Congressional votes emphasize their party's priorities
Our worthies in congress are on yet another of their taxpayer-funded vacations. Before they left town, they busied themselves voting on political statements that have zero chance of becoming law.
Senate Democrats tried to raise the minimum wage. A large share of low-wage jobs are held by women. Republicans blocked that. Senate Democrats tried to make it easier for women to get equal pay for equal work. Republicans blocked that too.
To be fair, Republicans have cleverly pointed out that their Democratic colleagues and the White House need to do some work themselves for their own female employees.
In the Republican-controlled House, Republicans voted yet again (with 12 Republican dissenters) for Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan that would cut taxes for the rich, give more money to the Pentagon, and stick it to working class Americans. Ryan has proposed repeatedly to gut funding for programs that assist struggling Americans, like Food Stamps and Medicaid (a large share of which pays for low income seniors in nursing homes).
The latest Ryan budget plan also includes cuts to low-income heating assistance, highway construction (jobs), and Pell grants to help low-income students go to college.
House Republicans have voted somewhere around 50 times to repeal Obamacare. Ryan's latest budget also would do that. So those of you with pre-existing conditions can go back to being uninsured.
Seniors with Medicare Part D who depend on very expensive drugs can once again pay 100 percent of that cost, instead of just under 50 percent as dictated by Obamacare, when you are in the Part D "donut hole."
Republicans have told us over and over how Obamacare cuts funding for Medicare. Obamacare reduces the government subsidy for Medicare Advantage plans, which, as best I can tell, aren't even available in our area. So big deal. But funny thing. The Ryan plan preserves those very same cuts.
Ryan's budget plan has repeatedly been to turn Medicare itself into a voucher program for future seniors, so they can buy private insurance (like Obamacare?).
If you think private for-profit insurance companies are going to want to sign up a bunch of old people with expensive chronic health problems, I need to talk to you about helping me get a multi-million dollar inheritance out of Nigeria.
But I digress. House Republicans know this scheme will never become law... unless, of course they manage to take control of the U.S. Senate this fall. Colorado is one of the states in play there (watch the out-of-state fat cat money pouring in).
Last weekend, Republican presidential wannabees were among those attending a conference in New Hampshire for conservative activists, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, the "grassroots" front group for the multi-billionaire Koch brothers.
Interestingly, some of the wannabees (Rand Paul, Canadian-born Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump) disavowed the Ryan budget plan. The AP quotes Trump as saying, "Leave my Medicare alone." Somehow I don't think he actually needs Medicare, but I appreciate the sentiment.