July, 2017

McCain Once Almost Switched Parties

Politico: “In secret negotiations with then-Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, McCain plotted how he would depart the GOP. He was furious over the way the party establishment had treated him in the 2000 race for the Republican presidential nomination against the eventually victorious George W. Bush. And within weeks of Bush’s swearing-in as president in 2001, McCain told Daschle that he was looking for a way out of the GOP, probably by declaring himself an independent—a move that would have thrown control of the otherwise 50-50 Senate to the Democrats. The negotiations got far enough, Daschle later told me, that the two men discussed the logistics of the news conference at which McCain would make the announcement.”

Said Daschle: “We came very close.”

Ryan Claims Only the House Works

Speaker Paul Ryan, “who spent weeks urging his members to hold their fire and give Senate Republicans some space to get a health care deal, didn’t hide his frustration at a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement on Friday. He effectively threw the Senate under the bus, telling his colleagues that the House of Representatives was the only arm of the government that was working,” CNN reports.

Yelled Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL): “Low bar, low bar!”

One House GOP member in the meeting summarized Ryan’s remarks as “essentially, we are the functioning chamber. We did our work. This one is on them.”

Majority Wants Congress to Move On from Health Care

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds a majority of Americans are ready to move on from healthcare reform at this point after the U.S. Senate’s effort to dismantle Obamacare failed .

“Nearly two-thirds of the country wants to either keep or modify the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, and a majority of Americans want Congress to turn its attention to other priorities.”

Inside the End of the Priebus Era

Politico: “It was an ignominious close to an operatic six months during which Priebus was sidelined from the outset, first by chief strategist Steve Bannon, then by Trump’s children and finally by Anthony Scaramucci, whose arrival last week as communications director heralded the imminent end of Priebus’ tenure.”

“But finally it was the absence of progress on Trump’s legislative agenda—health care, taxes, infrastructure—that prompted the president, in consultation with his family, to finally tell people around him it was time ‘to try a different approach,’ said one senior administration official.”

Said this person: “It’s hard to overstate how much the family had to do with this.”

It’s Not That He’s Inexperienced

Peggy Noonan: “The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.”

“He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen. It was once said, sarcastically, of George H.W. Bush that he reminded everyone of her first husband. Trump must remind people of their first wife. Actually his wife, Melania, is tougher than he is with her stoicism and grace, her self-discipline and desire to show the world respect by presenting herself with dignity.”

One of the Worst Weeks Ever for a New President

President Trump “enters a new phase of his presidency on Monday with a new chief of staff but an old set of challenges as he seeks to get back on course after enduring one of the worst weeks that any modern occupant of the Oval Office has experienced in his inaugural year in power,” the New York Times reports.

“The shake-up followed a week that saw the bombastic, with-me-or-against-me president defied as never before by Washington and its institutions, including Republicans in Congress, his own attorney general, the uniformed military leadership, police officers and even the Boy Scouts. No longer daunted by a president with a Twitter account that he uses like a Gatling gun, members of his own party made clear that they were increasingly willing to stand against him on issues like health care and Russia.”

Scaramucci’s Wife Wanted Divorce While Pregnant

Anthony Scaramucci’s wife demanded a divorce three weeks ago, while she was nine months pregnant, sources told the New York Post.

“Deidre Scaramucci, 38, fed up with her three-year marriage to the new White House communication director, filed divorce papers on July 6… On Monday, while Anthony was in West Virginia with President Trump for the Boy Scouts Jamboree, Deidre gave birth to the couple’s baby boy James. As of Friday evening, a full four days after delivery, her 53-year-old husband had yet to meet his newborn son.”

A No Action Congress

Boston Globe: “The Republican-controlled Congress is in a tailspin of unproductivity, and that’s even before the Senate GOP’s failure last week to pass a long-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act. By almost every objective measure — especially compared with 2009, the last time one party had control of the White House and both congressional chambers — it is off to a dismal start.”

“Not only have lawmakers been unable to notch major accomplishments on health care or tax reform, but there are also fewer votes, fewer nominees confirmed, and fewer bills passed.”

Obamacare Repeal Isn’t Dead Yet

Politico: “Trump, increasingly impatient with the long-stalled repeal effort, met with three Senate Republicans about a new plan to roll back the health care law on Friday, signaling some lawmakers — as well as the president — are not ready to ditch their seven-year campaign promise.”

“The group is trying to write legislation that could get 50 Republican votes… The proposal from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would block grant federal health care funding to the states and keep much of Obamacare’s tax regime… White House officials also met with House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) to brainstorm how to make the idea palatable to conservatives.”

Stan Collender: “The legislative effort on health care may be barely breathing, but it’s definitely still alive. Contrary to the common wisdom that developed after the Affordable Care Act repeal and replace effort failed last week, the Senate still has the opportunity if it wants to revive the debate and pass something.”

Trump May End Health Subsidy for Congress

David Nather: “The other part of President Trump’s tweet this morning that will get a lot of attention from members of Congress: he hinted he might overturn an Obama-era rule that allows members of Congress and their staffers to get subsidies for their health insurance, which they have to get through an Affordable Care Act health exchange. That’s what he meant by ‘BAILOUTS for Members of Congress.'”

“The ACA requires members of Congress and their staffs to get health coverage through its exchanges, but it was never clear on whether they should get subsidies to pay for most of their premiums, the way employers pay for most of their workers’ health premiums. The Obama administration issued a rule that allowed them to get those subsidies — because if it hadn’t, members of Congress worried that talented staffers would leave rather than pay the full cost of the premiums.”

Trump Says Republicans ‘Look Like Fools’

President Trump resorted to his old Twitter playbook on Saturday, attacking Senate Republicans who he said “look like fools” — while demonstrating “an uncertain understanding of the legislative process,” the New York Times reports.

“It was not clear why he was focused on the filibuster rule, a parliamentary delay tactic that requires 60 votes to overcome. Republicans have a 52-seat majority in the Senate. A proposal this week to repeal portions of the health care law, as long demanded by Mr. Trump, required a simple 51-vote majority to pass and still failed.”

Trump warned that “many great Republican bills will never pass,” including health care, under the filibuster rule.

Priebus Wasn’t the Problem

The Wall Street Journal editorial page lets loose on President Trump:

Presidents get the White House operations they want, and Mr. Trump has a chaotic mess because he seems to like it. He likes pitting faction against faction, as if his advisers are competing casino operators from his Atlantic City days. But a presidential Administration is a larger undertaking than a family business, and the infighting and competing leaks have created a dysfunctional White House.

The reason Mr. Priebus wasn’t as effective as he could have been is because Mr. Trump wouldn’t listen to him and wouldn’t let him establish a normal decision-making process. Mr. Trump has a soft spot for military men so perhaps he’ll listen more to Mr. Kelly. He’d better, because on present course his Presidency is careening toward a historic reputation where names like Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon reside.

Scaramucci Producing Movie While In White House

“Anthony Scaramucci seems plenty busy with his duties as communications director for President Donald Trump’s White House, but apparently he’s got time enough to help make an upcoming HBO movie.”

“The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Scaramucci, when he’s not trading inappropriate barbs with hostile reporters or former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, is co-executive producing a TV movie based on disgraced football coach Joe Paterno.”