ChrisWeigant.com

Snap Reactions To The State Of The Union

[ Posted Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 – 23:55 PST ]

As usual, I hereby offer up my initial snap reactions after watching both President Trump's first official State Of The Union speech (last year's was just "an address to the Congress"), and the Democratic response. I like to do this before I dive in to what others may have opined about the speech, so as not to be influenced by any Washington media groupthink. Tomorrow morning, I'll be able to see who agreed with me and who didn't, of course.

One caveat throughout -- all quotes are provided as hastily jotted down by yours truly, so I can't be completely certain they match up word-for-word with what was spoken (I do not know proper shorthand, in other words). But they're all pretty close to what was said, of that I am certain. Just to assign errors in transcription where they belong (with me), before we begin. Mea culpa and all of that, as it were.

 

General impressions

First, some overall thoughts about the speech. Tonight, Donald Trump put in a decent performance, for him. He read off the TelePrompTer the words that others had written for him, and he (mostly) managed not to sound like he had never read any of it before his live delivery. He only had a few stumbles (which late-night hosts will doubtlessly be pointing out with glee, later on tonight), and at times actually sounded like he believed what he was saying. This would be an unremarkable performance for just about any other politician worth his or her salt, but for Trump it was one of the best TelePrompTer performances he's ever given (the other one in his top two being his first address to Congress, last year).

That's not saying the speech was one for the ages, mind you, just that he delivered it without sounding like a struggling fifth-grader in a spelling bee -- which is his usual style when delivering TelePrompTer speeches.

Overall, Trump was fairly subdued. He kept the campaign-style rhetoric to a minimum (again, for him), and he didn't sprinkle the speech with his usual playground taunting. Notably, he mostly refrained from claiming all credit for being the bestest president ever in the history of presidenting -- which is his usual go-to stance on just about any issue. Even when Trump was crowing about his self-perceived achievements, he didn't take the usual path of personal braggadocio, which (again, for him) was something.

If anything, the speech was far too long and too bland by half. Clocking in at roughly an hour and twenty minutes, it was almost Clintonian (Bill, that is) in length. It may have even set a record for "number of invited guests given shout-outs in the speech" (I lost count, personally), but I leave that for the statisticians to deduce. The speech was bland, though, because looking back at it I can now only remember a few phrases that actually had any real feeling behind them. The speech didn't soar, even when it tried to. That may be more the fault of his speechwriters than Trump, though, to be absolutely fair.

Of course, my reactions (as always) are probably biased by my own dislike for pretty much any of the policies Trump talked about. Distaste for the substance of the speech may have influenced how I felt about the style of the speech, in other words (and also in the interests of being fair).

Since it was a Trump speech, I will be interested to see what the fact-checkers have to say. In normal times, these speeches are vetted within an inch of their lives for factuality, but I flagged at least a dozen times where I thought Trump was either shading the truth or flat-out lying about something. Seeing as how he has told over 2,000 lies during his first year in office, though, a dozen lies in a State Of The Union isn't really all that remarkable. For him, that is.

Many of these questionable statements (shall we say) came in the segment on immigration, which was where Trump actually seemed to get personally invested in what he was saying. Trump demonized Latinos repeatedly, drawing a picture of everyone who comes over our border as being part of a murderous Latino gang. This is pretty much par for Trump's course, and was likely included as red meat for his own base, who is reportedly getting nervous about what Trump will agree to in the upcoming immigration reform negotiations. But at least Trump did get rather animated, and sounded like he truly believed what he was saying -- which (other than the terrorism part) was mostly missing from the rest of the speech.

One word noticeably missing from his speech? Russia. Not a peep about them, even though Trump singled out the dastardly commies in Cuba and Venezuela for some scorn.

This speech was billed as Trump attempting to reach out, unite Americans, and offer to negotiate with Democrats in Congress. It did not live up to this billing, to put it mildly. Perhaps Trump is simply incapable of doing so -- that's always a possibility, to put it mildly. There were many paragraphs of fluff inserted in the speech (throughout its entire length) where Trump spoke of why Americans should all be pulling together and standing shoulder to shoulder, but very little of it achieved the effect the speechwriters obviously had intended. Trump sounded rather bored through these segments, giving a very mechanical delivery of his lines. As for outreach to Democrats, this was mostly non-existent, other than Trump's continuing incredulity that Democrats don't want to vote with Republican extremists just to give Donald J. Trump a personal win. As always, that came through loud and clear, but that isn't what I would call honest outreach.

At several points during the speech, I thought I might have heard jeering or protests from the peanut gallery, but I'll have to wait and see the reporting from people who were in the room to see if this was correct or not.

 

Specific impressions

Trump started his speech with some big pats on the back for himself, interspersed with a very long list of shout-outs to his invited guests. He finished this initial segment talking about his wonderful new tax cuts, where he made several promises that could come back to bite him later, if they ultimately prove unfulfilled ("slashing income taxes in half" for middle-class families, most obviously). Trump did get one good line off, although it was buried so deep it might not have even been intended to be a big applause line, when he framed the issue as a worker's "tax-cut raise." That's a pretty handy phrase for Republicans looking to sell the tax cut to a skeptical public -- you get a raise because you're paying less in taxes. But again, it passed by so quickly I truly wonder if Republicans will realize what a snappy way to frame the issue (for them) that it really is.

One group of his own supporters Trump was obviously interested in pleasing was evangelicals. His "the motto is In God We Trust" line got him a rousing ovation, and he brought up religious freedom and God several times as a nod to a big part of his base (one who just gave him a "Mulligan" on that whole "having an affair with a porn star and paying her hush money just after your wife gave birth" thing).

Trump sprinkled his speech with reverent references to veterans and first responders, almost at random. He'd be talking about something, and then swerve to pat veterans on the back, and then move right on to another unrelated subject. He did focus on the V.A. at one point, but this all seemed a little choppy to my ears, at least.

Trump spoke for almost 40 minutes (by my notes) before introducing a single new idea or proposal for Congress. The idea was a direct attack on federal employee unions, couched as giving all of the cabinet "the same power" that allowed the Trump administration to fire 1,500 people at the V.A. Doing so would likely destroy most of the unions in the federal government, it is worth pointing out (which Trump failed to mention, for some reason).

Trump tied the success of his presidency even closer to the economy than he's done previously. Now, it's natural for presidents to take credit for a good economy, but Trump has personally done so to such an extent that one wonders how he'll react if the economy takes even a slight downturn in the future. Will he actually take just as much personal responsibility in such a case? We'll all have to wait and see, I suppose.

There were really only three new ideas in Trump's speech, one minor and two fairly major. The minor one happened first, when Trump proposed allowing terminally ill Americans the "right to try" (as Trump put it) experimental medical treatments that have yet to be approved by the F.D.A. for general use. Not an issue on many people's radar, but certainly an interesting proposal. If individual states are allowing doctor-assisted suicide, then allowing people to become test subjects for experimental medicine doesn't seem like that much of a stretch -- or any sort of partisan issue, for that matter.

Trump promised to bring down prescription drug prices "substantially -- watch!" although he offered no explanation as to how this will be accomplished, especially with the (just-confirmed) guy overseeing that department having come directly from the upper ranks of the pharmaceutical industry.

Trump spent much less time on trade as the White House had been teasing, and what there was on the issue was vague and had no details whatsoever. On infrastructure, Trump had already released the outlines of his plans (vague as they are at the moment), so there were no surprises there, either. On both issues, Trump seems to be falling far short of what he promised on the campaign trail, but so far that hasn't seemed to matter much to Trump supporters.

As I mentioned before, the highpoint for Trump fans was obviously the demonization of MS-13 and Latino gangs and "illegal immigrants" in general. This was where Trump really got into what he was saying (for obvious reasons), as he defiantly killed any chance of successful Republican Latino outreach for years to come. Again, pretty much par for the course for Trump. The one line that was pretty insulting (that may actually be remembered from this speech) was when Trump tried to turn things around on the DREAMers by saying: "Americans are dreamers too." That fell pretty flat, even among the Republicans in the audience.

The immigration part of the speech was really the only one that laid out any kind of laundry-list specifics -- the normal thing a State Of The Union speech is used for. But Trump's "four pillars" have already been known since last week, so there was nothing new in them at all. Trump had two laughable bits during this breakdown, once where he claimed that ending "chain migration" will somehow "protect families." Um, OK... how is that supposed to work, exactly?

The even more cringeworthy line was when Trump misread the TelePrompTer, and asked for legislation that "closes loopholes exploded by immigrants." Perhaps you meant "exploited," Mister President? Heh.

Even funnier, for Democrats, was when Trump wrapped this section up with his claim that his extremist four pillars (written by Stephen Miller, no doubt) was a "down-the-middle compromise" that Democrats should be flocking to support. Good luck with selling that one!

Trump moved on to the opioid crisis, which he obviously has no earthly idea how to solve, before segueing roughly into foreign policy. This was about at the hour mark for the speech, and the audience was visibly beginning to fade. Trump made a bold proposal (which Senate Democrats are not going to let go anywhere, of course) to "end the sequester on defense spending" -- without even mentioning the sequester on domestic spending. This may be an emerging budget-negotiating position in the very near future, so we'll have to see where it goes.

After the one-hour mark, Trump began getting rather squirrelly in his TelePrompTer delivery, during the foreign policy and war segment. He even muffed the word "terrorists" at one point, but then everyone else was getting tired, too. Trump bizarrely claimed everything was peachy in Afghanistan (spoiler: it's not), and then offered up the most momentous proposal of the entire night -- that America might just slash foreign aid for any country so bold as to not vote the way we tell them to in the United Nations Security Council. Aid would henceforth only go to "friends of America, not enemies of America," determined by such support at the U.N., one assumes. This would be radical shift in American aid and foreign policy, so we'll see if this one goes anywhere as well. Trump has already caused America's standing in the world to plummet, and this would only exacerbate that trend, obviously. America, on the world's stage, will be petty, not great -- that seemed to be the message Trump was conveying.

After some time spent bashing North Korea (and giving one final shout-out to a defector in the audience), Trump finally (finally!) wrapped up, with a few more paragraphs of "let's all just get along America" fluff which he obviously didn't support. During this, there might have been the first-ever (I'd have to check, maybe there was one during Dubya's time?) chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" from the audience. Again, pretty much par for the course for a Trump speech, right?

 

The Democratic response

The Democratic response was given by Joe Kennedy III, an up-and-comer from the Kennedy dynasty. It was, pretty obviously, his national audition to see if he's worthy of carrying on the family name on the wider stage of national politics. It was also, again quite obviously, an attempt by the greybeards of the party to put forward a younger and fresher face. Whether it succeeded on either of these levels remains to be seen, really.

The most interesting thing to me (at any rate) was way the Kennedy speech was staged, because he chose to deliver it in front of a live audience. Way back in 2010, I (and others) made a prediction that never quite came true. Here is my entire review of the Republican opposition speech after Barack Obama's first official State Of The Union address:

Not what was said, but where -- and in front of whom -- was a masterful visual coup, I have to admit. In this case, I have to agree with all the intelligent pundits who predicted "this is the way it will happen forevermore."

Rather than one guy alone in a room, in front of a flag, and talking into a single television camera (think: Bobby Jindal), last night's response to Obama's speech was delivered from the Virginia legislature, in front of an adoring crowd of Republicans.

This, in the future, will the gold standard of opposition response speeches.

Of course, in the future, it is likely that the president's political party will not let the other side get away with "packing the house" in such a fashion. They will demand (and rightly so) that either (A.) they are included in the audience, if such a speech is given in an official setting, or (B.) that the state legislature's chambers cannot be used for such a nakedly partisan pep rally.

Meaning that we may never again see what we saw last night, because future responses will either have a more balanced audience, or a less official setting.

But, I have to hand it to the Republicans, last night will go down in television history as the absolute gold standard of such response speeches, that likely will never be matched. It was a brilliant "staging" coup, and the Republicans deserve a mention for pulling it off so well.

Since that time, however, none of the response speeches has been given in front of a live audience. So looks like I either got that wrong or was just ahead of my time (ahem). Kidding aside, though, I still feel that this will eventually become the standard way of presenting the rebuttal speech. It is so much warmer to see a speech read in front of a crowd that it is to hear a politician echoing throughout a large empty room, and sooner or later both parties are going to realize that on a permanent basis. Kennedy chose a vocational school in Massachusetts to deliver his speech, which was actually kind of ironic since Trump called for more such vocational schools in his own speech.

Representative Joe Kennedy III began rather nervously, and the pace he kept throughout the speech was a lot faster than Trump's delivery. Not saying that was better or worse, but it was snappier, that's for sure. But after the first few minutes, Kennedy settled in to his rhythm and relaxed into delivering his speech.

Without naming Trump, Kennedy certainly lit into pretty much everything Trump stands for and has done over the past year. People spent the last year "anxious, angry, and afraid" which is indeed how many Democrats have felt all year long. Kennedy got in a good shot on a "government that struggles to keep itself open," which was a bit more even-handed.

After a delivery of a list of the worst of last year ("hate marching in the streets"), Kennedy concluded his opening with: "This is not right. This is not who we are."

He did an admirable job running down how divided the country is over so many issues, and how Trump and the Republicans have striven to exacerbate these divides ("They're turning America into a zero-sum game"), and then stated that Democrats were different because they "chose both" sides rather than pitting one against another.

His best line of the evening was probably when he pointed out that C.E.O.s who make "three hundred times what a worker makes is not right." That got one of the biggest crowd responses, at any rate. Kennedy briefly broke into Spanish, and then promised: "we will fight for you and not walk away from you," which also went over well.

Kennedy then wrapped up rather generically, although his delivery of his lines left nothing to be desired. He was heartfelt, but the speech still seemed to struggle to soar all that much. Maybe he just needs some work on his timing, I'm not sure. Or maybe better speechwriters?

Kennedy is young, and he can always improve. He didn't disgrace either himself or his illustrious family tonight. He gave a mildly-strong rebuke of Trumpism without getting into too many specifics or insults. But overall, it really wasn't all that memorable of a speech. On a scale of one to ten, I'd have to give it about a six. Maybe a six-and-a-half.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

55 Comments on “Snap Reactions To The State Of The Union”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Sorry this took so long to post. Man, was that a long speech, or what?

    -CW

  2. [2] 
    Kick wrote:

    Long, boring, and so many lies I lost count.

    He did mention Russia, though... referring to them as a "rival." Ouch... that's gotta sting. /sarcasm off

  3. [3] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Now I know what Jello sounds like.

  4. [4] 
    TheStig wrote:

    This was a unity speech - intended to unify Republicans, not anybody else. A bit of scaffolding as Trump and his party allies work to undermine the Mueller Investigation. See how Presidential the President is! See how beloved he is by the majority of Banana Republicans!

    I give this latest PR Device a shelf life of about one week. The next early morning Twitter on the Shitter Session will blow its reasonability gasket to Hell and beyond and we'll be back on the Constitutional Crisis Trail.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone!"

    This statement by the president and the Republican reaction to it last night was quite stunning.

    Because it demonstrated that they don't understand how a successful healthcare insurance system works and, in any event, no replacement to Obamacare was offered.

    Perhaps Amazon, Birkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan will save the day. Heh.

  6. [6] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Liz M

    The solution to the U.S. health-care problem is to get the gawdam insurance companies CLEAR OUT of the health-care system, not to make their outrageous role even larger, which is what Obama did with the mandate.

    I see some hope in the Buffet buddies plan, at least a major step in the right direction. Those guys obviously recognize the need to eliminate the middle-men (ins. co's) as I just mentioned.

  7. [7] 
    John M wrote:

    [5] Elizabeth Miller

    "We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone!"

    Which is REALLY ironic in the extreme, since the individual mandate was a REPUBLICAN idea to begin with, conceived by the Heritage Foundation and pushed by Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as a way to make people PERSONALLY responsible for their health care, as opposed to making health care a straight out welfare program!

  8. [8] 
    John M wrote:

    [6] C. R. Stucki

    "The solution to the U.S. health-care problem is to get the gawdam insurance companies CLEAR OUT of the health-care system, not to make their outrageous role even larger, which is what Obama did with the mandate."

    The ONLY reason Obama accepted the mandate, (It was NOT originally his idea. See my response #7 to Liz above.) was to get the support of Senators like Lierberman from Connecticut, who at the time thought a public option like medicare for all, was going too far.

    Republicans were all for the individual mandate until Obama supported it, then they all turned against their own idea.

    Otherwise I could not agree with you more. We need to take away private insurance companies' monopoly on health care entirely.

  9. [9] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    John M

    The way I recall the implementation of the "Mandate", it was introduced by the Obama administration after the Insurance Companies explained to him that if the people who don't need much medical care (the young and relatively healthy folks) are not forced to pay into the system, the premiums for the people who DO need lots of medical care (the older and the sicker folks) would become totally unaffordable.

    Actuarially of course, it was an entirely valid concept, but I don't actually know who supported it (other than Obama) and who did not. Probably doesn't matter. The point is, it served to perpetuate the existing system, which was, and is, a disaster.

  10. [10] 
    neilm wrote:

    Obamacare was similar, but not identical to a Republican bill introduced in 1993 by John Chafee and supported by Bob Dole, Orrin Hatch, Charles Grassley, Richard Lugar, and many others including two Democrats.

    The overlaps include:
    - An individual mandate;
    - Creation of purchasing pools;
    - Standardized benefits;
    - Vouchers for the poor to buy insurance;
    - A ban on denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

    It didn't expand Medicaid however.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If the insurance companies don't provide healthcare insurance, then who should provide and pay for it?

    And, who should have healthcare insurance in the first place?

    These aren't trick questions - just a way to understand where everyone is coming from on this issue.

  12. [12] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    I see it as my (hopeless) calling to explain to Dems/Libs how the real world actually functions, and the first order of that business is to dispel raging misconceptions.

    Misconception du Jour, "Insurance against pre existing . . . (normally, "conditions"), but actually against anything!

    Insurance is defined as a "hedge against risk". Ergo, no risk, no insurance! If your house is already on fire, there is no 'risk' involved - it's ALREADY ON FIRE, right? That's why nobody would EVER sell fire insurance on your house once it was burning.

    Same thing exactly with "Health-care insurance for 'PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS". If you're already sick, there is no risk that you MIGHT get sick, because you're ALREADY sick!

    What the folks who inveigh against allowing insurance co's refusing to cover pre-existing conditions actually seek, is NOT insurance, but rather medical care at someone else's expense.

    And believe it or not, I'm not even advocating against medical care at somebody else's expense, just not at the expense of the Ins. Co's, because that is not actuarially feasible. "Free" medical care can only be the burden of the taxpayers, otherwise we wind up with a phuqued-up (Mongolese again) system such as we now have, or no system at all, meaning sick people just gotta die.

  13. [13] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Thanks, Chris. Doesn't sound like I missed much, on any front.

  14. [14] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    The reason that Republicans hate Obamacare so much is that it was supposed to be THEIR big healthcare solution that McCain would roll out soon after taking office in the White House. One minor glitch in their plan.... McCain lost.

    I remember reading that the GOP had considered trying to introduce it during Bush’s last year, but his popularity was in the crappper so they decided to let the next Republican President get the credit for it. Overconfident? You bet’cha!

  15. [15] 
    neilm wrote:

    I see it as my (hopeless) calling to explain to Dems/Libs how the real world actually functions, and the first order of that business is to dispel raging misconceptions.

    CRS is intelligent, we're all stupid reiteration #100.

    Can you drop this nonsense - it taints everything that follows in your post.

  16. [16] 
    John M wrote:

    [11] Elizabeth Miller

    "If the insurance companies don't provide healthcare insurance, then who should provide and pay for it?

    And, who should have healthcare insurance in the first place?"

    Well, where I am starting out from is this:

    1) Everyone should have basic health care, whether you are sick or healthy, and whether you can afford to pay for your own health care or not...

    AND

    2) Said healthcare should be provided by the government, paid for through taxes specifically dedicated to that purpose that are levied on everyone.

    Now, as for how, through national health insurance or other means and what's covered, what "basic" consists of, that's a far more detailed discussion.

  17. [17] 
    John M wrote:

    [12] C. R. Stucki

    "I see it as my (hopeless) calling to explain to Dems/Libs how the real world actually functions, and the first order of that business is to dispel raging misconceptions.

    Misconception du Jour, "Insurance against pre existing . . . (normally, "conditions"), but actually against anything!

    Insurance is defined as a "hedge against risk". Ergo, no risk, no insurance! If your house is already on fire, there is no 'risk' involved - it's ALREADY ON FIRE, right? That's why nobody would EVER sell fire insurance on your house once it was burning.

    Same thing exactly with "Health-care insurance for 'PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS". If you're already sick, there is no risk that you MIGHT get sick, because you're ALREADY sick!"

    Not at all. I am a liberal and I have grasped that concept about healthcare for along time. It is the Conservatives and Republicans who keep having a hard time understanding it. That's why they keep saying if only we could get back to a free market solution to healthcare, that that would fix everything.

    Healthcare is a free market failure. It can't and never will work that way in the free market for precisely the reasons you listed. No private, free market insurance company is ever going to voluntarily cover sick people or the elderly or the poor, BECAUSE they are a FOR PROFIT enterprise.

    That's why requiring private insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions along with the individual mandate, was seen as a compromise position (either the best of both worlds, or the worst of both worlds, depending on your position) between a totally free market on the one hand, (which is what conservatives want) and national health insurance on the other. (which is what liberals want)

  18. [18] 
    neilm wrote:

    If your house is already on fire, there is no 'risk' involved - it's ALREADY ON FIRE, right?

    OK, so we agree that healthcare is different from shelter. We are moving in the right direction.

    Next question, do we want to have the markets play a role in healthcare, or is it like defense, something that should be handled by a single payer?

    There are several different models, but let's pick three simple ones:

    1. Single payer - e.g. France, U.K. - guaranteed birth-to-death coverage at a cost that is basically decided by the percentage of tax revenues the country can stomach.

    2. Government controls on the market - e.g. Germany, Switzerland, U.S. - guaranteed ability to participate, market has some control over the costs

    3. Pure market - I can't think of an example - maybe Afghanistan? - insurance company can aggregate costs for groups, but can control who is or is not in the group (e.g. no pre-existing conditions), otherwise patients pay providers directly.

    In my opinion we have to choose between a flavor of #1 or #2. As CRS has pointed out, this isn't analogous to other markets, and has unique challenges.

    I'm in favor of #1 because I spent a lot of time in the U.K. and got as good healthcare as I get in the U.S. at about 1/2 the total price. My family is wealthy and use private options to get preferential treatment if they choose to pay for it, and sometimes they do.

    A good system can work for option #2 however, for example Switzerland.

    We have the worst of all worlds, we pay almost twice as much as everybody else and get worse healthcare unless you are one of the few on a high quality PPO.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CRS,

    You may be the only one here who doesn't know where I'm coming from on the healthcare insurance issue so, here's my take from back in March 2017:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2017/03/09/twenty-two-and-three-and-the-c-b-o/#comment-96367

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Now, as for how, through national health insurance or other means and what's covered, what "basic" consists of, that's a far more detailed discussion.

    But, I think that's precisely where the discussion needs to go.

    The US is uniquely positioned to really make great progress on healthcare that could be the envy of the world.

    And, if I may say so, the discussion we are having here on this issue is far ahead of where the president and congress are at on how to solve the healthcare issue.

  21. [21] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Liberals see health-care as an "entitlements" (something that everybody has a right to regardless of whether he can provide it by himself).

    Based upon the relative importance of things that sustain life, food and shelter would normally come ahead of health care for most people. Seems like a highly arbitrary ranking to me. Most normal people will last for decades in the total absence of health care, but you only last days without food and water.

    Of course, everybody likely has his own priority rankings. Personally, sex and fishing lures are well ahead of medical care on my list. There's much irrationality among you Dems/Libs.

  22. [22] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Liz M

    Actually, I think I probably DID know "where you were coming from on the health-care insurance thing". What you're really after is not health-care 'insurance' at all, but rather health-cale ASSURANCE, meaning universal coverage of health-care needs at public expense.

    Actually, I'm after pretty much the same thing, because from where we now are, it's the only realistic option. However, I have to point out that insurance companies really shouldn't even have a role to play in health-care. They are simply middle-men adding greatly to the cost without contributing a single thing. They only find themselves involved as an accidental side effect of WWII, something that never should have been permitted to happen.

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [4] -

    Wash Post has a countdown page. Heh.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/31/heres-a-countdown-to-trumps-next-tweetstorm-if-history-is-a-predictor/

    On the health care issue, here's Daily Kos, pointing out that HC is a potent issue right now for Dems:

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/30/1737429/-One-of-Trump-s-biggest-SOTU-applause-lines-will-be-the-GOP-s-biggest-stumbling-block-come-November

    John M from Ct. [13] -

    Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, it was a pretty forgettable night...

    -CW

  24. [24] 
    John M wrote:

    [21] C. R. Stucki

    "Based upon the relative importance of things that sustain life, food and shelter would normally come ahead of health care for most people.

    There are at least two problems with this statement as I see it."

    1) Most people actually can afford food and shelter. They can't afford healthcare. Or at least they can't afford it after taking care of the first two things.

    2) Liberals at least do put an emphasis on food and shelter also. That's why we have the food stamp program and housing assistance. The problem comes when Conservatives keep trying to cut funding and restrict access to both, far below what is actually needed.

    As one real world example. I have a friend who is disabled. He gets about 100 dollars worth of food stamps a month. That lasts him about a week. But because he is simply a single adult male, and not a woman with children, he can't get anymore. When in reality he needs about 4 times the amount he is getting. He also applied for housing assistance. He was told there was some ridiculously long waiting list, 3 years or more, and they weren't even accepting new applicants, because there simply wasn't enough government funding. Yet Republican politicians keep talk about the need to cut such programs.

  25. [25] 
    John M wrote:

    More Republicans retiring from Congress:

    Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chairmans of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. said he wouldn’t run again on Monday.

    Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this year. Gowdy's claim to fame was the he chaired the House Benghazi Committee from 2014 to 2016 that investigated Hillary Clinton's role in the affair.

  26. [26] 
    John M wrote:

    Something for Michale:

    In an extraordinary public statement on Wednesday, the F.B.I. said the classified four-page memo authored by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee had “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

    Also, many Democrats are wondering why, if the Republicans are so eager for "transparency" they won't authorize the release of a companion Democratic memo that Democrats say would help with overall accuracy.

    In addition, Peter Strzok, who is one of the FBI agents whom some Republicans have accused of trying to undermine President Donald Trump when he worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the election, is also the very same agent who helped draft a letter that re-opened a probe into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails, thus dealing a blow to Clinton and possibly helping Trump get elected.

  27. [27] 
    John M wrote:

    [20] Elizabeth Miller

    "Now, as for how, through national health insurance or other means and what's covered, what "basic" consists of, that's a far more detailed discussion.

    But, I think that's precisely where the discussion needs to go."

    I agree. I think it should be a national government funded health insurance program, medicare for all if you will, that covers everybody regardless of age. I think it should cover all medical care, including vision, like eyeglasses and cataract surgery, and dental, everything from filling cavities to providing dentures. The only things that would be exempt would be cosmetic or elective surgery, and stuff like private rooms or what have you. If you want luxury extras, you could still buy your own private insurance on top of it if you can afford it.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    John[27],

    I think you're on to something that could form the basis for the best healthcare system in the world.

    A greater emphasis on preventing illness and disease should be a big part of any healthcare system, too. After all, it's not just about getting sick. It's also about staying well.

  29. [29] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Thought this article was incredibly interesting as it shows that Trump was being pegged for collusion by multiple foreign intelligence agencies that all warned the US about his relationship with the Russians.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/13/british-spies-first-to-spot-trump-team-links-russia

  30. [30] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    John M,

    So glad to see Gowdy go! It’s funny, these guys are all trying to get out before the Trumpster implodes and takes down the GOP with him. That way, in ten years when Gowdy and others try to make a comeback, they hope no one will remember their role in this Trump-fiasco!

  31. [31] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Liz M

    The "prevention" part doesn't even have to a "big part" of the system.

    1) Get off your butt and MOVE.
    2) Quit eating sugar.
    3) Don't use tobacco.

    There, now half of the health-care system can shut down!

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    CRS[31]

    Good points!

    But, let's not shut the healthcare system down ... at least not until a great one is built!

  33. [33] 
    neilm wrote:

    Let's close down Medicare for 5 years and see how fast Republicans are voted out of power.

    A lot of the older people who pontificate about "socialized medical care" are on socialized bloody medical care - they have decided that they deserve it, but nobody else does.

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Apparently.

  35. [35] 
    Kick wrote:

    Russ
    30

    So glad to see Gowdy go! It’s funny, these guys are all trying to get out before the Trumpster implodes and takes down the GOP with him. That way, in ten years when Gowdy and others try to make a comeback, they hope no one will remember their role in this Trump-fiasco!

    Gowdy won't likely slip through the cracks on this since he was on Trump's transition team... you know... the one for which Bobby Three Sticks obtained every single email. :)

  36. [36] 
    Kick wrote:

    neilm
    33

    A lot of the older people who pontificate about "socialized medical care" are on socialized bloody medical care - they have decided that they deserve it, but nobody else does.

    Bloody right, sir. You have advertently hit the nail right on the head. Perhaps Stucki would like to explain to the group why old people like him pontificate and take issue with government subsidies on one hand while holding out the other hand and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money in subsidies for their farms.

    We obviously understand hypocrisy, Stucki, but do tell us otherwise how you reconcile your pontificating BS with reality. :)

  37. [37] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    What's this "old people" shit? I wont be 83 for several months?

    You've gotta get at least a little bit specific. Exactly which subsidies did I "pontificate" about that offends you? You talking about my support for single-payer health-care?

    Anyway, who the hell is "old" around here? I wont be 83 for several months?

  38. [38] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    37

    Offends me? *ROTFLMAO*

    I see it as my (hopeless) calling to explain to old condescending pontificating hypocrites that repeating their age twice in the same comment box is a sign of CRS disease. We heard you the first time, dotard.

  39. [39] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    WGAFFAWYT?

  40. [40] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    21 C.R. Stucki 'Most people can last several decades'--well assuming they survive the birth process and the first year of life. Are you arguing that children born with handicaps should be left to die unless their parents are wealthy?

    I note you are arguing against the current role of insurance companies in US health care, and I agree with you there. The question is how health care can be organised more efficiently and how it can be paid for fairly, when the people who generally need it most (children, the handicapped and the very elderly) generally have the least personal resources to pay for it. But even people with healthy habits can develop cancer, for one example, just as accidents leading to extensive medical treatment can happen to anyone.

    Another issue is how to ensure that healthcare does not become subject to political and ideological considerations, as well as those of financial self-interest.

  41. [41] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Kick,

    Gowdy won't likely slip through the cracks on this since he was on Trump's transition team... you know... the one for which Bobby Three Sticks obtained every single email. :)

    True, but I was thinking about how the Republican base is going judge those that have to choose whether to impeach Trump or not once Mueller’s investigation is completed. Gowdy and others don’t want to have that stain on their record, so running away now is their best hope for avoiding the backlash.

  42. [42] 
    TheStig wrote:

    One particularly outrageous aspect of having insurance companies deeply embedded in the management of health care is as follows:

    Many states allow your Medicare plan to inflate the cost of widely prescribed generic drugs by big multiples. The inflation factor is used to subsidize the salary of plan managers. It is cheaper to buy these drugs out of pocket, using discount coupons obtained on the internet. State laws actually prohibit your pharmacist from telling you about this - unless you, the consumer, ask the pharmacist if there is cheaper alternative. If you ask, they will be free to spill the beans, so to speak.

    I only take one expensive medication, but using a coupon saves me about $1000 dollars a year. I don't have to produce a coupon each time I refill a script - the pharmacy keeps my info on file. Prices fluctuate a bit over the year, you may need to shift pharmacies now and again to get the lowest possible price. My internet coupon provider lets me track the lowest price close to home.

    It's jungle out there - get a guide.

  43. [43] 
    TheStig wrote:

    neilm-33

    How true. Voted out of power under the light of faming torches. The retro ones, with real tar. Not those cheap Tiki knock offs like the Docker Nazis favor.

  44. [44] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Mezzo

    No, I'm obviously NOT arguing anything even remotely related to that. I thought it was obvious that I was arguing that food and shelter are more important than medical care for most young people, probably because most people are NOT born with handicaps.

    Do you really disagree with that plain fact?

  45. [45] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    No, most people are not born with handicaps, but babies are not in fact delivered by storks. Prenatal care and trained assistance at childbirth are a big factor in reduced infant and maternal mortality, and the people who provide them need to be paid. Children now survive who once would have died in infancy or of diseases and conditions which can now be treated. Even if you yourself were not born in a hospital or maternity unit, didn't your mother have someone to assist her in a home birth?

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I don't believe CRS had a mother.

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh.

  48. [48] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Mezzo

    Actually, I think I WAS born in a hospital, but my recollection of it is a little hazy, and I agree with all that stuff you say, but fail to see how it applies to the relative importance of food and shelter vs med. care to young people.

  49. [49] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    CRS

    Perhaps we are coming at this from such different points of view that we struggle to conduct a discussion. Can I suggest that parents quite often need access to health care on behalf of children before those children can become healthy young adults for whom it is not considered a priority?

  50. [50] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Liz M

    There was a woman who claimed me, but of course I only had her word on it.

  51. [51] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Mezzo

    Again, totally agreed with everything you've said, but beside the (my) point (relative importance of food/shelter vs med. care) that got us going.

    We don't really have any disagreement here, so let's call it good.

  52. [52] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    CRS Fine with me.

  53. [53] 
    Kick wrote:

    LWYH/Russ
    41

    True, but I was thinking about how the Republican base is going judge those that have to choose whether to impeach Trump or not once Mueller’s investigation is completed. Gowdy and others don’t want to have that stain on their record, so running away now is their best hope for avoiding the backlash.

    I hear you. But Russ, I actually think Gowdy could get reelected in his district if he killed a baby on live TV and his Democratic opponent was Jesus, the son of God.

    Gowdy has issues, but I believe if the evidence was allowed to be presented that he'd actually be one that would uphold his oath... so the backlash of his angry constituents for voting to impeach their Orange Worship would be severe. ;)

  54. [54] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Kick

    A literate person would write " . . if the evidence WERE allowed . . that he would . . " etc.

    So, what kind of person does that make you?

  55. [55] 
    Kick wrote:

    CRS
    54

    A literate person would write " . . if the evidence WERE allowed . . that he would . . " etc.

    That pedantic shit and now this whining about grammar is all you got, old man? This BS you live by is getting pretty old and tired... just like your tiny little brain. If only you knew as much as you actually thought you did.
    __________

    * "Was" is used after a singular noun, and "were" is used after a plural noun.

    * Evidence is an uncountable noun and is not used in the plural.

    * Evidence is always followed by a singular verb:
    The evidence is very clear.

    https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/evidence
    ___________

    "If the evidence were allowed" is something a moron like you would probably say, but you'd be wrong, incorrect, ignorant, and you'd be showing your old age and your dotard tendencies.

    So, what kind of person does that make you?

    One who takes time to educate ignorant old men making a fool of themselves by posting pathetic incorrect grammar bullshit. :)

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