Saturday, June 16, 2012

Over thirteen million young people covered in 2011 by the Affordable Care Act by Thomas Riggins

According to a report in Science Daily (June 8, 2012) 13.7 million young people either remained on, or signed on to, health care coverage through the health insurance of their parents. This is an early benefit coming from the Affordable Care Act [ACA], (the full ACA doesn't go into effect until 2014). SD thinks 6.6 million of these young people (19 to 25 year olds) "would likely not have been able to do so" without the passage of the ACA.

 This information is good news and comes from a report issued by the Commonwealth Fund ("Young, Uninsured and in Debt: Why Young Adults Lack Health Insurance and How the Affordable Care Act is Helping.") But the news is not all rosy. Almost 39% of young adults in the age group did not qualify for coverage and 36% had serious problems with medical bills causing them to lose their savings, default on tuition and student loans, change their career and educational plans, or run out of money for rent, heat or food-- according to the report.

 Republicans, who derisively refer to the ACA as "Obama Care" and promise to junk it if they capture the White House and Congress in the Fall, may not be concerned with the problems of these young people, especially since most of them come from low-income families (whose problems are not high on the list of Republican concerns), but the vast majority of the American people who are workers in the low and middle income ranges have everything to gain and nothing to lose by seeing the provisions of the ACA go into effect.

 Sara Collins of the Commonwealth Fund said, "While the Affordable Care Act has already provided a new source of coverage for millions of young adults at risk of being uninsured, more help is needed for those left behind. The law's major insurance provisions slated for 2014, including expanded Medicaid and subsidized private plans through state insurance exchanges, will provide nearly all young adults across the income spectrum with affordable and comprehensive health plans."

 Although the fight to add a public option to the ACA must continue, the plan as it stands today is the best and most comprehensive option the American people have at hand to alleviate the suffering and even premature deaths of thousands of people the Republicans would leave out in the streets for lack of ability to pay for costly overpriced private insurance. This is literally a life and death issue for thousands of people and the ACA must be preserved at all costs. As the Commonwealth Fund president, Karen Davis, remarked, "The Affordable Care Act will provide all Americans with affordable coverage, and help young adults achieve healthy, productive, and financially secure futures." That the Republicans, in their rush to serve the selfish interests of the corporate elite, the 1%, and are willing to sacrifice the health and well being of the American people in the process, should be a sufficient guarantee to ensure their defeat in November. Their only hope of victory rests on voter suppression and distortion of the facts regarding their true intentions.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

US Diktat to Pakistan Not Working by Thomas Riggins

The US is having more problems with its "ally" Pakistan according to a recent article in the New York Times ("Frustrations Grow as US and Pakistan Fail to Mend Ties" NYT 5/28/2012"). After summoning the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari to the NATO conclave in Chicago last week and then berating and humiliating him in the best traditions of Imperial arrogance towards the lesser breeds without the law the US is frustrated because Pakistan has not capitulated to the dictates of the Obama administration. If we look at the Times article we can understand why.

Public opinion in Pakistan is decidedly anti-American and the US drone strikes in the country as well as the killing of 24 Pakistani troops by US-NATO forces by "mistake" hasn't helped the situation. How did the US respond when President Zardari brought up Pakistan's concerns about the relationship with the US-- reasonable concerns that could be easily solved if the US showed some good will and respect for the Pakistani people.

The situation is critical. Pakistan has closed the supply route US forces have been using in that country to transmit its war supplies to Afghanistan. The US wants this route opened up and thinks the best way to do that is not to address the concerns brought up by President Zardari but to browbeat him and demand that he shape up to US expectations. This is not a tactic designed to win the good will of the people of Pakistan-- no matter what they may ultimately think of their own political class.

When Zardari arrived in the windy city he found out that he would not be meeting with President Obama (a sign of imperial displeasure) but would have to endure a lot of hot air blowing his way from the Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton who was, as the NYT puts it "nothing if not blunt." She told a "subdued" Zardari "It's going to take leadership from you and others" to solve Pakistan's problems (many of which seem to be the US's problems in trying to "win" the war in Afghanistan or least tamp it down so that an inglorious exit can be pulled off). It seems that the US's inability to be militarily successful in the region is due to Zardari's lack of leadership skills rather than the ineptitude and stupidity of US policy makers.

Take for instance the case of the 24 Pakistani soldiers recently killed by "mistake" on the border of Afghanistan. Zardari says Pakistan lacks the resources to control all the troublesome insurgent groups in its border area, and his government needs to get maximum cooperation with other political parties and groups to carry out an effective policy, he told Mrs. Clinton, that "We're backed into a corner because you haven't apologized" for the killing of the soldiers (which has outraged Pakistani public opinion).

There is a simple solution to this major contentious issue between the two countries. US forces (NATO is just a cover for the US) "accidentally" kill a large number of our ally's troops and a simple apology to the Pakistanis would go a long way to relieving tensions, except the imperial pretensions of the US won't allow it to apologize. The NYT times even reports that US election year politics may be involved. Since this involves US military supply lines being disrupted the US's own troops could be adversely affected, and all because of the pride or perceived political expediency of politicians in Washington.

The NYT reports that our "alliance" with Pakistan "is central to the Obama administration's plan to end the war in Afghanistan." But the Obama administration treats Pakistan and its president with unconcealed contempt and will assuredly cause a complete rupture of relations if it does not stop its bullying and high handed actions. Another example is the continuing drone attacks that the US makes in Pakistan despite the fact that the Pakistani Parliament and government objects to them. Here we have a sovereign country telling us to stop bombing its people and we completely ignore it and continue bombing. The US is shooting itself in the foot and blaming others for its self inflicted wounds.

The Parliament is democratically elected, as is the president of Pakistan (Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy so the role of the president is not the same as in the US) and the demands that they have made of the US can be seen as a democratic expression of the will of the Pakistani people. But what the people of Pakistan think or want is the last thing on the mind of Mrs. Clinton who used her time in Chicago to lecture Zardari on how to carry out the plans the US wants to see Pakistan adopt, and, as the NYT says, "to sell them to politicians in Pakistan." It may be the politicians in Pakistan are more interested in doing what their people want them to do rather than what Mrs. Clinton wants them to do.

But it is a brave new world gradually coming into existence outside of the US, one that increasingly refuses to bow to the imperial diktat and to accede unquestioningly to the demands of US imperialism and its corporate masters. People everywhere are becoming more insistent on their democratic rights, even in the US itself. Let us have the audacity to hope the Obama administration gets the message.