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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Each day there are new statements regarding the ACA or “Obamacare” repeal and replacement. The current Majority party decided early on that the former President would get nothing passed and Health care was one issue that was never supported. What occurred was a campaign of lies and innuendo about the bills content even though it seems that no one in the Dupublican party read it. It would have been more statesman like to actually read the bill and make or suggest changes  for improvement however that never happened and the bill was forced into law . During its time it has been improved and changed unilaterally with decent results yet the anti’s continued defaming it. Now the Congress is proposing their own  “replacement and repeal” that again has not been read by its members but has had excerpts put out that show its lacks. The Majority party has so-so support within it’s own ranks but it is still being pushed because they Promised. With the political factions within the White house and Congress fighting one another, throwing one another under the proverbial bus, not much is being accomplished. Recently the TOTUS held a fund raiser at one of his hotels and swears  to taxpayers that funds are not going into his personal coffers. My question is: ” why are we putting up with this type of Governance without a fight”. We all know or should know that our Congress is ineffective (except in deception), however they have adopted the well used method of repeating the same tale over and over until it appears to be true. Now with the advent of mass media, many of us are still stuck in the “believe mode” reinforced by the power of the office holders we put in place. There are no term limits on Congress unless we as voters impose them and we have not done it often enough. Looking at the current political scene, one can easily see that our Congress has no good intentions for us. There are Congressional members who actually are doing some good but not enough to over come the massive lie factory that has been in place for many years. We need to forget the party line BS and look at the people we have and will elect. The color of a persons  skin, their sex  (or preference of) has nothing to do with ability. If we as voters do not start paying attention and forget our smaller personal roadblocks we  will never have good government. We currently have a small minded, shortsighted, adoration seeker in the oval office whose sole purpose is to be loved and to that end is pushing to act on promises that were and still are outrageous no matter what the price and resulting harm can be caused.  Trump’s agenda is “no agenda” and the Congress is trying make it happen.

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Illinois is in dire straits and unlikely to get better until new leadership is in power. We have in place now a Governor whose idea is to run the State like a business (Trumpian idea). To that end proposals have been made and some implemented but most have resulted in a statewide stalemate in which funding for vital services have been stopped due to the inability to set a budget. The Governor has held the state hostage because of his demands that do nothing to help the State but will ultimately benefit him. This appears to be the same track  that our TOTUS is on. Essentially it appears that for him it’s the “my way or the highway” thinking. This will ultimately end (or has) his term as Governor and possibly some of the older leadership of the Legislature as well. MA

The last major Illinois election was about change. The promised change was from a businessman whose income is derived from investments. The Excerpt below is from Rauner’s bio:
“The goal was never glitz or glamour, just profits. GTCR would buy mom-and-pop funeral homes, for example, then scoop up ancillary businesses: flower shops, coffin makers, cemeteries. Rauner once told a reporter that the funeral industry was “immune to downturns” and could “generate considerable profits.” He found the laundry industry equally attractive. “We have a locked-in customer base,” he explained to the Sun-Times. “If prices go up, the tenants still use it.” Elsewhere, he put it another way: “People have to wash their underwear, even if there’s a recession.
Other businesses on Rauner’s shopping list: security, ATM networks, school buses, outdoor advertising, pay phones, fleet refueling, crushed stone, debt collection, check authorization, and steel tube manufacturing. “Over 19 years, we have generated gross returns of about 40 percent,” Rauner told the Sun-Times in 1999. “After fees, investors have averaged a 30 percent profit.”
One success, according to Crain’s, was “a $1 million stake in a chain of psychiatric hospitals yield[ing] a $10 million return when it was sold just one year after the original investment.” Then there was a $200 million investment in American Medical Laboratories, which was sold to Quest Diagnostics for $500 million in 2002. VeriFone, a provider of electronic payment systems, in which GTCR acquired an 88 percent stake in 2002, remains one of Rauner’s favorites. “We turned $60 million into $860 million,” he boasted to this magazine in 2011.
VeriFone is also a favorite of the Quinn campaign because it outsources much of its manufacturing to China, Singapore, and Brazil, providing Quinn with a sound-bite-ready example of how Rauner has hurt local workers. Quinn has also repeatedly criticized Rauner for the job cuts that typically follow the consolidations at the core of GTCR’s profits. And expect him to make more hay with allegations raised during the primary that GTCR plundered nursing homes, causing care to deteriorate and residents to die. “Bruce Rauner makes Mitt Romney look like Gandhi,” insists Doug Ibendahl, the former general counsel of the Illinois Republican Party. (In a televised debate in March, Rauner called ads citing the nursing home allegations “an outrageous political attack, taking advantage of a death or suffering of a family to score political points.”)

Rauner kept his early commitment to make lots of money and devote lots of it to the environment. His campaign spokesman says he has donated more than $1 million to various environmental causes. He even casts his considerable purchases of land in Montana and Wyoming as a way to preserve it from development. “I know this will sound corny,” Rauner told the Sun-Times in 2003, “but I remember my grandfather saying, ‘Bruce, when you die, just make sure the world is a better place because you were here.’ ”
But it is his commitment to education reform that has helped him segue from business to politics. Both individually and through his family foundation, Rauner has devoted more than $20 million to improving public education in Chicago, he has said—in part by funding charter schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first schools chief, Jean Claude-Brizard, tells me that he used to meet often with Rauner. “It’s hard not to know Bruce Rauner if you’re in education in Chicago,” he says. “Even folks in New York were telling me about Bruce. He was very hands on.” (Rauner has also given millions to his alma mater, Dartmouth, which three of his daughters attended; the special collections library there bears his name.)
Diana embraced philanthropy too, earning a doctorate in developmental psychology at the University of Chicago and becoming president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an educational nonprofit for at-risk young children. Board seats followed: at the Latin School, at After School Matters, at the Kohl Children’s Museum. Her husband joined the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund, where other members have included such civic heavy hitters as Susan Crown, Ken Griffin, Penny Pritzker, and Helen Zell.
For years, Rauner saw his role in politics as writing big checks to candidates—more than $3.5 million since 1998, according to the Better Government Association—rather than governing. But then, about a decade ago, he began flirting with the idea of running for office. He didn’t pull the trigger at first, friends say, because he and Diana were worried about the inevitable media scrutiny.
Then governor Quinn was unable to make any substantial improvements in Illinois’ fiscal situation which was part of his undoing along with his connection to disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevitch.
Why did Quinn lose? Here are five reasons.

“November and December”:
When Gov. Pat Quinn met with the Daily Herald editorial board in September, he was asked why voters should believe he could accomplish his budget plans in 2015, given that he hadn’t succeeded this spring. That budget included making the 2011 temporary state income tax hike permanent.
Quinn immediately offered: “It’s going to happen in 2014, in November and December.”
“They’re going to have to take a look at what I proposed and realize that that’s the best way to go,” he said of lawmakers.
While legislative procedures mean he almost certainly couldn’t have succeeded before 2015, Quinn planted the seed in voters’ minds that he was rushing to keep income taxes where they are instead of letting the rate drop at the end of the year.
In 2011, lawmakers approved an income tax increase in the hours before a new class of officials took their seats and with the help of a number of lame ducks who were later offered state jobs.
Rauner used Quinn’s quote in ads and debates, trying to raise the idea that Democrats would make the same move again.
Quinn had a number of big legislative wins on his record. He signed same-sex marriage legislation into law, and a years long effort to try to save the state money by cutting teachers’ and state workers’ pension benefits was approved.
Still, Rauner worked to paint Quinn as a “failure.”
One of Quinn’s key pitches to voters was that he’d work to raise the minimum wage. Rauner countered that Quinn’s party had been in power in Springfield for years, so he should have been able to get it done already.
Bad news:
Quinn took office in the hours after senators decided to kick disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich out of office and inherited Illinois finances that were immensely troubled.
Via the income tax increase and other moves, Quinn and lawmakers were able to put a dent in the state’s debts over his term in office. But the state was in such a deep hole that big challenges remained.
As governor, Quinn couldn’t avoid tough decisions in his term. Tough decisions are hard to campaign on, and Rauner tried to offer voters an alternative by largely not describing how he’d specifically address a lot of the same problems.
Republicans nationally had the political winds at their backs Tuesday night as the party swept to big wins in Congress and the U.S. Senate.
The GOP picked up both of the biggest races for Congress in Illinois, too.
Those national gains are largely seen as voter backlash against President Barack Obama.
Quinn is a big fan of Obama’s who stood with him for multiple events late in the campaign, so Quinn could have been hurt by the national mood.
Republican candidates for office in Illinois loved talking about Rauner and change.
In the end, Rauner failed to drag more than a few Republicans to Springfield along with him.
Democratic candidates for the Illinois House were able to fend off strong challenges across the suburbs.
Those Democratic candidates were going door to door for months, most telling voters they are against keeping income taxes where they are. Sensing the political mood on taxes, candidates in Quinn’s own party were contradicting him in the suburbs for months.

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Matt Bai 2 hours 23 minutes ago

There’s nothing quite so thankless as being the nominal leader of a leaderless party, especially if that party is bereft of power and doesn’t have much to offer by way of an agenda, except for maybe keeping the other party from destroying the country.
When the majority party fails, your supporters say it’s only because the president is an evil buffoon and everyone has figured it out. When the majority succeeds, they say it’s your fault, because obviously you failed to make clear to people what an evil buffoon the president really is.
So it goes for Nancy Pelosi, who’s come under withering criticism (again) since Democrats got clobbered in two more special elections for Congress last week. Facing calls for her resignation, the longtime House leader acknowledged that she’s something of an easy target for Republican ad makers who want to portray the party as a bunch of coastal elites.
And yet, she wryly told reporters at the Capitol, “I think I’m worth the trouble.”
To be clear, Pelosi had almost nothing to do with the Democrats’ recent losses, all of which came in conservative districts the party had no business winning, anyway. But that quote said a lot about the way she and her aging contemporaries think about themselves.
Pelosi should leave the stage not because she’s controversial, but because what Democrats desperately need, more than any new branding strategy or slogan, is a turnover in talent. Which is why the rest of the party’s oldster luminaries should follow her to the exit, too.
Here’s a question for all you trivia buffs to ponder. Who do you think was the last nonincumbent Democrat over 55 to win the White House? I’m not talking about Harry Truman or Lyndon Johnson, both of whom inherited the job, but someone running against a sitting president or at the end of an eight-year term.
Here’s a hint: You weren’t alive, and neither were your parents.
The answer is Woodrow Wilson, who ran so long ago that you could still be both a progressive and a white supremacist and not have everyone find that completely bizarre.
Why is that? It’s not because there weren’t any older candidates to vote for, or because America was somehow ageist. From Wilson’s time to today, the country elected no fewer than five new Republican presidents who were at least that old. In fact, before George W. Bush, the last nonincumbent Republican under 55 to win the White House was Herbert Hoover.

No, it’s because Democrats win when they embody modernization. Liberalism triumphs only when it represents a reforming of government, rather than the mere preservation of it. Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama — all of them, in one way or another, offered a stark departure from the orthodoxies of the past.
Americans don’t need Democrats to stand up for nostalgia and restoration. They already have Republicans for that.
Of course, all the Democratic presidents I mentioned had assists from older, long-serving leaders in Congress. Having a 77-year-old House leader doesn’t necessarily doom a party to irrelevance.
Except that never in its history has the Democratic Party been so thoroughly dominated by the loud voices of its oldest generation. If Republican candidates weren’t so gleefully featuring Pelosi in their ads, they’d be going after Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, none of whom seems remotely interested in yielding the floor.
(Really the only younger Democrat you could fairly call a national spokesperson for the party is its 55-year-old chairman, Tom Perez, whose big idea this week was to form a human chain around the Capitol. Or maybe I’m just remembering an episode of “The Simpsons.” I can’t be sure.)
Anyway, it’s not just that all these iconic Democrats are older; it’s that their vision for the party — with the possible exception of Biden, who’s pro-trade and pro-growth — is relentlessly backward-looking. They’re for government-run health care, expanding Social Security benefits (even for the wealthy) and free college for everyone. They’d pay for all of it with tax increases that magically cover the cost.
Basically, they want everything the ’60s generation always wanted, without any acknowledgment of what public money has failed to achieve, or of how technology might transform the institutions of government.
They persist in using the same tired language from the same consultants — “working families,” “playing by the rules,” “fighting for you” — that has already numbed most Americans to the point of tuning out political rhetoric altogether.
In any publicly held business where the leaders were this old and grounded in the past, the CEO would probably be judged, in part, on how well he or she had planned for succession. But there’s no succession plan among the Democratic Party’s septuagenarian elite. They’re determined to replay the ’60s on an endless loop, for as long as they can. They’re worth the trouble.

Even if Pelosi were to step aside, her most likely successor would be Steny Hoyer, who might have made for an excellent party leader at one time, but who is himself 78. Behind him comes James Clyburn, who is one of my all-time favorite politicians to interview, but who is about to turn 77.
There’s no chance for a younger talent like Ohio’s Tim Ryan, who has already challenged Pelosi and failed, and who is almost certain to run for governor instead of hanging around. There’s likely not much future in leadership for a guy like Adam Schiff, the California congressman whom millions of Americans now know as the party’s chief investigator of President Trump in the House.
There’s no clear path to national office for a younger senator like Kirsten Gillibrand or Michael Bennet, or even a celebrity like Cory Booker, continually eclipsed by their higher-decibel, nostalgia-peddling elders.
Certainly how old you are isn’t as important here as your mindset. There are Democrats approaching retirement age — Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper come to mind — who are nonetheless modernists by outlook and could infuse the party with a sense of newness and evolution.
And certainly you can lay some of the blame for the current stasis on younger Democrats, some of whom are good enough orators to excite the party’s base, but who have thus far failed spectacularly to offer any reformist agenda to match the moment. If you don’t have a competitive governing vision, you don’t have much to complain about.
But the bottom line is that Democrats squander their historical advantage by rallying around elders who would build a better time machine than their Republican rivals. Liberalism doesn’t need its own version of “Make America Great Again”; it needs a vision to make America new again.
A party that revolves around Pelosi and Sanders and Warren — not to mention the lingering Clintons and their entire campaign apparatus — is a party that could actually manage to deliver America, for a second time, into the clutches of Trumpism.
Trust me: No one’s worth that kind of trouble.

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By Bruce J. Einhorn, opinion contributor – 06/20/17 09:20 AM E

© Greg Nash
For 11 years, I served as a prosecutor and supervisory attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice. I made my bones at the DOJ as a prosecutor, before I was honored with appointment to the federal bench. During my time at the DOJ, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, I received nothing but unequivocal support for my work from my superiors, including the political appointees who ran the department. I am deeply grateful to have served at the DOJ, the nation’s law firm.
Unfortunately, under the present administration, the DOJ has become a demoralized and dysfunctional place, due to what I believe is a lack of honesty and integrity of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the contempt shown to the nonpartisan lawyers of the department by an arrogant, self-centered, and possibly corrupt president.

Within months of his confirmation as attorney general, it was discovered that Sessions had lied (he contends it wasn’t intentional) to Congress and on his federal employment forms regarding the number of contacts he had with Russian officials. Sessions’ dishonesty forced him to recuse himself from any investigations conducted by the DOJ of President Trump, his campaign, and White House staffers regarding their contacts with influential Russians.

However, it seems as though Sessions’ recusal from TrumpGate has increased his open supplication to the president. Sessions’ demonstrated obeisance to the president at the sake of his loyalty to DOJ officials in his charge showed when he left the Oval Office without objection in response to Trump’s instruction, to allow the president to directly ask then-FBI Director James Comey to back off investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Following that, Sessions said nothing when the president fired Comey. Sessions has continued his role as a silent witness to Trump’s attempt to trash the DOJ by assailing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — a longtime public servant with a peerless record as a Justice Department lawyer — and Special Counsel Robert Mueller — a decorated Vietnam war veteran, accomplished prosecutor, former FBI Director, and Washington attorney.
Finally, Sessions was again silent when the president tweeted his criticism of Justice Department lawyers for enacting the second travel ban recently found invalid by two federal courts of appeals, even though it was the president — not the DOJ — who signed and issued that same travel ban. As a defender of the independence, integrity, and nonpartisan professionalism of the DOJ, Sessions has been less than useless.
Sadly, the recent actions of Trump and Sessions are not the first occasions partisan political pressures have undermined the DOJ’s integrity and independence. On Oct. 20, 1973, President Nixon ordered then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson and then-Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Both men refused and resigned in protest. In the end, Nixon’s solicitor general, Robert Bork, did the president’s bidding and fired Cox.
Then, on March 10, 2004, George W. Bush’s White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and chief of staff, Andrew Card, barged into the intensive care hospital room of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, to obtain Ashcroft’s signature on an order to extend the president’s domestic surveillance program. Ashcroft rose his head from his hospital bed and refused to sign the order. He was supported by then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey and then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, who had courageously rushed to Ashcroft’s side.
Enough is enough. The attorney general is head of the U.S. Department of Justice. He is not secretary of the “department of law.” He should be the nation’s shield against those in power who use their positions for corrupt purposes, who try to skirt the rule of law and who attempt to exceed the constitutional limitations of their offices. The attorney general should defend the nonpartisanship and professionalism of Justice Department lawyers as they speak truth to power.
It now appears the best way to ensure all this is to amend the Constitution and relevant statutes to provide for a separately elected, rather than presidentially appointed, attorney general. The attorney general would then be responsible directly to the American people, and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, would have the power to appoint the heads of the various DOJ components, including the FBI. His independent stewardship of the Justice Department would act as a counterweight to any abuse of power by the president or his political appointees, whether Democrats or Republicans.
Most of our states have independent, elected attorneys general who have done a good job of ensuring an independent approach to law enforcement. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, referred to the states as “laboratories of democracy.” Where the states have experimented so successfully, the federal government should follow suit.
It is high time that we make the attorney general the “people’s lawyer.” Only then will we truly ensure “liberty and justice for all.”
Bruce J. Einhorn is a retired federal judge who served 11 years as a prosecutor and attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. He is now an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and a visiting professor at University of Oxford. His views are his own and are not the views of the institutions with which he is affiliated.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are touting lower premiums under their health care legislation, but that reflects insurance that would cover a smaller share of the cost of medical bills.
The fine print is getting lost in the translation.
Consumers might pay less up front every month, but if you break a bone or get hospitalized for a serious illness, you could be on the hook for a bigger share of the bill.
Premiums under the Senate bill would average about 30 percent lower in a few years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in its analysis this week. Overlooked is that the lower premiums envision a switch to “bronze” plans that now come with a $6,000 individual deductible, much higher than the current standard “silver” plan with a $3,600 deductible.
Another caveat: Not everybody would see lower premiums.
Insurers will be able to charge older adults up to five times more, compared with a three-fold difference under current law, the health care overhaul passed under former President Barack Obama.
Also, the GOP would give lower-income people less financial help from the government, which means many might not be able to afford coverage. Lower-income people get less assistance with premiums in the Senate bill and the GOP would also phase out extra help that many receive with deductibles and copayments.
“I think there’s some fine print,” said Cori Uccello of the American Academy of Actuaries, a group representing professionals who make long-range economic estimates on health and pension programs. “Premiums are going down for a couple of reasons: the plans are getting less generous … and the age distribution of people purchasing coverage would be younger.”
The 2010 Affordable Care Act was intended to solve problems of access and affordability for millions of Americans who don’t have job-based insurance. Instead, it’s been a roller-coaster ride, and not only because of entrenched political opposition from Republicans.
Double-digit premium increases have hit many states. While consumers who get federal subsidies are insulated, several million are taking a direct hit: Those who buy individual policies outside the program, or make too much to get financial help. It’s this group that some GOP lawmakers had in mind when they launched their self-proclaimed health care “rescue mission.”
“It will bring affordability to people across this country who are suffering under the curse of high premiums, and high deductibles and high out-of-pocket costs,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said of the Senate GOP bill.
But Uccello and other experts caution that cost problems might just continue, only in a different form.
One longtime “Obamacare” critic says Republicans risk making some of the same mistakes that Democrats did with their original legislation.
Industry consultant and blogger Robert Laszewski says lawmakers should start over and try to design a system along the lines of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, a collaboration between the government and insurers that has solid bipartisan support, even if its cost to taxpayers is a problem.
“The way to fix insurance markets is to get a much higher sign-up rate and the Republicans are going in the opposite direction,” said Laszewski.
Republicans “are not bringing costs down — they are only bringing the front-end premium down,” added Laszewski. Healthy people looking at a plan with a $6,000 deductible might just decide to roll the dice and remain uninsured.
The Congressional Budget Office says insurance markets will be stable in most areas under current law or the Republican legislation. But trade-offs lurk beneath that 30,000-foot level assessment.
What’s gotten most attention is the CBO’s projection that at least 22 million fewer Americans would have health insurance under either Republican bill, the one that passed the House or the Senate version. A table at the end of this week’s report delves into greater detail, looking at how costs would change for hypothetical individuals at different income levels in 2026.
Math alert: This example involves a few numbers.
Take a hypothetical 40-year-old making a modest $26,500 a year. Under current law, that person would face a sticker price of $6,500 a year for a standard “silver” plan. Premium subsidies would reduce the net premium to $1,700. Because of extra subsidies for deductibles and copayments, the plan would cover 87 percent of expected medical costs.
Under the Senate bill, the 40-year-old would see the sticker price silver plan premium drop to $6,400. But their premium subsidies would be significantly lower, and they’d end up paying $3,000. Caveat: It wouldn’t be the exact same plan, because extra subsidies now provided for deductibles and copayments would be gone. The new plan would only cover 70 percent of expected medical costs.
What’s the option?
The consumer could switch to a “bronze” plan, the new standard under the GOP bill. The sticker price would be $5,000, and after subsidies, the net premium would be $1,600. But the plan would only cover 58 percent of expected medical costs.
Some Republicans recognize they have more work to do.
“We’ve got to be able to help people with these very high expenses,” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said Wednesday. Maybe the standard plan should be more generous, he suggested. Or maybe older adults should get a break.
Associated Press writers Josh Boak and Erica Werner contributed to this report

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Andrew Romano 2 hours 22 minutes ago

Dr. Mai-Khanh Tran (Photo: Courtesy of Facebook)
FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — In many ways, Dr. Mai-Khanh Tran isn’t all that different from millions of other Democrats who have been dismayed or depressed or indignant since Donald Trump was elected president.
On election night, Tran watched in shock as the returns rolled in. The next morning, she wept at work — Tran is a pediatrician — with her colleagues. Later, she joined the protesters shouting slogans and waving signs outside the Orange County offices of several Republican congressmen.
But Tran didn’t stop there. Last month, she actually decided to enter elected politics herself, launching a long-shot campaign to unseat 12-term Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
While defeating Royce may seem like a tall order for a political novice, Tran, 51, has already spent her entire life overcoming impossible odds.
In 1975, Tran arrived in America as a 9-year-old refugee from war-torn Vietnam — without her parents. She spent her summers picking strawberries in rural Oregon, eventually working her way through college at Harvard as a janitor. And she survived two bouts of breast cancer and endured eight rounds of in vitro fertilization before finally getting pregnant at age 46.
“I think you’ve got to have total commitment to everything you do in life,” Tran said on a recent Thursday afternoon as she sipped from a bowl of bone-in kalbi soup on the patio of a new pan-Asian restaurant in Orange County’s Little Saigon. “You’ve got to do things for the right reasons. And when you have the right reasons — if what you’re doing is needed, on behalf of others — you will do it until you succeed. I truly believe that.”
Whether Tran can succeed her in mission to topple Royce remains to be seen. But if any place encapsulates the challenges facing Republicans in 2018, Orange County is it. And if any Democratic hopeful embodies the political crosscurrents that will likely define the coming midterms, Tran may be the one.
Topping the list of those forces? Health care.
The first patient Tran saw the morning after the election was a child with a brain tumor. The girl’s mother, a local nail salon worker, couldn’t get health insurance for her children until Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Realizing that her coverage might change under Republican rule — that “this was going to affect her daughter’s life soon” — the two women cried together in Tran’s examination room.
A few months later, the mother called Tran. The House had just passed the American Health Care Act — the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill — and she was, according to Tran, “petrified.”
That’s when Tran decided to run for Congress.
“It was the speed of that vote, the secret way it was done, that just pushed me,” Tran told Yahoo News, noting that she had spent the previous three months appearing on local Vietnamese-language TV to explain what was at stake. “I thought, ‘We can do all the prep work, all the work to inform the public, but when it comes down to it, their voice just isn’t there where it matters. On the floor. In the caucuses. All of the meetings.’ It just made me so angry. And I said, ‘You know what? We need to have people who really understand health care in Washington. We need to be in the game.’”
As the Republican Senate struggles to pass its own version of a bill to repeal Obamacare, health care is shaping up to be the central issue in 2018.
In part, that’s because 217 GOP House members — including all four Orange County Republicans — voted for the AHCA, a deeply unpopular measure that even President Trump has called “mean.” Democrats plan to spend millions of dollars between now and next November reminding voters of this fact.
The so-called resistance to Trump — and, more specifically, the resistance to his party’s Obamacare repeal push — has inspired newcomers like Tran, many of whom are also doctors or scientists or women, to get off the sidelines and run for office themselves.
The result is a rookie class of grassroots candidates rallying around a potent message. The question is whether fresh faces and passionate resistance will be enough to flip the 24 seats Democrats need to regain control of the House.
Opportunity in Orange County
Despite its conservative past — Orange County voted for the GOP candidate in every presidential election from 1936 to 2012 — the O.C. now overlaps with the districts of four of the 25 most vulnerable Republicans in Congress: Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrabacher, Mimi Walters and Ed Royce. Hillary Clinton captured all four of their districts in the 2016 presidential race — a first for a Democrat — and won the county as a whole by 9 percentage points. A growing minority population, a concentration of college-educated whites and a declining GOP registration advantage are making the area more and more treacherous for Republicans, especially with Trump in the White House. Democrats have taken notice, fielding several promising candidates, including multimillionaire stem-cell pioneer Hans Keirstead; real estate entrepreneur Harley Rouda; environmental activist Mike Levin; and retired U.S. Marine Col. Doug Applegate.
“It’s districts like these that will decide whether the Democrats can make a serious run at control of the House,” the New York Times’ Nate Cohn recently wrote.
Political novice
In person, Tran doesn’t seem like a politician. Petite, with a few gray hairs peeking through an otherwise black bob, she trembles slightly when she starts to answer a question, her soft voice starting and stopping and wavering as she struggles for the right words to express her views, none of which have yet been scripted for her by some cadre of consultants. She apologized for “not being good at this,” and teared up four times over the course of a two-hour conversation. At one point, she unleashes a few choice words about Donald Trump, then said, “This is off the record,” which prompts her sole campaign adviser to laugh and explain that “you have to say you’re off the record before you say something, Mai-Khanh.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Tran said.
But Tran’s outward gentleness masks a fierce inner strength that has been fostered by decades of unimaginable hardship and improbable success.
Of her childhood in Vietnam, the things Tran remembers most are the near-constant explosions. “Every night, every other night, there would be bombs going off,” she said. “We’d all go into a little space under staircase. We’d hear the bomb go by — zoom! — and we’d run in there.”
One day in early 1975, Tran’s father, a prominent Saigon judge, took her and her three siblings, the youngest of whom was still wearing diapers, to a local Catholic orphanage, leaving them behind without any explanation. Tran recalls that her father was wearing sunglasses, but only later did she realize that he must have been crying.
“It was an act of total desperation on my dad’s part,” Tran said. “A lot of people were giving up their children so they could get them out. This was their last resort.”
The U.S. military airlifted Tran and her siblings to San Francisco, where “big Marines” carried each of them off the plane. “I tell you, even today, if I see a guy in uniform, I really do get so emotional,” Tran said. “I still am so grateful and humble.”
Eventually, the children ended up at a convent in Salem, Ore. Six months later, their parents, who escaped Vietnam during the fall of Saigon, joined them. In America, Tran’s father could no longer work as a judge; the closest he came was a gig cleaning the local courthouse. To make ends meet, the Trans rented out their apartment’s single bedroom to a college student while the six of them slept together in the living room.
“My first Fourth of July celebration was in 1976 — the bicentennial,” Tran said. “The fireworks were huge. And I was cowering in fear. It was so loud, like bombs. Even to this day, I don’t like fireworks.”
Inspired by her grandfather, a traditional medicine man, Tran decided early on that she wanted to be a doctor. Every moment she wasn’t working was spent reading. After four years at an inner-city high school in Portland — she and her friends were bused in from the Vietnamese “ghetto” — Tran graduated first in her class and was accepted by Harvard.
“Maybe because I am an immigrant, I feel like I need to know more,” Tran said. “I need to know more and do more.”
Tran loved her college experience, but it wasn’t exactly easy. Without money for a hotel, her father was forced to request Freshman Weekend accommodations from random Vietnamese locals, and Tran paid her way through school with three simultaneous jobs — janitor, security guard and reader for the blind.
“I cleaned the jocks’ dorm,” she said. “The rich kids’ dorm. And, you know, they throw out a lot of things. I remember picking up things that we could use. I don’t think I ever felt like I belonged there.”
A stint as a health care analyst on Wall Street followed, then medical school at Brown-Dartmouth. After her residency at UCLA, Tran started her own practice in Fountain Valley, where she has spent the last 25 years treating working-class immigrants, educating the community and leading thrice-yearly medical missions to hot spots around the world — leper colonies in the Vietnamese jungle, typhoon-ravaged villages in the Philippines, impoverished neighborhoods in Tijuana.
That experience, she says, is what has convinced her she’s ready for Congress.
“We have to figure out how we’re going to feed these people,” Tran explained. “We help them with job training. We set up farms for them. We set up revolving loans for them. We do clean water. We make sure their kids get the education they need. As a congresswoman, I plan to bring that sort of comprehensive approach to my community and my constituents.”
Tran’s successful battles with breast cancer and infertility have convinced those around her that she can succeed in the political arena as
“She’s like Wonder Woman,” said adviser Courtni Pugh, whose other clients include Kevin de Leon, California Senate president pro tempore. “Everything Mai-Khanh has overcome in her life? We need to create, like, a meme. We’ll put her in a red cape.”
Uphill climb
Wonder Woman or not, Tran is still a serious underdog in the race against Royce. If she wins the Democratic primary — her opponent is former chemistry professor Phil Janowicz — she’ll be facing off against a politician who’s been winning elections for as long as she’s been a pediatrician.
Incumbency isn’t Royce’s only advantage either. Even though Clinton won CA-39, Royce was easily reelected with 57 percent of the vote, and he’s the most popular of the four vulnerable Orange County Republicans. He’s also a prodigious fundraiser, with $2.8 million already stockpiled for 2018.
Tran believes the same demographic shifts that boosted Clinton to victory throughout Orange County could work in her favor. CA-39, for example, is more than 60 percent Asian and Hispanic — and only 34 percent white. Many of these whites are exactly the sort of college-educated suburbanites Trump lost in November, and while older Vietnamese-Americans have voted Republican for decades — like older Cuban-Americans, they tend to be staunch anti-Communists — their children have been registering as Democrats or independents.
For now, Tran is focused on getting her fledging campaign up and running. She’s talking to potential hires. She’s sounding out local politicos. And she’s spending hours every afternoon in her garage, dialing for dollars.
The work can be grueling. Devastated after one particularly fruitless fundraising session, Tran looked up to see her aging mother leaning over her. “Do you need me to give you my last gold nugget?” her mother said, referring to the small bars that she and other refugees had brought with them to America more than four decades ago, just in case. “You know, to help your campaign?”
Tran had to remind herself that the road ahead would be long — and that she was running for the right reasons.
“It was my mom who, throughout the years, said, ‘You’ve got to help people, you’ve got to speak for people,” Tran explained. “So if there’s an opportunity here, it is for a Democrat who resonates and listens. And so I go back to what makes me a good candidate: I’m a good listener. As a physician, that’s all I do. I listen to my patients. I listen to their pain, their suffering, their concerns. That’s what I’m good at. Then hopefully I’ll try to find a solution that might alleviate their pain, their suffering, their concerns.
“I don’t think that’s what people are doing in the political sphere right now,” Tran continued. “They have agendas. They have ideas they’re trying to push. But they’re not listening to their constituents. More and more, their constituents in these districts have changed so much; their needs have changed so much. And it’s just not connecting with the people who are currently representing them.”


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Arthur A. “Art” Fletcher was an American government official, widely referred to as the “father of affirmative action “… As head of the United Negro College Fund, Fletcher coined the famous slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” . This quote was taken over by President Nixon as his own creation with no credit to Mr. Fletcher. Now we see a similar minded POTUS taking credit for Jobs and the economy which are the result of his predecessors administration . It take months to assess the effects of policies that affect job and economic growth or lack of. It is unfortunate that talking a good show is not the same as producing one. The Job  of President is not to be adored but to move the country ahead in ways that offer security and well being for ALL!  Where we are at this point is our TOTUS is busily looking for ways to be applauded instead of looking for ways to implement the better parts of his plans(?). His cabinet is more like “his” friends rather than making choices that improve the nation and benefit the people who elected him. His cabinet reads more like a who’s who of antigovernment (thereby anti citizen) possibly fringe members of business and government. It seems to be that he was looking for anyone who is or was anti Obama but not pro-American citizen. We are looking  at a possibility of  the rollback of many laws that affect all of us including his base. He still enjoys pockets of staunch supporters who overlook hos rhetoric and actions without realizing that what he does has an effect on everyone. The rash tweet storms, the meetings with selected press coverage and the grand flourishes of signing executive orders repealing previous executive orders with no thought of the long range effects on all of us. All of us (AMERICANS) have a stake in the good or poor decisions made by our Congress and the White House. It is important  that we all pay attention to our elected officials as the current administration has shown that they are not on our side but more on our backs.


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If this does not anger you then you probably should pick up a newspaper, these moops are busily trying to downgrade your health care and your ability to get it. They have spent millions on frivolous activities that have nothing to do with Governing, they are silent on the mindless tweets of the C.I.C.. The TOTUS is possibly setting us up for another war. Your voice is all you have right now and you need to use it.MA

Congressmen make $174,000 a year. This Republican wants an extra $30,000 ‘housing allowance.’
9:25 a.m. ET
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has just days left before he gets to return to his own bed in Utah, leaving his Capitol Hill office cot behind for good. But before he goes, Chaffetz has called for a $2,500 monthly housing stipend to help lawmakers afford living in D.C.
“Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive places in the world, and I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college, and a second place here in Washington, D.C.,” Chaffetz told The Hill. “I think a $2,500 housing allowance would be appropriate and a real help to have at least a decent quality of life in Washington if you’re going to expect people to spend hundreds of nights a year here.”
Chaffetz agreed that $174,000 is a “handsome” salary for a congressman but added that the extra $30,000 a year would “allow the non-millionaires to participate and you would be able to have your spouse join you here. If I wasn’t buying as many airline tickets, it would ultimately be less expensive.”
A stipend of $2,500 a month would run taxpayers around $16 million a year if all 535 members of Congress received it. As of May 2017, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. was $2,091 a month.
“I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress,” Chaffetz said, adding: “There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don’t know how healthy that is long term.” Jeva Lange

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The Damnation of America is in the hands of the Majority party and a small minded despot. It is of no import that Washington is broken but what is important are your personal beliefs and politics if they are based in facts. Neither major party can be perfect for anyone but the key to understanding is to look closely at the individual members and their personal agendas. The key people are the reason for nothing being accomplished during the Obama years. The Majority party pushed the agenda of Obamacare being bad but it is only bad due to the legislators not doing their jobs instead of obstructing progress. Many of us have benefitted from The ACA (aka Obamacare) yet the Congress is busily touting repealing and replacing but with a law that takes, limits and eliminates benefits. All the while many have jumped on this bandwagon without realizing it has faulty wheels. Just today I read that one less than illustrious member of Congress who earns 174,000.00 annually wants 30,000 more as a housing allowance. This is just one of many whose health benefits may not be changed by this new Health care bill. If as a voter you are not disturbed then it is possible that you have not kept up with the daily news output from almost everywhere. If you are a devotee of Fox (FAUX) news then you are definitely under or uninformed. This is one of many ways the political world is coercing support with bogus information. It is time to get woke!

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