The President Tries Desperately To Distract From The Elephant In The Room (It’s Him)
Early Morning Tweet #1:
The Tweet doesn’t specify the size and scope of “Federal help”, so we can’t say exactly what it means. But the Chicago Sun Times and WGN are reporting 20 new agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have recently been posted to Chicago. The extra ATF agents will work alongside Chicago Police and Illinois State Police.
Early Morning Tweet #2:
At The Same Time, Mika Brzezinski, The Target Of Trump’s Vile Tweets Yesterday, Answers Back, And Trump Was Watching. His Response: Say Nothing About Her, Attack Her Co-Host:
This morning, Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough co-authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post entitled “Donald Trump is not well.” They also discussed the issue on their regular MSNBC morning show.
Here are Trump’s Tweets from yesterday that started off the firestorm:
Let’s Call It What It Is…
No, Paul Ryan, the issue is not that it’s “obviously” an inappropriate comment. And no, Lindsey Graham, it does not represent “what is wrong with American politics”. And no, Bill O’Reilly, it is not about being “discouraging for Americans” (and what are you doing weighing in on this anyway?) And no, Representative Lynn Jenkins, it is not about a need for “working to empower women.” And no, Senator Orrin Hatch, it is not about being “responsible for our speech.” And no, Senator Susan Collins, it is not about “respect and civility.” And no, far-right wing commentator Laura Ingraham, it is not about “MESSAGE DISCIPLINE.” And no, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is it not about “fighting fire with fire.”
It is just plain CRAZY.
(To his credit, long time Trump critic, Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse came the closest, saying “This isn’t normal.”)
And no, The Washington Post, the central issue is not the stigma of cosmetic surgery. (Had the Tweet just referred to a “face-lift”, it would not have caused anything close to the uproar it did.) It’s about Trump’s weird obsession with bleeding women, as The Atlantic perceptively asserts.
Unfortunately, Trump’s vile Tweets won’t make it one bit less likely Republicans will support Trump’s radical legislative agenda, as long as it continues matching with their own.
How Will Senate React To Trump Telling Them Not To Bother Coming Up With New Health Plan As They Hit “Hail Mary” Time?
Sometimes a “Hail Mary” is the only way to pull out a big win. And Senate Republicans are far from out of options.
• All seem to involve morphing from a full-throated affirmation of a Conservative political agenda, into something that at least looks a little more moderate, or at least a little less ‘mean’.
• The Washington Post reports on one option that seems to make the bill as moderate as possible without having to bring in Democrats. This could include reinstating some Medicaid funds (but perhaps earmarking for specific programs like opioid abuse treatment), and by eliminating a massive investment tax cut for the rich.
At the same time, in order to appease Conservatives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would further loosen up what coverages are mandated under the law. And while not providing a tax cut, would provide tax relief in the form of expanded tax deductible health savings accounts.
Strategically, this actually makes some sense. Because what’s up next on Congress’ agenda after health care? Tax cuts. So even if they skip them here, they can just give out more cuts than they originally planned when tax reform comes around. And that might be a much easier sell: no one is really ever against paying less tax.
• And there’s Ted Cruz’ suggestion: keeping at least one Obamacare-compliant policy active in each state, and then allowing insurers to sell as many policies that do not comply with mandatory minimum coverages as they want. So people can keep their current level of care if they want, which sounds good. Except in most cases compliant policies will end up being the most expensive by far, so people will likely drop them, tempted away by cheaper policies that cover a lot less. It’s the equivalent of enticing someone who works for you to quit, because firing them would make you look bad.
Democrats Play A Stealthy Good Hand
While Democrats haven’t figured out a way yet to have any direct say in what’s going to happen to Obamacare, they did manage to pull off a clever flanking maneuver. They asked the Congressional Budget Office to take a longer term view of Medicaid cutbacks and as the Washington Post reports, pretty effectively shined a light on a trend Republicans wanted to keep in the dark. The relatively brief extra analysis from the CBO, shows cuts over an extended period of time going deeper and deeper.
Merkel May Have Just Gotten Trumped
We reported yesterday that in something of a swipe at Trump’s decision to drop out of the Paris Climate Accords, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she intended to make climate change the central focus of a meeting of world leaders she’s hosting next week in Hamburg.
Since then, the White House made a counter-move that pretty much ensures Trump will be the central focus at the G20 economic meeting, by scheduling a side meeting with a man he says he does not know and has never met, Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Trump, at other times, has described Putin as a “stablemate” because they both appeared–in separate segments, taped in separate locations–on the same episode of 60 Minutes.)
Do You Consider Your Grandmother To Be A Close Family Member? The State Department Doesn’t
Partially cleared by the Supreme Court earlier this week, Trump’s “travel ban” is now in effect.
So that means people from 6 mostly Muslim countries will have more trouble getting into the U.S. And Syrian refugees can’t get in at all. The Court ruled people who can prove existing business or educational ties should be allowed entry. It also OK’d close family members, but didn’t define what a “bona fide family member” is. So the State Department did. Turns out, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces are not. Fiances, and sons and daughters-in laws are.