Another Ball To Keep Your Eye On …

The past week or two has been a three-ring media circus, with news of Rosanne Barr making an ass of herself, Samantha Bee trying to keep up with Roseanne, Trump pardoning the least likely felons, Tuesday primaries, Trump’s tariffs, the feud between Trump and Super bowl winners the Philadelphia Eagles, the upcoming G7 summit, and Trump’s on-again-off-again meeting with Kim Jong-un, to name a few.  So it is understandable that you might have missed something important stuck in one of the back corners of the room.

By now, surely we all understand that one of the goals of Trump and his supporters is to diminish spending on domestic social programs that help people have food to eat, a place to live, and medical care.  Instead, he/they would rather increase such things as military spending, which is a multi-billion-dollar gig for defense industry, and putting extra money into the coffers of wealthy corporations.  Trump has, for the past 16 months, been chipping away at the programs that benefit people, such as his executive orders that put large cracks into ACA and is resulting in a spike in health insurance premiums, especially for those who can least afford it.

But the latest has the potential to do far greater damage than anything he has done so far.  On Wednesday it was announced that the administration is preparing to release a sweeping plan for reorganizing the federal government that includes a major consolidation of welfare programs — and a renaming of the Health and Human Services Department.

It all started back in March 2017, when Trump signed an executive order  directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to come up with a plan to overhaul the government to make it more efficient.

There are three major issues I see with this plan.  One, the renaming, two, the consolidation of services under HHS, and three, Alex Azar, the Secretary of HHS.  Let us look at each of these issues.

The name change …

Until 1980, HHS was named Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.  Under President Carter, the Department of Education became a separate department, and the word “Welfare” was dropped from the name because of the stigma.  Many associate ‘welfare’ with ‘lazy poor people—mainly black, single mothers—bilking the federal government’.  A recent study found racial resentment fueled most white Americans’ attitudes toward social safety nets. Other studies have found that public support drops for programs labeled as “welfare” as opposed to when they are labeled as “assistance to the poor.”

The consolidation …

In part, the rationale for consolidating services under one department is explained by …

“You have low-income assistance in a bunch of different shops without one point of oversight and without a whole lot of communication. Why not have one federal agency responsible for execution?”

I see some logic in this, but … we do not have a federal government in place that can be trusted.  Period.  Trump has already proven he has little, if any concern for the poor, the disabled or the elderly.  Congress has already proven that they will basically rubber-stamp whatever legislation Trump asks for.  Consolidate all services, then he cuts the budget by 75%.  What happens then?

The six major programs that would fall under the umbrella of the new department are:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Medicaid (includes Child’s Health Insurance Program aka CHIP)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food stamps)
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Housing Assistance

The Secretary …

The Secretary of the current HHS department is Alex Michael Azar II.  From 2012 to 2017, Mr. Azar was President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical drug company, and was a member of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.  Under Azar’s leadership, drug prices rose steadily.  In fact, under Azar, the company tripled the price of insulin.  Yet, when Trump nominated Azar, he called him a “star for better healthcare and lower drug prices.”

Azar has long been a critic of ACA and predicts there will be a blanket repeal before the end of this year.  He is also firmly against women’s right to choose in the matter of abortion.

Last year, when Trump announced his choice of Azar, Bernie Sanders said …

“The nomination of Alex Azar, the former head of Eli Lilly’s U.S. operations, shows that Trump was never serious about his promise to stop the pharmaceutical industry from ‘getting away with murder. The last thing we need is to put a pharmaceutical executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services.”

I agree, and would also add that the last thing we need is to put the lives and well-being of some 40 million low income people under the direction of an agency headed by a drug czar.  Everything I have read about Azar indicates that he is toeing the party line … or rather, the Trumpian line, saying nothing that resembles fact as regards health insurance.  His goal, like so many others in the Trump administration, is profit.  What is needed to oversee low-income assistance programs is a person whose goal is to help people.  Mr. Azar does not fill that bill.

The reality is that much of this plan to reorganize the federal government, which is said to also include “big changes” in nearly every department, may not likely see the light of day, for much of it will require the approval of Congress.  Then again, the current Congress hasn’t said “no” to much of anything yet. But the intent could not be more chillingly clear:  the more government programs that are rebranded as “welfare” regardless of their function or intent, the easier it will be to cut them.

The full plan is expected to be released in the next few weeks.  I can hardly wait (dripping sarcasm intended).

21 thoughts on “Another Ball To Keep Your Eye On …

  1. There is nothing that Trump and His Congress inflicts that surprises me anymore…sickens me and enrages me, but no longer surprises. Alex Michael Azar ll is just another of his appalling choices, placed in a position to cause the most upheaval and harm possible to those that need help the most. Make America Great Again? The ruination of a once great America will be Trump and his lackeys legacy. Thank-you for illuminating the corners.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re most welcome! I’m going to need new flashlight batteries soon, though, for there are an awful lot of dark corners!

      You see the destruction in his every move, as do I and 99% of my readers, but … there are those lemmings that still think he is doing everything just right. I have, on my reading list for tonight, two articles that attempt to explain that phenomena … I’ll let you know if there is any enlightenment there, but don’t hold your breath!

      Like

  2. This is the question I have wrestled with for more than a year, and I have concluded that yes, indeed, the “Trumpian revolution”, if you will, is naught more than a push back response to the election of an African-American president. Much of our nation is, indeed, extremely racist. That anybody could condemn Obama for wearing a beige suit one day, for trying to ensure that everyone is able to seek medical assistance, and at the same time support a ‘man’ who calls white supremacists “fine people” and proves time and again that he has no morals, no character … to me, that is the proof. I think there are more in this country like you and I, who are appalled by the current climate, but the racists, for the moment at least, own the stage. Some say Trump’s win was a response to economic frustrations among the middle class, but that argument doesn’t hold water for a number of reasons. Others say they were tired of the corruption in Washington, but look at it now! So … sad to say, but blatant racism, hatred for any who is different, seems to be the only answer. 😥

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, how do you manage to read and write this stuff without getting sick to your stomach … I mean like heading-to-the-bathroom sick! Gawd!

    This … a plan to overhaul the government to make it more efficient. … is a JOKE! Anyone who has paid attention to how tRumpsky has run his business over the years can’t help but agree. Yet the Red population of our nation seems to have gone deaf and blind.

    I may have to find a god to pray to if this keeps up!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Who said it doesn’t make me sick? Believe me, it does take a toll — has taken a toll on both my health and my emotional well-being. But … I think what I do is important, and in truth, I could not just sit back and tune it out. I’m lucky to have a loving, patient family and lots of good friends — it keeps me relatively sane 😉

      Yes, it is a joke … a really bad joke. Hopefully he will not be able to implement most of his plan, but anymore I don’t count on anything. Fingers crossed for two things: November mid-terms and the Mueller investigation. If those two both work out right, he should be gone by the end of 2019.

      As to finding a god to pray to … let’s not go that far just yet! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, we have been raising this issue for many months. While Trump distracts, he is stealing your candy and peeing in your swimming pool. Instead of a war on poverty, there is a war on poor people. Rather than improve the ACA which Trumps and Republicans own, they are doing their best to kill it defunding two sets of subsidies, eliminating the mandate, fighting Medicaid expansion. This will also hurt poor people. Trump’s solution is to have agents across the country sell limited benefit and time policies that can be stopped by the carrier if a pre-existing condition is costly. I get on average 50 calls a week from national agents.

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • You do realize what an ugly image that brings to mind … him peeing in my pool??? Blech. 😉 But yes, he is throwing up so many smoke screens that the distractions are rampant. I always like to go digging for the things we may have missed. In truth, I wish the media would do the same, but they get mesmerized by the bright, shiny things, I think.

      50 calls a week??? I do not envy you! I wonder what ever happened to his “beautiful plan” that would be “so much better” than ACA? And now, the DOJ is refusing to defend the pre-existing clause … something Trump promised all along that he would protect. Perhaps this is what it takes to open the eyes of his followers?

      Like

  5. The connections of pharmaceutical industry and bankers, go w-a-a-a-y-y back. If one cares to look at WW2 and the bombing runs of all combatants. We may see how certain businesses stayed intact, when all around was devastated. Bayer, was one such. Cheers Jamie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deep breaths, my friend. A glass of wine, a good book. Can he be stopped? Yes, but we need something more than ‘yes-men’ in Congress. Is Mueller our only hope? No, but he is probably the best hope at the moment. We seriously need to get the boot-licking republican majority out of Congress in November and elect some representatives who have a conscience and are not afraid of Trump. Until then, I fear this circus, this fiasco, will likely continue. Only 5 more months! Hang in, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Apropos of nothing in particular, but I wonder if Trump’s popularity, not to mention his election, is a cultural reaction to the fact that America had a black president for eight years. If this is even a possibility, it would suggest a racism that is endemic to this country and goes much deeper than I had imagined. Just asking…..?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the question I have wrestled with for more than a year, and I have concluded that yes, indeed, the “Trumpian revolution”, if you will, is naught more than a push back response to the election of an African-American president. Much of our nation is, indeed, extremely racist. That anybody could condemn Obama for wearing a beige suit one day, for trying to ensure that everyone is able to seek medical assistance, and at the same time support a ‘man’ who calls white supremacists “fine people” and proves time and again that he has no morals, no character … to me, that is the proof. I think there are more in this country like you and I, who are appalled by the current climate, but the racists, for the moment at least, own the stage. Some say Trump’s win was a response to economic frustrations among the middle class, but that argument doesn’t hold water for a number of reasons. Others say they were tired of the corruption in Washington, but look at it now! So … sad to say, but blatant racism, hatred for any who is different, seems to be the only answer. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

    • From an outsiders’ view Hugh.
      It was painfully obvious from the onset and all that garbage over birth certificates etc that the reason for the fuss was because ‘One of Those People’ had been elected.
      Yes, it is a reaction to ‘One of Those People’ being elected. Though I suspect the racism factor is lodged in one group and regrettably that group has mobilised to sound and act far larger than it is, thus causing the minority groups to circle the wagons and so the cycle begins.
      This is why you sometimes might witness me in response to Jill’s posts or comments ‘scaring the horses’ with comments about how a government should run a country. (Crazed Socialist warning: Storm Force 7)
      In a state with a responsible approach to governing a multi-cultural, racial nation any signs of racism and the other prejudices would be vigorously stamped out and the principal leaders arrested on grounds of terrorism and incarcerated for a long period of re-education. The education system would be utilised to educate children of this evil and there would be no let-up until it was marginalised to the crazies in the back-woods.
      I am intolerant of intolerance.

      Liked by 2 people

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