The Open Thread for October 14, 2017

President Trump thinks that undermining the Affordable Care Act — by ending subsidies and opening loopholes to allow unregulated health insurance — will force a few wavering senators to capitulate to his demands to repeal the law.  The problem with Trump’s strategy is that every repeal plan the Republicans have considered would hurt more people than his new attempts to undermine the law, even though his actions will hurt tens of millions of middle class voters.   Every Republican plan would end Medicaid, and that would hurt many more people.  Right now, the Obamacare Medicaid expansion is intact.  Thus, wavering Republicans won’t come to the negotiating table to swallow even more poison.  And Democrats would first demand before any negotiation takes place that Congress pass a permanent legislative codification of the CSR payments and immediate reversals of every bit of Trump sabotage, or else Trump and the Republicans can go fuck themselves.   After the hostage is shot, there is no point to hostage negotiations.  

James Hohmann argues Trump now owns a broken health care system: “The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.

As Barack Obama learned after the Great Recession, with heavy Democratic losses in the 2010 midterms, it’s hard to blame your predecessor for problems two years after you take office. Especially when your party has unified control of the federal government. No matter how much it might be the previous guy’s fault, many voters won’t buy it. People have very short attention spans.”

Greg Sargent: “As the implosion of President Trump continues amid the increasingly bitter intraparty war engulfing the GOP, let’s not lose sight of the very real impact this spectacular meltdown could have: It could end up harming millions and millions of people.”

“This morning, Trump unleashed two tweets that telegraph the massive damage that may yet ensue. The first bashed Democrats for allegedly not wanting to secure our border and claimed this imperils a deal to protect the ‘dreamers.’ The second signaled that Trump is set to broaden his efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.”

“Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported,” NBC News reports.

“An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.”

Vanity Fair: “Working for Trump has been slowly eroding the reputation [Gary Cohn] spent 27 years crafting so meticulously at Goldman. His angst came to a head in August, during the 10 days after a group of white nationalists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, when Trump repeatedly fumbled his response to an incident that left one protester dead. As Kate Kelly and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times reported on August 25, Cohn drafted a letter of resignation, and was prepared to deliver it to Trump.”

“What has not been previously reported is that, according to a source with detailed knowledge of this thinking during that period, Cohn sought to resign twice while speaking directly to Trump during that 10-day period. He also spoke with John Kelly, the new chief of staff, about his desire to resign. But apparently, resigning from Trumpworld is far more difficult than one would expect. Cohn’s continued presence in the West Wing is a testament to a reality that is rapidly becoming crystalline: that Cohn, along with Kelly, Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, and Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, are all that is standing between Trump and utter chaos and incompetence.”

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday, Politico reports.

“Priebus is seen as a key player in understanding the president’s actions because he was present for many meetings, including discussions on firing Comey and White House meetings with Russian officials. He also was privy to White House internal documents.”

It was probably just a coincidence that Trump invited Priebus to lunch last week “in what is one of their few in-person meetings since Priebus was driven out of the administration more than two months ago.”

The Hill is reporting that Insurers are pushing back against Trump’s decision to cut the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies. “This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted,” the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans said in a joint statement. “These benefits help real people every day, and if they are ended, there will be real consequences.”   Meanwhile, New York and California threatened to sue the Trump administration over health care subsidies the White House cut off. “Again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. He added that Trump is using people as “political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost.”

Congressional ethics investigators have concluded there is “substantial reason to believe” Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) “engaged in insider trading and either took or requested official actions” to benefit a company in which he’s the largest shareholder, USA Today reports. “Those may violations of House rules, standards of conduct and federal law.”

“Collins — who was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — is a board member of an Australian biotechnology company called Innate Immunotherapeutics.”

Michael Gerson: “GOP denial about Trump has generally taken Ryan’s form. The president may be eccentric and divisive, but Republicans need to keep their heads down and think of tax reform. This assumes that the main challenge is to avoid distraction from essential tasks.”

“But the real problem has always been Trump’s fundamental unfitness for high office. It is not Trump’s indiscipline and lack of leadership, which make carrying a legislative agenda forward nearly impossible. It is not his vulgarity and smallness, which have been the equivalent of spray-painting graffiti on the Washington Monument. It is not his nearly complete ignorance of policy and history, which condemns him to live in the eternal present of his own immediate desires.”

“No, Corker has given public permission to raise the most serious questions: Is Trump psychologically and morally equipped to be president? And could his unfitness cause permanent damage to the country?”

Seth Stevenson: “I can’t know Seth Moulton’s heart. But there’s no doubt that grand ambition stirs within. It seems unlikely he’d attempt to run against Donald Trump next cycle—too soon, too young—and yet he’s snuck onto all the media short lists anyway. Politico ran a profile of him over the summer asking in the headline if he could be president. The Washington Post has not one but two reporters here in Iowa, clocking his performance.”

“It’s why I’m here, too, to see whether Moulton is a Democratic savior: an honest-to-gosh military hero whose wholesome image, and optimistic palaver about bipartisan solutions, might appeal to the broad middle of the country. No doubt that’s what Moulton’s betting. But as I watch him awkwardly work this heartland crowd, I can’t help but wonder if he’s a candidate custom-built for a different era: a Harvard-bred white guy who thinks he deserves to be in charge, at a moment when neither party’s in the market for one of those.”

Susan Glasser: “It’s tough to be a Republican in Washington these days. You’d think that winning the White House and both houses of Congress in an unexpected upset would have been good for the Party’s morale. But it has not turned out that way. In between beating up on Hillary Clinton and Mexicans and the ‘enemies of the people’ in the press corps, the President has taken on members of his own party with particular relish.”

“Back in January, the conventional wisdom had been that Trump, a Washington novice with a clear disregard for the details, would leave the governing to Congress, making Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell perhaps the capital’s most important player. Now, Trump and McConnell are barely on speaking terms, and tensions within the Party are proliferating.”

Josh Marshall says Trump has no plan on Iran: “In addition to all the things the President says his new policy will accomplish he made this pledge. “We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.  But of course there was no explanation of how that would happen. It’s possible that the deal might stay in place even if the US pulled because the benefits to Iran and Europe are good enough to keep it going. But assuming the deal gets totally scuttled there are really only three ways to “deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.” 1) You can impose sanctions and other forms of pressure to a great enough extent that the Iranians relent. (That’s kind of what Obama did – crippling sanctions plus covert, often cyber, sabotage.) 2) You sign a new agreement. Or 3) you can go to war and physically coerce them into stopping.

One seems highly unlikely since the European powers, China and Russia don’t want to do that. Without them, really ruinous sanctions aren’t possible. Two seems unlikely mainly because the Trump administration shows really no inclination even to want a deal. Three fits the Trump mentality but it’s fraught with incalculable danger. There’s a reason why it never happened under President Bush and even Israel was held back largely by its own generals.”

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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for October 14, 2017

  1. “GOP denial about Trump has generally taken Ryan’s form. The president may be eccentric and divisive, but Republicans need to keep their heads down and think of tax reform.”

    Substitute Hollywood for GOP and Weinstein for Trump and it becomes clear that it’s power that corrupts, and some are more rotten to begin with.

    Speaking of which, whatever happened to the Fox-inspired meme that the left was ignoring the Weinstein story because he was a Democratic donor? This is why they just make shit up: There’s no penalty for it. Once it’s clear it’s a pile of shit, they just move on and pretend the dog did it.

    • Agreed, the Republicans never seem to pay a price for their lies, schemes and assorted insanity. Their base remains willing dupes for the charade.

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