Open Thread

The Open Thread for April 21, 2017

“Two sources close to the health care legislative process tell CNN the White House is exploring whether to take one more stab at repealing and replacing Obamacare before President Trump hits the key milestone of 100 days in office late next week.”

Said one official: “I don’t think it’s having to rewrite the bill. It’s just a total trust gap. As soon as we solve that, we can have a vote.”

“GOP moderates and conservatives are nearing a deal on health care that in theory could get the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act out of the House and over to the Senate. The changes also might move Republicans even further away from passage ― no one really knows,” the Huffington Post reports.

“The deal, brokered between House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), would allow states to get waivers eliminating the so-called community rating provision ― the rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. In order to obtain the waiver, states would have to participate in a federal high-risk pool or establish their own, and satisfy some other conditions.”

CBS News has learned that a manhunt is underway for a traitor inside the Central Intelligence Agency.  “The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.”

“Sources familiar with the investigation say it is looking for an insider — either a CIA employee or contractor — who had physical access to the material.”

“Ever since FBI investigators discovered in 2013 that a Russian spy was trying to recruit an American businessman named Carter Page, the bureau maintained an occasional interest in Mr. Page. So when he became a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign last year and gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute, it soon caught the bureau’s attention,” the New York Times reports.

“That trip last July was a catalyst for the FBI investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, according to current and former law enforcement officials.”

Can you imagine if an Obama guest did this next to Laura Bush or Nancy Reagan portrait? Would’ve been 2 weeks of wall-to-wall Fox coverage.  And then Obama would have been impeached.

Vanity Fair: “The move to dethrone O’Reilly, once unimaginable, crystallized over the past week, as advertisers continued to flee his show, more women came forward, and, perhaps most important, Fox News management came to realize that there was no way to stem the possibility that more accusers might surface, anonymously or not, and that O’Reilly would be a liability for the company as long as he stayed on at the network.”

“The most unsettling feeling among some at Fox News, however, is that Wednesday’s events are only the beginning. ‘There’s more to come,’ one Fox News insider told me, suggesting that there are more women with stories of harassment who have not come forward publicly. This estimation was affirmed by two people who heard such stories directly.”

CNN: What will Bill O’Reilly do now?

“A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system,” three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

“They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election.”

“It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.”

Politico: “The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government-shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military, according to White House and congressional sources familiar with the plan. It is a risky gambit. With almost uniform Democratic opposition to nearly all of the Trump administration’s spending proposals, the fight could lead to a government shutdown next Friday — the day government spending expires, and right before the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency. Officials could also strike a one-week compromise, giving them more time for a broader agreement.”

“Congressional Republicans, desperately looking to avoid a shutdown scare, are eyeing a modest increase for border security – perhaps an increase in funding for surveillance technology – and a small uptick in military spending. But two senior White House officials say they want a bigger win out of the fight, and an important deadline might help.”

Politico: 5 reasons the government might shut down.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Those looking for electoral drama in the 2018 cycle should pay attention to the 38 gubernatorial races being held this year and next. In our initial ratings of these contests, more than half of them — 20 of 38 — start in the competitive Toss-up or Leans Republican/Democratic categories. That includes a whopping 10 Toss-ups: five of those are currently controlled by Republicans, four by Democrats, and one by an independent (Bill Walker of Alaska).”

“Contributing to this slew of competitive ratings is the fact that so many of the governorships contested over the next year and a half are open: At least roughly half of them will not feature an incumbent, and an additional three (Alabama, Iowa, and South Carolina) will or are likely to feature an unelected incumbent seeking a first elected term.”

2017-04-20_Governors_Map_600

New York Times: “After a hard-fought campaign to fill a House seat in the Atlanta suburbs fell just short of outright victory on Tuesday, the House seat in Montana vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is up next, and a groundswell of new activism on the left is demanding attention.”

“Democrats have now chalked up a closer-than-expected loss in a House special election in Kansas this month and a near miss in Georgia, leading logically to discussions of how hard to play going forward — not only in the June 20 runoff between their first-time candidate Jon Ossoff and the Republican Karen Handel in Georgia, but also in looming House races in Montana and South Carolina.”

“But grass-roots liberals are not about to let party leaders lapse back into traditional red state, blue state assumptions. Instead, the Democrats’ enthusiastic base is demanding to compete on terrain that once seemed forbidding, a formula for disputes now and in 2018 about where to put the party’s money and field operations.”

Atlanta-Journal Constitution: “More than $14 million worth of ads have already flooded Georgia’s 6th District. And with a June 20 runoff looming, outside groups are readying another volley. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to Paul Ryan, was quick out the gates with a digital spot that depicts Ossoff as a creation of Nancy Pelosi. It’s one of a string of advertisements linking Ossoff to the House Democratic leader, who polls abysmally in the conservative-leaning north Atlanta district.”

A new CBS News poll finds that 61% of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a five-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in this poll.

“Eighty-eight percent favor medical marijuana use. Seventy-one percent oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and its use in states that have legalized it, including opposition from most Republicans, Democrats, and independents.”

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Democrats lead the generic congressional ballot 47% to 41%.

“But what’s more notable is the enthusiasm imbalance. 63% of Democrats say they’re ‘very excited’ about voting in the 2018 election, compared to only 52% of Republicans who express that sentiment. When you look at the 2018 House picture just among the voters most excited about turning out next year, the lead for Democrats grows to 19 points at 57-38. Republican leaning voters are comparatively disengaged, with the GOP holding advantages only among voters who are ‘somewhat excited’ (48-40) and ‘not that excited’ (46-31).”

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