Monday, May 9, 2016

An open letter to Donald Trump and other presidential candidates

Let me start off by saying that I know I have little to no shot in hell of getting a response to this post, but it sums up some questions I have to the program associated with the presumptive Republican nominee - or whatever is the name du jour to describe the current status of the candidacy of Donald Trump.
(considering we are reading about meetings with Romney and Kristol about a third (party) candidate and the various degrees to which Republicans seek to alter / avoid / defend against a Republican candidate called D. Trump).
I have been following the political news with some interest since this latest primary season by Republicans is unique in many ways and while I have had some answers provided by some candidates, the primary season really has not gotten into enough detail for me to fully understand how some topics that are important to me will be tackled by not just Trump, but also other candidates that were associated with this primary.

1) Obamacare
Hearing a lot about doing away with Obamacare. I agree that the fees are high to get coverage that is somewhat decent. But what will come in its place? You can do away with it, but it will require something more than simply doing away with it since people do need some healthcare coverage or not? Let me give you the example of my mother, who immigrated to the USA last year as someone well past her retirement age and now has a Green Card. she had pre-existing conditions, can not work full-time anymore. Before Obamacare, her options were gap coverage that included insurance plans that provided minimum coverage at very high rates and often was only good for organizing transport back to the country from which people emigrated to the USA. So besides stating that someone will do away with Obamacare, can someone, anyone on the Republican side please explain how they propose to cover a legal immigrant, past their working age, that had pre-existing conditions and does need regular healthcare and prescription drugs? Going back to the pre-Obamacare solution is not better for these legal immigrants. And in case someone wonders why I asked her to come to the USA and stay with me; staying in Germany on her own would have meant retirement home for her and giving up significant independence because while she is relatively healthy now, she has some days during which she needs more assistance.

2) Public Health and Medical Coverage in general
It is well known that the US spends more on healthcare than countries such as Germany or the United Kingdom. Yet the USA ends up with a worse outcome when looking at general life expectancy, infant mortality or similar public health statistics. Even for someone like me, with employer-sponsored health coverage, it is disheartening to realize that I end up paying significant money out of pocket despite having insurance and limiting physician visits to the appointments required. Since Obamacare in the view of most, if not all, Republicans is not the way to go to bring down healthcare costs and ensure that health insurance is affordable for most, what is the alternative? Again, simply stating to repeal Obamacare is not really giving me an idea on how the US government will ensure that working people can get access to affordable health insurance.
Like other Europeans, it was surprising for me to find out that switching jobs could mean, without proper planning, facing lack of insurance unless you are willing to pay for COBRA, which is not meeting my definition of affordable. Employer-sponsored health insurance is great, but it also takes some of the flexibility away for a mobile society since you need to ensure continuous employment to maintain health coverage. Something as innocent as using the opportunity to take a new job at the other coast and using the move to make a roadtrip with the family and getting to know the US is now a risky undertaking because, if between jobs, it means no health insurance while you drive on Route 66. Obamacare at least makes a once month coverage possible with some planning and provides options, but what in the absence of Obamacare and a gap in employer-sponsored insurance?

3) Border to Mexico
So Donald Trump proposes to build a wall and hold off immigration from Mexico. Being from Germany and growing up in the 70s and 80s, we did have a wall. It was even more than a wall, it was a wall equipped with extensive fencing, guards and guard dogs and the requirement to shoot at anyone seeking to cross the border illegally. In addition, despite all these extra components besides a wall, people did manage to escape and get to what was then West Germany. If people are desperate enough, they will find ways to get across the border and as long as employers are agreeing to provide these people with a better life than in their home country, the desire will be strong enough to come to the USA. What will make the wall with Mexico so much efficient at blocking illegal immigration than the actual wall and extensive border set up by the former East Germany? I am not sure, but I somehow have my doubts that any wall will make a big difference for long as long as there is  enough coastline and the economic disparity between the USA and many countries south of the border.

P.S. Having gone through the lengthy process of transitioning from a student visa to a employment visa to a Green Card to citizenship, I am all for enforcing immigration laws. And in an ideal world, everyone would nicely play by the rules. But this world is imperfect and illegal immigration is a problem and has been for decades. I simply cannot believe that building a wall is an effective solution when much more elaborate (and deadly) border constructions, such as the border that separate East and West Germany, proved ineffective.

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