February, 2017

Kasich Says GOP Needs Democratic Votes on Health Care

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) told CBS News that congressional Republicans probably won’t be able to repeal and replace Obamacare without Democratic votes to “get this thing right.”

David Nather: “Democrats have zero incentive to help the Republicans with a repeal-and-replacement vote. Why? Because if they don’t help the Republicans make up the votes they’ll lose from the Freedom Caucus, the result won’t be a repeal with no replacement. The result will be that repeal doesn’t pass — and Obamacare stays in place.”

“Republicans may have to go through the repeal exercise to satisfy their voters, but if it fails, they’ll have to turn it into a ‘fix and repair’ exercise. That’s the only way to get the other side to help.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that GOP leaders “are betting that the only way for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act is to set a bill in motion and gamble that fellow GOP lawmakers won’t dare to block it.”

Trump’s Pick for Navy Secretary Withdraws

“President Donald Trump’s choice to be secretary of the Navy, businessman Philip Bilden, said Sunday he was withdrawing from consideration for the post, citing concerns about privacy and separating himself from his business interests,” the AP reports.

“Bilden’s withdrawal raises similar issues to that of Vincent Viola, Trump’s nominee for Army secretary who stepped aside earlier this month. Just last week, the Pentagon sought to tamp down reports that Bilden might pull out.”

Trump Offers Little Guidance on Replacing Obamacare

Washington Post: “While leaving most of the detail work to lawmakers, top White House aides are divided on how dramatic an overhaul effort the party should pursue. And the biggest wild card remains the president himself, who has devoted only a modest amount of time to the grinding task of mastering health-care policy but has repeatedly suggested that his sweeping new plan is nearly complete.”

“Several people in Trump’s orbit are eager to make bold changes to reduce the government’s role in the health-care system. That camp includes Vice President Pence… Other White House advisers, according to multiple individuals who asked for anonymity to describe private discussions, have emphasized the potential political costs to moving aggressively.”

Trump Oddly Uses ‘Enemy of the People’ Rhetoric

New York Times: “It is difficult to know if President Trump is aware of the historic resonance of the term, a label generally associated with despotic communist governments rather than democracies. But his decision to unleash the terminology has left some historians scratching their heads. Why would the elected leader of a democratic nation embrace a label that, after the death of Stalin, even the Soviet Union found to be too freighted with sinister connotations?”

In all likelihood, Trump has not read Lenin, Stalin or Mao Zedong, but the “formulas of insult, humiliation, domination, branding, enemy-forming and name calling are always the same.”

Trump Will Seek Sharp Increases in Military Spending

President Trump “will instruct federal agencies on Monday to assemble a budget for the coming fiscal year that would include sharp increases in Defense Department spending; major cuts to other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency; and no reductions to the largest entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare,” the New York Times reports.

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De Blasio Still Has No Challenger

New York Times: “With just over six months until the Democratic primary, no credible challenger — a person with some combination of name recognition, a political base, governmental experience and the funding to wage a knockdown campaign — has emerged.”

“In an era when political neophytes have captured offices as high as the White House, the lack of challengers to Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, may seem mystifying.”

“His administration is mired in a series of overlapping fund-raising investigations, including some by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, that could result in indictments of Mr. de Blasio or top officials in the coming weeks.”

Rubio Says He Won’t Do Town Hall Meetings

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) won’t participate in town hall meetings because he says political activists will crash them to create a media spectacle of people who “heckle and scream at me in front of cameras,” Politico reports.

Said Rubio: “They are not town halls anymore. What these groups really want is for me to schedule a public forum, they then organize three, four, five, six hundred liberal activists in the two counties or wherever I am in the state.”

Quote of the Day

“Welcome to the real world of responsibility. The fact is that, right now, the heat is on the Republicans. It’s on us… We now have two-thirds of the statehouses in America. We have the House. We have the Senate. We have the White House. It’s now on us to produce results.”

— Gov. Chris Christie (R), quoted by the Washington Post.

Spicer Targets Own Staff In Leak Crackdown

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer “is cracking down on leaks coming out of the West Wing, with increased security measures including phone checks for White House staffers overseen by White House attorneys,” Politico reports.

“The push to snuff out leaks to the press comes after a week in which President Trump expressed growing frustration with the media and the unauthorized sharing of information by individuals in his administration.”

Trump’s Biggest Struggle Is with the News Media

New York Times: “Attacking the news media, which has an abysmal approval rating among Republican voters, is sound politics in the short term. But Mr. Trump’s fury is less strategic than heartfelt… “

“His anger is compounded by his belief that he should still be able to plant and steer stories. That was a lot easier to do when he was running a close-knit real estate and branding business with an aggressive legal team that demanded that nearly everyone in his orbit sign nondisclosure agreements.”

“For the first time in his life, Mr. Trump is on the public payroll and subject to a tangle of laws and rules no businessman — especially one accustomed to overseeing every aspect of a relatively small family business — would tolerate.”

Slain Navy SEAL’s Father Refused to Meet with Trump

Bill Owens, the father of Navy SEAL William ‘Ryan’ Owens, who was killed in a Yemen raid just six days into President Trump’s term, refused to meet with the president when his son’s body was brought home to Dover Air Force Base, the Miami Herald reports.

Said Owens: “I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him.”

“Owens, also a military veteran, was troubled by Trump’s harsh treatment of a Gold Star family during his presidential campaign. Now Owens was a Gold Star parent, and he said he had deep reservations about the way the decision was made to launch what would be his son’s last mission.”

Most Who Voted Third Party Approve of Trump

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that 44% of Americans approve of President Trump’s job performance, while 48% disapprove, “making him the first president of the post-World War II era with a net negative approval rating in his first gauge of public opinion.”

Very interesting: “Mr. Trump’s approval rating may have been worse were it not for support from a surprising corner of the electorate. His job performance won positive reviews from 55% of respondents who had voted for a third-party candidate in November, who didn’t vote at all or said they supported Mr. Trump mostly to oppose Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.”

Parties Unite in Anger Against Washington Elites

Also interesting from the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll:

“One sentiment that unites the fractured nation is fury at the establishment in Washington. Fully 86 percent of those surveyed said they believe that a small group in D.C. has ‘reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.’ That includes 88% of Republicans and 85% of Democrats.”