[ {"id":"8c154df2-ba16-5565-a14e-ab3bb14ded43","type":"article","starttime":"1490426100","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-25T00:15:00-07:00","priority":35,"sections":[{"fitz":"news/opinion/column/fitz"}],"flags":{"web_only":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Fitz: Late nights at the Walmart with shoppers and a president","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/column/fitz/article_8c154df2-ba16-5565-a14e-ab3bb14ded43.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/column/fitz/fitz-late-nights-at-the-walmart-with-shoppers-and-a/article_8c154df2-ba16-5565-a14e-ab3bb14ded43.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/column/fitz/fitz-late-nights-at-the-walmart-with-shoppers-and-a/article_8c154df2-ba16-5565-a14e-ab3bb14ded43.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Arizona Daily Star","prologue":"Who was that man studying the Enquirer like it was the Talmud?","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#columnist","#fitz","#topcolumn","#localcolumn","#latest"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"fe035d9d-2372-5396-a3b6-575d2be80256","description":"David Fitzsimmons, Tucson\u2019s most beloved ink-stained wretch.","byline":"Steven Meckler////","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"454","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e0/fe035d9d-2372-5396-a3b6-575d2be80256/572be4294feab.image.jpg?resize=620%2C454"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e0/fe035d9d-2372-5396-a3b6-575d2be80256/540116af67f2b.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"220","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e0/fe035d9d-2372-5396-a3b6-575d2be80256/540116af6881e.preview-300.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"749","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e0/fe035d9d-2372-5396-a3b6-575d2be80256/540116af5d6cb.preview-1024.jpg"}}}],"revision":10,"commentID":"8c154df2-ba16-5565-a14e-ab3bb14ded43","body":"

I stopped in at the Walmart to grab a half gallon of milk on my way home. It was after midnight and the place was packed with night owls. I got the milk and stood in the checkout line. Pointing to the magazine rack up ahead of us, the lady behind me said, \u201cI hate those stupid tabloids. Pure garbage.\u201d

I agreed with the woman wearing a tube top and ski pants. \u201cNothing but trash. Except for the ones that feature wrinkled Hollywood stars dripping with flab and cellulite. And the plastic surgeries gone bad. I love those.\u201d

And then I noticed him. The shopper ahead of me was fascinated with the tabloids. He thumbed through them like he was searching for state secrets. He was big man in sloppy sweats and a hoodie, hiding behind dark sunglasses and wearing a \u201cMAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN\u201d hat. He had tiny fidgety hands. And then I saw the lock of orange hair. I tapped him on the shoulder. \u201cPresident Trump?\u201d

\u201cQuiet! I\u2019m here for research. This is an ultra-secret mission I\u2019m on.\u201d The president looked over both his shoulders, waved me in closer and whispered, \u201cI just sneaked out of the White House. I do it every night.\u201d

I peeked in his cart. Underneath the Enquirers and Examiners and the latest on Elvis sightings and alien abductions, I saw aluminum foil and a thing of Tic Tacs. \u201cSo what\u2019s with the tin foil?\u201d

\u201cI\u2019m making a helmet to block out Obama\u2019s surveillance of my mind with his ultra-secret gamma rays. Alex Jones showed me how to make one. Now if you\u2019ll excuse me, I have to study my intel.\u201d

He picked up a tabloid featuring Bigfoot on the cover. \u201cBreitbart and Info Wars just scratch the surface. Look at this! \u2018Putin breeds unicorn!\u2019 I can\u2019t believe the CIA missed this. It\u2019s bad. Very bad. Just like they missed Ted Cruz\u2019s father\u2019s role in the whole JFK thing. It\u2019s very bad.\u201d

I said, \u201cThat\u2019s pure nonsense.\u201d

The president ignored me. \u201cLook at this mother lode of intel: \u2019Hillary confesses to multiple homicides, mass grave found in Chappaqua!\u2019 Unbelievable! I\u2019m ordering an investigation. Believe me. I\u2019m getting Spicey on this tomorrow.\u201d

\u201cIt\u2019s garbage, Mr. President.\u201d

\u201cYou\u2019re nuts. I got to stay on top of this. The so-called media doesn\u2019t report any of this. They\u2019re all into \u2018fake news\u2019!\u201d

The president wrote down more \u201cintel.\u201d




The president smiled. \u201cI knew it! This is better intel than the crap those Nazis at the CIA or those traitors at the FBI feed me. They\u2019re all out to get me. Because I know all about Hanger 51 and the space alien technology they\u2019re using to watch me.\u201d

He lowered his dark sunglasses, waved a World Weekly News with a picture of a \u201cLobster Boy\u201d in my face and tapped the side of his cranium. \u201cThis is why I\u2019m smarter than all my generals. Knowledge is power. So is the ability to give an accurate crowd size estimate. Bullwinkle said that when he gave me the dossier on Boris and Natasha.\u201d

The president turned, nudged his shopping cart along and fired off tweets.

I read them on my smartphone. \u201cBigfoot real! Amazing photo! Why did CIA, National Parks, Forest Service hide THIS from me? Media do yr job.\u201d

\u201cFinal Four rigged. Congress MUST investigate!\u201d

\u201cISIS steals ark recovered by great American Indiana Jones! The ark that contains the 2 Corinthians! USA must take back!\u201d

The president, chin up and jaw out, left convinced everyone was fooled by his disguise. Everyone in the store knew who he was and chose to ignore him. They were simply embarrassed for him. His approval rating was lower than linoleum and his political capital had vanished like a Navy bomber in the Bermuda Triangle.

Just this morning on \u201cFox and Friends\u201d he had blamed the \u201cfake polls\u201d on \u201cillegal aliens and liberal terrorists who were, according to my friend Putin, hired by George Soros to infiltrate the corrupt, lying polling industry long before Obama\u2019s birth certificate was planted in Hawaii by the same Kenyan spies who helped fake the moon landing and created the \u2018Deep State\u2019 with the help of the Trilateral Commission who as we all know were behind Y2K.\u201d

Republicans on Capitol Hill vowed to investigate.

On the drive home I thought about tweeting about what I had just seen. I decided against it. Everyone would say it was just fake news, something that some nut had just made up out of thin air. I wouldn\u2019t want that. Once your credibility goes, it\u2019s over.

"}, {"id":"89023788-d910-5b33-a22a-355b29e71296","type":"article","starttime":"1490406300","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T18:45:00-07:00","sections":[{"commentary":"ap/commentary"},{"column":"news/opinion/column"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Charles Krauthammer: American democracy not so decadent after all","url":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/article_89023788-d910-5b33-a22a-355b29e71296.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/charles-krauthammer-american-democracy-not-so-decadent-after-all/article_89023788-d910-5b33-a22a-355b29e71296.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/ap/commentary/charles-krauthammer-american-democracy-not-so-decadent-after-all/article_89023788-d910-5b33-a22a-355b29e71296.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"The Washington Post","prologue":"Don't worry, our checks-and-balances are doing just fine.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["democracy","government and politics","checks and balances","separation of powers","political issues","health care reform","health care policy","government policy","supreme courts","national courts","courts","judiciary","national governments","immigration","social issues","social affairs","judicial appointments and nominations","government appointments and nominations"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"7fbb8606-9d0d-5597-a467-ffc46c1b8665","description":"Charles Krauthammer","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"367","height":"456","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/fb/7fbb8606-9d0d-5597-a467-ffc46c1b8665/5801a519839fd.image.jpg?resize=367%2C456"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"65","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/fb/7fbb8606-9d0d-5597-a467-ffc46c1b8665/557b656a35156.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"372","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/fb/7fbb8606-9d0d-5597-a467-ffc46c1b8665/53ff88337e360.preview-300.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1272","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/fb/7fbb8606-9d0d-5597-a467-ffc46c1b8665/53ff883376bab.preview-1024.jpg"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"89023788-d910-5b33-a22a-355b29e71296","body":"

Under the dark gray cloud, amid the general gloom, allow me to offer a ray of sunshine. The last two months have brought a pleasant surprise: Turns out the much-feared, much-predicted withering of our democratic institutions has been grossly exaggerated. The system lives.

Let me explain. Donald Trump\u2019s triumph last year was based on a frontal attack on the Washington \u201cestablishment,\u201d that all-powerful, all-seeing, supremely cynical, bipartisan \u201ccartel\u201d (as Ted Cruz would have it) that allegedly runs everything. Yet the establishment proved to be Potemkin empty. In 2016, it folded pitifully, surrendering with barely a fight to a lightweight outsider.

At which point, fear of the vaunted behemoth turned to contempt for its now-exposed lassitude and decadence. Compounding the confusion were Trump\u2019s intimations of authoritarianism. He declared \u201cI alone can fix it\u201d and \u201cI am your voice,\u201d the classic tropes of the demagogue. He unabashedly expressed admiration for strongmen (most notably, Vladimir Putin).

Trump had just cut through the grandees like a hot knife through butter. Who would now prevent him from trampling, caudillo-like, over a Washington grown weak and decadent? A Washington, moreover, that had declined markedly in public esteem, as confidence in our traditional institutions \u2014 from the political parties to Congress \u2014 fell to new lows.

The strongman cometh, it was feared. Who and what would stop him?

Two months into the Trumpian era, we have our answer. Our checks and balances have turned out to be quite vibrant. Consider:

1. The courts.

Trump rolls out not one but two immigration bans, and is stopped dead in his tracks by the courts. However you feel about the merits of the policy itself (in my view, execrable and useless but legal) or the merits of the constitutional reasoning of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (embarrassingly weak, transparently political), the fact remains: The president proposed and the courts disposed.

Trump\u2019s pushback? A plaintive tweet or two complaining about the judges \u2014 that his own Supreme Court nominee denounced (if obliquely) as \u201cdisheartening\u201d and \u201cdemoralizing.\u201d

2. The states.

Federalism lives. The first immigration challenge to Trump was brought by the attorneys general of two states (Washington and Minnesota) picking up on a trend begun during the Barack Obama years when state attorneys general banded together to kill his immigration overreach and the more egregious trespasses of his Environmental Protection Agency.

And beyond working through the courts, state governors \u2014 Republicans, no less \u2014 have been exerting pressure on members of Congress to oppose a Republican president\u2019s signature health-care reform. Institutional exigency still trumps party loyalty.

3. Congress.

The Republican-controlled Congress is putting up epic resistance to a Republican administration\u2019s health-care reform. True, that\u2019s because of ideological and tactical disagreements rather than any particular desire to hem in Trump. But it does demonstrate that Congress is no rubber stamp.

And its independence extends beyond the perennially divisive health-care conundrums. Trump\u2019s budget, for example, was instantly declared dead on arrival in Congress, as it almost invariably is regardless of which party is in power.

4. The media.

Trump is right. It is the opposition party. Indeed, furiously so, often indulging in appalling overkill. It\u2019s sometimes embarrassing to read the front pages of the major newspapers, festooned with anti-Trump editorializing masquerading as news.

Nonetheless, if you take the view from 30,000 feet, better this than a press acquiescing on bended knee, where it spent most of the Obama years in a slavish Pravda-like thrall. Every democracy needs an opposition press. We damn well have one now.

Taken together \u2014 and suspending judgment on which side is right on any particular issue \u2014 it is deeply encouraging that the sinews of institutional resistance to a potentially threatening executive remain quite resilient.

The good news is that the checks and balances are working just fine.

"}, {"id":"e9d818ee-5129-52b8-9f07-7d7631856ecb","type":"article","starttime":"1490397842","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T16:24:02-07:00","lastupdated":"1490401388","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Republicans fumble ACA repeal: Expert reaction","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_e9d818ee-5129-52b8-9f07-7d7631856ecb.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/republicans-fumble-aca-repeal-expert-reaction/article_e9d818ee-5129-52b8-9f07-7d7631856ecb.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/republicans-fumble-aca-repeal-expert-reaction-75170","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Christopher Sebastian Parker\nUniversity of Washington","prologue":"Richard Arenberg, Brown University and Christopher Sebastian Parker, University of Washington","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","patient protection and affordable care act","health care policy","government policy","government and politics","bills","legislation","legislature","political parties","political organizations","health care reform","political issues","national taxes","government taxation and revenue","government finance","government business and finance","business","national governments"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":2,"commentID":"e9d818ee-5129-52b8-9f07-7d7631856ecb","body":"

Richard Arenberg, Brown University and Christopher Sebastian Parker, University of Washington

(THE CONVERSATION) Editor\u2019s note: The fight didn\u2019t last long. Moments before a scheduled vote on March 24, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act. It was a surprisingly swift defeat for a legislative priority talked up by Republicans since the day Obamacare first passed. We asked congressional scholars what the retreat means \u2013 and what comes next.

Trump legslative agenda now in serious doubt

Richard A. Arenberg, Brown University

President Trump and the Republican Congressional leadership have suffered a stunning defeat. The inability of the new president and his GOP majority to pass the American Health Care Act in the House places in question their ability to accomplish their central campaign promise of repealing Obamacare. It also creates significant obstacles for the remainder of the Trump legislative agenda, especially the planned tax cut.

The conflicting demands by factions in the health care debate have laid bare huge fissures in the Republican caucus \u2013 fissures which had been masked by apparent unity in the wake of Trump\u2019s surprising election. Further, the failure of this first test of the Trump administration and its allies on the Hill raises serious questions about Speaker Ryan\u2019s ability to bridge those gaps.

The bill, pulled by the Speaker before it could suffer defeat on the House floor, contained more than US$880 billion of tax reductions over 10 years.

GOP leaders have been counting on that reduction to the revenue base to permit a large tax reform bill to be passed using the reconciliation process. Reconciliation would permit the tax bill to be passed in the Senate with a simple majority, foreclosing the possibility of a Democratic filibuster.

However, in order to qualify under Senate rules, that bill must be revenue-neutral. The plan to use the tax reductions contained in the American Health Care Act was one of the main reasons that the Republican Congressional leadership convinced Trump to undertake the health care bill first.

The wisdom of that strategy will come under severe scrutiny in the White House in the days ahead.

Will the GOP ever get its act together?

Christopher Sebastian Parker, University of Washington

By now, the GOP should should be tired of this: public implosion.

Ever since the Tea Party showed up on the scene in 2009, the Republican party slips on every banana peel in sight. The fight between the party\u2019s moderate wing and the more reactionary one, led former Senate Minority Leader, Bob Dole (R-KS), to say that neither he, nor president Ronald Reagan, could get elected in today\u2019s GOP.

This was followed by the ouster of former House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA), who was primaried by Tea Party candidate Dave Brat in 2014. Why? He was perceived as too moderate. He was the first sitting majority leader to lose since 1899.

This was followed by the GOP resignation of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2015 because, he, too, was perceived to be too moderate

Now this. The Freedom Caucus is responsible for the current public rift in the GOP. What\u2019s that old saying? \u201cBe careful what you wish for.\u201d Well, the GOP got its wish to govern, and they\u2019re blowing it.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/republicans-fumble-aca-repeal-expert-reaction-75170.

"}, {"id":"182c8fe7-5c6b-56b7-ac0d-7dfc34052955","type":"article","starttime":"1490393700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T15:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490393855","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Government shouldn\u2019t run the health-care system","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_182c8fe7-5c6b-56b7-ac0d-7dfc34052955.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-government-shouldn-t-run-the-health-care-system/article_182c8fe7-5c6b-56b7-ac0d-7dfc34052955.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-government-shouldn-t-run-the-health-care-system/article_182c8fe7-5c6b-56b7-ac0d-7dfc34052955.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Re: the March 22 article \"Opportune time to consider benefits of single-payer health care\" First, do we want the government to control the healthcare system and have all of us get the same horrible treatment as veterans do at the Veterans Administration, where veterans have died waiting for health care. The writer bemoans the profits of health care companies but doesn't mention that the Rand corporation estimates fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid at $98 billion yearly. She says we rank 33rd in longevity, but that has more to do with our unhealthy lifestyles than with our health care system, which is easily the best in the world.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"182c8fe7-5c6b-56b7-ac0d-7dfc34052955","body":"

Re: the March 22 article \"Opportune time to consider benefits of single-payer health care\"

First, do we want the government to control the healthcare system and have all of us get the same horrible treatment as veterans do at the Veterans Administration, where veterans have died waiting for health care. The writer bemoans the profits of health care companies but doesn't mention that the Rand corporation estimates fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid at $98 billion yearly. She says we rank 33rd in longevity, but that has more to do with our unhealthy lifestyles than with our health care system, which is easily the best in the world.

The best way to bring down healthcare costs is to let the free market work -- let insurance companies offer whatever policies they want and let consumers choose whichever insurance packages appeal to them.

David Pearse


"}, {"id":"546dc742-0efa-58c9-8a9d-bab9e4ae8412","type":"article","starttime":"1490393700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T15:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490393855","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Maybe he\u2019s planning Trump Tower on Mars","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_546dc742-0efa-58c9-8a9d-bab9e4ae8412.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-maybe-he-s-planning-trump-tower-on-mars/article_546dc742-0efa-58c9-8a9d-bab9e4ae8412.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-maybe-he-s-planning-trump-tower-on-mars/article_546dc742-0efa-58c9-8a9d-bab9e4ae8412.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Re: the March 22 article \u201cTrump\u00a0signs NASA bill focusing on sending humans to\u00a0Mars\" Interesting where our \u201cso-called\u201d president likes to spend our money: certainly not on protecting our environment or on programs to help the poor (here or around the world) or on education or at the State Department. Instead (besides our massive increase in defense spending) we\u2019ll invest almost 20 billion dollars to help send humans to Mars.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"546dc742-0efa-58c9-8a9d-bab9e4ae8412","body":"

Re: the March 22 article \u201cTrump\u00a0signs NASA bill focusing on sending humans to\u00a0Mars\"

Interesting where our \u201cso-called\u201d president likes to spend our money: certainly not on protecting our environment or on programs to help the poor (here or around the world) or on education or at the State Department. Instead (besides our massive increase in defense spending) we\u2019ll invest almost 20 billion dollars to help send humans to Mars.

If he gets his way with much of the rest of our budget, the results may make Mars a much safer and more inviting place to live than Earth. With the tax cuts he envisions for the very wealthy, they not only will be able to afford the move, but may find a much safer and cleaner planet than what they leave behind. I wouldn\u2019t be surprised if our \u201cso-called\u201d president isn\u2019t already planning to have a Trump resort ready to welcome them.

Ken Cohn

Northwest side

"}, {"id":"c9be7aa0-3901-55ea-a7a9-cb646a963a70","type":"article","starttime":"1490393700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T15:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490393855","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Male columnist wrong about Planned Parenthood, health clinics","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_c9be7aa0-3901-55ea-a7a9-cb646a963a70.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-male-columnist-wrong-about-planned-parenthood-health-clinics/article_c9be7aa0-3901-55ea-a7a9-cb646a963a70.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-male-columnist-wrong-about-planned-parenthood-health-clinics/article_c9be7aa0-3901-55ea-a7a9-cb646a963a70.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Re: the March 19 article \"Public money shouldn't go to Planned\u00a0Parenthood\" \u00a0 As a woman, I am always surprised when men like Joseph Morgan weigh in on Planned Parenthood, particularly when they are missing the facts. He claims their work can be done by other health clinics, a statement that has repeatedly been proven false. There are not enough health clinics and even those often do not offer the wide array of health services to men and women that Planned Parenthood does, like mammograms, HIV and STD testing, and Pap smears that keep people alive.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"c9be7aa0-3901-55ea-a7a9-cb646a963a70","body":"

Re: the March 19 article \"Public money shouldn't go to Planned\u00a0Parenthood\" \u00a0

As a woman, I am always surprised when men like Joseph Morgan weigh in on Planned Parenthood, particularly when they are missing the facts. He claims their work can be done by other health clinics, a statement that has repeatedly been proven false. There are not enough health clinics and even those often do not offer the wide array of health services to men and women that Planned Parenthood does, like mammograms, HIV and STD testing, and Pap smears that keep people alive.

The federal funding Planned Parenthood receives is a reimbursement for services delivered to Medicaid patients and, as federal money, cannot be used for abortion. Abortions are a tiny 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does and they, too, can save lives, as they did the life of my friend whose baby was no longer alive in her womb. Perhaps we should have a local progressive woman columnist rather than two male conservatives!

Johnna Matthews


"}, {"id":"edf7d389-7a3d-5f2d-a72b-9839c35fd074","type":"article","starttime":"1490393700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T15:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490393856","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: Trumpcare rations healthcare","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_edf7d389-7a3d-5f2d-a72b-9839c35fd074.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-trumpcare-rations-healthcare/article_edf7d389-7a3d-5f2d-a72b-9839c35fd074.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-trumpcare-rations-healthcare/article_edf7d389-7a3d-5f2d-a72b-9839c35fd074.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"I recall that not that long ago Republicans broadly criticized Obama's Affordable Care Act because it would create \"death panels\" which would selectively deny medical care. This turned out to be generally false based on the expansion of the covered population. The ACA is not perfect, but given the Trump/Ryan plan to cap Medicaid spending, who's advocating \"death panels\" now? John Higgins","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"edf7d389-7a3d-5f2d-a72b-9839c35fd074","body":"

I recall that not that long ago Republicans broadly criticized Obama's Affordable Care Act because it would create \"death panels\" which would selectively deny medical care. This turned out to be generally false based on the expansion of the covered population. The ACA is not perfect, but given the Trump/Ryan plan to cap Medicaid spending, who's advocating \"death panels\" now? John Higgins

John Higgins

East side

"}, {"id":"fd03a205-b445-5013-8ddd-4a4a13400e0a","type":"article","starttime":"1490393700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T15:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490393856","sections":[{"letters":"news/opinion/letters"},{"mailbag":"news/opinion/mailbag"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Letter: McCain, Flake should not support ACA repeal","url":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/article_fd03a205-b445-5013-8ddd-4a4a13400e0a.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-mccain-flake-should-not-support-aca-repeal/article_fd03a205-b445-5013-8ddd-4a4a13400e0a.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-mccain-flake-should-not-support-aca-repeal/article_fd03a205-b445-5013-8ddd-4a4a13400e0a.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"I urge Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake to oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The proposed bill is on the proposed replacement is paid for by the most marginalized constituents. Your low income constituents need a voice. They do not have thousands to donate to your campaign. Yet you need to listen.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["letters"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/png","width":"620","height":"457","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?resize=620%2C457"},"100": {"type":"image/png","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/55d4bbb53928a.preview-100.png"},"300": {"type":"image/png","width":"300","height":"168","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59&resize=300%2C168&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/png","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/50/450d33e5-026d-5f3a-ac28-07980a7de4f7/57294d6d56ce9.image.png?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C59"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"fd03a205-b445-5013-8ddd-4a4a13400e0a","body":"

I urge Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake to oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The proposed bill is on the proposed replacement is paid for by the most marginalized constituents. Your low income constituents need a voice. They do not have thousands to donate to your campaign. Yet you need to listen.

We are talking about human lives. There are Medicaid recipients who actually work. Yes, they do work. Under the Obama expansion, the working poor now have health care. Please consider removing the dollar signs off the backs of Americans. People will die under this new proposal, and the people who are affected have the weakest voice. I urge you to look into your conscious. There has to be a better way to balance the budget without risking the lives of your constituents. I thank you for your work.

Virginia Martin

North side

"}, {"id":"1ed0ca03-6dc2-5c15-b050-618dea1f6711","type":"article","starttime":"1490385768","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T13:02:48-07:00","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Essential health benefits suddenly at center of health care debate, but what are they?","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_1ed0ca03-6dc2-5c15-b050-618dea1f6711.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/essential-health-benefits-suddenly-at-center-of-health-care-debate/article_1ed0ca03-6dc2-5c15-b050-618dea1f6711.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/essential-health-benefits-suddenly-at-center-of-health-care-debate-but-what-are-they-75125","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Simon Haeder\nWest Virginia University","prologue":"Simon Haeder, West Virginia University","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","employee healthcare benefits","employee benefits","personnel","business","access to health care","health issues","health","health care costs","patient protection and affordable care act","health care policy","government policy","government and politics","personal health insurance","personal insurance","personal finance","insurance industry","financial services"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":1,"commentID":"1ed0ca03-6dc2-5c15-b050-618dea1f6711","body":"

Simon Haeder, West Virginia University

(THE CONVERSATION) Republicans have tirelessly campaigned to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a conservative, market-based approach to health care. Almost seven years after its passage, and with the election of a Republican president and Congress, the ACA appeared destined to be repealed and potentially replaced.

The House was scheduled to but did not vote on March 24 on that replacement, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In the debate running up to the vote, a major sticking point was a relatively obscure, albeit important, component of the ACA called the Essential Health Benefit (EHB) provision.

These benefits are those deemed \u201cessential\u201d by the authors of the ACA. They include maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, emergency services and hospitalization.

As a public policy professor, I have studied the EHB provision, their benefits and drawbacks, and how they fit into the overarching construct of the ACA. While there may be room to improve the EHB provision, I have no doubt that outright eliminating the essential health benefits provisions of the ACA would prove to be disastrous.

How the benefits came to be - and to be so loathed

The provision has, together with the individual mandate, long been a bane to conservatives and libertarians. Opponents of the ACA see the EHB as restricting consumer choice and artificially inflating the cost of insurance.

Nonetheless, the elimination of the EHB was initially not included in the Republican efforts to repeal the ACA. Indeed, it was added only when it became clear that the Republican leadership lacked the votes to pass the AHCA because of the recalcitrance of their most conservative members.

Prior to the ACA, it was up to each respective state to determine what benefits, called insurance mandates, had to be included in insurance plans. Not surprisingly, states differed widely in terms comprehensiveness required, and no specific benefit was deemed essential in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

While most states required the inclusion of such benefits as emergency room services (44 states), far fewer required coverage for well-child visits (32), contraceptives (30), maternity services (25), rehabilitation services (7) or prescription drugs (5).

Pre-ACA requirements were weak

Even when essential services requirements were in place before the ACA, they were often fairly weak and allowed insurers to make coverage optional or to cap allowable benefits. This greatly affected what and how much care people had access to.

For example, 62 percent of individuals in the individual market lacked maternity coverage and 34 percent lacked coverage for substance abuse disorder treatment.

Thus, the EHB provisions were included in the ACA, for many reasons. First, the ACA was intended to provide coverage that offers viable protection against some of the most basic health care costs Americans experience.

Also, EHBs were designed to provide marketplace consumers with insurance coverage similar to the coverage of employer-sponsored insurance and Medicaid. It would not be a pared-back, bare-bones policy commonly available prior to the ACA.

Another goal was to empower consumers by helping them to compare different insurance plans in the insurance marketplaces. As all plans are required to provide the same basic services, insurers would be required to compete on a level playing field \u2013 and not by artificially reducing premiums by excluding essential services.

However, the inclusion of a minimum set of benefits also had technical reasons that are soundly based in health economics. As insurers are now required to accept all interested consumers, insurers with a more comprehensive benefit design would inevitably attract a disproportionate number of sick, and thus costly, individuals. Health economists refer to this process as adverse selection. As a result, premiums for these insurers would significantly increase. In response, insurers could either adjust their benefit design or exit the market.

Finally, the broad set of benefits was meant to attract a large, diverse pool of consumers who would jointly share risk and cost for the services covered under the EHB. By attracting a diverse set on consumers, insurers would not be disproportionately exposed to certain high-cost individuals and the overall insurance market would be stabilized.

By requiring insurers to compete on price and quality \u2013 and by not allowing them to utilize benefit design to discourage individuals to sign up for their plans \u2013 sicker individuals are more evenly spread among all insurers.

What would happen without them?

ACA opponents have argued these requirements restrict consumer choice and artificially inflate the cost of insurance. However, eliminating the EHB provisions would likely entail a variety of negative consequences for individual consumers, insurance market, and the broader health care system.

The difficulty for consumers to understand and navigate the health care and insurance system is well-documented. The EHB guarantee consumers that a certain set of basic services are included in their insurance and that they are covered in case of sickness. Without EHBs, insurance plans with different benefit designs and structures would likely proliferate. The amount of information would likely overwhelm most consumers and thus make the comparison of insurance plans virtually impossible.

More generally, the elimination of the EHB requirement could dramatically impact insurance markets across the country. No longer required to provide a certain minimum of benefits, insurers would successively reduce benefits (a race to the skimpiest plan, if you will) in order to attract only the healthiest consumers. These people are the least likely to use services and thus prefer plans with limited protections and lower premiums. Eventually, most if not all plans would be priced at the available tax credits offered under the AHCA, because at that point these plans would essentially be free for eligible Americans.

As insurers move toward offering ever skimpier plans, individuals would remain free to purchase additional benefits. However, insurers could charge prohibitively high prices for these optional benefits. Or, they could be hesitant to offer these optional benefits at all, as only individuals who expect to use them would be likely to purchase them.

Similarly, healthy individuals could sign up for the skimpiest available insurance plans in order to fulfill the requirement to remain continuously insured. They would then expand their benefits without incurring a penalty in case they fall sick and have large health costs to cover. Or, as the AHCA premium penalties are set rather low, the healthiest individuals could completely defer obtaining such coverage until a major medical need is incurred. Again, insurers would anticipate this behavior and refuse to offer comprehensive coverage.

Ultimately, eliminating the EHB essentially individualizes risk and cost by shrinking the risk pool down to a single individual, a situation similar to the situation prior to the enactment of the ACA. However, health insurance works best by creating a large, diverse pool of consumers with varying health care costs. The ACA sought to achieve this goal by combining the EHB with requirements for insurers to accept all consumers and for consumers to obtain coverage or pay a fine. If people sign up only when they are sick, it raises costs and makes plans unsustainable for insurers.

A need to reevaluate, not eliminate

This situation would potentially be further exacerbated by Republican plans to allow for the selling of insurance across state lines. Even if liberal states like California were to maintain similar consumer protections as present in the ACA, it is conceivable, even likely, that more conservative states like Florida would quickly move in the opposite direction. That is, they would allow for the sale of so-called bare-bones plans with few benefits or catastrophic plans \u2013 plans that only offer protection in case of significant financial exposure.

Both types of plans would naturally be less expensive compared to the more comprehensive plans, and thus attract the healthiest individuals. This has the potential of triggering a death spiral in the insurance markets of more protective states as their premiums would would skyrocket.

As such, individual consumers would bear significant hardship due to the elimination of the EHB. More limited coverage will inevitably lead to higher out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

The negative effects would likely be compounded for the broader health care system. Hospitals will be subject to increasing uncompensated care costs and will then shift these costs either to other consumers or be forced to close their doors. Also, a lot of the benefits of prevention and early intervention would likely be lost.

The EHBs have undeniably raised insurance premiums. However, this is hardly surprising because they have done so by reducing out-of-pocket costs and by providing consumers with meaningful protection against the vagaries of sickness.

In my own work, I have shown the diverse approaches that states have taken to adapt the EHB to their local health insurance markets. Unfortunately, I have also shown that states often do not rely on available policy expertise to balance adequate coverage with affordability.

Considering the benefits of EHBs, it would be prudent for all stakeholders to continuously revisit the important question of what services should be included in the EHB and which ones should not.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/essential-health-benefits-suddenly-at-center-of-health-care-debate-but-what-are-they-75125.

"}, {"id":"56b62988-3abe-5481-8b22-4d2030da6064","type":"article","starttime":"1490349541","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-24T02:59:01-07:00","priority":0,"sections":[{"columnists":"opinion/columnists"},{"columnists":"news/opinion/columnists"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"America can't be first without Europe","url":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/article_56b62988-3abe-5481-8b22-4d2030da6064.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/opinion/columnists/america-can-t-be-first-without-europe/article_56b62988-3abe-5481-8b22-4d2030da6064.html","canonical":"https://theconversation.com/america-cant-be-first-without-europe-75109","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Daniel S. Hamilton\nJohns Hopkins University","prologue":"Earl Anthony Wayne, Hamilton College and Daniel S. Hamilton, Johns Hopkins University","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","diplomacy","international relations","government and politics","economy","business","treaties","international agreements","economic growth"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#ap"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":1,"commentID":"56b62988-3abe-5481-8b22-4d2030da6064","body":"

Earl Anthony Wayne, Hamilton College and Daniel S. Hamilton, Johns Hopkins University

(THE CONVERSATION) On March 25, European Union leaders celebrate the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty, a central pillar of the structure set up in the aftermath of World War II to solidify peace, prosperity and partnership in Europe.

Over the last 60 years, the EU (and its predecessors) has served as an essential U.S. partner, for example by enhancing economic opportunity for U.S. companies in Europe and increasingly supplying vital foreign assistance and diplomatic support to help solve international problems. Indeed, if the EU did not already exist, the United States would be looking to invent something like it to help preserve peace and generate prosperity on a continent that suffered through two devastating world wars.

More recently, however, the EU has faced a variety of existential threats as the euro crisis rattled its members\u2019 financial well-being, economic growth slowed, U.K. voters opted to leave the union and \u201ceurosceptics\u201d in countries like France and the Netherlands use criticism of Brussels to contest elections. And even in the U.S., some reacted to Brexit with cheers.

The bottom line \u2013 based on our many year of experience as diplomats, policymakers and researchers on transatlantic issues \u2013 is that the U.S. needs a strong economic and political partnership with Europe to advance its own economic well-being and address vexing international and regional issues. Such a partnership would be enormously more difficult to maintain without the EU\u2019s single voice, something Washington would be wise to remember.

Ensuring peace and prosperity

As it happens, the EU might not even exist today if it wasn\u2019t for the United States and its efforts to rebuild Europe \u2013 via the Marshall Plan \u2013 and stop the spread of Communism following World War II.

Seventy years ago, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, U.S. President Harry Truman and members of Congress \u2013 Republicans and Democrats alike \u2013 agreed that the way to ensure peace and prosperity in Europe was for Europeans to develop interdependent, competitive economies. What we now know as the European Union emerged from these American efforts.

And it has worked. The EU \u2013 whether through the European Council of heads of state, the European Commission or the European Parliament \u2013 has helped underpin prosperity and economic competition among democratic nations on the continent.

The EU\u2019s single market in particular has led to unprecedented wealth, as it established rules and norms for doing business across the member states. The EU has also served as the vehicle for embracing Central Europe into that market and community of members after the fall of the Iron Curtain and still remains a pole of attraction for others hoping to join the EU.

Since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the EU has grown from six countries with 186 million citizens to 28 countries with 515 million citizens and a GDP seven times larger than in 1957. The combined EU economy, in fact, is larger than that of the United States, making it the second-biggest in the world behind China.

The economic ties that bind

Even from an \u201cAmerica first\u201d perspective, it is important to recognize how much value has been created by the European Union\u2019s single market and other initiatives that have made Europe\u2019s economy more integrated and open to U.S. businesses.

For example, today the transatlantic economy generates US$5.5 trillion in total commercial sales a year and employs up to 15 million workers on both sides of the Atlantic. Combined, they represent the largest and wealthiest market in the world, driven by investment in both directions.

Roughly 60 percent of America\u2019s total foreign assets are in Europe. Sales in Europe by EU units of U.S. companies topped $3.1 trillion in 2015, and their assets in the region are valued at an estimated $15.7 trillion. Europe accounted for over 70 percent of the $3.1 trillion invested in the U.S. in 2015, while European assets in the U.S. are estimated to be worth $8.4 trillion. Trade in goods across the Atlantic has almost doubled since 2000, totaling $686 billion in 2016, and 45 states export more to Europe than to China.

With a deeply integrated economic relationship of this size and nature, the U.S. should take steps to increase the ease of mutually beneficial economic activities, and urge the EU to take steps needed to spark economic growth.

If the Trump administration wants to address the U.S. trade deficit with the EU, for example, let\u2019s negotiate a new economic agreement that takes better advantage of the massive transatlantic market place described above. The U.S. and the EU were trying to forge such an agreement via the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership before the U.S. elections. While that agreement remains on hold, we believe a strong trade deal between the partners could open up job opportunities for new generations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Tackling troubles together

EU is also a partner for the United States in tackling international problems and vital as a source of funds to meet humanitarian and development needs in almost every corner the world. This role is even more important if the U.S. wants to reduce its own aid spending.

The EU and its members together provided over $87 billion in official development assistance in 2015. That is 55.7 percent of the global total. The comparable number for the United States is just $31 billion, or 23.6 percent.

On the diplomatic front, it is true, the complicated institutional makeup of the EU often means slow decision-making, and it becomes very hard when competencies and authorities at the EU conflict with those of the member states, for example, in fighting terrorism or dealing with refugees. The EU has taken major strides to improve this, such as by establishing a high representative to speak for members in a range of regional situations. The EU has been an active partner on Ukraine, Iran, the Middle East and Afghanistan, for example.

Despite the remaining shortcomings, in other words, the EU is still a much stronger foreign policy partner for the U.S. today than in the past. If the EU were not there to contribute significant resources to help deal with major humanitarian crises, handle the fallout of conflicts and terror and bolster the prospects for peace and stability in countries like Ukraine, a much greater burden would fall on the United States.

Winning with a strong Europe

The EU currently faces serious challenges: low economic growth, massive immigration flows, euro-skepticism among its citizens, and a complicated structure necessary to fashion decisions among 28 member states.

The U.K. vote to leave the EU in June, which will surely leave the British poorer economically, only adds to the aging union\u2019s woes as the two sides negotiate their future relationship.

Russia, meanwhile, is trying to divide and weaken Europe. And some in the U.S. are likely tempted to leave Europe to the Europeans and to tend to our own concerns.

The United States, however, remains an integral part of the European equation through bilateral ties, NATO and relations with the EU. We have learned, often to our sorrow, that whenever we ignore European problems, we end up paying a higher price later, as was the case when we pulled inward in the decade before World War II.

American interest in a strong EU, then, derives from a steely-eyed appreciation of fundamental U.S. national interests: a Europe that is at peace and open to U.S. goods, ideas and cooperation.

While the U.S. would be wise to let Europeans sort out their political differences and options for integration, America will pay enormously if the process of European cooperation or prosperity goes badly off track. We should be clear eyed about potential costs and work to deepen transatlantic cooperation.

The U.S. will not be better off with a divided and weak Europe. We win with a strong European partner.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/america-cant-be-first-without-europe-75109.

"} ]