Del. Ken Plum: The Cruelty of Politics

by Del. Ken Plum November 9, 2017 at 11:30 am 18 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

I am sure I will have some commentary on the outcome of the November 7 election in future columns, but as I write this column results are not yet known. No matter the outcome, I share the frustration experienced by many with the negativity that seems to inevitably overtake campaigns with high stakes. Political operatives who provide the advice upon which campaigns are planned continue to insist that negative advertising wins elections as it gets people’s attention and creates a fear or anger that moves voters to take part. I am not sure if anyone has measured how many people get turned off and decide not to vote because of the vicious ads.

Even more concerning to me than the half-truths and falsehoods that have slipped into campaigning is the cruelty that has moved into the operation of government. After years of complaining about the Affordable Care Act while in complete control of the Congress and now also the presidency, the Republicans have not been able to repeal and replace what they came to call Obamacare. The reason might simply be that provision of health care to all with coverage for pre-existing conditions in a developed nation is the right thing to do. Failing to achieve legislative success, the administration has set about trying to kill the program through administrative actions and neglect. That is where the cruelty sets in.

The first effort at killing the program came with an executive order to withhold subsidies which allowed insurance companies to keep premium increases to a minimum. With the loss of the subsidies, Anthem pulled out of Virginia in August leaving 60 jurisdictions with no insurer offering coverage; they reversed their action after intense efforts by Governor McAuliffe. The loss of federal support will be devastating in Virginia where 240,000 Virginians rely on subsidies to be able to afford insurance. There clearly must not be a lack of money in Washington with the huge tax cuts now being proposed for the very wealthy.

The cruelty does not end there. To reduce the program further the advertising budget to remind persons about open enrollment was slashed by 90 percent, and the time to enroll was reduced from 12 weeks to 6 weeks. The open enrollment started November 1 and will close on December 15. Tell anyone you know who might be eligible and spread the information through social media programs in which you participate that open enrollment ends on December 15.

A final crippling blow could be the administration announcement that it will not enforce the individual mandate that has been critical to keeping costs down by spreading the risk across a wide pool of participants. As though this is not enough, the Republican Congress and administration failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that provided care to 65,000 children and 1,100 pregnant mothers in Virginia. We have a new insurance program in place in this country; it is called Trumpcare. It is a very cruel system!

  • TheRealODB


    • Kenny P

      You think yo boy Kenny P was out screaming at the sky today?

      • TheRealODB


    • The Constitutionalist

      All praise Kek.

  • OneReally

    Here is what I say. (second time) Edited since the first time I wasn’t published.

    I will call each one of the (R3stonnowdotcom) sponsors. Ask that they request this column be pull from rotation until another OP-ed also can be written.

    Maybe instead of letting this career GDP (what you do to a lollipop) spill his bias here. A topic can be solicited and people can write into the editor.

    I will appeal to the sponsors that I plan to boycott their businesses and advise my friends and family to do the same.

    • TheRealODB

      Instead of complaining about it, why not write any op-ed and submit it? Or better yet, run against Mr Plum? I don’t agree with a single thing he says, but I’ll always defend his right to say it. And the more he writes, the more ridiculous he looks – why would you want to stifle that?

      • OneReally

        I am simply asking for a rebuttal.

        Personally, I have no desires for politics. I served in the military and worked in the government for a number of years. I prefer the commercial sector.

        As soon as my youngest is off to college I am out of here.

        • TheRealODB

          Then offer a rebuttal…. or better yet, just check the comments section every week.

          Having sponsors boycott hurts RN, which is a great source of community information, and a great forum to discuss ideas affecting our community. If you don’t like what Kenny P says (and really, how could you) then comment about it, or write about it, but don’t try to silence the opposition, or kill the messenger. The left hates free expression – don’t be like them.

          • OneReally


            First 2 points:
            KP- The cruelty does not end there. To reduce the program
            further the advertising budget to remind persons about open enrollment was slashed by 90 percent, and the time to enroll was reduced from 12 weeks to 6 weeks.

            Information from CMS – agency running Obamacare’s website.
            “CMS plans to spend $10 million on promotional activities in order to meet the needs of new or returning ACA enrollees – consistent with promotional spending on Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D. CMS will target its advertising and outreach activities to educate consumers on
            the new dates of the Open Enrollment Period through digital media, email, and text messages. These outreach methodologies have proven the most effective in reaching existing and new enrollees. During the most recent open enrollment period, CMS spent more than $100 million on
            promotional activities – nearly double what was spent in 2015 – but saw first-time enrollment decline by 42 percent and effectuated enrollment decline by approximately 500,000 individuals.”

            It’s about being good stewards of the federal tax dollars. Amazing KP didn’t mention that spending went up in 2015, but enrollment went down. Maybe I am out of touch but 10 million is still a lefty sum to advertise.

            CMS- Open enrollment for Obamacare in 2018 would run from 1 November to 15 December 2017 – a shortened six-week period – “to more closely align with Medicare and the private market.”

            I don’t know about you, but most companies only give employees 30 days for open enrollment.

          • Del Mueller

            Neither right nor left in my political views. But am participating in the individual health insurance “marketplace” in VA. Got my policy with UNH just before Obamacare was enacted. It’s a high deductible plan, covers mostly major stuff, and while premiums are low $177 /month (soon to be $220). The bronze plan with Obamacare would be roughly $500 month and my income does not qualify for a subsidy.

            My comment just refers to how opaque and byzantine the health insurance “market” is. I wonder how many people with health insurance don’t seek medical care because they simply don’t want to deal with all the insurance/provider bill angst? The more complicated the system gets, the poorer results in healthcare to the individual. Even with my insurance I have to contact a billing person in the provider’s office to get the lower insurance rate for non covered services, which they are plenty.

    • Willie Reston

      Please, tell these business you plan to boycott for the silly reasons you’ve given and see how quickly they laugh in your face.

  • KenIsDumb

    “Looks like a machine gun to me”
    – Ken Plum

  • drb

    Ok, ken doesn’t like negative ads yet said nothing when his person supported them. can we say “Hippocratic”?
    Ken also write op-eds every week that is divisive and if his ideas were implemented (as some have) a reduction in Liberty and Freedom to the citizens of Virginia. Can we say “Hippocratic” and a “bad man”?

    “Cruelty” can we say “Obama Care”. Pushing down our throats that legislation based on lies? Ken does have a since of humor after all. I just got my new health insurence bill. Another $80 a month. Thanks Democrats.If Ken thinks it is a great idea then purpose a tax to pay for it here in Virginia. Oh that’s right
    he only likes it when the blame for the cost is on someone else.

    Why does he also want to keep jobs from us and pay raises? The only pay raise he supports is a minimum wage hike. Which we all know fails over an over. He knows as well but that is his candy to the uneducated and poor.

  • Joyce W

    Someone please run against this man. Please, please, please. Pretty please.

    • Reston Realist

      Term Limits !! Ken really has no redeeming attributes for his job. He is a total ideologue and the job doesn’t pay enough for anyone but that ilk to want it. Unfortunately, without term limits, we are stuck with him.

  • ACA only good for Ken

    My doctor matter of factly told me to find another doc because my provider lowered the rates under ACA and so he can no longer sustain himself. Now, thtee years later he quit his job. I wonder how many other doctors are doing the same.

    What good is health care if doctors get squeezed out of the market?

    The next thing is consumerism. Certain plans encourage health care spending by offering tax breaks. The deductibles are very high. For most out of reach.

    ACA is cruel, a stupid mistake.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Commisar Plum isheartened
    All is good in the Democratic Peoples Oblast of Reston

  • Rational Reston

    Again Delegate Plum points out the problems using the exact tactics he complains about while not discussing anything that he may influence as an elected official, but by pushing the agenda of those that pull his strings.

    As an example, his point about half-truths and falsehoods, which is something we should identify and filter out of conversations. But instead he wishes to push the half-truth of the ACA and the ACA fight. Trumpcare, Obamacare, Plumcare, whatever you want to call this fight, it actually only tangentially deals with healthcare and keeping people healthy. It’s just health insurance and none of the ideas actually look to drive down the costs of healthcare, but instead sweep it under a rug. But instead of talking about truth or solutions, Delegate Plum continues to stir the pot of political discord and disharmony because his job (and that of the people that hands him talking points) thrives on it.


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