Trump Goes After SNAP, Ruins All He Touches- How It Came To This.

Trump in his element

Donald Trump has proposed a grocery list full of bad ideas as legislature since taking office thirteen unlucky months ago. This newest one is actually going after groceries.

The fattest president in the last hundred years of American history is trying to take away half of the people’s food stamps and replace them with a revolting government food box complete with shelved milk.

Another particularly vile specimen we happened to notice recently was that he’s made it legal for hunters to shoot hibernating bears.

Since Trump took over, we’ve been beset on all sides. Every aspect of our rights, needs, and value systems is being systematically discarded and trampled underfoot. Far from getting all the cool free stuff that Bernie Sanders was promising back then- $30 trillion dollars worth– we’re fighting a losing battle on every front, just desperately trying to hold on to what we’ve got.

Things are not improving, and will not improve until the Democrats are back in power. There has never been a time when this wasn’t so during our lifetimes, but it has never been truer than now.

An analysis of the events leading up to these events is provided in the form of this anecdote from one of our contributors, as well as a warning, from a Millennial Democrat who cares. The opinions thus expressed are the views of this contributor, and are not necessarily the views of the organization by and large(although they’re pretty close.)

I never wanted to get involved in politics.

Politics were boring. Plans, charts, talking heads- I couldn’t stand a bit of it. Made my head hurt. I figured that America the Great could take care of itself and did not really need my help.

One day, though, around the year 2000, a filthy animal named Ralph Nader crawled out of a toilet somewhere and burned all that to the ground, at the behest of his Republican masters. Soon after, just when I’d started to think the world wasn’t as bad as I’d thought, that the days of Bush and Reagan were behind us, that maybe we at last were close to making some kind of progress, it was all smashed to bloody bits by 9/11.

After that, everything was different.

Bill Clinton had worked hard for eight years to balance the budget and had even added a surplus to it. That was all squandered in ten months. The feeling of progress and decency that had been growing since the Berlin Wall collapsed was gone. Soon it was the Patriot Act and war with Afghanistan. A completely pointless and random war with Iraq was to follow.

Ever seen the HBO series, Generation Kill? With the American soldiers in Iraq just riding around the country, randomly blowing things up? That is how it was. We had no objective and no clear purpose. We knew perfectly well that democracy was not really threatened by Saddam Hussein. But Bush had sent us over, so there we were. It was really stupid. It messed up a lot of my friends.

After that, nothing was the same. Everyone hated Bush, but he was a Bush, after all, and we were at war. People felt like he would be a good wartime president because his father had resembled The Terminator on a number of different levels. Remember the old legends about the leaders of men being giant lizards, loose under the earth? The alien theorist guys always show a clip of the good old H.W. licking his lips in support of their theory. There can be no doubt he looked reptilian.

Unfortunately, W. was not the equal of his father, who in turn had not been the equal of Ronald Reagan. He bungled it at every turn. No weapons of mass destruction, no Middle Eastern democracy in Iraq, no launching pad for us to slowly take over everything else from. It was all for a great big nothing.

By the time the second Bush was gone, we had a mess to clean up on every corner of the globe. And even though his historical successor Barack Obama proved to be a genius, he couldn’t do more than get the country pointed back in the right direction. No one could have, in eight years. It’s much easier to destroy than create.

At length, Obama succeeded in his Herculean task and reoriented the country toward something decent. ALL WE HAD TO DO, WAS WALK FORWARD TOGETHER.

Telling this part of the story is where I always start to get mad.

There is no way to throw eight years of effort into a few sentences. Suffice it to say, what Obama had achieved was worthwhile, and it should have been stood up for. And of course, those of us who fought hard for Hillary Clinton did do our best to stand up for them. I’m here to tell you, it was not easy.

To you who reads these words- Did you ever try to have a rational debate about policy or legislature with a member of Bernie or Bust? Because I have, and I am here to tell you. It was impossible.

By the time 2015 was drawing to a close, I had a really bad feeling about what the left was up to. Signs of an impending communication breakdown were everywhere.

People who didn’t know a thing about any of it were of a sudden fervently expert in the field. All the mountebanks and pseudo-intellectual theorists in the country crawled out from under the rocks of their coffeehouses.  And the moronic faces of either Trump or Bernie were everywhere you looked.

By the time 2016 came around, it had become frightfully obvious to me that things were NOT going to simply continue to take care of themselves.

People were going nuts. Free college, free healthcare, free everything. To listen to these guys tell the story, money itself would soon be obsolete in the brave new Bernieverse. In fact, previous success in the financial world was enough to disqualify your entry.

Within these circles, reality became more and more distant from the discourse as the year went by. And by the time I realized that having started out fresh after New Year’s of ’16 was not going to be able to do much more than scratch the surface, that I had started out too late, it was too late everywhere. The schism in the Democratic Party was a fait accompli, and Trump went on to win because of it.

Jill Stein, the leader of the Green Party for that election cycle, proved a worthy successor to the legacy of Nader. Once again, the loony left stole just enough crucial swing state votes to cost us the election.

The Libertarian Party won out big, taking more third-party votes than any candidate has since 1996.

And the Republicans took control of every part of the government.

Nor was that the end. Even the ultimate disaster of Trump being elected was not enough to bring those people around. They’re out there even now, knives in their teeth, savaging people at the local level. They go by lofty-sounding names like Our Revolution and the Justice Democrats, but they’re just as noisy and insolent as when they were Bernie or Bust. They’re not fooling anybody.

Thanks in large part to them, every American on every side of the conflict got screwed. Putin was victorious. The way things are now, we can’t even agree to keep the air clean, since Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accord.

We’ve got a babbling baboon, strutting around like an obese rooster, with people calling him Mr. President. They will never get the stink out of the showers.

Every bathroom in the White House will have to be redone, at the taxpayers’ expense.

They’re all running wild in there, beating their wives and molesting one another like chimpanzees. And me? The guy who wanted nothing to do with politics? It looks like I’m in it for the long haul. Because until the day comes when things calm down again, and politics go back to being boring, I don’t have a choice.

This is about my future. It’s about the future of my children, who I don’t want having to join the Trump Youth. It’s about the future of my parents, who they want to throw out in the cold by snatching Medicare away. These things are not just important. They are life and death. See you in the trenches.

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Trump Gives Big Pharma Boost Instead of Boundaries- What A Shame.

Last week the Trump administration made a policy change designed specifically to boost Big Pharma. What was needed was a president who would use the regulatory powers of the government to protect the patients and small pharmacies nationwide. Instead, he dealt them a harsh blow.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule,  that cuts Medicare Part B drug reimbursement to some hospitals serving poorer patients by about 30 percent.

On November 1, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) Final Rule for 2018.  The Final Rule retains a controversial proposal to cut Medicare Part B drug reimbursement for products purchased under the 340B Program and billed through the HOPPS.

The rule change has been a big lobbying priority for Big Pharma. They benefit from a law allowing them to sell drugs at a discount, in exchange for Big Pharma companies getting access to entitlement monies.

Big Pharma believes that program, whose existence and previous expansion is written into law, is reducing its profit margins.  It wants nothing more than to stick it to these hospitals.

Ironically, this will end up badly harming Trump voters, and the areas in which they live. A personal anecdote serves well to illustrate the problem.

A sad thing happened to one of our contributors recently. Upon leaving work, he decided to stop and buy a soft drink, as he has done five days a week for twenty-two years, at a downtown pharmacy nearby. When he went inside, the girl behind the counter broke into tears at the sight of him, gave him a big hug, and told him how much she was going to miss him.

The little store, which has been open since the 1950’s, will be shuttering its doors at the end of the year.

After more than 60 years, the drugstore has become the latest casualty in a three-decade decimation of independent drugstores by chain drugstores.

Doug Hoey, president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, says that the scenario our contributor experienced is repeating itself with increasing regularity across the country.

The problem for independent pharmacies is the reimbursement system. Reimbursement is the amount the insurer pays for the drug. Depending on the type and cost of the drug, the insurer pays either the physician directly, the drug manufacturer or an intermediary known as a pharmacy benefit manager, or PBM.

Pricing and reimbursement are directly entangled. When drugs get released onto the market, they will ultimately have several different prices, but the first one is the list price, which comes from the manufacturer. The list price serves as the basis for future calculations.

Being independent meant that PBMs had an incentive to pass those savings back to their health plan sponsors, and thus, ultimately, to patients.

That’s why, when drug-makers began acquiring PBMs in the 1990s, the Federal Trade Commission acted swiftly to undo the deals. The FTC believed that combining PBMs with pharmaceutical companies created obvious and dangerous conflicts of interest.

It would have enabled drug-makers to coordinate pricing policies, gain access to the sensitive information of their competitors, and favor their own drugs. Today, though, it’s big pharmacies instead of big drug-makers that are merging with PBMs. And the deals are creating similar conflicts of interest.

Regardless of whether the PBM’s owner is the big drug companies or the big pharmacies, the problem is the same. When the company owns the industry that sets prices, it becomes possible for a savage like Martin Shkreli to do things like jack the prices of crucial AIDS drugs up to 5,000% versus their usual rates.

One technique they use is to simply pay generic makers to keep their products out of drugstores. The schemes are referred to as a “pay to delay” deal. Another, known as product-hopping, involves getting around patent term limits by reformulating drugs slightly and marketing them as something new altogether.

The strategy often involves embroiling up some kind of legal dispute, designed to hang the new pill up in court as long as possible, while the brand names make a killing. Drugs like the antipsychotic Abilify, which in its generic form costs 30 bucks for 20 pills, cost consumers and pharmacies $1, 234 for the same exact thing.

Anyone who knows that is sure to choose the generic, and this is what the big brand names are afraid of. This was the impetus behind their most underhanded ruse, preventing generic drug makers from getting access to doses of branded drugs they need to run tests.

Generic makers need roughly 5,000 doses of branded drugs to show that their products are truly equivalent. Big manufacturers have been narrowing their lists of approved pharmacies, again to box small companies in and consume them.

Nearly 9 in 10 prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs.

Wharton professor Patricia Danzon explains that a PBM combined with a drugstore has both the incentive and the power to steer plan members to the pharmacies it chooses, rather than contracting with as many drugstores as possible on the basis of location, convenience, and well-being of its patients. The bottom line is money, and the well-being of humans falls by the wayside.

Drug prices in the U.S. are higher than anywhere else in the world. In the midst of the world’s strongest economy, one in six American adults go without their prescriptions, because they can’t afford to get them filled. Two-thirds of drug research is funded by the government using taxpayer money. The research done to create the drugs were all paid for by American taxpayers. Big Pharma still gouges us nonetheless.

The U. S. really needs to develop price control strategies. Other countries use price ceilings. They simply tell Big Pharma what they are willing to pay for the pills, and the company is then free to decide whether or not they wish to accept the deal. But in America, the large companies are able to use their money and influence through lobbying to prevent regulatory measures of that kind. They gouge the U.S. simply because they can.

Our healthcare system, the Affordable Care Act,  is a great start, but we’ve still got a long way to go. We spend twice as much per capita for our system as compared to other countries with public health care. Now that Trump has sabotaged the Affordable Care Act by defaulting on the federal payments that provided those reimbursements, it’s just going to keep getting worse.

On Tuesday night, the Democratic Party began taking back our country. People have hope again. Democratic victories provided some much-needed vigor and relief to some people who have really deserved it. It’s huge.

The Democrats need to get back into power before we can start to do anything about drug prices or anything else. We’re the only ones who’ve got the plans and skills. We have also got the momentum. Tuesday night, we got the jolt in the arm we’ve been needing. The #BlueWave is now very real.

Moving forward, we’re going to be doing all we can to emphasize the fact that we have got an excellent plan for dealing with these kinds of problems. It’s right there in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Platform. Bernie Sanders was living on a prayer with his Medicare for All plan, and Donald Trump can’t even spell the word “plan”.

We’ve been waiting for years to get around the GOP obstruction that made our plans impossible under President Obama. Now that America has had a chance to see how badly the Republicans have fumbled it, they’ve already started giving us back all the power they can. We are prepared to show them we are worthy of the task.

Trying to draw order from chaos is not easy, but that was our goal in tacking the Big Pharma python head on. There is much we could not cover. It was like wading through thick jungle with a machete, and that is the crux of the problem. It is so complex that even top specialists differ as to what to do about it.

What we’re trying to do with this article is threefold. To get people to realize how complex the problem is, to bring public awareness that the GOP will NEVER be able to handle it, and to get them to realize that the only ones with a plan are us Democrats.

Healthcare has been one of the single most polarizing issues in America for nearly thirty years. It’s past time we fixed that. For our small businesses, and for our people. America is the greatest country in the world. We can do better than this.

Calamity and Climate Change- Will Trump Deny Floods?

The city of Houston is nearly underwater, thanks to the relentless Hurricane Harvey, which Vice President Mike Pence referred to on Friday as  “frustrating.” Harvey remains now where it has been for several days, dumping trillions of gallons of rain on an already inundated and devastated region. Twenty two lives have been lost, and authorities fear the worst is yet to come, in what is already the worst continental rainstorm in American history.

The enthusiastic president has traveled to Corpus Christi, to take a distant look for himself at what has proved to be a truly terrible disaster. A Houston police officer drowned this morning, after attempting a different route to his assigned coordinate, where he encountered the high water that trapped him in his car and killed him.
Trump still doesn’t seem to be understanding the gravity of it all. “What a crowd. What a turnout”, he said upon touching down in Corpus Christi, vowing to congratulate himself at a later time. He spent the hours before the storm pardoning Joe Arpaio and ordering that immigration checkpoints remain open during the evacuation process. All but giddy, every time he talks about the “big, big hurricane”, it would seem he’s very happy to have been given a chance to show his mettle. This is ironic. Because Trump himself, has been a disaster for any kind of emergency relief program, including this one.

When President Trump released his proposed budget earlier this year, it included cuts across the board — including hundreds of millions from programs that help Americans cope with disasters like Hurricane Harvey.

Gigantic cuts are proposed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency charged with overseeing the government’s response to Hurricane Harvey, as well as other natural disasters. The National Weather Service and the government’s flood insurance programs are to be cut as well.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham noted Tuesday on “Fox & Friends” that FEMA administrator Brock Long is still without a deputy.

From looking at photos of flooded Houston, she said: “We can conclude that a federal government does need staff. We see it acutely in need of staff in a situation like this.”

But, mere moments later, Trump took to Twitter by way of a response, tweeting: “@foxandfriends We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”

It is a very good thing for the people of Houston, that Trump had not yet gotten around to reducing the people who’ve been saving them, the heroic holdovers from President Obama’s administration Kathleen Fox and David Grant.

Two weeks ago, just before his disgusting rant at the news conference in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence days earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia. President Donald Trump unveiled an executive order killing planned regulations on new infrastructure building.

Among them was a rule that would have required federally funded projects to account for flood risks. Ten days later, Hurricane Harvey made its first landfall in Texas. This order revoked a whole set of Obama-era rules and regulations that would have made federally-funded infrastructure less vulnerable to flooding. It would have required the federal government to factor in the risk of flooding and sea-level rise, as a result of climate change, when constructing new infrastructure and rebuilding after disasters. Would have been nice, except that Trump doesn’t believe in climate change.
Trump’s entire climate approach, activists say, belies a profound insincerity at his administration’s response to the catastrophic flooding in the region. His strategy is to rip up any and all regulations that interfere with the short-term gain of wealth. This is the same strategy that gave us the Dust Bowl, which is another thing that could happen again if Trump policies in this area come to life. Cities like Houston, particularly the at-risk section of the people, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to future catastrophe.
“While Trump is speaking to people impacted by the storm, his policies themselves are going to make the lives of people in these storm-prone areas worse,” said Thanu Yakupitiyage, the US communications manager for 350.org. Well said.
Back in June, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, was one of dozens of American city leaders to pledge continued support for the Paris climate agreement, after Trump announced his intent to back us out. Scientists across the planet are universal in their conclusions that human effects on the climate are adding to the general trend of worsening storms. Although our knowledge of how the weather works is still very much incomplete, it is safe to say that human-caused climate change has enhanced Hurricane Harvey.
Not according to the president, however. He called climate change “a hoax invented by the Chinese.” 
A guy like that isn’t someone you can even talk to. It would take Archie Bunker himself, to hold fast so tight to a belief that not only flies in the face of scientific evidence, but threatens the long-term health and safety of every living thing. And all for a little more money. Here is a picture of the Manhattan Skyline in 1973, compared to now.

Image result for manhattan skyline 1973 compared to 2016

There comes a time in every adult life when they’ve got to face reality. For example, if you don’t change the oil in your car, it will turn before long into a very, very big and huge paperweight. How much more so is this true, regarding the upkeep of an entire city, or country, or world? However, unpleasant as it is, the reality of our current situation is that our President will not accept this crucial concept. Donald Trump has been a climate-change denier from the first.
By vital contrast, the 2016 Democratic Party Platform had the following statement to make on the subject.
“Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”
Democrats are aware that climate change is one of the most critical challenges that this nation has to face. Hurricane Harvey is the latest addition to a long list of disastrous proofs. Properly addressing this urgent threat will ensure America’s place as the world’s clean energy superpower, and continue to assure us a role of global leadership in the ongoing process of finding solutions. Democrats will continue to fight to return us to the table of the Paris Agreement. Our goal is to protect both our nation and our planet, for this and future generations.