Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, the Los Angeles Times’ letters editor, and it is Saturday, March 18, 2017. My apologies in advance for being one of the runners at tomorrow’s Los Angeles Marathon contributing to the traffic chaos (if it helps, here’s a list of street closures). Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.
Healthcare reform is a sickeningly partisan affair. It’s being rammed through Congress by the party in power. People will probably die if it gets passed. Costs will explode, including your insurance premiums. Millions will lose their access to affordable healthcare.
All these criticisms apply to the American Health Care Act, the Republican-backed bill to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, and the devastating report by the Congressional Budget Office backs them up. But if these objections sound familiar, it’s because they were uttered hysterically — and falsely — by the Republicans during the debate over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Neera Tanden, who worked in the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in 2010, recalls the GOP’s Obamacare derangement in a Times op-ed article:
The GOP campaigned on high ACA costs, but then created a bill that raises, not decreases, those costs for families. As millions of Trump supporters lose the healthcare coverage they need, wealthy Americans such as Trump can expect a windfall. People making more than $1 million a year would see their taxes cut by $144 billion over the next decade, and wealthy health insurance CEOs would see their incomes skyrocket.
Eight years ago, the GOP decried the creation of a partisan Democratic bill. But today, only Republicans support the [GOP] plan. Doctors, nurses, hospitals and most insurers oppose this bill. No Democrats were even consulted on the legislation.
Eight years ago, Republicans accused Democrats of ramming through the ACA, even though we spent more than a year holding hundreds of meetings, roundtable discussions and public hearings with experts, lawmakers and stakeholders throughout the healthcare industry. Obama gave a nearly hourlong speech to Congress, laying out his vision and inviting further discussion from both sides of the aisle. Senate Democrats accepted more than 160 Republican amendments to the healthcare bill. And House Democrats held multiple public hearings before and after introducing their legislation in June 2009, allowing relevant committees time to discuss the bill and make amendments long before holding the final House vote four months later.
Now House Republicans want to bypass that crucial process in order to rush their bill through in the next week or so — no hearings with experts, no bipartisan summits, no testimony from the Health and Human Services secretary....
As we approach the seventh anniversary of the ACA’s passage, the GOP’s replacement plan is shaping up to be a policy and political disaster. It breaks Trump’s promises to keep everyone covered and to not cut Medicaid; it pits House and Senate Republicans against each other; and it sends premiums up for voters in both parties, especially Trump’s supporters.
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The GOP healthcare plan will worsen the opioid crisis. Reading the Republicans’ proposed replacement for Obamacare, writes Doyle McManus, you wouldn’t know that more than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2015. In parts of the country, the rate of death from opioid drug use is jumping by double digits annually. On the campaign trail, McManus notes, Trump promised to address a crisis that he said Obama ignored, “but the House bill goes in the opposite direction; it would cut drug treatment, not expand it. Of all Trump’s promises, this might be the cruelest to break. Has he noticed?” L.A. Times
We’ll be hearing a lot from this local member of Congress: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, tells The Times’ Patt Morrison in an interview that Congress should empower an independent, 9/11 Commission-style panel to look into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. Regarding the unprecedented nature of the Trump administration, Schiff warns: “You grow up as I have in the latter part of the 20th century and you believe that everything is quite solid and we have this brilliantly written Constitution. And all of a sudden you realize the Constitution is extraordinarily written, but it’s not self-executing. And there are certain norms of behavior that have guided us and made that democracy work. Those norms are being thrown out on a daily basis; it’s really quite fragile.” L.A. Times
Schiff has also garnered attentional nationally. The New Yorker profiles the “unlikely liberal hero” so disturbed by Trump’s lack of interest in the Russian cyberattack during the campaign that he transformed from “milquetoast moderate” into the face of the Democratic resistance. New Yorker
Trump’s first budget made a lot of noise in Washington, but it is so out of the mainstream and so cruel even to Republican voters that members of Congress will probably ignore it. The president’s “America First” blueprint proposes to cut worthwhile programs — ones that help feed the poor, fund medical research and clean up the environment — which, The Times Editorial Board notes, are not “raising the tide of red ink,” whereas the military would get a generous $54-billion boost. It’s a perennial wish list of GOP wants, only less realistic. L.A. Times
Ex-L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca is probably going to federal prison, but that doesn’t mean county leaders should put the scandal over jail inmate beatings behind them. On the contrary, county Probation Department employees appeared in court on charges related to the beatings of juvenile inmates the same day Baca was convicted, showing that serious problems remain. L.A. Times
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