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    THE ECONOMY: “When you lie down with dogs. . . .”

      THE ECONOMY:  “When you lie down with dogs. . . .” The Trump budget, capricious and unworkable though it may be, illustrates how economically dishonest and morally bankrupt this administration is, and tells us everything about its priorities.   The man who promised us he would eliminate the national debt by the end of his second term (heaven forfend!) now coolly estimates that his plan will add another $7 trillion to the debt by 2028, and his administration comes to that using growth figures not seen since the sixties plus a mystical absence of any recessions. The Military budget is up 14.1%. Meanwhile, the State Department budget is down 26.9%. In 1954, Winston Churchill told Congress that “jaw jaw is better than war war.”  Even General Mattis has said, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”  But this President has a tin ear for diplomacy and a tin cup for his silver spoons.  The man who promised repeatedly that he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, now proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion, and Medicaid by around $250 billion over a decade. In the same period, he plans on taking $214 billion (30%) from the Food Stamp program.  The recipients of food stamps are now to receive boxes of food, just like Blue Apron, we are told.  This from an administration that recently contracted to deliver millions of pre-made meals to Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria, only to withdraw the contract after almost none of the meals were delivered. After 10 years of this and more, domestic discretionary spending will be reduced to a percentage of GDP unseen since Herbert Hoover left office.   Where will the first Trumpville spring up? This is a dog-whistle for the most extreme anti-government forces on the rabid right. Fortunately, the President’s ineptitude is reducing him to irrelevance.  But what does this say for the Republicans who have gone along with this charade? Leonard Lance said, “Donald Trump will have my enthusiastic support for President.”  Well, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.”  Congressman Lance must be feeling pretty itchy by now.  Can’t wait to scratch that itch in November!
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    No More Thoughts and Prayers

    No more thoughts and prayers. Another period of mourning for the victims of another horrific mass shooting, schoolchildren on the threshold of life.   Yet again, our Congressman asks for our prayers; Marco Rubio tweets about “that terrible day you pray never comes”; yet again we are told (by Ted Cruz) that we are “politicizing” tragedy in order to take away 2nd amendment rights; yet again, our President focuses on the mental health of the shooter -  after signing a bill last year rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. Why should any of this surprise us?  The NRA spent over $31 million on Donald Trump’s campaign, $50 million on the election overall.  The result? At the NRA National Convention last year, Trump told his audience to thunderous applause “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.” Now you know why Trump was careful not to even mention the word G-U-N in his Twitter feed on the Parkland tragedy.  And Rubio and Cruz? Two of the biggest beneficiaries of NRA largesse.  Leonard Lance? A 93% approval rating from the NRA in 2016.   Make no mistake, it IS the guns that ARE the issue. We can reduce gun violence and start to make guns as safe as our automobiles by sensible legislation that has broad public support.  Let’s insist on better background checks - in-person, at local law enforcement agencies for gun purchase permits. Let’s ban the sale of guns to ANYONE convicted of a violent crime – not just domestic violence.  Let’s prevent guns from getting into the hands of the mentally ill.  That is a start. But the Republican party is owned lock, stock and two flaming barrels by the NRA.  We need to boot them out, and elect legislators responsive to the will of the people.  Let’s start right here in NJ7.  If Congressman Lance cannot take a stance on this issue, then my thoughts and prayers are for a long and happy retirement for him. Remember in November!  
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    Lance Voted Multiple Times to Repeal Obamacare- Can He be Our Advocate?

    HEALTHCARE:  New Jersey Seventh Needs a Strong Advocate What does Congressman Leonard Lance want to do about healthcare?  Like most of his House Republican colleagues, he voted multiple times to repeal Obamacare.  Faced with the opportunity to do so by passing the American Health Care Act, Republicans blinked because of a massive groundswell of popular opposition. Congressman Lance was one of those who voted “No,” after voting for—i.e., failing to kill—the bill in Committee.  The truth is, previously uninsured Americans, many with preexisting conditions, had gotten a taste of the security healthcare coverage can bring, and guess what? They like it!  Unfortunately, however, the Republicans’ premise upon which healthcare policy is based is that healthcare is a privilege, or at the very least, a commodity.  As a privilege, the miracle of the marketplace operates, and healthcare is just another consumer product where money talks.  If you don’t have the money, or you run out of money, you are on your own.  That inevitably leads to the conclusion that Medicaid and Medicare should be cut, because there is no place for the government in healthcare.  Yet every other industrialized, free market country has come to the opposite conclusion. Healthcare is considered a basic right, therefore some kind of universal access to healthcare is provided.  There are multiple routes to this nirvana, which in every other country has led to better health outcomes at a lower cost than here in the U.S.  What matters is that you start with the premise that a basic level of healthcare can be offered to all members of society.  Warren Buffett has suggested “Medicaid for all” as the base; others, like Cory Booker signed on to Bernie Sander’s plan.  Others suggest lowering the age for Medicare eligibility, and making it a “public option.”  There is a public appetite for discussion of this topic; currently, 60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all citizens.  As with most positions of #WeakStanceLance, we never quite know where he stands; he likes to keep us guessing, until we finally figure out he is voting mostly in lockstep with the Republican party, despite heading up a district that votes Democratic in presidential elections.  And we do know that when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, his voting record contains many, many more votes in the “Yes, Repeal” column than his lone “No” vote issued during this fraught election season.  From this, and the fact that he has done nothing since that vote to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, we can extrapolate that he is not a reliable advocate when it comes to affordable healthcare.
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