Author: Ron Eachus

Tired of Trump, Pence in 2018 May Be Necessity for GOP

It happens that those predictions I halfheartedly made to friends about how I wouldn’t be surprised to soon see Republicans wearing “Pence in 2018” buttons might not be too far off-base. After the election it wasn’t hard to imagine Republicans in Congress starting to see Vice-President Mike Pence as a more viable, credible and stable alternative to a scandal plagued, unpredictable, undisciplined, and ethically- challenged president and the self-inflicted chaos of his leadership. Their agenda and hold on power is more important to them than whether Trump or Pence is president. And Trump has managed, in less than six months, to put the real possibility of impeachment on the table. Ever since Nixon’s resignation Republicans have been looking for something to rise to the level of another Watergate they could pin on a Democratic president. Bill Clinton gave them ammunition but they missed. Now they may have found another Watergate. Only it’s with one of their own. They promised to spend the first years of a Hillary Clinton presidency investigating the same Bengazi and e-mail server issues they’d already investigated. Instead they are called upon to begin the Trump presidency by investigating campaign ties to Russia and obstruction of justice. By the time campaigning for the 2018 mid-term elections comes around, and that’s not too far off, Congressional Republicans might seriously tire of Trump. Fearing his negative impact on...

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House GOP Obamacare Replacement Hard to Explain, But…

It happens there are good reasons so many GOP House members avoided the press, and constituents, after narrowly passing their Obamacare replacement last week. It’s hard to reconcile with the promises. It’s not hard to imagine though what a conversation might be like should an informed constituent catch up to one of them: “Congressman, I have a pre-existing condition. The bill you passed is scary.” “Don’t worry. We made sure you’ll be taken care of.” “Well, I’ve done some research. If I have a lapse in coverage your bill allows insurers to charge me a 30% surcharge. If my state seeks a waiver, I could end up in an individual coverage high-risk pool with bigger premiums, and more limited coverage.  Plus now as I get older I can be charged five times more than a younger person.” “But we added money for the high-risk pools.” “Not enough from what I find. Most subsidy money you provide won’t go to high-risk pools and the $8 billion over five years you did add to get the needed votes is far from adequate according to most analysts.” “But high-risk pools existed before.” “Yes, 35 states, including Oregon, had them. But they were expensive and limited enrollment covered only a fraction of those who needed it. The Kaiser Family Foundation says one-fourth of adults under 65 have health conditions that made them uninsurable...

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May 16 School Board Elections are Way to Counter Trump

It happens that if you’re troubled about the Trump administration’s education agenda you shouldn’t overlook the Salem-Keizer School Board special election May 16. Trump is gutting the Department of Education and redirecting federal dollars from public schools to vouchers for private, religious or home schools. His Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a billionaire school choice advocate who never attended a public school, nor sent her own kids there. His budget cuts the Education Department by $9 billion, 13.5 percent, including funds for teacher training, aid to low-income and minority students, and after-school programs. But it increases funds for school choice to $1.4 billion, adding $250 million for use of private schools, including religious schools. With Trump’s aggressive deportation plans and anti-abortion zealotry, it’s not an agenda that helps an under-funded school district like Salem-Keizer with diverse population and high levels of low-income students. When the April 13-26 Salem Weekly editorial endorsed three school board candidates (physician Kathleen Harder, performance auditor Sheronne Blasi, and community center director Levi Herrera-Lopez) it convincingly described their qualifications and exposed the social conservative, Republican Party DNA of their chief opponents. Many might think it unfair for me to also throw in Trump and Devos. After all, it’s a non-partisan local race. No one is campaigning explicitly for or against their policies. But the underlying currents are there. Look deeper and it becomes more...

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Time for democrats to offer Obamacare fix

It happens that in the weeks since first approaching Salem Weekly about submitting current issues columns, the stumbling, fumbling attempt of House Republicans and the Trump Administration to replace Obamacare has faded into the background. Had the House bill passed this probably would have been about how terrible and inequitable it was. But it was yanked out of sight, so that raises the question of what Obamacare supporters should do next. Any glee over the bill’s failure, any satisfaction over unmasking of how it benefited the younger healthier, and wealthier over the older, sicker and poorer, ought be short-lived. Republicans are still seeking votes and Democrats can’t afford to confine themselves to just defending Obamacare while Trump and the GOP Congress are in position to sabotage it and  run against it again in 2018. It’s time Democrats countered by offering a plan showing how the Alternative Care Act can be fixed rather than be replaced by the draconian Republican alternative. A state agency analysis estimated the House replacement bill would mean an increase in uninsured in Oregon from five percent to 15 percent, create a $2.5 billion state budget hole and put 23,000 health care jobs at risk. The Oregon Center for Public Policy estimated nearly one million Oregonians would go uninsured or suffer higher costs and the state could lose up to 41.8 percent of federal funds for...

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