The Open Thread for October 13, 2017

President Trump “plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine the health care law,” Politico reports.  “The subsidies, which are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installments, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t appropriated funding for the program.”

Sam Baker: “If Congress doesn’t step up and guarantee this funding, expect insurance companies to raise their premiums dramatically; leave at least some of the ACA’s marketplaces altogether; and potentially sue the administration for withholding payments the law says they’re supposed to receive.”

Earlier Thursday, the President signed an executive order that broadly tasks the administration with developing policies to increase health care competition and choice in order to improve the quality of health care and lower prices. However, it could also destabilize Obamacare by siphoning off younger and healthier Americans from the exchanges.

So now, when insurance premiums spike 20 to 50% next week, and policies are cancelled, and people are denied coverage, you can only blame one person: Donald Trump.

Jack Shafer: “Trump loves watching the press and its allies scramble their jets in defense of the First Amendment when he makes threats because that puts his names in lights. As long as we continue to over-react to his tweets, as long as we keep reading too much into them, he’ll keep doing it. So am I advocating that we ignore Trump’s tweets? Never. Instead, I suggest that we discount their value in the political marketplace down to the junk level, perhaps placing them in the bundle that includes campaign speeches, advertisements and slogans.”

“Watch more of what Trump does and a little less of what he tweets. And go ahead and sleep in.”

Amy Walter: “By now we are all familiar with the GOP formula in competitive House races. Take the Democratic candidate. Put his or her picture next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a TV ad. Warn voters that the Democratic candidate shares Pelosi’s ‘San Francisco values’ and will be a foot solider in Pelosi’s liberal army if he or she gets to Washington. Rinse. Repeat.”

“What we didn’t expect earlier this year, however, was that Democrats would make Republican leaders in Congress their own political boogeymen—their own Pelosi if you will. Past Democratic attempts to turn Speaker Paul Ryan into a political pariah by attacking the ‘Ryan budget’ fell flat. This year, however, Democrats have a new ally in their battle to turn the GOP leadership into a political liability for GOP candidates: President Donald J. Trump. The more Trump fights with his own party, the more unpopular these members become.”

President Trump “suggested that a soaring stock market might be ‘in a sense’ reducing the national debt, a statement that is not true, in any sense,” the New York Times reports.  In no sense are the two connected in any way, and this statement reveals that Trump knows nothing about the stock market, the debt, economics, financial systems or even how money is exchanged between two human beings.

“The country — we took it over and owed over $20 trillion,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “As you know, the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market. Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value.”

“So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values,” he continued. “And maybe in a sense we’re reducing debt. But we’re very honored by it. And we’re very, very happy.”

While it’s true that the federal debt increased under President Barack Obama, and it’s true that the stock market has continued to see steady gains since Trump took office, there’s no clear correlation between the two. Gains in the stock market are not automatically transferred to the federal government.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told Axios that Facebook owes the American people an apology for their role in enabling Russian interference during the election.  Said Sandberg: “It’s not just that we apologize… we’re angry, we’re upset.”

Washington Post: “He was incensed by the arguments of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and others that the landmark 2015 deal, while flawed, offered stability and other benefits. He did not want to certify to Congress that the agreement remained in the vital U.S. national security interest and that Iran was meeting its obligations. He did not think either was true.”

Said one adviser: “He threw a fit. He was furious. Really furious. It’s clear he felt jammed.”

“So White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other senior advisers came up with a plan — one aimed at accommodating Trump’s loathing of the Iran deal as ‘an embarrassment’ without killing it outright.”

First Read: “Let that sink in: The president is taking a course of action on an international agreement because it didn’t align with his personal opinion. And his advisers — who disagreed — tried to come up with a solution that didn’t kill the deal. At least not immediately.”

President Trump “served notice that he may pull back federal workers from Puerto Rico, effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory amid a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” the Washington Post reports.

“More than three weeks after Maria, more than 80 percent of the island is still without power. Just 63 percent of the island’s residents have access to clean drinking water, and only 60 percent of wastewater treatment plants are operating, according to FEMA.”

Martin Longman: “We’re reaching a new point in the life of this administration where the destruction is going to be more noticeable and easier to put on a straightforward cause/effect chart.  We can begin with the executive order he issued today which will weaken the Affordable Care Act by making its exchanges sicker and more expensive. Unlike the president’s prior move on the Paris climate agreement and his coming one on the Iran nuclear deal, the health care executive order is worse than a way for the president to save face without doing much immediate harm. It has the potential to be “a devastating blow.”

Something similar is happening with the NAFTA trade agreement. You may agree with Trump that NAFTA was the worst trade agreement ever crafted, but that doesn’t mean that we can simply withdraw from it without creating massive chaos. Based on the administration’s negotiating posture, the aim seems to be to blame Canada and Mexico for not making unreasonable concessions. That will be followed by withdrawal from the treaty in the messiest and must disruptive way imaginable.  As previously mentioned, the current strategy on Iran’s nuclear program is designed to give Trump a way to save face without actually blowing up the agreement. It remains to be seen, however, if that strategy will hold.

It looks like Trump is preparing to leave Puerto Rico twisting in the wind, as he’s now threatening to pull back from relief efforts prematurely and blame the island’s preexisting fiscal problems. There will be nothing theoretical about the resulting death and suffering.

And, of course, the biggest thing hanging out there is North Korea. There’s a reason that there are stories emerging about Trump’s national security team’s plans to tackle him if he tries to initiate the nuclear launch codes. There’s a reason that, today, the New York Times editorial board is advocating “legislation that would bar the president from launching a first nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress” and claiming implausibly that this “wouldn’t take away the president’s ability to defend the country.”

Nothing does more lasting harm than nuclear fallout. And people in a position to know are sending the strongest signals that we ought to panic.”

“Words spoken by the President of the United States matter. Are you tonight recanting of the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect and defend the First Amendment?”

— Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), on Twitter, after President Trump suggested that news outlets broadcasting licenses should be “challenged.”

He has dementia.

James Hohmann: “Much will be written about how Trump’s diatribe highlights his lack of respect for the Constitution and the institutions that make America great, including but not limited to the fourth estate, but the comments also add fresh data points to the cementing narrative that the brooding president has become increasingly isolated and angry. Feeling under siege, whether from special counsel Robert Mueller or Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), the president has adopted a bunker mentality that prompts him to lash out at any perceived enemy.”

“Like Elvis shot up his TV, Trump is shooting the messenger because he doesn’t like stories that reflect poorly on his leadership abilities. The conservative base distrusts the mainstream media, so it’s always been politically useful for the president to use the press as a foil. But it’s created a vicious cycle. The more that gets revealed about Trump’s struggles and White House dysfunction, the angrier and more distracted he becomes.”

President Trump’s lawyers “are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller, according to a senior White House official, as part of a wider posture of cooperation with the special counsel’s Russia probe,” the Politico reports.

“If Mueller doesn’t request an interview by Thanksgiving, Trump’s lawyers may even force the issue by volunteering Trump’s time, the official said. The White House believes such an interview could help Mueller wrap up the probe faster and dispel the cloud of suspicion over Trump.”

“As a top executive at AccuWeather, Barry Myers has pushed for limits on the kinds of products that the National Weather Service offers to the public, saying they offered unfair competition to his industry,” Politicoreports.

“Now, President Donald Trump’s nomination of Myers to lead the weather service’s parent agency could allow him to make those kinds of restrictions mandatory — to the benefit of his family-run forecasting company.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

6 comments on “The Open Thread for October 13, 2017

  1. “So now, when insurance premiums spike 20 to 50% next week, and policies are cancelled, and people are denied coverage, you can only blame one person: Donald Trump.”

    35% of America will still find a way to blame Obama

    • Sad truth, then again they’ll be blaming everything on Obama for another ten years. Simple minds do not change over night.

    • Did you blame Obama when ACA premiums hiked before Trump was POTUS ???

      • No, but I blame you for making me waste five seconds reading what is essentially the same shite you put in every comment you leave… We get it… You hate Obama… His is the Anti-Christ, or as your sign would say, the “Ant Christ”… I’m sure when Trump defunds the subsidy payments that then results in 20-25% hikes for 2018, you’ll still be on here asking if we blamed Obama for when the premiums increased before the Racist Pig took office on 1/20/2017…

      • In fact, I “blamed” the law, not the man, because the man was only one of many people who crafted the law. Given the law, the premium hike was inevitable, as more people were being covered. Bringing down the inflation rate of health care is not the same thing as bringing down the price of health insurance; one of the reasons the inflation curve bent downward was that insurers have an incentive to keep it down that other players in the system don’t have.

        In this case, the man is to blame because the man is by himself unmaking a law.

        Do you disagree?

  2. Will be interesting to watch what happens when the payments to the ACA stop, suspect it will be another case of unintended consequences when rates head skyward as predicted. As for the stock market it’s a racket, a racket that depends on confidence that the scam won’t fail before the players can get their money out of it. Believe it’s one incident away from a crash, always predicated by an atmosphere of “You can’t lose!”. Oh yeah you can and so can we. As for Trump it seems the Republicans are taking a stand back and watch it crash and burn, internal efforts to control him within the White House or not. And then there’s the nuclear codes…….

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