Category Archives: Healthcare

House approves massive spending bill, moves to Senate to avert a government shutdown (Updated)

The U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 256-167 (proceeding under the TARGET Act) has approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill to avert a government shutdown and to fund federal agencies through Sept. 30, sending the measure over to the Senate ahead of a midnight Friday deadline.

Arizona Delegation: YES McSally, O’Halleran, Sinema; NO Biggs, Gallego, Gosar, Grijalva, Schweikert.

The Senate is expected to vote late on Thursday or Friday, before current government funding expires at midnight on Friday. There could still be another brief Aqua Buddha shutdown from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) desperately seeking attention.

You can read the massive 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill to search for what is hidden in it.

Here are a few highlights of what is (and is not) in the spending bill compiled from several sources including the Washington Post, Politico, and Vox.com.

OVERALL SPENDING

Defense spending generally favored by Republicans is set to rise $80 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel and $144 billion for Pentagon hardware.

Domestic spending generally favored by Democrats is set to rise by $63 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including increases in funding for infrastructure, medical research, veterans programs and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Civilian federal employees get a 1.9 percent pay raise.

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Profile in Courage: Rep. Randy Friese Stands Up for Gun Safety

Only one Arizona legislator had the courage to stand up against gun violence: Rep. Randy Friese, a Democrat from Tucson. Watch the 4-minute YouTube video or read the transcript below as he calls for his colleagues to act, just days after the Parkland, FL, mass murders.

Friese had introduced HB2023 to ban bump stocks, but he could not get it heard in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee where it was assigned. He used procedural motion to bring the measure directly to the House floor for a vote. But Rep. John Allen, a Republican from Scottdale, used a second motion to stop it from being debated.

Every Republican member of the Arizona House voted against gun safety, refusing even to hear the bill against bump stocks.

The GOP legislators are intentionally out of touch with the electorate:

  • 72% of registered voters support a ban on bump stocks.
  • 88% of Americans support universal background checks.
  • 81% think that a person should be at least 21 to buy a gun.
  • 70% endorse a ban on high-capacity magazines.
  • 68% support a ban on assault weapons.

Rep. Friese’s speech on the Arizona House floor is truly a profile in courage.


We are facing an epidemic of gun violence. And this violence is everywhere, unfortunately, it’s in our schools. It’s touching the lives of children. We must act. The country is waiting for us to act. The time is now. We have an obligation to take action, we have a mandate to take action, we have the authority to take action. If we don’t recognize our authority to take action, we are failing. We are failing our country, we are failing our children, we are failing our students.

There are students in Florida today, since the last mass killings in schools, that have shown more leadership and courage than legislators across the country, than people who represent us in DC. I congratulate those young people. I ask us to be responsible to them and what they are asking us to do.

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Democratic Candidates for LD10 House Shine in Drive to Oust Clodfelter

 LD10 Democratic candidates.jpg

Left to right, candidates Kirsten Engel, Domingo DeGrazia, Nikki Lee and Catherine Ripley

Democrats have four impressive candidates for the Arizona House in Legislative District 10 in eastern Tucson, united in their effort to oust Republican incumbent, Todd “Confederate” Clodfelter.

  • UofA Law Professor Kirsten H. Engel is running for a second term in the AZ House, after serving on the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and Judiciary and Public Safety committee.
  • Newcomer Domingo DeGrazia, son of famous Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia, is a licensed pilot and a trial attorney in juvenile court. “I have a constant drive to better myself, creativity and tenacity to see a fight through to the end,” he says.
  • Catherine Ripley is a retired 26-year Navy officer and current political science teacher at Pima College (and earlier at Harvard, Boston University, and M.I.T.). In her first run for office, she says, “I’m a former diplomat, Mom, and business executive. I’ve seen famine and war. I’m here to bring my skills and experiences, and have the tools to hand Todd Clodfelter a defeat he’ll never forget.”
  • Running as a Clean Elections Candidate, newcomer Nikki Lee has a young campaign team of Millennials, including herself at age 36. “We have so much excitement on our campaign, doing innovating things, understanding the life of young people.”  She has  launched the “A to Z podcast” for young people.

LD10 has two AZ House members and one Senator, David Bradley, who was on hand and running without opposition. Clodfelter is notorious for his Confederate Flag screen saver, which he claimed wasn’t racist. His signature legislation throws a meager $150 tax credit at teachers to cover school supplies rather than help them in any meaningful way.

If you could pass one bill…

Asked if they could pass only one bill in the Republican-majority House, the candidates said it would be to:

Engel: End the hundreds of corporate sales tax loopholes and use the money to fund public schools.

DeGrazia: Stop gun violence.

Lee: Help veterans recover from PTSD and brain injuries.

Ripley: Enact common-sense gun policy, including a ban on bump stocks.

If you could reverse one law…

Asked what law or bill they would want to stop, the candidates said:
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10 Reasons Why the Government is a Good Thing

Good governmentAs English philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote in 1651, life without government is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Don’t let the Republicans control the narrative that government “is bad” or “is the problem.” The argument is bogus.

My father used to say that “civilization is the last bubble in a long fermentation.” He was a City Manager and believed that a city was the loftiest expression of society. He grew up when FDR was President and believed that public service was the highest calling of a citizen.

How far the image of the government has fallen since my father died. Years of propaganda from right-wing libertarians have made “government” a bad word. Disinformation from the billionaire Koch Brothers has brought attacks on “government schools” and “big government.”

The next time you meet someone who thinks the government is a bad thing, talk to them about this list of 10 reasons that government is a good thing. The government carries out the rules of our society and takes action for the public in efforts that people cannot do as well individually. Government activities that everybody likes are law enforcement, roads, the courts and trash pickup.

But there’s so much more that we get from the government:

Environmental safety that guarantees us clear air and water. Without this, we’d have choking air pollution like in Shanghai and Delhi, India, and poisonous rivers like the Ganges in India and the Yellow River in China. When government is working properly it promotes a clean power plan, works to combat climate change, establishes flood building standards, prohibits coal dumping in streams, and participates in world climate agreements. 2017 was the hottest year on record in Tucson, and only government can prevent it from getting worse. Continue reading

An Evening with John Nichols of The Nation, March 10 (video)

John Nichols, Pamela Powers Hannley, and Phil Lopes

Author and historian John Nichols, Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, and former Arizona Senate Minority Leader Phil Lopes at PDA’s John Nichols event in 2017.

The Tucson Festival of Books brings hundreds of authors to Tucson each year. For politicos, one of the hottest tickets at the Book Festival is author and historian John Nichols of The Nation.

If you want to hear Nichols speak in an informal setting– away from the Book Festival crowds, come to the IBEW Hall on Saturday night, March 10. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA Tucson) and the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) are hosting their annual An Evening with John Nichols. I am proud to be the warm-up act for Nichols again this year. Doors open at 6 p.m.

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The evil GOP bastards’ scheme for a back door repeal of ‘Obamacare’ in the courts

A part of the GOP’s “tax cuts for corporations and plutocrats” bill back in December was the under-reported repeal of the individual mandate, which didn’t actually repeal the coverage requirement — it only repealed the tax penalty provision.

This was part of the long game the evil GOP bastards play to deny Americans access to affordable health care. By removing the tax penalty, it allowed the state Attorneys General from 20 red states, including Arizona, to file a lawsuit (.pdf) attempting a back door repeal of ‘Obamacare” through the courts, rather than through Congress.

These evil GOP bastards assert the legal sophistry that the individual mandate is now unconstitutional — after the GOP’s malicious sabotage of “Obamacare” in the tax bill – and now the rest of the ACA should fall as part of the GOP’s legal sophistry in court.

The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona among 20 states seeking repeal of Affordable Care Act mandate:

Arizona is among 20 states asking a federal court in Texas to hold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional because the tax that penalized anyone who did not carry health insurance has been repealed.

The filing, made in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth on Monday, also asks that the court find the entire health care law unconstitutional, but if not, to amend the law by repealing the mandate.

The filing is largely based on the argument that the repeal of the law’s tax penalties, included in the tax cut bill passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in December, effectively does away with a key reason the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in a 2012 case.

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