Open Thread

The Open Thread for March 19, 2017

In tweets published on Saturday morning, President Donald Trump insisted that he had a productive meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But then he said that Germany owes money to NATO.

“Republicans are pushing forward on a vote next week on their bill to repeal Obamacare and won’t wait for a new estimate on the impact of major changes the legislation makes to Medicaid,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“House Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told reporters Friday that the House will not wait for a new score from the Congressional Budget Office before voting on the American Health Care Act. The decision comes after a meeting between President Trump and 13 members of the Republican Study Committee that bore major changes to the bill.”

Politico: “After promising to make a number of tweaks to the current draft — changes aimed at winning over conservatives and centrist Republicans — GOP leaders felt confident enough to schedule a floor vote on the bill Thursday, seven years to the day that Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act.”

Axios: “This could indicate confidence that they’ve nailed down the 216 votes needed to pass it through, even though GOP divisions abound.”

James Pethokoukis at The Week asks what a failed Trump Administration would look like?

It certainly doesn’t need to involve President Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. Rather, imagine this: As the 2018 midterm elections approach, Trump’s only accomplishment is starting construction on the southern border mega-wall. No ObamaCare replacement. No big tax cut. No big infrastructure plan. And millions of American voters are starting to consider that handing total power in Washington to a party led by a short-attention-span novice was a cosmically bad idea.

It hardly seems like a far-fetched scenario right now.

First, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, the GOP’s top priority, was just dealt a hammer blow by the Congressional Budget Office. Conservative Republicans will surely focus on the CBO finding that the American Health Care Act would reduce projected debt by $300 billion and cut taxes by $900 billion over a decade. But the more relevant numbers to many Americans will be the 14 million people losing health insurance coverage next year and the 20 percent rise in insurance premiums if the bill becomes law. Republicans may quibble about details and degree, but the CBO forecast is almost certainly correct directionally.

Priority two doesn’t look a whole lot healthier. The GOP plan to deeply cut tax rates depends on the blueprint’s controversial and deeply confusing border-adjustment provision, where imports would be taxed but exports wouldn’t. Not surprisingly, the plan has split GOP business backers depending on whether they export goods (like Boeing) or import them (like Walmart). Dropping this provision — as seems highly probable — would blow a trillion-dollar revenue hole in a plan already counting on aggressive growth forecasts to avoid hemorrhaging red ink.

Ed Kilgore reports in his New York Magazine post, “VA Governor’s Race Is Good Test for Post-Trump Election Strategy” that “In terms of the kind of smaller, off-year electorate we can expect in November, it is significant that Clinton nearly matched Trump among white college graduates, those most likely to show up in non-presidential elections, while Trump won the more marginally participating white non-college graduates by a massive 71/24 margin. If this kind of education gap occurs in the Virginia governor’s race, particularly if white working-class voters stay home in significant numbers, a GOP win will be very difficult to produce.”

“On the Senate side, Democrats told CNN they see opportunities to message directly to older voters in states with 2018 elections such as Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Maine…Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada are of particular interest to Democrats. Both their states have a sizable number of senior voters, and were fertile ground for Clinton — she won Nevada and lost Arizona by just 4%. Voters 65 and older backed Trump over Clinton nationally by 7% in 2016, according to exit polls. In Arizona, that number was a more stark — 13%. But in Nevada, Clinton won seniors by 5%…Florida and Maine, meanwhile, are two of the oldest states by population…Democrats are hopeful that concerted messaging will mean their candidates — both Senate and House — could turn out seniors, a reliable voting bloc even in off-year elections. On average, voters over 65 make up close to 20% of voters in midterms, more than their share in presidential elections.”– from Dan Merica’s “How Democrats will use the GOP health care bill against Republicans in 2018” at CNN Politics.

It looks like senate Democrats are going to anchor their case against confirming Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court in his anti-worker rulings, reports Bridget Bowman in her Roll Call article, “Senate Democrats Preview Their Case Against Gorsuch: Supreme Court nominee cast as foe of workers.” As Bowman writes, quoting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: “Judge Gorsuch may act like a neutral, calm judge,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “But his record and his career clearly show he harbors a right wing, pro-corporate, special interest agenda.” The strategy could be viewed as part of an effort to reclaim the Democratic Party’s identity as the champion of the rights and interests of the working-class.

There is lots of grumbling about Rachel Maddow’s reporting of the Trump tax return story. And yes, the foreplay was a little long compared to the payoff, his 2005 tax return. But credit Maddow with providing a solid analysis, enhanced by top tax analyst, David Cay Johnston. Much of the big media whining about the report had more to do with jealousy about Maddow’s soaring ratings. As Erik Wemple puts it in his Washington Post column, “It bears noting that “The Rachel Maddow Show” is starting to best Fox News in a key television rating metric. That is a big deal in the media world. Could we be witnessing the coalescence of the Trump opposition into a bona fide cable-news audience — one that a channel like MSNBC can cultivate? And could the freakout from Hannity, Kurtz & Co. signal that Fox News is very, very worried about this prospect?”

Bloomberg reports on four Republican governors opposing Trumpcare:  “Four Republican governors told top lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate that they oppose the current GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and that they want Congress to preserve an expansion of the Medicaid health program for poor Americans.  In a letter Thursday, governors from Ohio, Nevada, Michigan and Arkansas wroteSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan and said the legislation the House is considering “does not ensure the resources necessary to make sure no one is left out, and shifts significant new costs to states.” They said the bill “does not meet” goals set out by President Donald Trump about state flexibility and making sure people are covered.”

Rick Klein and Shushannah Walshe: “It feels like deja vu. President Trump’s revised travel ban was blocked once again, this time by a federal judge in Hawaii who Wednesday issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on one of the president’s signature initiatives.”

“This version was, no doubt, harder to challenge in court, but because the plaintiffs came back to the fact they believe this was a discriminatory Muslim ban, thanks to not just Miller’s comments, but the president himself while on the campaign trail last year, it’s going to expose any version of this policy, watered down or not, to a court challenge. And it’s not just Hawaii, early Thursday morning, a Maryland judge blocked the executive order’s 90-day pause on the issuance of visas to citizens of six Muslim majority countries. The question now is what does the administration do? We should get more of those answers today.”

 

1 comment on “The Open Thread for March 19, 2017

  1. Looking like The War Of The Gargantuas at this point, Trump’s horrendous budget vs. Paul Ryan & Co.’s looming disaster of repealing Obamacare. Sure, it’s all speculation at this point, but the political fallout will be all too real for American’s caught in the middle of the political games, and I just might be one of them.

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