Republican Attempt to Repeal Obamacare Turns into Farce

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15 (DoD/William Lockwood)

Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare have descended into farce.

Politico reports that Senate Republicans don’t even want their latest bill — which would repeal the 2010 health reforms without replacing them — to become law.

“The substance of this is not what’s relevant,” said Bob Corker of Tennessee. “This a pathway to conference. That’s the only purpose in this.”

But there is no guarantee the House of Representatives will agree to a conference, which is not designed to write laws to begin with. It’s a process to iron out differences between similar bills passed by both chambers.

The reason Senate Republicans must resort to this is that they haven’t been able to unify their own behind a health-care bill, let alone attract Democratic support. Read more

Complacency May Have Led to Brexit and Trump

View of the Thames in London, England at dawn
View of the Thames in London, England at dawn (Uncoated)

Janan Ganesh wonders in the Financial Times if, rather than economic pain, relatively good times led to victories for Brexit and Donald Trump.

The median Briton, he points out, has no recollection of national crisis: no devaluation, no three-day workweek, no conscript war, none of the floor-to-ceiling greyness of the postwar years, when austerity entailed the rationing of basics and not just tight public-sector pay settlements.

The worst ordeals were an invasion of Iraq conducted by an all-volunteer army and a crash in which unemployment peaked at 8 percent.

To remain vigilant after such a benign experience of history is too much to ask, argues Ganesh. Read more

Trump Behaves Like the Head of a Banana Republic

Donald Trump gestures after being sworn in as president of the United States in Washington DC, January 20
Donald Trump gestures after being sworn in as president of the United States in Washington DC, January 20 (Hillel Steinberg)

Considering pardons for himself and his family, calling on soldiers to support his political agenda and using a scout jamboree to trash his opponents — Donald Trump looks more like the head of a banana republic, as Phillip Carter puts it, than the president of the United States.

This weekend, Trump urged sailors attending the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford to discard centuries of military ethics as well as the armed forces’ own rules to lobby their congressmen and senators to approve his health and spending plans.

It wasn’t Trump’s first breach of republican norms and it wouldn’t be his last. Read more

Kushner Had “Hardly Any” Contacts with Russians. Except for These

Jared Kushner listens as his wife, Ivanka, speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel and American president Donald Trump outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17
Jared Kushner listens as his wife, Ivanka, speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel and American president Donald Trump outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

American president Donald Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, Jared Kushner, claims he had “hardly any” contacts with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.

Except for these:

  • One (brief) meeting with Sergei Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, in April.
  • And maybe two phone calls with Kislyak in the months thereafter, as Reuters has reported. Kushner is “skeptical” the calls took place.
  • Definitively a meeting with various Russian officials, including the lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, that was also attended by Donald Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort, and his oldest son. Read more

Fear That Trump Will Fire Special Counsel in Russia Probe

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States walk together on the White House grounds in Washington DC, May 11
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the United States walk together on the White House grounds in Washington DC, May 11 (White House/Benjamin Applebaum)

President Donald Trump and his supporters are looking for ways to disparage Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is investigating Russia’s attack on America’s 2016 election.

The New York Times reports that Trump’s political aides and legal counsel are hoping to find a conflict of interest they could use to discredit Mueller’s investigation — or even build a case to fire him. Read more

Trump Hopes Americans Will Suffer And Blame His Opponents

American president Donald Trump visits Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on Memorial Day, May 29
American president Donald Trump visits Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on Memorial Day, May 29 (US Army/Elizabeth Fraser)

We knew Donald Trump has a cruel streak and always puts his own interests first, but it’s still shocking to hear him brag about the harm he is planning to do to millions of Americans — and how he hopes to benefit from it politically.

After Senate Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump said:

I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.

Jonathan Bernstein writes at Bloomberg View that none of Trump’s predecessors was willing to trade the welfare of the American people for their own (perceived) political gain:

Imagine if Ronald Reagan had said after Congress prohibited him from aiding anti-communists in Nicaragua: “Fine. I’ll just surrender to the USSR today. That’ll show ’em!” Or if Franklin Roosevelt, faced with sharp congressional resistance from isolationists, decided to disarm and allow the Axis to proceed at will. Or if George W. Bush had reacted to the first defeat of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 by publicly rooting for a worldwide economic meltdown.

Read more

Trump Gives Putin What He Wants, Pulls Support from Syrian Rebels

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Emmanuel Macron of France inspect an honor guard in Paris, July 13
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Emmanuel Macron of France inspect an honor guard in Paris, July 13 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump has given Vladimir Putin a win in Syria by withdrawing America’s support from the rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad.

The Washington Post reports that Trump made his decision a month ago, before he met Putin at the G20 in Hamburg.

Russia and the United States seemed on the verge of a confrontation at the time. America had shot down a regime fighter jet that was attacking its allies in Syria. Russia responded by suspending a military hotline with the United States.

It supports Assad, calling him a bulwark against terrorism. Read more