Archive | March, 2017

Nobody Knew Governing Could Be So Complicated

By McKay Coppins

The Republican Party’s marquee legislative initiative had just imploded in spectacular, and humiliating, fashion Friday afternoon when Paul Ryan stepped up to a podium on Capitol Hill. The beleaguered house speaker wasted no time in diagnosing the failure of his caucus. “Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with some growing pains,” he said. “And, well, we’re feeling those growing pains today.”

Ryan wasn’t wrong. The GOP’s inability to maneuver a health-care bill through the House this week—after seven years of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare—is, indeed, emblematic of a deeper dysfunction that grips his party. But that dysfunction may not be as easy to cure as Ryan and other GOP leaders believe.

That’s because it has been nearly a decade since Washington Republicans were in the business of actual governance. Whether you view their actions as a dystopian descent into cynical obstructionism or a heroic crusade against a left-wing menace, the GOP spent the Obama years defining itself—deliberately, and thoroughly—in opposition to the last president. Rather than engage the Obama White House in a more traditional legislative process—trading favors, making deals, seeking out areas where their interests align—conservatives in Congress opted to boycott the bargaining table altogether. Meanwhile, they busied themselves with a high-minded (and largely theoretical) intra-party debate about what 21st-century conservatism should stand for. They spent their time dealing in abstract ideas, articulating lofty principles, reciting memorized quotes from the Founding Fathers.

In many ways, the strategy paid off: Republicans took back Congress, slowed the progress of an agenda they genuinely opposed, and ultimately seized control of the White House. But it also came at a cost for the GOP—their lawmakers forgot how to make laws.

Indeed, without any real expectation of their bills actually being enacted, the legislative process mutated into a platform for point-scoring, attention-getting, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



It’s Never Trump’s Fault

By David A. Graham

Speaking in the Oval Office Friday afternoon, President Trump surveyed the wreckage of the Obamacare repeal effort and issued a crisp, definitive verdict: I didn’t do it.

The president said he didn’t blame Speaker Paul Ryan, though he had plenty of implied criticism for the speaker. “I like Speaker Ryan. He worked very hard,” Trump said, but he added: “I’m not going to speak badly about anybody within the Republican Party. Certainly there’s a big history. I really think Paul worked hard.” He added ruefully that the GOP could have taken up tax-reform first, instead of Obamacare—the reverse of Ryan’s desired sequence. “Now we’re going to go for tax reform, which I’ve always liked,” he said.

As for the House Freedom Caucus, the bloc of conservatives from which many of the apparent “no” votes on the Republican plan were to come, Trump said, “I’m not betrayed. They’re friends of mine. I’m disappointed because we could’ve had it. So I’m disappointed. I’m a little surprised, I could tell you.”

The greatest blame for the bill’s failure fell on Democrats, Trump said.

“This really would’ve worked out better if we could’ve had Democrat support. Remember we had no Democrat support,” Trump said. Later, he added, “But when you get no votes from the other side, meaning the Democrats, it’s really a difficult situation.”

He said Democrats should come up with their own bill. “I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare,” he said, referring to the House and Senate Democratic leaders. “They 100 percent own it.”

Trump was very clear about who was not to blame: himself. “I worked as a team player,” the president …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Killed Bill

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the GOP’s new health-care bill, after meeting with President Trump to tell him that Republicans didn’t have the votes to pass it. During a news conference, Ryan said it is a “disappointing day” and that Republicans will now “move on with the rest of our agenda.” In an interview with The New York Times, Trump reportedly blamed Democrats for the bill’s failure, predicting they would want to make a deal after “Obamacare explodes.” Earlier in the day, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes walked back his claim that communications from Trump and his transition team were collected incidentally by U.S. intelligence. TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline project, said the Trump administration granted them permission to begin construction, reversing an Obama administration directive.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Michael Anton’s Influence: Under a pseudonym, Anton wrote a now-infamous essay last year on what he called the “Flight 93 election,” in which he made the case for Donald Trump. Rosie Gray traces his rise from “relative obscurity” to running communications for the new administration’s National Security Council.

  • The Art of the (Political) Deal: If Trump lost in a business deal when he was operating in the private sector, he could recover from it. He’d lose money, writes David A. Graham, but “his reputation as a business mogul [would remain] unscathed outside of actual business circles.” The president may have a different experience now that Congress failed to pass its health-care bill.

  • Scared Away: The Trump administration’s harsh stance on immigration has sparked a “climate of fear” among immigrant communities throughout the country, Annie Lowrey writes. Now, a number of social-service organizations have reported a decline in program enrollment among legally eligible families.

Follow stories throughout the …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Killed Bill” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Who Will Republican Voters Blame for the Failure of the GOP Health-Care Bill?

By Clare Foran

After House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly told President Trump that Republicans lacked enough votes to pass the GOP health care bill, Republicans canceled a vote on the American Health Care Act on Friday, putting the president’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare in jeopardy.

It’s the first major setback to the president’s agenda in Congress, but Republican voters are likely to hold Republican congressional leaders, rather than the president, responsible.

Ahead of the vote, Trump said Ryan should keep his job as House speaker even if the vote was unsuccessful. The president also told Robert Costa of The Washington Post that he doesn’t “blame Paul,” in the immediate aftermath of the news that the vote had been canceled. But the White House has reportedly been gearing up to point the finger at Ryan if anything went wrong. “Behind the scenes, the president’s aides are planning to blame Ryan if there is an embarrassing defeat on a bill that has been a Republican goal for more than seven years,” Bloomberg reported earlier in the day, citing an unnamed administration official.

And if Trump and Ryan clash as a result of the outcome, Republican voters may side with the president. In February, the Pew Research Center found that a majority of Republican voters were more likely to trust Trump than Republican congressional leaders in the event of a dispute. The survey also reported that Republican voters had a far more favorable view of Trump than they did of Ryan or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. An overwhelming majority of Republican voters—at 86 percent—had a favorable view of Trump, compared to just 65 percent who held a favorable view of Ryan and just 57 percent who felt warmly toward McConnell. That suggests that Republican congressional leaders could face …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Republican Waterloo

By David Frum

Seven years and three days ago, the House of Representatives grumblingly voted to approve the Senate’s version of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in the House were displeased by many of the changes introduced by Senate Democrats. But in the interval after Senate passage, the Republicans had gained a 41st seat in the Senate. Any further tinkering with the law could trigger a Republican filibuster. Rather than lose the whole thing, the House swallowed hard and accepted a bill that liberals regarded as a giveaway to insurance companies and other interest groups. The finished law proceeded to President Obama for signature on March 23, 2010.

A few minutes after the House vote, I wrote a short blog post for the website I edited in those days. The site had been founded early in 2009 to argue for a more modern and more moderate form of Republicanism. The timing could not have been worse. At precisely the moment we were urging the GOP to march in one direction, the great mass of conservatives and Republicans had turned on the double in the other, toward an ever more wild and even paranoid extremism. Those were the days of Glenn Beck’s 5 o’clock Fox News conspiracy rants, of Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” of Orly Taitz and her fellow Birthers, of Tea Party rallies at which men openly brandished assault rifles.

The conservative establishment in Washington caught the same fever that then raged among conservatives across the country. At that time, I worked at the American Enterprise Institute, the most high-toned of Washington’s conservative think tanks. In later years, AEI would provide a home for the emerging “reform conservative” tendency. Its president, Arthur Brooks, would speak eloquently of the need for conservatives to show concern for the poor and the hard-pressed working class. But all …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



‘Trump Hasn’t Been the Wrecking Ball I Anticipated’

By Chris Bodenner

In the wake of the shocking results of November’s election, readers in Notes had a robust discussion titled, “Will Trump Voters and Clinton Voters Ever Relate?” One of the most revealing and contentious entries came from a Trump supporter who “voted for the middle finger, the wrecking ball.” He began by countering some common stereotypes about Trump voters:

I have a Masters degree. My kids go to public school with kids of all races, colors, and creeds. Our neighborhood has immigrant families, mixed-race families, minorities, and same-sex couples. Our sports teams are multi-cultural, diverse, and play beautifully together, on and off the field. I have neither the time, energy, or room in my heart for hatred, bigotry, or racism.

His was a protest vote:

I am tired of the machine rolling over us—all of us. The Clinton machine, the Republican machine, the big media, investment banking, hedge fund carrying interest, corporatist, lobbying, influence peddling, getting elected and immediately begin fundraising for the next election machine—they can all kiss my ass.

Maybe Trump won’t do a thing to change or fix any of it. Hillary definitely would not have changed any of it.

Many readers disagreed here. Another one, Susan, emailed this week asking, “Could we have an update from the guy who ‘voted for the middle finger, the wrecking ball’? I’d be very interested to know what he thinks of the first two months of President Trump.”

I actually wondered the same thing in early February, when I emailed the wrecking ball reader to see if his views on Trump has shifted during the presidential transition and his first few weeks in office. Here’s the reader’s verdict on February 9 (followed by a reply to Susan’s request):

It’s too early to tell, really—kind of like calling the Falcons to win after their first …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Steven Mnuchin Wants You to See The LEGO Batman Movie

By Jeremy Venook

Before his confirmation, the most controversial part of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s past was his role running a bank that critics dubbed a “foreclosure machine” at the height of the financial crisis. But it’s his role as the executive producer on The LEGO Batman Movie that is landing him in his first dustup.

At an event held by the online news outlet Axios, Mnuchin was asked about the many movies on which he has served as a producer. Mnuchin at first hedged: “Well, I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure that you’ve asked me the question and I am not promoting any product,” he said, seemingly referring to a federal rule that “An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, [or] for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”

“But you should send all your kids to LEGO Batman,” he continued.

Critics immediately cried foul. Mnuchin, they said, was violating the very rule that he had just apparently acknowledged. “In my view, the Secretary is using his public office for private gain in violation of” the rule, Norm Eisen, who served as an ethics lawyer for the Obama administration, said via email. “There can be little doubt that [Mnuchin] was invited to speak because of his position, and about issues related to it.” At the time of this writing, the White House has not yet responded to a request for comment on Mnuchin’s interview.

Eisen sees Mnuchin’s statement as part of a series of similar ethical lapses on the part of the Trump administration. “He is promoting a product, just as Conway promoted Ivanka’s brand and was found to have violated the rules,” Eisen continued, invoking the controversial incident in …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="Steven Mnuchin Wants You to See The LEGO Batman Movie” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



The Republican Health-Care Bill Is On the Verge of Failure

By Russell Berman

To a man and woman, nearly every one of the 237 Republicans elected to the House last November made the same promise to the voters: Give us control of Congress and the White House, and we will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday, those lawmakers braced for the increasing likelihood that the Republican Party’s core campaign pledge of the last seven years would go unfulfilled. Legislation replacing the Obama-era health law stood on the verge of failure, and Speaker Paul Ryan went to the White House to inform President Trump that Republicans could not assemble the votes it needed to pass.

By early afternoon, the only question was whether the House would vote on the American Health Care Act at all, or whether Ryan would defy Trump’s request that Republicans bring up a bill that seemed headed for defeat. Party leaders in Congress appeared to want to spare their members from having to cast a vote in favor of a unpopular bill that would not become law. The president, however, would not back off his demand that lawmakers take a stand in public.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the vote was still on, although he had ditched his confident guarantees of recent days that it would pass. “At the end of the day, you can’t force somebody to do something,” he said. “We are where we are, and members have got to make that decision for themselves. This is the final hour to make that decision.”

While Spicer said the legislation was picking up support, previously undecided Republicans were peeling away throughout the day on Friday. In an enormous loss for the GOP leadership, the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, announced he would oppose the bill. In previous …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Why Trump Thinks He Can Bounce Back From a Health-Care Rout

By David A. Graham

In 1985, Donald Trump bought Hudson Yards, a huge real-estate parcel on the West Side of Manhattan. (Actually, it was his second try at the property, which he’d failed to develop in the 1970s.) Trump paid $115 million to buy the parcel, with huge plans to create a sparkling center on one of the few remaining undeveloped parts of the island.

It didn’t work. Trump quarreled with Mayor Ed Koch, failed to start the work, and steadily lost tens of millions of dollars. In 1989, he declined an offer to sell the land for a more than $400 million profit. Five years later, he finally threw in the towel, selling it for just $82 million—and on condition that the buyer take on a quarter of a billion in debt. But Trump was right about the commercial potential of Hudson Yards. The developers who bought the land from him sold it for $1.8 billion in 2005, the largest residential real-estate deal in New York history. A sparkling new neighborhood is finally rising on the site.

The point of this story is not that Trump blew the deal of a lifetime, though he did. The point is that from Trump’s perspective, who cares? Yes, he could have been richer; but he’s still extremely rich, his reputation as a business mogul remained unscathed outside of actual business circles; and, as he put it to Time this week, “I’m president, and you’re not.” Trump’s bounce back from the Hudson Yards fiasco seems to be a useful key for understanding Trump’s approach to negotiations over repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The president’s approach has even experienced Trump watchers nursing a case of whiplash. …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Where’s the Best Place to Live Under the American Health Care Act?

By Vann R. Newkirk II

If you live in Cleveland County, North Carolina, make less than $40,000, and buy your own health insurance, it might be a good time to start saving.

According to a new interactive from the Kaiser Family Foundation, under the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the average monthly premium for 40-year-olds making $30,000 in your county will double from $2,480 per year to $5,060 per year by 2020. The change is less dramatic if you happen to be younger, but if you’re closing in on 60 years old, expect an annual increase of about $16,000 dollars total in what you pay for health care.

Instead of raiding your retirement fund, though, you might be able to make out pretty well by just packing up, hopping in the car, and moving a couple miles south to Spartanburg County, South Carolina. There, premiums for 40-year-olds making around $30,000 are expected to diminish from $4,080 to $2,190 under the American Health Care Act. Your premiums will still skyrocket as you approach old age, but not as much as they would have in Cleveland County. If the capriciousness of the health law to which your hypothetical life is now subject hasn’t quite hit you, it might by the time you pay somewhere between a third and half of your overall pre-tax income on health insurance on your 64th birthday—and then almost nothing the next year as you turn 65 and finally reach Medicare.

Hypotheticals can be of limited use in the constantly shifting and often counterintuitive landscape of health policy. But models like Kaiser’s highlight just how dramatically different health-care costs for people could be from one county to the next and one year to the next under the AHCA. The new House bill—which has been derided by the right as a somewhat more …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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