review of the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States,” known as the WOTUS rule, to evaluate whether it is stifling economic growth or job creation.
President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum and gave a Presidential permit to clear roadblocks to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline.
President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete its construction.
FULFILLING HIS PROMISE:By taking action on the Clean Power Plan, President Trump is fulfilling his promise to the American people.
As a candidate, Mr. Trump promised “we will eliminate… the Clean Power Plan—these unilateral plans will increase monthly electric bills by double-digits without any measurable improvement in the climate.”
With the announcement that the United States will begin to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement reaffirming their ongoing commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and curb carbon pollution:
“Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science. With this move, the Administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity. “Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial. We stand together with a majority of the American people in supporting bold actions to protect our communities from the dire consequences of climate change. “Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future.”
New York and California lead the nation in ground-breaking policies to combat climate change. Both states – which account for roughly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – have adopted advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to meet and exceed the requirements of the Clean Power Plan and have set some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America – 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. New York and California will continue to work closely together – and with other states – to help fill the void left by the federal government.
New York’s Climate Leadership
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made New York a leader across the country in fighting climate change.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): Spearheaded the formation of the successful RGGI cap-and-trade program between northeast and mid-Atlantic states, led effort to reduce RGGI’s carbon emission cap by 45 percent in 2014, and recently called for an additional cap reduction of at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030.
Reforming the Energy Vision: Established a comprehensive energy strategy to make the vision for a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system a reality, while actively spurring energy innovation, attracting new jobs, and improving consumer choice.
Clean Energy Standard: Established the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state’s history, requiring that 50 percent of electricity in New York come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030.
Clean Energy Fund: Established a $5 billion fund that is jump-starting clean-tech innovation, mobilizing private investment, capitalizing the nation’s largest Green Bank, and helping eliminate market barriers to make clean energy scalable and affordable for all New Yorkers.
Coal-Free New York: Committed to close or repower all coal-burning power plants in New York to cleaner fuel sources by 2020.
Offshore Wind: Approved the nation’s largest wind energy project off the Long Island coast in 2017 and made an unprecedented commitment to develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.
California’s Climate Leadership
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made California a leader across the country in fighting climate change.
Cap-and-Trade: Established the most comprehensive carbon market in North America, investing more than $2.6 billion from the Cap-and-Trade program in programs and projects that reduce emissions and support communities disadvantaged by pollution.
Renewable Energy: Established landmark targets that require at least 33 percent of California’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030.
Energy Efficiency: Established targets that double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings and require residential buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2020, and all commercial buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2030.
Super Pollutant Reduction: Established the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants, such as methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbon gases.
Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Established requirements for producers of petroleum-based fuels to reduce the carbon intensity of their products, helping drive the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable natural gas and diesel, low-carbon ethanol, and clean electricity, giving consumers more clean fuel choices while driving significant clean fuel investment and creating new economic opportunities.
Zero Emission Vehicles: Established a program requiring increased sales of zero emission vehicles – a policy adopted by 10 states – resulting in more than 30 new models of clean and affordable vehicles that are reducing consumer gasoline and diesel costs. California also adopted North America’s first greenhouse gas emission car standards – later adopted as a national program – and adopted the nation’s first heavy-duty vehicle and trailer greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, which led to similar national requirements.
These efforts complement New York and California’s ongoing efforts to broaden collaboration among subnational leaders on climate change, including through the Under2 Coalition – a pact among cities, states and countries around the world to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius in order to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. New York and California are among the Under2 Coalition’s 167 jurisdictions representing more than one billion people and $25.9 trillion in combined GDP – more than one-third of the global economy.
Passing the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act, which is scheduled for a vote in the House on Thursday, March 23, would mean a 10 percent tax increase on all New Yorkers, or, if Republicans also “reform” the tax code, a 26 percent increase on middle class New Yorkers, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo warned.
What is more, hospitals in Congressmen Peter King’s and Lee Zeldin’s districts on Long Island would lose $57 million in funding.
“The American Health Care Act as drafted by the Republican Congress and amended by [Congressmen Chris] Collins and [John] Faso will devastate the New York Healthcare system,” Cuomo stated. “The Republican plan will leave 2.7 million New Yorkers without healthcare and cut $4.7 billion from the state’s Medicaid budget. This comes after the Republicans promised the exact opposite: That no American would lose healthcare and that no block grant would cut funding to the state.”
“Life has options and the hard reality is that Collins and Faso are leaving New York State with only two unacceptable choices. Either, we could pass on the devastating cuts to our hospitals, nursing homes and the 40 percent of New Yorkers who currently receive Medicaid and health benefits. Or, we would be forced to raise state income taxes – either by increasing taxes on all New Yorkers by 10 percent, or if Collins and Faso have their way in protecting only the wealthy, on the middle class by 26 percent. Any tax increase flies in the face of New York’s success in reducing spending and taxes to record lows.
“To devastate our healthcare industry will not only affect millions of lives, but disrupt one of the state’s main economic engines. Healthcare is a pillar of the New York economy.
“Make no mistake. The Republican house members are recklessly attempting to buy votes for the AHCA with an IOU to the New York taxpayers. One nonsensical suggestion is that the state should ‘find the money.’ We have cut our spending to record low limits. Five years ago we imposed a 3 percent cap on the growth of Medicaid in New York. Our hospital sector operates on the lowest margins in the country. New York’s 3 percent rate of growth is lower than most other states.
“If the federal government wants to buy votes, let them pay for it.
“It’s absurd to ask the state to pay the cost, while the same bill provides a $150 billion tax cut to the 1 percent richest Americans and Republicans in Congress also support a record $54 billion increase for the Pentagon. If they think that $4.7 billion is merely chump change, they should factor it into their own budget – propose $145 billion tax break or a $49 billion increase to the defense budget.
Hospitals in King, Zeldin Districts Would Lose $57 Million
What is more, an analysis by the New York State Department of Health shows that hospitals in the districts of Republican Congressmen Lee Zeldin and Peter King would lose millions.
The seven hospitals in Zeldin’s 1st Congressional District would lose $41.2 million in funding if the Ryan/Collins/Faso health care repeal is passed, crippling their ability to provide critical health care services for local residents and jeopardizing hundreds of jobs across the district.
Stony Brook University Hospital – $27,123,469
Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center – $5,827,691
Eastern Long Island Hospital – $673,801
John T. Mather Memorial Hospital – $2,542,069
Peconic Bay Medical Center – $1,993,305
Southampton Hospital – $1,021,658
St. Charles Hospital – $1,970,589
District Total – $41,152,582
The three hospitals in Republican Congressman Peter King’s 2nd Congressional District would lose $14.6 million in funding:
Good Samaritan Hospital of West Islip — $6,015,802 in cuts
St. Joseph Hospital — $1,253,535 in cuts
Southside Hospital — $7,319,357 in cuts
District Total— $14,588,694 in cuts
“The radical conservative ideology in Washington has declared war on New York with legislation that will devastate hospitals across the state and hurt New Yorkers,”Governor Cuomo said. “These massive cuts will cripple our hospitals and ravage the health care services on which New Yorkers rely, with $41.2 million in cuts to hospitals in the 1st District and $14.6 million in cuts to hospitals in the 2nd District alone. I urge members of the community to call their member of Congress and demand that they vote ‘no’ on this unconscionable piece of legislation.”
“If the Republican representatives are responsible to their districts, they must provide federal revenue to pay for their actions. Isn’t it their job to help – rather than hurt – their district?
“If this bill is passed as is, our federal representatives will be responsible for massive income or sales tax increases or devastating cuts to New York’s healthcare system. That is the plain reality. No political rhetoric can change it. New Yorkers will hold them accountable for their vote. This is radical conservative ideology at work rather than real public policy to help the very people of this state who elected them.”
(MINEOLA, NY) –Nassau County Democrats are raising alarms about what repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean for county residents and appealed to County Executive Ed Mangano to compile a comprehensive report that would quantify the impact on residents and the county’s budget.
Minority Democratic Leader Kevan Abrahams and Legislator Laura Curran stood with their democratic legislative colleagues, along with local healthcare advocates including Long Island Progressive Coalition and Nassau County Planned Parenthood calling upon the Nassau County Executive, commissioners, and administrators to compile a comprehensive report that measures the impact of what looks like the inevitable repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
According to a report issued by New York State’s Office of the Governor on January 4, 2017, Nassau County stands to lose $17,866,829 in direct funding which “goes directly to counties and helps to lower property taxes”.
Under the ACA, Nassau County saw a 33% decrease in the number of uninsured according to the most recent U.S. Census. The number of uninsured people on Long Island has declined rapidly over the last decade, while the proposed GOP healthcare bill will undo that work by putting 24 million at risk of losing coverage, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The American Health Care Act proposed by the Republican Party may affect more than 1 in 4 Nassau residents. Those at risk of coverage changes include, but are not limited to, the 204,681 Nassau seniors enrolled in Medicare and 133,324 residents who enrolled on the Affordable Care Act’s open marketplace.
“After making inroads for more affordable healthcare access, the proposed law could force counties to choose between supporting low-income residents who rely on Medicaid for health services,” said Minority Legislative Leader, Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).
“President Trump is leading us down a very dangerous path and County Government is going to be left holding the bag while taxpayers’ costs could skyrocket. Trumpcare is no longer a campaign talking point but an imminent threat to the financial and physical health of our community, and we must be prepared,” said Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin). “Repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with Trump’s alternative is going to drive a massive hole in the County budget while leaving more residents uninsured and without the benefits of preventative care. So that the County is prepared for these massive changes, County Executive Mangano, County Commissioners, and Department Administrators must immediately start preparing a report that outlines the real impact of losing the Affordable Care Act and what it will mean for Nassau taxpayers.”
Today, Nassau Democratic Legislators called upon the Nassau County Executive, county commissioners and department administrators to prepare an impact study that outlines the real impact losing the affordable care will have on Nassau County residents and the services they receive.
Such a study was just announced by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and is being undertaken by county governments all over the country, Lisa Tyson, Executive Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said.
“The repeal of the Affordable Care Act will deprive Long Islanders’ access to affordable healthcare that can be a matter of life-and-death. Nassau County residents deserve to know how losing the Affordable Care Act might affect their family both financially and physically,” she said.
The repeal of the Affordable Care Act. could be detrimental to citizens of Nassau most in need: low-income families, young adults, seniors and those in need of mental health care and substance abuse treatment. All these programs are at risk of being affected as the legislation currently stands.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act will have real consequences for our community and we need to know how many of our neighbors will be affected and what costs will fall to the County. Obvious questions are whether our Medicaid costs will rise, and by how much; how increased emergency room visits will affect Nassau University Medical Center; whether the workload and costs of the County’s Department of Health will skyrocket; whether the County’s drug abuse rates are likely to soar due to diminished treatment options; the projected costs that will result; and many more. Governor Cuomo estimates that 133,000 Nassau residents (one out of ten residents) would lose coverage, and that should serve as a chilling wake-up call to every stakeholder in government and healthcare. Our taxpayers deserve to know exactly how much they will be affected by Washington’s costly decisions, and the County’s planning must start now,” said Legislator Curran.
Older residents will see a rise in healthcare premiums, with a projected 20-25% increase for those in their early 60s, given the current proposed GOP tax credit structure, which does not take income into account. For Nassau’s poor and working families, the halting of Medicaid expansion coupled with rising premiums will disintegrate any chance of affordable healthcare.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood will mean that many women – across the country and right here in Nassau County –who receive their care at Planned Parenthood health centers won’t receive care at all. We are calling on congress to stop these political attacks, but, until they do, Planned Parenthood will leave no stone unturned in fighting back for our patients and ensuring that our doors stay open,” said PPNC President & CEO JoAnn Smith.
For Long Islander Rachel Siehs, not having healthcare at a most crucial time in her life could have been a matter of life-and-death. After Rachel was laid off from her job in October 2015 she battled the very same conflict so many do when they lose their health insurance – in this case, she gotten it from her previous employer. “I was on the fence if I should buy health insurance? I couldn’t afford Cobra. Plus, I am young and healthy and thought I could wait to start a new job and acquire insurance that way,” said Rachel Siehs. “After discussing the issue with my parents, they encouraged me to find coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplace and thankfully I did – I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma only two months later and would fight cancer for most of 2016.”
Since then, Rachel, 28 years old, has successfully fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was able to see doctor because she had health coverage through the Affordable Health Act. Like many Americans, she risks losing health insurance again after the repeal.
“I don’t know if I would be here today if I didn’t seek coverage on the ACA marketplace. I would start a new job in January 2016 but my health insurance would not have kicked in until April. But also, who knows if I would have scheduled the doctor appointments if I would have had to pay completely out of pocket for them. The impact is real here in Nassau. Health care is important. It needs to be well thought out and studied and shouldn’t be a rushed vote. This is people’s lives,” said Rachel Siehs of Melville.
While County Executive Mangano has already indicated his disinterest in undertaking such a study, which he decried as purely political, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo did provide some indication of the impact on New Yorkers of the American Health Care Act – 2.7 million New Yorkers would face substantial loss in their health care coverage from what they have now, while quality and availability of health services across the state would be jeopardized. Also, an amendment just introduced by Chris Collins, an upstate Congressman (and Trump spokesman) and John Fasio, which would apply solely to New York State, would ban federal reimbursement for state Medicaid funds for local governments outside of New York City, cutting Medicaid for these local governments by $2.3 billion. When added to the $4.5 billion cost of the ACHA over the next four years, the total cost to the State would rise to $6.9 billion.
Except for the cuts to the State Department which has some Republicans howling, the rest of Trump’s “America First” anti-American budget are the things the Conservatives have been fantasizing about but never had the guts to do because of the ramifications. Now they have someone who is putting himself out there who doesn’t bother considering the impacts on ordinary people.
This is as much Ryan’s budget as Trump’s, which likely will also enact massive tax cuts, paid for by slashing benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, further exacerbating the inequality in wealth, political power and justice in this country that strains the limits to what this Democracy can sustain.
“This is our moment,” Vice President Mike Pence gleefully told the Club for Growth at the posh Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach.
For the first time in a decade, thanks to your hard work, we have a pro-growth House, we have a pro-growth Senate, and we have a pro-growth President of the United States of America. (Applause.) And President Donald Trump I believe has laid out an agenda that is renewing the American spirit in ways that we haven’t seen since the days of Ronald Reagan.
This is our moment. This is the time. And my friends, this is our chance to prove that our answers are still the right answers for America. (Applause.)
More freedom. Lower taxes. Less regulation and smaller government. History will attest that when America builds on this foundation, we reach heights that once seemed unreachable.
And that is the foundation of this administration. President Trump’s vision is to unleash growth in America like never before, and the good news is: It’s already happening.
On Day One, President Trump went straight to work rolling back the reams of red tape. He instructed every bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before imposing any new red tape on the American people and on American free enterprise. (Applause.)
He’s already taken action to put the Keystone and Dakota pipelines on the path to approval, creating tens of thousands of American jobs and protecting our American energy future. (Applause.)
And just this past Monday, President Trump set into motion a plan to reorganize the executive branch — and that includes identifying and eliminating federal agencies that, frankly, we just plain don’t need anymore.
It’s leadership like that — you can applaud that if you like. (Applause.) It’s leadership like this that’s getting government out of the way of the American people and of American job creators.
Businesses are already reacting to President Trump’s vision and his renewed optimism and investment. And they’re investing in America in ways that are lifting and creating jobs.
Last month alone the economy added 235,000 jobs. Construction and manufacturing are booming once again. Business leaders and American consumers haven’t been this confident in years — and by some measures, in more than a decade.
Folks, the era of slow growth is over; a new era of American growth has begun. (Applause.)
You know and I know that economic growth begins with fiscal responsibility. I see my friend Senator Pat Toomey over there. We fought together in the House, shoulder to shoulder for fiscal restraint. And I know how enthusiastic he and the other great conservatives like Senator Mike Lee and others in the room are that just two days ago, President Donald Trump released the most conservative budget since Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office. (Applause.)
Our vision is simple. We want a government that will keep Americans safe and that leaves us free to do what the American people do best. That’s why our budget first and foremost gives our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources they need to complete their mission, protect our families, and come home safe to theirs. We’re rebuilding the American military under this Trump budget. (Applause.)
But also at the President’s direction, our budget offsets $54 billion in military spending with government spending cuts –a 31 percent cut at the E.P.A. (Applause.) Double-digit reductions in no fewer than 10 federal departments. (Applause.)
And, folks, The Washington Post actually ran a headline this week saying, they quote, “historic contraction of the federal workforce.” (Laughter.) They meant it as a warning, we took it as a compliment. (Applause.)
We’re going to end the waste, the fraud, the abuse in D.C and make sure that the American taxpayer gets the best bang for their buck. I got to tell you this businessman who has become President of the United States believes in sharpened pencils. And he’s been sharpening his pencils ever since the morning after Election Day.
But beyond the budget, we’re going to keep slashing all the job-killing regulationsand rein in unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. I want to commend the members of Congress for sending those congressional review act bills. We’re going to keep rolling back regulation every chance we get so that this economy can’t be crippled by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. sitting behind the comfort of their metal desks. (Applause.)
We’ve heard from businesses large and small, all across America that red tape is strangling their ability to create jobs, and to grow and thrive. That’s why we’re working to get government off their back.
We’re going to keep working with the Congress to repeal the last-minute mandates rushed through by the last administration. And, frankly, we’re taking a hard look at every regulation on the books — including, as President Trump said on Wednesday, the CAFE rule that is holding back the American automotive industry will now no longer stand in the way of economic prosperity and growth. (Applause.)
We’re making sure federal agencies fast-track projects and permits and don’t slow-walk them. And we’re going to roll back Dodd-Frank so that American businesses have access to the best financial system in the world. (Applause.)
And with this Cabinet — and how about this Cabinet? (Applause.) With this Cabinet, President Trump has picked men and women who know that bureaucrats don’t create jobs, businesses do.
The bottom line is that our agenda of more freedom and less regulation is going to usher in growth and opportunity and prosperity in this country like never before. And it’s the vision that the Club for Growth has been about advancing since the very beginning of this organization.
If you still have any doubt, there’s also something else I want you to know. We’re going to have the biggest tax reform and reduction in a generation in America before this year is out. (Applause.)
Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. It’s going to be pro-growth, pro-savings, and pro-hardworking Americans keeping more of their hard-earned dollar.
We’re going to simplify the tax code working with members of the House and Senate who are gathered here, and we’re going to have lower rates across the board.
We’re going to make American businesses competitive again by slashing one of the highest corporate rates in the developed world and letting American companies bring the money back from overseas so they can invest in American and create American jobs with a lower business rate. (Applause.)
And not only that, and I promise to you working with members of Congress, we’re going to repeal hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes when we repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)
My friends, the Obamacare nightmare is about to end. Now, I don’t have to remind people here at the Club for Growth why this failed law has to go. You all have seen the headlines, and you know the facts. You’ve lived them in many places all over the country — skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, mandates, higher taxes. The truth is the American people can’t afford Obamacare, and it’s time we no longer ask them to put up with it. (Applause.)
In his joint address to Congress two weeks ago, the President outlined his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all. And we’re working with members of Congress to advance that plan.
Make no mistake about it: Our plan is pro-growth and pro-freedom. It ends Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates by eliminating their penalties by the time the whole plan is unfurled. It repeals the taxes I just mentioned right out of the gate. It expands health savings accounts. It enacts the biggest reform in Medicaid since the creation of that program in 1965.
These are the kind of solutions that conservatives like us have been talking about for years. And they’re now within our reach. And let me be blunt: We need your help to get this plan passed. The House is set to vote next week on the beginning of this process. It’s called the American Health Care Act, and it is a crucial step towards fulfilling our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works.
Now I know that there have been concerns expressed with the bill as it currently stands. And just know that the President and I are and our entire administration are listening. We’re working with members of Congress to improve the bill and to make this bill even better than it already is..
And we’re working with every single [Republican] member of Congress — the Republican Study Committee, the Freedom Caucus, the Senate Steering Committee, and all the lawmakers here tonight, just to name a few. Thanks to their input, we’ve actually added a number of great amendments just in the last 24 hours.
Beginning with, we’re going to stop more states from expanding Medicaid by ceasing the expansion for states that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare immediately. (Applause.)
Because of the voices of conservatives in Congress, we’re going to be amending the Ho bill to give states the option for a Medicaid in a block grant in its entirety so states can reform Medicaid in the way that they see fit. (Applause.)
And thanks to the leadership and the collaboration of many of the great conservatives in this room, we’re going to have an amendment to allow states to include a work requirement for able-bodied adults on Medicaid so we can ensure the program is there for people who actually need it. [So if you’ve lost your job, were laid off, your company goes bankrupt, you are doomed.] (Applause.)
Folks, I meant it when I said we’re listening. And the President is going to continue to engage members of Congress in ways that we can improve this legislation. We had a meeting just yesterday in the Oval Office, and I was pleased that the leadership of the Republican Study Committee endorsed the bill that’s moving through the House, and we’re grateful for their support.
And while we’re having a vigorous debate, the good news is that Republicans are in complete agreement, and we have complete consensus that Obamacare must go. (Applause.)
We’ll continue to advance the President’s agenda, and how we work that out is going to be the result of the legislative process and administrative action. But President Trump’s vision is very simple: a national health-care marketplace and state-based Medicaid reform; allowing the American people to purchase health insurance across state lines the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance, and allowing states the freedom and flexibility to redesign Medicaid around the unique needs of their own people is a pathway toward a more prosperous future and better healthcare for the American people. (Applause.)
And it’s important to remember that our healthcare plan doesn’t begin and end with the bill that’s moving through the Congress today. I wanted to make it clear to all of you this is only one part of the President’s three-part strategy. The other two tracks are just as important in restoring free-market principles to American health care.
At this very moment, our administration is evaluating every possible administrative action to get government out of the way and allow for state-based innovation and reform.
The name of the game is to seize the opportunity to change the regulations, and we’ve got a great team with Dr. Tom Price and Seema Verma heading up HHS and the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services to do it.
Just this past week, they both sent a letter to every single one of America’s governors saying, “a new era for federal and state Medicaid partnership” has begun — and so it has. (Applause.)
Under Dr. Tom Price’s leadership with Seema Verma at his side running Medicaid, we’re going to give our states the freedom and flexibility they need with Medicaid to implement the kind of reforms that will do the most good for the most vulnerable — state-based solutions, not one-size-fits-all federal solutions. And remember that truthfully it is about improving Medicaide[sic]….
And we’re going to continue to partner with the Congress to pass other important healthcare reforms, including we’re going to pass medical malpractice reform at last. (Applause.) We’re going to allow businesses around America to participate in association health plans, and as I mentioned before, we’re going to give Americans the freedom to buy health insurance across state lines — an idea whose time has come.
Not before too long I expect we’re going to see that little lizard and Flo on television selling health insurance just the way they sell car insurance and sell life insurance. (Laughter and applause.)
Our three-part strategy, once enacted, we truly believe will create a dynamic national health-insurance marketplace, which is the key to making affordable, high-quality coverage accessible for every American.
Now we can’t lose sight of what’s at stake in the coming weeks. This is a momentous time. We literally have an opportunity to begin to accomplish what everyone in this room has fought so hard to achieve for so long. And President Trump and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you — the men and women in public life who are here, and those of you who are patrons and supporters that are present.
And know this: When we repeal and replace Obamacare, we will also make room for even more tax relief for working families, small businesses, and family farms when we take up tax reform this spring. (Applause.)
But health care isn’t the only place where we need your partnership. The same goes for the rest of our pro-growth, pro-freedom agenda.
Quite frankly, we’re counting on you. And we know you’ll be there. You’ve already demonstrated — many of you for many years here at Club for Growth — your dedication to the principles that we all share.
I look around this room and I see true patriots — men and women who love this country and have been willing to devote your time and your talent andyour treasure to the country’s future without any regard to whether you’d ever be acknowledged or ever get credit for it. Those great candidates that you’ve supported over the years, and that now people the hallways of the House and the Senate serving the American people.The debt this country owes to the men and women in this organization and throughout the conservative movement can only be repaid by keeping faith with the ideals and the principles that you have sought to advance….
The reason that we’re here with a pro-growth President and a pro-growth Congress on the cusp of repealing the failed policies of Obamacareis because, on the cusp of transformational tax reform, on the cusp of a whole range of reforms that will enliven this country’s economy and open doors of opportunities for millions of Americans is that year after year,all of you in this room and conservatives around America never gave up. And I’m just here to say thanks, and to tell you to press on.
My friends, this is our moment. Now is the time. This is our rendezvous with destiny. And I know we’ll meet the challenge. It will come together. We’ll give all of our energy, our enthusiasm, our courage, and our conviction, our passion, and our prayers. And in that, I’m confident — I’m confident we’ll make the most of the opportunity before us. And under President Trump’s leadership, I know we’ll get this economy moving again. Under his leadership, I know we’ll restore opportunity and prosperity for all our people. We’ll make the best healthcare system in the world even better with free-market principles, more jobs, higher incomes, better healthcare in a safer and more prosperous America.
In a word, my friends, with your help, and with God’s help, we’ll make America great again.
Thank you very much. Thanks for having me back and God bless you and God bless the United State of America. (Applause.)
In no uncertain terms, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo blasted Donald Trump’s proposed budget as “dangerous, reckless, and contemptuous of American values. It should be rejected by Congress out of hand. The proposal undermines policies and positions that have been cherished and defended by men and women of both parties, some for more than a century. It leaves behind the most vulnerable among us, and puts our environment, our infrastructure, and our future at risk.”
In a statement issued, Governor Cuomo said:
“The proposal takes a wrecking ball to the federal agencies that provide crucial support and relief to New Yorkers. Among other senseless cuts, major reductions at the Department of Transportation would remove critical funding for the Gateway Tunnel project between New York and New Jersey and other transportation upgrades throughout New York. This budget cuts National Institute of Health funding for life-saving research happening in New York and across the country. And by calling for the dissolution of the National Endowment for the Arts, it takes aim at one of the engines of America’s cultural heritage.
“It also entirely defunds the Clean Power Plan and guts funding for the EPA, withdrawing support that is essential to protecting New York’s clean water and environmental resources. At the same time, the proposal cuts vital funds to our farmers and rural communities and hampers our ability to respond to extreme weather events that have wreaked destruction across New York.
“Finally, the Administration’s budget slashes $6 billion from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, eliminating Community Development Block Grants that have transformed affordable housing for New Yorkers in need. As a former Secretary of the HUD, I have firsthand knowledge of the crucial services the Department provides and the real, tangible harm these cuts will impose on vulnerable, hard-working Americans in New York and across the nation.
“Despite the reckless cuts to critical programs, the Administration is also contemplating providing more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. In short, Washington’s message to those who can’t afford heat at the dead of winter, those struggling to provide an education for their child; and to commuters forced to sit through hours of traffic on a daily commute to work is that they don’t matter. Essentially, this proposal lacks the most basic American values of compassion and care.
“Enacting this bill would mark a fundamental transformation in what America stands for, and what role our country plays in the world. We have always maintained a strong military, but we have always offered the world more than arms. The Lady in the Harbor does not brandish her fist at the world; she raises a light.
“New York will always stand up for the principles that have made America a beacon around the world for centuries. I will continue to work with New York’s congressional delegation to fight to ensure that every New Yorker has the opportunity to succeed and that we are investing in the programs that will ensure a bright future for generations to come. We still believe in e pluribus unum.”
The budget blueprint to fund the federal government being proposed by the Trump Administration was created straight from Donald Trump’s campaign speeches, and would reflect “hard power, not soft power,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said during a press briefing to which a limited number of reporters were able to listen in by phone but not participate in asking questions.
The budget increases defense spending by $54 billion (10%), and lavishes spending on border patrol and building a wall, while slashing the budgets of the State Department by 28% and Environmental Protection Agency by 31% (eliminating 3000 jobs), and cutting out altogether funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and spending on the arts and humanities, as well as Meals on Wheels and $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Program that supported affordable housing.
While it is unlikely that this budget proposal will actually get passed – any responsible Congressman or Senator will decry the cuts to programs that benefit their communities and constituents, while weakening the United States influence in global geopolitics, it reveals so starkly Trump’s values and priorities and fleshes out what his vision of “Make America Great Again” really means. And, as the New York Times noted, “In Trump’s Plan, Some Parts of America Are More First than Others.”
These are Mulvaney’s comments:
“This is an America First Budget. I wrote it using the President’s own words. I went through his speeches, articles, talked to him. I wanted to know his policies and turned into numbers. He is an America’s First candidate, this is an America First budget – more money on defense, $54 B; more for security at then border; for enforcing the laws on the books; for private and public school choice.
“I wanted to do that without adding to the $488 budget deficit – so there are dollar for dollar decreases.
“Because we punched up $54 billion for defense, we will cut $54 billion elsewhere. This accomplishes his priorities without adding to the deficit.
“The reductions are where you would expect from a president who ran on America First: the State Department. EPA. Many agencies, as he tries to frame government by efficiencies, will go after programs.
“If he said it on the campaign, it’s in the budget.
“We worked closely with the Defense department – that it funds their needs, but in a responsible fashion in terms of what they could spend this year. Defense [General Mattis] said this is what is needed this year, and they could spend effectively. We are not throwing money after problem. This was done in a responsible fashion.
“As for reductions: there are dramatic reductions in the State Department – that is not a commentary on the president’s policy on the State Department, but what’s in their budget:
“Foreign aid line items happen to fall within State department function. We are spending less overseas and more at home. When implemented, we will reduce foreign aid – but if the item had been in the Department of Education, you would see the cut there, if impacting Energy, you would see it there. More items [slated to be cut] fall under the State Department, which will see a fairly significant, 28% reduction.”
Asked about how this budget does not lower the budget deficit or the national debt, he acknowledged that there will still be a budget deficit.
“The commentary on deficits is that he wanted to accomplish all these things – defense, immigration, law enforcement, without adding to the deficit. Previous administrations had priorities and borrowed.
About the cuts to EPA, Mulvaney said, “We absolutely believe – as in the State Department – the core functions of EPA can be satisfied with this budget” even with cuts of one-third the budget and 3000 jobs.
“Ordinarily, a president’s budget says you will take this budget and make cuts there. We’ve given tremendous amount of flexibility within agencies. I can’t say about job reductions, that will be up to [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt.
“The actual budget blueprint which will hit the highlights – funding for agency, bullet points as to where to bump up or lower spending. You won’t see a spread sheet line by line – it will be up to agencies to implement.
Part of 2017 supplemental Trump is seeking, Mulvaney said, includes “$30 billion for defense and the border, including $1.5 billion for the wall this year. There are proposed reductions for 2017 also. More spending for defense, border enforcement, reductions elsewhere, money for the wall.”
Asked whether the administration is mindful of the “potential risk of reducing foreign aid,” Mulvaney said, “This is a hard power budget, not a soft power budget. That was done intentionally. The president very clearly wants to send message to adversaries and allies that this is a hard power president. We are moving money from soft power to hard power – that’s what adversaries, allies can expect.
“I implement the president’s policy. He decides what he wants to do.”
Since this is “an America First budget, which he campaigned on,” how does the budget fulfill his promise on the campaign trail to fix cities? How is Housing & Urban Development (HUD) affected?
“One of the other things he said was to go after waste, programs that don’t work, and a lot of those are in HUD – spent a lot in HUD without a lot to show for it. A lot of programs we cannot justify their existence for.
“But don’t discount the infrastructure program. That was done intentionally – Department of Transportation. Line item reductions. We are moving programs out of inefficient programs and hold money for efficient.
“We are moving money around in HUD. I spoke to [HUD Secretary Ben] Carson, who, if he came to president and said look, you gave me this pot of money, I want to move out of these programs and into new ones, he would have tremendous flexibility.”
As to how much money Trump intends to spend on building the wall across the southern border, he said, “We haven’t decided – haven’t settled on construction types, where to start. Funding provides for some pilot pieces, different kinds of barriers, different kinds of places, as we find most the most cost-efficient, safest, most effective border protection. $1.5 b allows us to start, $2.6 billion in 2018 – as we get to a full budget in May we will also start seeing projections out 10 years.
Asked how tax cuts factor in, Mulvaney said, “This is not a tax policy document. This is a spending budget. $1 trillion of the budget is discretionary. If we spend a discretionary dollar somewhere, we take a dollar from somewhere else. This blueprint stays within those lanes.
Asked where the $1.5 billion for the wall is coming from, he said, “We didn’t say we need $1.5 billion for the wall, so let’s reduce education. We dealt with it more holistically. We went looking for the most inefficient, wasteful, indefensible programs in other areas.”
As for federal workforce reductions, he said, “There is a great deal of discretion to [cabinet] secretaries.”
Asked whether the budget proposal assumes the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, he said, “This is ancillary to ACA. Generally no. That would be reflected in the larger budget in May.”
What about funding for curing diseases, exploring other planets?
“NASA reduced 1% – a lot of programs in there are increased in line with the president’s priorities – exploring other planets. He changed one of the missions – the moon, Saturn – I can’t remember the details. The general response is consistent: space exploration is a priority.”
“Curing disease – a young woman was at the Joint Congressional address who had an orphan disease, which means it is so rare, it doesn’t encourage free market response. Our budget preserves the ability to do that.” [The budget proposal cuts funding to the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, or 20%.]
As for enforcing the Paris Agreement, the Clean Power Plan, CAFE Standards, Mulvaney said, “You can expect reductions in EPA that line up with the president’s view on global warming and efficiency. To the extent there are reductions, that would be one of the places.”
Trump has not only set back American progress on every aspect of civil, environmental, economic and criminal justice a century to the Gilded Age, but threatens to do the same with women’s rights and standing in society. And I’m not just referring to the fact that he has made it okay to be a misogynistic, sexist, racist, xenophobic bit.
Hillary Clinton in her campaign noted that it isn’t just “attitude” or “culture” that propagates bias, but systemic reinforcement in the economy, the tax code, the courts, the law, and most especially health care and reproductive rights, that, more than anything else for all practical purposes keep women down and lacking power.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), explicitly reversed those impediments, which allowed insurance companies to make women pay higher premiums for their pre-existing condition of being a woman.
The health care “reform” that Republicans are trying to ram through would not only restore that ability of insurance companies to charge women more so that they couldn’t actually afford prenatal care, or for that matter a delivery, or the necessary care for their infant, especially one that is born without all the advantages of its mother having had access to prenatal care, but they propose to defund Planned Parenthood, used by 4 million people (52 million visits a year), resulting in 551,000 fewer unintended pregnancies, and of course, they intend to end women’s reproductive rights altogether.
After the Women’s March on Washington the day after inauguration, which brought out millions across the US and the world, I proposed that women should strike to demonstrate how essential to the economy women were. On March 8, International Women’s Day, there was just such a strike, “A Day Without Women.” But as the big day approached, I realized it had to fail because women predominate in jobs that are life and death – nurses, teachers, home healthcare and daycare providers, legal services (the list goes on and on and on).
“My babies,” is how a Great Neck kindergarten teacher described her students during a school board hearing on the proposed bond, noting that there is a significant difference in learning readiness for children who come to kindergarten with or without having attended pre-K, which follows through throughout their elementary schooling. They don’t catch up. I am quite sure she was in her classroom teaching instead of joining the “Day Without Women” strike.
Moreover, unless a woman worked for a sympathetic boss, she likely could not afford to lose pay, and possibly her job.
Consequently, the full impact of women on the economy, and in society – that women comprise half of the entire paid labor force for the first time in history, mothers are now close to 50 percent of all primary breadwinners, and women drive 70 to 80 percent of all consumer purchasing – went unnoticed, and women as a political force were pretty much told to sit down and shut up, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senator Elizabeth Warren.
But, as ever, Senator Warren expressed best why “women’s issues are economic issues” and how the system is rigged against them:
Women are the main breadwinners, or joint breadwinners, in two-thirds of the families in America, she said, but:
Having a child is the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse.
Single moms are more likely than any other group to file for bankruptcy – more likely than the elderly, more likely than divorced men, and more likely than people living in poor neighborhoods.
Single moms who have been to college are actually 60% more likely to end up bankrupt than those with just a high school diploma.
“The deck has been stacked against working women and moms for years. And with the Republicans in charge, it’s getting worse – a lot worse.”
Women struggle under the burden of student loan debt, child care costs that equal college tuition, make 78 cents to the dollar of her male colleague and can be fired just for asking what the guy down the hall makes (Republicans are blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act).
Mothers are 10 times more likely than fathers to take time off when their kids are sick, and 60% are not paid for that time off. Too many women fear losing their jobs because they are stuck having to choose between work or caring for someone they love. (Republicans won’t even let us have a vote on paid sick time and family leave, and Trump rolled back Obama’s executive orders on parental leave and overtime pay).
Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women but the minimum wage hasn’t gotten a federal raise in seven years, and mothers of very young children disproportionately work low-wage jobs (Trump rolled back Obama’s executive order and Republicans have blocked every effort to raise it.).
Because women make less than men throughout their lifetimes, they receive, on average, about $4,000 less a year than men in Social Security benefits (as well as pensions). This really hurts because women are less likely to have other assets, so they rely more heavily on those Social Security checks to keep them out of poverty. Republicans still threaten to cut Social Security for women and families and raise the retirement age, while their health care plan would also increase the cost of having health care and likely toss off millions of women and children from any health care at all.
“Donald Trump was right about one thing: the game is rigged. It’s rigged for rich guys like Donald Trump. The system works great for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists, but it leaves women and families behind. A system in which Republicans work tirelessly to rip away health care from millions of women and defund Planned Parenthood health clinics, while giving away billions of dollars in subsidies to Big Oil. A system that cuts Head Start programs and NIH medical research, but protects tax breaks for billionaires and giant corporations,” Warren stated.
And no where is this “rigged system” more apparent than in the Trump/Ryan plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that will strip health insurance from millions, raise the cost for women, for older people, for the poor and sick, in order to give the 400 richest Americans—who averaged incomes of $318 million in 2014—a tax cut of about $7 million a year, a windfall that they will happily reinvest in buying the election of candidates who will do their bidding. (Trump doesn’t pay taxes, so this wouldn’t benefit him.)
Indeed, as it turns out, there isn’t a single “Women’s Issue” but rather, a broad gamut of issues are central to women: climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, gun violence prevention, food, water and drug safety, education, workers rights, health care and public health; infrastructure and mass transportation; immigration rights, criminal justice reform, affordable housing. What is there about life that doesn’t concern women?
The fascinating thing about that ignorant lout who is unbelievably serving in Congress but can’t understand why a man should have to pay for prenatal care is that society has a collective interest in women’s health, and public health. If someone doesn’t go to the doctor and can’t afford to stay home from work, their communicable disease will spread. When people don’t go to the doctor for an early diagnosis, but only go when the condition becomes severe, society as a whole foots the bill for catastrophic care, and is deprived of that individual’s productivity.
Clearly, there should be a different sort of strike, one that would not require women to relinquish their work responsibilities: they should strike sex. Women are considered mere vessels to incubate an embryo (an elected official actually said that), a lesser person with fewer legal and political rights than a zygote. Women are singularly punished for having sex. Sex in Trump’s misogynistic RightWing America has come to mean enslavement. (And yes, I realize this sounds as crazy as Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who has taken over Housing & Urban Development, who equated the slaves who were brought to the US in chains at the bottom of boats to “immigrants” with their high aspirations.)
John Oliver, in his summation of International Women’s Day on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, said: “Every year, the best way of gauging not just how far women have come, but perhaps how far they still have to go, is by watching powerful men around the world trip over their dicks while talking about the day.”
He highlighted Vladimir Putin, who told his nation, “Women give us life and perpetuate it in our children. We will do our utmost to surround our dear women with care and attention, so that they can smile more often.”
Women in Congress (still only 20%) wore white to Trump’s joint address, to symbolize the suffragettes of a century ago and show solidarity.
“We wear white to unite against any attempts by the Trump Administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century, and we will continue to support the advancement of all women,” Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., the chair of the party’s Women’s Working Group, said in a statement.
Pool Reporter Alex Leary, Washington Bureau Chief for the Tampa Bay Times, brings us into the inner sanctum of the White House to learn how Donald Trump and Mike Pence are manipulating the debate over the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with the Republicans’ American Health Care Plan (Ryancare).
On March 13, he hosted a group of Obamacare “victims”, followed by his first-ever meeting of his Cabinet which featured remarks by Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price’s dismissal of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scathing report projecting that 24 million people would lose health care under the Republican plan:
This is Leary’s report:
POTUS entered the room at 11:26 a.m. and pool was inside for roughly 33 minutes.
POTUS thanked the participants for sharing their stories about “the very, very failed and failing Obamacare law.”
Several times POTUS complained about news media coverage of the debate. “The press is making Obamacare look so good suddenly. I’m watching the news. It looks so good. … First of all, it covers very few people and it’s imploding. And ’17 will be the worst year.”
POTUS cast the coverage as nostalgia. “It’s a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn’t like him so much. That’s the way life goes. That’s human nature. The fact is, Obamacare is a disaster.”
The best political play, POTUS said, would to let the law collapse on its own over the coming year – “because it’s going to blow itself off the map. But that’s the wrong thing to do for the country. It’s the wrong thing to do for our citizens.”
POTUS said his administration and “a lot of people in the Senate and a lot of people in the House are committed to repealing and replacing this disastrous law with a health care plan that lowers costs, expands choice and ensures access for everyone. You represent the millions of Americans who have seen their Obamacare premiums increase by double-digit and even triple-digits …”
POTUS said the House bill would provide “far” more choices at lower costs. “Americans should pick the plan they want. Now they’ll be able to pick the plan. They’ll be able pick the doctor they want. They’ll be able to do a lot of things that the other plan was supposed to give and it never gave. …”
“You’re not going to have one-size-fits-all. Instead, we’re going to be working to unleash the power of the private marketplace to let insurers come in and compete for your business and you’ll see rates go down, down, down and you’ll see plans go up, up, up. You’ll have a lot of choices. You’ll have plans that nobody is even thinking of today.”
Seated across the table in the Roosevelt Room was VPOTUS. At one head of the table was HHS Secretary Tom Price; at the other. Gary Cohn, director of the White House’s National Economic Council.
The rest of the table was filled out by individuals (see list below) invited to tell their stories.
A collection of Obamacare “victims” from across the country shared their stories. (names below as provided by WH).
But first, more from POTUS, who said the Obamacare repeal and replacement must come in three steps, due to working with Congress. “I’d love to do it all in one package, but if you did it that way, it can’t get done.”
As pool was led out, a reporter asked POTUS if he had “any message” for people worried about losing coverage if Obamacare goes away.
“It’ll get better. If we’re allowed to do what we want to do, it will get better. Much better.,” POTUS replied. “Hopefully it will get very good.”
Carrie Couey, from Colorado, said her rates are “three times” higher than when Obamacare began and that has hurt her family cattle ranching business. “We can’t afford our equipment if we’re paying these rates year after year after year. Our food source is in jeopardy because of this health care law.”
Brittany Ivey, Georgia, said she left a full-time job in 2009 to raise her two children. She said a family plan for four cost them $650 per month and by 2015, it had gone up “102 percent.” She said her husband’s employer dropped the family from coverage so she looked for a new job but couldn’t find one that offered insurance. At that point, the family got Obamacare. “We believed the sales pitch that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Even though we were going to have to pay $1,300 a month for Obamacare, we thought we’d still be ok with our doctors.” But she said doctors would not accept the coverage. “We paid them $8,000 in five months and were never able to use it.” She and her husband earn a combined $74,000 a year, Ivey said, but health care is too burdensome. “It’s almost put our family in financial ruin.”
Elias Seife, Florida, said his individual plan was canceled. He said his parents came from Communist Cuba. “They know what socialism is all about. I know what socialism is … and this whole system was meant to have one single provider.”
Kim Sertich, Arizona, said her premium last year was $365 a month and it had risen to $809 a month this year, with a deductible of $6,800. “It just didn’t seem like a good use of my money,” she said, adding she had opted out and went into a faith-based program.
Louis Brown, Virginia, said he worked for the Democratic National Committee when the Affordable Care Act was going through Congress in 2009 and that he later resigned, citing opposition to abortion. He supported Trump in the election and said that he was on hand to support efforts to place people “at the center of our American health care system, not the government.”
Manny Sethi, Tennessee, says he runs nonprofit called Healthy Tennessee and that he’s noticed that people can’t afford rising premiums. “So what they are doing is, effectively, they’re paying the tax penalty because it’s cheaper and works out better than paying for the insurance. That’s been a big problem that we’re seeing across the state.”
Joel Brown, Tennessee, said he’s in farming and he considered paying the penalty for not carrying insurance. He said there is only one option for coverage, Blue Cross Blue Shield Tennessee and the premium is $540 a month with a $7,000 deductible. “You’ve got to pay a high premium for a plan that I don’t need or don’t want.”
Robin Armstrong, Texas, said a lot of patients are not adequately covered by Obamacare and are hit with high premiums and deductibles. “I actually read the bill that’s been produced, that’s coming out of the House now and I really like a lot of the changes in it. I think this is going to correct a lot of issues that Obamacare has had.”
Gina Sell, Wisconsin, said she’s a nurse and mother and had to get a full-time position to pay the costs. “We could not afford a premium of $1,200 per month and a deductible that didn’t cover anything.” She said now the deductible is $6,500 “and so if I have a child who is extremely sick, it’s going to cost me hundreds of dollars.” Last week, she said, her daughter had a fever and she sent her to school for “three days straight because I had to work to afford our insurance” and couldn’t pay for a trip to the doctor. “It has been devastating for our family.”
Greg Knox, Ohio, began by giving POTUS a note and drawing from his 11-year-old son. The note was written on the back of a cutout face with orangeish hair. “Looks nothing like you,” Knox said to laughter. POTUS flashed a big smile and said, “I wish I looked that good.” Knox said he had meet with Secretary Price and Vice President Pence during a recent roundtable in Cincinnati. “We have the best health care system in the world. We do. But it needs to be fixed. Small business owners like myself — I’m a manufacturer — what we’d like to see is not a government-operated market but a free market.”
Stan Summers, Utah, said his son was born premature 26 years ago and they had good insurance but it deteriorated over time. Enter the ACA. “I’m not going to call it the other word. I call it the last president’s health care bill. I don’t need to say that name.” (POTUS: “Other than that, you like him a lot.” Laughter.) Summers said he has three businesses and drives a school bus to provide coverage for his family. He said he expects to meet a $6,000 deductible in April.
Secretary Price gave brief remarks about the stories. “This is about real people, about real patients.” He said he was “really excited” to help install a replacement.
POTUS then again bemoaned what he deemed “wonderful press” about Obamacare. “It’s a horrible thing, actually, and getting worse.”
VPOTUS thanked the participants. “These people are emblematic of the Americans that Obamacare has failed.”
Trump Convenes His First Cabinet Meeting
Later, at 3:48 pm, Trump convened the first-ever meeting of his Cabinet, lamenting that, “We have four empty seats, which is a terrible thing.
“Because the Senate Democrats are continuing to obstruct the confirmation of our nominees for the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, the director of national intelligence and the United States Trade Representative, somebody I want very badly. … The main victim of this very partisan obstruction is the American public.”
POTUS began by giving an update on the approaching storm…
He then touted actions by the nascent administration, including stripping away “job crushing” regulations, and alluded to the coming executive order to “begin the process of reorganizing the executive branch to make it less wasteful and more productive.”
POTUS reiterated his earlier remarks about Obamacare and talked about the replacement plan on Capitol Hill. “It’s a big, fat beautiful negotiation,” he said, drawing snickers. “Hopefully we’ll come up with something that’s going to be really terrific.” He thanked “Paul Ryan” and “Mitch.”
POTUS said he’d be sending a budget request with the major increase in defense spending. “And it will be fully paid for,” POTUS said, Secretary James Mattis on his left. “I saved a lot of money on those jets, didn’t I? Did I do a good job?”
POTUS talked about immigration and enhancing vetting. “We will not rest until the job is done.”
“This is our first Cabinet meeting,” POTUS said. “I hope this is going to be a historic Cabinet meeting, historic in the sense that we’re going to do a fantastic job for the American people, for our country and for the future of our country.”
He did not respond to a request for comment on the “wiretapping.”
A number of officials were on hand, including Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.
HHS Secretary Price ‘Disagrees Strenuously” With CBO Report on GOP Health Care Plan
“We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” HHS Secretary Tom Price told reporters at the White House after the CBO score was released on the GOP health care plan.
Price argued that the CBO report looked “at a portion of our plan, but not the entire plan.” He explained that HHS can employ the “regulatory apparatus” to “make certain that patients are helped and that costs are decreased.”
Price said CBO ignored other legislative action.
“We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and their family, not that the government forces them to buy.”
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said he had not read the entire CBO report but found a bright spot. “The numbers that I’ve seen in the first glance is that CBO says that premiums will go down by at least 10 percent.”
A reporter noted that CBO got to that figure by estimating that fewer older Americans would get coverage but Price waved that away, again saying CBO did not take into account the full plan for repeal and replace. “The fact of the matter is, we’re working on the regulations right now.”
Asked about the report’s finding that 14 million more people would be left without insurance next year, Price said it’s “virtually impossible to have that number occur.”
Reporter: So CBO is wrong, they are not credible?
“Well, you just look at the numbers,” Price said. “There are 8-9 million people who are on the exchange currently. I’m not sure how they are going to get 14 million people uninsured, if that’s what they say, with only 8 million people on the exchange.
“They are individuals, I guess that they assume that are on Medicaid who aren’t paying anything in the Medicaid system who are not going to take the Medicaid policy just because the mandate ended or something happened. It’s just not believable is what we would suggest. We’ll look at the numbers and see.”
Reporter: Without that mandate to buy coverage, wouldn’t you concede there will be millions of uninsured?
“No, I wouldn’t concede that at all,” Price said. “The fact of the matter is they are going to be able to a coverage policy that they want for themselves and for their family. They are going to have the kind of choices that they want. … So we think that CBO simply has it wrong.”
Mulvaney echoed those points, criticizing CBO for assuming Medicaid changes will happen “on day one. It’s just absurd.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in response to a question posed by Mark Halperin on MSNBC, said:“Obviously the consequences for a state like New York could be devastating. Depending on what they do, you have 3 million people who are insured under Obamacare. What are you going to do with the 3 million people? Medicaid is a big piece of our budget. They talk about block grants, turning it over to the state. That sounds great. The question is when they block grant it, do they actually transfer the money? Remember the old expression, passing the buck without passing the bucks. Governor of New York, my fear is the rhetoric of give it back to the states sounds great, but if they give it back to the states and they cut the funding, you put the states in a really terrible situation. So I get the political appeal of repeal Obamacare, but you know, be careful what you ask for and I think this is the dog that chases the car. What are they going to do? And you have millions and millions of people who are affected and you could devastate the budget. I just did my budget. I said, “Look, I don’t have a contingency plan.” Because I don’t know what they’re going to do, and frankly, they could take an action for which there is no contingency plan. There are rumors that they could cut the state of New York 2, 3 billion dollars. I can’t make up 2, 3 billion dollars. It would wreak havoc in this state. So it’s their move and I want to see what they come up with.”
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, commenting on a proposed amendment from Congressman Collins (R-NY), said:
“Our Founding Fathers warned us this day would come. Partisan politics would overtake good government for the people. The Medicaid changes being proposed in Washington would cut taxes for wealthy special interests while devastating New York State’s finances and all but eliminating health care for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
“What’s worse, a New York Republican Congressman, Chris Collins is offering an amendment that would wreak havoc on the state. While I understand that the Democrats in Washington are attacking Collins on ethics issues and are having a heated political fight, they shouldn’t be played out at the expense of everyday New Yorkers.
“Here are the facts: The overall Medicaid plan would cost the state billions of dollars of lost federal funds and jeopardize hospital stability. As if that were not enough, Rep. Collins would have the state assume the counties’ share of Medicaid expenses outside of New York City. The current breakdown is 13 percent county, 36 percent state, and 51 percent federal. This ill-conceived plan would cost his home state approximately $2.3 billion. Unbelievably, that’s on top of the cost of the Republican Affordable Care Act repeal plan – another $2.4 billion.
“Translation: Rep. Collins is proposing a tax increase on New Yorkers to the tune of $4.7 billion. This one-two punch would destroy all the hard work the Governor and Legislature have accomplished in the last six years to lower taxes across the board and achieve the lowest spending increases in recorded history. New Yorkers will be at risk of losing their healthcare, hospitals will be forced to lay off workers, and our vulnerable elderly will find it much harder to afford nursing home care.
“On the merits, the counties have no right to claim this is an undue burden. They paid a percentage of health care costs even before Medicaid – and in fact, currently have a more favorable agreement than in decades.
“In 1960 – well before New York State and most counties had any sales tax revenue to pay for it – Congress passed the Kerr-Mills Act, which created a national role in funding health care for the elderly. Under this program, the counties in New York paid approximately 44 percent of the cost of care, the state paid about 38 percent, and the federal government paid around 18 percent.
“In 1965, Medicaid replaced that program and the counties paid 25 percent. That same year, the state began giving counties the option of collecting sales tax on their behalf. Every county in New York has subsequently agreed to this option. Many counties in the nation don’t get sales tax, and most of those receive less than our counties. Moreover, the state recently agreed to give the counties additional help – after hearing the counties’ complaints of the growing Medicaid costs, the state has held them harmless for any increases since 2011.
“As a result, the counties’ share for Medicaid is down from 25 percent to 13 percent, and the state assumed this cost while still living within the 2 percent spending cap, and all while cutting taxes. The state is not asking the counties to do anything more than we have done ourselves. In fact, the state has done far more. If the Collins amendment passed, the state would need to raise income taxes or the counties would have to forego their share of sales tax in exchange for the state picking up the additional Medicaid costs.
“In short, Rep. Collins’ amendment and the Affordable Care Act repeal would transfer $4.7 billion in costs to the state which would translate into a new tax for New Yorkers. I know firsthand that the people of the 27th Congressional District face enough challenges in their lives – they don’t need to worry about increasing health care costs or new taxes.
“Rep. Collins should stop prioritizing his wealthy friends and start helping his home state by protecting the most vulnerable from losing their healthcare and putting the state budget at risk. Remember, as my mentor Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to always point out, New York is a donor state – we pay more in federal taxes than we receive back.
“Mr. Collins, try practicing good government rather than partisan politics.”