Tag Archives: House

Fla. Republicans say porn is health risk. Guns? Not so fast….

In today’s episode of Not The Onion, Florida Republicans did this:

In Tuesday’s session, which opened with prayer for the community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and staff were killed last week, Florida House lawmakers declined to open debate on a bill that would ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. The motion to debate the bill, introduced by a Democrat, required a two-thirds vote and failed. Thirty-six lawmakers supported it, while 71 voted no. Its merits were not considered.

Parodies continue to be insufficient to make fun of these people. What monsters they are.

Of course, this begs the question: Will the children be safe looking at gun porn if the NRA supports it?

Source: Florida House Declines Debate On Assault Rifles, Calls Porn A ‘Health Risk’ : The Two-Way : NPR

Swing Left announces college fellowships to help flip the House

Swing Left, the self-described “grassroots network of 300,000 volunteers working to take back the House in the 2018 midterm elections,” is looking for college students for political organizing fellowships.

Does your state include one of the many districts which judged — using polling data, election results, registration numbers, etc. — to be a district that could be wrung from the control of today’s out-of-control GOP? Click here for a map to find out if you live in or near one of these districts.

If so, you could be chosen for a college fellowship during which you get real political and grassroots organizing experience to put on your resume, with the added benefit of helping to flip the U.S. House of Representatives away from the rubber stamp it has become for the Trump Administration and Wall Street excess.

Swing Left adds that you will be learning from what Swing Left calls its “organization led by professionals from the tech, media, nonprofit and art worlds in collaboration with veteran political organizers and strategists.”

Here’s what I love about Swing Left: they aren’t just talking. They are taking concrete action to help take us away from this national political nightmare in which we are all living.

Incidentally, even if you are not a college student you can still get involved if you live in one of those swing districts.

If you know a college student interested in political organizing, let them know about this opportunity.


Influence Of GOP Doctors Caucus Grows As Congress Looks To Replace Health Law

“Their views are driven more by political affiliation,” said Mona Mangat, an allergist-immunologist and chairwoman of Doctors for America, a 16,000-member organization that favors the current health law. “It doesn’t make me feel great. Doctors outside of Congress do not support their views.”
Tom Price, a member of the GOP Doctor’s Caucus on Capitol Hill. at his confirmation hearings as Secretary of Health and Human Services. (Photo: NPR)

The confirmation of Tom Price, the orthopedic surgeon-turned-Georgia congressman, as secretary of Health and Human Services represents the latest victory in the ascendancy of a little-known but powerful group of conservative physicians in Congress he belongs to — the GOP Doctors Caucus.

During the Obama administration, the caucus regularly sought to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and it’s now expected to play a major role determining the Trump administration’s plans for replacement.

Robert Doherty, a lobbyist for the American College of Physicians, said the GOP Doctors Caucus has gained importance with Republicans’ rise to power. “As political circumstances have changed, they have grown more essential,” he said.

“They will have considerable influence over the considerable discussion on repeal and replace legislation,” Doherty said.

Price’s supporters have touted his medical degree as an important credential for his new position, but Price and the caucus members are hardly representative of America’s physicians in 2017. The “trust us, we’re doctors” refrain of the caucus obscures its heavily conservative agenda, critics say.

“Their views are driven more by political affiliation,” said Mona Mangat, an allergist-immunologist and chairwoman of Doctors for America, a 16,000-member organization that favors the current health law. “It doesn’t make me feel great. Doctors outside of Congress do not support their views.”

For example, while the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has worked to increase access to abortion, the three obstetrician-gynecologists in the 16-member House caucus are anti-abortion and oppose the ACA provision that provides free prescription contraception.

While a third of the U.S. medical profession is now female, 15 of the 16 members of the GOP caucus are male, and only eight of them are doctors. The other eight members are from other health professions, including a registered nurse, a pharmacist and a dentist. The nurse, Diane Black of Tennessee, is the only woman.

On the Senate side, there are three physicians, all of them Republican.

While 52 percent of American physicians today identify as Democrats, just two out of the 14 doctors in Congress are Democrats.

About 55 percent of physicians say they voted for Hillary Clinton and only 26 percent voted for Donald Trump, according to a survey by Medscape in December.

Meanwhile, national surveys show doctors are almost evenly split on support for the health law, mirroring the general public. And a survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January found almost half of primary care doctors liked the law, while only 15 percent wanted it repealed.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, a caucus member first elected in 2002, is one of the longest serving doctors in Congress. He said the anti-Obamacare Republican physicians do represent the views of the profession.

“Doctors tend to be fairly conservative and are fairly tight with their dollars, and that the vast proportion of doctors in Congress [are] Republican is not an accident,” Burgess said.

Price’s ascendancy is in some ways also a triumph for the American Medical Association, which has long sought to beef up its influence over national health policy. Less than 25 percent of AMA members are practicing physicians, down from 75 percent in the 1950s.

Price is an alumnus of a boot camp the AMA runs in Washington each winter for physicians contemplating a run for office. Price is one of four members of the caucus who went through the candidate school. In December, the AMA immediately endorsed the Price nomination, a move that led thousands of doctors who feared Price would overturn the health law to sign protest petitions.

Even without Price, Congress will have several GOP physicians in leadership spots in both the House and Senate.

Those include Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, the caucus co-chairman, who also chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and Burgess, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana sits on both the Finance and the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committees. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming chairs the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

Roe acknowledges that his caucus will have newfound influence. Among his goals in molding an ACA replacement are to kill the requirement that most people buy health insurance (known as the individual mandate) as well as to end the obligation that 10 essential benefits, such as maternity and mental health care, must be in each health plan.

He said the caucus will probably not introduce its own bill, but rather evaluate and support other bills. The caucus could be a kingmaker in that role. “If we came out publicly and said we cannot support this bill, it fails,” Roe said.

The GOP Doctors Caucus has played a prominent role in health matters before Congress. For example, in 2015, when former House Speaker John Boehner needed help to permanently repeal a Medicare payment formula that threatened physicians with double-digit annual fee cuts, he turned to the GOP Doctors Caucus. It got behind a system to pay doctors based on performance — the so-called doc fix.

“When the speaker had a unified doctors’ agreement in his coat pocket, he could go to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and show that, and that had a lot to do with how we got this passed,” Roe said.

But not all doctors are unified behind the caucus. Rep. Raul Ruiz, one of the two physicians in the House who are Democrats, said he worries because few doctors in Congress are minorities or primary care doctors.

Ruiz, an emergency room physician from California who was elected in 2012, said he is wary about Price leading HHS because he is concerned Price’s policies would increase the number of Americans without insurance.

Indeed, many doctors feel the caucus’ proposals will not reflect their views — or medical wisdom. “My general feeling whenever I see any of their names, is that of contempt,” said Don McCanne of California, a senior fellow and past president of the Physicians for a National Health Program. “The fact that they all signed on to repeal of ACA while supporting policies that would leave so many worse off demonstrated to me that they did not represent the traditional Hippocratic traditions which place the patient first.”

Christina Jewett contributed reporting. This story also appeared on National Public Radio (NPR).

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

We’ve got a secret and we’re not telling. Nya nya-nya nya-nya nya!

Playing politics with the GOP on Capitol Hill is increasingly looking like playing with a petulant 8-year-old who acts as if she has information you want when she really has nothing:

The GOP on Capitol Hill increasingly acts like a pack of angry children.
House Speaker John Boehner reacts to media requests on the GOP’s secret plan to fix Obamacare.

There was a time when it was House Republicans who wouldn’t talk up an Obamacare “contingency” plan until the Supreme Court decision on King v. Burwell was released. Despite assurances from Speaker John Boehner and majority leader Kevin McCarthy earlier this year that “there will be an alternative, and you’re going to get to see it,” it took a while for the party to deliver on its pledge to reveal that masterful “alternative” that it was drawing up.

Such a long while, in fact, that it still hasn’t happened. Before Supreme Court justices voted on the case — presumably the Friday after oral arguments were heard in March — it was in the GOP’s interests to signal to the Court as glaringly as possible that there would be no crisis should it strike down subsidies for ACA beneficiaries in some 30-odd states. Once the Court’s decision was made, written, and sealed for release sometime this month, it was no longer necessary for Boehner, McCarthy and the rest of the House leadership to pretend that it had settled on a strategy to restore order to health insurance markets without antagonizing anti-ACA dead-enders within the party. Because as far as we can tell, no such conceived strategy has effectively threaded that needle.


Now, as Bloomberg reports, Republican senators are retreating into the muddier waters of their House counterparts: playing the “we’ll let you know the plan when we have to” game. As with Richard Nixon and his “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War in 1968, the hot plan is ready to go, but for now they’ll keep it a closely guarded secret.

Got that? They have a plan detailing how they will accomplish yanking away newly-acquired health care to millions of Americans, disrupting the lives of all those people, but they’re not telling anyone.

Sometimes I fear we were doomed as a Democracy the moment President Nixon’s people dreamed up the Southern Strategy of wooing disaffected high school dropouts among white Christian conservatives in the South by pandering to the basest instincts of a demographic that is so stupid they scream nonsense such as “Get the government out of my Medicare!”

via GOP goes full Richard Nixon on Obamacare: We have a fix, but it’s a secret! – Salon.com.

Is Congress set to require accurate reporting of civilians killed by police?

Note that it is a British newspaper, and not an American one, driving much of the change.

American newspapers tend to give much more deference to police accounts of unjustifiable shootings and other forms of brutality, often watering down their stories with notations such as “policing is a dangerous job” and “it can be hard to second-guess police in the hair-trigger environment of the street.”

Yes, of course policing is a dangerous job. But police make their jobs more dangerous if they are policing in high-crime areas where the residents do not trust or support them. Poor people in urban areas want safe streets just as much as white suburbanites do, probably more so. But they are also not going to call the police if they think the police are going to kill or brutalize innocent civilians because those officers don’t understand or care how community policing should work.

As for the “second guess” part: an unarmed man shot in the back is still an unarmed man shot in the back, no matter how you look at the job of street policing itself.

Washington lawmakers have credited a Guardian investigation to count killings by police with building momentum on long-stalled law-enforcement reform and renewed efforts to force the US government to establish a comprehensive database of officers’ lethal use of force.

As members of Congress sought to turn a patchwork of proposals into a progressive agenda for action, authors of Democratic proposals in both the Senate and House to demand an official US record of police-involved fatalities said the journalistic project had been valuable in filling a void of governmental accountability – and in advancing new legislation.

“Let me just say on the record: the job you are doing here to point out the discrepancy in the numbers that are being reported is the wind at our back,” Senator Barbara Boxer of California said in an interview.

“These statistics in the Guardian’s study will be most helpful in making the case,” said Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

We will see if the will for change is strong enough to overcome police opposition favoring the status quo, because undercounting police killings of civilians works in favor of police wrongdoing.

Read the article linked below. It’s very sobering.

via Congress awaits ‘monumental’ police reform as mandatory kill count advances – The Guardian