June, 2017

Trump Will Postpone Filing Complaint Against Comey

“Donald Trump’s lawyers will postpone filing a complaint against former FBI Director James Comey with the Justice Department, according to a person familiar with the decision — a bid to stop antagonizing the special counsel who’s investigating ties between the president’s campaign and Russian officials,” Bloomberg reports.

“The president’s lawyers still intend to file a complaint at some point, the person familiar with the matter said…. The delay is a professional courtesy to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and a signal that the White House understands he needs space to do his job.”

Just 12% Support GOP Health Plan

A new USA Today/Suffolk poll finds just 12% of of Americans approve of the Senate Republican health care plan.

Meanwhile, a 53% majority say Congress should either leave Obamacare alone or work to fix its problems while keeping its framework intact.

“But the dilemma for the GOP is this: Eight in 10 Republicans support repeal, and close to a third say the law should be repealed even if a replacement health care plan isn’t ready yet.”

Despite Trump’s Claims, Obamacare Isn’t Collapsing

Congressional Budget Office: “Although premiums have been rising under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the nongroup market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference between that percentage and the premiums for a reference plan… Nevertheless, a small number of people live in areas of the country that have limited participation by insurers in the nongroup market under current law.”

Trump Loses Ground with Independent Voters

A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that just 37% of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing, while 51% disapprove.

Key finding: “The most pronounced swing the poll found was among independents. Over the past four months, their approval of the president has dissipated. In February, 40% of independents said they approved of the job Trump was doing, with 51% disapproving. Four months later in June, just 31% say they approve of the president with 59% of independents disapproving — a 17 point net-negative drop.”

Secrecy Backfires on McConnell

James Hohmann: “Mitch McConnell miscalculated. The Senate majority leader believed that the blowback for keeping his health-care bill secret would be less than the blowback for negotiating it in public.”

“But the Kentuckian misread the degree to which members of his own conference wanted a seat at the table. With little margin for error, he also had too much confidence in his ability to hammer out a compromise that could win over both hardliners who want full repeal and moderates who want to protect Medicaid expansion…”

“Another consequence of the secretive process is that almost no Republican senators have been out there trying to sell the bill – to the public or to each other. Dozens of GOP lawmakers who privately planned to vote for the motion to proceed today made a public show of saying that they were undecided and still studying the proposal. They avoided local reporters and put out opaque statements that gave themselves plenty of wiggle room, as they waited to see how things shook out. This meant that almost no Republicans put out statements defending the measure on Monday night when the Congressional Budget Office announced that millions of fewer Americans would have insurance if it passes. That ensured one-sided coverage in the press, which in turn made it even harder for members to justify supporting the bill.”

The GOP Health Care Bill Isn’t Dead Yet

Rick Klein: “If this was a make-or-break moment, what the break part looks like can lead to all sorts of directions. It’s easy enough to imagine enough GOP tweaks and goodies to get to 50 Senate votes in a few weeks, with the conservative holdouts getting just enough of what they want to get health care passed. It’s also easy to foresee a restless, angry summer of town halls that makes it unlikely that anyone budges, leaving a tense status quo where presidential tweets stir the pot but not any action. But is it ridiculous to suggest there might be a moment for actual governing? Probably, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

“With Democrats’ still backing Obamacare, and Republicans in the still-unfamiliar position of governing, every political leader has a stake in the health care laws, just as all their constituents did already. There are changes – even major ones – that could pass with supermajorities if slogans are just filtered out of the congressional water. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is talking about it as a backup option, though he’s making his declaration – ‘we’ll have to sit down withSchumer’ – sound more like a threat than a roadmap.”

First Read: “Under any other Senate GOP leader, we’d say that the Republican health care effort is dead. But Mitch McConnell isn’t any other GOP leader, and if someone can find a way to bridge the Rand Pauls/Mike Lees/Ted Cruzes with the Susan Collinses/Dean Hellers/Lisa Murkowskis, it’s McConnell. All of that said, time isn’t on McConnell’s side. As a Senate Republican crafting the legislation told us, more time doesn’t make passage easier. That’s why McConnell tried to ram through the legislation this week.”

Warren Urges Democrats to Back Single-Payer Plan

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told the Wall Street Journal that Democrats on the ballot in the next two federal elections should back a national single-payer health-care plan.

Said Warren: “President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts. Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.”

New Congressman Still Hasn’t Taken His Oath

“House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wants to know why Rep.-elect Jimmy Gomez  (D-CA) hasn’t been sworn in, saying the seat’s ‘elongated vacancy’ is ‘an abdication’ of his responsibilities,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Twenty one days have passed since Gomez won a special election to replace now-California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, who resigned Los Angeles’ 34th Congressional District last January. Gomez, a current Democratic state assemblyman, told The Times after the election he would try to delay his Assembly resignation to vote on extending the state’s cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas. Negotiations on cap and trade are escalating in Sacramento, and there are rumblings Gov. Jerry Brown would like to be able to count on Gomez’ vote to pass the bill with a two-thirds majority before the Legislature leaves on July 21.”

McConnell Rattles His Ranks

Playbook: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the steadiest and most reliable leaders and vote counters Washington has seen, did the unthinkable and rattled his ranks. The Kentucky Republican had told lawmakers there would be a vote this week on health care, but instead — just as Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to do three months ago — decided to delay voting on the package after it was clear that GOP opposition to the health care package was stronger than expected.”

“McConnell has been impervious to the types of problems Ryan faces on a weekly — and sometimes daily — basis. His decision to delay voting on a bill is a sign he couldn’t, or didn’t want to expend the political capital to get it done before the July 4th break. It’s unclear what he can do to change the calculus among the growing bloc of senators unwilling to vote for the bill.”

Mike Allen: “McConnell’s reputation for the inside game is such that Republicans assume he must have something up his sleeve. One top Republican alumnus put the bill’s chances of coming back at 15%. But then as he continued to muse, he doubled it to 30% just because of the McConnell factor.”

Trump Not Even Sure What Health Bill Does

New York Times: “When asked by reporters clustered on the blacktop outside the West Wing if Mr. Trump had command of the details of the negotiations, Mr. McConnell ignored the question and smiled blandly.”

“A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan — and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange.”

“Mr. Trump said he planned to tackle tax reform later, ignoring the repeal’s tax implications, the staff member added.”