We begin today’s roundup with reaction to the latest version of Trumpcare to come from the Senate GOP. First up, The Washington Post:
SENATE REPUBLICANS released Thursday a new version of their Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill. It is arguably worse than the unpopular bill that preceded it.
In their revision, Senate leaders tried to blunt the charge that the GOP wants to cut poor people’s health care to fund tax cuts for the rich. Taxes on wealthy people’s investment income were indeed maintained. But the bill would deeply slash Medicaid, the state-federal program covering the poor and near-poor, just as before. And it would still use the savings to fund an array of tax cuts, including a break for medical-device manufacturers. It would even add a new tax break expanding tax-advantaged health savings accounts, which would mostly benefit wealthier people who have savings to put into them.
McConnell needs to pick up support from both ends of the ideological spectrum. He can afford only two Republican defections, and at least 10 of his members had come out against the first version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act before McConnell abandoned plans to bring it up for a vote last month. Two of those critics, Senator Susan Collins of Maine in the center and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on the right, appear to have hardened in their opposition this week. Collins said it would take “a complete overhaul” to win her support, and Paul has gone on a media tour to rail against the revised proposal, saying that based on what he had heard, it was even worse than the original because it repealed less of Obamacare and included a bigger “bailout” for insurers.
Within hours after the revised draft’s release, both Paul and Collinsreiterated their opposition to it and said they would vote against even bringing it up for debate. As on the final vote, McConnell needs at least 50 Republicans to sign off on the procedural motion, and with Paul and Collins apparently out, he needs every other member of his conference to agree.
As Sarah Frostenson at POLITICO points out, the bill is essentially a massive tax cut for the rich:
The latest Congressional Budget Office analysis of theSenate’s revised health care billwon’t be available until next week, but theoverarching trendof the three GOP plans analyzed so far is clear — more Americans will be uninsured and the majority of them will be poor.
Recent data from anUrban-Brookings Tax Policy Center analysis on the original bill found that families making $10,000 or less risk losing more than 60 percent of their household income to health care costs. What’s more, America’s wealthiest families would actually benefit — gaining more than $5,000 in income through tax and benefit changes. Revisions to the Senate bill, includingincreased aidfor low-income families and a decision to maintain two taxes on wealthier Americans, could affect these numbers. [...]
Researchersanalyzedthe uninsured rate by state and found states that experienced the largest coverage gains under the Affordable Care Act would now report the largest increases in their uninsured population. And in some states, especially those thatexpanded Medicaidand have a large low-income population, the number of uninsured would skyrocket.
Peter Fromuth, a former senior State Department official, focuses on the gutting of Medicaid in the bill over at USA Today:
The most damaging of the Medicaid changes in the Republican legislation is a per capita ceiling on the growth of funding. Initially for the elderly this will be the Medical Consumer Price Index plus 1 percentage point, but after eight years spending will rise pegged to the general CPI, a basket of goods and services unrelated to medicine. Yetmedical costsgenerally increase at a much faster rate than inflation overall, so states will have to pick up an increasing share of the federal tab. They will have limited options.
States could raise taxes or cut spending, but for many of them the financing would be difficult. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval sees the billadding $480 millionto annual budgets just to maintain current levels of coverage, a lot of money given that more than athird of residentsare low income. More than a third inWest VirginiaandLouisianaare also low income and three of four nursing home residents in each state are on Medicaid. The program soaks up 12% of state funds in West Virginia and 19% in Louisiana.
Turning to voting rights, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board calls for action in securing state election systems:
The nation has some 8,000 jurisdictions, the study noted, with voters casting their ballots at about 100,000 polling places. That level of decentralization is protection itself, for it makes it practically impossible to hijack the nation's elections system at a single point. Still, as former CIA director James Woolsey noted in a forward to the report, hackers are increasingly sophisticated, and U.S. intelligence expects that Russia and other players will be back in 2018 and in later election cycles to inflict more damage on the nation's voting systems. This is a universal threat to all voters and political parties that cannot be lost in the current furor over Russia.
Campus rapes and sexual assaults are really just about boozy encounters or unhappy breakups, so says the Trump team’s top civil rights lawyer on educational matters. The crass thoughts from Candice Jackson produced a so-sorry apology, but the damage is done.
No campus or classroom topic is more volatile and loaded. Accusers say their claims aren’t taken seriously. Slow-reacting administrators often fumble the issue. Those accused say charges can stain them for life and are hard to refute. Jackson has just made the problem much worse.
Turning to the Russia investigation, conservative Charles Krauthammer points out “bungled collusion is still collusion”:
My view was: Collusion? I just don’t see it. But I’m open to empirical evidence. Show me.
The evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. A British go-between writes that there’s a Russian government effort to help Trump Sr. win the election, and as part of that effort he proposes a meeting with a “Russian government attorney” possessing damaging information on Hillary Clinton. [...]
I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.
And on a final note, here’s Eugene Robinson’s analysis of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s scandals:
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have tried their best to soar gracefully above the raging dumpster fire that is the Trump administration. Unhappily for the handsome couple, gravity makes no allowances for charm. [...]
Among Manhattan’s progressive upper crust, Jared and Ivanka — they really are first-name-only celebrities at this point — were expected to at least temper the hard-right policy positions being pushed by other presidential advisers. If this indeed is what they are trying to do, they’ve had a negligible impact to date.
Writing in Time magazine, Henry Kissinger wished Kushner well “in his daunting role flying close to the sun.” Jared and Ivanka have first-class educations. They know how the Icarus story ends.