Nice State You Have Here, Alaska

Not-so-veiled threats to Alaska coming from the White House after health care vote failed.

Rachel Maddow stole my punchline. Or more accurately, she beat me to the punchline. Federal powers that be are trying, in their thuggish way, to put Alaska under their tiny, tiny thumb. I was already sketching the cartoon in my mind with the caption reading: “Nice state you have here. Shame if something happened to it.” Well, I wasn’t quick enough. Rachel Maddow used “my” caption in her broadcast about this story. Once again, electronic media beats print to the punch.

Murkowski, Alaska
Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Most of you have, by now, probably heard the not so veiled threats to Alaska coming from the White House. If not then let me fill you in. It seems the Trump administration, in the person of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has threatened every woman, man and moppet in the state. This because of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski‘s no vote on the massive tax cut for the wealthy, oops, I mean healthcare bill, currently metastasizing it’s way through the Senate.

The honorable Secretary Zinke contacted Murkowski to let her know that state projects, like a road out of King Cove and drilling in ANWR and the NPRA were in jeopardy because of her no vote.

I know, I know. We probably wouldn’t be in this spot if Murkowski had just gone along with Trump and his merry gaggle of hoodlums. If only she could see her way clear to pull the plug on millions of Americans, we could get the $765 billion tax cut the top one percent so richly deserve. Darn her and her ethical standards.

To be clear, this was not a vote on the final version of the bill. The so called “skinny bill” removes individual and employer mandates, does not let insurance companies wiggle away from preexisting conditions, and moves the bill to a conference committee. In other words, it removes the part most people don’t like, keeps the part most people do like and opens the bill up to debate. That sounds reasonable. Doesn’t it?

Actually, there are several problems with this approach. One problem is the Republican party. It’s caught between the moderates, at one end, and the far right at the other. These two elements will never come to a consensus. Moderates, like Murkowski, are willing to work on a deal, but the uber right will not move far enough in the other direction to make a deal possible. Make no mistake, there will be no republican only deal. Any agreement will involve compromise and the tea party wing is not willing to compromise.

This, in turn, means the most logical path to a healthcare bill involves republicans working with democrats. But as recent history shows us, logic has little to do with what’s going on in Washington.

As partisan and corn cob rough as the democrats were when they pushed Obamacare through both houses, they don’t hold a candle to the republicans. Democrats allowed hearings and debate and allowed the GOP to put amendments into the bill. None of this has been the case with their pachyderm brethren. Now republicans are faced with the prospect of having to cooperate with the folks across the isle. They can’t even cooperate with each other, so I’m not holding my breath.

That brings us to another, more basic problem. Most people want to do away with preexisting conditions without mandating participation. What we are left with is a situation where younger, healthier people do not have to opt into an insurance program. That leaves insurance companies in a situation where they are covering people who are, primarily, less healthy. Insurance, like any other business, only works if it takes in more money than it pays out. That means that some people will have to pay for more than they get. That’s how it works. The young and healthy pay for the old and sick.

Additionally, if someone waits until they need insurance before they buy insurance, what do you think is going to happen to the market? Costs will soar, people will fall from the rolls, and premiums will jump like a teenage girl in a Trump sponsored beauty pageant. This will make for a very unstable and, ultimately, unsustainable market.

This bill would strip billions of dollars from Medicaid and drastically cut subsidies that help millions of people pay for the insurance they have now. This in turn leaves an obscenely large amount of money on the table and that’s what this is really all about.

People making over $875,000 will get a $45,000 tax break. And those making $5 million plus will get a $250,000 tax break. Of course, someone has to pay for all this “Making America Greatness” and who better than the sick, old, and poor. It’s simple. Take money away from the poor and infirmed and channel it to the one percent. It’s about time those freeloaders pay their own way. Of course I’m talking about the poor freeloaders, not the rich ones.

This is what Murkowski said no to. This is what has inspired the Trump White House to give Alaska an offer he thinks we can’t refuse. This is what passes for statecraft in Trumps America.

That’s the current state of politics in the good old USA. We have a Coercer in Chief threatening the citizens of a state because their duly elected representative has dared to exercise her responsibility. This is what an abusive relationship looks like Alaska. Blaming Murkowski for this is like blaming the victim of domestic violence. If only that uppity girl senator would just smile, nod her head and learn to cooperate, the damn President of the United damn States wouldn’t have to knock us around so much. Trump must hate it when she makes him hurt us like that. To paraphrase Rachel Maddow: “Nice republic we have here. Shame if something happened to it.”

Chuck Legge
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