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Monday, January 16, 2017

Trump May Move Drive-Bys Out of White House

Trump May Move Drive-Bys Out of White House

Monday - January 16, 2017

RUSH: Tom in Orlando. Tom, I'm glad you waited. Great to have you on the EIB Network. Hi. CALLER: Hi, Rush. I wanted to talk about the Washington press corps having a hissy fit that they may have to move out of the West Wing to accommodate more Washington media. RUSH: Oh, yeah! This is a great, great, great story. I'm glad you reminded me of this. CALLER: I mean, these people live in a bubble. They got the election wrong. Ninety-eight percent of 'em supported Hillary and contributed to her, and all they're doing is doing reporting for Washington, DC, and New York. The rest of the country has no media coverage, and, you know, they just recite Democrat talking points. I mean, when Bill Clinton is in or Obama, they're cheerleaders. RUSH: That's right. CALLER: And Obama even assigned seats for his cheerleaders up front so they can have the pom-poms out. RUSH: Right. CALLER: But George Bush is in -- RUSH: Actually, it's the White House Correspondents Association that assigned the seats in the White House pressroom, but it's up to the president who to call on. Let me explain what's happening here. There's two elements of this. The first element is that Sean Spicer -- the incoming press secretary -- and Reince Priebus alluded a couple of weeks ago that they might end the daily press briefing at the White House, and the media had a collective cow. They thought it was an attack on them, an assault on them. "You can't do that! You can't hide from us! You cannot prevent us from examining you and interrogating you every day!" And they said, "No, no. We're just thinking this has been done the same way for so many years, and it's not getting done. We're thinking of ways to change this." And the most recent discussion of this is the possibility of closing the current White House pressroom, which has 49 seats. There are 49 seats for various media to have. And the Trump people, Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, are saying, "You know what? That's not enough people. There's so many more media now than just the newspapers and the networks." So they're thinking of relocating the press room across the little street there to the Old Executive Office Building, known in parlance as the OEOB, also known as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It is the White House. It is on the White House grounds. It's just a tiny little street separating the West Wing from the OEOB. So gonna put them in there. They've got a room they can handle four times that many people in the press or whatever, and then Spicer and Reince Priebus said, "You know what? We're thinking of letting talk radio hosts have press passes and bloggers, because there's all kinds of people that do media now." And the Drive-Bys are beside themselves. They've already seen their news monopoly whacked by me, talk radio, and Fox News, and now Trump and his gang are talking about letting a bunch of news journalist pretenders in there and granting them equal status with the Drive-Bys! And, by the way, if you put 400 people in a pressroom, that's a recipe for Trump to do another rally (chuckling) not a press conference, which he did a couple press conferences like that. And they're beside themselves. They said, "This is unacceptable! This is not the way it's been done, and you can't do that to us," and they're thinking of doing that to them.

Anarchists, stay home

Editorial: Anarchists, stay home

Far be it from us to discourage civic engagement, but if the actual goal of that engagement is to disrupt Friday's Inauguration by violent means, endangering the safety of anyone within the vicinity of the Capitol - well, may we suggest in advance that the authorities throw the book at any wannabe anarchists.

A group known as DisruptJ20 intends to "paralyze" Washington, D.C., on Friday, the Herald reported last week, blockading security checkpoints and holding protests and sit-ins to undermine the proceedings.

(Maybe, chaining their arms through 55-gallon drums full of concrete?)

There are actually a host of demonstrations planned for the nation's capital this week, including on Friday. The National Mall is so overbooked, in fact, that the Jan. 21 Women's March has to take place away from that site.

But that will all take place under the restrictions that come with a designated "special national security event."

And, well, anarchists don't do permits.

DisruptJ20 organizers aren't planning "a boring walk in the street," a spokesman for the group told the Herald. Their website calls for "massive direct actions" that will shut down all Inauguration ceremonies and celebrations. They also plan to "paralyze the city itself," shutting down traffic and public transit.

It's entirely possible the plan will fizzle, maybe for lack of available anarchists. Or maybe it will fizzle in the face of a massive law enforcement presence, but not before endangering the safety of Inaugural attendees, police officers, even the peaceful protesters.

Here's an alternative: Why not write a nasty post on Facebook instead. Odds are it will have about the same influence on public opinion - and it won't require bail money.

Lynch's Scorn: Americans Still Blowing Hatred, Intolerance, and Injustice

Justin Holcomb

Current U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave a grim prognosis to Americans at a speech in Birmingham, AL on Sunday during her final public event before leaving the office.  

"Fifty years after the civil rights movement finally put an end to so much of the state-sanctioned discrimination and the regime of racial violence that terrorized our country for decades, we still see our fellow Americans targeted simply because of who they are - not only for their race, but for their religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, as well," Lynch said during an event at the infamous 16th Street Baptist in Birmingham. 

"Fifty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we see new attempts to erect barriers to the voting booth.  And 50 years after this very church was bombed for its role in the civil rights movement - an unspeakable act of malice that killed four little girls - we see anti-Semitic slurs painted on the walls of synagogues.  We see bomb threats and arson directed at mosques.  And as we stand here today in this holy place, we cannot help but remember the tragic shooting that claimed nine innocent lives during Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston in 2015," she continued.

Her final diagnosis for Americans before turning over the office to President-elect Trump and Jeff Sessions was one of serious doubt.  

"Waves of hatred, waves of intolerance and injustice that are still blowing in this country, and they seem to grow stronger the more that we achieve,” Lynch said.

Some in the congregation saw reality in a much different light.

“I cried. I cried. I never thought in my lifetime I would live to see the day that there was an African-American president,” Tara Banks said.

Rand Paul: Keeping Medicaid expansion the 'big question' of Obamacare repeal

Finally, a Republican Leader Playing Offense

Trump promises healthcare plan will offer ‘insurance for everybody'

Trump promises healthcare plan will offer ‘insurance for everybody'
By Cyra Master - 01-15-17 21:05 PM EST

President-elect Donald Trump told the Washington Post his plan to replace the Affordable Healthcare Act is nearly complete and his goal is "insurance for everybody,"

In a phone interview late Saturday, Trump told the Post he'll force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government for  Medicare and Medicaid pricing.

"They're politically protected but not anymore," he said.

Republicans have promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it, though the pace in Congress may not match what the president-elect wants to see.

Trump told the Post he expects Congress to move quickly and cohesively in the next few weeks on healthcare and other priorities, including tax cuts and a border wall with Mexico.

But Trump said he'll push Congress to act fast on the repeal.

"The Congress can't get cold feet because the people will not let that happen," Trump said.

And his replacement plan is "very much formulated down to the final strokes."

"We haven't put it in quite yet but we're going to be doing it soon," Trump said, adding that he's waiting for Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to be confirmed.

He did not detail his plan, but said it will include "lower numbers, much lower deductibles."

Congress voted last week to approve a budget resolution that would begin repealing the healthcare law, though there is dissent in the GOP on the timeframe and what a replacement plan would look like.

"We're going to have insurance for everybody," Trump told the Post. "There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us."

"It'll be another plan. But they'll be beautifully covered. I don't want single-payer. What I do want is to be able to take care of people," he added.

Yes, Americans Could Live Without Government-Defined Health Insurance

Even though Chief Justice John Roberts engineered a decision to save Obamacare, the Constitution did cast up a barrier to it. For in 2010 the Constitution delivered, for the 56th time, through war and peace, a midterm election. That election brought the news of how sharply the American people recoiled from Obamacare.

That election could not end the so-called Affordable Care Act, but it brought a Republican House determined to start nursing systematic critiques of Obamacare. Now, with a Republican Congress ready to act, and a president willing to sign its measures into law, there are several plausible schemes for replacing Obamacare.

They all draw in one way or another on mechanisms of the “market,” with plans fitted to the needs and wants of the patients themselves, rather than plans overloaded with provisions for Viagra and transgender surgery. All of these Republican plans are aimed at the salutary end of dismantling a political control of medicine, directed from the center, at the national level.

Except, of course, only the most careful steps managed and led from the national level can dismantle this scheme of federal control. We are warned now that every such step will be politically charged.

Suddenly we hear of a political minefield for Republicans if too many people lose coverage, even though the new beneficiaries see this insurance as steadily diminishing in quality and escalating in costs. Why, then, is the air filled with all of these warnings of an imminent crisis, designed to scare the Republicans into the kind of pause that becomes debilitating?

At the bottom of it all lies the question: Why do we assume that the American people will be thrown into a panic if faced with the need to take care of themselves, and see doctors—gasp—without insurance? Has it suddenly become unthinkable that ordinary Americans, doctors, or businessmen could summon the wit to find other ways of attending to their medical needs as they did in the past, when their world was not thickly woven with layers of insurance?

The Distant Planet Where Americans Paid Their Bills

A flashback to a real scene in the 1940s may bring that world back to us, but it may suddenly appear like a report from a distant planet. Flashbacks of these kind, to the “way we used to be,” come to me often as I take the long drive from Amherst, Massachusetts to Washington DC, for I often listen along the way to those comedy shows on radio that I heard as a child in wartime 1940s.

One that particularly comes to mind now came in a show with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy in 1943. Popular star Don Ameche was serving as the announcer. At the end of the program he said it would be especially apt at that time to “say a good word” for doctors. So many doctors had been drawn as medics to the battlefield that the doctors left at home, usually older men, were stretched thin in covering patients. In light of that fact, Ameche mentioned three things Americans could do for the doctors.

First, try to give a clear sense of the problem that has been bothering you. Second, try to get to the doctor’s office—don’t expect him always to make it to your home on a “house call.” Third: You should really pay him. For these doctors have the same expenses their patients have, as with grocers and plumbers.

It is hard to hear that recording, which dates back 70 years, without being jolted with a sense of our distance from that world—a world wanting in Internet and smartphones, but somehow more richly provisioned with people more anchored in hard truths. Yet it was also a world with a more generous measure of understanding as doctors made accommodations for patients of lesser means.

The move to medical insurance came to the fore in these same war years: price controls blocked employers from offering higher wages for the workers they wanted to keep, so some employers offered to cover medical expenses to enlarge compensation to workers while getting around those wartime controls.

We Still Have Hints We Can Do This

Now costs have escalated since various companies have to move medical bills through layers of insurance, with staff added just to keep track of the insurance. As the old line used to have it, we could just imagine what would happen to the cost of groceries if a dramatic rise in prices brought forth a clamor for “food insurance.” The proverbial “middlemen” would be displaced by layers of administrators clearing the bills through levels of insurance.

This convention of insurance has been so woven into our lives, so absorbed now in our sense of the world, that it will require some intervening steps to preserve levels of insurance for people who would feel endangered without it. That is especially the case if they bear those “pre-existing conditions” that make them more expensive to insure.

Yet if employers and private businesses were in the forefront of offering insurance, why do we suppose that private businesses would be bereft of imagination in offering medical services to employees even without insurance? The Mercer Survey found in 2014 that 29 percent of employers with 5,000 or more employees provided an “onsite or near-site” clinic offering services in primary care. About 72 percent of these firms reported they had cultivated a serious interest in trying to manage employees’ “health risks” and “chronic conditions.”

Even apart from this concern, the sprawling problems of delivering medical care have sparked other companies to enter the market to find some niche. It shouldn’t be surprising that the first incentives were seen by companies that began as pharmacies, notably Walgreens and CVS. The appeal quickly extended to Walmart, Kroger, and Target.

These firms started by offering walk-in clinics. They have not exactly been high-tech operations, but they can offer ready treatments in delivering flu shots, treating leg sprains, and even offering checkups. CVS had about 1,000 locations in 31 states in 2013, and reported more than 18 million visits that year. The plan was to expand to 1,500 clinics by 2017. Walmart has set a flat price of $40 per visit. Drugs, vaccines, and workups in labs will bring additional fees, but competition promises to keep those costs within the reach of ordinary folk.

Even Advanced Health Care Could Benefit

None of this, of course, involves open-heart surgery or surgeries of any kind. Also, so far these small clinics may not retain a complete record of each patient to ward off drugs that may be at war with one another. But even with hospitals and advanced equipment, there may be a staggering variance of costs for what may appear to be the same procedure.

In 2013, a patient in the Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey faced a charge of $99,690 for her treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Just 30 miles away, at the Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx, the same treatment had a price tag of about $7,000.

When have we ceased being the people Tocqueville described, the people who are not clueless in getting on with their lives when government is not there to direct them?

The comparisons are deceptive, of course. Both may have the same name, but differences in levels of skill and experience may make the larger cost, at times, a better bargain. We just don’t know, and no one in Washington with a command control of medical care could possibly know either. The market will send up useful signals when prices are made public, and they may simply lead into other layers of comparison as people look to know more.

It would be folly, then, to suggest that there is some easy fix for a world of services so variegated in their gravity and complexity. But layers of insurance that conceal and distort costs have complicated and befogged this world. Many young people have preferred to live without that insurance, and to pay the Obamacare penalty rather than taking on the escalating costs of the new insurance, with the stamp of official approval. It may be no small task to wean away others who find a sense of safety in the presence of insurance.

But my point is a fairly simple one: Why is conventional opinion so quick to assume that the American people are witless, wanting in imagination and initiative to deploy if schemes of insurance become scrambled overnight and we all need to get our bearings anew? Why is it assumed that doctors, hospitals, and businesses will not show any sense of inventiveness as they find ways of treating the sick, managing the care of patients, or responding to emergencies?

When have we ceased being the people Tocqueville described, the people who are not clueless in getting on with their lives when government is not there to direct them? Why, then, the handwringing in the media over the ills bound to come crashing in on us if Republicans get on with their charge and mercifully put Obamacare away?

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