Someone’s hackles rose this week when I commented, as a side comment to another conversation, that Hillary had been the most qualified candidate for president in my lifetime (which, presidentially, started with the Eisenhower/Stevenson election). This person immediately said “we can’t discuss politics,” and in that setting, we didn’t and shouldn’t, but these are exactly the conversations we need to have.

We need to look at and think about the realities and facts of this country without the overlay of political party.

Join the conversation at Harbor Lights at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Not surprisingly, the Benghazi hearings that had drug on for the last of the 40 years during which Hillary Clinton has been under the microscope, investigated, challenged, etc., and the email investigation which eventually found approximately 30 emails that had a small “c” on them, which meant they would eventually be “classified” – have both been dropped, now that she is no longer a candidate. No more talk about trying to find grounds for judicial prosecution (especially since the FBI, etc., said there was no criminal behavior) or chants to “lock her up.”  

I really do keep trying to move on, to stay centered and rational – and then the Republicans try, as the first thing they do, to dismantle the ethics committee so there will be no watchdogs at all over the total control they have achieved politically. And, they are eagerly trying to shut down Obamacare, even though 20 million people got insured, and 75 percent of Americans don’t want them to disband Obamacare until there is an adequate replacement.

I will say again, I hope we expand Medicaid sometime this month, in Kansas, and I hope that the federal government will add Medicare to the health care exchanges and to the insurance mix available through Obamacare. I believe that would be cost-effective as it would bring younger, potentially healthier folks (probably a good number of 40- to 50-year-olds who have a pre-existing condition to be managed) into the Medicare program.  

I also think anyone on the federal payroll should be moved into Medicare – it is the most efficient, cost-effective insurance plan in the country, and there is no reason for the federal government to be supporting for-profit companies with government subsidies when we have a comprehensive coverage plan in Medicare. Those who are concerned that it’s adequate for the ordinary citizen, but not for them (like members of Congress) could purchase a Cadillac supplemental plan that would cover any perceived gaps in their Medicare coverage. I would actually like to see states given the option of having their employees covered through Medicare, as well.  

That would probably be as popular as my recent article about the income tax re-structuring that I think we should do in Kansas – eliminating deductions from income tax collections and eliminating exemptions from sales tax collections. Those are silent, hidden ways to provide “perks” or benefits to special, qualifying groups while shifting more of the tax burden to the rest of us.

If we want to subsidize certain groups with special benefits or perks, let’s at least have the honesty and integrity to do so directly, rather than hiding the “gifts” within the tax code.

Linda Johnson is a Leavenworth Times columnist.