Archive | June, 2017

GOP Senator Dean Heller Won’t Support Senate Healthcare Bill

By Clare Foran

The recently unveiled Senate healthcare bill is running into the kind of opposition that could imperil its passage—and that opposition is coming from Republican senators.

Dean Heller of Nevada, one of the most politically vulnerable Republican senators facing re-election in 2018, announced on Friday that he will not support the Senate GOP healthcare bill in its current form.

“This bill would mean a loss of coverage for millions of Americans, and many Nevadans. I’m telling you right now, I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” Heller said on Friday during a press conference.  

Heller is the fifth Republican senator to voice opposition, following a joint statement from conservative Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee on Thursday. The statement said that the bill did not “accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes and still pass the legislation, although some have questioned how firm the opposition of the Republican dissenters actually is. Heller hedged on Friday, and said that he could not support the bill “in this form” leaving open the possibility that alterations to the bill would earn his backing before the expected vote next week.

The same holds true for the bill’s more conservative critics—who said explicitly that they were “open to negotiation.” But it’s unclear what kind of changes GOP leadership might be willing to support, and whether those changes would jeopardize support for the bill from other lawmakers.

While the the four conservative senators who have announced opposition appear to be disappointed that the legislation does not go …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Heller High Water

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

Dean Heller became the fifth Republican senator to oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health-care bill. President Trump signed a bill that will make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees, as part of an effort to overhaul the agency. A Cincinnati judge declared a mistrial in the retrial of former Officer Raymond M. Tensing, who fatally shot Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black motorist, in 2015. The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee asked Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to review allegations of abuse at prisons in Yemen, “including U.S. support to the Emirati and Yemeni partner forces that were purportedly involved.” Senator Steve Scalise, who was shot earlier this month in an attack at a congressional baseball practice, has been transferred out of the intensive care unit and is in fair condition.

Today on The Atlantic

  • What Now?: Trump aides say President Trump is focused on the job, even as evidence mounts to show that Russia interfered in the presidential election to help elect him. David Frum argues that business cannot—and should not—happen as usual.

  • ‘The National Brand Is Toxic’: Despite efforts to rebuild, the Democratic Party has so far been defeated in four special elections this year. Why? (Clare Foran)

  • A Warning for Trump: A Watergate prosecutor weighs in on the parallels between the scandal surrounding Richard Nixon and the controversy over the White House’s alleged ties to Russia. (Richard Ben-Veniste)

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy portal.


President Trump reads the “VA Accountability Act” after signing it into law as attendees leave the East Room of the White House in Washington. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

What We’re Reading

‘The Crime of the Century’: In August 2016, the CIA showed then-President Barack Obama intelligence …read more

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



The Risk of Rushing Through Legislation

By Matt Ford

After weeks of secret drafting and backroom negotiations, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled Senate Republicans’ health-care bill on Thursday to a cold reception. If it becomes law, the 142-page bill will overhaul one-sixth of the U.S. economy and change how many Americans make life-and-death decisions. Senators will have little time to digest its full impact: McConnell says he wants a vote on the bill next week.

An unusual legislative blunder by his fellow Republicans in the New Hampshire state legislature earlier this month might serve as a cautionary tale for such excessive haste—especially when crafting and voting on one of the most far-reaching pieces of domestic legislation in a generation.

New Hampshire Republicans rushed last week to urge Governor John Sununu to sign a fetal-homicide bill called Senate Bill 66. Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives had hastily revived and passed the bill at the beginning of June before sending it to Sununu’s desk. (The state Senate approved it in February.) Like similar legislation in two dozen other states, the bill would amend the state’s definition of manslaughter and murder to include “viable” fetuses. The expanded definition would allow prosecutors to bring harsher charges against defendants who injure or attack pregnant women and cause them to miscarry.

To avoid clashing with Supreme Court rulings on abortion rights, the bill included an exception for pregnant women and medical professionals. But the phrasing of the legislation had unintended consequences. Under its original wording, pregnant women and medical professionals would be entirely exempt from the state’s homicide statutes, effectively giving them legal cover to commit murder with impunity.

“The bill as drafted allows for physician-assisted suicide and allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences,” State Representative J.R. Hoell told the Concord Monitor, adding that such an outcome was …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Q of the Week: Should Congress Take Their Summer Recess?

By Elaine Godfrey

Since early June, Representative Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has been calling for Congress to cancel its summer recess in order to pass a few key items on the GOP agenda, like health care and tax reform. But lawmakers are reluctant to give up their summer breaks, partly because the recess gives them time to meet with their constituents back in their home states.

This week we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers whether they think lawmakers should go on recess or stick around to focus on work. The responses were mixed. Stan Hastey breaks it down like this:

This is a hard one; I’m truly ambivalent, as was my fellow Oklahoman, [actor and newspaper columnist] Will Rogers. Once he said: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” So as to keep on humoring us, then, maybe Congress should stick around for the summer.

On another occasion, though, Rogers said: “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.” Perhaps they should go home, the sooner the better.

And as Jenette Settle writes:

If there were ever a time when Congress needed a recess to return home, it’s now. The country and party is so divided over healthcare, tax cuts, congressional salaries, immigration … Now more than ever our elected officials need to hear from their constituents.

In particular, Ginger Jefferson is worried about getting a chance to speak her mind about the health-care proposal Senate Republicans revealed on Thursday:

If they were wise, thoughtful, patriotic representatives of all the people of this country they would go on recess and allow the public to weigh in on their “Repugnant Care” bill. Give the public the opportunity to actually read …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



What Happens When a Presidency Loses Its Legitimacy?

By David Frum

Day by day, revelation after revelation, the legitimacy of the Trump presidency is seeping away. The question of what to do about this loss is becoming ever more urgent and frightening.

The already thick cloud of discredit over the Trump presidency thickened deeper Friday, June 23. The Washington Post reported that the CIA told President Obama last year that Vladimir Putin had personally and specifically instructed his intelligence agencies to intervene in the U.S. presidential election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

Whether the Trump campaign knowingly coordinated its activities with the Russians remains uncertain. The Trump campaign may have been a wholly passive and unwitting beneficiary. Yes, it’s curious that the Russians allegedly directed their resources to the Rust Belt states also targeted by the Trump campaign. But it’s conceivable they were all just reading the same polls on FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics.

Trump himself passionately denounces the whole thing as a monstrous hoax, a “made-up story.” He has not yet lost all his true believers. But those believers do not include very many of the leading Republicans in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees it happened. So does House Speaker Paul Ryan. The House number two, Kevin McCarthy, has even joked that Russia pays Trump.

It’s not seriously disputed by anyone in a position of authority in the U.S. government—apart from the president himself—that Donald Trump holds his high office in considerable part because a foreign spy agency helped place him there. So now what?

Trump’s advisers urge the country to shrug the matter off, to focus on jobs and healthcare and let this compromised president continue to receive the most secret intelligence and control the nation’s armed forces. Another story in The Washington Post quoted this response to the latest shocking revelations from Trump adviser Kellyanne …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Why Do Democrats Keep Losing in 2017?

By Clare Foran

Kansas. Montana. Georgia. South Carolina. A string of special election defeats in each state, and with each one, a missed opportunity to take over a Republican House seat, has left Democrats facing the question: Why does the party keep losing elections, and when will that change?

The most obvious reason that Democrats fell short is that the special elections have taken place in conservative strongholds. In each case, Democratic candidates were vying to replace Republicans tapped by the president to serve in his administration, and in districts that Trump won. Despite the unfavorable terrain, Democrats improved on Hillary Clinton’s margin in every district except in Georgia. But if the party wants to take control of the House in 2018, it needs more than just a strong showing in Republican districts. It needs to win.

“It is a bit surprising that Democrats haven’t managed a single victory yet, and haven’t had more success in turning their anger against the Trump administration into something tangible,” said Barry Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The party can weather that for a while, but at some point it could become demoralizing.”

The special elections are a test case of the policy agendas, messages, and strategy Democrats are putting forward in the hope of winning Republican districts. The fact that candidates fared better than Clinton in races that aren’t as high-stakes as a presidential election signals that Democratic voters are energized after losing the White House. Despite efforts to rebuild, however, the Democratic Party’s national brand remains damaged, and it is still unclear whether the party will coalesce around a core message in the Trump era.

In Montana and Georgia, Republicans worked to make the special elections a referendum on the national Democratic Party by <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How the Senate’s Healthcare Bill Would Cause Financial Ruin for People With Pre-Existing Conditions

By Gene B. Sperling

If there was one goal Senate Republicans had set out to achieve in developing their health bill to show they were less “mean” than their colleagues in the House, it was to take away the House Republicans’ green light for insurers to once again discriminate against those with pre-existing health conditions. Senate Republicans were willing to drive up deductibles and co-pays and be more draconian on Medicaid cuts, but on the one issue of pre-existing conditions they were intent on being less “mean,” as President Trump termed the House bill. Now that the text of the bill has been released, it’s clear that they have failed to achieve that.

As they argue for the bill, Republicans are going to claim that it will not allow insurance plans to discriminate against people because they have a pre-existing condition. But that just isn’t the case. The Republican plan may not allow insurers to discriminate against a pre-existing condition through the front door, but they’ve created a backdoor way in.  

So what is this backdoor for discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions and how does it work?

Answering that question requires understanding the importance of a key protection in the Affordable Care Act, what is known as the “Essential Health Benefits” requirement. These Essential Health Benefits rules require insurance companies to cover critical care, such as treatment by doctors, hospital stays, and prescription-drug costs. The guarantee of Essential Health Benefits means that no insurer can provide any health plan that excludes these critical benefits. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if these benefits are not covered, a plan is all but worthless to those with serious pre-existing conditions.

The Affordable Care Act does allow, through Section 1332, for states to have some flexibility to waive these and other requirements, but only if they meet very rigorous …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Sacrifice Zones Part 2: Petrochemical Development Threatens the Pacific Northwest

Also see: Sacrifice Zones: Fossil Fuels Lay Waste to Iconic Landscapes

Since 2003 a rash of proposals have surfaced in communities throughout the Northwest to export vast amounts of fossil fuels to Asian markets via Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. If these plans go through the Northwest would become home to the largest oil terminal in North America, the largest coal export facility in North America, and the largest methanol refinery in the world.

This week we present Part Two of Sacrifice Zones by Barbara Bernstein. It’s the final installment in a two-part series on the pressure to transform a region of iconic landscapes and environmental stewardship into a global center for shipping fossil fuels. Bernstein investigates how proposals for petrochemical development in the Pacific Northwest threatens the region’s core cultural, social, and environmental values.

Special thanks to Dan Serres, Eric de Place, Carol Newman, Peter Seigel, Steve Early, KMUN Coast Community Radio, Melissa Marsland, Jerry Mayer, Jan Zuckerman and Bill Bigelow.

Like this program? Please show us the love. Click here and support our non-profit journalism. Thanks!



The Secret Republican Health Care Plan: Cutting Taxes and Destroying Medicaid

I have been wondering what I should say about the Republican health care legislation in the Senate. We do know that there is a policy split among Senators about how much and how fast to cut Medicaid. We know the bill will cut taxes. But beyond that there is more information on one of my whiteboards than what is posted in public.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving this legislation in secret. And there’s a reason. As The Washington Post puts it: “” So McConnell’s theory is that if the Senate’s bill were seen, debated and discussed, opposition would grow and grow, and eventually at least three of his members would bail out (the Republicans’ 52-48 majority means they can only lose two votes). Which might well be true.”

So true in fact that I am not sure which is a worse outcome for Republicans: Failing to pass a bill (ticking off their conservative base) or passing this legislation that by all independent measures will make the US health care system worse.

It’s easy to imagine the coming 2018 election commercials: Millions lose health insurance; health care-related bankruptcies on the rise; and all done in secret so that wealthy campaign donors pay less in taxes.

Indian Country, of course, is largely missing from this debate. There is an assumption that the bill doesn’t impact the Indian Health Service. But Medicaid is growing and it could be, no, ought to be, a significant funding stream for IHS. Even the Trump administration’s budget recognizes that’s budget recognizes that. It projects $914 million in third-party billing for IHS in fiscal year 2018, a slight increase. That’s mostly Medicaid. But the numbers don’t reflect what will happen if that Medicaid money is taken away because the IHS appropriations (which is essentially …read more

Via:: Truthout



Ohio's “Heartbeat Bill” Returns — and We Should All Be Scared

It’s been over six years since Janet Porter first convinced far-right Ohio legislators to introduce a bill in the state capitol that would ban abortion after a heartbeat could be detected – as early as four weeks after conception.

Since then, the bill has been voted on and blocked repeatedly. Supporters have displayed heart balloons, sent children carrying teddy bears to persuade politicians and produced advertisements about buses of children plummeting off cliffs to encourage lawmakers to move ahead with the restriction. Fetuses have even “testified” on the floor.

At the end of 2016, social conservatives finally managed to get a bill through both the house and senate — only to have Republican Governor John Kasich veto the measure when it arrived on his desk.

At that point, it seemed like we had finally reached the end of the heartbeat ban in Ohio. But, as it turns out, we were wrong.

Apparently fourth time’s a charm for Ohio’s abortion opponents, as Republican Rep. Christina Hagan reintroduced the heartbeat ban again this week. Despite the fact that it has failed to become law — again and again and again — Hagan remains positive that the time is right for an extreme, unconstitutional pre-viability abortion ban.

“I believe that children with beating hearts deserve protection in the state of Ohio, and we should work toward that effort regardless of what the political climate ever looks like,” she said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “You can’t get distracted by variables you can’t control.” She added, “Every time we have the discussion about the validity of the child in the womb, I believe we save lives. As far as having the discussion on the House floor or in committee, I will have it at …read more

Via:: Truthout


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