Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How the Republicans Botched The Trumpcare Rollout & Why Trump Won't Just Repeal Without Replacement

The truth of the matter is that this healthcare rollout was botched from the beginning.  What they should have done, in my opinion, was the following:

1) Get everyone together from the various conservative groups, the various caucuses in the House, and representatives from the Trump Administration.  Have each of the caucuses beforehand write down exactly what they expect out of this bill.  Have the Trump Administration set guidelines as to what they want out of this bill.  Also have Senators there for an idea as to what will pass the Senate.  Invite doctors and people from the private sector who offer solutions for great, free market health care at a lower cost.  Hammer it out. 

2) Write the bill and get everyone together again to go over it.  Don't release the bill to the public until  you are confident in it.

3) Promote the bill to the American public so they really understand it.  Now that you have the various conservative factions involved, have them running ads, sending out updates, and encouraging supporters to contact their representatives.  Have these representatives and Trump out there doing town halls and rallies promoting this.  At the same time, Trump and said representatives and groups need to be feeding a daily stream of news and stories to the public of the negative affects of Obamacare to counter the media narrative.

4) Now vote on the bill, and hopefully it will pass and go through the Senate. 

This is going to take longer than 3 weeks, and that is okay.  This is a change, and you want people to be comfortable with it.

Now obviously none of this occurred with the bill presented before the House.  They did it backwards.  Paul Ryan wrote the bill secretly enough where Rand Paul took reporters on a treasure hunt searching for it, and they fought over what should be in it after it was written.  It was rushed to the point that no one knew what was in it.  A lot of people were confused about the three phases and how a lot of the things people wanted were in phase 3.  No one promoted the bill except for Ryan and Price - that includes Trump who seemed lukewarm on the whole thing until he tried to get representatives to sign on for the vote.  It was to the point that people questioned whether or not Trump liked the bill.  He didn't do any rallies specifically for it.  I think that Trump is new to this, and he counted on Paul Ryan who has been wanting this for seven years and his team to know how to do this.  Paul Ryan did not.

As far as the Freedom Caucus goes, if you read articles in the media, Trump offered them concessions such as getting rid of the essential benefits (shifting them to states) which caused moderates to pull away from the bill and outrage among the media which was pumping said outrage out over the airways and into their newspapers.  The Freedom Caucus felt that they weren't getting enough of what they wanted, although I read a quote by one member who remarked it was better than Obamacare - just not good enough.

The thinking with the bill is that it would be a three stage approach.  A full repeal would be filibustered in the Senate, so this part would go through reconciliation and would be filibuster proof, but a lot of what excited conservatives, like purchasing across state lines, would come in the third stage - which some were skeptical they would ever be able to get through.  Because of that, the CBO only scored phase one, and without the entirety of everything taken into account, the CBO numbers were terrible.  The media blasted them out consistently.  This plus the absolute disaster of a rollout gave the bill a dismal 17% approval rating.  The left hated it for the obvious reason that it undid Obamacare.  The moderate wing thought it went too far and many on the right thought it didn't go far enough - some wanting a plain repeal and other wanted a repeal and replace with a bill similar to that of Rand Paul's. 

Ultimately, the Freedom Caucus tanked the bill, but some moderates aided in their efforts:

After all, it wasn’t just conservatives who sank the AHCA. The Freedom Caucus remains a stubborn problem for GOP leadership, but blaming—or crediting—its members for Friday’s defeat ignores the fact that some two dozen moderate and centrist members were also opposed. "There's no natural constituency for this bill," Raul Labrador, a Freedom Caucus co-founder, said throughout the week. He was right. Members care about policy and process, and between the two, there was no clear upside for many of Ryan's members: It left too many people without coverage and failed to drive down premiums; it also was re-written hastily to accommodate changes and felt rushed for no good reason. Ultimately, every concession made to win conservatives, like the amendment that left regulating essential health benefits up to states, was destined to result in the loss of moderates.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/obamacare-vote-paul-ryan-health-care-ahca-replacement-failure-trump-214947

The Freedom Caucus made a wager that they weren't getting enough of what they wanted and in effect ended up with Obamacare in the end. 

Walking toward the tunnel that connects the House office buildings to the Capitol itself, I ran into Mark Walker, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a large caucus that was once home to the conservative movement in Congress before being eclipsed in recent years by the more ideologically pure Freedom Caucus. Walker had initially been against the bill, but came on board quickly after some changes, and in doing so validated the critiques of his group by those further to the right. A former minister, Walker is by nature relaxed and genteel, but his face was burning red and his voice trembled as we discussed the bill's defeat.

“I’m very bothered. I'm disappointed,” he said, measuring his words. “This was a chance to repeal all the Obamacare taxes. It was a chance to take off the burdensome mandate we've stuck on our employers and individuals who have begged for help. It [has] additional pro-life provisions. It destroys the chance to do the biggest Medicaid revision that we've had in what, 51, 52 years? Yeah, I'm bothered by it.”

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/obamacare-vote-paul-ryan-health-care-ahca-replacement-failure-trump-214947

A full repeal would not be possible, but at least they would have gotten some of what they wanted as opposed to none.  Trump has now suggested he will work with the Democrats and won't need the Freedom Caucus.  The Freedom Caucus will get even less then and have less power to negotiation.  Trump himself called out the Freedom Caucus on Twitter.

March 26

Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!

March 27

The Republican House Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. After so many bad years they were ready for a win!

From Bob Costa of The Washington Post:

“I think they made a mistake, but that’s okay,” Trump said of the Freedom Caucus.

I asked: Would working on a bipartisan health-care deal a year from now be something he would find more agreeable than whipping the hard right?

“A lot of people might say that,” Trump said, laughing. “We’ll end up with a better health-care plan. A great plan. And you wouldn’t need the Freedom Caucus.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/president-trump-called-my-cellphone-to-say-that-the-health-care-bill-was-dead/2017/03/24/8282c3f6-10ce-11e7-9b0d-d27c98455440_story.html?utm_term=.aa30fd7b1f20

He Tweeted about this as well.

March 25

ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!

March 27

The Democrats will make a deal with me on healthcare as soon as ObamaCare folds - not long. Do not worry, we are in very good shape!

Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer also talked of working with the Democrats.

Now, I realize that among many conservatives, they were hoping that Trump would repeal Obamacare completely.   If Trump does that sans a good replacement, he will be a one term President, and the Democrats will come in next term and give you something more intrusive than Obamacare - socialized medicine.  He made a promise to the people he would repeal and replace, keep preexisting conditions, the 26 rule, and take care of those who can't afford it.  He said so in September 2015 long before the first primary:

Scott Pelley: What's your plan for Obamacare?

Donald Trump: Obamacare's going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what's going on with premiums where they're up 45, 50, 55 percent.

Scott Pelley: How do you fix it?

Donald Trump: There's many different ways, by the way. Everybody's got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, "No, no, the lower 25 percent that can't afford private." But--

Scott Pelley: Universal health care?

Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now.

Scott Pelley: The uninsured person is going to be taken care of how?

Donald Trump: They're going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably--

Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?

Donald Trump: --the government's gonna pay for it. But we're going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it's going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-60-minutes-scott-pelley/

He said who he was, and he didn't apologize.  He made himself clear throughout the campaign.  In doing so, he was not only able to win the Republican nomination, but he also won the election by cracking the blue wall and winning with working class voters, poor voters, and rural voters. Some of these voters are dependent on Obamacare.  If you wanted a candidate who was going to do a straight repeal or repeal and replace with something that did not include a safety net, Donald Trump was not the candidate to vote for.  You would have wanted Ted Cruz or Rand Paul.

He even reiterated again in an interview with The Washington Post right before he took office:

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said.

“There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” People covered under the law “can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-vows-insurance-for-everybody-in-obamacare-replacement-plan/2017/01/15/5f2b1e18-db5d-11e6-ad42-f3375f271c9c_story.html?postshare=1231484529419268&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.4e23ce91c858

Just some basic stats and polls:

Obamacare has a positive approval rating at this point (although not amongst most Trump voters I'm sure) - with 49% to 44%:

http://kff.org/interactive/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-the-publics-views-on-the-aca/#?response=Favorable--Unfavorable&aRange=twoYear

Overall, only 19% of Republicans approve and a slight majority of Independents disapprove with 47% - 46%.  Obamacare's approval rating actually went up when people heard it might be taken away.  The media still wields some power.

A Rasmussen poll showed the following:

The Rasmussen survey ahead of the failed bill found that while a majority of voters wanted health care reform, 52 percent were concerned Trump and the GOP would change too much. Thirty-six percent worried they would change too little.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trumps-approval-rating-falls-as-trumpcare-flops/ar-BByT8jM

Of course the group worried they would change too little is obviously the conservative wing.

While there are conservative voters who want it all repealed, there are others who want some replacement like Rand Paul, but others yet who want to keep things in place like Trump promised.    If Trump violates his campaign promise and drops Obamacare with no replacement, he's in trouble.  The media will run story after story of not only how he's a conman and liar but of people negatively affected.  The people who voted for him and trusted him that are currently now using Obamacare and expect either a better system or the ability to get help if they are ill, will look elsewhere. Trump barely won in Democrat states with a total of 70,000 people COMBINED.  These people did not vote for Trump to repeal and not replace Obamacare.  They voted for him for a better healthcare system.  In order for Trump to win the next election, he will need to maintain his voter base, and some the portion that helped put him over the top will be voting Democrat if Obamacare is not replaced with a better system for them.  Also, exclude those voters for a minute and think how it will motivate Democrat voters to come out who otherwise stayed at home as they weren't motivated.

They should work to open up the markets and lower costs - making the system as free market as possible, but at the same time, he made a promise to help those who can't afford it.  If they are successful and prices go down, perhaps less people will need help as time goes on, and the goalposts can be moved as less people will need government healthcare (although the reality is that some always will).  The Democrats are aware of the fact that you can't get what you want right away, so they settle.  The far left settled for Obamacare because it was a step towards their goal of socialized medicine.  They didn't get everything they wanted then, but they knew it wasn't the endgame. 

My point is that people who are looking to flat repeal or repeal and replace without adhering to Trump's campaign promise will win the short term battle on this, but they will lose the war because the Democrats will come in and give you something to the left of Obamacare.  Republicans won't get a shot again.  Not only that, but then you will lose having a President who is pro-life, pro 2nd Amendment, who is willing to put conservatives on SCOTUS, enforce immigration laws, wants tougher vetting, helps business by easing regulations and lowering taxes, wants fair trade, eases climate regulations, is tough on ISIS, expects our NATO members to meet commitments, is pro-Israel, etc.  You'll lose all that and lose on healthcare too in the end. 

The above said about the need to compromise, while I state I think the Freedom Caucus will have to make concessions, I think it's likely good for Trump that this bill fell flat.  Complaints and disputes I read from both sides of the political spectrum is that this could negatively affect vets, seniors, debate over some losing Medicaid who need it, debate over essential health benefits, illegals could sneak in and get care (cause it was done under reconciliation), the 30% surcharge for lapsed coverage, whether or not the age based tax credits is a good system, and of course the horrific CBO numbers of those losing insurance.

The bottom line is that it had a 17% approval rating.  That is absolutely dismal, and Obamacare currently has a slight positive approval rating aided by media promotion.  If this bill went through and tanked, they would own it.  It would be a dire setback electorally.  Trump mentioned the best thing they could do politically is let Obamacare explode.  Once it does, the American people will be clamoring for a better plan.

I actually think Trump looked a bit relieved that it failed.  I think now he has lashed out a bit at the Freedom Caucus because Trump is a counterpuncher, and right now the narrative out there is that the dealmaker failed - was beaten by the Freedom Caucus who will now have power over him and have weakened him, that his loss is devastating to his Presidency, etc.  He sees the media and Dems celebrating, and from that stand point, he wants the win, but he could be better off without it.

Yes, there is a risk that if they move forward onto other things this session, save it for next session, and lose seats they've lost their chance to repeal Obamacare - meaning this is their best and only chance, but unless they get something done (and that would be risky without sufficient promotion and with Obamacare's rating) it's a risk they will have to take.  The Freedom Caucus also have taken a risk that if/when Obamacare explodes, Trump works with the Democrats and they are marginalized. 

It will be a gamble to see if people will blame the Republicans for Obamacare blowing up for not getting this healthcare bill done.  People will either blame the Republicans because they are in charge, it happened under their watch, and they failed to get something done, or they will blame the Democrats who passed and fought to keep it.  The Democrats did their victory laps in the short term but not necessarily in the long term will they be celebrating I believe.  The one thing the Republicans could have done, knowing they couldn't get 60 votes due to a filibuster in the Senate, is load a bill up with absolutely everything they wanted, let the Dems filibuster, and then the Dems really would have owned it.  They took a larger risk of blame by letting this thing flop miserably, but it its what it is.

The bill put forward in the future should have full backing, support, and promotion from conservative groups and isn't promoted by Trump and Congress so the American people understand it in the future - especially if they are going the non-bipartisan route.  If they are going the bipartisan route, Trump has to remember he and the Republicans are in the majority and can't give the Democrats too much leeway.  I would prefer to see the Republicans get something good done themselves if/when Obamacare explodes.

To conclude, I realize my opinion may not be popular among some conservatives, but reading what Trump has said, his comments were not comments that would make the conservative base completely happy.  Ironically, that is probably what helped him win.  I see some conservatives turning on Trump for this, and I don't think it's wise.  He's somebody who is willing to fight to give you most of what you want and is willing to stand up to the press.  Don't give up on him over this because I think adhering to his campaign promise will keep him in office to do all the other things we want.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Addressing CNN - US Officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians

US Officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians
CNN ^ | March 22, 2017 | Pamela Brown, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN

Washington (CNN)The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN.

This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, according to one source.

The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.

In his statement on Monday Comey said the FBI began looking into possible coordination between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives because the bureau had gathered "a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power."

The White House did not comment and the FBI declined to comment.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer maintained Monday after Comey's testimony that there was no evidence to suggest any collusion took place.

"Investigating it and having proof of it are two different things," Spicer said.

One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests "people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready." But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial.

(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...

The leftists are ecstatic about this, and it was trending on Twitter for a while. However, here are some caveats stuck in their own article:

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, US officials told CNN.


The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.


But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial.


The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, but the information suggesting collusion is now a large focus of the investigation, the officials said.


A whole lot of caveats here I just illustrated. As far as officials, one of them had to be Adam Schiff who Tweeted about this earlier today. We know that CNN appears to be the network of choice for the Deep State to leak to as well.

Flynn, Manafort, Stone, and Page are the four people being looked at, and CNN can't even confirm that any of the four are "subjects of the investigation the FBI is reviewing." Also, the dossier that was cited by Schiff in his opening statement yet never proven is not where FBI officials got the info cited in this CNN report.

To me, this feels like a distraction from the Nunes bombshell today which showed Trump was right about surveillance. CNN immediately went into cover for their narrative and said that Trump still lied because there is no proof that Obama ordered a wiretap, Nunes said Trump Tower wasn't wiretapped, and it wasn't illegal from what he saw. Well, let's take that at it's face and say Trump overplayed his hand, he is still vindicated that there was surveillance. Did this occur while his people were in Trump Tower? Who unmasked the names? Did Obama know? He changed the rules so intelligence agencies could spread classified info.

These are questions CNN didn't ask. After attempts to minimize, CNN switched focus. They moaned over the fact that Nunes went to Trump before Schiff, that Nunes is biased (like Schiff isn't - citing from the unproven dirty dossier in his opening statement of the investigation), and the proceeded to show Schiff's press conference, do an interview with Schiff after, and have an interview with another Democrat (Jim Hines), and proceed to say the investigation into Russia "hacking" the election (CNN said election could not be hacked weeks prior to the election) has now been compromised in the House.

The bottom line is that CNN might not know any more than they knew before but are using weasel words and talk from people like Schiff as a distraction. We'll have to wait and see.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Media Campaigning For Obamacare

Trump supporters in the heartland fear being left behind by GOP health plan
The Guardian ^ | March 12, 2017 | Jessica Glenza

Janice Phelps, a 60-year-old disabled factory worker in Evansville, Indiana, knows how expensive healthcare is. Each month, shots for her severe asthma cost $3,000. Quarterly injections for knee pain cost $3,200.

Medication for depression costs $900. She has had seven back surgeries, two shoulder surgeries, and two knee surgeries since 1985. The largest public health programs in America – Medicaid and Medicare, which aid the poor and the elderly – paid for nearly all of it. 

Yet, those programs are now threatened by the men she voted for: Donald Trump and former Indiana governor Mike Pence.

“I’m all in favor of repealing it,” she said about Republicans’ push to do away with the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. But, she said when you talk about cutting Medicaid: “I don’t agree with that at all.”

Dramatic changes to Medicaid – the scheme to help poorer Americans get healthcare – are just part of the reforms in a Republican bill leaders are trying to force through Congress at lightning speed. However, since it was introduced last Monday, the American Health Care Act has met opposition from the left, significant sections of the Republican party, and a slate of doctor, hospital and patient associations. It’s been called a “legislative orphan appealing to no one”.

Though Phelps said she would support Trump even if it passed, she is upset by the idea of Medicaid cuts.

“For Medicaid to say, ‘We’re going to spend X amount of dollars on you, and that’s all we’re going to spend’ – we’re supposed to just roll over and die because we can’t pay it ourselves?” she said.

“X-rays, and MRIs, and CT scans, surgeries and stuff – we have no control over how much that is ... I would not be able to pay that out of my pocket, and I have to pay that to live ... to put a cap on it is uncalled for.”

Anxiety and ambivalence about health are common in this part of Trump-country. The city of Evansville is the seat of rural Vanderburgh in deep red Indiana. It lies at a bend in the Ohio river, just north of Henderson, Kentucky.

This is Pence’s home state. When he was governor, he took political advantage of Obamacare and used federal funds it made available to provide healthcare for half a million of the poorest people in his state.

Of course, while helping Trump win the White House, Pence was an implacable opponent of the healthcare law. By February this year, he was whipping up a crowd of conservatives, telling them “Obamacare must go”. He revived that line while pushing for the Republican bill in Louisville, Kentucky, this weekend.

“In a word, we’re going to make the best healthcare system in the world even better,” Pence said.
Yet here, in a rural corner of Indiana where Trump won 40,000 votes to comfortably beat Hillary Clinton by 10,000, many low-income people are covered by a program Pence put in place only two years ago and which Republican proposals would severely cut.

Pence’s program, called HIP 2.0, is part of Medicaid. It is funded by Obamacare, the law that Pence lobbies against. Including Medicaid, more than one in three people use government health coverage in Indiana.

Vanderburgh is one of only two Indiana counties where more than 10,000 people are on HIP 2.0 and that voted for Trump. Obamacare expanded Medicaid coverage to single adults through state programs such as HIP 2.0, a change that insured 500,000 new people statewide, and 14.4 million people nationally. All told, Medicaid programs cover 1.4 million people in Indiana and 73 million Americans.

Republican proposals would upend that system. First, funding for programs such as HIP 2.0 would start to dissipate by 2020. At that point, the federal government would stop paying for anyone who dropped off HIP 2.0 rolls. Republicans would also cut traditional Medicaid by ending some guaranteed benefits, leaving states such as Indiana with a tab they can scarcely afford – and residents facing high anxiety.

(Excerpt) Read more at msn.com ...

This is what we are up against.  Do you think The Guardian, NYT, or WaPo are going to balance stories like this out by writing stories of people negatively affected by Obamacare?  Nope.  The same will hold true for the network coverage on every channel except Fox News and OANN (I guess cause I don't get it).

Look at the comments' section to the article.  It's full of liberals saying people who voted for Trump are stupid, they got conned, that he's out to enrich the wealthy and insurance companies, etc.  It's all the usual talking points - talking points which they will descend upon the public with if/when Ryancare goes amiss.  If you read those comments, though, Obamacare is perfect to those people.  Again, they only read/view the leftwing media, and they are much smarter than you the Trump voter (I know because they say so), so they will never see the other side of the coin of the people negatively affected by Obamacare because the media doesn't show it. 

Note: While saying the media doesn't show it, the Guardian actually did in this article without acknowledging it and briefly moving on, but I caught it.  See this:

Cindy Rosser, a 46-year-old mother of five and grandmother of one, manages two dry cleaning locations and uses HIP 2.0 for insurance. After being laid off in 2015 (she was told the company could not afford workers’ health costs), she discovered a pre-cancer in her esophagus and her 11-year-old adopted son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

That sounds to me like she was let go because of the cost of Obamacare.

Anyway, I firmly believe that Obamacare is not as popular as those in the leftwing bubble would have us believe.  The Tea Party arose with a goal of repealing Obamacare, and the Republicans have been given the House, Senate, and Presidency in part in order to repeal it - although I do believe they expect a replacement.

We have a situation where some of the working class voters that Trump brought into the fold rely on Medicaid or Obamacare.  For those that want a flat repeal, I understand the purely conservative perspective, but from a political perspective - it's suicide.  If you repeal and millions lose insurance sans an affordable alternative, it will spell doom for 2018 and 2020.  The media will run story after story of people losing their coverage, the Democrats will promise to give it back and then some, and off they go.  It would be a gift for a party in turmoil that still can't understand why it lost the last election.

On the other hand, we have a good deal of the base that put Donald Trump in office who are solid conservatives.  Now people vary of course, but there are those who flat out want it repealed.  Period.  Nothing else.  Trump is not going to do that, and he made it clear  his entire campaign that he wouldn't.  As I said above, I believe that to be political suicide.  There are others who want it replaced with a free market system but not paying for healthcare for those who can't afford it after that.  I'm a little more liberal on this issue.  I think they need to develop the best free market, affordable system possible, but I do think if someone is too sick or unable to afford care, I support providing care for them.  Trump also said this when campaigning.  He said he would repeal and replace and that he wouldn't let people "die in the street" if they couldn't afford care. 

It's so important that the Republicans slow down and do this right  Not only are millions of lives at stake but so is the political future of the party.  They are caught between a good deal of the base (the conservatives) who Trump needs as he really has no one else to fight for him and those who voted for him but are working class or poor and are trusting him to build up the economy and provide a better healthcare alternative but currently are getting some coverage from Obamacare (some of these folks might make up the base that went to rallies and fought for Trump too).

There are two ways they can go about this in my opinion:

1. Let Obamacare continue.  Do it by either doing nothing or bringing a bill forward like Rand's that probably won't make it.  Obamacare continues.  It will take it really collapsing fully for people like those in the comments' section of the article to want it replaced. 

A couple downsides to this:

A)  Those who are struggling with Obamacare and voted in the Republicans to replace might not vote Republican again out of frustration, although many in the conservative base would understand the tactic.  If they bring Rand's bill forward, they can say that the Democrats were an impediment.   Like I said, it could backfire with those who voted for Trump to get Obacamare repealed.  They might feel betrayed and not vote.

B)  If people don't vote out of anger and/or if the Democrats do well in 2018 and regain the majority, then we may have lost our one shot to repeal/replace Obamacare, and that will be very bad for Trump in 2020.

2. Take their time, don't rush it, and really work to come up with the best bill possible utilizing the free market as best as possible so people get the best plans with the lowest costs.  However, I think there will have to be some compromise involved to ensure that people who can't afford care can get it.  It just has to be done right - otherwise the Republicans will own this and it will be an albatross around their necks the Democrats can use in future elections.  (It's actually frustrating to me that they had 7 years.  They should have perfected a plan by now.)  I'll end with this Trump quote with reference to this second point:

We’re going to get private insurance companies to take care of a lot of the people that can afford it. That’s going to take a tremendous burden off, and they’re going to be able to have plans that are great plans,” Trump said.

“And it’s going to be much less expensive,” he continued. “And you will be able to actually have something to say about who your doctor is and your plan.”

“So — and we’re going to have — you know, we have to cover people that can’t afford it. And that’s what I’m talking about. And we’ll probably have block grants of Medicaid back into the states. And we’ll do things — because there are people that can’t afford it. And nobody is going to be dying on the streets with a President Trump,” he promised.

http://nypost.com/2017/01/18/trump-no-one-will-die-in-the-street-with-new-healthcare-plan/



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sessions spoke twice with Russian ambassador during Trump’s presidential campaign Justice officials say

Sessions spoke twice with Russian ambassador during Trump’s presidential campaign Justice officials say

The Washington Post ^ | February 28, 2017 | Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.

When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

(Excerpt) Read more at msn.com ...

Here we presumably have more leaks. These officials are anonymous, and Sessions is head of The Justice Department.  Whoever leaked this from the Justice Department would have known prior to confirmations, right? They bring it out now for max potential scandal. Either that or folks in the justice department are digging around looking for something to bring down Sessions. This is clearly an Obama/establishment holdover.

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”


When he said that to Sen. Al Franken, I think he was referring to discussions with regard to the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Officials said Sessions did not consider the conversations relevant to the lawmakers’ questions and did not remember in detail what he discussed with Kislyak.


Consider this question asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy:

In January, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Sessions for answers to written questions. “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Leahy wrote.


The question asked if he had been in contact with anyone in the Russian government ABOUT the election. Answering that as "No" is completely honest if he wasn't discussing the election.

Justice officials said Sessions met with Kislyak on Sept. 8 in his capacity as a member of the armed services panel rather than in his role as a Trump campaign surrogate.

“He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign — not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee,” Flores said.


That is the point I made.

She added that Sessions last year had more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian and German ambassadors, in addition to Kislyak.


In the case of the September meeting, one department official who came to the defense of the attorney general said, “There’s just not strong recollection of what was said.”


When you come in contact with that many ambassadors, it's doubtful you'll remember the exact conversations - many which probably contain a lot of banalities.

The Washington Post contacted all 26 members of the 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee to see if any lawmakers besides Sessions met with Kislyak in 2016. Of the 19 lawmakers who responded, every senator, including chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), said they did not meet with the Russian ambassador last year. The other lawmakers on the panel did not respond as of Wednesday evening.


“Members of the committee have not been beating a path to Kislyak’s door,” a senior Senate Armed Services Committee staffer said, citing tensions in relations with Moscow. Besides Sessions, the staffer added, “There haven’t been a ton of members who are looking to meet with Kislyak for their committee duties.”


Of course, relations with Moscow are bad right now, and Sessions is one of the few people who wants to work on better relations instead of continuing down a path of hostility towards a nuclear power.

Two months before the September meeting, Sessions attended a Heritage Foundation event in July on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention that was attended by roughly 50 ambassadors. When the event was over, a small group of ambassadors approached Sessions as he was leaving the podium, and Kislayk was among them, the Justice Department official said.


Sessions then spoke individually to some of the ambassadors, including Kislyak, the official said. In the informal exchanges, the ambassadors expressed appreciation for his remarks and some of them invited him to events they were sponsoring, said the official, citing a former Sessions staffer who was at the event.


This is the second scandalous meeting? He spoke to some of the ambassadors informally after they approached him an event? I seriously doubt they had some big discussion about Russia hacking Podesta's emails to expose Hillary's corruption in order that she might win the popular vote while losing the electoral among blue collar voters in states that Hillary neglected to campaign in.

Elijah Cummings is already calling for Sessions to resign. I doubt that will happen, but the media may get their wish of a special prosecutor which is what even McCain/Graham/Issa are calling for. The media would love to scalp Sessions. They got Flynn unjustifiably. They have blood in the water. Trump had to know they wouldn't stop with Flynn.

The media continues the drumbeat of the Russia narrative. McCain/Graham and Hillary/Democrats obviously want to continue to ramp up hostility with Russia. Hillary Clinton said she would treat cyber attacks as actual attacks, thus meaning the email thing would be treated the same as a physical attack on this country. (For the record, they have never proven to me the Russians were involved in that matter - that intelligence report which spent pages droning on about RT proved nothing.) She also wanted a no fly zone in Syria which could have led to a shooting war with Russia. Both of these could have led to WWIII.

This Russia stuff is nonsense in my opinion, but the media, Dems, and establishment Reps are hoping they can find something to try to impeach Trump. Do you honestly see the Dems investigating one of their own like this - calling for a special prosecutor? Hell, Lynch didn't even fully recuse herself after meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac. No! The Reps always stab their own in the back and virtue signal to the media and Dems. Of course, it is worse this time because establishment Reps would like to replace Trump. They don't care a thing about the voters.

I also want to know, if we are truly having a FAIR investigation into Russia and the election, why aren't we looking at both candidates? If Trump had the ties to Russia Hillary has, they'd probably want to impeach him already. Just look at these ties Hillary and her team had to Russia. It ticks me off so badly this is ignored:

http://dtforpres.blogspot.com/2016/09/hillary-clinton-and-democrats-have.html