Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump nominee reaffirms support for assault on Medicare and Medicaid

Trump nominee reaffirms support for assault on Medicare and Medicaid

Trump nominee reaffirms support for assault on Medicare and Medicaid

Trump nominee reaffirms support for assault on Medicare and Medicaid
By Zaida Green
19 January 2017
Republican Representative Tom Price, president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reiterated his intention to repeal Obamacare and his support for the dismantling of Medicaid and gutting of Medicare, in testimony before the Senate Wednesday.
Over the course of the nearly four-hour confirmation hearing, Price made clear his intent to keep unfettered the right of the healthcare industry to profit from mass suffering, calling for the transformation of Medicaid into a state-run program funded via federal block grants and refusing to commit to maintaining any of the minimal patient protections afforded by the Affordable Care Act, generally referred to as Obamacare.
Speaking before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Price gave few details on the Republicans’ plan to replace Obamacare. While claiming, “Nobody is interested in pulling the rug out from anybody,” Price refused to give a timetable or any other specific details on a substitute health plan, suggesting that any replacement legislation would be implemented piecemeal, leaving open the possibility that the 30 million people who have gained minimal health care coverage through the ACA’s exchanges and Medicaid expansion could be left stranded without health insurance for an indefinite length of time.
Price, who was chairman of the House Budget Committee, refused to commit to Trump’s repeated campaign promise that his administration would not impose any cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, claiming that dollars were “the wrong metric” to measure resources for patient care. The Empowering Patients First Act (EPFA), the legislation which Price proposed in 2015 to replace the ACA last year, would cut $449 billion from Medicare and $1.1 trillion from Medicaid over the next decade.
Price gave vague and non-committal answers to questions about whether replacement legislation would maintain the limited protections afforded by the ACA, such as the prohibition on lifetime caps on most benefits; the requirement that insurance companies not exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions; the requirement that health plans include benefits such as mental health care, emergency services, and prescription drug coverage; and the right of young people to receive coverage from their parents’ insurance plans up to the age of 26.
All of Price’s answers amounted to variations on the themes of “patient choice” and the freedom “for every American to access the type of coverage they want.” In reality, this is the “freedom” to be either sucked dry by insurance companies for minimal coverage, to pay even more for comprehensive coverage, or to gamble on health and go without any coverage at all.
On the other hand, Price spoke sympathetically of the insurance companies preparing the premiums they would levy on patients in 2018, saying that “What they need to hear from all of us, I believe, is a level of support and stability in the market.”
Senate Democrats mounted a cynical assault against Price, citing Trump’s lying promise about not touching Medicare and Medicaid and repeatedly asking Price if he would uphold it, thus presenting the billionaire president-elect as sympathetic to these government-run health insurance programs, and giving themselves a pretext for collaborating with the new administration.
Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Al Franken of Minnesota referred to the billionaire real estate mogul’s recent comment that his administration would give “insurance for everybody”, and attempting to wring out of Price a commitment to Trump’s supposed promise.
Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist” who ran for presidency in the Democratic primary, urged Price, “Will you work with us on this?” as he questioned him on whether he would support the opening up of a market to cheaper imported prescription drugs.
The Democrats also criticized the blatant conflict of interest in Price holding investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in pharmaceutical and medical device companies as he introduced bills that would boost the profits of these companies.
One senator, Democrat Christopher Murphy from Connecticut, pointing worryingly to the financial backgrounds of the rest of Trump’s cabinet, said, “I raise [these conflict of interests issues] because I think there’s great concern ... [among] Americans that this whole administration is starting to look like a get-rich scheme.”
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The FDIC paid OneWest $1 billion, which Stein said went to “billionaire investors … to cover the close of foreclosing on working class, everyday American folks.”
“But the bank came under fire for its foreclosure practices as housing advocacy groups accused it of being too quick to foreclose on struggling homeowners. In 2011, dozens of demonstrators descended on Mnuchin's $26.5 million home in he wealthy Bel Air neighborhood to protest OneWest's eviction tactics, according to the Los Angeles Times.”


"Far from Trump’s demagogic claims that he would 'drain the swamp,' the corrupt nexus between Wall Street and Washington is tighter than ever."
OBAMA-CLINTONOMICS is now the new TRUMPERnomics!

There is a vast chasm between this empty populist rhetoric and the personnel that Trump has selected to populate his government. The speech followed a series of cabinet picks, including billionaire asset strippers, Wall Street bankers, and dedicated opponents of financial and corporate regulations, public education and Medicare and Medicaid, to lead the Treasury, Commerce, Education and Health and Human Services departments.

TRUMP  IMPOSES  OBAMA-CLINTONOMICS:  Cut Federal Pensions and Medicare to Cover Tax Cuts For the Super Rich
"Trump is not the initiator of this class war against working people. It has been underway for decades, beginning in earnest with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and continuing under every succeeding administration, including the eight-year tenures of Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The colossal redistribution of wealth and income from the bottom to the top of American society reached record proportions under Obama, whose legacy of falling living standards and worsening economic crisis for tens of millions of workers was a decisive factor in the victory of the fascistic demagogue and con artist Trump."

Trump prepares to slash federal budget by $10.5 trillion over next decade

Trump prepares to slash federal budget by $10.5 trillion over next decade

By Niles Niemuth 
20 January 2017

The Trump transition team is developing a federal budget based on a blueprint drawn up by the right-wing Heritage Foundation that will slash $10.5 trillion from government spending over the next decade, according to a report Thursday in the Hill.
The main budget priorities of the Trump administration are to be published within 45 days of the inauguration and the full budget proposal is expected sometime in April.
According to the Hill, the Trump administration’s budget proposal is being drawn up by Russ Vought and John Gray, former Heritage Foundation employees and one-time aides to Vice President Mike Pence. Vought was also the executive direction of the Republican Study Group, which has proposed similar cuts in recent years, while Gray served as an aide to Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan when he led the House Budget Committee.
The implementation of the reported budget cuts would mark a massive escalation in the social counterrevolution and attack on the living standards of the working class carried out by the Democrats and the Obama administration over the last eight years.
Among the “dramatic” reductions that are being prepared are significant cuts to funding for the Commerce Department and the Department of Energy, with programs currently under their jurisdiction either eliminated entirely or transferred to other departments.
Other federal departments that will reportedly be significantly impacted by cuts and program elimination include the Department of Transportation, Justice Department and State Department.
Under the Heritage Foundation plan, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which oversees the operations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR), would be entirely privatized. While the CPB still relies on the federal government for a portion of its funding, it has increasingly relied on donations from large corporate sponsors and from the wealthy.
The Heritage Foundation’s budget blueprint is a litany of attacks on benefits and social programs which benefit the poor, as well as an assault on scientific research.
Under the guise of “reducing fraud,” the foundation calls for new restrictions on the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits millions of single mothers and low-wage workers. Other reactionary measures under consideration are new work requirements for adult Food Stamp recipients and eliminating Social Security payments for disabled children.
Federal funding for the arts and humanities research would be totally phased out with the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Scientific research carried out across multiple departments, including in the Department of Energy, will be completely or partially defunded.
The savagery of the reported budget proposals is yet another expression of the fundamental class character of the incoming Trump administration, in which billionaire oligarchs are taking direct control of the federal government, rather than pulling the strings from behind the scenes.
Reports of the incoming administration’s budget plans came as the Senate held cabinet hearings Thursday for multimillionaire corporate raider and former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin, nominated to serve as the Treasury Secretary, and former Texas governor Rick Perry for head of the Department of Energy, an agency which Perry called to eliminate in 2012.
Mnuchin, if confirmed, would join a cabinet comprised of billionaires, multimillionaires and former generals. While Mnuchin has an estimated net worth of $400 million, that puts him well behind Trump’s picks for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos ($5.1 billion), Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross ($2.5 billion), and the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon ($1.35 billion).
During his testimony Thursday, Mnuchin defended his time as the head of California-based IndyMac Bank, renamed OneWest, where he made massive profits aggressively pursuing foreclosures against homeowners during the height of the foreclosure crisis.
Mnuchin sought in his remarks to present himself as a savior moved by the plight of homeowners who was hindered in his efforts to help by too many government regulations. “If we had not bought IndyMac,” he said, “the bank would likely have been broken up and sold in pieces to private investors, where the outcome for consumers could have been much bleaker.” (And Mnuchin just happened to make millions in the process!)
He promised that if confirmed as Treasury Secretary, he would work to eliminate financial regulations that had kept him from becoming even wealthier. Mnuchin will also be taking the lead in formulating Trump’s tax plan, which is to include cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to only 15 percent.
Demonstrating the practically nonexistent character of the vetting process for Trump’s ultra-wealthy nominees, the Washington Post reported Thursday that Mnuchin had failed to report his corporate interests in the Cayman Islands as well as more than $100 million in real estate and art holdings in an initial submission to the Senate panel reviewing his nomination. Though this lapse drew some flak from committee Democrats, it did little to hurt the former Goldman Sachs executive’s chances of confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate.
While some of Trump’s nominees make take their time to get through the confirmation process, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday that a deal had been reached to approve retired Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis as Pentagon chief and retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly as head of the Department of Homeland Security shortly after Trump’s inauguration today.
“I looked at their records...and I think they’d be very good,” Schumer noted approvingly. He also indicated that Republican Representative Mike Pompeo would be confirmed as CIA director either today or on Monday.

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