ELDER MUSIC: Name Dropper Hummel
Excellent Tool for Doctor Visit

The New President's First Official Act

FIRST, A NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL TGB READERS: The outpouring of protest at the Saturday Women's March in cities across the U.S. turned out to be much larger than anyone anticipated – certainly me.


And what surprised me most - in the best possible way - is that more millions of people in cities around the world joined the protests.


(Both images from The New York Times.)

Something big is happening, it is worldwide and we all need to nourish it, encourage it and keep it moving forward for all the reasons the marchers took to the streets on Saturday.

I mentioned this not long ago but it bears repeating: when necessary and reasonable, Time Goes By will be part of that resistance because our democracy, my democracy (I had no idea I was so patriotic until now) may depend upon it.

First and foremost, this blog has always been about “what it's really like to get old” as it says up there on the banner, and that will never change.

Time Goes By benefits greatly from readers and commenters who live in other countries and I have always been careful to write about ageing in a general sense, for all of us wherever we live.

But by necessity now, sometimes TGB will need to be America-centric to address both threats to all Americans, and to American elders specifically (as today) which other media too often overlook. I apologize to international readers but I don't see any other way for the foreseeable future.

There will still be plenty of good conversation about growing old – just please bear with me while I try to work out a balance.

* * *

On his first day in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order (which has the force of law without Congressional approval) that will scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Here is the new press secretary, Sean Spicer, making the announcement to reporters in the White House briefing room:

Well, that certainly was vague while being ominous too. Did you hear the reporters in the room asking, “What does that mean?” as Spicer left the room? Me too.

Before I get to that, let me remind you that there are a few important elements of the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – that benefit elders specifically.

There is a full list of ACA Medicare benefits here.

In addition, Obamacare opened Medicaid to low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line in states that opted to expand their Medicaid programs – so far, about 15 million people in 31 states and the District of Columbia have benefited.

What we do not know now is how this first presidential executive order (full text), signed on Friday, will affect Obamacare provisions for Medicare.

Politico calls the order “sweeping” and wrote that it

”...encourages federal agencies to dismantle large parts of Obamacare, possibly including the hugely unpopular mandate requiring most Americans to purchase insurance.

“While only Congress can repeal the law, the nine-paragraph order effectively tells the federal government to take as much leeway as possible to 'ease the burdens' on individuals, states and the health industry.”

The Washington Post offered some additional ideas of what the order may mean:

“'Potentially the biggest effect of this order could be widespread waivers from the individual mandate, which would likely create chaos in the individual insurance market,' said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“In addition, he said, the order suggests that insurers may have new flexibility on the benefits they must provide.

“'This doesn’t grant any new powers to federal agencies, but it sends a clear signal that they should use whatever authority they have to scale back regulations and penalties. The Trump administration is looking to unwind the ACA, not necessarily waiting for Congress,' Levitt said.”

In a bit more detail, The New York Times suggests that the executive order should be seen more as a “mission statement” more than an “edict that can instantly change the law.”

”Mr. Trump has sent a strong signal that he intends to fight the health law...And the order, crucially, notes that agencies can act only 'to the maximum extent permitted by law.' (How the Trump administration interprets those permissions, of course, is yet untested.)

“The order spells out the various ways that a Trump administration might fight the parts of the health law until new legislation comes...Regulations can be changed, but, as the order notes, only through a legal process of 'notice and comment' that can take months or years.

“How much of the order is bluster and how much it signals a set of significant policy changes in the pipeline is unclear. The order was not specific and did not direct any particular actions.”

In other words, the order urges agencies of the federal government to try to destroy Obamacare by chipping away at provisions without actually have to use the word “repeal,” while giving them plenty of time to come up with a replacement.

There is no reason to believe that provisions for Medicare recipients won't be among the ones changed or removed. And there is nothing we can do about it. According to Wikipedia,

”...executive orders are subject to judicial review, and may be struck down if deemed by the courts to be unsupported by statute or the Constitution.”

Unlikely. We will need to use our resistance tools elsewhere.


Report from the Resistance 1/22/17

Today I made a chart showing the name, address in Washington and local address, phone number, and email address for my:
U.S. Representative Pete Olson
Senator John Cornyn
Senator Ted Cruz
Texas State Representative Phil Stephenson
Texas State Senator Joan Huffman

Having it all together will make it easier to contact them. And contact them I certainly will.

Today's Resistance Action:

I believe in a free, quality education for America’s youth.
Oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education ASAP.
Call: Senate HELP (Housing Education Labor & Pensions) Committee Chair, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) 202-224-4944
Call: HELP Committee Ranking Member, Patty Murray (D-WA) 202-224-2621
Call: Your mysenators.
Script: Hi! I am calling to oppose Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. (Really, that’s all you need to say.)

Every day there will be something I will do.

Dear Ronni - Absolutely no need to apologise to international readers re you concentration on internal US problems - the support for you is worldwide so anything you can achieve will help everyone - problems you may have at home with this President will all too soon spread to the rest of the world - keep up the resistance - wishing you every success

The March! Oh my goodness, a signal has been sent and the resistance must continue to build. I was touched to tears to see the map of worldwide support. I did notice a large blank space over Russia though. Have to believe there were some silenced supporter there as well.

I agree with Jeanette, no need to apologize or explain. What is happening to Medicare and SS is very important to us. You explain things in simple English that I can understand, plus you give links to data and articles.

The marches all over the world were amazing! It was so gratifying to see such large numbers of people of all ages, including some men and boys, unified in this outpouring of support for human rights. I hope that those who think they can run roughshod over others are taking note that it will not be tolerated.

Another order that Trump signed that first day was one that reverses legislation that would have reduced the cost of mortgage insurance, which will make it more difficult for first-time home buyers, especially those in lower economic brackets, to buy a house. I thought I heard Trump say that what he would sign the first day would be focused on items that affect national security, and I don't see how this order does that, but then, of course, I couldn't see into his heart to know what he really meant. Perhaps I should have worked more over the past few decades on developing my psychic abilities.

Agree with others - no need to apologise. As someone who moves between Australia and the UK I see similar things happening. Universal healthcare is under attack in both countries by the conservative governments. Medicare in Australia and NHS in UK.

I was proud to march in London on Saturday.

I, too, agree with the others. No need to apology to anyone for what you write about on any given day. It's your blog, your 'rules' to follow or break. I'm actually surprised that you haven't written more about the pussyhat march. If the issues they marched for don't effect our peer age group directly, they sure as heck effect our families.

Jean R...
TGB is not a news website. I make choices depending on a combination of factors - among them, in the case of this march, timing in relationship to my posting schedule and coverage from other media.

There isn't much of value I can add to the massive coverage in all media of the march and there is a LOT going on in Trumpworld that does or will affect elders' lives.

What a mess. I've been calling my reps once a month, maybe I should step it up.

Glad to have marched in NYC, now the hard, ceaseless work begins with local groups like Gray Panthers, RadicalAgeMovement and many others. I hope everyone will do what they can to keep up the pressure so elders and others will be protected.

Thank you for the two NYT maps - I hadn't seen them. I joined almost 100,000 others marching on the MN state capitol, and it was thrilling. The signs were magnificent, and people keep sending me more - "Twitler," for example; and "Librarians for Facts" -- and maybe my favorite, "So bad even introverts are here." Although I also love "Women are the Wall. Trump will pay for it."

Being an old-time participant in many marches and rallies, I know the usual course of events: the marches thrill us, rightfully so, we feel companionship, we are joined together in our resolve, etc. -- but then daily life takes over. I need to fight that tendency this time more than ever. This is really a critical time. So I hope to follow up on a lot of your suggestions.

As to Russia: I heard from two people about a tiny march of 5-6 people, I assume in Moscow, young, brave people. Good for them.

The marches were the just the beginning, not the end, of resistance. There are numerous websites (eg, Womens March, Robert Reich) detailing actions to be taken during Trump's first 100 days. While I could not march Satuday, I can certainly write and call my representatives. They need to know the march wasn't just a one time flash-in-the-pan thing. I suspect Trump blew off the marches with something like "Look, the crowds are yuge! And all because of me!" Others in Washington know better, and we must make sure they don't forget.

Canada was front and center in supporting the women of America. Our countries are closely bound in many ways, so we are very uncomfortable right now about the bluster regarding trade wars. Canada and Mexico are right in his gun sights. Trump's missives about repealing Obamacare are more about appeasing his 'base' than making changes right now, I think. They don't have a clue about how to proceed.

Remember the vague rules presented earlier? The one They were "outed on"?

“...the new rules require the relevant committees to make 'recommendations for changes to existing law for moving [unspecified] programs...from mandatory funding to discretionary appropriations, where appropriate.'

That one, thanks to Ronni and others, people picked up on and helped people understand they were targeting Social Security and Medicare.

People just haven't figured out where this one will pop up later and help them ruin something in stealth mode.

They are sneaky and have a plan.

Keep up the good work Ronni!!

As others have said, Ronni, absolutely no need to apologise to your international readers. What's happening in your country is fascinating and horrifying and as Anniel has said it has great relevance to what is happening in the UK, whose politicians seem willing to turn a blind eye to some of their previously-criticised behaviour of the Ass. They are salivating at the thought that great trade deals will be done and to hell with the health service.

I have not wanted to vomit so much at the sight of him since the days of Maggie Thatcher.

Burden? What burden? On who?
Maybe Medicare is also a burden. You want to "ease" us out of that too?

35 American states either touch Canadian borders or have intricate connections through trade, environment, economy, taxes, education etc. policies. Many of us have family members on both sides of the 49th parallel. Beyond that, there is a populist,fascist wolf in the hen house. You better believe that we aren't going to blink. The world is not going to blink either. If what Trump says is going to happen, happens, our children's, children's children will bear the brunt of this for a long time. The ripple effect on the world order will be such, that national boundaries will be the least of our problems.

P.S. Resist! Resist! Resist!
Over 10,000 marched in Toronto

One of the most important tools we still have is the vote.....and mid term voting is critical. We must RID the House and Senate of those who are hell bent on destroying progress. Why one of the poorest, least educated states (Kentucky) continues to vote against their interests by voting McConnell back into office is beyond reason. Campaign and vote!

Keep it up Ronni! Ditto to Lori Anderson: Resist!

An American administration that does not accept facts, lies, and cosy ups to tyrannical leaders does the rest of the world no good. We are all in this together

Thank you for your blog

You're just fine, Ronnie. I love everything. And the comments that follow.

The March in Atlanta had loads of us old folks in it. We got kind of tired by the end of the march (in part because of all the standing) but WE DID IT! And Representative Lewis thanked us all for it. BTW we couldn't have been more heterogeneous.

I belong to Indivisible and call my three local guys once/week.

Here's a first.. NBC broke into regular local programming to cover the WH Press Briefing. (Personally I'd rather keep watching Andy Griffith show.)

I read on Twitter that the WH telephone switchboard has closed down, I am assuming just during this press briefings.

We marched in Tel Aviv and gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Israel. Hundreds came: men, women, babies, dogs. Police protection was professional (it isn't always) and hecklers were absent (usually present at marches and demonstrations). On handmade signs and in speeches and conversations, it was clear that the U.S. president and Israel's prime minister are buddy-buddy, two peas in a rotten pod already stirring the overheated pot.

I marched in London, England and it was wonderful to look back and see streams and streams of people behind us. Our parents generation did not fight WWII so that this f**kface can allow a reemergence of fascism and racism.

Bruce Cooper --You are right on---

Burden? What burden? On who?"

This is one example of how the Republicans are able to control the show. You are the first person I have heard question that wording.

When they start with their clever phrases everyone should respond as you just did everywhere and loudly and not allow them to define the action.

I was so proud to march in Washington, DC. The unity and spirit was palatable, even though we marched for many different reasons -- science, immigration, reproductive rights, GLBTQ, religious freedom, climate change -- a plethora of reasons. It must be the first of many, many marches to curtail oppression. The march must be the first of many, many actions to be sure our elected officials know exactly what we believe in and what will influence our next vote.

Yes, good done here reaches everywhere. What is happening is global.

I join many others in saying that I'm fine with Ronni's plans for TGB.

YES, Bruce C.! The Orange Apparition will "ease" us out of everything he can, including Social Security and Medicare, if he and his cabinet full of uber-wealthy mostly white folks can get away with it. Most of them bow down to Ayn Rand philosophically, although the Apparition himself most likely never read her books (and may not even know who she was). He doesn't read books, and in his world women don't write them.

I agree: we cannot allow the Apparition's hand-picked "basket of deplorables" (still a great phrase) to define the action or describe it. They need to be called out on every lie they tell--and there will be many.

Thank you for the excellent and helpful information. These are scary times. At the very least it appears we are headed back fifty years. I am getting involved in small ways in my community. If we all do a little the result will be great.

I thank you every day your blog arrives..... a most vital connection and information source. Actually one of the main highlights of my day but why oh why did you start using that man's name instead of *. He is so repulsive to me - his face, his name, what he stands for.......I applauded you 'bigly' when you said you never would. Just hoping you might go back to *

While the Women's March was global, we must remember that fascism is also now more global...especially in Europe.

Ronni, as others have said, no apologies needed. I'll bet I speak for many other TGB readers when I say that we trust you to keep or change the focus of this blog as needed.

I, too, marched in D.C. It was heartening to learn afterwards of the other marches worldwide. I carried a big sign that said RESIST. While there I thought a lot about Michelle Obama's statement, you know the one: "when they go low, we go high". I'm afraid anymore I'm feeling when they go low, we have to get right down there in the mud and fight them on their own turf. They play dirty.

If I may paraphrase from commenter Leze above, whatever march I attend next I'll be carrying a sign that reads: this country didn't fight WWII for this f*ckface to champion fascism & racism.

10/10 Ronni.

Hundreds of Montrealers marched with you.

Damn straight what Patti-in-New-York said...

"this country..."

Resist all the way.

Early Spring in America

And there's a breath of change in the air
It will grow stronger as we move ahead
Led by the Women who marched last Saturday

The men will stay home and watch basketball
While the Women pave the way
To the overthrow of the oligarchy
And the Despot who leads it

I marched-ok I limped with my walker- in the rain on Saturday. I don't usually like to use the walker but I was glad I had it as Portland was a mob scene and a wonderful experience it was. I was asked to come join a group going to our senators office Tuesday so I did that also. I love being a rabble rousing activist again. And proudly wore my Nasty Woman tshirt.
Ronnie I also appreciate all you do to keep we senior Americans aware. I find more informed links on your site than on other political sites I read.
Keep it up. I want to do everything I can to keep * to one term and out.

I just tried to make my 3rd phone call to the White House to discover that The White House is no longer accepting calls from the public. The White House is our house. The fact that we no longer can make calls to voice our opinions is totally outrageous. I'm stunned!

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