The Affordable Care Act and It’s Importance

In 2010 President Barack Obama was able to garner enough votes –both houses were stacked with a Democratic majority- to pass the Affordable Care Act. Ever since its passage the Republican Party has made several attempts to repeal the health care law. The reason for this is because the main thesis of the law is similar to universal health care. The reality is that in the United States it will be impossible to have universal health care coverage you will always have some Americans who will be out from having coverage. But the idea of universal healthcare coverage in the country has a strong smell of socialism and any government law that resembles this ideology is quickly shut down, i.e. tax increases.

However, with a new administration, the Republican Party may be able to have their way and repeal the Affordable Care Act as President Trump has signaled to a repeal of the law as well. This morning the IRS announced that they would not turn away tax returns if the taxpayer does not have health insurance. This was one of the sub-laws within the ACA that required the individual to have health insurance or face the tax penalty for not owning a health care package- the Supreme Court ruled it to be a tax.

The argument from the right has been that the program would be too costly for the federal government and that it would kill jobs. This is a constant theme you here from Republicans when there is a proposition to support middle-class and lower class families. The statement that it would kill jobs was used when the discussion about increasing taxes was going about but to digress back to the main topic the ACA did quite the opposite on both fronts.

The ACA aim was to assure as many Americans that it could get into the program. In a 2014 New York Times article reported that the ACA at that time reduced the number of uninsured Americans by twenty five percent which amounted to eight to eleven million Americans. The article also aimed that the number of Americans that would be insured by this year. The initial number was estimated to be 32 million Americans but after the courts ruled that Medicaid expansion was optional to opt in to the number was reduced to 26million. The current number of Americans who are insured is to be 22.8 million provided by the RAND firm. But what is interesting is how the number drops to six million Americans after the ruling by the Supreme Court on Medicaid expansion.

By making it an option it has given lower class Americans less of choice if they fall within the gap of not being able to receive subsidies for insurance or not able to afford it at all. The states that have expanded Medicaid have actually seen an increase in insured citizens in their state. Furthermore, the federal health insurance is accepted nearly in every health facility and doctor’s office an option that seems more feasible to the American taxpayer.

Today GOP leaders met with Congressional lawmakers to discuss the repealing of ACA. One of the things Paul Ryan has proposed has been to make Medicare a voucher program. A program as stated in The Price of Inequality “Medicare to a voucher program, in which individuals would be given a chit that they could use to pay for health insurance in the private market. Those who couldn’t supplement the voucher with their own money would have to make do with the best policy that they could get with the voucher.” This in turn would affect many Americans who rely on Medicare as being almost cost free for them as they would have to seek insurance that they would be able to afford. The elderly in turn would be most affected by these changes as their social security income already is very thin in terms of being able to make ends meet without the fear of going hungry.

In terms of the business aspect the right has stated time and time again that the ACA would indeed hurt the insurance companies the most. However, in the 2014 New York times article Paul H. Keckley stated “The irony is if you look sector by sector, the A.C.A. has resulted in pretty substantial earnings across the board,” Furthermore, “By one measure, the stock market, for-profit health insurers, hospitals and drug companies did well. One index that includes those companies, the S & P 500 Health Care Index, rose by 24 percent over the last year, outperforming the overall stock market.” This provides a clear illustration that the insurance companies were still reaping a profit with the ACA in full fruition.

There of course parts of the law that needs to be changed to correct problems that arise with any piece of legislation. One recommendations that have been made to address cost savings is in the following “…cost-saving measures include restricting patients to narrower physician networks that ask consumers to pay more when they see an out-of-network provider and setting insurance premiums based on consumers’ age, health status, and claim history in much the same way auto insurance companies price their policies.” The law in no way is perfect however; millions of Americans are dependent on this law because it provides a safety net that is in its terms necessary and a human right.

A doctor Jeffery Frey stated about the ACA as “…[impacting] those most vulnerable and people who could not come to see me,” he said. “It had little impact on the people who had been coming to see me regularly for 25 years. But there were now people who could not have come before because they didn’t have a job that gave them health insurance.” Another story described by a citizen who did not give his name stated “My son turned 21 in 2010, when the ACA was passed. Thanks to that, he was able to continue on my insurance until age 26, saving us the $672 per month that Blue Cross was going to charge to extend his coverage before the ACA took effect. Savings to our family? More than $40,000.” And another heartbreaking story, “Before 2010, my sister with Lupus could not buy insurance that would cover her treatments, because it was a pre-existing condition. That changed thanks to the ACA.” This law is intended to help Americans gain a fundamental right involving their health and it appears that over 15 million Americans will not be covered if the GOP and the new administration go ahead with a repeal. Time will surely tell where we will head in the next coming months.

 

 

 

 

 

           

Glimpse into Russian and Chinese Relations.

In the past few year the global community has seen the unipolar world dominated by the United States deteriorate with the emergence of Russia and China as global powers. However, it is the tie between the latter that can explain the role of a multipolar world. Both countries have developed economic ties with the establishment of the BRICS organization. This group includes the nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa being the equivalent of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The economic developed of the two nations began in the 90’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The progression of such relationship took time to fully get moving. In 2001 both countries signed a new treaty of cooperation. Again this new treaty took halfway through the decade to move towards the cooperation that both nations envisioned. For example in 1995 the value of trade between both countries was two billion dollars where in 2011 the value increased to $35 billion dollars. As it is seen by the numbers the partnership in trade that both countries had generated exponentially. However, during the years from 2012 to 2015 the trade value between both nations actually took a hit. In 2012-2013 the trade value was stated to be $100 billion dollars then in 2015 that number became $70billion. A major reason for that drop surrounded the price of oil. Due to the recent drop in the price of oil the two trade partners saw a decline in value. That is the major trade between the two nations oil and machinery equipment. China being a nation that has a high demand when it comes to oil trades Russia equipment to assist its manufacturing output.

Besides the establishment of BRICS, both countries have engaged in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This group is similar to NATO and the U.N Security council where they have observer states such as Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus, and Mongolia. This possesses a similar scenario in terms of alliances as it did in World War I. As we have seen the Chinese and Russian military cooperation has grown as well as has there economic partnership has.

In September both nations held joint naval military exercises in the South China Sea with Anti-Submarine Destroyers. This is a precarious move due to the passage of American Naval warships and submarines in the area. In the past two years the South China Sea dispute has been one that has stirred a lot of tension between the United States and the Chinese. The relations have taken a bigger role when it comes to the conflict in Syria as a strong alliance for Bashar al Assad has formed including Iran, Russia, and China. Three countries that to the United States pose a threat to the national security of the nation from a global conflict perspective.

Recently we saw the reaction of the U.S, government over the ballistic missile test conducted by Iran but heard no condemnation from their Russian allies a suggestion that Russians agree that the Iranians are in their full right to test ballistic missiles. Furthermore trade between the Russians and the Iranians has increased in terms of armament. Furthermore each of three countries have taken a strong stance against ISIL in Syria. In a statement from The Role of International Organization in the Russia –China Relationship “…China has become increasingly concerned about ISIS and similar international terrorism is also shared by Russian policy [makers].” As we have seen the joint military cooperation has made the fight against ISIS and rebel groups a much easier task for the Assad regime.

But it has been progress that has not been made over the past couple of years. The American plan that called for supplying rebel forces by money and equipment did not work out accordingly. The pentagon and CIA both were funding two separate groups, expecting that they would take the fight to ISIS and Assad, instead both groups fought one another for the power that lies ahead if Assad was to be taken out of power.

With China in the mix in Syria it complicates the diplomacy aspect in big ways for the United States as they have to deal as I mentioned earlier the South China Sea issue and then deal with Russia and the Crimea issue, lastly the Assad issue plays in hand as well.

The alliance between Russia and China is a dynamic one and can will play a huge factor in the next coming years as we attempt to deal with the issues aforementioned above. This is a hybrid of what was the Cold War between the Russians and the Americans as it now deals with a third player and that player is as we all know now to be Russia. Major wars have started because of alliances and the tensions that are out in the open can become a powdered keg ready to explode and this time it can lead to much higher casualties than we have seen from the previous two world wars. However, this is per speculation and a huge hypothetical. We have seen in the past cooler heads prevail.

Military Victory is Not The Only Victory for Mosul That is Needed:

Since October of 2015 the coalition led mission to recapture Mosul was underway. Since then, the U.S led operations has gained some ground in the past couple of months. As stated by Lt. Gen Stephen Townsend “within the next six months I think we’ll see both (the Mosul and Raqqa campaigns) conclude.” However the question remains what is the plan for after major towns and cities are liberated? The steps that are taken after such victory will have consequences that will have a lingering affect in the future.

Earlier when ISIS gained major footholds of the Iraqi and Syrian country, it was illusive to say that a full victory would take place within a year. The world was paralyzed on how to address the growing threat from a hybrid of what Al-Qaeda use to be. The methods used by Daesh did indeed instill fear, not only to the Iraqis or Syrians, but as well as to the world.

The tactics used by ISIS ranged from mass beheadings to the burying of their victims alive. However, on the battle front ISIS has used hospitals as a way to handcuff coalition forces from executing their mission. As per the rules of war buildings such as hospitals are protected from attacks. If it is a military hospital a warning must be given before an attack is to take place.

As ISIS used a hospital in al Salam, the bodies of Iraqi soldiers were paraded around the town that held the hospital. Illustrating their true barbaric nature, the Iraqi populace was more horrified than receptive. An eyewitness to the events described the actions in the following manner “We just stood there on the street, horrified, ISIS used to come to the neighborhood and give us these videos of executions, telling us we needed to watch them, but we ignored them and didn’t. So witnessing this was just so awful.”

In addition to their tactics, ISIL has even adapted to the use of drone warfare. For example “In October, two Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed in northern Iraq when a modified drone exploded.” In essence this group still has the means to instill their rain of terror and even though a military victory will be a defining moment it will be just that a moment.

The group still maintains a hold through out the country in places such as; Albaghdadi, Maktab Khalid, and West of Ramadi to name a few. When coalition forces are successful in claiming the whole city-in Syria the coalition there has taken back a lot of previously held territory illustrating the break down of ISIS- they will have to worry about the civilians who are lacking living essentials such as food, water, and proper medical attention.

The current youth unemployment rate is 18% and factoring the affects of conflicts such as this, jobs will be difficult to come by as the rebuilding process begins. For this to be a successful military campaign, one should acknowledge that it will take more time to fully liberate the country of Iraq from daesh. If military advisors ignore the small towns that are currently occupied you in essence give them time to regroup. Once full security has been established a continuing international military presence should follow.

The name of the game will then be to provide adequate training for the Iraqis to combat the threat of terrorism in their home country. As many will be against it an American presence is essential in maintaining a place in the region and to fix its image as true harbinger of democracy if it focuses on the military front.

In the domestic front the Iraqi government with the partnership economically from foreign governments work to providing an inclusive culture. One observation made was how ISIL worked on the strings of division in Iraq and even though it did not last long or have a major impact, it did stiff military cooperation in the begin of the conflict. It is essential that the basic needs of living are met in war torn cities. It will be a recruiting ground if the general populace is left “naked” without any assistance.

This process also known as winning the hearts and minds is going to be the true victory in the military campaign against ISIL. If foreign governments stay out of the domestic politics and assist from a far the outcome can be one of success. Again it will depend on the direction the government goes in as well, whether to be willing to have open dialogue with the Kurds and mending the wounds of a regime that have not healed fully. One can truly be hopeful and not defeatist, for the problems we see are one of man and for that we as a global community can mend and fix our mistakes.

Iran Missile Test A Threat?

This past Sunday the Islamic Republic of Iran went ahead and tested a medium rand ballistic missile prompting quick responses from the new administration in the United States. President Trump tweeted the following “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” In essence the administration has created an early red line that may cause problems down the road if the Iranians go ahead with more missile test. The administration has cited the nuclear deal multiple times stating that the Iranians were in strict violation of the accord, however, the language in the treaty does not specifically state that the actions taken by Iran have violated any agreement.

 

Furthermore, the Iranians have tested a similar missile seven months ago and did not receive any such threats of economic sanctions. The reason for the quite behavior by the Obama administration went in line with his policy towards the Middle East, one that was of a hand off approach. The previous administration attempted to avoid any conflict in the region but was still dragged into it by the different conflicts through out the region. However, it now appears that we are reverting back to a policy of demonizing the Islamic Republic of Iran.

 

However, Iran has been in a missiles program before the Islamic Revolution even took place. As noted in a paper Iran’s Ballistic Program “Iran’s pursuit of ballistic missiles pre-dates the Islamic revolution. Ironically, the shah teamed with Israel to develop a short-range system after Washington denied his request for Lance missiles.” During this time the pursuit of a nuclear weapon was being pursued but after the revolution the program had collapsed.

 

At the time that the development of the missile program and nuclear planning was taken place, the Shah was the leader of Iran a close ally to the west. Once the revolution changed hands to an ant-western politick caused the quick readjustment of Iran having such weapons. Then in 2017 Iran has complied with the statue of the resolution where they go to 5,060 first generation centrifuges and enriching uranium to 3.7% below the point of where it is possible to use on a nuclear warhead. So why can Iran not test their weapons. A couple of months ago the United States tested bomb run with dummy nuclear warheads in the Nevada dessert.

 

Another saber rattling that has emerged from the new administration came from National Security Advisor Michael Flynn when he said ““failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions — including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms.” Ironically Iran working in cooperation with Russia and the Syrian Army has been able to push ISIS forces out territory that was held by the daesh for a couple of years.

 

The United States on the other hand has played a proxy game in Syria. One example can be the debacle created by the CIA and the Defense Department. Both government agencies were supporting two separate groups with funds and equipment, similar to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 80’s. Instead of focusing on Assad forces or even ISIS the two groups began fighting amongst on another illustrating the vacuum that can emerge with a non-stable government. Many will point to the fact that Iran has support Hezbollah however, during the Bush administration, they help support the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) to fight against Hamas.

 

This recent display of the missile test is pure saber rattling. If we can test two fake nuclear bombs why cant another country test their defense capabilities. If Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon they would have reached that capability at this point and time. If North Korea has developed a weapon with nuclear capability Iran would be able to do the same. Furthermore, Iran knows an attack on Israel will not be supported by the other Arab nations and will result in an American response a move Iran is not willing to make. The knee jerk reaction and saber rattling can truly lead to a point of no return as some would say.

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/iran-slams-provocative-warning-missile-test-170202155359130.html

http://news.sky.com/story/iran-says-it-will-not-bow-to-pressure-after-ballistic-missile-test-10753092

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2170035-us-air-force-carries-out-mock-nuclear-bomb-tests-in-nevada-desert/

http://iranprimer.usip.org/sites/default/files/Nuclear_Elleman_Ballistic%20Missiles.pdf