U.S. Politics

Get ready for Trumpcare 2.0: White House reverses course, looks to renew health care battle

Get ready for Trumpcare 2.0: White House reverses course, looks to renew health care battle

(Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Andrew Harnik)


House GOP leaders and the White House are already negotiating with conservatives, despite Trump’s vows to move on

Despite his loud proclamations to the contrary, President Donald Trump appears ready to tackle health care reform again.

“I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next,” Trump told reporters in the White House after the GOP failed to rally enough support to pass the American Health Care Act last Friday.

Yet only days after the embarrassing defeat of the House Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which Trump backed and lobbied Republicans on the Hill to support, Trump is still looking to dismantle the signature legislative accomplishment of his predecessor — one way or another. According to the New York Times, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is already meeting with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and the more moderate Tuesday Group, in an effort to hash out a compromise between the bitterly divided factions of the Republican caucus.

White House staff “has met with individuals and listened to them,” press secretary Sean Spicer explained to reporters on Tuesday. “Have we had some discussions and listened to ideas? Yes.”

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, confirmed to the Washington Post that Ryan meet with Trump at the White House on Monday and also met separately with Vice President Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Spicer said lawmakers from both parties have reached out to the White House since the repeal-and-replace measure’s collapse on Friday. “So there has been a discussion and I believe there will be several more,” he said. “I’m not saying we’ve picked a strategy and we’re going to go with this group or that group.”

It was, of course, the Freedom Caucus that Trump publicly blamed for sinking his health care plan:

On Twitter Monday night, Trump hinted that he may be more inclined to negotiate Trumpcare 2.0 with Democrats, many of whom are up for reelection in 2018 in states won by Trump, than with the most recalcitrant conservative members of the Republican Party.

“I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal,” the president told the Washington Post immediately after demanding House Speaker Paul Ryan pull the American Health Care Act from a scheduled floor vote Friday. “And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them.”

But while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently took formal steps to work on improvements to the law that Republicans have derisively called Obamacare for seven years, it is virtually inconceivable that a Democratic Party that is beginning to move toward coalescing around single-payer health care would suddenly go along with any possible bill put forward by Ryan and Trump. After all, the Congressional Budget Office has said that while the market for individual coverage is currently stable in most of the country under Obamacare, the first version of Trumpcare would eventually have left 24 million more Americans uninsured.

Perhaps that’s why Trump was so quick to shift the discussion of his major policy and political failure on Friday to focus on other agenda items. Republicans, on the other hand, appear eager to jump back into negotiations over an issue they have campaigned on for the last three election cycles.

“We saw good overtures from those members from different parts of our conference to get there because we all share these goals, and we’re just going to have to figure out how to get it done,” Ryan said after a meeting of the entire House Republican conference on Tuesday — the first since Trump traveled to Capitol Hill last week to threaten members of the Freedom Caucus to support Trumpcare. “I don’t want us to become a factionalized majority. I want us to become a unified majority, and that means we’re going to sit down and talk things out until we get there, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House Republican whip aligned with conservatives in the conference, made the curious claim, “We are closer to repealing Obamacare than we ever have been before.” He continued, “We’re going to keep working” because “this issue isn’t going away.”

According to the Washington Post, the Ryan told Republican donors during a Monday conference call that a plan is being developed in time to brief them in-person at a GOP retreat in Florida scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

“In a strange way, this really merged our teams — our team in the House with the president’s team — even more closely,” Ryan reportedly told the GOP donors.

U.S. Politics

Top Republican runs to White House to share leaked intelligence; it’s time for a special prosecutor


attribution: Getty Images


The state of the so-called House investigation into state-sponsored Russian attacks on the 2016 elections—and possible collusion from the Republican presidential campaign—just took a hell of a turn, as the House Republican who supposedly is leading that investigation just announced he was headed to the White House to brief the targets of that investigation on incendiary new details about the state of the investigation against them.

Members of the Donald Trump transition team, possibly including Trump himself, were under U.S. government surveillance following November’s presidential election, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday.

To sum up, Rep. Devin Nunes—who was himself an executive member of Trump’s transition team during the period in question—says he was tipped off that the U.S. counterintelligence investigation had resulted in “incidental” collection of conversations of Trump staffers during the transition, possibly including Trump himself. This was, Nunes himself asserted, apparently legal; under FISA rules, this would generally have occurred if those staffers were in communication, “incidental” or otherwise, with foreign targets of an investigation.

Nunes did not share this information with Democratic members of his committee, but instead announced that he will be heading to the White House to brief the administration directly on these new details about … the investigation against them.

He appears to believe that the news that U.S. investigations meant to gather information on foreign intelligence efforts have discovered links to multiple members of the campaign, possibly including Trump himself, is somehow good news for Trump. Or perhaps he’s just publicly announcing those details and briefing Trump’s team on them for other reasons.


Again, Rep. Nunes is allegedly the person leading the House investigation on Russian acts during the election and, as confirmed by FBI Director James Comey during a recent hearing, possible Republican campaign collusion with those acts. And immediately after being tipped off to new information about potential ties to foreign agents and the Trump campaign, he’s meeting at the White House to let them know the information leaked to him.

Simply calling for an independent, non-partisan investigation into the election at this point seems almost beside the point. Trump transition member Nunes continues to work to sabotage the work of the investigators; he may be at this point a target of the investigation himself.

U.S. Politics

What America Has To Say About Donald Trump’s Ethics

President-elect Donald Trump smiles during a December rally in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo | Andrew Harnik)

President-elect Donald Trump smiles during a December rally in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo | Andrew Harnik)


WASHINGTON — As lawmakers seek to force Donald Trump to release his income tax returns, a majority of Americans indicated they believed the president has done something illegal or unethical.

In a McClatchy-Marist survey asking about potential conflicts of interest between Trump’s business holdings and his duties as president, just 41 percent said he had done nothing wrong, while 53 percent said Trump has done something illegal or unethical.

Trump broke with decades of precedent and refused to release his income tax returns while running for president. He has continued to say he will make them public once tax audits are done.

Trump’s popularity ‘sinking like a rock’

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-9th Dist.) has tried to get the House Ways and Means Committee to request the returns and then decide whether to release them publicly under a 1924 law enacted in response to the Teapot Dome scandal.

The returns would show whether Trump had any financial ties to Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies said intervened in the presidential election to help him get elected.

The committee’s Republican majority has rejected Pascrell’s request. Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said he did not want Congress to “rummage around in the tax returns of the president.”

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month said 53 percent of U.S. voters wanted Trump to release his returns while 30 percent said he didn’t have to.

Trump turned over control of his businesses to his sons though kept ownership of them. The head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub Jr., said that the arrangement “does not comport with the tradition of our presidents over the past 40 years.”

At Rep. Leonard Lance’s combative town hall meeting in Branchburg on Wednesday, constituents pressed him on Trump’s refusal to release his returns.

While Lance said Trump “should turn over his tax returns to the public,” he said Pascrell’s efforts went “too far.”

“I don’t like overreach from Congress,” he said to resounding boos. “I don’t think the Ways and Means Commitee should be investigating the returns of a private indvidual.”

The questioner, Jim Girvan, a Branchburg retiree, shot back: “He’s the president.”

The survey of 1,073 adults was conducted Feb. 15-19 and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

U.S. Politics

Congratulations, Republicans, You Got Played

INDIANOLA, IA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin speaks during the Tea Party of America's "Restoring America" event at the Indianola Balloon Festival Grounds on September 3, 2011 in Indianola, Iowa.  Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin headlined the Tea Party of America's "Restoring America" event.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Well, here we are. The last day of eight years that is the Obama presidency. For eight years, we all saw a swarm of friends and acquaintances regurgitate the most asinine conspiracy theories about President Obama imaginable. Whether they came from Sarah Palin or Alex Jones, right-wing looney tunes were always a far cry from the truth. Today we have a new term for it: fake news. But we must always remember what it truly is: conspiracy theories.

Now that the great and honorable President Obama leaves office tomorrow, let’s remind the “economically anxious” red America:

  • You still have your guns
  • Sharia Law is not the law of the land
  • Communism hasn’t taken over
  • You’re not in a FEMA camp
  • You can still worship your god and read your bibles
  • The government still doesn’t have death panels
  • Obama has not declared martial law
  • Jade Helm has not been dispatched
  • President Obama was still born in the United States of America

Congratulations on letting yourself be played for the last 8 years! It was quite a sight to behold, both sad and funny that teetered on the brink of near insanity. Hopefully, this will be a learning experience to turn off the TV, quit with the fake news, and apply some common sense, no?

Considering they just elected the biggest conspiracy theorist around, one shouldn’t get their hopes up.

Now that Trump has already broken a slew of promises, watch as red state citizens still bitterly cling to their guns and bibles while finding a way to somehow blame Obama.

It is nearly impossible to record how much money, time and brain cells Republicans lost being perpetually lied to by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Alex Jones, Dinesh D’Souza, Bill O’Reilly, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the right-wing brigade.

The fact that Republicans allowed their minds to be poisoned for nine years (counting the campaign in 2008) will have long lasting effects for generations to come and will continue to throughout the Trump presidency.

President Obama got one thing wrong: there is a blue state America and a red state America. But it goes so much deeper than that. There’s an alert America and an easily duped America. There’s a truthful America and an untruthful America. Luckily, Democrats were the former, and sadly Republicans allowed themselves to be the latter.

But it wasn’t always like this. In January 2009, as President Obama prepared to take office, 71 percent of America came together to support the new incumbent. Then the power of talk radio prevailed, and America was to be utterly transformed, never to be the same again.

President Obama will leave office with a 60 percent approval rating. Perhaps a chunk of the GOP electorate realizes they have been manipulated.

Going forward, Democrats and progressives alike need to be cautious of what they share and believe. Allowing our disdain for Trump to border on conspiracy is a dangerous route to take.

Be vigilant, but be smart.

Ryan Denson

U.S. Politics

Here’s what Republicans voted for Wednesday night— $7 million for each of the 400 richest tax-payers

HOLLYWOOD, FL - APRIL 15:  Felue Chang who is newly insured under an insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act receives a checkup from Dr. Peria Del Pino-White at the South Broward Community Health Services clinic on April 15, 2014 in Hollywood, Florida. A report released by the Congressional Budget Office indicates that the Affordable Care Act will cost $5 billion less than originally projected for 2014.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

attribution: Getty Images

And so it begins… (ks)


Sure, repealing Obamacare is about bringing “choice” back to Americans when it comes to their health insurance. That’s what Republicans say, right? That it’ll cost consumers less and be better and that’s all they want for the nation. How do you know that’s bullshit? Because of what repeal will really mean: massive tax cuts for the wealthiest tax-payers.

Urged on by Trump, the Senate overnight adopted a budget resolution that clears a path for eliminating the tax-and-spending provisions of the Affordable Care Act by simple majority vote — no Democratic cooperation required. That means repeal of two provisions targeted at high-income households: a 0.9 percent hospital insurance tax on earnings above $250,000 for couples and a 3.8 percent tax on capital gains, dividends and other nonlabor income above that same threshold.That would provide a tax cut averaging $7 million for each of the 400 highest-earning taxpayers, according to new calculations by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities using Internal Revenue Service data. That cut, the center estimated, would amount to $2.8 billion annually overall — or approximately the value of Obamacare subsidies for those with modest incomes in the 20 smallest states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, eliminating those two levies would represent a tax cut of roughly $346 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Households with million-dollar-plus incomes — a much larger group than the top 400 — would receive an average tax cut of $49,000 a year, the center says.

The only people Republicans are looking out for are the ones in Trump’s swamp.

Joan McCarter

U.S. Politics

Republican leader explains why the GOP has a big problem with racism


Image result for evan mcmullin

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin (Screen cap).


Republican upstart Evan McMullin — the mainstream GOP alternative to President-elect Donald Trump — is cautioning his party that it has a deeply rooted vein of racism that needs to be addressed and that the party’s leadership is ignoring it.

In a series of tweets that used Trump advocate Carl Paladino’s offensive comments about First Lady Michelle Obama as a jumping off point, McMullin said talk like Paladino’s wont go away on its own.

Paladino proved to be an embarrassment to both the Trump campaign and his family after saying Michelle Obama would be resuming her life as “a man” and that she should be “let loose” in Africa so she could live with apes.

According to McMullin, Paladino is not the exception in the party, writing: “Racism like @CarlPaladino’s and that of others in the GOP won’t just go away on its own. It’s a problem that requires better leadership.”

Then came a series of warnings for Republicans.

See below:

A number of Republicans see the problem (racism). They try to lead the party in a new direction, but too many disagree & thus the problem. https://twitter.com/jason_w_simmons/status/813814027931422720 …  | This post was deleted…could not embed post

U.S. Politics

GOP rep: Trump may exceed Obama on ‘violating our rights’


GOP rep: Trump may exceed Obama on ‘violating our rights’

© Greg Nash


Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) says he has concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s respect for the Constitution.

“President Trump has made clear that he supports a very strong surveillance state,” he said Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich., according to MLIve.com. “And he may even go beyond what President Obama did in terms of violating our rights.”

“I’ll be supportive when I think he’s right and I’ll be critical when I think he’s wrong,” Amash added of Trump. “I’ve been a critic of the Obama administration. There were many times when the Obama administration didn’t follow the Constitution, and I took them to task. I will do the same with the Trump administration.”

Amash also said he wouldn’t shy away from breaking with fellow Republicans over Trump’s policies, citing government spending as one potential division.

“I will take positions that sometimes the political establishment – my own party – won’t like,” he said. “I will take positions that sometimes the Trump administration won’t like. And sometimes I will take positions that the Democrats won’t like. My job is to be fair.”

“We need to make sure we are keeping our debt under control,” Amash added. “Whenever you have one party controlling all of government, you tend to have less of a check on spending.”

Trump will enter the White House next month with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate behind him.

Many rank-and-file Republicans have rallied around the president-elect after their party’s often bruising presidential primary.

Amash initially endorsed GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and then Ted Cruz(Texas) before Trump earned the Republican presidential nomination.

The Michigan lawmaker has been a vocal critic of Trump, and refused to back either him or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before Election Day.


U.S. Politics

Trump calls Democrats ‘party of slavery’ in pitch for African American votes

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday night called Democrats the “party of slavery” and praised what he called the millions of African Americans with career success, as he tries to revamp his outreach to minority voters.

Trump has made much-maligned efforts to appeal to black and Hispanic voters, groups that generally support Democrats and are expected to vote heavily for Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.

“The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said at a rally in Everett, Washington.

“It is the Democratic Party that is the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow and the party of opposition,” he said, referring to racial segregation laws that once existed in the American South.

The Republican nominee has said Democrats failed minority voters with economic policies that have not improved their job prospects, but his attempts have been criticized for painting a bleak view of the lives of all black and Hispanic Americans.

Clinton last week released an ad mocking Trump’s attempts to reach those groups and showing headlines about a racial discrimination lawsuit the New York real estate mogul faced in the 1970s.

A prominent supporter of Trump’s apologized on Tuesday for sending out a tweet that showed a cartoon image of Clinton in blackface.

Trump sought to correct course in Washington state on Tuesday, saying millions of black Americans “have succeeded greatly” in art, science, sports and other endeavors.

“But we must also talk about those who have been left behind, the millions suffering in disastrous conditions in so many of our inner cities,” he said.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

U.S. Politics

Obama Shifts Cash To Fight Zika; Vacationing Republicans Take Credit

Brendan Smialowski via Getty Images


WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama’s administration announced Thursday the transfer of some $80 million in additional funds to combat the growing Zika threat after Congress refused to pass a $1.9 billion package before going on a seven-week break.

Nevertheless, congressional Republicans took credit for convincing the White House to act when Congress would not.

“For over six months we have been calling on the administration to use every existing resource at their disposal to address this crisis,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “Our calls have been met with little action, while the White House continues to cast aspersions and blame at others for lack of funding.”

The White House asked for $1.9 billion in February, and Rogers and other Republicans responded by questioning the administration’s plans to use the money. The administration then transferred $589 million from other programs ― primarily the effort to combat Ebola ― to begin dealing with Zika.

The Senate passed a compromise Zika package worth $1.1 billion on a bipartisan vote. But when that broadly supported bill came back from negotiations with the House, Republicans added riders to it restricting contraception services, protecting the Confederate flag, cutting Obamacare and weakening the Clean Water Act.

Democrats promptly labeled the riders poison pills and refused to pass the altered bill. Republicans then blamed Democrats for the impasse, as Rogers did again Thursday.

“The House has twice passed responsible, immediate funding legislation for vaccine development, mosquito control, and public health efforts,” Rogers said, referring to the rider-laden measure and an earlier bill that would have provided just one-third of the requested money. “These much-needed funds have been blocked at every turn by Democrats in the Senate, with the backing of the Obama White House.”

Even one of the few Republicans who supported Obama’s initial request, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), blamed Democrats and crowed over the funding transfer.

“Last month I urged President Obama to use all the funds that were already available to fight Zika,” Rubio said in a statement. “Today’s action is long overdue, and the Obama administration should do even more to find unspent funds that can be redirected toward fighting Zika in Florida.”

In a letter to lawmakers Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell explained that the transfer comes at a cost. It means that $34 million being shifted at the National Institutes of Health will be used to continue development of one promising vaccine, but that three other vaccine candidates will have to be shelved. It also means that NIH’s work on Zika diagnostics will stall, Burwell said.

Similarly, $47 million being transferred to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will allow the agency to sign contracts with private companies that work on vaccines, but it does not provide enough money to come close to finishing that work.

“With the actions described above, we have exhausted our ability to even provide short-term financing to help fight Zika,” Burwell wrote. She said that if Congress fails to act by the end of the fiscal year next month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NIH will have to start cutting back Zika efforts.

Burwell opened her letter by noting that, as of Thursday, there were more than 7,300 cases of Zika infection in the United States, including 972 pregnant women with evidence of infection and 15 babies born with Zika-linked birth defects.

And in Florida, where the first local outbreak of Zika has been recorded, there are at least 22 related cases.

Democrats blamed their GOP colleagues for the current state of affairs, and said Congress should come back to work before its scheduled Sept. 6 return to pass the bipartisan Zika bill.

“Without having successfully enacted any funding to fight Zika, Republicans shut down Congress for the longest summer recess in at least 60 years,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “What better use of time do Republicans have right now than to come back here and get the job done for the American people?”

“In its continued failure to enact emergency Zika appropriations, the Republican majority is playing Russian roulette with the health of the American people,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Rogers’ counterpart on the Appropriations Committee. “This failure has forced the administration to divert funding from other critical priorities, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, mental health, viral hepatitis, and home energy assistance for low-income Americans. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is damaging and immoral, and it must stop.”

Michael McAuliff

U.S. Politics

Missouri Republican Appallingly Says That ‘God’ Can Provide a ‘Silver Lining’ to Rape

From the desk of Donviejo


You would think, in 2016, that the topic of rape and the horrors that accompany it would be fairly well understood. If there’s a group of people who deserve, without question, to be able to do whatever they want without input or judgement from anyone – it’s someone who’s been the victim of a violent sexual assault.

However, for some bizarre reason, some Republicans seem to believe that rape victims who were impregnated by their assailant somehow should either lose control of their bodies, thus being forced by the government to give birth to the child or that they should look on the “bright side” with the “gift that God” bestowed upon them.

Yes, because nothing says “God loves you” quite like being brutally and violently sexually assaulted, resulting in that woman becoming pregnant by the very man who raped her.

Such as Missouri State Rep. Tila Hubrecht, who recently said that if a woman becomes pregnant following a sexual assault that she should look at that as a “silver lining” to the tragedy.

“It is not up to us to say ‘no just because there was a rape, they cannot exist,’” Hubrecht said. “Sometimes bad things happen, horrible things, but sometimes God can give us a silver lining through the birth of a child.”

These comments were made concerning legislation that could give Missouri voters the right to determine whether or not fetuses should be given constitutional rights.

First, the fact that someone would consider fetuses as “people” is absurd. When a baby is born, we don’t consider it 9 months old, do we? Not only that, but what about the Constitutional rights of the actual living and breathing woman? If this somehow became “law,” there’s absolutely no chance it is held up as Constitutional. It would basically ban abortion – which is an issue we settled over 40 years ago with Roe v. Wade.

That’s neither here nor there.

What I want to focus on is how ridiculous it is for anyone to try to tell a rape victim that it’s some sort of “blessing from God” if they happen to become pregnant from the assault and that they should view it as a “silver lining” from the horrific event.

These comments really wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except this sort of attitude isn’t exactly uncommon among the Republican party. In the past we’ve seen Todd Akin try to claim that a woman can’t become pregnant if it’s a “legitimate rape” and I’ve even wrote a story just over a year ago about another Republican who said it can be “beautiful” if a child is the result of a sexual assault. To say nothing about the fairly sizable chunk of the Republican party who don’t believe rape victims should be allowed to have abortions.

The bottom line is, there’s nothing beautiful about any kind of sexual assault – nothing. If a woman who is the unfortunate victim of such a violent and heinous encounter does happen to become pregnant because of it, the only person who should have any say so over whether or not she has that baby is that woman.

End of story.

It is inexcusable and actually very disgusting that this sort of attitude still exists, and somewhat flourishes, within one of our country’s two largest political parties.

By Allen Clifton