And We’re Off To The Races…!

Trump immediately reminds us why we shouldn’t think of him even for a second as more trustworthy, just because he was vindicated simply for being sane enough not to have conspired with Russia on the 2016 election

Remember how yesterday we said Democrats can still beat Trump, but only if they shift into overdrive on policy, policy, policy, and not let the President gain momentum by portraying himself as a victim of the establishment?

Well, right after the President appeared to have been cleared of a lot of nastiness by Robert Mueller, Trump and his administration took a deep dive back into crazy.

First, his Defense Secretary moved to move $1-billion to the Army Corps of Engineers from unspecified places in the Defense Department budget to start building new wall. That’s after Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution passed by both the House and Senate reversing his decision to declare a national emergency in order to take the money he needs to build his wall, after Congress said—in a bipartisan agreement—that he couldn’t have it. (We also wonder whether the Republican Senators who voted against Trump on that resolution still would’ve done so today…or if the Mueller report has further enhanced the President’s sway over Republicans in Congress.)

Now, in terms of popularity, that move probably cuts both ways, at least to some extent. Because while Trump’s wall isn’t widely popular overall, it is among many of Trump’s supporters. (And may be even more so if people are willing to give him more of the benefit of a doubt following the Mueller report). And we continue to believe there’s nothing more important to Trump himself, because it’s to be his visible, lasting legacy.

But the 2nd thing the Trump Administration did late yesterday is just looney toons. The Justice Department issued a terse, two sentence letter saying it supports a federal judge’s ruling to kill Obamacare completely, every last bit.

Here’s the text of that letter, in its entirety (as relayed by a Houston-based appellate lawyer):

That case is now in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and probably will end up in the Supreme Court. Where retaining Obamacare is by no means a slam dunk. That’s because when Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion when Obamacare was challenged when Obama was still in office, he declared it Constitutional on the grounds that the “individual mandate”, which required Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty, was actually a tax, and it’s within Congress’ purview to levy new taxes. At the time, the Court did not rule on whether parts of Obamacare could or couldn’t exist without the mandate, since it had already ruled the mandate was Constitutional.

But Trump and Republicans killed the “individual mandate” as part of their $1.5-trillion tax cut bill. And since then it’s become this Catch-22 free-for-all: because there’s no longer any mandate (because Trump and Republicans killed it), a judge in Texas (appointed by George W. Bush), ruled there’s no longer any Constitutional basis for the entire law, (even though the “individual mandate” was originally a Republican idea), so it all should be thrown out, kit and kaboodle.

The Trump Administration’s position up until yesterday was it supported killing a few more bits of the law including protection for people with preexisting conditions. (Even though Trump has publicly insisted he’s not doing that he is, and now even more). But things like Medicaid expansion were OK. Not anymore. No real reason was given by the Justice Department, at least not in its letter to the court.

As University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck points out, this is a “political choice” the Trump Administration is making. And we’d go so far as to say a choice by the President to do yet another end run around Congress to get rid of legislation he doesn’t like, and that Congress hasn’t been able to change (see Trump’s harangues about John McCain) by using the courts to change the laws instead. Which is why all those hundreds of federal judges Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are on the move to seat are so crucially important.

This is not dissimilar to what Trump is doing with his wall: he doesn’t get his way from one branch of government, he takes it to the other (or takes it on himself, if he can). But we can’t see how taking away healthcare can be spun as a convincing plus for the American people.

We mean, if you want to toss a gift right back at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, can’t think of a much better one. And actually, Pelosi was ready, firing back right away today with a new plan to strengthen Obamacare by expanding tax credits so middle class families can access them, not just lower-income families, and by better managing the costs of high risk patients in order to help keep premiums down. Politics aside, Trump’s move’ll hurt a lot of people who will lose their health insurance if the Trump Administration has its way–its new way.

The Chaos Report is on the road, so for the rest of this week and some of next, the content and format of the report might be a little different, and the time we publish every morning might be a bit off.

We ask for your understanding: we are a very lean operation and because we have so few people, we rely on a lot of coordination. Thank you for your understanding, and continued support.