Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

It IS Possible for Republicans and Democrats to get things done For The People

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, December 14, 2019

It IS possible for Republicans and Democrats to cooperate, collaborate, and otherwise get along with each other to get things done For The People.

For the record, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any political party.

I am the proverbial GDI – God Damn Independent – and always have been. I’ve never been a part of any “Greek” or social fraternity, exclusive club, nor secret society, neither before, during, nor after university graduation. And, I have always sought to support, advocate, and do the thing that would benefit the most – if not all – people… and still do.

Many, if not most, people do not have the interest in participating in political process, because, in large part, they feel alienated, isolated, and ignored, despite their history of voting. Thus, they feel, and are effectively, disenfranchised from participating in Constitutionally-mandated self-governance practices.

When asked by a friend, “Why do we tolerate any of them?” (“them” being politicians), I replied:

“Because we need government, but are too complacent to act, we have thus become prisoners here, of our own device, thus perpetuating the worst, most egregious examples of self-governing behavior.”

I answered the follow-up question, “How are to act against it?,” thusly:

“Become ACTIVE in self-governance, not only by regularly voting, but by advocating for/against issues, for candidates, and encouraging other to do similarly.

“That includes making voting easier, and inclusive, establishing term limits for public elected offices, and limiting the inevitable corrupting influence of money by mandating widespread public reporting, and changing other rules governing money in politics to provide openness and transparency.

“Tennessee, for example, is to be commended for enacting law mandating early voting, and allowing voting at any polling location for a full week in the voter’s county of residence, and by enacting paid leave of 3 hours to vote, which cannot be denied by the employer.” (Tennessee Code Annotated, §2-1-106, was enacted in 1972.)

“However, Tennesseans and other states – notably in the Southeast – could do more, as could the nation, by requiring Voter Registration in High School, enacting Balloting by Mail, and other forms of voting participation, such as making General Election Days paid holidays.

“Some, I know, do not vote for religious conscience reasons, such as our Jehovah’s Witnesses brethren, but mandating Voter Registration is NOT mandating voting, and thus, they and others like them with such religious compunctions, would not be violated.”

The exchange continued briefly with a retort that, “It’s hard to vote when there aren’t a lot of clear cut sites to actually line up candidates on real issues. And voting has to be real and validated by some means to prove you are who you say you are and have a right to be included in that election count. Voter fraud is everywhere.”

My response was,

“Again, that’s where Voter participation in the process – by and through ballot initiatives (which not all states have, but should) – could be such a change to be enacted. It’s a matter of grass-roots level politics, which is what our Founders envisioned.

“I demur on voter fraud being rampant. While there are isolated, remote instances, it is not on the level, nor to the extent that GOPers and their sympathizers make it out to be.

“The notion of “voter fraud” has increased in direct proportion to promulgation of the idea by the GOP as justification for making Voter Registration and Voting more difficult, and disenfranchising.”

To which the almost-typical response was, “Eh you digress to dislike GOP that’s ok, I dislike dems so we’re even,” was met by my oft, and numerously repeated reply that,

“Again, I’m not a GOPer, neither am I a Democrat.”

As I have long pointed out, “My Conservative friends think me Liberal, my Liberal friends think me Conservative. Both are wrong.”

Another case in point to illustrate, is the recent news that at least some of the Democrats and Republicans are cooperating to end the inability of the Department of Health and Human Services (Medicare Part D) from negotiating purchase prices on medications.

The United States Government is, and continues to be, the WORLD’S LARGEST PURCHASER OF MEDICATIONS, bar none. Even the world’s largest business – WalMart – negotiates with their suppliers for prices of products purchased. But, by law, the Department of Health and Human Services is forbidden from engaging in such a business-wise and common-sense practice.

Naturally, the questions “Who? What? Why? When? and How?” should first be answered in order to provide a more full understanding, and background of the problem under discussion.

First, let’s examine what the prospective law would do, and how it would save money.

As reported by Kelsey Waddill, October 15, 2019 in HealthPayerIntelligence, “By allowing the HHS to negotiate drug prices tied to international standards, Title I of the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 (HR-3) would save the federal government $345 billion from 2023 to 2029, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).

HR-3 Title I empowers the Secretary of HHS to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare and ties drug prices to other countries. In their negotiations, the price would not be allowed to rise above 120 percent of prices in six similar countries. Noncompliant drug manufacturers would pay a steep 95 percent sales excise tax.”

While Medicare Part D – the optional, but often-included part of Medicare which pays for medications – was the brainchild of then-POTUS Bill Clinton, it was never realized until 2003 by the George W. Bush administration, which placed their imprimatur upon the law, which the GOP also effectively wrote. It was described by some as “a giant sloppy wet kiss, and handout to the Pharmaceutical Industry.” And then, there was the infamous “Doughnut Hole” in the plan, which required the patient to pay 100% of all costs AFTER reaching a certain point of medication expenditures.

Here’s a brief on the matter from the Medicare website, which was last Updated: 12/12/2019 The Medicare Part D Coverage Gap (“Donut Hole”) Made Simple
“This gap will officially close in 2020, but you can still reach this out-of-pocket threshold where your medication costs may change. The coverage gap applies to both stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans, but not everyone enters it.”

Here’s another, somewhat earlier article from AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) from February 2018, entitled as “Medicare ‘Doughnut Hole’ Will Close in 2019, Drug companies will pay more to lower some Part D costs.”
“Under Friday’s budget deal, the doughnut hole will now close next year. Beginning in 2019, Part D enrollees will pay 25 percent of the cost of all their prescription drugs from the time they enter the gap until they reach catastrophic coverage.”

An excellent overall big-picture view, and up-to-date summary of the events leading up to the present may be found here: The Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Scandal https://jeffreydavidburgess.com/the-medicare-part-d-scandal/

Though it was initially published October 2014, the article has been updated with the following paragraphs:

“On January 18, 2019, the Trump administration announced a new plan to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare patients. The plan, however, still failed to propose to allow the government to negotiate discounts for large volume Medicare drug purchases, and was widely criticized for allowing medical insurance companies to police pharmaceutical costs, which could allow companies to refuse to cover medications they consider too expensive.

“On September 19, 2019, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, announced a plan to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices from drug companies for bulk purchases of popular drugs. Republicans in Congress immediately rejected it and labeled it as “socialism.”

“On December 12, 2019, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to allow give Medicare the ability to negotiate bulk purchases of prescription drugs to help lower drug prices.”

If you’d like more detail, from a healthcare professional perspective, try “A Political History of Medicare and Prescription Drug Coverage” from “The Milbank Quarterly: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Population Health and Health Policy” published June 2004 in the National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690175/

And, another authoritative detailed summary on the subject from the perspective of a former health insurance industry executive, published March 2016, may be found here:

The Lobbyist Who Made You Pay More at the Drugstore

If you’ve read even part of any of those three articles, you would have a decent background of understanding the questions “Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?”

Overall, what we are seeing and experiencing, at least on this matter, is:
1.) Falsehoods from the GOP in order to manipulate public opinion, thereby preventing helping the people, and;
2.) Failure of the news media to tell the whole truth, including a brief historical background.

And frankly, there’s little-to-no reason to believe that the same things (falsehoods and deceptions) aren’t happening on other topics.

Regardless, whenever elected officials work TOGETHER rather than try and “corner the market” through power, things get done FOR the people. And THAT is the way it’s supposed to work.

So, as evidence of that – my claim that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents can all get along politically – I present the following statement to you, with which ALL of my GOP-and-Trump voting friends, all of my Democratic-voting friends, and all my Independent-voting friends have agreed.

“While I neither watch nor read CNN regularly,
I find this argument MOST COMPELLING,
and quite succinctly stated.
In essence, it lays out the reason why and how,
Republicans are “damaging their brand” for years to come,
and for that reason,
will likely lose control of the Senate in 2020.

“If our elected governing officials deliberately moved with greater speed, rather than being concerned with accumulation of power unto themselves, and denial of opportunity to others,
we could,
and would be so much more ahead of where we need,
and by all rights, ought to be,
having addressed genuine problems of concern for almost every American now,
and for generations to come.”



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