Archive | 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

      

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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

      

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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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The House Intelligence Committee’s Civil War

By David A. Graham

The top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee escalated their feud on Friday, with GOP Chairman Devin Nunes announcing that he wished to cancel a public hearing next week and Ranking Member Adam Schiff charging Nunes with bad faith and attempting to choke off an independent hearing.

In a press conference at the Capitol Friday morning, Nunes announced that Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, had offered through his attorney to testify before the committee as it investigates Russian interference in the presidential election. But Nunes also announced he wanted to cancel an open hearing scheduled for next week, with former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, until the committee had a chance to have a closed hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers. He said his decision did not have anything to do with new documents he received this week.

About an hour later, Schiff held his own press conference, calling Nunes’s announcement a “serous mistake” and accusing him of bowing to White House pressure.

“I think that there must have been a very strong pushback from the White House about the nature of Monday’s hearing,” he said. “It’s hard to come to any other conclusion about why an agreed-upon meeting was canceled.”

While Schiff did not say Democrats would pull out of the investigation, he call for an independent commission and said anyone watching this week’s drama would have “very legitimate concerns” about whether the House investigation would be credible.

The dueling press conferences cap an astonishing week in the Russia investigation. On Monday, the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Q of the Week: What Would You Ask Gorsuch?

By Elaine Godfrey

Monday marked the beginning of what will probably be Judge Neil Gorsuch’s toughest job interview: his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would ask Gorsuch if they were on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are some of our favorite questions from readers.

Keli Osborn is curious about how the judge would rule on previous Supreme Court cases:

How would your judicial philosophy of originalism have influenced rulings on Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Griswold v. Connecticut, Bigelow v. Virginia, and Obergefell v. Hodges?

Bill Rogers simply wants to know which Supreme Court justice Gorsuch admires most—and why.

Susan Perkins would ask specifically about the case Shelby County v. Holder: “Do you have any views on the Supreme Court decision that limited the Federal Government’s power to monitor state election laws for their discriminatory impact?”

Catherine Tanaka thinks it’s absolutely crucial to know where Gorsuch stands on climate change:

So many of the problems on Earth stem from the heating up of the world, from lack of water, to the die-offs in the ocean, from which so many people get their food, to coastal flooding, and to famine leading to wars and mass migrations. No other problem needs such a coordinated approach. If we don’t fix the climate, really, what else matters?

Read On »

…read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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A Better Way to Argue About Politics

By Daniel Lombroso

Liberals and conservatives have fundamentally different moral codes, which makes arguing about policy complicated. Many people have found themselves locked in debates surrounding the now-suspended travel ban, with little success in convincing the other. “One reason it’s so hard to reach across the ideological divide is that people tend to present their arguments in a way that appeals to the ethics of their own side, rather than that of their opponents,” says Atlantic writer Olga Khazan in this video. However, there’s a psychological trick that goes a long way to changing peoples minds. According to the Moral Foundations Theory, liberals are more likely than conservatives to endorse fairness-based arguments and are more concerned with principles like care and equality. So, when discussing a contentious topic, liberals should reframe their arguments to appeal the the moral values of conservatives, and vice versa. “At the very least, you can avoid making things worse,” says Khazan. “If you can’t reframe your argument, just get off Facebook.”

This is the seventh episode of “Unpresidented,” an original series from The Atlantic exploring a new era in American politics

…read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Much Ado About Manafort

By Julia Ioffe

MOSCOW—The reports that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had had a contract for tens of millions of dollars to “greatly benefit the Putin Government” were not exactly news here. And, in a certain sense, they didn’t have to be news in Washington, either.

Manafort, who has reportedly just volunteered to testify in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, had been a lobbyist, a notorious one, for decades. His work for less-than-democratic governments, including various African strongmen and the Marcos family of the Philippines, had been well-known in Washington and reported over the last year. It is also not uncommon for lobbyists and political operatives waiting out an administration of the opposite party to work abroad, helping foreign governments of whatever stripe sharpen their political game. Democratic operatives who had worked on the Obama and Clinton campaigns, for example, have done work advising politicians in Britain, Ukraine, and Georgia. Manafort seemed to have fewer moral qualms and filters than others—the only ticket to access his political skills, it seems, was the right amount of money—but it was all part of the swamp the Donald Trump campaign, with Manafort at the helm for about five months, promised to drain.

Nor was this an unusual arrangement for Moscow. The Associated Press reports, and Manafort has denied, that he was advancing Putin’s interests in the U.S. Many foreign governments spend lots of money on lobbyists to get their point of view to the epicenter of the free world—and the world’s largest economy. Russia was no exception, especially as it was getting its economic act together in the middle of the last decade. When the AP says Manafort was representing Putin 10 years ago, Putin was not quite the ubiquitous Bond villain he is today. Even after the arrest …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Does Trump’s Resident Intellectual Speak for His Boss?

By Rosie Gray

Michael Anton warned last year that 2016 was the Flight 93 election: “Charge the cockpit or you die.”

Americans charged. Donald Trump became president of the United States. And Anton, the author of that now-notorious essay, is helping to fly the plane—running communications for the National Security Council.

Anton cuts a curious figure through the Trump White House. A thoroughly educated dandy, his writings are at the core of an effort to construct an intellectual framework around the movement that elected a president who has shown no inclination to read books and who speaks in an unpretentious New York vernacular.

Much has been made already of Anton’s refined tastes and hobbies. It’s unusual, after all, for a high-ranking National Security Council official to have written a book about men’s fashion modeled on Machiavelli’s The Prince, or to have left thousands of comments on a men’s style forum about clothing and fine wines. After writing pro-Donald Trump essays under a pseudonym throughout the campaign, Anton was unmasked by The Weekly Standard earlier this year. Yahoo quickly labeled him the “most interesting man in the White House,” conjuring those Dos Equis ads. Vanity Fair suggested that he was the new Ben Rhodes, the Obama administration National Security Council spokesman who famously boasted of creating an “echo chamber” to promote the Iran deal.

But maybe the most remarkable thing about Anton is not Anton himself, but how not unusual he is in a White House that is populated by a heterodox set of figures with clashing ideologies, opaque motives, and non-traditional backgrounds.

“I’m a flack,” Anton told me over dinner last month. Of course, as the person in charge of strategic communications at the NSC, he’s more than that. Rather, he could be. After the crisis over former National …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism

By Peter Beinart

At a press conference in mid-February, Donald Trump said something that was, even for him, astonishing. He predicted that when authorities discovered the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic attacks that had broken out since his election, “It won’t be my people,” who had committed them. “It will be the people on the other side.” He repeated the thought later that month, reportedly telling state attorneys general that the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country may be “the reverse” of what they appear and may have been committed “to make others look bad.”

Democrats and officials of Jewish organizations officials were appalled. Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, declared: “We are astonished by what the President reportedly said.” Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center, which combats bigotry, asked, “Mr. President, have you no decency? To cast doubt on the authenticity of Anti-Semitic hate crimes in America constitutes Anti-Semitism in itself.” When the Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci repeated Trump’s claims, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called them “absurd and obscene.”

But it now appears that Trump may have been, partially, right. On Thursday, Israeli police arrested a Jewish Israeli American teenager for leveling some of the bomb threats. Earlier this month, prosecutors charged Juan Thompson, an African American who had previously worked at a left-leaning publication, with some of the others. There’s no evidence that either suspect tried to frame Trump supporters or white supremacists. And it’s still possible that right-wingers called in other bomb threats, or committed some of the other anti-Semitic incidents that have erupted since Trump’s election. Still, if two of the primary perpetrators of the JCC bomb scares turn out to be a Jewish Israeli and a left-leaning African American, that will, indeed, turn out to …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Trump’s Obamacare Ultimatum

By Russell Berman

On Thursday, the Affordable Care Act celebrated its seventh birthday. On Friday, it just might celebrate a most unlikely reprieve.

In a take-it-or-leave-it message delivered by his senior advisers to Capitol Hill, President Trump late Thursday told bickering House Republicans they had one final opportunity to repeal and replace the health-care law they have decried since its enactment. At the president’s behest, Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday will call a vote on the American Health Care Act and dare recalcitrant conservatives to defeat it. If the bill fails, Trump plans to keep Obamacare in place and move on with other parts of his agenda—a move that would enrage conservative activists while conceding an enormous defeat for the new administration.

“We are done negotiating,” Representative Chris Collins of New York, a Trump ally, told reporters after Republicans held what was described as an emotional meeting in the Capitol basement. The president sent his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and top advisers Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to the meeting. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director and a former member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, delivered Trump’s ultimatum to his former congressional colleagues.

“This is our moment in time, and the president is insisting on a vote tomorrow one way or another,” Mulvaney told them, according to Collins.

The decision follows days of frenzied negotiations at the Capitol and at the White House, as Trump summoned one group of wavering lawmakers after another for round-the-clock talks. The bill lawmakers are considering on Friday will include an amendment that represents the offer that members of the Freedom Caucus rejected as insufficient on Thursday afternoon. It eliminates Obamacare’s requirement that insurance plans cover maternity care, addiction treatment, hospitalization, and several other “essential health benefits.” Conservatives argue that scrapping the mandate would help lower premiums. But they were …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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