June, 2017

Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy

James Hohmann: “One of the reasons being president is such a hard job is that, on any given day, there is an infinite number of potential external events – totally beyond your control – that can derail your agenda. During Trump’s first five months in power, however, almost every problem he’s faced has been a result of internal factors that were within his control. To the extent that the White House’s desired messaging is not breaking through to the American people, more often than not it’s the president’s fault.”

“Trump has made scores of unforced errors and self-defeating comments since Jan. 20. He’s also showcased his disrespect for women too many times to keep track.”

Republicans Still Optimistic on Health Care Bill

Jonathan Swan: “There are plenty of doomsayers, but on the inside — both inside the administration and in senior Senate offices — I’m finding a number of officials who’ve been skeptical all along are now quietly predicting it’s going to happen.”

Said an administration source: “I think we’re going to pass this. I really think they’ll bribe off the moderates with opioid money and then actually move policy to shore up Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. … If it was going to fail, McConnell would’ve put it on the floor. He wants people on the record — put up or shut up. He would’ve said: ‘Fuck it, let’s fail now and move onto tax reform.’ … Now he’s going to eat up another two weeks of floor time. He’s not going to waste those weeks unless he thinks he can do this.”

Investigators Want to Talk to Trump’s Bodyguard

“Congressional investigators now want to interview Keith Schiller, President Trump’s longtime bodyguard-turned-White House aide, as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign,” sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News.

“It’s the latest indication that the investigations are touching Trump’s inner circle.”

The Case Against Going to White House Press Briefings

Mike Allen: “Even if the spokespeople were fully looped in, appeared on camera, and shot straight, what would you miss by blowing it off? There are transcripts and this thing called Twitter, where the rare newsy nugget will quickly appear.”

“Truth is, with cable and the internet, the briefings were pretty useless, even pre-Trump. Government officials are paid to make little news, and spin the best take they can. It’s low-grade propaganda at best, and full-blown B.S. at worst.”

Democrats Will Use Recess to ‘Crank Up the Outrage’

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to delay a vote on a GOP health care plan is giving Democrats a big opportunity to seize the July 4 recess to dial up the pressure to kill the bill,” USA Today reports.

“Several outside progressive groups are planning campaigns over the congressional recess to highlight the stories of real Americans who could lose health care – and targeting vulnerable and moderate Republican senators with paid media, phone calls and protests.”

GOP Wonders If Trump Does More Harm than Good

Associated Press: “It was a platform most politicians can only hope for: A captivated, 6,000-person crowd and more than an hour of live, prime-time television coverage to hype the Republican vision for a new health care system. But when President Donald Trump got around to talking about the Republican plan – about 15 minutes into his speech – he was wildly off message. Instead of preaching party lines about getting the government out of Americans’ health decisions and cutting costs, he declared: ‘Add some money to it!’

“The moment captured a major dilemma for Republicans as they look for ways to jumpstart their stalled health care overhaul. A master salesman, Trump has an inimitable ability to command attention, and that could be used to bolster Americans’ support for Republican efforts and ramp up pressure on wavering lawmakers. But some lawmakers and congressional aides privately bemoan his thin grasp of the bill’s principles, and worry that his difficulty staying on message will do more harm than good.”

CNN: The impulsive president meets the world’s most deliberative body.

Tillerson Blows Up at Top White House Aide

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s frustrations with the White House have been building for months. Last Friday, they exploded. The normally laconic Texan unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgment,” Politico reports.

“Tillerson also complained that the White House was leaking damaging information about him to the news media, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Above all, he made clear that he did not want DeStefano’s office to ‘have any role in staffing’ and ‘expressed frustration that anybody would know better’ than he about who should work in his department — particularly after the president had promised him autonomy to make his own decisions and hires.”

“The episode stunned other White House officials gathered in chief of staff Reince Priebus’ office, leaving them silent as Tillerson raised his voice.”

Senate GOP Makes Changes to Health Care Bill

“Senate Republicans and the White House have agreed to add at least $45 billion to their Obamacare repeal bill to address the opioid crisis and are near agreement on allowing consumers to use Health Savings Account money to pay for their premiums,” Politico reports.

“The additions come as Senate Republicans are scrambling to get to 50 votes on their health care legislation. Both additions are expected to help get additional Republicans on board – opioid funding could help win over moderates and HSAs for conservatives. But there is no guarantee the language will do enough to substantially improve the bill’s prospects, Republican sources said.”

Trump Rips Media, Mocks Pelosi at First 2020 Fundraiser

President Trump, “facing dimming approval ratings and a stalled legislative agenda, rolled out his greatest hits on Wednesday evening – ripping into CNN, assailing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and hailing his party’s string of special election wins,” Politico reports.

“Before a rapt audience of 300 supporters, major GOP donors and party leaders attending the first fundraiser of his 2020 reelection campaign at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the commander in chief returned to his comfort zone.”

Pentagon Plan to Defeat ISIS Looks Like Obama’s Plan

“The Pentagon is putting the final touches on a promised new counter-Islamic State strategy for Syria and Iraq, and it looks very much like the one the Obama administration pursued,” the Washington Post reports.

“The core of the strategy is to deny territory to the militants and ultimately defeat them, and to stay out of Syria’s civil war pitting the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, Iran and Russia against domestic opposition forces. The two fights in that country have come into increasingly close proximity in recent months, and there have been clashes.”

“Military officials from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on down have emphasized in recent days that they are not looking for a fight with the regime or the Iranians. That has put them at odds with White House officials who have expressed concern about Iranian expansion across a new battlefield in Syria’s southern desert.”

Key Republicans Want to Scrap Tax Cuts for Wealthy

“Several Senate Republicans began to question whether their health-care bill should repeal a tax on high-income Americans imposed by Obamacare when the legislation would scale back subsidies for the poor,” Bloomberg reports.

“Scaling back the tax cuts could provide a path to winning over key moderate senators who have recoiled at the soaring premiums and deductibles for millions of low-income people as scored by the CBO, and the estimated 22 million fewer people who would have insurance in a decade. Meanwhile, conservatives have pushed to wipe out all of the taxes, though senators like Ted Cruz have not insisted every tax cut remain as part of an overall deal. Conservatives have been focused more on cutting regulations to lower premiums.”

The Entire Trump Agenda Is Now at Risk

Ryan Lizza: “The GOP has adopted a major—even radical—agenda: transforming a massive sector of the economy, slashing taxes and rewriting the entire tax code, passing a budget that would dramatically reduce the size of government, and, in the middle of all of that, raising the debt limit. They have a plan to accomplish almost all of it before the end of the year, with minimal transparency, and without relying on a single Democratic vote. But if health-care reform goes down this summer, the rest of the plan may sink with it.”

“For obscure parliamentary reasons, Republicans can’t move on with the rest of their wish list until they pass the health-care bill. And those prospects are not looking good.”

Voters Overwhelmingly Reject GOP Health Plan

A new Quinnipiac poll finds just 16% of Americans approve of the Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare, while 58% disapprove.

If a lawmaker votes for the Republican plan, 46% of voters are less likely to support their reelection, with 17% more likely and 33% who say the health care vote won’t matter in their decision.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “Call it a dressed up retread of the last GOP healthcare plan, or simply a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Americans aren’t buying this latest version of the plan to kill Obamacare. And the dismissal comes with the dire warning: If you vote for this one, you may not be around to vote for the next version.”

Study Finds GOP Bill Will Cause 208K Deaths

“The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the Senate Republicans’ health care bill becomes law, 14 million Americans will lose their health insurance in 2018, and, by 2026, 22 million would lose coverage,” Vox reports.

“Drawing on that work, we estimate that if the Senate bill becomes law, 22,900 excess deaths will occur in 2020 — and the figure will grow over time. 26,500 extra deaths will take place in 2026. Over the next decade, we estimate that a total of 208,500 unnecessary deaths will occur if the law is passed.”