Fighting Back: – Rep. Cheri Bustos: “Just like Trump University, the Republicans’ bill is a scam designed to rip off folks like you.”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

Found on the Internets

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Co-Chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, delivered this week’s Democratic Weekly Address:

Congresswoman Bustos:

[The Washington Republicans are] calling it the American Health Care Act: the AHCA. But they should call it the BBBA: the Big Breaks for Billionaires Act. That’s because you pay more, you get less, while billionaires get all the breaks. […]

For seven years now, Washington Republicans guaranteed they’d repeal and replace.

Well, this week, they were finally forced to put their cards on the table.

And it turns out they’ve been bluffing.

Because when you get past the smoke and mirrors of President Trump’s repeal plan, it’s clear they’ve dealt America a bad hand. […]

It means raiding 170 billion dollars from the Medicare Trust Fund, shortening the solvency of this vital lifeline for our seniors by three years. It means putting rural hospitals and small clinics on life support.

And it means taking coverage away from about 10 million Americans – including tens of thousands of farmers, factory workers and hardworking families across Illinois!

Just like Trump University, their bill is a scam designed to rip off folks like you.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Transcript: Congresswoman Cheri Bustos Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“Hi, I’m Congresswoman Cheri Bustos.

“I come from America’s heartland – the Illinois Quad-Cities, along the banks of the Mississippi River.

“For 17 years as a journalist, I asked the tough questions to hold the powerful accountable.

“Later, I worked at a non-profit health system where I helped families in our community get the care they needed.

“And today, I’m proud to represent the more than 7,000 square miles and 14 counties of the rural, 17th Congressional District of Illinois.

“As a proud daughter of the Midwest, I learned early on about the importance of looking people in the eye, hearing their stories and telling them the truth, even if it’s not always easy.

“But, unfortunately, when it comes to the Washington Republicans’ health care bill, it’s an ugly truth.

“They’re calling it the American Health Care Act: the AHCA. But they should call it the BBBA: the Big Breaks for Billionaires Act. That’s because you pay more, you get less, while billionaires get all the breaks.

“For years, we’ve heard one promise after another from Washington.

“Not all that long ago, President Trump said it very clearly. He told you directly he’d deliver ‘insurance for everybody’ – that is a direct quote.

“And for seven years now, Washington Republicans guaranteed they’d repeal and replace.

“Well, this week, they were finally forced to put their cards on the table.

“And it turns out they’ve been bluffing.

“Because when you get past the smoke and mirrors of President Trump’s repeal plan, it’s clear they’ve dealt America a bad hand.

“Here’s what their bill will actually mean for you.

“It means less coverage and higher costs for working families, for seniors, the disabled and for children.

“Your deductibles, co-pays and out of pocket costs for basic coverage are too high already. We know that. But their plans makes it worse.

“It means insurance companies charging you 30 percent more if your coverage lapses. It means making older Americans pay five times more than others for their health care.

“Again, older Americans will pay five times more!

“It means raiding 170 billion dollars from the Medicare Trust Fund, shortening the solvency of this vital lifeline for our seniors by three years. It means putting rural hospitals and small clinics on life support.

“And it means taking coverage away from about 10 million Americans – including tens of thousands of farmers, factory workers and hardworking families across Illinois!

“Just like Trump University, their bill is a scam designed to rip off folks like you.

“While his plan costs you more and takes coverage away from the people who need it the most, Washington Republicans found a way to give massive tax breaks to the CEOs of health insurance companies, as well as to America’s billionaires.

“That’s right, we’re back to those days again.

“The 400 richest Americans are each going to get a 7 million dollar tax break every single year. And even though that’s not an alternative fact, it sure is unbelievable.

“Right now, we need a little Midwestern sensibility to solve the challenges we face.

“We need to work together to lower out-of-pocket costs and make prescription drugs more affordable.

“But the fact is, their proposal would take us in the wrong direction.

“As one of just 12 Democrats from a Congressional district that Donald Trump won, I’m here to tell you that the tide has turned, on factory floors and in grocery store aisles, in big cities and in small towns.

“Men and women from all backgrounds are coming together and demanding accountability from Washington.

“They want leaders who will stand up and fight for them.

“We hear you and we’re ready to stand up for the values that unite us and fight to get real results for hardworking families.

“So make your voice heard right now.

“Get active in your community and work with us to build a better future for our children, our seniors and our families.

“Together, we can, and we will protect the economic and health security for all Americans.

“Thank you.”

Any bolding has been added.


Last week’s Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT):


Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi. Good morning, good morning. Busy time, busy time.

It’s been 7 weeks since the President’s inauguration. Since then, we still have not seen any jobs bill come forward from the President, no jobs proposal, no infrastructure plan, no movement on renegotiation of NAFTA.

What we have seen is the Republicans’ long-feared and job-killing health bill that means less coverage and more cost to the American people. Pay more for less. Pay more for less.

There are a few things you should know about this bill. The Republican bill is one of the largest transfers of wealth from working families to the richest people in our country. Robin Hood in reverse. The richest 400 families in America will get a $7 million tax break each year, to the tune of a $2.8 billion break every year. It is $600 billion moving from working class families to the richest families in our country. That means those people, plus others.

Seniors will see the lifetime of the Medicare Trust Fund shortened by 3 years. They take $150 billion out of the trust fund, shortening the trust fund by 3 years. We had lengthened it in the Affordable Care Act. But that’s in keeping with the Republicans’ line on Medicare, that it should wither on the vine. So they are shortening its solvency.

And that’s in keeping with also what they want to do in other legislation, the Ryan budget, to remove the guarantee for Medicare and have it just be a voucher and not a guarantee. Medicare by definition is a guarantee. So you are undermining that guarantee.

And millions would lose access to essential Medicaid coverage, not only critical for poor children in our country, but for Americans with disabilities, for seniors with long term care needs, and to fight against opioid and other addictions.

Women lose access to comprehensive health coverage when the Republicans defund Planned Parenthood, stealing even more women’s access to contraception and preventive care.

Young people, who are likely to face an interruption in coverage, will suffer what the young people call a millennial penalty, a Republican surcharge on enrolling after a break in coverage.

So if you are a senior, if you are a person with disabilities, anyone affected by the opioid epidemic, a poor child, a woman, or a young person, the list goes on and on, you are grossly affected by this legislation. That’s why groups that deal with diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, the list goes on and on, Easter Seals, are opposed to this legislation.

Republicans are racing this bill forward before the CBO can truly expose the consequences, the catastrophic consequences of their health bill, and this is in stark contrast to when we passed the bill. I see in the press people said, “Well, you’re criticizing them for what you” – no, that’s not true.

The facts are these. We had scores of hearings, open hearings, bipartisan hearings in the three committees of jurisdiction, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor; hours of public markup; dozen of Republican amendments accepted. We never had a markup or floor vote without a CBO score to show what was happening, what the impact of the bill would be.

Now, what’s interesting, because, as I said to some of you yesterday, Speaker Ryan, then as Ranking Member of the Committee on the Budget, signed a letter to [CBO Director] Doug Elmendorf, along with the other Committee’s Ranking Members of Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor, saying that we shouldn’t proceed until we had a CBO report, which we fully intended to wait for. We had already asked for it and had our markup scheduled well into the future of receiving that.

So in his letter the Speaker says – it references that the House Speaker, that would be me, has indicated the legislation would be marked up before the committees of jurisdiction and debated on the House floor beginning the beginning of August. This is a letter in June. We had already requested the CBO report.

But he says, before the House Democrats go forward, we want to know the consequences, including the number of people who would lose access to their current insurance, the number of jobs lost due to business taxes, the number of uninsured people who would obtain coverage, and the extent of the cannibalization of employer coverage due to Medicaid expansion.

And then it goes on and on. You have this letter, so you can read the rest of it. But the fact is he was asking for, appropriately, for things that we had asked for, too, from the CBO. And now, as Speaker of the House, he is saying, what do we need a CBO report for, we can just go mark it up.

And did I say when we did ours we had – our bill was out there about 30 days before we ever even voted on it. So this is something that they put out in the dark of night on Monday, go overnight.

They don’t want the American people to see the facts. They’re always afraid of the facts. It’s just a remarkable thing. They’re afraid of the facts of the President’s tax returns. And we will continue to ask for those tax returns because we want to know about the Russian connection.

What do the Russians have on Donald Trump politically, financially, and personally? What is that connection? What would the tax returns tell us about that? And we need a bipartisan, independent, nonpartisan outside investigation to get to the bottom of that.

On Monday, the President again put forth his executive order seeking to reinstate the Muslim ban and refugee ban. The Trump administration’s insidious, I call it, repackaging has done nothing to change the immoral, unconstitutional, and dangerous goals of the ban. This is the same ban, with the same purpose, driven by the same dangerous discrimination that weakens our ability to fight terror. The President’s conduct over the weekend emphasizes how little regard he has for reality, the contempt he has for evidence and facts.

I am deeply concerned about their willingness, in fact almost bragging about separating parents from children, mothers from children at the border. I am going to go to the border again, revisit the border again over the weekend to see firsthand, because they said, “Oh, you can’t believe what you read in the paper. We know how to take care of kids. We can put them in foster homes.”

That’s the attitude of this administration, separating children from their parents. Something’s wrong with that. But protecting the American people, which is what we all take an oath to do, and what the President says is his reason for separating mothers and children, requires us to be strong and smart, not reckless, rash, and cruel.

So again, on three fronts, of course, the Affordable Care Act and all that it means to families is very important. The United Methodist Church, in their statement, said people will die because of efforts like this to roll back health care. AARP, the American Medical Association, the hospital association, nurses and physicians, patients, insurers, and consumer groups all oppose the GOP bill. The more we learn about the proposal, of course, the more we see it as a plan that will make Americans pay more for less.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

Week in Review: Terrible Republican #PayMoreForeLess Rollout




  1. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement on President Trump’s first 50 days in office:

    “The first 50 days of the Trump Administration have been a train wreck of fear, incompetence and broken promises. While failing to lift a finger to create jobs, the President has enabled the abuses of his Wall Street friends, tried to make families pay more for less health care, instilled fear among immigrant communities, and allowed Russia to endanger our security.

    “The Trump Administration has always had a problem with the truth: from the lies of his Attorney General to hiding his tax returns to the assault on working families under his populist rhetoric. The failed record of his Administration is a sharp contrast with the bold and swift productivity of the Obama Administration – which had already signed major legislation into law creating millions of jobs and investing in infrastructure, innovation, clean energy and education.

    “Fifty days of President Trump’s agenda have made working families more vulnerable and our nation less safe, even before trying to push millions out of health coverage. Democrats will continue to press President Trump for action to create good-paying jobs for working families, instead of handing tax breaks to his billionaire friends.”

    Week in Review: Terrible Republican #PayMoreForeLess Rollout

    Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans’ #PayMoreForLess bill, which exposes seniors to skyrocketing costs and forces hard-working Americans to pay more for less care, has been met with the most scorching reviews. But don’t take it from us.

    [links to dozens of sources]

    Speaker Ryan: no amount of explaining or deceiving PowerPoint presentations can justify the disgraceful damage Republicans’ #PayMoreForLess bill will do to millions of vulnerable Americans. This is not an ‘act of mercy.’

  2. In the News: March of Nations

    We haven’t lost…we have awakened’: Indigenous nations march on the White House

    They came to Washington to march on the White House, to remind President Donald Trump that despite making up less than one percent of the country’s population, Native people and their rights should be in the front of his mind. Hundreds of people, representing indigenous communities from around the country, came despite the rain, the hail, the wind, burning sage in front of the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in downtown D.C., shouting reminders that the Corps is bound by the Constitution to protect the country from enemies both foreign and domestic.

    “Your president is the enemy!”

    “You can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil!”

    It was not the first march on Washington led by indigenous communities, and it won’t be the last.

  3. The next big hurdle for Republicans – finding a way to discredit their own number crunchers – and to ignore governors and Senators of red states.

    Budget referee may call foul on Obamacare repeal

    The fate of Obamacare may lie in the hands of a number-crunching Republican appointee whose bottom line might single-handedly blow up the GOP quest to repeal and replace it.

    Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall was handpicked two years ago by top Republicans in Congress— including now Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price — to lead a nonpartisan office that will soon release its estimate of how many Americans the Republican health care bill will cover and whether it shrinks or balloons the federal deficit.

    With the House repeal bill under attack by Republican moderates worrying about coverage and conservatives fuming about entitlements and spending, the CBO assessment will matter. It’s widely expected early next week.

    Hall, in the post for two years, has signaled that his office won’t soft-pedal the coverage assessments. If a health plan doesn’t have comprehensive benefits, it won’t count as coverage. Fearing a bad CBO “score,” Republicans facing backlash in their drive to gut Obamacare are turning the budget agency and its team of professional economic analysts into a punching bag as they try to discredit it.

    O’Care-Hating KY Guv Sides With Rand Paul In Fight With Leaders Over GOP Bill

    It’s a little awkward that Bevin is bashing the leadership’s legislation, known as the American Health Care Act, given that Vice President Mike Pence is traveling to Kentucky this weekend to promote it (though Bevin did say that he will tell Pence “we support their effort to fix this problem,” according to the AP.)

    It’s also a little ironic that Bevin is criticizing other Republicans for recalibrating their repeal promises once they are in power. Bevin kicked off his campaign for governor of Kentucky, a Medicaid expansion state, in 2015 with a promise to uproot Obamacare in the state in every way possible. Over the course of the race he softened that stance, particularly in regards to the Medicaid expansion, which had extended coverage to 400,000 Kentuckians.

  4. Morning, JanF – {{{HUGS}}} and thanks for the weekly Fighting Back roundup. Of all the really terrible, bad, evil, no good, crap the Rs are saying about just about anything, the one above that jumped out at me and said “bizarro world” was the bit about ICE taking care of the kids they are separating from their parents by putting them in Foster care. You gotta be kidding me. Foster care? The totally underfunded state-run programs that never have enough foster parents to place kids with? That Foster care? The “place minorities last” program? That Foster care? Even if it weren’t a flat out lie, which it is, it wouldn’t be the right answer from any standpoint. The deliberate harm to children being done in my name – if their nasty evil god is going to rapture them out of here, I wish he’d do it soon!

    These people are so evil. I don’t have words for how evil they are. There has got to be something we can do about it. But at the moment – well, I can and do Hold them in The Light, will light candles, and send Spiritual strength and Healing – but it’s not enough.

  5. Penny-wise and pound foolish. No pre-natal care will lead to less healthy babies – at a cost to everyone. And the forced-birth crowd being unwilling to cover births is simply cruel.

    I’m Pregnant. What Would Happen If I Couldn’t Afford Health Care?

    Even though I’m a relatively healthy 34-year-old, I have several medical conditions that call for more frequent monitoring. My doctor recommended that I return every two weeks for a physical exam and ultrasound. Closer to delivery, I should plan to see him every week.

    I didn’t hesitate to follow my doctor’s recommendations. I have excellent health insurance with no copay for doctor’s visits and a minimal cost for tests.

    But what would I have done if I didn’t have insurance?

    One obstetrician visit would cost $150. With an ultrasound each time, it would be $400. A Pap smear would cost $53. One set of blood tests would add another $300. All told, my prenatal care with all visits and tests included would be over $10,000. This is not counting labor and delivery, which in my area is estimated to be up to $30,000 for a vaginal birth and $50,000 for a cesarean section.

    “Sorry, ma’am, your insurance doesn’t cover a c-section – prepare to die!”

    • Here is what happens to women’s health care under RepubliCare:

      The tax credits at the center of the plan cannot be spent at all on any health care plan that covers abortion (aside from the Hyde Amendment’s exceptions).

      So while health care plans can cover abortion, very few people may be able to purchase those sorts of plans, as they wouldn’t be able to use their tax credits on them. […]

      This bill partially “defunds” Planned Parenthood, meaning it would cut back on the federal funding that can be used for services at the clinics. Fully 43 percent of Planned Parenthood’s revenue in fiscal year 2015 — more than $550 million — came from government grants and reimbursements.[…]

      In response to a question about defunding Planned Parenthood this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that he didn’t want to “violate anybody’s conscience.” When a reporter asked how this relates to birth control, Price did not give a definite answer.

      So no birth control, no abortion, no Planned Parenthood – which helps people plan for parenthood! Maybe this should be called HatesWimminsCare. Although I think the “Republican” part of RepubliCare makes that redundant.

      • No materity coverage either. Republicans may want you to give birth to children but they aren’t going to help you pay for it.

        • Yes, their goal is “more babies” although they admit they only want the ones that look like them.

  6. Here is an excellent deconstruction of Paul “Granny Killer” Ryan’s plans from Jason Linkins at HuffPo Paul Ryan’s Wonk Shtick Is Getting Old.

    After you cut through the lies, here is where you end up:

    Ryan’s health care bill is “a huge tax cut bill financed through Medicaid cuts.”

    The Ryan way:

    The Rosetta Stone by which Ryan’s worldview is explained: Those who have achieved affluence have done so through proper moral choices and deserve rewards. Those who are struggling have made poor moral choices and require punishments to induce them back into prosperity. That’s the whole of it. And you can see how this is wholly incompatible with what “health care reform” seeks to achieve. In Ryan’s view, if you have come to the point in your life where you are incapable of simply financing your own health care, this is down to your personal failings, and you don’t deserve much beyond the barest of minimums.

    So in the end, it’s not that Paul Ryan doesn’t understand health insurance. And it’s not that he doesn’t understand math well enough to know that the numbers don’t add up to a sufficient “replacement” for Obamacare. That’s because what Ryan is “repealing” and “replacing” isn’t a health care bill ― he’s swapping out the moral universe that gave birth to the Affordable Care Act with the one that he prefers. One in which the state rewards affluence and punishes those who fail to achieve it. One in which the very notion of redistributing money from the well-off to the poor for the purpose of health care provision is a mortal sin. Properly reconfiguring the universe along these moral guidelines is, to Ryan’s mind, an “act of mercy.”

    • Charlie Pierce on Paul Ryan:

      Now he is out there pimping the dungheap that is the new healthcare reform bill as though Mitch and Murray from downtown were lighting his pants on fire. He even lost the suit coat and broke out the PowerPoint on Thursday. It was like watching something on cable access late at night, or a flop-sweaty rookie substitute teacher, and it was hilarious—except for the parts where people will lose their health insurance and die, of course.

      And his followup on “mercy”:

      [Joe Kennedy III] had some concerns about the bill and, more to the point, he had more serious concerns about the people pushing the bill, specifically, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin who is (putatively) in charge of the House. From The Boston Globe:

      “I was struck last night by a comment that I heard made by Speaker Ryan, where he called this repeal bill ‘an act of mercy.’ With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture…The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful, but by how we care for the least among us. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill. This is not an act of mercy. It is an act of malice.”

      Even more telling is the fact that a Democratic congressman in his third term was willing publicly to take a chunk out of the Speaker of the House. This was a shot beyond partisanship and it indicates that, perhaps, the Democratic minority in the House senses that Ryan has made a blunder in pushing this bill without having his own house in order, so to speak. […]

      If Congressman Kennedy is willing to whack the Speaker over the head with the gospels, then the cracks are becoming harder to paper over. Sooner or later, the roof falls in.

      I pray(!) that he is right.

  7. WHEN is something bad going to happen to these guys?

    (Summoning the shade of Henry II): Will no one rid us of these turbulent Rethugs?

    They don’t have to be whacked, just forced to resign in disgrace.

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