Trump to End ACA Subsidies

President Trump used the power of the pen to issue executive orders to take away the healthcare of the poor this week. He did this by removing subsidies offered to enrollees that couldn’t afford the high premiums and deductibles that are currently available in the marketplace.

Instead of working with Congress to provide increased protections for Americans from excessively high premiums and deductibles, the President has decided to throw the health insurance exchanges into chaos, which will undoubtedly cost people their access to healthcare.

And, to make matters worse, the health insurance companies have been making record profits as their stock prices have increased steadily since the passage of Obamacare. (See the above graph)

Without significant protections for Americans and any capacity to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, it’s the American people that will be footing the bill for this misadventure.

Yes, these subsidies are paid to these very health insurance companies. However, without these subsidies and without sufficient protections applied to the companies, the health and wellbeing of the country is at stake.

That’s unacceptable to me and should be to any member of Congress. 

Some people want a single payer, or Medicare for all plan. Others want to repeal Obamacare altogether. Both of these approaches don’t solve the impending crisis facing real people that need their healthcare today. 

We have to fix Obamacare today and work toward better solutions for the long term. That’s what Americans have deserved for decades and haven’t seen in far too long.

Unions, Wage Stagnation, & Labor

It’s time to balance the power between workers and employers
Lawrence Summers is a professor at and past president of Harvard University. He was treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001 and an economic adviser to President Barack Obama from 2009 through 2010.
The central issue in American politics is the economic security of the middle class and their sense of opportunity for their children. As long as a substantial majority of American adults believe that their children will not live as well as they did, our politics will remain bitter and divisive.
Surely related to middle-class anxiety is the slow growth of wages even in the ninth year of economic recovery. The Phillips curve — which postulates that tighter labor markets lead to an acceleration of wage growth — appears to have broken down. Unemployment is at historically low levels, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that average hourly earnings last month rose by all of 3 cents — little more than a 0.1 percent bump. For the past year, they rose by only 2.5 percent. In contrast, profits of the S&P 500 are rising at a 16 percent annual rate.
What is going on? Economists don’t have complete answers. In part, there are inevitable year-to-year fluctuations (profits have declined in several recent years). And in part, BLS data reflects wages earned in the United States, even though a bit less than half of profits are earned abroad and have become more valuable as the dollar has declined relative to other currencies. And finally, wages have not risen because a strengthening labor market has drawn more workers into the labor force.
But I suspect the most important factor is that employers have gained bargaining power over wages while workers have lost it. Technology has given some employers — depending on the type of work involved — more scope for replacing American workers with foreign workers (think outsourcing) or with automation (think boarding-pass kiosks at airports) or by drawing on the gig economy (think Uber drivers). So their leverage to hold down wages has increased.
On the other hand, other factors have decreased the leverage of workers. For a variety of reasons, including reduced availability of mortgage credit and the loss of equity in existing homes, it is harder than it used to be to move to opportunity. Diminished savings in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis means many families cannot afford even a brief interruption in work. Closely related is the observation that workers as consumers appear more likely than years ago to have to purchase from monopolies — such as a consolidated airline sector or local health-care providers — rather than from firms engaged in fierce price competition. That means their paychecks do not go as far.
On this Labor Day, we would do well to remember that unions have long played a crucial role in the American economy in evening out the bargaining power between employers and employees. They win higher wages, better working conditions and more protection from unjust employer treatment for their members. More broadly, they provide crucial support in the political process for programs such as Social Security and Medicare that benefit members and nonmembers alike. (Both were passionately opposed by major corporations at their inception.)
Today, only 6.4 percent of private-sector workers belong to a union — a decline of nearly two-thirds since the late 1970s. This is the one important contributor to the decline in the relative power of labor, especially those who work with their hands. Workers seeking gigs on their own are inevitably less secure than a group collectively representing their interests. The decline in unionism is also a contributor to the pervasive sense that our political system is too often for sale to the highest bidder.
What can be done? This surely is not the moment for lawmakers to further strengthen the hand of large employers over their employees. Sooner or later — and preferably sooner —
  • labor-law reform should be back on the national agenda, especially to punish employers who engage in firing organizers.
  • We should also encourage union efforts to organize people in nontraditional ways, even when they do not involve formal collective bargaining.
  • And policymakers should support institutions such as employee stock ownership plans, where workers have a chance to share in profits and in corporate governance.
In an era when the most valuable companies are the Apples and the Amazons rather than the General Motors and the General Electrics, the role of unions cannot go back to being what it was. But on this Labor Day, any leader concerned with the American middle class needs to consider that the basic function of unions, balancing the power of employers and employees, is as important to our economy as it has ever been.

Working Together, not Fighting Allies

Instead of fighting amongst natural allies, we should be working together.

There is nothing wrong with moderate and centrist political language as the vast majority of voters are moderates or independents. Pitting the center against the left and progressives is a concern, especially in rural America. It also doubles down on false beliefs about the Democratic Party not being about rural and midAmerica. It also doesn’t help reconnect the Party with conservative Democrats, broadening our big tent party.

Our causes and policies are aligned with the political center and voters of all stripes because they’re designed to improve the lives of American families and the vulnerable, to increase equality and opportunity for all, and to give all of us better education, healthcare, and better paying jobs.

We actually have an agenda that doesn’t gut services, schools, and healthcare in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy.

We may have different views on how to achieve these goals, but that’s where communicating respectfully and compromising to make real progress for Americans is not just necessary but vital for the future of the country. Don’t we have enough disrespect coming from enough elected officials these days?

We have to work in the short term to provide immediate relief as well as fight together to reach our long term goals. We can’t do that from the far left or from the center alone. It takes all of us persevering together for years and decades, voting in every election for decades, and making an effort to not only communicate our principles and values with others but listen to their principles and values as well.

 

Fundraising Highs & Lows for Dems

In a year with many special elections, the most expensive House race in American history, and much frustration with the direction of the country under the leadership of President Trump and a GOP-led Congress, most would believe the Democrats would be outpacing the GOP in cash and fundraising.

The reality is not clear.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has $40 million less in the bank than the RNC. That doesn’t tell the whole story. DNC has nearly $6.9 million in cash on hand. With two quarters left until primaries begin, this should be a warning sign to all Democrats, Progressives, and Independents to not remain complacent in the midterms.

Beyond those bleak numbers, the RNC has doubled the DNC in the amount raised from small donations. Bernie Sanders was able to garner amazing amounts of small donations in 2015 and throughout 2016. These donors might be sitting on the sidelines or have moved to supporting Trump and the GOP.

However, this isn’t the entire picture.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has the opposite fundraising numbers of it’s Republican counterpart, the (NRCC). The DCCC’s first quarter was a record in contributions, spurred on by special elections and reaction to the Trump-GOP agenda.

So far this election cycle, the DCCC has raised $66 million and currently has nearly $23 million in the bank. There is hope for fundraising within the Democratic and Progressive sphere.

Perhaps after the controversies surrounding Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other issues raised during both the primary and general election about leadership and management of the DNC, more donors are focusing efforts toward the DCCC.

Regardless, the DCCC is not funding many longtime conservative House races. Currently, there are plans to pump resources into the 12th and 13th downstate races, but not into the 15th District.

As many people throughout the 15th District realize by knocking on doors and listening to voters, conservative and independent voters are not satisfied with Rep. John Shimkus and how he has represented their interests for the last 22 years in Washington, D.C.

The People of the 15th deserve opportunities, immediate relief, and new approaches that will make a difference in their daily lives and their bottom-lines. They deserve practical and pragmatic solutions and above all someone who isn’t burdened by special interests and personal businesses that could benefit from their agenda.

Together, we all do better.

When those that struggle have more to spend, local businesses and governments benefit.

When those that work hard but can’t pay their bills earn more money, their lives improve and opportunities open up for them, their families, and their communities. 

When we all come together with a common goal of shared prosperity, affordable healthcare, the best education for every child, more access to your services and absolutely to your representation to Congress, we all learn more about each other and how similar we truly are.

That’s what I intend to do. Come join me!

Donate Now!

We Must Stand FOR the People

I continue to see so much animosity and outrage pouring out on social media and in public regarding the President. This is not all that helpful in the upcoming midterm elections. The Democratic Party becoming the anti-Trump party is not a good political move, nor is it a good move for the People. It doesn’t win elections and it’s not polling well either.

The vast majority of registered voters don’t believe Democrats support anything. That’s a huge red flag for me. If you recall in the Clinton era, Republicans ran aggressively against Bill Clinton in ’96, both in Congress and in political speech/ads. How did that turnout for them? The same can be said in ’04 with George W Bush.

Anti-the-other-candidate campaigns most often fail. The latest campaign that ran on that message was the Hillary campaign. She had great policies that would have made a difference, but how many voters actually connected with those policies? That campaign simply ran against Trump and thought that was good enough to win the election. It was ultimately a losing message in downstate Illinois, throughout much of the Midwest, and rural America.

I want to caution anyone that goes full tilt in anger-outrage mode against President Trump. It might make some feel better and that you’re in solidarity with one another, but it’s not going to change these House district races. We have to set out a real vision for the People and the country.

I’m dedicated to making policies that will make a difference to the People of the 15th District and throughout downstate Illinois, both in the short term and the long term. The People here haven’t had a real advocate or a fighter on their side in the House for far too long.

Most of the people I talk to on the campaign trail don’t care about the Russian investigation. Of course, those of us that have been linked into politics and history are deeply concerned about every detail, but it doesn’t mean anything to the daily lives of regular folks throughout the district.

That’s why I’m focusing on what will make a difference in the lives of real people in my campaign. I’ve never been one to be against someone but to be for others instead, regardless of their beliefs, their gender, their religion, their background, or anything else about them.

Everyone deserves a shot at the American Dream. They deserve better representation than they’ve received in decades.

Let’s change that together!

A Different Take on ‘Conservative’ Illinois

RoadSnacks just made a study that declared the 10 Most Conservative Cities in Illinois. This can be of great concern to those living in or around any of these cities.

I have a different take.

Most of this, in my experience, is due to Democrats not playing hard or at all in these areas for decades. Vacating has led to dominance, intimidation, and more by the GOP. 

I’m not dissuaded by those factors at all. I’m a natural fighter, though.

A cool head, applying respect (something the other side doesn’t do), and listening to voter concerns are the first steps. After I listen, I apply what I’ve learned and connect it directly to my message and vision for the 15th district. 

Believe it or not, all of us have the same basic concerns for our families and communities. We want better economies, higher wages, more jobs, more affordable healthcare, cheaper prescription drugs, safer communities, and better schools for our children. 

Most people haven’t heard from a state rep or state senate candidate in years. Rarely are these races challenged in the general election, either. They’ve never heard from a congressional candidate directly. 

If you come with all the answers, it’s often a lost cause. Each of these Americans deserves to be heard. And, they haven’t been heard in far too long.

They’ve not had someone fighting for their families and their communities in a long time. The Democratic Party is the party of the People. We must be their voice, on city councils, county boards, in Springfield, and in Washington.

We can do this!

The damage of the vacuum of the last few decades takes time to heal, and we all have a vital role to play in rebuilding the trust with working families and the most vulnerable.

I’ve never been more hopeful. Let’s get to work!

Reducing the Cost of Healthcare

The 15th District of Illinois is a rural district. Therefore, many kids rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. There are many structural problems with Medicaid that must be tackled. We must address these systemic issues as well as the other drivers that increase the cost of healthcare for individuals and families.

  • Reduce costs of prescription drugs by allowing foreign sourcing and competitive bidding.
  • In areas with one or no provider, offer a public option. This would be similar to Medicare, but with higher premiums but with more manageable deductibles.
  • In order to reduce costs in the marketplace, allow the chronically ill and the disabled to gain access to Medicare, regardless of ability to work. This will give stability and certainty to this population while simultaneously reducing costs of insurance for the broader population.
  • For those accessing insurance through either Medicaid or the marketplace, increase access to credits and subsidies for being healthy, exercising plans, and non-utilization of healthcare. This will decrease the cost of healthcare for those who may not need it but who might need it for catastrophic conditions.
  • We have to allow insurance companies to sell across state lines. Also, if an insurance company sells a policy to a business, that same policy should be available for sell to individuals or families, creating real competition in the marketplace.
  • And, we must provide more access and choices for women and families across the country, especially in rural areas that are underserved.

Together, we can make healthcare more affordable for all of our citizens. This is a difficult problem to address, but it is possible. If you have problems accessing healthcare, I want to hear about it. Please contact me with your specific issues.

Kevin Gaither, kevin@gaither4il.com

(217) 246-8281

Trump-Shimkus Care a Bad Deal for Americans

If our local medical professionals have such negative opinions about Trump-Shimkus Care, shouldn’t we be a bit concerned about the negative impacts it would have on the citizens of Illinois?
“I’m just gonna leave this right here
How about instead of doing away with a whole program, we re-evaluate it.”
– in response to Kellyanne Conway’s above comments about Medicaid recipients losing coverage
When Vice President Mike Pence was Governor of Indiana, he gutted healthcare for high risk groups. He also made decisions that directly led to an HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana.
 
This is the same approach that the GOP-led Congress, partnered with the Trump administration, are wanting to do to the national healthcare system.
 
Obamacare has serious issues that must be addressed. Making the situation much worse in order to give the wealthiest a massive tax cut, in order to give the pharmaceutical industry a massive tax cut, doesn’t make any sense.
 
There are simple proposals that members of both parties, medical professionals, and citizens agree that could be done today to address some of the most egregious problems in Obamacare. That would immediately begin lowering the cost of healthcare for individuals and families.
 
Why aren’t the Republicans bringing these bipartisan proposals up for a vote? Because they’re in the pocket of big pharma, the insurance industry, and most importantly, the wealthiest Americans that don’t need a massive tax break paid for by hardworking Americans.
 
Give regular folks a break for once.

First Q & A

Send Me Your Questions, Concerns, or Comments.
Email: kevin@gaither4il.com
Twitter: @gaither4il
gaither4il.com

I think we need less personality and more connecting with voters. Less personal and social issues and more economic messages that connect with workers.

“We need people to understand the conservatives and find common ground. Enough revolutions and verbal bomb throwing.”

When I discuss finding common ground, it’s with voters. Without more voters coming over to support our candidates in areas like the 15th District of Illinois, we have no chance of taking back the House for American workers and small business owners.

Number one, there are many people throughout rural and Mid America, the very areas that Dems and Progressives lost, that deserve better. Secondly, these areas have been grossly underserved by their representation in state legislatures and in Congress. Many only have had the “verbal bombs” thrown at them from both sides. The problem is that they’ve known the conservative mantras their whole lives. We have to begin to change that now.

Q: But how? It’s entrenched in their lives and culture.

A: By first listening to the people. Then, relating what you hear to a message that resonates with them. This won’t happen overnight.

Democrats have largely left these voters behind for decades. That vacuum and damage can’t be bridged and healed overnight, or over even one election cycle. What most don’t realize or never hear is how the GOP policies have harmed their lives and livelihoods.

Calling them stupid, deplorables, bigots, and fascists doesn’t really bode well for bringing them into the big tent that is the Democratic Party. It also happens to not be accurate.

Q: Many claim Bernie Sanders’ plans are financially not feasible without severely raising taxes. I have no problem paying higher taxes for single payer healthcare or free college, but still too many people claim this is socialism.

A: The real issue with paying for programs and services are the caps on taxes for the wealthiest. Nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than in the State of Illinois where we have a flat tax system. The highest income earners pay an effective tax rate of 3.75%. Compare that to your own tax rates. 

This is where education of voters is quite powerful. You can only do that one voter at a time. Most won’t believe an ad or something on the news. They naturally fear socialism and definitely higher taxes. They distrust the $15 minimum wage and free college.

I’ve talked to so many intelligent, hardworking Americans that believe if we did raise the minimum wage that new workers would be the only ones that receive that $15/hour but that they wouldn’t. It’s bizarre, but I hear this everywhere I go.

Q: Where are the moderate Republicans in Congress when it comes to a vote to help their constituents?

A: They’re not receiving enough calls from their own constituents. We’ll see how they respond to the Senate Trumpcare bill. We have to not give up the good fight and reaching out where we can actually make a difference. 

In House races here, in the upcoming gubernatorial race next year in Illinois, state legislative races, and in all Senate races everywhere, we have to challenge incumbents. We have to do this with more than just candidates but with messages and policies that resonate with regular folks.

We can’t control what others do, but we can make a good faith effort at reaching out to them. Relentlessness without exhaustion, attachment, and expectation is difficult to make a personal reality. It happens to be a survival strategy in political discourse, advocacy, and activism, in my experience.

Q: Conservatives are ideologues. Their relationship with and the part Christianity plays in their lives influences everything including their support for an authoritarian figure in charge. You cannot ignore that and simply focus on economic issues and think you will change their minds. It is so powerful that it has caused people to vote against their own economic interests for years.

A: I’ll never say to ignore any aspect of voters’ lives. However, ignoring these voters and these areas completely is repeating a mistake and expecting a different result. The idea that people are voting for the GOP and against their best economic interests is somehow due to Christianity is overly simplistic.

Democrats haven’t been running in most of these areas, locally, state, or in federal races, for a long time. Democrats abdicated these to the GOP long ago when manufacturers beat down Unions and jobs began to decline. That mistake must be rectified.

Believe it or not, most people aren’t mean-spirited Christians. They want to do good for others and their communities. Democrats just haven’t focused on messages that relate to these voters in a way that is meaningful.

Seeing these voters as monolithic is an error of judgment I won’t be making. If I saw them that way, I wouldn’t bother to run to make a difference here.

It’s also a mistake to believe you’re going to change people’s minds. Politics is about broadening your message so that it relates to voters and their communities, not the other way around. This is never more true than in these deeply entrenched districts that have been held by one party or another for decades.

These voters naturally distrust politicians of any stripe or creed. They trust what they know or what they’ve known. Breaking through is not a simple process. It takes time, diligence, and relentless perseverance. Repeated contacts, openness to questions and concerns, and always listening and relating back to core principles and messages that matter to people.

I look forward to more of your questions as I continue to put my campaign together. Pleased to so much energy and inspiration out in the district, state, and country.

Keep up the good fight!

The Flag, Kneeling, & The First Amendment

It’s increasingly difficult to have respectful dialogue with people regarding current events. The most recent hot button being the debate over kneeling during the National Anthem.

Extraordinarily enough, the people that are most disrespectful regarding this topic online are the ones that claim kneeling is extremely disrespectful. They use name-calling, bullying, and censorship to stop having a rational discussion about the issue. I can take all the above. Others, however, cannot. They deserve to have their voices heard and their needs met.

Of course, there are different perspectives regarding the Flag and how to respect it. It shouldn’t be as difficult to be respectful of one another while we express our differences, but, apparently, that is too high a bar for far too many.

Some groups of people complain about players being disrespectful when they kneel during the National Anthem while they openly disrespect anyone who disagrees with their positions. Most likely, they don’t even stand for the Anthem from the comfort of their homes when it’s played on their TVs. 

Double standards? Of course. That’s as rich a tradition in America as is peaceful protest. Double standards allow the American people to languish in the status quo. Aren’t we all exhausted by the status quo?

The reality is that our veterans, active military, Congress, and the President all took an Oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. Not part of it, ALL of it. 

The sacrifices made to defend America and Americans were made to protect our rights,  Freedom of Speech and to protest injustice in America being among them. Forgetting our actual history and our actual Constitution seems to be easy for too many Americans today.

Regardless of your belief about whether or not people should kneel or stand during the National Anthem at professional or college games, it is their right to do so. 

I will always stand as long as I can stand. That’s my choice as much as your choices are your choices. Both are protected by our Constitution and have been supported by the Supreme Court many times.

It’s not my place to tell these players what to do, many of whom grew up in poverty, watched family be prosecuted and jailed, and have seen generations lost to violence in their streets. They now have a position and wealth that most never attain. They’re using that position to do good in their communities, but that’s not enough for some players. Those who languish in the status quo deserve people that can and will stand up for them, even if that means kneeling and taking the heat publicly.

It IS my place to protect their right to peacefully protest our government, because that’s what men and women died for while fighting for America, and while fighting for rights here IN America. 

Also, adding more hatred and bigotry into the national conversation does nothing to move our country forward. We need to move forward together.

The First Amendment is First for a reason. It’s what keeps our government serving all her people. If we lose sight of that, we’re in much deeper trouble than we could imagine.

I want to live in a country where we all want to stand together in solidarity with one another.

That’s the American Dream I’ve believed in throughout my life.

We can achieve it, but only through dialogue, listening, and coming together instead of tearing each other apart.

The Case Against Graham-Cassidy

The case against the Graham-Cassidy healthcare repeal bill is complicated.

As usual, the GOP is light on the details, hoping that someone else will do the right thing or that we’re not paying attention.

Within the bill, there is language that allows states to determine what “adequate and affordable” means for those of us with pre-existing conditions. This would mean higher premiums and deductibles for the chronically ill, the disabled, aging populations, as well as for veterans. That’s a big NO GO for me.

It also allows states to deny preventive care and services. These efforts save money down the road. This includes denial of maternity care, childbirth, and even mental health, which includes treatment for opioid addiction. Considering how the opioid epidemic is ravaging communities and families across the country, this seems the exact wrong direction to take healthcare.

The main thrust of the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare is the Medicaid expansion. In states like Illinois that expanded Medicaid, it will result in the loss of healthcare coverage for roughly a million people. Hard working Americans were able to gain access to Medicaid under Obamacare. The GOP wants to take that choice off the table. 

None of this is to discount the very serious problems with Obamacare and Medicaid.

We have to fix the law, protect healthcare for those it helps, fix it for those who are being hurt with high premiums and deductibles, and send retroactive checks to those low wage workers that were hit with tax penalties for not having coverage.

We have to be relentless in our pursuit for better, more affordable healthcare. We cannot stop until no one is left behind. We can do that by electing different people to Congress. People that know how vital healthcare is, how it works, how it can work better for people, and that will never stop fighting.

I have a history of doing just that. I won’t stop as I know personally the costs of dismantling healthcare programs. These are life and death decisions that are current representative to Congress takes cavalierly. I won’t.

Photo: Fortune.com

Democrats for Action, not Litmus

Senate politics are different from House politics. Winning back the House isn’t easy, and Nancy Pelosi knows that personally. Blue meat like single payer doesn’t sell as well or enough in many of these conservative-leaning House districts to make a difference at the ballot box next November.

We must win back the House in order to begin making a difference for the American People again. Doing so as the minority party in Congress is simply too difficult during the next three years.

And, Americans and DACA recipients need us to do more than make simple talking point issues that are unlikely to pass a veto override.

When we have the opportunity to pass legislation once again, we must act. We must take aim at wage stagnation, at protecting healthcare, and at protecting the most vulnerable amongst us. Those are the issues I’ve been targeting in my campaign.

The country did not trust Democrats after the last healthcare overhaul. We have to reforge that trust and not by making massive promises that may not turn out the way we expect. The best of intentions are meaningless if these don’t translate to real results for people.

The rural districts have remained in the hands of the GOP for far too long and are the keys to turning the page on the broken politics of the last few decades. 

I know the voters I listen to every single day are ready for a change that will make a beneficial difference in their daily lives and in their bottom-lines. That hasn’t happened in too long of a time in too many of these districts.

The Democratic Party has to deliver for the People, not just deliver big promises and force litmus tests on its candidates and legislators.

Together, we all can achieve so much for those who haven’t had a voice in Washington, DC. 

Let’s get to it!