Political Fix (18 May, 2017)

The Paradigm Shift

Here is the Republican Party’s dilemma.

In 2010, the majority of Americans were against universal healthcare and the Republican Party gave those Americans a voice.

Then Obamacare became law and started savings lives.

Since the advent of Obamacare there has been a paradigm shift from the belief that access to health- care is reserved for those who can pay for it to the belief that healthcare is a human right. Now the Republicans who represent those Americans are left holding the bag during a very contentious election cycle.

And another paradigm shift is brewing.

Americans are starting to realize that the person in charge of reforming the insurance industry should be someone who actually uses the system.

Billionaires such as President Donald Trump don’t have health insurance. They don’t have to fill out reams of paperwork or choose between plans that will keep them alive or cost then their homes. Billionaires just go to the doctor, see a specialist, or check into the hospital whenever they like. They don’t even have to be sick.

Before President Trump ran for office, the term “pre-existing condition” or “co-pay” was not even part of his lexicon and he most likely didn’t even know what they meant.

People were perplexed when Pres. Trump said, “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” adding, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

Then people were fairly shocked when, hours after repealing Obamacare, he turned to the Australian Prime Minister and said that Australia has better healthcare than the United States. Seemingly unaware that he campaigned against a system such as Australia’s he said to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, “You have better health care than we do.”

The bar is lowering for what shocks Americans in terms of Pres. Trump’s comments, leaving some supporters to question the wisdom of electing an outsider who prides himself on winging it.

The lynchpin of the 2018 election is going to be the Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA). It isn’t going to be Russia, town hall meetings, or Pres. Trump’s tweets. In 1994 the Democrats lost 52 seats after Hilary Clinton tried to introduce universal healthcare. The Democrats then lost 63 seats in 2010 after Obamacare was passed.

Now that the Republicans have tried to overhaul healthcare are they going to face the same fate?

The AHCA was passed by Congress a few weeks ago and has not received glowing reviews from the Republican-lead Senate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is not anticipated to give it high scores either.

If the CBO score shows that 24 million people will lose their health insurance moderate House Republicans are going to regret they voted yes. If the CBO score says that it will increase the deficit the Freedom Caucus is going to regret its vote.

In the final analysis, for Republicans in competitive districts, it was a risky vote.

Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House. Hilary Clinton won in 23 congressional districts now controlled by Republicans. One of those districts is in our backyard and held by Congressman David Valadao. His 21st District voted 55.2% for Sec. Clinton and 39.7% for Pres. Trump. Democrats have a registration advantage of 28 points.

Consistently labeled as a “vulnerable” or as a “toss-up” Republican district, Rep. Valadao has always won by a comfortable margin. In 2016 he beat Emilio Huerta by 13 points, a challenger who had plenty of money and possibly more name recognition than Rep. Valadao.

Rep. Valadao is well liked, so the question really isn’t if he will retain his seat, but what sort of arm twisting it took for him to change his vote from undecided to yes on AHCA. He was not an early supporter of the Republican health bill and if per chance he does lose, the lone reason will be the repeal of Obamacare.

Congressman Devin Nunes, on the other hand, is in a very safe Republican district. The 22nd Congressional District has a 10 point Republican voter registration advantage and the district voted 43% for Pres. Trump and 33% for Sec. Clinton. Rep. Nunes consistently wins each election with a 30 point advantage.

Rep. Nunes’ critics think the district will flip. They want to “talk about Russia.” Well, that would be a pretty short conversation because Rep. Nunes is a hawk on Russia and always has been.

His critics want him to hold a town hall so they can yell at him for a few hours. Since he was elected I have never known Rep. Nunes to hold a town hall, so I don’t know why everyone is howling now. He is laying low for the time being but normally holds many public events where his constituents freely talk to him and he stays until everyone has had their fill of chit chat and pictures.

Rep. Nunes was in favor of AHCA the first time the bill was introduced in March, and the second time when it recently passed in May. Because of the paradigm shift, if he loses any votes at all, it will be because of the Republican healthcare bill. Approximately 50,000 people in Tulare County and 100,000 people in Fresno County will lose their health coverage if the AHCA becomes law.

Rep. Nunes has not faced a serious challenger since he first ran in 2002, and the Democratic bench in the Central Valley is not exactly what you would call deep. There isn’t one elected Democrat in the county except for some city council members.

The same is true in Clovis, which actually makes up a larger part of Rep. Nunes’ district than does Tulare County. He already has a Democratic challenger, Andrew Janz, from Fresno. Even if Mr. Janz manages to win over an additional 10 points, Rep. Nunes will still win by a landslide.

But what about a Republican challenger?

A source close to Rep. Nunes said, “Republicans have repealed Obamacare and are now working on tax reform. They have done what the voters elected them to do. Why would another republican challenge him?”

Do You Want to Build A Snowman?

One of the reasons behind Disney’s huge success with the movie “Frozen” was because it resonated with siblings and parents watching their kids grow up.

Born only 15 months apart, my two oldest sons, Chuck and Alex, had built many a proverbial snowman and were about the same age as the grown Elsa and Anna. Alex said the first time he saw “Frozen” he cried like a baby because Elsa and Anna reminded him so much of his relationship with Chuck.

Alex moved home from Eugene in January of 2014 to recover from a mental breakdown and needed a stable place to recover. But his condition threw a wrench in my dad and stepmom’s plan to kick our family out of our home.

To get their plan back on track, my father and stepmom took Alex out a few months later for a Mother’s Day brunch to voice their concerns. Between the champagne cocktails and eggs Benedict at the Gateway in Three Rivers they made Alex promise “not to do anything stupid.” When my dad and stepmom brought Alex back home he was clearly distressed and not in an appreciative frame of mind over their “concern.”

So I spent my Mother’s Day three years ago holding Alex’s hand and watching “Frozen.” When his favorite songs came on he put the volume way up and we sang them together and he cried. His DVD had a crack in it so a few minutes after the lead song “Let it Go” the movie jumped back to the beginning and we watched it in a loop until late that night.

Although Joseph, I, and our two youngest children, Manny, and Mercedes, tried to shield Alex from the eviction process, we couldn’t keep my sister and stepmom from badgering him. I prayed for Divine intervention, which we received, and my family landed on our feet in a new home. But Alex was never the same after that brunch and he got progressively worse with every box he saw me pack.

I would not have wanted to spend that Mother’s Day in 2014 anywhere else than holding Alex’ hand, because this Mother’s Day was spent without him. I don’t know how many stages of grief there are, or their names, but I’m fairly certain I’m currently in the one referred to as “anger.”

I’m angry because if my siblings, mom, dad, and stepmom had been there for Alex, he might still be alive.

I’m angry that my mom, dad, and stepmom have 20 doctors and specialists between them, but Alex couldn’t see the one doctor he needed until it was too late.

I’m angry that Alex’ girlfriend slept in a metal chair next to his hospital bed every night but my dad and stepmom didn’t visit him once.

I’m angry that Chuck drove over several mountain passes and through a snow storm to get to Alex when he was fighting for his life, but my dad and step mom wouldn’t return from their vacation home three hours away.

They did send him a get well card, though.

But most of all, I’m angry that Chuck and Alex will never build another snowman.

My anger reached a crescendo on my way to Exeter High School one afternoon picking up Mercedes. I asked the Universe what to do with all of this anger and a radio announcer, out of the blue, started saying over and over, “Let it go.”

And that is exactly what Alex would tell me to do.

Alex has only come to me once since his passing and that was in a dream. He walked over to me and gave me a kiss on the forehead. It was obvious that he was still sick but on the mend which made me happy. He loved his grandparents and I could see that Alex wasn’t angry and he didn’t die mad at them.

I believe that nothing happens to you that is not your destiny. But I’m still angry that my extended family knew Alex was sick and dealt with it by sitting on their hands.

Who is to say that my single and childless brother or sister’s destinies weren’t meant to cross with Alex’s, and this was to be their one opportunity to help someone other than themselves?

I’m mad about so much more than is written here. So unlike Elsa, I’m not going to “Let it Go” for a good long while.

Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.

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