When “collaboration” feels against the grain

March 26, 2017

Stew Jenkins


My dad and granddad showed me early in life how to pet a strange dog. In first grade this just seemed like a way to have more fun making friends with other folks’ pets and herding animals. But as I grew, and saw others without that basic knowledge be rushed and snapped at, I realized my rural folks had been teaching me an important survival skill.

A skill that came in handy precinct walking and registering voters from Shandon to Nipomo when I got into Democratic Party activism. It is primal. Make friends with a person’s dog and you take the first step to a relationship of trust that allows talk about policy and the merits of your candidate.

But pet that dog against the grain at that first meeting, and you’ve got an enemy of both the dog and its owner. There’s a saying in the south that you don’t try to get a neighbor’s attentions by shooting his dog.

Paul Ryan and Donald Trump did just this when they decided as their first measure to shoot the Affordable Care Act. Even though last Friday they widely missed killing that giant step we’d taken toward our most cherished goal of universal health care, Democrats have a right to collective outrage.

In response, Democratic Party leadership has vowed to oppose every Republican measure on the state or federal levels, and to filibuster appointments.

But two factors make it impossible to rebuild or make progress toward Democratic values by sitting in the corner, pouting, and saying that no Democrat should work with Republicans at any level, on any appointment, or on any policy measure.

First, Donald Trump won by promising middle class, poor, and retired Democrats, Republicans and Independents hard hit by 40 years of economic stagnation that he was going to provide everyone with health care and that he “wouldn’t touch” Medicare or Social Security. He promised a “big beautiful” health care replacement that would take care of everyone.

The Ryan plan did anything but take care of everyone.

It was, in fact not our Democratic Party that derailed the Ryan plan. It was the outrage of voters, be they Republicans, Independents or Democrats, at town halls, on phone calls, through emails and in letters that stopped the Ryan plan. There was nothing big or beautiful about throwing 24 million to 28 million people off health care, removing the subsidies that made health insurance affordable, or returning to the bad old days when insurance companies could impose life time limits or refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The wisdom of Barak Obama, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin and Nancy Pelosi setting up the Affordable Care Act was that people in even the reddest states finally had affordable and effective health care. This saved our beloved ACA by splintering the Republican supermajority in the House of Representatives.

The second factor is that even those who drafted the ACA knew it needed improvements and had internal flaws that would eventually need fixing. President Obama, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin and Nancy Pelosi said so over and over; and criticized Republicans for not working with Democrats to fix flaws and make improvements.

Right now, if we work with Donald Trump or Republicans in Congress on anything, it feels like we are letting them rub us the wrong way. As Democrats, we know our people need good jobs again. We know that if everyone has work, and if the corner store or tire shop has plenty of business, incomes go up for everyone and fixing health care gets easier.

Our challenge is to look at Donald Trump and Republican members of Congress to see if they have a dog we can make friends with that will help us get our people back to work. Real work so folks can buy a home, get their kids through college, and retire with dignity. Two pets of Trump and some congressional Republicans are right outside our door, already playing with our union brothers and sisters.

Trump promised protectionist trade policies that would keep jobs here. We know if trade policy is reformed to favor manufacturing and jobs in America, full employment will be spurred and rising incomes will result. Early and often Democrats should be leading and offering to work with Republicans to enact trade policies that will protect and bring back jobs here.

Trump promised a two trillion dollar infrastructure program to rebuild our nations crumbling roads, bridges, rail lines, dams, broadband, and transportation systems. The mystery is that, building things, the one thing President Trump knows the most about, was not his first measure. If he’s got a favorite dog that Democrats can make friends with, it is infrastructure revitalization. Infrastructure construction? It really will put Americans back to work “bigly.”

Trump and Ryan have flamed out on the ACA. In their shock, this is the opportunity to do something positive. Democratic leaders should make their primary focus perfection and passage of a two trillion dollar infrastructure program. Even if “collaboration” with Republicans feels against the grain, we need to remember our former standard bearer’s own motto. American’s are stronger together.

On the issues of trade policy and infrastructure, we have the opportunity to demonstrate the truth of the slogan.

And, just maybe, the relationship of trust can be re-established enough to improve, expand and fix the Affordable Care Act to achieve universal health care.

Stew Jenkins is a San Luis Obispo County Liberal Democrat who supports the rights of working people to organize unions, growing the local economy through project labor agreements, the right of all people to health care and equal dignity.

He is an attorney practicing in San Luis Obispo since 1978. Jenkins’ handles tax payer suits, municipal law, estate planning and family law.

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We had great health care before the government started monkeying with it. Health care is not a “right” and government has no business being involved….

The current administration and it’s potus showed where its alliance rests, with the insurance companies and the elite of this country. They, the current administration and it’s potus, don’t give a rats ass about the American public, all they want to do is prop up its base and further the divide between the haves and the have nots. They, the republican’ts, have had 7 years to come up with an alternative to the ACA and haven’t done jack shit in that time to even prepare for the folly they just tried to pull off. And your potus took a WHOLE 17 days to try and push this through? Wow! Talk about a short attention span! Or maybe he would have had to forfeit a round or two of golf and we know none of his supporters would want that to happen.

Remember this? “I Will ‘Bring Down Drug Prices” – d. trump, December 2016

Now its turned out he lied about that as well. Now he says instead of negotiating this out of control price gouging he’ll instead cut big pharms’ taxes while deregulating them even further. Jeeez, trump supporters! Are you that f***in’ stupid or are you so used to being lied to that your potus has carte blanche to say and do whatever the f*** he pleases?

Your potus is not and has never been the caliber of person we need at the helm of this country; you knew this coming in and y’all still voted for this idiot while throwing the rest of us under the bus! The democan’ts? Just a bunch of scared MFer’s that gave away the presidency to this nincompoop! F*** ’em all. It’s time we do better, don’t ya think?

Sure we could have crooked Hillary. She sold her office to the highest bidders. The Clinton Foundation folded as soon as she lost the election: there was no influence left to sell. Our current president is working very hard to undo the the travesty of the last 8 years, and he is working without a salary. We finally have a President that loves America and is working hard to return hope to the middle class.

Mitch C says:” The Clinton Foundation folded as soon…” No, with 450 million dollars it is still doing business.

“Our current president is working without a salary” Wrong, he is cashing the checks and has never “donated” any of it.

“We finally have a President that loves Russia and is working hard to return cash to the rich.”


Lol, people believe the lies….

Come on now! You can’t actually believe any of what you posted, right?

Yes, he told all of us he would work without pay and yes he “walked that back” as well; your potus now will take the pay and then donate it so he can use the tax benefits of doing so. In other words he f***in’ lied! Without pay means just that; not taking it! Not taking it then donating it to financially benefit from it IN ANY F***IN’ MANNER!

He loves America? Maybe ( and I mean that in the loosest terms) but only when that “love” fattens his wallet! But I bet he loves Deutsche Bank (he owes them around $300,000,000.00) even more as no American Financial Institution will loan him a dime (do I need to remind you of this banks ties to russian no-no’s?)!

The travesty of the last eight years? Why can you and the rest of republican’ts tell me not to blame Bush for the difficulties left (including two unpaid for wars) and debt inherited from that administration on the President Obama Administration while you’re doing it to President Obama in defending your potus? Besides, all the numbers, including all of those that both parties use to justify either’s agenda or point of view, show we are much better off now then in 2008!

Your potus is a narcissistic megalomaniac, one who doesn’t listen to any one and has his own type of grip on reality.

I have heard he has a decent short game though … potus = putter of the United States?

Never trust a politician,lawyer or used car salesman.

Good article Stewart. I disagree on the how too a bit though. My argument stems from conservative views that neither democrats nor republicans seem to understand.

First, the mandate, which obviously has to go. There can be no reconciliation on this. This is a basic conservative value based on free fair trade. Not one single actual conservative will allow someone to force the public into purchasing a private product like insurance. Prices, obviously will soar, and competition as we have seen will deteriorate.

Second. Real estate. The problem with health care is the price of real property today. It is to put it blatantly, out of reasonable control. The overstimulation caused by the blatant public corruption ( mostly due to privatization), is creating unnecessary hyper inflation, which is leading to a new level of aggression through poverty in our society. THIS is affecting not just health care, but the average persons ability to aquire housing, which also leads to a deteriorating propensity to consume due to an overall lowering real wage, whilst at the same time productivity is up over 74% in the last 40 years.

Third. Stagnation of capital flows. No one can deny that the overall market suffers whith gentrification. Austerity might sound good in practice and lead to a possible increase in employment, but without anti-gentrification laws in place to curb housing prices, working people cannot afford to live where they work, much less, invest and enjoy upwards social mobility.

There are a lot of other key values with which the centrists are failing to observe, but I hope this at least helps people to understand that just because stalinist types like Bannon are in the white house ( and we true conservatives know they are fascists and will not budge, we are merely waiting for the leftist Trump to move left of center so people will see him for what he truly is ), we true conservatives are standing with our brothers and sisters in America to protect things like social security, medicare, and medicaid/medical.

OK, this is where you lost me Stew… “The wisdom of Barak Obama, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin and Nancy Pelosi setting up the Affordable Care Act was that people in even the reddest states finally had affordable and effective health care. ” Clueless Dumocrats, my husband & I pay 4800.00/year for a healthcare plan through employer. Through Obamacare, this plan would cost us ~18,000.00/year with a 6300.00 deductible. BTW, my doctor has left his practice and I have NO doctor now. The healthcare system is collapsing.


Isn’t the ACA premium payments based on income while employer health care plans are not? I know when I still enjoyed my employee heath care benefits I paid the same as my fellow employees (only increasing when my family size did so). I’m just asking because it seems you are in fact comparing apples with oranges…

And if you can’t find a doctor that accepts your employer provided health insurance plan I would suggest a sit down with those in charge of that part of your benefit package and suggest a change, or, you’re just not looking hard enough…

The republican’ts alt-right/alt-reality/alt-constitution crowd couldn’t get the piece of shit health care bill of their’s through their own ranks so why is it that you only condemn the “Clueless Dumocrats”? 17 days your potus put into this “Clueless” health care bill, your speaker of the house tried to sell it via the charts and graphs used so “effectively” with the Ross Perot candidacy and you call the “Dumocrats” clueless?

Get a clue…

“The healthcare system is collapsing.” Lol no, education and math for example perhaps.

Wtf why are you paying that much when you know this?

The Best thing politically is for Obamacare to live and continue to wreak havoc and destruction on the American people. Then they will see clearly the horrors that the Democrat parts passed without a single Republican Vote. The Dems pushed Obamacare through…but it’s then a mistake for the Republicans to attempt a repeal without them? A Bill made in partisan ship should be booted in partisanship? No…let Obamacare explode and meltdown and the Dems that did this to us will be begging to repeal the Abomination.

You must think/tweet just like your potus as he now says he’ll watch the ACA “explode” implying he won’t do a thing about it if it veers that way. Interesting, don’t you think? You’re not bound by the Constitution but your potus is and seeing that the ACA is “the law of the land” (your speaker said that in defeat, remember?) it is your potus’s JOB to uphold and enforce that law while protecting it…

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution says so…


Your potus now spent one in three days of his presidency at his properties. Combine that with the $60,000,000.00 the Secret Service is asking because it’s goin’ broke tryin’ to cover all the new white houses and the +- $15,000,000.00 he has now spent just gettin’ to Mar a Lago and back we could probably fund the ACA for a month or two! Too much to ask, right? You wouldn’t want your potus just to stay put in Washington and do his GOD DAMN JOB!!! Hell no! His golf game would suffer (13 different golf courses your potus has visited since inauguration? Must be a record, right? You must be proud…)!!!

Excuse me, I gott a laugh out real f***in’ loud right now!!!!! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Your potus showed his ass, AGAIN! And guess what? Obama has always been and still is an American Citizen!