Meanwhile, in the Rest of the World

Jewish Light Editorial

Given the relentless speed of news developments these days, it’s hard for anyone, much less the editorial page of a weekly publication, to keep up. But as revelations continue about the Russian connection to President Donald Trump’s  campaign, other stories deserve attention. Here are just two.


Health Care

In their unending effort to gut Obamacare, Senate leaders went so far as to delay their August recess so they could release their new and improved version of their own plan and push it through. But the ploy didn’t work. When two more GOP senators announced opposition Monday, the bill collapsed, as it should have.

The plan may have been new, but it was hardly improved. It would have removed or reduced coverage for those who need it most — Americans who are sick, poor and disabled. It should remain on the shelf.

According to details released last week, the GOP plan would have kept significant reductions in Medicaid and would weaken protection for the sick by allowing insurers to issue low-cost, low-coverage, high-deductible policies. It added money to fight opioid abuse and would help some people meet the cost of their premiums, but overall it wasn’t much of an improvement over plans that had drawn reasonable opposition from Republicans who are needed to pass it. Thankfully, enough Republicans recognized that fact to doom the legislation.

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Not surprisingly, the bill as proposed by Senate leadership would have hurt the base of voters who put Trump into office. They apparently believed his promise that they would get better, cheaper health insurance, with no cuts to Medicaid, in a system that would improve the “disaster” of Obamacare. 

Are they waking up to reality now, and will members of Congress, ever-sensitive to voters’ shifting moods, take note and abandon the effort altogether?

If the GOP leadership really wants to pass a health care bill, it should hold open hearings rather than do its work behind closed doors, and it should invite Democrats to be part of the process.

As the health care debate drags on, more Americans are realizing that repealing and replacing Obamacare would mean removing protections they have come to embrace. Obamacare isn’t perfect, but any replacement should be far more compassionate and far less drastic than plans proposed so far.


Election Integrity


The president’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity appears to be a solution in search of a real problem, and a  tepid reaction from states shows a recognition of that fact.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, named to head the commission, asked all 50 states to provide voter data, presumably to bolster the president’s claim that election fraud is rampant nationwide. But no solid facts have ever backed up that misguided assertion.

Most states have been hesitant to provide all of the comprehensive data sought by the commission, including party affiliation, voting history and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. Unfortunately, Missouri was all too eager to comply. 

The Denver Post actually found that more than 3,300 voters in Colorado asked to be removed from the registration rolls because they don’t trust the federal commission and they didn’t realize how much of their personal information is already public.

Last week, the commission released 112 pages of comments on its work, and only two of them were positive. Many were along these lines:

The only thing undermining American citizens’ “confidence in the integrity of federal election processes is you and this sham committee.”

Or this:

“… if someone wanted access to my bank account information, the address, full name, dob and last four social is EXACTLY what they would need. You will open up the entire voting population to a massive amount of fraud if this data is in any way released.”

Even worse, showing a surprising lack of concern for real privacy, none of the email or snail mail addresses of the commenters were redacted, letting everyone see who said what and opening them up to all sorts of mischief. 

Now, a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center has forced a suspension in the collection of information pending resolution of the legal issues involved. The suspension should become permanent to protect the privacy of voters nationwide.

Traditionally, Republicans have led efforts to keep the federal government out of state business. Now, they’ve done a complete turnaround. Unless and until reliable research shows that voter fraud is a legitimate concern, Washington should concentrate on solving real problems.