Month: July 2017

Sorry GOP, tax reform will not be easier than replacing ObamaCare

Sorry GOP, tax reform will not be easier than replacing ObamaCare

The Hill
By Howard Gleckman
Image courtesy of Tom Williams

You hear it all the time these days: Republicans should just move on to tax reform. It will be so much easier than overhauling the law on healthcare.

No, it won’t. Indeed, if the GOP thinks replacing the Affordable Care Act has been a nightmare, just wait until they try to reform the tax code.

Tax reform, at least the version that raises the same amount of revenue as the current code, will create far more losers than a health bill. It will divide the business lobby, produce a storm of criticism from charities and home builders, and set off a firestorm among political ideologues. It will sow confusion and uncertainty among ordinary taxpayers. And it will split congressional coalitions, not just by party, but by geography.

Think of it this way: Nearly two-thirds of Americans get insurance through their employers, Medicare, or the military, and they would be largely immune from changes to the ACA. By contrast, nearly every American and all businesses could be touched by a major tax bill. Even those who currently pay no federal income tax could be at risk, depending on how reform is structured.

Donald Trump’s behavior is abnormal

Donald Trump’s behavior is abnormal

Chicago Tribune
By Rex Huppke

The authorhad written half of a relatively silly column when he stopped and read these words online:

“The predators and criminal aliens who poison our communities with drugs and prey on innocent young people — these beautiful, beautiful, innocent young people — will find no safe haven anywhere in our country.

“And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns, because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others, and they slice them and dice them with a knife, because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long. Well, they’re not being protected any longer, folks.”

That’s a story the president of the United States told at a rally in Ohio on Tuesday night. It’s a creepy story, one that mixes unnecessarily detailed savagery with the image of “a young, beautiful girl.”

There’s no mention of the anecdote’s origin, no specifics on when or where a “beautiful, beautiful, innocent” young person was sliced and diced and put through “excruciating pain.” There is just the violent imagery, and the repeated reference to “animals.”

That’s weird. It’s intentionally dehumanizing an entire group of people, but it’s also just weird. Weird in a way that if someone at a bar told you that story you’d excuse yourself and walk away as quickly as possible.

It’s sadistic.

Trump is a virus

Trump is a virus

The Week
By Damon Linker
Image courtesy of Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 45th president of the United States is a virus. He has infected America’s body politic. And there’s only one cure.

The particular form of this virus is really the most disturbing part of Donald Trump’s presidency: the way his words and behavior constitute an ongoing and virulent assault on the very idea that institutions can rise above partisan politics to stand for the good of the nation as a whole.

Of course Democrats oppose President Trump and the agenda of his party. That’s politics. But Trump doesn’t limit his rhetorical wrath to Democratic politicians. In fact, if we set aside the president’s peculiar obsession with the ghost of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, he devotes far more time and energy to railing against institutions and individuals that strive to rise above the partisan fray, to take their stand in the name of the public good: journalists, members of the intelligence community, and those who work in federal law enforcement.

It is America’s faith in these institutions that the Trump virus has most worringly infected.

Republicans are in full control of government — but losing control of their party

Republicans are in full control of government — but losing control of their party

The Washington Post
By Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa
Image courtesy of Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Six months after seizing complete control of the federal government, the Republican Party stands divided as ever — plunged into a messy war among its factions that has escalated in recent weeks to crisis levels.

Frustrated lawmakers are increasingly sounding off at a White House awash in turmoil and struggling to accomplish its legislative goals. President Trump is scolding Republican senators over health care and even threatening electoral retribution. Congressional leaders are losing the confidence of their rank and file. And some major GOP donors are considering using their wealth to try to force out recalcitrant incumbents.

The intensifying fights threaten to derail efforts to overhaul the nation’s tax laws and other initiatives that GOP leaders hope will put them back on track. The party remains bogged down by a months-long health-care endeavor that still lacks the support to become law, although Senate GOP leaders hopes to vote on it soon.

With his priorities stalled and Trump consumed by staff changes and investigations into Russian interference in last year’s election, Republicans are adding fuel to a political fire that is showing no signs of burning out. The conflict also heralds a potentially messy 2018 midterm campaign with fierce intra-party clashes that could draw resources away from fending off Democrats.

These Americans hated the Health Law, until the idea of repeal sank in

These Americans hated the Health Law, until the idea of repeal sank in

The New York Times
By Kate Zernike and Abby Goodnough
Image courtesy of Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

Five years ago, the Affordable Care Act had yet to begin its expansion of health insurance to millions of Americans, but Jeff Brahin was already stewing about it.

“It’s going to cost a fortune,” he said in an interview at the time.

This week, as Republican efforts to repeal the law known as Obamacare appeared all but dead, Mr. Brahin, a 58-year-old lawyer and self-described fiscal hawk, said his feelings had evolved.

“As much as I was against it,” he said, “at this point I’m against the repeal. Now that you’ve insured an additional 20 million people, you can’t just take the insurance away from these people,” he added. “It’s just not the right thing to do.”

As Mr. Brahin goes, so goes the nation.

When President Trump was elected, his party’s long-cherished goal of dismantling the Affordable Care Act seemed all but assured. But eight months later, Republicans seem to have done what the Democrats who passed the law never could: make it popular among a majority of Americans.

Most profound, though, is this: After years of Tea Party demands for smaller government, Republicans are now pushing up against a growing consensus that the government should guarantee health insurance. A Pew survey in January found that 60 percent of Americans believe the federal government should be responsible for ensuring that all Americans have health coverage. That was up from 51 percent last year, and the highest in nearly a decade.

How the White House and Republicans underestimated Obamacare repeal

How the White House and Republicans underestimated Obamacare repeal

Politico
By Nancy Cook and Burgress Everett

The longer Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare flounder, the clearer it becomes that President Donald Trump’s team and many in Congress dramatically underestimated the challenge of rolling back former President Barack Obama’s signature achievement.

The Trump transition team and other Republican leaders presumed that Congress would scrap Obamacare by President’s Day weekend in late February, according to three former Republican congressional aides and two current ones familiar with the administration’s efforts.

Republican leaders last fall planned a quick strike on the law in a series of meetings and phone calls, hoping to simply revive a 2015 repeal bill that Obama vetoed.

Few in the administration or Republican leadership expected the effort to stretch into the summer months, with another delay announced this weekend, eating into valuable time for lawmakers to tackle tax reform, nominations or spending bills.

As Trump himself infamously remarked, “nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated” — even though health care has reliably tripped up past administrations.

Now that the difficulty of getting 50 senators to rally around a bill has come into stark relief, Republicans are starting to acknowledge they misjudged the situation.

Ivanka Inc.

Ivanka Inc.

The Washington Post
By Matea Gold, Drew Harwell, and Simon Denyer
Image courtesy of Matt McClain/The Washington Post

On Inauguration Day, President Trump stood in front of the U.S. Capitol and vowed that his “America First” agenda would bring jobs back to the United States.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,” he declared, adding: “We will follow two simple rules — buy American and hire American.”

Looking on from the front of the stage was Trump’s daughter Ivanka, the celebrity and fashion entrepreneur who would soon join him in the White House.

The first daughter’s cause would be improving the lives of working women, a theme she had developed at her clothing line. She also brought a direct link to the global economy the president was railing against — a connection that was playing out at that very moment on the Pacific coast.

As the Trumps stood on stage, a hulking container ship called the OOCL Ho Chi Minh City was pulling into the harbor of Long Beach, Calif., carrying around 500 pounds of foreign-made Ivanka Trump spandex-knit blouses.

Another 10 ships hauling Ivanka Trump-branded shoes, cardigans and leather handbags bound for the United States were floating in the north Pacific and Atlantic oceans and off the coasts of Malta, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and Yemen.

Those global journeys — along with millions of pounds of Ivanka Trump products imported into the United States in more than 2,000 shipments since 2010 — illustrate how her business practices collide with some of the key principles she and her father have championed in the White House.