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.

Senate Won’t Bring GOP Health Care Bill To The Floor For A Vote

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN)The Senate will not vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare, Republican leaders announced Tuesday.

The decision is another blow to President Donald Trump’s attempts to repeal Obamacare, a long-time Republican campaign promise and a centerpiece of his legislative agenda. Trump is now also floating the idea of working with Democrats on changes to the health care law, repeating his budget deal he reached earlier this month.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with lawmakers Tuesday to take stock of where his members are on the proposal and make the call once and for all if Graham-Cassidy, the latest bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, will get a vote in the Senate. The decision was that the votes simply weren’t there.
On Monday, Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, finally came out against the bill, a position she’d been teetering toward for days. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky also opposed to the measure.
The calculations for health care are agonizing for McConnell. Putting a controversial bill on the floor without the votes exposes members to political fallout and attack ads. Many Republicans hadn’t even taken a public position on Graham-Cassidy, a bill that the Congressional Budget Office said Monday would drastically cut Medicaid and lead to millions of people not having health insurance compared to the status quo.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a bill sponsor, publicly thanked McConnell. “Thank you, it’s complicated, it’s difficult politics,” Graham told reporters.
McConnell “didn’t try to explain the decision” during the lunch, Sen. Tim Scott said. “It’s obvious — we don’t have the votes right now, you don’t vote until you have them.”

Can it stay alive via tax bill?

While the repeal effort has risen from the dead before — several times — most in the chamber were resigned that this time would be was unlikely to get a hold of phoenix-like properties before the September 30 deadline to move the bill with 50 votes to beat a Democratic filibuster.
Regardless of what happens to Graham-Cassidy, there are signs that plenty of Republicans in Washington — both in the White House and Capitol Hill — are simply not ready to give up.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he was “disappointed” in several senators, in an apparent reference to McCain, Paul and Collins.
“At some point there will be a repeal and replace but we’ll see whether or not that point is now or whether it will be shortly thereafter,” Trump said. “But we are disappointed in certain so-called Republicans.”
On Capitol Hill, there are rumblings among lawmakers about ways to keep trying on repeal if this week ends with defeat (the current legislative vehicle that Republicans are using to move a health care bill without any Democratic support expires after Saturday).
One idea — which hardly enjoys widespread support at the moment — is to tie both health care and tax reform to the 2018 budget.
Graham and Sen. Ron Johnson, who both sit on the budget committee, have advocated for this idea. It has raised concerns among Republican lawmakers and staff alike who know just how messy that could potentially be.
One GOP aide bluntly described that scenario as “a nightmare.”

Working with Democrats?

At a White House meeting with both Democratic and GOP lawmakers, the President warned Republicans in bipartisan meeting he’d work with Democrats on health care if they fail to act.
Trump mentioned how much he liked the deal he negotiated recently with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Pelosi, according to a source familiar with the discussion and with Democratic lawmakers.
Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez told reporters that Trump told the group he was “disappointed” in those Republican senators who came out against the Senate bill. She said he “chided” the GOP members there that he could end up working with Democrats on health care legislation
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee said “Clearly,” he said when asked if the President made the threat.
“He made that clear that if he didn’t get what he wanted, he was going to work with Democrats on a plan,” Neal told reporters.
This story has been updated.

 

‘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.

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

At the end of six months in office, Donald Trump doesn’t have a single legislative achievement to crow about. The failure to repeal ‘Obamacare’ is the biggest. Another setback for Trump is Congress’ move to impose new sanctions on Russia. Added to this is the investigation into his and his team’s involvement with Russia during the 2016 election

OPINION Updated: Aug 08, 2017 08:21 IST

US President Donald Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him
US President Donald Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him(AFP)

Even with a new minder trying to bring some order to the White House, United States President Donald Trump remains in a heap of trouble. The recent installation of retired general John Kelly, formerly Trump’s secretary for homeland security, as chief of staff, replacing the hapless Reince Priebus, has reduced some of the internal chaos and induced a bit more discipline in Trump’s behaviour. But all this could change any day, or at any moment.

Kelly has put a stop to aides sauntering into the Oval Office whenever they felt like it –Trump tends to echo the last person he’s spoken with – and has demanded that papers and memos for the president be submitted to him first. For the time being, at least, the president’s tweeting has been reduced in number and nuttiness.

Keen Trump observers expect that he’ll soon begin to chafe under the discipline Kelly has encouraged. Understanding Trump’s enormous ego, Kelly is said to encourage gently rather than instruct. Kelly also has the advantage of Trump’s high regard for generals.

But Trump could well become incensed by news stories praising Kelly for bringing order to the White House. (Counsellor Steve Bannon never fully recovered in the president’s esteem after he was on the cover of Time magazine soon after the inauguration.)

Meanwhile, Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him.

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The recent failure of the Republican-dominated Congress to repeal Barack Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, which made healthcare available for millions of people who previously couldn’t afford it, was a humiliating defeat for Trump. Just enough Republican senators (three, but more were in reserve if needed) voted to reject the last of several efforts to fulfil the party’s vow to replace ‘Obamacare’.

That nickname for the ACA, coined by the Republicans when the law was enacted in early 2010, was intended to be derogatory, and their opposition to the program seemed to be vindicated in that year’s midterm elections, when they swept both houses of congress. But the Republicans didn’t reckon on two things: that as people gained access to health insurance (some 20 million by this year), it became popular – as did Obama, who ended his second term as one of America’s most liked presidents.

Over Obama’s tenure, Republicans came to realise that it was no longer sufficient simply to call for a repeal of ‘Obamacare’, and their rhetoric shifted to the need to “repeal and replace”. They held more than 50 roll-call votes saying that they’d do just that, knowing that it didn’t really matter because Obama would veto any serious repeal. The roll calls were actually fundraisers: Appeals to the unsuspecting Republican base to send money to keep up the fight against the supposedly hated programme.

But when the 2016 election put a Republican in the White House, the party’s congressional leaders had nowhere to hide. The Republicans were now in full control of the government – and they hadn’t a clue about what should replace Obamacare.

At the end of six months in office, Trump doesn’t have a single legislative achievement to crow about (though he has claimed the Senate’s approval of Neil Gorsuch as a new Supreme Court justice as a victory). Significantly, Senate Republican leaders ignored Trump’s demand that they take up repeal and replace of Obamacare again, before they consider any other major issue.

While the healthcare bill was commanding most of the attention on Capitol Hill, another piece of legislation was moving along in the Congress, representing another setback for Trump. Troubled by the president’s apparent soft spot for (or perhaps fear of) Vladimir Putin, overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both chambers passed a bill to impose more sanctions on Russia and – most unusually – to prevent the president from lifting any such penalties. And, because the bill passed with enough votes to override a presidential veto, Trump had little choice but to sign it, which he did in private, without the customary presence of a bill’s sponsors and the press.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Trump and his campaign’s relations with Russia in connection with its meddling in Trump’s favour in the 2016 election has continued out of the public’s sight. That investigation has broadened to include Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his son Donald Jr.

This spring, Trump let it be known that he wanted the special counsel running that investigation, Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who is highly respected by both parties, to be fired. He’d already fired FBI director James Comey, but by law, he couldn’t fire Mueller himself, so he tried to bully Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had (appropriately) recused himself from the investigation, into resigning. That way, Trump could appoint a replacement who would fire Mueller.

But Sessions, the first Republican senator to endorse Trump, was enjoying rolling back numerous Obama-era protections in areas like civil rights, and refused to resign. Several of Sessions’ former Senate colleagues also demanded that Trump back off. Though Kelly called Sessions to tell him that his job was safe, Republican senators, concerned that Trump might remove him during the August recess, established a procedure that would prevent Trump from appointing an interim attorney-general to fire Mueller, and warned that such a move would provoke a constitutional crisis.

Then, as Congress prepared to leave for the August recess, it was learned that Mueller – who had hired highly regarded prosecutors specialising in international financial transactions, despite Trump’s warnings not to investigate his finances – had impaneled a grand jury in Washington. The noose tightens.

Elizabeth Drew is a journalist and author

The views expressed are personal

Project Syndicate, 2017

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President Trump’s Healthcare Speech: Full Of Ignorance And Outright Lies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITIFACTS)

 

Fact-checking Donald Trump’s health care speech

PolitiFact Live for June 29, 2017

With the future of the Senate health care bill hanging by a thread, President Donald Trump pressed Republican senators to fulfill their party’s seven-year promise to get rid of Obamacare.

Flanked by families Trump said had suffered under the Affordable Care Act, he said, “So far, Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare.”

Many senators remain in the dark as to what piece of legislation they will be voting on. Trump spoke only of passing a bill to repeal and replace the sweeping health care law without endorsing a specific bill.

Here are some of his statements and the fact-checks we’ve examined in the past.

“Obamacare has broken our health care system. It’s broken. It’s collapsing.”

While Trump has often said that Obamacare is collapsing, the first part of that statement goes further to say that the law has broken the entire health care system. This is not accurate.

The reality is that much of the care people receive continues as before, and by some measures, the system is on better footing than before. Hospitals, for example, spent about $6 billion less between 2013 and 2014 on care for which they received no payment. So-called uncompensated care fell mainly in states that expanded the Medicaid program to all poor adults, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That bottom line improvement made hospitals more financially stable.

As for the individual insurance market, the part of Obamacare that Trump has said before is in a death spiral, we have rated statements like that False.

The latest assessment from the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan analytic arm of Congress, is that the overall market is stable and would remain so for the coming decade.

The CBO said even though premiums have been rising, most of the people who buy through the government-run insurance exchanges are protected by the subsidies that are built into the law.

“The subsidies to purchase coverage, combined with the effects of the individual mandate, which requires most individuals to obtain insurance or pay a penalty, are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by enough people, including people with low health care expenditures, for the market to be stable in most areas.”

That said, as recently as July 12, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 38 counties in the country are at risk of not having a single health insurance provider in 2018.

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“Obamacare has broken our health care system. It’s broken. It’s collapsing.”
“They (senators) can now keep their promise to the American people to provide emergency relief to those in desperate need of help, and to improve health care for all Americans.”

Trump makes it sounds like aid would be readily available to struggling health care consumers. The “emergency relief” in the Senate bill would actually go to insurance companies and state governments. While some of the money would help individuals, most of the benefits would be indirect and might take time to come together.

The Senate bill contains $182 billion designed to keep premiums down and encourage insurance companies to continue to sell policies in more local markets. The money comes in two pots.

The first is $50 billion over two years that insurance companies could request from the federal government to offset losses. In theory, this protection would reduce the risk to carriers and lead to lower insurance premiums.

Another $132 billion would be spread out over a number of years and would go to the states. States could use this money to pay the premiums for people in high risk pools. They could also provide additional premium subsidies and pay hospitals, doctors and other health care providers.

The precise impact of this is difficult to predict. Premium subsidies would tend to push premiums down. At the same time, the Senate bill gives insurers more flexibility to charge more to older policy holders. That, coupled with higher deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses, could produce uneven effects.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “older, lower-income people generally would see the largest increases; younger and more affluent people would see decreases in many locations.”

“The Senate is very close to the votes it needs to pass a replacement. The problem is we have zero help from the Democrats. They’re obstructionists.”

Trump is correct that zero Democrats support Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. But blaming Democrats for Senate Republicans’ failure to pass legislation doesn’t tell the whole story.

Because the GOP holds 52 Senate seats to Democrats’ 48, Democrats would be powerless to stop a united GOP caucus from passing legislation to dismantle Obamacare. In fact, Republicans could afford to lose two members and still pass the bill, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.

The truth is Senate Republicans have been unable to agree on a replacement package that reconciles divisions between its more moderate and conservative members.

Defections by four GOP senators effectively killed the repeal-and-replace plan on July 17. The following day, a more modest repeal bill was doomed after three Senate Republicans came out in opposition.

Later in his speech, Trump appeared to acknowledge the difficulty of reaching an agreement given Senate Republicans’ slim margin of error.

“The Democrats aren’t giving us one vote, so we need virtually every single vote from the Republicans,” he said. “Not easy to do.”

The bill provides “more flexibility for states to administer Medicaid to better serve their poorest citizens.”

The Senate bill would fundamentally change Medicaid financing. Instead of the open-ended commitment it is today, the program would be put on a budget. States could choose to receive federal dollars based on a per-person formula, or they could take the money as a block grant. Either way, many federal rules would disappear, and states would gain the flexibility to spend Medicaid dollars as they see fit, as Trump said.

On the other hand, Washington would be much less generous with states than it is today. Medicaid spending would continue to rise, but at a much slower rate. The CBO estimated that by 2026, states would be getting 26 percent less than they would if the law remained the same. The cumulative difference over the next 10 years would be $756 billion.

This proposal has driven a wedge in the Republican ranks, dividing senators from states that want to preserve as much of the Medicaid funding as possible — essentially in states that expanded Medicaid — from those who feel the current system puts them at a disadvantage or simply spends too much.

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.”

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.

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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.

White House to Republicans: Trump reserves the right to throw all of you under the bus

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

The Fix

White House to Republicans: Trump reserves the right to throw all of you under the bus

June 20 at 3:29 PM
Spicer: Trump ‘wants a bill that has heart in it’
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump wants Congress to pass a health-care bill that “has heart in it,” on June 20 at the White House. (Reuters)

Senate Republicans are confronting a potentially career-altering decision: whether to vote for a health-care bill that polls show is vastly unpopular and could backfire stupendously. And on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer had a chance to provide them some reassurance that President Trump wasn’t going to throw them under the bus if things go sideways.

Instead, he basically shrugged his shoulders.

Reports in recent days have quoted Trump, in private settings, as both calling the House GOP’s health-care bill “mean” and saying the Senate bill needed “more heart.” Asked about that second report, from CNBC on Tuesday, Spicer practically confirmed the quote — or at least he didn’t dispute it, as the White House often does.

“The president clearly wants a bill that has heart in it,” Spicer said. “He believes health care is something that is near and dear to so many families and individuals. He made it clear from the beginning that it was one of his priorities.”

If you are a Republican who is thinking about sticking your neck out for this bill, that has to make you think twice.

Last month Trump held a Rose Garden celebration with House Republicans after they passed their version of a health-care bill. Some even thought that festivities were a little over-the-top. But the president clearly wanted to celebrate a first legislative win.

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His actions since then, however, suggest he doesn’t necessarily want his brand attached to this bill and all the sausage-making that goes with it. Recent polls have shown Americans oppose the legislation by a 2-to-1 margin or even a 3-to-1 margin, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates indicate it could reduce the number of insured Americans by 23 million over a decade and raise premiums for older, poorer people. And whatever the perceptions and projections are today, the law of unintended consequences certainly applies when it comes to large-scale legislation. It’s a massively difficult vote to take for any member.

The White House will almost surely come around and say all the right things when the Senate ultimately reveals its bill. And for Trump and Spicer, it’s probably smart to withhold your full endorsement to make sure that bill will reflect the things the White House feels are important. But the fact that Trump is saying these things behind closed doors about a bill he once celebrated has to make Republican senators think twice.

What if the bill they are working on does wind up causing major problems? What if it doesn’t even pass, and most all of them put themselves on the record voting for something that can still be used in a pretty brutal attack ad using those CBO numbers? There is basically nothing to suggest that Trump is going to allow himself to go down with this ship. And unlike your normal politician, he’s not going to feel bound by loyalty, his past statements or that Rose Garden celebration. When Trump feels like disowning something politically, Trump will disown it.

Perhaps the White House could be forgiven for not fighting back strongly enough against reports of Trump’s initial “mean” comment last week. But now it’s happened again; Trump and his White House have basically put the House’s bill at arms-length twice in the span of a week. And on Tuesday it suggested that it reserves the right to bash the bill at a later date if Trump feels like it.

Given the bill will need 50 of 52 Republican senators to vote for it, that’s a pretty terrible message to send right now.

Why are Republicans getting so little done? Because their agenda is deeply unpopular.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Why are Republicans getting so little done? Because their agenda is deeply unpopular.

June 2 at 2:30 PM
‘Enjoy the health-care win, Republicans. It’s the last one you’ll have in a while.’
As President Trump and Republicans celebrate the passage of the GOP health-care bill in the House, The Post’s Jonathan Capehart offers this piece of advice: Enjoy it while you can. (Video: Adriana Usero,Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Every new president tries to claim a mandate for his agenda, that because he won the election that means the public supports everything he wants to do. But ask yourself this: Is there anything — anything — on the agenda of the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress that enjoys the support of the majority of the public?

Let’s look at a couple of examples from the biggest items on their agenda, starting with health care. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found that an incredible 84 percent of Americans say that it’s important that any replacement of the Affordable Care Act maintains the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. Even 71 percent of Republicans said so. Which is a problem for the GOP, because rolling back the Medicaid expansion is the centerpiece of the Republican repeal plan. Republicans are arguing among themselves about whether it should be done slowly or quickly, but the whole point of the exercise is to undo that expansion so that they can fund a large tax that mostly goes to the wealthy.

The Senate is right now tying itself in knots trying to figure out how to pass something that satisfies the GOP’s conservative principles but that the public won’t despise, and it may be slowly realizing that this is impossible. “I don’t see a comprehensive health-care plan this year,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said yesterday, and he’s probably right.

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Let’s move on to taxes. At yesterday’s speech announcing his pullout from the Paris climate agreement, President Trump made this little digression:

Our tax bill is moving along in Congress, and I believe it’s doing very well. I think a lot of people will be very pleasantly surprised. The Republicans are working very, very hard. We’d love to have support from the Democrats, but we may have to go it alone. But it’s going very well.

It was certainly interesting to hear that the tax bill is moving along in Congress, because there is no tax bill, neither moving along, standing still or spinning in circles. The administration has produced nothing more than a one-page list of bullet points on taxes, and congressional Republicans haven’t written a bill, either. There have been no hearings, no committee votes, nothing. This is one of those moments when it’s hard to figure out if Trump is lying or genuinely doesn’t realize what’s going on; earlier this week he tweeted:

The massive TAX CUTS/REFORM that I have submitted is moving along in the process very well, actually ahead of schedule. Big benefits to all!

Yet nothing has been submitted, nothing is moving along and nothing is ahead of schedule.

 

That’s partly because there are some substantive differences among Republicans about what tax reform should include, but it’s also because they know that whatever bill they come up with is going to be hammered by Democrats for being an enormous giveaway to the wealthy. They could solve that problem by not making it an enormous giveaway to the wealthy, but then what would be the point?

So they realize that it’s not going to be very popular. In other circumstances, that might be less of a problem — they could say, “That’s okay, it’s important to us, so we’ll just push it through.” George W. Bush passed two big tax cuts that were largely similar to what Republicans want to do now, didn’t he? But there’s a difference. When Bush signed his first tax cut in June 2001, his approval rating was at around 55 percent. When he passed his second tax cut in May 2003, his approval was around 65 percent (it was early in the Iraq War, when everything seemed to be going well). Right now Trump is at around or below 40 percent in many polls, so neither he nor Congress is getting the benefit of the doubt.

Are there other Republican initiatives that the public is behind? If there are, they’re awfully hard to find. The Paris accord is extremely popular, so Trump’s decision to pull out probably won’t go over well. The overwhelming majority of the public opposes ongoing GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. There’s little support for the drastic cuts in government spending Republicans advocate. They’re about to start a push to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, which House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in a remarkably shameless bit of Orwellian spin, characterizes as a way to stop indulging Wall Street. But Americans aren’t exactly demanding that the nation’s beleaguered bankers be liberated from their crushing burden of government oversight.

The deep unpopularity of this agenda goes a long way toward explaining why Congress has gotten almost nothing done this year, despite the fact that Republicans control both houses and have a president happy to sign whatever they put on his desk. All Republicans feel nervous these days — their president is unpopular, so is their party, and there’s the real possibility of a Democratic wave in 2018 that sweeps many of them from office. That’s enough to make a lawmaker skittish about doing anything that might make the voters even more disgusted. So the legislative process gets dragged out for longer and longer.

Congressional Republicans complain that all the drama and scandals in the White House suck the air out of Washington and make it harder for them to focus on their agenda, which is true to a degree. But the real problem is that the public just doesn’t want to buy what they’re selling.

 

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