U.S. Politics

Conservative groups blast GOP healthcare plan

THE HILL

Outside conservative groups on Tuesday blasted House Republicans’ newly unveiled healthcare proposal, saying it doesn’t live up to the GOP’s promise of fully repealing ObamaCare.

The Club for Growth dissed the proposal as “RyanCare” and threatened to record names of Republicans who vote for the bill unless it includes significant changes.

Heritage Action, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, a group aligned with billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, also issued scathing statements highly critical of the legislation dubbed the American Health Care Act, which was released on Monday.

“This is simply not a full repeal of ObamaCare. It falls far short of the promises Republicans made to the American people in four consecutive federal elections,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“The proposed legislation trades one form of government subsidy for another government subsidy, and doesn’t roll back the mandate of ObamaCare. It’s a poor first attempt.”

The seemingly coordinated statements — all released within an hour of each other — from these four big-money, influential conservative groups creates a huge headache for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the two authors of the House bill: Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

Club for Growth said it will “key vote” the bill, meaning it will include how lawmakers vote on it when calculating grades for members of Congress, and whip votes against the House proposal unless major changes are made.

“The problems with this bill are not just what’s in it, but also what’s missing: namely, the critical free-market solution of selling health insurance across state lines,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement. “Such an injection of competition would lead to hundreds of billions of dollars in savings, nullifying any argument by Congressional Republicans that this provision cannot be included in the current bill.

“Republicans should be offering a full and immediate repeal of Obamacare’s taxes, regulations, and mandates, an end to the Medicaid expansion, and inclusion of free-market reforms, like interstate competition.”

Brady, a main architect of the bill, pushed back on the conservative objections at a joint news conference with Walden on Tuesday.

Brady said the bill is similar to legislation from then-Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), now secretary of Heath and Human Services, which “had 84 cosponsors including members and leaders of the Freedom Caucus, the RSC and the Republican conference.”

“As Republicans we have a choice,” Brady said. “We can act now or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal ObamaCare and begin a new chapter for the American people.”

U.S. Politics

Rachel drops another shoe. Right on Trump’s head.

 

RACHEL

attribution: Google search

DAILY KOS

Rachel Maddow has the formula down pat. Several weeks ago she said on the air that she was changing the way she covers Mein Furor, she stopped covering what he said, and instead started covering what he does. This focus is working beautifully, and her staffs research is knocking it out of the park.

Last night was a perfect example. The whole first half of her show was a detailed explanation of what may be the next investigation into Trump, this one on his business practices. Just to summarize, over a number of years, Trump became involved in a deal in Baku, Azerbaijan for a luxury high rise hotel and living property. Like most deals in eastern European countries, you have a local “partner” for these projects. In this deal, his partners were relatives of Ziya Mammadov, the Transportation Minister. This is where the problem comes in.

On a salary of about $12,000 per year, Mammadov is now a billionaire. One of the issues Rachel highlighted was a job in which a US company was solicited tor an estimate to build roads and highways in Azerbaijan. The quote was $6M per kilometer. They were sent packing. Instead, Mammadov signed a contract with another company to do the job for a paltry $18M a kilometer. Turns out that the company is controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. It’s a money laundering scheme for the Revolutionary Guard. They spend a couple of million per kilometer in sanctioned funds for manpower and material to build roads, and get $18M in “clean” money in return that they can move around and spend. And of course Mammadov gets his cut under the table.

This is not Mammadov’s first ride at the rodeo. He is so fabulously corrupt, even for an Azerbaijani official that his family is known as the “Corleone’s of the Caspian Sea”. And as powerful as the family is, that makes them dangerous for American companies to deal with.

The reason is the Foreign Corruption Practices Act, a law designed to keep American companies from bribing foreign officials for preferential treatment. And ignorance is no excuse. American companies are expected to exercise due diligence in choosing their overseas partners to ensure everything is aboveboard. Just ask Frederic Bourke, co-founder of the Dooney and Bourke handbag line. He got into a deal several years ago, investing $8M to get in on an oil deal in Azerbaijan, they were supposedly selling their state run oil company. The guy running the deal spread a bunch of bribes around, and Bourke got convicted to the tune of 1 year in prison, and a $1M fine. Bourke didn’t actually bribe anybody, claims he knew nothing, but they got him for not exercising due diligence in checking out his potential partner.

This is the family that Trump got into bed with on his high rise deal to the tune of at least $2.5M that he has declared. And it may not be able to lie fallow. Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democratic Senator on the banking committee has written to the Justice Department, asking them to investigate this whole transaction. It appears that this was a passive deal for Trump, simply renting out his name to grease the skids, but he got paid. He dropped the deal later, but the paper trail is there.

I wrote in a diary a couple of weeks ago that the problem with a scandal is that it mushrooms. You ask one question, and the answer you get ends opening up a whole new avenue of investigation. This is happening to Trump now. Russian hacking has spread out into possible investigations of his real estate deal in Azerbaijan. Who knows what next week will bring, or even tomorrow?

Here are the two portions of the Rachel show dealing with this last night. In total they are about 32 minutes, but you’ll be very well informed by the time it’s over with.

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO #1 and #2

(…at the bottom of the page that you clicked on.)

U.S. Politics

Daily Kos Recommended

Daily Kos Newsletter – 3-7-17

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: March 7, 2017

RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Trump issues revised executive order on immigration and refugees
President Trump issued a new version of his executive order banning U.S. entry to residents of some Muslim-majority nations, excluding Iraq from the list. Visa processing for citizens from the other countries that were covered by the original order — Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya — will be suspended for 90 days while the administration works on tightening vetting to keep out terrorists. The new order, intended to avoid the legal challenge that resulted in the blocking of the first one, also left out a section that critics said would have granted Christian refugees preferential treatment over Muslims, but opponents said the change was cosmetic. “This is a retreat but let’s be clear,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It’s just another run at a Muslim ban.”

Source: The New York Times

2. Republicans release plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare
House Republicans on Monday unveiled the American Health Care Act, their long-awaited proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare. The legislation calls for freezing enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s expanded Medicaid program on Jan. 1, 2020, and capping future Medicaid funding. Until the end of 2019, states would be able to sign individuals up for expanded Medicaid. The proposal replaces insurance subsidies with refundable tax credits to help people pay for health coverage, and ends the penalty for failing to comply with the mandate to buy insurance. The proposal also preserves two popular ObamaCare features, letting young adults stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, and preventing insurers from dropping people with preexisting conditions. Debate starts in House committees this week.

Source: The Washington Post

3. Supreme Court kicks transgender bathroom case back to lower court
The Supreme Court on Monday said it would send a transgender bathroom rights case back to a lower court instead of holding a hearing that had been scheduled for March 28. The court said last fall that it would hear the case of Virginia high schooler Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who sought to use the bathroom matching his gender identity rather than his biological sex. A federal appeals court in April 2016 ruled in Grimm’s favor after considering an Obama administration guidance for schools to allow students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. The Trump administration last month reversed the order, and the Supreme Court wants the appeals court to reconsider its ruling in light of the Trump administration’s guidelines.

Source: Reuters

4. U.S. starts deploying anti-missile system in South Korea
The U.S. has started deploying the first components of a “strictly defensive” anti-missile system in South Korea, U.S. officials said Tuesday. China has called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense a threat to its security and warned there would be “consequences.” The U.S. said it was sending it to help protect South Korea against missiles launched from North Korea, which fired four medium-range missiles into waters near Japan on Monday. After the tests, North Korea said it was practicing strikes against U.S. military bases in Japan. “If the United States or South Korea fires even a single flame inside North Korean territory, we will demolish the origin of the invasion and provocation with a nuclear tipped missile,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

Source: The New York Times, NBC News

5. Carson faces criticism after comparing slaves to immigrants
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson faced a barrage of criticism over social media on Monday for describing African slaves as “immigrants” in a speech to HUD employees. Carson said in his speech that some immigrants came to America “in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.” Comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg tweeted that Carson, who is African-American, should watch the 1980s mini-series Roots. HUD officials said critics were twisting Carson’s words, and Carson said in a Facebook post after his speech that immigrants and slaves went through “two entirely different experiences.”

Source: The Washington Post, The Hill

6. White House offers to protect funding if Planned Parenthood stops providing abortions
The White House has proposed preserving federal funding of Planned Parenthood if the women’s health organization stops providing abortions, The New York Times reported on Monday. Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million annually in federal funding for women’s health services, rejected the offer. “Let’s be clear, federal funds already do not pay for abortions,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept.” Trump said he was “deeply committed to investing in women’s health,” and hoped organizations would seize the opportunity to “continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.”

Source: The New York Times

7. Democrats call for Trump to release visitor logs
Democratic lawmakers on Monday called on President Trump to release visitor logs for the White House and the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to “provide assurances that your administration is listening to the voices of all Americans, not just friends and donors.” The White House did not immediately respond to the request. The Democrats said they want Trump to continue a policy that gave the public access to the names of nearly six million visitors to the White House while former President Barack Obama was in office. The eight Democrats who signed the request included Mar-a-Lago because Trump has conducted business there on four weekend visits in his first six weeks in office. Trump calls the estate and private club his “Winter White House.”

Source: Reuters

8. Khizr Khan cancels Canada trip over concerns about ‘travel privileges’
Gold Star father Khizr Khan, an outspoken critic of President Trump, said Monday that he had canceled a planned speech in Canada after being told that his travel privileges were being reviewed. It was not immediately clear what he meant by “travel privileges.” A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said the agency notifies people when they are losing membership in the Global Entry “trusted traveler” program, which lets pre-screened travelers speed through customs, but any American with a valid passport can still travel freely. Khan and his wife, Ghazala, emigrated from Pakistan in 1980 and became U.S. citizens six years later. The Khans are parents of a Muslim U.S. soldier, Humayun Khan, killed in Iraq. They criticized Trump during the Democratic National Convention, saying his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. trampled the Constitution. The Khans are not affected by Trump’s new executive order on immigration.

Source: CTV, The Hill

9. White House doubles down on Trump wiretap claim
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday defended President Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s phones in Trump Tower toward the end of last year’s election. “There’s no question that something happened,” Spicer said. “The question is, is it surveillance, is it a wiretap, or whatever.” Trump, who has yet to offer evidence to support his allegations, has called for the House and Senate to investigate. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that his agency conducted “no such wiretap activity” against Trump or his campaign, and FBI Director James Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department to publicly refute Trump’s accusations because they implied the FBI broke the law. Obama’s spokesman said Trump’s allegations were “simply false.”

Source: CNN, The New York Times

10. North Korea bars Malaysians from leaving
Tensions continued to escalate between North Korea and Malaysia on Tuesday over the investigation into the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur’s airport last month. After the two countries expelled each other’s ambassadors, Pyongyang barred Malaysians from leaving, and Malaysia responded with tit-for-tat travel restrictions for North Koreans. The moves came as Malaysian investigators looking into the killing of Kim Jong Nam, who was killed with banned VX nerve agent, tried to question three men hiding in the North Korean embassy, including a senior North Korean diplomat and a state airline employee.

Source: Reuters