Democrats just keep winning Republican seats they shouldn’t be winning

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Democrats just keep winning Republican seats they shouldn’t be winning

(CNN)Roy Moore’s victory in Alabama dominated the news on Wednesday. But, it was two far less high-profile races on Tuesday night — one in Florida, one in New Hampshire — that may well give us the best indication of where we are headed in the 2018 midterm elections.

In Florida, Democrat Annette Tadeo won a Republican-held state Senate district 51% to 47%. In New Hampshire, Democrat Kari Lerner beat a former Republican state representative to fill a state House district that Donald Trump won by 23 points last November.
Those twin wins make it eight Republican-controlled state legislative seats that Democrats have flipped in 2017 alone. (Republicans flipped a Democratic state House seat in Louisiana earlier this year although Democrats didn’t even field a candidate in that race.)
That means that of the 27 Republican-held state legislative seats that have come open in 2017 to date, Democrats have now flipped almost 30% of them — a remarkable number in anycircumstance but especially so when you consider the average Trump margin in these seats in 2016 was 19 points.
Yes, each of these races have unique dynamics. In the Florida race, for example, the seat was open because the Republican incumbent was forced to resign after making racists comment to several black lawmakers at a bar in Tallahassee. It’s not exactly easy to run as a Republican in the district in the wake of that sort of scandal.
Despite the differing circumstances in each of these races, however, Republicans ignore this trend at their own political peril. While Democrats at the federal level haven’t been able to pull off the wins they have scored downballot, in virtually every House special election this year Democrats overperformed — by a large amount — Hillary Clinton’s 2016 showing in these congressional seats.
There’s also the fact that approval for the Republican party hit its lowest point ever recorded in a CNN poll this month. And that Democrats held a 9-point lead over Republicans on the generic ballot question in that same poll.
Then there’s the daunting history facing the GOP. According to Gallup, the average seat loss for the president’s party in midterm elections with a president under 50% approval (as Trump is now) is 36 — a number that, if past predicted present, would cost Republicans their House majority.
The signs, in other words, are all there for an electoral reckoning for Republicans in 2018.
So, why aren’t we hearing more about it? Because state legislative races aren’t sexy. Because Democrats haven’t been able to win one of the more high profile GOP-held House seats in a series of special elections so far this year. Because there’s still more than a year left before the midterms. Because the congressional lines have been drawn to make it very difficult for Democrats to make large-scale gains.
All true!
But, don’t mistake what we are seeing: Considerable over performance by Democrats often in heavily Republican areas. That’s true at the state legislative and federal levels. And, if it continues to anything close to the extent we’ve seen in the first nine months of 2017, Republicans could be headed for major problems at the ballot box next November.

Republicans Control All Three Houses No Democrats To Blame: Americans Don’t Want What They’re Selling

 

This afternoon some of the biggest news coming out of Washington D.C. is that the Republicans in the Senate have decided not to call a vote on their version of a Health Care Bill. The reason is that no Democratic Senator will vote for what they are trying to push through onto the American people, and several of the Republican Senators refuse to vote for it either. If there is such a thing as a moderate Republican Senator it has been no surprise to me that they can not muster up a Health Care Bill that the so-called ‘conservative base, meaning the ultra right Tea Party folks’ will vote for. These folks like Senator Ted Cruz are the kind of folks that insist that everything be 100% their way, or it is no way. Remember during the recent Presidential debates he looked straight into the camera and fanatically stated that “if I become President I will not negotiate with the Democrats?” We the people have been telling Washington for several decades now that we are sick and tired of the total gridlock in Washington. The reason for the gridlock folks is because neither Party is willing to negotiate policies with the other. The other side of this “Republican coin” is that when these politicians took their huge summer break and held ‘town hall’ meetings with the voters they got told in no uncertain terms to leave the ACA alone, or make it ‘more’ inclusive, not less. These Republican Congressmen/Women and Senators got the message from the voters that if they vote for what the Republicans are calling a Health Care Bill, they will be voted out of Office at the next election they run in. In other words, we the people are going to fire them. So, now you have a group of so-called ‘Liberal’ Republican Senators who see the light and for the sake of their own jobs are saying no to the Republican Leadership on their Bill they are trying to push down the throats of the American people.

 

For seven years the Republicans have gripped about the ACA (Obama Care) and talked and talked about how when they got control of the power in Washington that the first thing they were going to do on day one was to get rid of it, replace it. For seven years they flapped their lips yet it became obvious that during that seven years not a single one of them actually came up with any plan to replace it with. This, to me falls straight in the laps of the Republican Leadership in both the House and the Senate. The Leader of the Senate is Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the other Senator is Republican (he is actually Libertarian) Rand Paul. Rand Paul is one of the Republican Senators that refuses to vote for the Republican Bill unless it is much more restrictive which is something that he is in lockstep with Ted Cruz on. For seven years the Republicans blamed the Democrats for pretty much everything they seen in the world as being wrong. When it actually surprised them last November to gain full control of all three branches of the Federal Government they no longer were able to hide their hate filled agenda’s from the American people. Here in the U.S. there is only one main issue that turned the Christian voters into the Republican camp and that is when the Democratic Party adopted abortion as a founding block of their Party Agenda. The Christian folks that I know mostly either don’t vote or they vote Republican and the abortion issue is exactly why. Many who vote for the Republicans aren’t fans of the Republican Party, they are voting as anti-Abortion. If you really look at the Republican agenda, except for the abortion issue, there is very little that conforms with the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament or in the teachings of the Old Testament. In reality the teachings of the Bible go directly against the teachings and policies of the Republican Part’s actions. There are other issues that people of faith have against the Democratic Platform also, it is just that the Abortion issue is by far the single biggest issue. I wrote an article a few months ago that I am going to try to locate where the title was something along the line of “The Republican And The Democratic Parties Are Both Anti-Christ Parties.” If I can find that article I will re-post it this evening for you to consider.

‘Trump betrays everyone’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

‘Trump betrays everyone’: The president has a long record as an unpredictable ally

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Trump confounds conservatives by siding with Democrats
 September 9 at 8:00 AM
President Trump prepared for the pivotal meeting with congressional leaders by huddling with his senior team — his chief of staff, his legislative director and the heads of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget — to game out various scenarios on how to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide Hurricane Harvey relief.But one option they never considered was the that one the president ultimately chose: cutting a deal with Democratic lawmakers, to the shock and ire of his own party.

In agreeing to tie Harvey aid to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and government funding, Trump burned the people who are ostensibly his allies. The president was an unpredictable — and, some would say, untrustworthy — negotiating partner with not only congressional Republicans but also with his Cabinet members and top aides. Trump saw a deal that he thought was good for him — and he seized it.

The move should come as no surprise to students of Trump’s long history of broken alliances and agreements. In business, his personal life, his campaign and now his presidency, Trump has sprung surprises on his allies with gusto. His dealings are frequently defined by freewheeling spontaneity, impulsive decisions and a desire to keep everyone guessing — especially those who assume they can control him.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), flanked by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) speaks Wednesday at the Capitol after President Trump overruled Republicans and his treasury secretary to cut a deal with Democrats. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

He also repeatedly demonstrates that, while he demands absolute loyalty from others, he is ultimately loyal to no one but himself.

“It makes all of their normalizing and ‘Trumpsplaining’ look silly and hollow,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist sharply critical of Trump, referring to his party’s congressional leaders. “Trump betrays everyone: wives, business associates, contractors, bankers and now, the leaders of the House and Senate in his own party. They can’t explain this away as [a] 15-dimensional Trump chess game. It’s a dishonest person behaving according to his long-established pattern.”

But what many Republicans saw as betrayal was, in the view of some Trump advisers, an exciting return to his campaign promise of being a populist dealmaker able to cut through the mores of Washington to get things done.

In that Wednesday morning Oval Office meeting, Trump was impressed with the energy and vigor of Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) relative to the more subdued Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). Far from fretting over the prospect of alienating McConnell and Ryan or members of his administration, he relished the opportunity for a bipartisan agreement and the praise he anticipated it would bring, according to people close to the president.

On Thursday morning, he called Pelosi and Schumer to crow about coverage of the deal — “The press has been incredible,” he told Pelosi, according to someone familiar with the call — and point out that it had been especially positive for the Democratic leaders.

At the White House later that day, Trump asked Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) how he thought the deal was playing. “I told him I thought it was great, and a gateway project to show there could be bipartisan progress,” King said. “He doesn’t want to be in an ideological straitjacket.”

In some ways, White House officials said, Trump is as comfortable working with Democrats to achieve policy goals — complete with the sheen of bipartisan luster — as he is with Republicans. Though he did not partner with Democrats to spite McConnell and Ryan, aides said, he has long felt frustrated with them for what he perceives as their inability to help shepherd his agenda through Congress, most notably their stalled efforts to undo former president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.

On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to express dissatisfaction with his adopted political party, complaining about Obamacare: “Republicans, sorry, but I’ve been hearing about Repeal & Replace for 7 years, didn’t happen!” He also bemoaned the legislative filibuster, which requires Republicans to work with Democrats to meet a 60-senator threshold for most votes, writing, “It is a Repub Death wish.”

Ari Fleischer, press secretary under President George W. Bush, said that Trump deserves credit for staving off, at least in the short term, a possible default and government shutdown.

“It’s going to internally hurt him that he didn’t work with Republicans on this one, but by avoiding a mess, he likely saved Republicans from themselves,” Fleischer said. “I consider it a small victory that congressional Republicans didn’t once again trip themselves up over this issue. At least for now.”

King, a moderate who represents a Long Island district that Trump carried, said: “I think this could be a new day for the Republican Party.”

Trump’s agreement with the Democrats is hardly the first time the president has flouted his allies, including those around the world, sending them skittering nervously in response to a threat or a sudden turnabout.

In April, Trump thrust Canada and Mexico — as well as many of his advisers and Cabinet officials — into a state of panic during a frenetic, if brief, period when he threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. In May, speaking in front of NATO’s sparkling new headquarters, Trump alarmed European allies when he chastised them for “not paying what they should be paying” and refused to embrace the treaty’s cornerstone — that an attack on one represents an attack on all. And in September, as the crisis with North Korea escalated, Trump abruptly threatened to withdraw from a free-trade agreement with South Korea.

Foreign diplomats euphemistically describe the president as “unpredictable,” and even those with good relationships with the United States say they are “cautiously optimistic” that Trump’s behavior will continue to benefit their nations.

On the issue of the debt-ceiling extension and short-term government funding, a GOP aide familiar with Wednesday’s meeting said many Republicans viewed Trump’s decision as “a spur-of-the-moment thing” that happened because the president “just wanted a deal.”

“He saw a deal and wanted the deal, and it just happened to be completely against what we were pushing for,” said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Our conclusion is there isn’t much to read into other than he made that decision on the spot, and that’s what he does because he’s Trump, and he made an impulsive decision because he saw a deal he wanted.”

From the outset, the meeting did not go as Republican leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had hoped. They began by pushing for an 18-month extension of the debt ceiling, with Mnuchin lecturing the group of longtime legislators about the importance of raising the debt ceiling, according to three people familiar with the gathering who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“It was just odd and weird,” one said. “He was very much a duck out of water.”

The treasury secretary presented himself as a Wall Street insider, arguing that the stability of the markets required an 18-month extension.

At one point, Schumer intervened with a skeptical question: “So the markets dictate one month past the 2018 election?” he asked, rhetorically, according to someone with knowledge of his comment. “I doubt that.”

At another, Pelosi explained that understanding Wall Street is not the same as operating in Congress. “Here the currency of the realm is the vote,” she told reporters in a news conference Thursday, echoing the comments she had made privately the day before. “You have the votes, no discussion necessary. You don’t have the votes, three months.”

The Republican leaders and Mnuchin slowly began moderating their demands, moving from their initial pitch down to 12 months and then six months. At one point, when Mnuchin was in the middle of yet another explanation, the president cut him off, making it clear that he disagreed.

The deal would be for three months tied to Harvey funding, Trump said — just as the Democrats had wanted.

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On Friday morning, at a closed-door meeting of House Republicans, numerous lawmakers vented their frustrations to Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. One of them, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), stood up to say he thought Trump’s snub of Ryan — who had publicly rejected Democrats’ offer hours before Trump accepted it — was also a snub of Republicans at large.

“I support the president, I want him to be successful, I want our country to be successful,” Zeldin said in an interview afterward. “But I personally believe the president had more leverage than he may have realized. He had more Democratic votes than he realized, and could have and would have certainly gotten a better deal.”

Democrats remain skeptical about just how long their newfound working relationship with Trump will last. But for Republicans, the turnabout was yet another reminder of what many of them have long known but refused to openly admit: Trump is a fickle ally and partner, liable to turn on them much in the same way he has turned on his business associates and foreign allies.

“Looking to the long term, trust and reliability have been essential ingredients in productive relationships between the president and Congress,” said Phil Schiliro, who served as director of legislative affairs under Obama. “Without them, trying to move a legislative agenda is like juggling on quicksand. It usually doesn’t end well.”

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

Third Way study warns Democrats: Avoid far-left populism  

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO)

 

Third Way study warns Democrats: Avoid far-left populism

Center-left think tank Third Way on Tuesday urged the Democratic Party to rebrand itself as “the jobs party” in a report that warns of the risks of adopting the policies and rhetoric of the far left.

Landing as the left wing of the party claims ascendancy, the report wades into some of the philosophical disagreements now dividing the party, which is further from power than it has been in decades. Based on extensive, three-day online focus groups with battleground-state voters, the publication aims to diagnose Democrats’ current problem. But it also knocks the kind of economic populism often pushed by prominent figures like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The study, conducted by polling firm Global Strategy Group, involved interviews with persuadable voters who backed Barack Obama and then Donald Trump, as well as with persuadable African-American, Latino and millennial voters. Third Way’s resulting document warns that key voters believe Democrats prioritize poor citizens and some rich ones — but not the middle class.

It says voters intuitively see the Democratic Party as standing against business, and it urges party leaders to put less emphasis on social issues and “recognize that voters want to see a rebalancing of the Party’s priorities.”

“Even as the economy approaches full employment, there remains a real economic anxiety, and people will always aspire to new and better job opportunities. Trump spoke to this — and voters responded,” the report reads. “To rebuild the Party and regain the power to enact their priorities, Democrats need to craft a broad path that’s inclusive of a diverse coalition and sustainable across election cycles. Reclaiming its status as the party of jobs is a unifying way to do just that.”

Voters in the focus groups repeatedly insisted that Trump was focused on jobs after his rhectoric on the campaign trail about securing more, better jobs for Americans, write authors Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Third Way’s vice president for social policy and politics, and Ryan Pougiales, the group’s senior political analyst. “Almost without fail, focus group participants in both groups identified the issue as Trump’s top priority. There’s a lesson in this for Democrats,” the report states.

To remedy that situation and the related belief that Democrats work for “somebody else,” the report recommends that party officials avoid proposals that can be branded as “handouts,” in addition to staying away from attacking business.

“Rallying around proposals like free college or universal basic income just exacerbate[s] this resentment,” the authors warn, referring to the education policy pitch at the center of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. “Effective policy solutions to bolster economic security are vital, but they must begin with job creation and be tethered to the values of hard work and earning your way that underscore America’s economic compact.”

(Poem) Independents: Dead Dog’s In The Middle

 

Dead Dogs In The Middle

 

Independents, just who do you think you are

How dare you not conform to the Red or the Blue

Do you honestly think you are a prize to be coveted

You are just like all the rest of the deceived fools

 

 

General Powell, a man of Honor spoke it so well

Houston’s Blue Convention in the Lone Star State

Americas “Sensible Center” has no representation

Daggers to the Left and the Right, follow or fall

 

 

They care not how much of your blood they spill

Their only concern is to take all your money and will

Hate Mongers, God has no part in them, or they in Him

They care not of who they starve or jail, as long as they win

 

 

Independents, in the Spring it is you that they totally ignore

Yet in the Fall you are the Red Meat they seek to deceive and devour

Remain in the Middle, then at their table you will never get to eat

Voters are just the Dead Dog’s In The Middle with never a seat

 

 

 

Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Democratic brand is pretty bad’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Democratic brand is pretty bad’

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday he agreed with Democratic congressman Tim Ryan‘s claim that the Democratic brand is worse than President Donald Trump’s in some parts of the country.

“I speak as the longest serving independent in American congressional history, the Democratic brand is pretty bad,” Sanders told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360.”
“I think the Trump brand is also pretty bad as is the Republican brand. That’s why so many people are giving up on politics.”
Following the Democrat Jon Ossoff’s defeat in a Georgia special House election, some Democratic lawmakers have voiced their concerns about the party’s future.
The Vermont senator argued that the recent special elections need to be put in context.
“The context is all of them are Republican seats and Trump did, in most of those seats, did very, very well.” Sanders continued, “Democrats did much better than was the case in the last election.”

Sanders: GOP health care bill is barbaric

Sanders: GOP health care bill is barbaric
The former Democratic presidential candidate added that the Democrats have the momentum, but the party has to do some “internal soul searching.”
“Understand that for the last 10 years, the model that they have had really has not worked,” Sanders said. “It doesn’t work when you lose the US Senate, US House, the White House. When almost two-thirds of governors chairs are controlled by Republicans. When Democrats have lost a thousand seats and legislatures all over the country.”
Sanders told Cooper what he believes the Democrats have to do to win back voters.
Democrats need to “make it clear to working people of this country that the Democratic Party is on their side,” Sanders exclaimed. “The Democrats need a progressive agenda. They need to rebuild the party in states they have ignored for decades, where they have almost no presence right now and create a 50-state party.”

The U.S. Constitution Says All Are Created Equal, GOP House And Senate Say Hell No

 

Once again the GOP federal Congress and Senate show their disdain (the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt) for the poor and the working class American people. The GOP in their healthcare bill they are pushing down the throats of the American people show how much they despise at least the bottom 90% (incomes) of the people. I live in Kentucky so Senator Mitch McConnell is one of my two Senators so I am hoping that the next time he comes up for reelection that the people of this State vote this horses behind out of office. I am a registered voting Independent, I personally can’t stand either the Republican or the Democratic Party leaderships as in my opinion neither have any interest in being honest with the American people.

 

Even though this next ‘idea’ is not one I invented I have felt this way for many years concerning health care in America. There is only one health plan that should be allowed here in our Country and that is: every single person in America should have exactly the same insurance as the Congressmen, Congresswomen, the U.S. Senators and the President have, exactly the same as theirs. They are supposed to be the servants but they have illegally made themselves into our slave masters. I do not know anything about what their plans are, I do not know if they have to pay anything out of their own pockets for the monthly costs or if they have deductibles but shouldn’t ‘We The People’ be allowed to have at least as good of healthcare as ‘our servants’? For these people to be bringing ‘other’ healthcare bills to the ‘floor’ for a vote is pure and total hypocrisy! Okay, these are just my thoughts on this issue, what are your thoughts on this issue?

Abortion Adds Obstacle as Republicans Plan to Unveil Health Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, hopes to unveil the contents of Republicans’ health bill on Thursday and pass it next week. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Abortion flared up Wednesday as the latest hot-button issue to complicate passage of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which Senate Republican leaders hope to unveil on Thursday and pass next week.

The repeal bill approved last month by the House would bar the use of federal tax credits to help purchase insurance plans that include coverage of abortion. But senators said that provision might have to be jettisoned from their version because of complicated Senate rules that Republicans are using to expedite passage of the bill and avoid a filibuster.

If that provision is dropped, a bill that has already elicited deep misgivings among moderate Republicans — and stiff resistance from Democrats, health care providers and patient advocacy groups — could also generate concern among abortion opponents, as well as conservative lawmakers.

Further complicating the measure’s prospects, insurance companies, which took a leading role in the health care fights of 1993-94 and 2009-10 but have been conspicuously quiet this year, released a blistering letter objecting to Republican plans to remake Medicaid and cut its funding.

Continue reading the main story

The changes being considered in Congress could “amount to a 25 percent shortfall in covering the actual cost of providing care to our nation’s neediest citizens,” the top executives of 10 insurance companies wrote this week. “These amounts spell deep cuts, not state flexibility, in Medicaid.”

As senators struggle to develop a health care bill, their handiwork appears to be too moderate for some Senate conservatives and too conservative for some Senate moderates. The latest version, without the abortion-coverage prohibition and with steep Medicaid cuts, may prove unacceptable to some in both camps. To pass it, Senate leaders can afford to lose only two Republican votes of the 52 in the chamber.

Republican senators got a glimpse Wednesday of the highlights of the bill, which was drafted in secret by the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and top aides. White House officials were granted a formal briefing, which risked irking many senators who had yet to see the actual bill.

The House abortion provision has sweeping implications because many health plans subsidized under the Affordable Care Act include coverage for abortion services. The provision has encountered outspoken opposition from officials in states like Oregon, where most health plans on the public insurance exchange cover abortion.

But senators said the provision might have to be dropped for a more prosaic reason: It may not comply with the Senate rules that Republicans are using to speed the health care bill through the Senate.

The bill is scheduled to go to the Senate floor next week under these procedures, which limit debate and preclude a Democratic filibuster.

“It’s one of the problems we have to work with,” Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and the chairman of the Finance Committee, said of the abortion issue. “We’re not quite sure how that’s going to be resolved.”

Mr. McConnell is determined to get a vote on the bill by the end of next week, before a break for the Fourth of July holiday, but he still does not have enough committed votes to ensure passage.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, made clear on Wednesday that he was not on board with the Republican bill.

“I’m still hoping we reach impasse, and we actually go back to the idea we originally started with, which is repealing Obamacare,” Mr. Paul said, adding, “I’m not for replacing Obamacare with Obamacare lite.”

Document: Health Insurers Speak Out

The House bill and the Senate version, like the Affordable Care Act, would provide tens of billions of dollars in tax credits to help people pay insurance premiums.

The federal government is expected to spend more than $30 billion this year on tax credits to help lower- and middle-income people pay premiums. The Senate bill would provide more assistance to lower-income people than the House bill, which bases tax credits on a person’s age.

The Senate bill would also repeal most of the taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act. It would delay the effective date of a tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage, but Republicans plan to offer an amendment next week to eliminate this “Cadillac tax,” which is opposed by labor unions and employers.

Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, both Republicans, said they understood that the House restrictions on the use of tax credits for insurance covering abortion had encountered parliamentary problems.

“What I heard earlier from the parliamentarian is they didn’t think it would pass” muster under Senate rules, Mr. Tillis said.

Mr. Tillis and Ms. Collins said they understood that Senate Republican leaders were hoping to devise some kind of workaround to address concerns of anti-abortion lawmakers. But it was not clear whether those anti-abortion lawmakers would be satisfied with such a plan, which could involve separate legislation.

Republicans have been promising to repeal the health law ever since it was signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. On Wednesday, in the final hours before the Senate repeal bill was to be unveiled, members of Congress, consumer groups and health care executives engaged in frenetic advocacy in hopes of shaping the bill.

Women’s groups and at least two moderate Republicans, Ms. Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, continued to object to a provision of Mr. McConnell’s bill that would cut off funds for Planned Parenthood.

In a letter to Mr. McConnell on Wednesday, more than two dozen House members in the conservative Republican Study Committee listed several parts of the House bill they view as crucial, including cutting funds to Planned Parenthood and restricting the use of the tax credits. The bill, they wrote, fulfills “an important conservative commitment to promote life and protect the unborn.”

Leaders of the 10 insurance companies told Mr. McConnell that proposed caps on federal Medicaid spending would cause “an enormous cost shift to the states,” which could force them to raise taxes, reduce benefits, cut payments to health care providers or eliminate coverage for some beneficiaries. Among those signing the letter were top executives of AmeriHealth Caritas, Molina Healthcare, Blue Shield of California and Healthfirst, in New York.

But Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, said the Medicaid provisions were one of the bill’s chief attractions for him.

“In my state,” Mr. Kennedy said, “we are now spending 47 percent of our budget on Medicaid. That’s up from 23 percent in 2008. It’s crowding out money for universities and roads and public safety and coastal restoration, and it just keeps climbing.”

Even senators who might support the legislation said they did not want to be rushed.

Asked how he felt about the prospect of voting for a bill a week after its release, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said, “I feel terrible about it.”

12COMMENTS

Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said, “I need the information, I need to hear from constituents, and that’s going to take some time.”

Debate on the Senate bill will be shaped by an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, which will estimate the impact on federal spending and the number of people without health insurance. Under the House bill, the office said, the number of uninsured would be 23 million higher than under the Affordable Care Act in 2026. And for some older Americans and sick people, it said, premiums and out-of-pocket costs could be significantly higher.

The Senate’s Health Care Secrecy Is a Breathtaking Contempt for Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SLATE POLITICS)

The Senate’s Health Care Secrecy Is a Breathtaking Contempt for Democracy

Millions will suffer, for a tax cut.

170613_POL_AHCA-RadicalProcedures
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to members of the media after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at the Capitol May 9.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

While much of Washington fixates on Donald Trump and his scandals, a small band of Senate Republicans is working—in secret—on a bill that would slash health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and jeopardize access for millions more. And they’re doing this on a so-called fast track meant to preclude debate. The reason for this rushed process? To obscure the obvious: that at heart, the American Health Care Act is little more than a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is Slates chief political correspondent.

Once the working group emerges from its cloister, the bill will be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, and then—in a sharp break with procedure—bypass the committee process and go straight to the floor without a public hearing. There are even suggestions that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will use legislative gamesmanship to avoid debate entirely, so Republicans can pass the bill without any discussion of its contents and provisions. As Paul Ryan did in the House of Representatives, McConnell intends to restructure one-sixth of the American economy with as little input as possible, freezing out experts, industry representatives, and Democratic lawmakers. This, despite overwhelming opposition from the public; in one recent poll, just 23 percent of respondents said they approved of the Republican health care bill.

And what will the public get if and when the final version of the bill is passed into law? Millions of Americans will either lose their health insurance, see massive new costs, or face added obstacles, from “lifetime” caps on care to limits based on pre-existing conditions.

There’s no indication Republicans are thinking deeply about free market reforms to the American health care system. But let’s just say they are. Perhaps a drastically less-regulated insurance market is worth the cost to ordinary individuals and families. If that’s the case, then Republicans owe the country both honesty and transparency. It will get neither. Instead, every indication is that the GOP will push through with a process that holds deliberation in contempt. That’s not to say Republicans aren’t responding to someone—there are groups, like the Republican base, that want this bill—but the broad public opposes the effort.

As it stands, there’s a chance the Senate health care bill could pass before the July 4 holiday. Compare this to the process behind the Affordable Care Act. It took most of 2009 for Democrats to produce a bill: months of negotiation—including a summer of talks between Democratic and Republican senators—that involved debate and input, as lawmakers produced drafts, defended proposals, and sold their plan to the public. Congress saw testimony from patients and other ordinary people, and citizens were able to lobby lawmakers with their input.

It was as open a process as possible, and while Democrats weren’t immune to misleading rhetoric (“if you like your plan, you can keep it”), the final law wasn’t a surprise. It did what Democrats and the president said it would. And the party was proud of their work. “This is a big fucking deal,” Vice President Joe Biden famously whispered.

None of this is true of Republicans and the AHCA. Theirs is a closed, secretive process. There are no drafts, no inkling of the plan. No speeches defending its major planks or hearings where lawmakers and experts hash out concerns. When pressed with questions, Republicans from the Senate working group refuse to answer. Indeed, asked if it was important to bring a bill to the public, Republicans say, in effect, no. “Well, I think we’re not worried so much about that as we are getting it together so we can get a majority to vote for it,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch.

This might be tolerable if Republicans were open about the effects of their plan. But they aren’t. They’re lying. Tom Price, secretary of health and human services, insists that the bill preserves Medicaid, telling CNN, “We believe the Medicaid population will be cared for in a better way under our program because it will be more responsive to them.” In reality, the bill phases out the Medicaid expansion and makes additional cuts, slashing 14 million people from the program. President Trump has made assurances that the bill “guarantees” coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, which just isn’t true. Vice President Mike Pence promises “a dynamic national health insurance marketplace that lowers costs, increases quality and gives more choices to working families.” Given the massive coverage losses projected under the GOP’s health care plan, there’s no evidence that anything approaching that promise is on the horizon.

Republicans are pushing forward on an unpopular bill that, by every independent account, will harm millions of Americans. To justify this sprint, the White House is actively sabotaging insurance markets while telling the public that the Affordable Care Act is failing. And in taking this course, they’ve shown a breathtaking contempt for democracy, insulating themselves from any political pressure, lying about the policies in question, and hiding this bankrupt process from the country.

This cowardly and factional governing—meant to satisfy a small minority of Republican Party backers, not the public at large—will likely backfire. Given Democratic anger, the president’s unpopularity, and broad discontent with the bill in question, there are decent odds this story ends with a Democratic victory in the 2018 elections and a chance to repair the damage. But between now and then, real people will suffer. Real people will have to decide if they can afford continued treatment. Real people will die. And as far as anyone can tell, the point of all of this—the secrecy and dishonesty and likely pain—is tax cuts. That’s it.

Is House Speaker Paul Ryan As Delusional As President Trump On Health Care Issues?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

“We’re making very good progress, we’re going to go when we have the votes,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said about the GOP’s plans to push forward a health-care plan on April 26.(Reuters)

THE MORNING PLUM:

Republicans have once again shelved their plan to vote on replacing Obamacare, depriving Donald Trump of a fake accomplishment he had hoped to tout on the 100th day of his presidency (even if it had passed the House on the 100th day, there’s no telling what would have happened in the Senate). A lot of explanations are circulating: A rushed vote would have complicatedkeeping the government open; Republicans balked at opposition from the powerful AARP; poor messaging and GOP infighting; and so forth.

I’d like to propose another explanation. What if the GOP repeal effort once again failed because the Affordable Care Act has actually helped a lot of people, and this whole process has made that a lot harder for Republicans to deny?

GOP leaders said they put the latest version on hold because the votes weren’t there for it. The new changes had won over House conservatives who had previously objected, but many of the more moderate or pragmatic Republicans were still opposed. Indeed, the changes that swayed conservatives — which would have allowed states to scrap the requirement that insurers cover Essential Health Benefits and gut protections for people with preexisting conditions — appear to have made it harder for Republicans from less conservative and more contested districts (such as Colorado’s Mike Coffman) to support it.

If you read through the public statements of many of the Republicans who objected to the latest version, you’ll see a common thread. They say either that passing the new bill would drive up premiums for people with preexisting conditions (because it would allow insurers to jack them up); or that too many would lose coverage, partly because of the phaseout of the Medicaid expansion. A number of the Republicans who opposed it this time had previously made statements to this effect about the older version, and those objections were still operative.

“The reality is most of the moderate hard Nos were already opposed,” Matt Fuller, a reporter for HuffPost who has followed this more closely than anyone, told me today. In short, many Republicans objected to the new version on the grounds that it would take coverage away from untold numbers of poor and sick people.

Pelosi: A vote for Trump’s health-care push is ‘doo-doo’ on the shoe

 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the first 100 days of the Trump administration, grading him poorly on health care. (Reuters)

At the same time, though, many of these Republicans avoided openly crediting Obamacare with achieving the very protections for those with preexisting conditions and the vast coverage expansion via Medicaid that they now want to preserve. And they pledged to continue trying to repeal the law. These Republicans cannot affirmatively applaud Obamacare’s success in accomplishing ends they now recognize as imperatives, but they can stand up and say they won’t remove or badly weaken the provisions of it that are accomplishing those ends, provided they also say they’ll replace the law whenever some more acceptable alternative — which would also accomplish those ends — comes along.

The absurdity of this basic dynamic continues to elude direct recognition. Byron York reports that Republicans privately say that as many as 40 or 50 House Republicans secretly don’t want to repeal the ACA, and one key reason appears to be a lack of political courage. As one Republican puts it: “We have members in the Republican conference that do not want Obamacare repealed, because of their district.”

But the reason for this is not stated as forthrightly as I think it should be. Even if the primary motive here is that taking coverage away from people — and gutting protections for those with preexisting conditions — will alienate voters, this is just another way of saying that voters will recoil from efforts to roll back the help the law is providing to countless numbers of people. It is often said that taking away “entitlements” is politically difficult, which is true as far as it goes. But another way to say this is that even many Republicans now recognize that sustaining the law’s achievements is now imperative — and that Republicans have not come up with an alternative that would do this in a way that their public ideological pre-commitments permit. Of course, they can’t put it quite this way out loud.

No, Obamacare is not in a ‘death spiral’ — at least for now

 

Health-care experts say the Affordable Care Act is stable, but President Trump and congressional Republicans could push it over the cliff into a “death spiral.” (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

The GOP replacement is a non-starter for these Republicans partly because it is wildly regressive. It would roll back coverage for millions of people — 24 million in total; 14 million on Medicaid — while delivering an enormous tax cut to the rich. The polls and the angry town halls suggest that the public clearly decided it prefers the ACA — which is now in positive polling territory — to this alternative. Whether moderate Republicans are refraining from this alternative for moral, substantive or political reasons, the deeply regressive outcome that it would bring about is a key driving factor.

My point here is not that Obamacare doesn’t still have plenty of problems — it does — or that the GOP repeal push will never succeed. It very well may. But if it does, it will be either because Republicans finally figured out how to make their alternative less damaging to the ACA’s coverage expansion — which would be hard to do without alienating conservatives — or because enough moderate Republicans decided the moral or political risk of scuttling the law’s accomplishments on behalf of their own constituents is worth taking, for other reasons entirely.


* HEALTH BILL FAILURE IS A BLOW TO PRIEBUS: An interesting nugget buried in the New York Times overview of the collapse of the latest GOP health bill:

The lost opportunity was perhaps the biggest blow to the future prospects of Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, who has a long relationship with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. Mr. Priebus had pushed aggressively for the House to schedule a vote this week, according to several people who spoke with him within the West Wing and on Capitol Hill.

Awww. This diminished a guy who demanded a rushed vote on a bill that would impact millions, solely so that Trump could boast of a fake achievement on his 100th day. So sad!

* TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS DON’T AMOUNT TO MUCH: The Post takes a comprehensive look at the executive orders that Trump has signed, and finds there is less there than meets the eye:

More than half of the 29 orders issued as of Thursday have merely called for reviews, have commissioned reports or established panels to issue recommendations. The documents lay out a dizzying schedule of 90-, 120- and 180-day increments for federal agencies to evaluate the feasibility of White House policy goals and report to the president. They hardly represent the immediate action the president and his aides had heralded they would bring to Washington.

Trump really should hurry up and sign a half-dozen more between now and tomorrow (his 100th day).

* TRUMP SAYS ‘MAJOR CONFLICT’ WITH NORTH KOREA IS POSSIBLE: Trump, in an interview with Reuters, said this:

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely … We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”

One imagines that Trump sees this as shrewd positioning in an ongoing negotiation.

* TRUMP SAYS SHUTDOWN WOULD BE THE FAULT OF DEMOCRATS: Also in the Reuters interview, Trump had this to say about a possible government shutdown:

“If there’s closure, there’s closure. We’ll see what happens. If there’s a shutdown. It’s the Democrats’ fault. Not our fault. It’s the Democrats’ fault. Maybe they’d like to see a shutdown.”

A frequent Trump tactic is to always assert he has the upper hand regardless of reality, in order to make it so, but given that Republicans control everything, it’s hard to see how they’d skirt blame.

* IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT HUMORING TRUMP: Paul Krugman looks at all the ways in which Trump’s staff props up his falsehoods and fantasies — searching for “proof” Barack Obama tapped his phones; rushing out a one-page tax “plan” before the 100-day mark — and concludes:

Every report from inside the White House conveys the impression that Trump is like a temperamental child … being an effective staffer seems to involve finding ways to make him feel good and take his mind off news that he feels makes him look bad … Don’t pretend that this is normal … No, what we’re looking at here isn’t policy; it’s pieces of paper whose goal is to soothe the big man’s temper tantrums.

The rot of bad faith runs very deep with this White House, and it starts here.

* AND TRUMP EXPECTED PRESIDENCY TO BE ‘EASIER’: A final tidbit from the Reuters interview: Trump actually claimed that “this is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” That’s bad enough, but then this happened:

Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

It was always about winning, and never about what would happen after

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—Thank You, oldpoet56, T.R.S.

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