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BRIAN KIERAN
BRIAN KIERAN

“He who is not with me is against me.” Too many people interpret this to mean that there can be only one way of thinking on any subject. That is simply untrue. It is unhelpful to America.

The foundation for a relationship is respect and a person cannot respect another when he or she cannot listen, or discuss or work together until the other person completely accepts his or her belief system. Humans are individuals and effective government requires that the humans who constitute the government respect each other in order to work together.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we accept everything or accept everyone. We will always reject what is clearly unacceptable. Republicans won all recent special Congressional elections.  This delighted the GOP and President Trump and it is an endorsement by a majority of voters in those districts of the idea that we need a stronger nation with a reduced role for the federal government.

However, almost as many voters cast their ballots for the Democratic candidates. It is impossible to have a strong nation without a strong central government. We cannot cut spending on healthcare, education and environmental protection and merely increase it for defense if we want to make America great again.

We need balanced policies and a steady hand on the tiller of the ship of state. The constant fighting and personal attacks that have marked the new administration have not helped.               

President Trump should concentrate on policies foreign and domestic to help America and Americans. He has called the Department of Justice investigation into Russian involvement in our presidential campaign a “witch hunt.”

Robert Mueller, an investigator with an unimpeachable record, is the special counsel appointed to put to rest the questions about the election. The White House is dancing around who he should be able to interview and what he should be allowed to investigate.

Mueller was appointed pursuant to a provision of the law (28 CFR Part 600 [3]) which gives him “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney.”

This is less than the full authority of the attorney general which is the standard authority granted to other special counsel appointees. A former solicitor general recently stated that this appointment is “a highly imperfect solution, because it doesn’t foreclose the possibility of political interference in the investigation.” He must have all the authority and independence that other investigators received in order to protect the integrity of our election system.    

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans pulled the wraps off their healthcare plan. Provisions of the proposal include letting people buy insurance independently with a prohibition on insurance companies charging more for preexisting conditions as long as coverage did not lapse.

The requirements that people buy insurance and the tax penalty for failing to have insurance coverage are eliminated. A tax credit, $2,000 or $4,000 a year depending on age, would be the help offered.

The proposed bill eliminates Affordable Care Act taxes that provided subsidies to help lower income people buy insurance. The tax cuts will help individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and save the federal government $592 billion in subsidy funding. The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Congressional Budget Office project that older people with lower incomes will be worse off under this plan than under the ACA.   

The GOP plan would roll back Medicaid coverage by cutting the federal reimbursement to states for anyone who has ever left Medicaid. This will leave poorer people uncovered since they frequently move in and out of the program with changes in income and status. The people who actually need the program will be ineligible.

Medicaid would become a grant program where the federal government gives states a set amount of money per Medicaid enrollee in the state or gives the state a fixed-dollar block of money to dispense to eligible people. The CBO estimated that the bill would cut Medicaid spending by $880 billion.

The states would be allowed to apply for a waiver to opt out of most of the regulations and consumer protections in the ACA. This means a state could  allow insurance companies to charge older people more than five times what they charge young people for coverage, eliminate required coverage, including for maternity care, and deny coverage to people who have preexisting health conditions like cancer.

Those affected could get help from $138 billion set aside for high-risk pools. Experts predict that the amount will prove to be inadequate for those people with preexisting medical conditions. A CBO report predicted that a repeal of the ACA will force 24 million people out of coverage but reduce the federal budget deficit by $337 billion over 10 years time.  We know that without help and without requirement millions of Americans will go back to having no coverage.  

The proposal has a lot of savings for wealthy people and for the federal government while the White House tweets and fights over witch hunts and special investigators. If it is the will of the people to change health insurance legislation, then so be it. If that reduces spending, then the savings should be put aside to reduce our national debt for the benefit of all Americans.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle should debate and find the provisions which hurt the fewest Americans and which help America. It’s time to come together and to stop battling. We agree about more things than we realize but we must focus and remain unmoved by the emotional words of others in order to achieve anything.

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