September, 2017

Tom Price Resigns

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price “resigned under pressure on Friday after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights and undermining President Trump’s promise to drain the swamp of a corrupt and entitled capital,” the New York Times reports.

“Already in trouble with Mr. Trump for months of unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care program, Mr. Price failed to defuse the president’s anger over his high-priced travel by agreeing to pay a portion of the cost and expressing ‘regret’ for his actions.”

Sam Baker: “Price might not have gotten ACA repeal over the finish line, but even in his short tenure, he was able to undermine the law significantly. Under his leadership, HHS waged a PR campaign against the ACA; slashed funding to help promote enrollment; and directed regional department officials not to assist state-based enrollment efforts.”

Fine Print in GOP Budget Would Help Rush a Tax Cut

“Buried in the fine print of the newly released Senate Republican budget: language making it much easier to rush a tax cut through Congress,” Bloomberg reports.

“The budget would erase a Senate rule requiring a full Congressional Budget Office estimate of the cost of the legislation at least 28 hours before a vote. It would get rid of a provision that required a Senate budget reconciliation bill to reduce the deficit by at least as much as a House reconciliation bill. That language caused headaches for Republicans during their failed Obamacare repeal effort.”

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Taxpayers Paid for Part of VA Chief’s Vacation

“Nearly three days into a trip to Europe this past July, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin had attended a Wimbledon championship tennis match, toured Westminster Abbey and taken a cruise on the Thames. The 10-day trip was not entirely a vacation. Shulkin was in Europe for meetings with Danish and British officials about veterans’ health issues,” the Washington Post reports.

“Yet he and his wife spent about half their time sightseeing, including shopping and touring historic sites, according to an itinerary obtained by the Washington Post and confirmed by a U.S. official familiar with their activities.”

“Shulkin’s six-person traveling party included his acting undersecretary of health and her husband, his chief of staff and another aide, the itinerary says. They were accompanied by a security detail of as many as six people.”

A Quarter of Households Would Get a Tax Increase

“The Republican tax plan would deliver a major benefit to the top 1 percent of Americans, according to a new analysis by a leading group of nonpartisan tax experts that challenges the White House’s portrayal of its effects,” the Washington Post reports.

“The plan would deliver far more modest tax cuts to most other households — an average cut of $1,700 for households in 2027… But the results would be unevenly spread, with 1 in 4 households paying more in taxes.”

“Despite repeated promises from Republican lawmakers that the plan is designed to provide relief to the middle class, nearly 30 percent of taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 would see a tax increase… The majority of households that made between $150,000 and $300,000 would see a tax increase.”

New York Times: Republican tax cut would benefit wealthy and corporations most.

Republicans Will Not Mix Tax Reform and Health Care

The Senate Budget Committee “laid the groundwork for a party-line overhaul of the tax code, but not another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Axios reports.

“Some conservatives had hoped to combine health care and tax reform. But many Republicans, especially in leadership, feared that would make it impossible to pass either one. The outline released this morning would delay another run at health care until the tax rewrite effort is finished.”

Washington Post: “The budget document is a key precursor for any tax bill, setting out procedures that will allow the legislation to pass with a simple 51-vote majority rather than the usual 60-vote supermajority. According to the draft released Friday, the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee will have until Nov. 13 to draft tax bills that cost no more than $1.5 trillion in lost revenue.”

GOP Candidate Lists Porn as Campaign Expense

Jason Reese (R), who is running for the Oklahoma state House of Representatives, listed online pornography in his most recent campaign expense report, the Lost Ogle reports.

Reese later blamed the incident on “human error.”

Associated Press: “Oklahoma Republicans have been rocked by a series of sex-related scandals this year. Former state Sen. Bryce Marlatt resigned earlier this month after an Uber driver told police he grabbed her head and kissed her neck while she drove him to a bar in June. State Rep. Dan Kirby resigned in February after being accused of sexually harassing two former legislative assistants, and ex-state Sen. Ralph Shortey was indicted in federal court this month on charges of child sex trafficking and producing and transporting child.”

Can Mueller Prosecute Cover-Up Before Proving Crime?

Vanity Fair: “Of all the avenues in the sprawling Russia investigation, Robert Mueller appears to have advanced the furthest toward assembling an argument that Donald Trump obstructed justice. And in the coming weeks, the special counsel’s team will interview a former top White House aide who could verify key pieces of the puzzle. Then Mueller would confront the thorniest question yet: does he prosecute the cover-up or hold out to try to nail possible underlying crimes?”

San Juan Mayor Slams Homeland Security Chief

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz lashed out at acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke’s comment that the Hurricane Maria relief efforts are a “good news story,” saying, that in reality, it’s a “people are dying story,” Politico reports.

Said Cruz: “Well, maybe from where she’s standing, it’s a good news story. When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me. You know, I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that, which frankly, it is an irresponsible statement.”

Grimm Will Announce Bid for Congress

“Seventeen months after being released from prison for tax fraud, Michael Grimm (R) will formally announce his campaign for Congress, challenging the man who filled his seat when he pleaded guilty, Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-NY),” the Staten Island Advance reports.

“Grimm served eight months in federal prison beginning in 2015 after pleading guilty to a single count of tax fraud related to a Manhattan health food restaurant he co-owned before taking office.”