The impact of the GOP health care bills on the state of Alabama

The American Health Care Act and the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 both purport to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare with something better.  The proposed plans get rid of many of the features that made the Affordable Care Act what it was. During the campaign Trump promised, “No one will lose coverage. There will be insurance for everybody. Healthcare will be a ‘lot less expensive’ for everyone — the government, consumers, providers.”[i] Trump also promised that there would be no cuts to Medicaid. The two proposed bills promoted by Congress fail to live up to any of those promises.  In the state of Alabama, which Trump won by nearly a 2:1 margin, 62.1% to 34.4%, he ran on those promises on health care lying to every person who voted for him, and 180,000 Alabamians chance losing their health insurance as a consequence.[ii]

The CBO estimates that the American Health Care Act of 2017 (referred to as the House bill going forward) will cut 834 billion dollars from Medicaid by cutting the enhanced Medicaid expansion and by diminishing the per capita-based payments to each state.  It also purports to reduce or eliminate subsidies on the individual market by 276 billion dollars.  With the elimination of the individual mandate, some people will stop buying health insurance since there is no penalty for not doing so, but its largest impact will be in the amount of people on Medicaid; less people on Medicaid means a lot more uninsured.  With the elimination of the protection for people with pre-existing conditions, those policies will vastly increase in price meaning that people who have pre-existing conditions will now pay, depending on their conditions, perhaps tens or hundreds of times the cost of health insurance for a healthy young person. Even if all states that opted out of pre-existing coverage protections adopted high-risk pools that gathered all people with pre-existing conditions into their own marketplace and those states provided funding to keep premiums lower it is hard to imagine that they could raise enough funds to support all people with pre-existing conditions in perpetuity.  Over the course of the next decade, the CBO predicts that 23 million more people will lose healthcare coverage than have it today and that by 2026, 51 million people will be uninsured compared to 28 million under current law of the Affordable Care Act (referred to as the ACA going forward).[iii]

Similarly, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (referred to as the Senate healthcare bill going forward) cuts Medicaid less than the House bill by only 772 billion compared to 834 billion over the next decade but reduces subsidies on the individual market by a more significant 408 billion. By 2026, 22 million more people will be without insurance than under current law and an estimate population of 49 million people will be without insurance in 2026 compared with 28 million under the ACA.[iv]

It is time to address why this matters to Alabama.  According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study, published on June 28, 2017, the House bill would cause 138,000 to lose insurance in Alabama compared to current law, and would lose one billion, forty-five million in federal funding  or 19.6%.[v] The Senate bill would cause 164,000 to lose insurance in Alabama compared to current law and would cost Alabama one billion, one hundred and thirty-eight million in federal funding compared to current law or 21.4%.[vi]  According to the Alabama Hospital Association, “Rural hospitals are the lifeblood of much of Alabama. They provide emergency medical care to those in need and preventative health care that sustains rural communities. They employ thousands of hardworking Alabamians and drive local economies through their payrolls, purchases, and infrastructure investments…In Alabama, 50 hospitals meet the federal criteria to be considered ‘rural.’ These hospitals treat more than 110,000 patients annually.”[vii] Rural hospitals, which received a boom in their reimbursements with a greater number of insured patients under the ACA, will now receive a hit that could lead to closings of those hospitals that serve as the lifeblood of their communities.[viii]     Also teaching hospitals such as UAB will be impacted by these proposed laws because UAB definitely benefited from the decreased instance of uninsured patients as a result of the ACA.[ix]   All this uncompensated care that will result from the repeal of the ACA will just increase the burden on hospitals causing some to outright go out of business.  In Alabama, 68% of nursing home patients rely on Medicaid to pay for their long-term care.  According to Alabama Nursing Home Association spokesman, John Matson, “Alabama’s elderly population is growing. The U.S. Census reports there were 660,000 Alabamians age 65 and over in 2010. By 2025, the population could reach 955,000, Matson says. ‘On the other side of that, in 2010 there were 76,000 Alabamians 85 plus,’ Matson says. ‘By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 110,000. So we can see that there is coming a silver tsunami in the next 10 years in Alabama.’”[x] Medicaid cuts will disproportionately affect this vulnerable population.

The Senate and House bills also want to eliminate the regulations of the ACA which required coverage of what the ACA called “essential health benefits,” this will allow people to buy so-called “catastrophic plans;” these were plans that had lower premiums and higher deductibles in which enrollees payed for all their medical care out-of-pocket until they hit their deductible which was often their out-of-pocket maximum.  These plans were okay if you were young and healthy and could prevent you from going bankrupt but they were a gamble; if you were young and healthy you were gambling that you wouldn’t get sick so all you would ever pay was the lower premium and you would hopefully never get sick and have to pay those thousands of dollars of the deductible.  But those essential health benefits that the ACA adopted vastly increased what health insurance covered and it included mental healthcare, substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation, maternity care, preventative care, imaging such as X-Rays, MRIS and CT scans, Labs, Physical Therapy, Primary and Specialist Care, Prescription Drugs, etc. Prior to the ACA, insurance companies could choose to cover any, all, or in many cases almost none of these basic healthcare benefits.  And to get coverage to cover all of them would have been more expensive than the average person could afford in the individual marketplace. The way the ACA changed this was to make all plans cover these essential benefits but to offer different tiers of plans (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) which altered the balance between premium and deductible.  Those with pre-existing mental healthcare or substance abuse issues will be hard-hit by the new Senate or House bill.  According to Dr. Scott Harris, assistant state health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, “‘I really can’t think of a bigger issue that’s facing the health of Alabamians than the current opioid epidemic.’  Between 2013 and 2014, the number of drug overdose deaths in Alabama increased by about 20 percent, which was the second-largest increase in the country that year. Prescription drugs account for about half the drug overdose deaths in the state, Harris said.”[xi] According to “Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, said any bill is poor policy if it threatens coverage for those with mental health issues, or doesn’t treat mental illness as seriously as physical illness. ‘Mental illness is an illness like any other,’ Rosenberg said. ‘People recover and they can live full and productive lives with effective treatment. We just have to be sure that treatment is still available in every community, just like we do for cancer and heart disease.’”[xii] Repealing the ACA now in the midst of the opioid epidemic and just when mental health had begun to be addressed as an issue in our healthcare system would threaten to throw the system into chaos.

What the Republicans often claim about the Senate and House bills is that those bills are about repealing and replacing the ACA in a more fiscally responsible way.  They claim the ACA is failing, that its premiums keep going up and that its deductibles are too high.  While the ACA is not perfect; i.e., the premiums are going up and the deductibles are too high, but those aspects could be addressed through reform of the ACA.  The uncertainty in the marketplace where the current administration refuses to support the status quo, and even threatens to stop paying the subsidies built into the ACA itself which would cripple it, is also a main driver of rising prices.[xiii]  The idea that the GOP wants to tackle the American Healthcare system in a more fiscally responsible way by lowering the deficit needs to be taken with a grain of salt if you look at what the Senate and House bills actually do.  While there are provisions in both bills that drastically cut Medicaid by about 800 billion dollars and that minimize the subsidies by hundreds of billions of dollars the federal government pays to individuals to buy health insurance, they also have provisions within each bill that add to the national debt by repealing taxes imposed by the ACA in order to pay for the subsidies and new Medicaid spending.  Those taxes were levied on insurance executives, medical device manufacturers, and on the top echelon of tax payers.  In the House bill, the tax repeal will net those stakeholders 664 billion dollars.[xiv]  The Senate Bill will net those stakeholders 541 billion dollars.[xv]  If the GOP was really concerned about the deficit and the National Debt they could have cut Medicaid and kept in the taxes; combined over a decade it would have cut the national debt by one trillion three hundred and thirteen billion in the Senate bill and one trillion four hundred and ninety-eight billion in the House bill. This makes the GOP’s motive of cutting taxes for their wealthy donors so transparent because getting the tax cuts into the healthcare reform bills is only step one of a plan to reform the tax code and cut the tax rates in a later bill.[xvi]  In Alabama, according to the U.S. Census, the median household income is only $43,623, and the per capita income is merely $24,091; 18.5% are considered in poverty.  For this proposed tax cut, perhaps only a handful of families (probably no more than 100) in the entire state would benefit but between 138,000 and 164,000 will lose their health insurance.[xvii]  How many Alabamians will live shortened lives or outright die so that the super-rich can have a tax cut? It would be like the Sheriff of Nottingham going around the peasant villages, hooking all the poor up to the torture machine from “The Princess Bride” which saps years off their lives and then turning those years into gold coins to give to the nobles at court.

If either of these bills pass, all the millions people that lose their health insurance will once again rely on the emergency rooms of our hospitals as their primary care.  The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTLA) enacted in 1986 makes sure that anyone coming into the emergency room has to be stabilized and treated regardless of their ability to pay or their insurance status. This uncompensated care was a primary driver of healthcare costs prior to the ACA and will be a primary driver of healthcare costs under either GOP plan as millions of people lose the insurance they had under the ACA.  Prior to the ACA, the EMTLA also encouraged uninsured people if they were of very low income to go to the emergency room for non-urgent care thus clogging up the emergency room when real emergencies presented themselves. EMTLA was never a be-all or end-all solution to the American healthcare system because it was not universal care as some pundits claimed; it hardly covered any medical care beyond emergency services; emergency services would include a woman going into labor, a person undergoing a heart attack, someone suffering from a sudden trauma like a gunshot wound, and if you were acutely obstructed by massively advanced colon cancer you could get surgery to remove the blockage.  However, since EMTLA fails to include primary or preventative care then you could not get the statin medication to prevent you from developing that heart attack in the first place or a colonoscopy to detect the colon cancer early or chemotherapy to treat it.  The overall health of American citizens will go down because people under the ACA who had insurance for the first time used it to get preventative care or to check out and get treatment for issues that may have plagued them for years; under the GOP plans people will put off getting treatment until a medical problem is an emergency and then it is often too late to prevent a disease from spreading or an injury from crippling the patient. If the GOP bills pass, we will back to a system where millions of people use the EMTLA as their primary means of medical care and that will drive up medical costs for everyone far faster than the rate of medical costs and health insurance rises today.[xviii]

In conclusion, the Senate and House bills that want to repeal and replace the ACA may repeal the ACA, but will hardly replace it with something that is even comparable in quality.  The Senate and House bills get rid of the hated individual mandate, but that feature lowered the cost of insurance by guaranteeing a certain percentage of healthy young people would buy insurance that prior to the ACA would not have done so, thus lowering premiums for everyone.  The Senate and House bills will likely destroy the Medicaid expansion in those states that expanded it and will also drastically reduces federal spending on Medicaid going forward which will cause states to drop coverage or drop people from the rolls. This will affect vulnerable populations such as the elderly and the mentally ill. This will also increase the number of uninsured driving up insurance rates for everyone else.  The Senate and House bills also get rid of much of the subsidies that the federal government paid to individuals to make health insurance affordable which will increase the number of uninsured thus raising insurance rates on the rest of us.  The Senate and House bills also allow states to opt out of the “essential health benefits” which allows insurance companies to sell plans that just like before the ACA cover any, all, or almost none of the medical conditions people need health insurance for in the first place.  The Senate and House bills also allow states to opt out of the provisions of the ACA which prevented insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions more and the provisions that limited out-of-pocket spending and prevented lifetime limits on coverage; these provisions made insurance affordable for millions of Americans who happened to be born or happened to develop a crippling disease or syndrome.[xix]  It will not stem the rising healthcare costs because it will once again drive millions more uninsured Americans to the emergency room for uncompensated care who had health insurance under Obamacare. The only thing the Republican Senate and House bills do effectively is they cut taxes on special interests and the wealthy, their core constituency. It will benefit a handful of wealthy Alabamians at the cost of throwing over 100,000 of their fellows off their health insurance.


When I wrote this in July 2017, the Senate was contemplating passing several versions of the bill above.  In the interim, the Senate failed to pass any version when Senators John McCain, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski joined their Democratic colleagues in voting down the final form of the bill, known as “skinny repeal.”  In the weeks since that historic vote, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has attempted to move on despite President Trump making threats to Republican Senators and Congressmen that came out against the bill.  Now a bipartisan group of Senators is attempting to shore up Obamacare to assure the stability of the individual market.  They face off against a group of conservative Republicans, with the support of the Trump administration, who want to repeal Obamacare.  Both groups face a deadline that expires at the end of September.  The bipartisan shoring up of Obamacare would secure the one-sixth of the economy that healthcare represents and allow Congress to finally move onto different issues such as the debate over tax reform.  The conservative repeal plan may finally allow those Republicans to say that they fulfilled their campaign promise seven years in the making, though it will kick off millions of people from their insurance, including hundreds of thousands in Alabama.[xx]


[i] Henry C. Jackson, “6 promises Trump has made about health care,” March 13, 2017, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[ii] Amy Yurkanin, “Obamacare enrollment in Alabama dips after Trump’s inauguration,” February 4, 2017, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017];.

[iii] Congressional Budget Office, “H.R. 1628, American Health Care Act of 2017: Cost Estimate,” May 24, 2017,  found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[iv] Congressional Budget Office, “H.R. 1628, Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017: Cost Estimate,” June 26, 2017,  found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[v] Linda J. Blumberg, et al. “State-by-State Coverage and Government Spending Implications of the American Health Care Act: Timely Analysis of Immediate Health Policy Issues,”  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, June 2017, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[vi] Linda J. Blumberg, et al. “State-by-State Coverage and Government Spending Implications of the Better Care Reconciliation Act: Timely Analysis of Immediate Health Policy Issues,”  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, June 2017, found at:  [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[vii] Alabama Hospital Association, “Rural Hospitals at a Crossroads,” found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[viii] Howard Koplowitz, “Alabama’s rural hospitals would close under Trumpcare: Democrats,” found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[ix] Andrew Kreighbaum, “How Higher Ed Would Feel Medicaid Cuts,”Inside Higher Ed, July 6, 2017, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[x] Gail Allyn Short, “Medicaid Looks Home,” Business Alabama (December 2015), found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xi] Amy Yurkanin, “Education critical for Alabama doctors on the front lines of ‘opioid epidemic,’” Real-Time News from, November 18, 2016, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xii] Lindsay Holmes, “Trumpcare Will Be Catastrophic For People With Mental Health Issues,”, May 04, 2017, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017]

[xiii] Anna Maria Barry-Jester, “The Obamacare Marketplaces Aren’t In A Death Spiral,” found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xiv] Congressional Budget Office, “H.R. 1628, American Health Care Act of 2017: Cost Estimate,” May 24, 2017,  found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xv] Congressional Budget Office, “H.R. 1628, Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017: Cost Estimate,” June 26, 2017,  found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xvi] Robert Reich, “Trumpcare isn’t about health. It’s a tax cut for the 1%,” The Guardian, June 276, 2017, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xvii] United States Census Bureau, “Quick Facts: Alabama,” found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xviii] Angela Marx, “The GOP’s Big Lie about Healthcare and Hospital ERs – EMTALA,” March 28, 2012, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017]; Sarah M. Miller, “The ACA Helps Correct Incentives for Patients to Use the Health Care System Inefficiently,” August 30, 2013, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017]; American College of Emergency Physicians, “The Impact of Unreimbursed Care on the Emergency Physician,” 2002, found at:—Practice-Management/The-Impact-of-Unreimbursed-Care-on-the-Emergency-Physician/ [accessed on July 12, 2017]; Aaron Carroll, “Why emergency rooms don’t close the health care gap,” found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xix] Matthew Fiedler, “Like the AHCA, the Senate’s health care bill could weaken ACA protections against catastrophic costs,” Brookings Institute, June 23, 2017, found at: [accessed on July 12, 2017].

[xx] Jennifer Haberkorn, Adam Cancryn and Rachael Bade, “Bid to shore up Obamacare faces time crunch, conservative countereffort,” September 6, 2017, [accessed on September 6, 2017].


The Alabama Crimson Tide’s Second Golden Age

I was born the year after Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant retired and died.  I lived through the long droughts between Bryant and Stallings and Stallings to Saban.  Bryant’s tenure as the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide was a golden age.[i]   Bear Bryant started his head coaching at Maryland in 1945.  In 1946, he went to Kentucky but he eventually realized that since Kentucky valued its basketball program over its football program he would never get the recognition he deserved there.  In 1954, the Bear began his tenure at Texas A&M.  His first year was hard and was his only losing season as a head coach because of the offseason training camp where the Junction Boys suffered through a brutal camp through the searing Texas heat.  But for those that survived, they would become loyal adherents to the Bear.  In 1957, Bear Bryant got the call to go back home to Alabama.  He had been a player on the 1934 undefeated national champion team under Frank Thomas and an assistant coach with Alabama after his playing days from 1936-41.  In the 1950s, when Bear began coaching at Alabama, he was given some time to get into the groove.  In his first year, he won five games, lost four, and tied two.  From 1958-60, the Bear improved each year.  In 1961, the Bear got his first national championship.  In 1964 and 1965, he got his second and third championships.  In 1966, despite being the only undefeated team and beating the #6 team, Nebraska, 34-7, in their bowl game, the Crimson Tide was denied a third straight championship; Notre Dame and Michigan State played for a tie to split the national championship.  After 1966, the Bear would fall into a slump.  In the 1970 season, the Tide played their first game against an integrated USC team who had a dominant tailback named Sam Cunningham who ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns against Bama.  This is the game that finally convinced the University to allow Bear Bryant to integrate the team.  In the 1971 season, a fully integrated Tide using a new offense called the wishbone went 11 and 1; followed by a 10 and 2 season in 1972.  In 1973, Bear got his fourth title.  In 1978 and 1979, Bear won his last two titles.  The 1960s and 1970s were largely dominated by the Crimson Tide because of Bear Bryant.  During his tenure, he not only had six national titles, he also won 14 SEC titles, 29 bowl games, and 13 Coach of the Year awards; he retired as the winningest head coach in college football history at 323-85-17, a 73% winning percentage.

The coaches that took over after Bryant with the exception of Gene Stallings were not up to his standard nor was it really fair to expect that Alabama was going to be able to find another Bear.  They were not given the time to develop.  Bear Bryant was allowed to develop and didn’t win his first championship until his fourth year.  Ray Perkins and Bill Curry who took over in the 1980s after Bryant were not Bear but they won respectively 2/3 and 72% of their games.  Perkins only got four years and Curry three.  Gene Stallings was different; Stallings had played under Bear Bryant at Texas A&M; he was one of his Junction Boys. Stallings brought back that crushing defense and powerful running game that had characterized his mentor Bear Bryant. His second team, the 1991 squad, went 11-1.  In 1992, Bama went undefeated in the regular season, beat a Steve Spurrier-led Florida team in the first SEC Championship, and then beat the University of Miami in the Sugar Bowl for the National Championship team.  Miami was the dominant team of the 1980s and 1990s and Bama squashed them, 34-13, in that Sugar Bowl game.  The rest of Stalling’s tenure was dominated by NCAA sanctions because Antonio Langham, a star cornerback, was ruled retroactively ineligible for the 1993 season even though he had played in all games that season.  These sanctions would cripple the Crimson Tide for about fifteen years.  After Stallings, the Tide would only win eight or more games three times between Stalling’s departure and the hiring of Nick Saban in 2007.  The Tide would suffer three of its four losing seasons between Stallings and Saban.

However, Nick Saban is yet another Golden Age for Alabama.  His record so far is 113 to 18 and a third of those losses came in his first year where he went 7 and 6.  He has won 4 undisputed national titles in the last 7 years.  That is a dynasty that is unprecedented in the modern era.  No other coach or program has come close to that level of dominance. Saban is on track to finish with his 6th national championship this year overall spread among two different teams; Saban was the first coach to do so.  While Bama still has many hurdles left to get to the championship game this year, they just played undefeated through a gauntlet of 8 teams; five of which were ranked in the top 25, and two of which were ranked in the top ten, at the time, a schedule that many analysts called the toughest in the nation.  The Tide still has to beat LSU, who is playing well under interim coach Ed Orgeron; they have to beat Auburn and Mississippi State.  Assuming they can surpass those foes, they also have to contend with the SEC East champion, which could be Florida or Tennessee at this point.  While this is already arguably the greatest dynasty of all time, capping it off with a fifth championship at Alabama this year and a sixth overall for Saban, would probably make him the greatest to ever coach the game.

The only modern coach that seems capable of besting Saban on a consistent basis is Urban Meyer.  In the 2008 season, a Meyer-led Florida squad under the quarterback Tim Tebow beat the Tide in the SEC championship and went on to beat Oklahoma for the national championship.  In 2009, Saban beat Meyer in the SEC Championship and beat Texas in the national championship in an undefeated season, 14-0. In 2014, Saban would face off against Meyer again at Ohio State in the first round of the first College Football Playoff; Ohio State would win 42-35. Ohio State would go on to beat Oregon led by Heisman winner Marcus Mariota; Oregon got embarrassed in a 42-20 loss. That would be Urban Meyer’s third championship split between Florida and Ohio State; only the second coach to ever do that.  The only other coach to compete at an equally high level as Saban and Meyer over his career is Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and he has only garnered one national championship in 2000.  He made it the BCS championship in 2004, 2005 and 2009; in 2004 he lost to Saban at LSU, in 2005 he lost to Pete Carroll’s USC team, and in the 2009 BCS Championship he lost to Urban Meyer’s Florida.  No modern coach has anywhere close to Saban’s record and only Bear Bryant has more championships.[ii]

While the SEC West has been consistently good and competitive top to bottom since Saban joined Alabama in 2007, Saban’s success has driven several coaches to be fired throughout the SEC because they could not beat him.  Houston Nutt resigned in 2008, he had lost to Saban in both 2007 and 2008, making him one of the few coaches to lose to Saban during his inaugural year. Tommy Tuberville resigned in 2009 after he had lost in a 36-0 shutout the previous year. Tennessee has gone through three different coaches since Phil Fulmer retired in 2009.  Alabama has won ten straight games against Tennessee including the 2007 season when Saban went 7-6. Mark Richt and Georgia have their own grievances against Saban. In 2007 and 2008, Georgia played Bama in a home and away series; Georgia won in 2007 and lost in 2008.  In 2012, Saban met Richt in the SEC Championship and Georgia lost on that last play of the game.   Richt committed the unpardonable sin of just not being good enough to win it all; even though objectively he was winningest coach who ever coached there; he is now coaching at the University of Miami. In 2016, LSU fired Les Miles.  While the Saban Bowl, as the annual LSU-Bama game had come to be known, was always competitive, LSU had not won a match with Saban since 2011; and that Game of the Century resulted in a rematch in the national championship in which the Crimson Tide shutdown the LSU Tigers 21-0. While Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M is a fine coach, who with Heisman winner Johnny Manziel at quarterback was able to get a win at Bama in 2012; however since he has yet to win again against Saban, which has put him on the hot seat.

In conclusion, Saban is a second golden age for Alabama.  So when I hear ungrateful fans complain that Saban made a mistake in this or that game and should be fired I can only think of the long drought Alabama underwent from Bear’s tenure to Stalling’s tenure and from Stallings to Saban.  In my humble opinion, Saban should be allowed to retire when he wants to; even if he has a losing season or two. He has done enough for this program to be given that leeway.  If Bryant had coached in the modern era, he would not have gotten his final three championships because he would have been fired before he was given the time to adjust.  In 1969 and 1970, Bryant had seasons of 6-5-0 and 6-5-1; that would not be tolerated today. Given that history of thirteen years from 1979 to 1992 and seventeen years from 1992 to 2009, and the fact that finding another Bear, another Stallings, or another Saban is just not realistic I am reticent to criticize such a successful ball coach.  My question is when he chooses to retire; hopefully many years from now, who will Alabama find to replace him, who will become the next Saban?



Trump’s Foreign Policy…Could end in a Mushroom Cloud.

What has been made remarkably clear through the long campaign and especially through the three presidential debates is that Donald Trump has little to no knowledge concerning policy issues. Trump has a paper thin understanding of what appeals to a conservative audience and he tailored his campaign around those very narrow concerns. However, if examined in depth, then his policy positions can be shown to be hollow and illogical.  Trump has discussed what his foreign policy would be like in a Trump administration.  He seems to be advocating for a rapprochement with Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation.  He wants to crater the Iran Nuclear deal.  He also advocated for nuclear proliferation for allies like Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea so they could protect themselves.  He also argued that because our NATO allies do not “pay their fair share” that we should rethink our participation in the NATO alliance.  He also has said that he wondered why the United States does not contemplate using nuclear weapons on the battlefield. I am arguing that any one of these positions is unprecedented and dangerous but taken together these positions make Trump totally unqualified to be Commander in Chief. This is coming from a student of history who has studied, in depth, American foreign policy.

While even a rival like the Russians, should be dealt with diplomatically and the US should work with Russia on issues like climate change where common ground can be found, the United States must be willing to challenge Russia in alliance with other nations when they violate international norms.  Trump seems to want to reestablish a rapport with Russia in order to fight ISIS in Syria; however Russia is only interested in shoring up its chief ally, Bashar al-Assad, not fighting ISIS.[i]  At certain points, Trump seemed to be unaware that Russia had invaded the Ukraine.[ii]  At other times, Trump seemed resigned to the fact that Ukraine was Russia’s concern and not a concern for the US.[iii]  Trump’s policy toward Russia needs to be placed within the context of the hacks of the Hillary Clinton campaign and her surrogates and supporters carried out by Russian state-sponsored hackers, as acknowledged by 17 American intelligence organizations.[iv]  Trump refuses to acknowledge this fact.[v]  Trump has also praised Putin and other dictators such as Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jung Un claiming they are better or stronger leaders than President Obama because their approval ratings and popular vote totals are higher; because, according to the Trump campaign, the polls in a dictatorship controlled by the one-party state are to be trusted.[vi] Trump’s second campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has ties directly to Viktor Yanukovych, a former leader of Ukraine who was a puppet of Vladimir Putin, who Manafort served as a political consultant.[vii]  Donald Trump’s business connections span the globe and there are indications that he is tied to Russian oligarchs with direct ties to Putin; though we do not know for sure because Trump refuses to release his tax returns.[viii]  Trump’s threat to dismantle NATO is our allies fail to pay their fair share, plays directly into the hands of Putin who would do anything to undermine the NATO alliance which has kept Russia in check since the Cold War.[ix] Trump has also indicated that the US under a Trump regime would not intervene if Russia invaded other nations such as Estonia or Latvia; that Trump would allow Russia to run roughshod throughout the world.[x]

Trump has argued that the Iran Nuclear deal is a bad deal and he would like to renegotiate or get rid of it.[xi]  The Iran Nuclear deal put a halt on the development of the Iran nuclear program for at least a decade and established a rigorous enforcement regime in order to verify that Iran is in compliance with the treaty. In exchange, the United States lifted the crippling economic sanctions imposed after the Iran hostage Crisis.  Any backing out or attempted renegotiations would crater the deal and deliver to the fundamentalist leader Ali Khamenei a victory confirming that the US will not live up to its agreements and the moderate forces in the country will lose out.[xii]  It would also lead to the restart of the Iran nuclear program totally unsupervised by the international community.

Trump argues that our allies should protect themselves through obtaining nuclear weapons; presumably from the United States.[xiii] Trump’s argument for nuclear proliferation even for our allies is a stupid idea.[xiv] One, if Saudi Arabia or Japan were to get weapons it would spur their neighbors, who may not be allied to the US, to try to start a nuclear program or to buy nuclear weapons from other nations.  Two, if those nations got nuclear weapons it increases the chances that an unstable regime would use those weapons in international disputes.  Third, it increases the chances that a terrorist organization could acquire those weapons for their own purposes.  Finally, this new policy would undermine work done by the United States to eliminate nuclear weapons in the former satellite states of the Soviet Union and throughout the world.[xv]

Trump also argues that many of our allies are wealthy and that they do not pay their fair share within the context of the NATO alliance and he implied that he would stop participating in NATO if our allies refused to pay up.[xvi] This threat by Donald Trump undermined the NATO alliance which has been in place since the Cold War and has been a check on Russian power since 1949.  Trump even implied that if Estonia or Latvia were invaded by Russia he would only come to their aid if they were paid up.[xvii]  This caused Vice President Biden to reassure our allies that the United States always honors its commitments; though if Trump becomes President who knows if that will hold true.[xviii]   This is the greatest military alliance in the world and assures the safety and security of the United States and our allies.

Trump also pondered why the United States did not put on the table the idea of using nuclear weapons on the battlefield. Talking with Chris Matthews, Donald Trump said that he would never take using nuclear weapons “off the table” anywhere, including Europe.[xix]  What is so dangerous about this is that there is no check on launching nuclear weapons once the Commander-in-Chief makes his or her decision; there is only a four minute delay between when the President makes the call and the nuclear launch officers must follow through.  These officers are not allowed to use their own judgement and they must follow their orders; to disobey even if they feel it is the right thing to do, is committing treason.[xx] On Syria, Trump made the strange assertion, “I know more than the generals” about Syria and ISIS.[xxi]  He also claims he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS which he refuses to share with anyone;[xxii] this is also a tactic that Nixon utilized (during the ’68 election in which he undermined the peace talks then going on between the Johnson administration, South Vietnam, and North Vietnam), Nixon did not actually have a secret plan, nor does Trump.[xxiii]  Trump also says that he would fire the top generals and appoint new ones despite that not being how the military functions.[xxiv]

Donald Trump has also talked about starting a trade war with China.  According to experts, his trade war with China and imposition of high tariffs on products from China, Mexico, and other nations that corporations have outsourced labor to could result in retaliatory tariffs on American exports to other nations, which they have concluded would cost millions of Americans their jobs.[xxv] He also claims that if he wins this trade war with China he can achieve rates of growth over 5 percent, but experts have concluded that high growth rates are characterized by developing economies like China and India and that fully developed economies like the US and Western Europe rarely experience such high growth rates.[xxvi] And, in his own business practices he has produced his own products in factories in other nations.[xxvii] He also utilized cheaper Chinese steel in his iconic buildings instead of using American companies and steel which would have kept American steel workers employed in such states as Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.[xxviii]  Because he has never released his tax returns, the American people are ignorant of his potential financial ties to foreign interests including in China.[xxix]  In Conclusion, Trump’s disastrous policies related to nuclear weapons, his undermining of our chief allies, and his bolstering of our rivals and enemies, makes him fundamentally unfit to be Commander-in-Chief.































Trump’s Domestic Policies…Are not well thought out.

What has been made remarkably clear through the long campaign and especially through the three presidential debates is that Donald Trump has little to no knowledge concerning policy issues. Trump has a paper thin understanding of what appeals to a conservative audience and he tailored his campaign around those very narrow concerns. However, if examined in depth, then his policy positions can be shown to be hollow and illogical.  The domestic policies that Trump has championed most strenuously are building the wall along the border with Mexico (and somehow making Mexico pay for it), temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the United States, renegotiating all trade treaties to Make America Great Again, and re-establishing  “Law and Order” in the United States.  He also has tax and healthcare plans that deserve scrutiny.  He also threatened to undermine the full faith and credit of the United States by defaulting on the National Debt. All of these policy positions if examined closely fall apart at the seams.

Trump’s immigration policies do not solve the current problem of illegal immigration and would introduce many new problems.[i]  First off, no matter what Trump says, Mexico will never pay for the wall;[ii] nor is it their responsibility to pay for a border wall that the United States wants to erect on its side of the border.  Second, the costs of the initial construction would be tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars and the maintenance costs over the decades and centuries that followed would be astronomical.[iii]  Third, constructing the wall along the border is not as simple as it sounds; private lands would have to be seized by eminent domain, geological and topographical features would have to be navigated around, because of this certain parcels of US land would be beyond the wall.[iv]  Fourth, much of illegal immigrants come into to this country via airplane and overstay their visas so a wall would do nothing to prevent those cases.  Finally, to round up and deport the 12 million already here would involve the largest increase in federal power since FDR and the New Deal.[v] It would introduce a deportation force who would potentially invade every business, every school, and every home creating a 21st century Gestapo or Stasi.  In order to carry out these 12 million deportations using the current system would take decades.  It is an inhumane and totally impractical solution.

Trump’s understanding of trade policy and Macroeconomics as a whole is very thin and basically illogical. In the neoliberal world we live in, multinational corporations move their factories and headquarters where the regulatory, labor, and tax climate generates the most profits for that corporation.[vi]  In the 20th century, the labor movement used collective bargaining to negotiate for higher wages and benefits such as healthcare and paid vacation, etc.  Well, this situation eventually drove corporations in manufacturing out of the United States. This can be seen early on by the clothing industry moving from factories in the Northeast with a heavy union presence to the union-free US South; eventually these companies would move to Third World nations that had no labor or business regulations and generous tax packages.  The steel and auto industries lasted slightly longer into the 1970s and 1980s but eventually Detroit the center of the American auto industry largely abandoned all factories in the United States because of the huge Union presence.  Trump argues that NAFTA led to the glut of American manufacturing in places like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.[vii]  While NAFTA may have accelerated it, that process was decades in the making and a natural consequence of deindustrialization.[viii]  Modern America now has an economy driven by consumer demand for American designed technologies like the iPhone.  It is also driven by low-wage service jobs.[ix]  Renegotiating NAFTA will not bring back those manufacturing jobs.[x] Trump cannot compel multinational corporations to build new factories in the United States and if they built new factories here instead of hiring humans to do those jobs they could build robots to replace their human workers, as most companies who stayed in the United States have done.  Trump needs to promote technological innovation and improving the wages of minimum wage workers who could then invest that disposable income back into the economy.

Trump’s banning of all Muslims from entering the United States is unenforceable and would introduce numerous problems if it was attempted.[xi]  How would he even enforce this crazy policy?[xii]  Would he institute a religious test to every person who entered the United States?  Couldn’t they just lie?  How could he prove that any person was or was not Muslim; it is a universal religion with adherents all over the world.  Being Muslim is like being Jewish or Christian or Buddhist, there is not a predominant race, ethnicity, or skin color associated with that religion.  Nor is their a particular region of the world where Muslims reside; Muslims exist in nearly every nation. Also it is a bad policy because it feeds into the propaganda of terrorist organizations that the United States of America is at war with their religion; it feeds into the image of the Crusaders invading the Holy Land and engaging in a holy war persecuting Islam.[xiii]  George W. Bush, despite his failed policies in Iraq, made it absolutely clear that the United States was not at war with Islam, only with the terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda who espoused a corrupted interpretation of Islam and directly threatened the United States.[xiv]

Trump’s use of “Law and Order” rhetoric framed within the proper context of the racial impact of the American criminal justice system demonstrates his demagogic call toward the most racist supporters within his own ranks.[xv]  The Trump campaign scoffs at the notion of “implicit bias” [xvi] in particular police departments[xvii] or the criminal justice system as a whole; however, it is clear from the evidence that black men are punished at higher rates for the same crime and are given harsher sentences if convicted of the same crime as white men.[xviii]  Trump advocated for a policy of “Stop and Frisk” nationwide.[xix]  If conducted on everyone equally, “Stop and Frisk” would introduce a martial law world where anybody at any time could be stopped for any reason.  If implemented as it had been done in New York City under Guliani and Bloomberg, it would be administered targeting overwhelmingly black and Latino men; 87% of those stopped were black or Latino and only ten percent were ever arrested or charged with a crime, meaning 90% were completely innocent.[xx]  “Stop and Frisk” policies do nothing but drive a wedge between the police and the communities they administer.[xxi]  While created to confiscate illegal guns, from 2004-2011, out of 524,000 stops, police only found 176 guns.  Since the decline of “Stop and Frisk” and under Judge Scheindlin’s ruling, violent crime has gone down significantly proving that “Stop and Frisk” was not necessary to lower crime rates.[xxii]   The criminal justice system has seeped into our schools where instead of in the past where children were punished within the walls of the school and at home, now we as a society turn to law enforcement to handle troubled kids.[xxiii]  Zero tolerance policies place criminal records on children at an early age crippling their ability to find gainful employment later in life leading to more crime.  This school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately falls on minority students who do not have the resources in many cases to send their kids to expensive alternative schools or to hire lawyers to contest the charges their children face.

Trump’s tax proposals benefit only the top 1% and are just a repeat of the supply side trickledown economics from the Reagan era.[xxiv]   Trump vows to simplify the tax code and he does this by cutting the seven current tax brackets to three; 10, 20 and 25 percent.  He would cut the top marginal tax rate from 39.6% to 25% which would be the largest tax cut for the wealthiest Americans ever. Trump quintuples the standard deduction from $5,100 to $25,000.  He caps the capital gains rate at 20%.  He eliminates the estate tax, which currently only kicked in for estates exceeding $5 million.  He will cut the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35%.  He will also eliminate the alternative minimum tax for individuals and businesses.  While Trump does plan to eliminate some tax loopholes on individuals and corporations these reforms do not make up for the massive tax cuts he proposes.  While he claims that he can cut tax revenue without adding to the debt or deficit that is a lie, especially if he does not make significant cuts to discretionary spending.  Trump actually proposes to vastly increase defense spending, well beyond current levels.  While he has proposed privatizing social security, funding Medicaid through block grants to the states, and making cuts to Medicare; these cuts to entitlements do not make up for his tax revenue shortfall and defense spending.  The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center concluded that Trump’s tax plan would add $9.5 trillion to the deficit in the first decade and another $15 trillion in the subsequent decade; well on our way to Greece’s debt death spiral.[xxv]  Although Trump has refused to release his tax returns, defying an American tradition going back to Nixon, three pages from his 1995 return surfaced and it showed a $915 million loss.[xxvi]  Under a then current law, Trump could avoid taxes up to that amount of money for the next 18 years.[xxvii]  He tacitly admitted to paying no federal income taxes and that means no taxes for the military, vets, schools, healthcare for that whole period.[xxviii]

Trump proposes with his healthcare policy to get rid of and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); replace it with what is never specified.[xxix]  Getting rid of Obamacare would throw off every person who attained insurance through the exchanges created by the law.  There is also no guarantee that Trump’s new policy would keep all the positive aspects Obamacare achieved such as no lifetime limits, insurance companies being forced to insure people with pre-existing conditions, not charging women higher premiums, young people staying on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26, etc.  He has also not articulated his own plan with the exception of arguing that insurance companies should be able to sell across state lines.  Selling across state lines will not necessarily increase competition because it is not so simple to start new local hospital and physician insurance networks, hundreds or thousands or miles from your headquarters.  He is also opposed to expanding Medicaid and wants to fund the program by block grants which would cost less but cover fewer people.[xxx]

Donald Trump actually threatened to default on the National Debt because he thought it would allow him to renegotiate the debt and allow the US to get out of some of that debt as he has done numerous times during his business career with his own company.[xxxi]  However enacting this policy would have severe consequences.[xxxii]  First, US interest rates and currency value are tied to the idea that the United States will always make payments on time on its national debt.  If Trump messed with that by missing payments then the value of US currency would plummet and interest rates on those loans would go up drastically which would make paying back those loans even more difficult.  Second, his proposal to negotiate down the debt by arguing to our debtors that if you want any of your money back you have to accept less than the full amount does not work.  That policy would crater the global economy as many countries are invested heavily in US treasury bonds. Third, the US Dollar would cease to be the Reserve currency of the world, which depends on the dollar being the most reliable currency in the world.  Finally, inflation and interest rates on home loans, student debts, and car loans just to name a few would go through the roof ruining the lives of countless Americans.

In Conclusion, in my opinion, Trump’s domestic policies if implemented as he describes them would be detrimental if not entirely destructive of American society.  First, building a Wall with Mexico and creating a deportation force to target a large Latino population, instituting a nationwide “Stop and Frisk” policy, and banning all Muslims from entering the United States and surveilling those within; all these policies will create racial tensions between the white majority and racial minorities within our society.  This could lead to race riots or the break out of a racial war.  Trump’s economic policies fundamentally misunderstand our economic system.  His tax policy largely benefits the top 1% and only gives smaller tax cuts to the 99%; it also cuts government revenue roughly in half and since he is increasing spending his policies will add trillions to the national debt over the next few decades.  His threat to default and then renegotiate the payments on the national debt would: lead to a global recession; drastically raise interest rates at home on student, auto, and home loans; weaken the US dollar and remove it as the global reserve currency; and would just raise the interest rates on the treasury bonds that make up the national debt increasing the difficulty of paying it back.  His healthcare policy would get rid of all the positive aspects of Obamacare, throw off all the people who bought insurance through Obamacare, and would not necessarily ever be replaced by something else.  American society would never be the same after a Trump Presidency.
































[xxxi]On Trump’s own bankruptcies:;; On Trump’s claims about defaulting on the Debt:;


Trump is no Goldwater, and is certainly no Nixon.

In my opinion the correct historical parallel for the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016 is George Wallace from ’68, not Barry Goldwater from ’64 or Nixon from ’68.  Barry Goldwater was a principled person who was part of a fringe movement within his own party; whereas Trump seems to lack fundamental principles.  Nixon was a very skilled politician who lost in 1960 by only 112,000 votes and actually carried more states than Kennedy. In ’68, Nixon won with 32 states only hampered by Wallace taking the Deep South from him.  In 1972, Nixon carried 49 states and won 60.7% of the vote in a landslide.[i]  Trump on the other hand seems to have no knack for politics or overall political strategy.  He has no grasp of the fundamental principles of politics such as appealing to your base in the primaries and then pivoting toward the center during the general election in order to expand your support.[ii]

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson ran for election in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, against Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.  Johnson was able to paint Goldwater as a conservative cook who could potentially take the United States to nuclear war through that famous “Daisy” ad.[iii]  Johnson also found people who had been Republicans all their lives to come out and support his candidacy.[iv]  While Goldwater was highly conservative for his own times when the conservative movement itself was considered fringe in mainstream American politics; by today’s standards he would probably be considered center-right.  Goldwater supported many of the same policies that Reagan would bring to the fore in 1980.

Since the mid-1960s, there has been a party realignment.[v]  In the 1960s, the Republican and Democratic parties were spread out regionally and nationally very differently from today.  In the Northeast there were many Republicans whereas today that is largely a Democratic bastion. The Southeast was likewise reversed; in 1960 it was solidly Democratic and has been almost totally converted to a Republican stronghold.  However, there was in the past more tolerance in the Republican Party for moderates and liberals on social issues as long as they held firm on economic issues; such as lower taxes, less government regulation, and fiscal conservatism.  Since Reagan’s rise, moderate Republicans have almost ceased to exist. Reagan’s brand of combining fiscal and economic conservatism with conservatism on social issues has forced many moderates out of the party.[vi]

Nixon used themes of “Law and Order” during an election where the country was tearing itself apart.  The Tet Offensive made it clear that the United States was losing the war in Vietnam.  The anti-War movement was at its apex.  The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, caused a series of riots in cities across the nation for weeks.[vii]  The assassination of Robert Kennedy in the wake of his victory in the Democratic California Primary extinguished the hope of many young people that he could bring an end to the war.  The Democratic National Convention in Chicago erupted in riots when the party elites selected Hubert Humphrey over Eugene McCarthy despite the fact that Humphrey had not won a single primary or caucus (this controversy would lead to the modern primary and caucus system we use today).  The image of Chicago police attacking peaceful protestors outside the Democratic Convention played into Nixon’s narrative of the “Silent Majority” tired of the chaos and violence of the protestors and the rioters.[viii]

However, 2016 is not 1968.  While the economy is not booming and the recovery is slower than most people would prefer; unemployment is at only 4.9% and median incomes have risen.[ix]  While there are racial problems there are not race riots in every major city.  The Black Lives Matter Movement is akin to the non-violent direct action movements of the 1960s such as CORE and the SCLC; they are not a violent insurgency threatening American society.[x]  While the United States is at war; it is not a divisive war with millions of anti-war protestors at home. And unlike Vietnam  in ’68, where 500,000 troops were committed, only 10,000 American forces are fighting overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.[xi] Unlike in ’68, the sitting President is more popular now than he has ever been, whereas Johnson refused to run because he knew he would lose.[xii]

Trump uses the “Law and Order” theme of Nixon and has drawn parallels to Goldwater in his speeches and campaign events but he is neither principled like Goldwater or has the political instincts and strategic thinking of Nixon.[xiii]  Both Goldwater and Nixon covertly used race to appeal to a white audience who feared the changes society was undergoing at the time.  Goldwater infamously refused to support the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Nixon used the term “Law and Order” in reference to African Americans rioting in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King.  Nixon also used a “Southern Strategy” to attract voters away from George Wallace by criticizing busing which was used to enforce the Brown v Board of Education decision.[xiv]  However, Nixon never referred to an entire population of people, at least publicly, as “rapists and murderers,” as Trump did to Mexicans on his announcement that he would run in June 2015.[xv]  Goldwater never maligned an entire religion for the antics of its most extreme adherents.[xvi]  The Clinton campaign has successfully painted Trump as unhinged and unfit to be president using similar techniques that Johnson used against Goldwater; including finding the same person who starred in that “Confessions of a Republican” ad in 1964 to talk about Trump.[xvii]

Trump is more akin to George Wallace in his rhetoric, tactics, and ultimately in his results.  George Wallace was known for his populist rhetoric and for his overt racial appeals to white supremacists.  He campaigned as an advocate against the rights of African Americans.  Just like Trump, Wallace maligned the media as biased.  Wallace called for protestors at his rallies to be beaten up. In 1968, he ran independently and garnered 10 million votes, about 13 percent of the total with which he carried five Southern states and garnered 46 electoral votes.[xviii]  Trump has constantly encouraged his supporters to use violence against his protestors.[xix]  Trump’s rhetoric of racist demagoguery echoes the language that Wallace especially in the way Trump uses minorities as foils or scapegoats for the problems of his white supporters. It is not surprising that non-college educated males are Trump’s largest demographic.[xx]

At this rate, Trump is hoping that he can so overwhelmingly win the votes of white males that he overrides his deficits with women and minorities. In order to win this election, Trump had to not only win every state Romney won in 2012, but he had to flip to red several swing states, which barring any miraculous events, Trump is not on track to do.  In recent polls, he has been down by as much as 14 points, with a national average of 7 points behind. [xxi]   In almost all of the swing states, Trump is down by over five points;[xxii] which is an almost insurmountable lead at this point in the race.  Trump’s history of sexual harassment and misogyny has come back to kill him with women who normally support the Republican Party. A videotape where, without their consent, Trump bragged about kissing women and where he “grabbed them by the pussy” didn’t help.[xxiii]  That dynamic, has turned what would be a close race with any normal Republican candidate into a potential landslide. It is looking like this election is going to be like 1964 or 1968, but Trump’s performance appears likely to echo Goldwater or Wallace, instead of Nixon.
















[xv] There are plenty of incidents of Nixon referring to African Americans negatively in the transcripts of the White House tapes but he never, to my knowledge, publically verbalized those thoughts in a campaign speech.,