Knowing they didn’t have enough support (or even enough of their own party’s support), Paul Ryan and President Trump finally threw in the towel late this week and pulled the health care repeal bill from the floor — and well it should have been. Screwing 24 million Americans out of health insurance, increasing costs to a segment of the older population who mostly live on fixed incomes, telling mothers that their maternity-related costs would no longer be covered and oh, by the way, did we mention that they could no longer depend on Planned Parenthood for help with reproductive choices, not to mention the exclusion of the pre-existing clause? It should go without saying that only a politician with no conscience whatsoever could stand in front of the American people and propose the passage of such a bill. And speaking of conscience, while some part of me would like to think it had something to do with the actual outcome here, I suspect that the reality is more likely that the bill’s lack of support had something to do with the fear of losing an upcoming election. <Just saying …>
So, President Trump now moves on to tax reform — which I guaranty you will only benefit the top 1% of earners in America who will see what amounts to an increase of somewhere near a 20% boost to their income, while the rest of the American population would only see a boost of somewhere between 1% and 10% to their income. Does that sound like equality to you? Forecasters at the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center have predicted that what then-candidate Trump previously proposed during his campaign as his plan for tax reform would add trillions (yes, that was with a “t”) to our deficit. How long would it take us, as a country, to dig out of that? And is this what we want to leave to our next generation? A precedent of inequality and a lifetime of paying off the debt? To the benefit of whom?
And while all eyes appear to be on Washington and our controversial President, be aware that tensions are escalating around the Straight of Hormuz, a Straight only 21 miles across in one area, where one-third of all the oil shipped by sea must pass through. Politics are very much in play in this region. Iranian hardliners may be trying to put pressure on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is the subject of an election this May. As I have mentioned in my blog before, these hardliners are thought to be behind many of the ever-increasing provocative actions that have been carried out against U.S. and other vessels as they enter and pass through the Straight in international waters. Previously, President Trump has warned Iran that any challenges to our ships would result in Iranian vessels “being blown out of the water.” However, just this week, as the USS George H.W. Bush passed through the Straight, Iranian vessels appeared yet again — all weapons armed — and came within 940 feet of our carrier while our armed sailors stood at the ready.
For the sake of many nations, let us hope that we are not provoked into being the catalyst that throws gas on what appears to be already-glowing embers — in a very volatile region.
Shalom, my friends. Stay vigilant. And speak loudly – with One Voice.