June 29, 2017


“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”— Barack Obama in a Facebook post

“It depends on how you define better.” — Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) when asked if the GOP’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” actually made health care better.

For Trump, it seems to me, the whole point is to have a “win.” He doesn’t give a shit about what the bill actually contains. He’ll just lie about it afterward and assume his cult followers will believe him. For Ryan, it’s just a way to make a future tax cut for the superrich more budget-friendly, while pushing the political costs of shredding Medicaid onto some future sucker. -- Andrew Sullivan


“I’ve reflected back and simply cannot find another instance in recent American history where a new administration was so wholly committed to reversing the accomplishments of its predecessor. While other presidents focus on what they will build, “this one is different, far more comfortable still in swinging the wrecking ball than in developing models for what is to follow.” -- Presidential historian Russell Riley onTrump’s determination to define his time in office by,demolishing what his predecessor did. JUNE 23, 2017

Trump is what happens when a political party abandons ideas, demonizes intellectuals, degrades politics and simply pursues power for the sake of power. -- Conservative historian Bruce Bartlett

“Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.” — Hillary Clinton 6/24/17

This is not a health-care bill; it is a wealth grab by the wealthy. Political-opinion polls show that most Americans know that. Do Republicans care? -- Adam Davidson June 22, 2017

“Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels.” -- American Medical Association 6/26/17

“You talk to these jackasses behind closed doors and you go ‘what are you doing’ and they go ‘we’ve got to get to the tax bill so we’ve got to do this first.'” — Joe Scarborough marveling at the fact GOP lawmakers were willing to change “one-sixth of the economy so we can get to a tax bill.”


I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA. CBO analysis shows Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on mtp. 1/3 -- Sen. Susan Collins‏ @SenatorCollins 6/26/17



      1. All the President’s Lies

      There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant.

      The list compiled by the NY Times uses the conservative standard of demonstrably false statements. By that standard, Trump told a public lie on at least 20 of his first 40 days as president. But based on a broader standard — one that includes his many misleading statements (like exaggerating military spending in the Middle East) — Trump achieved something remarkable: He said something untrue, in public, every day for the first 40 days of his presidency. The streak didn’t end until March 1.

      Since then, he has said something untrue on at least 74 of 113 days. On days without an untrue statement, he is often absent from Twitter, vacationing at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, or busy golfing.

      For the list of Trump's lies compiled by the NY Times go to https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html


      2. CIA Captured Putin’s Instructions to Help Elect Trump

      Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried ‘eyes only’ instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

      Inside was an intelligence bombshell… The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump. June 23, 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/national-security/obama-putin-election-hacking/?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.dc7257eca00c



      3. Trump Aides Struggle to Keep Him Calm on Russia

      President Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia.

      The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump’s lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the ‘fake news”’ media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president’s own Justice Department overseeing the probe.

      By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud. It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-is-struggling-to-stay-calm-on-russia-one-morning-call-at-a-time/2017/06/22/1da3385a-5762-11e7-b38e-35fd8e0c288f_story.html?utm_term=.e3e80f4eda25


      4. The DAILY GRILL

      The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don't even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump


      Call your office, sir. @nytimes spoke to many, many, many members of your staff yesterday - & ran everything by your team.- Glenn Thrush ✔@GlennThrush 


      The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years. And we’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.” -- Trump


      A federal law passed in 1996 bars most foreigners who enter the country on immigrant visas from being eligible for federal benefits like Social Security and food stamps for the first five years. -- AP Fact Check


      “You see what we’ve already done. Homebuilders are starting to build again. We’re not confiscating their land with ridiculous rules and regulations that don’t make sense.” -- Trump


      Housing starts as tracked by the Census Bureau have actually fallen over the past three months. Trump seems a bit mixed up on deregulation. Some of the biggest constraints on homebuilders come from local governments, rather than federal rules. -- AP Fact Check


      “We’re working really hard on massive tax cuts. It would be, if I get it the way I want it, the largest tax cut in the history of the United States of America. Because right now, we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world. Really on a large-scale basis, we are the highest tax nation in the world. … And I think it’s going to happen.” -- Trump


      The overall U.S. tax burden is actually one of the lowest among the 32 developed and large emerging-market economies tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.. -- AP Fact Check


      “We have Gary Cohn, who’s the president of Goldman Sachs. That’s somebody. He’s the president of Goldman Sachs. He had to pay over $200 million in taxes to take the job, right? … This is the president of Goldman Sachs, smart. Having him represent us. He went from massive paydays to peanuts. … But these are people that are great, brilliant business minds. And that’s what we need.” -- Trump


      Trump appears to be confusing taxes paid with stocks sold. Cohn and his family members held about $220 million in Goldman stock, which he had to divest in order to resolve possible conflicts of interest before becoming White House economic adviser. (NOTE: The Trump ampaign routinely criticized Goldman Sachs and its ties to Hillary Clinton, even using it as a villain in a political ad that included video of the bank’s chairman and CEO.) -- AP Fact Check



      “You have a gang called MS-13. … They do things that nobody can believe. These are true animals. We are moving them out of the country by the thousands, by the thousands. … We’re getting them out, MS-13.” -- Trump


      There is no publicly available evidence to support this claim about the violent gang. Overall arrests of immigrants in the country illegally have increased in recent months, but deportations have declined slightly, according to the most recently available government data. -- AP Fact Check

      5. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

      Sean Hannity: If Trump campaign communicated with and asked Russia to release hacked emails, "is that a crime?" “What was the collusion? That maybe somebody in the Trump campaign talked to somebody in Russia … Is that a crime, to say ‘release it?’ https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/23/Sean-Hannity-If-Trump-campaign-communicated-with-and-asked-Russia-to-release-hacked-emails/217020

      Trump-ally Michael Savage compares refugees and immigrants to lions “tearing the entrails out through the anus” Savage: "No more jackals brought into America with tattoos up to their eyebrows” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/23/trump-ally-michael-savage-compares-refugees-and-immigrants-lions-tearing-entrails-out-through-anus/217022

      Fox & Friends praises Trump for his false threat of having tapes of interactions with Comey. Ainsely Earhardt: "That was a smart way to make sure [Comey] stayed honest in those hearings". https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/23/Fox---Friends-praises-Trump-for-his-false-threat-of-having-tapes-of-interactions-with-Come/217007


      Hannity calls Trump’s false threat of Comey tapes one of the “most brilliant … tweets in the history of mankind.” Sean Hannity: "This was one of the most brilliant, strategic, doubt-inducing, mind-messing tweets in the history of mankind" https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/23/fox-host-attacks-obama-his-criticism-senate-health-care-bill/217008


      Fox host attacks Obama for his criticism of Senate health care bill. Ed Henry: Why isn’t Obama “weighing in in a more positive way” on the proposal? https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/23/fox-host-attacks-obama-his-criticism-senate-health-care-bill/217008

      Fox & Friends joins other pro-Trump media falsely suggesting Comey met with NY Times. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/23/fox-friends-joins-other-pro-trump-media-falsely-suggesting-comey-met-ny-times/217006

      New right-wing media talking point: It's no big deal if Trump colluded with the Russians. Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett “You can collude all you want with a foreign government in an election,” also saying that it “is not a crime.” In a FoxNews.com op-ed, Jarrett also wrote that “colluding with Russia is not, under America’s criminal codes, a crime.” https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2017/06/26/new-right-wing-media-talking-point-its-no-big-deal-if-trump-colluded-russians/217034

      6. From the Late Shows

      Late Night with Seth Meyers: Senate GOP Tries to Rush Its Cruel Trumpcare Bill: A Closer Look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMhy9aE6tN4

      The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Republicans Want A Vote, Not A Debate, On Healthcare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsvJqjQZV-s

      Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: Georgia, Healthcare, and All The Other Bad Things: https://youtu.be/xs0QRP8GQ50

       The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Trump Rejoices Over CNN's Commitment To Journalistic Ethics: https://youtu.be/hbP0QUkciZw

      7. Late Night Jokes for Dems

      It came out yesterday that under the Republican healthcare plan, 22 million people will lose their health insurance over the next decade. 22 million! Or as Trump put it, "Wow — that's like, half my Inauguration crowd!"-- Jimmy Fallon

      I saw that Canada is restoring a historic brothel that was owned by Trump's grandfather in 1897. They're even putting a plaque out front that says: "The Trumps: Screwing People Since 1897."-- Jimmy Fallon

      President Trump and his wife Melania this weekend attended the wedding of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. When asked if she cries at weddings, Melania said, "Just the one." -- Seth Meyers

      Republicans, who were already nervous, ran for the exits after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced yesterday that under the GOP plan, 22 million people would lose their health coverage. That's a big number. To put that number into perspective, if you laid 22 million people end to end, it would reach Canada, where they could get healthcare. -- Stephen Colbert

      The Senate healthcare bill came out today, and it would cut a tax on indoor tanning. Which is the biggest proof so far that Trump was actually working on the bill. -- Jimmy Fallon

      Senate Republicans today released a draft of their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, which would cut taxes for richer Americans and insurance companies, and defund Planned Parenthood for one year. The bill is so bad, President Trump said, “Does anyone have any questions for me about Russia? -- Seth Meyers

      Today was the longest day of the year ... says Sean Spicer every day. -- Stephen Colbert

      This morning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell showed us a draft of his top-secret new healthcare legislation. They opened the vault, they laid the bill out on a table, rubbed lemon juice all over it, and the text magically appeared for all to see. And wouldn’t you know it, the bill includes a big tax cut for rich people. So unless you just got drafted by an NBA team, it’s not great news. -- Jimmy Kimmel


      They’re calling the plan “Bettercare,” as in: Just imagine how much better this plan would be if the people who wrote it cared. -- Jimmy Kimmel

      8. 22 Million Would Lose Coverage Under Senate Bill

      The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 22 million Americans would lose coverage under the Senate health bill. This would mean the uninsured rate would rise significantly over the next decade. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/26/15876476/voxcare-cbo-report-bcra-senate-bill


      9. Polls

      Most Don’t Want to Raise the Debt Limit: A new Morning Consult/Politico survey found that 57% of Americans said Congress should not raise the debt limit – a move that, as the Treasury Department says, would cause “catastrophic economic consequences. Republican opposition is particularly strong, with 64% of GOP voters saying they oppose raising the debt limit. But they are not alone: Forty-nine percent of Democrats also oppose the move.” June 22, 2017 https://morningconsult.com/2017/06/22/majority-americans-say-congress-shouldnt-raise-debt-ceiling/

      Most Want Democrats to Control Congress: A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds Democrats lead the generic congressional ballot by eight points, 50% to 42%. It’s the largest lead any party has held on that generic ballot question since 2013. June 22, 2017 http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/22/half-of-americans-want-democrats-to-control-congress-poll.html

      Just 12% Support GOP Health Plan: A new USA Today/Suffolk poll finds just 12% of of Americans approve of the Senate Republican health care plan. Meanwhile, a 53% majority say Congress should either leave Obamacare alone or work to fix its problems while keeping its framework intact. The dilemma for the GOP is this: Eight in 10 Republicans support repeal, and close to a third say the law should be repealed even if a replacement health care plan isn’t ready yet. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/28/suffolk-poll-obamacare-trump-senate-health-care-plan/103249346/

      Trump Loses Ground with Independent Voters: A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that just 37% of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing, while 51% disapprove. Key finding: The most pronounced swing the poll found was among independents. Over the past four months, their approval of the president has dissipated. In February, 40% of independents said they approved of the job Trump was doing, with 51% disapproving. Four months later in June, just 31% say they approve of the president with 59% of independents disapproving — a 17 point net-negative drop. http://www.npr.org/2017/06/28/534602973/trump-fails-to-reach-beyond-base-as-independents-disapproval-grows

      U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership: A new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. This stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world. http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/06/26/u-s-image-suffers-as-publics-around-world-question-trumps-leadership/


      10. Despite Trump’s Claims, Obamacare Isn’t Collapsing

      Although premiums have been rising under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the nongroup market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference between that percentage and the premiums for a reference plan… Nevertheless, a small number of people live in areas of the country that have limited participation by insurers in the nongroup market under current law. -- Page 6 of the CBO cost estimate. https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/52849-hr1628senate.pdf

      11. Trump Campaign Chief’s Firm Got $17 Million From Pro-Russia Party

      Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed Tuesday that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin,.

      The filing serves as a retroactive admission that Mr. Manafort performed work in the United States on behalf of a foreign power — Ukraine’s Party of Regions — without disclosing it at the time, as required by law. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/us/politics/trump-campaign-chiefs-firm-got-17-million-from-pro-russia-party.html?_r=0


      1. Jack Shafer: Trump Doesn’t Want to Be President

      Donald Trump doesn’t really want to be president. If he did, he’d nominate candidates to the 350 important but vacant administration jobs and get on with the job of governance. He doesn’t seem to want to be commander in chief of the armed forces, either, having outsourced Afghanistan troop-level decisions to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Don’t burden him with foreign policy—which so daunts him that he’s postponed an official trip to Britain because (as some report) he fears the inevitable protests that will greet him. Nor is he much interested in upholding the oath he took on Inauguration Day, promising to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He proves this lack of interest every day by ignoring the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause.

      Instead, Trump lusts for the job of White House communications director, a position that has been open since mid-May, when Michael Dubke resigned. By not replacing Dubke, Trump has telegraphed his preference to be his own communicator in chief and amplified that preference by constantly second-guessing Sean Spicer, his hapless press secretary. Trump’s unhappiness with Spicer has been public knowledge since the opening weeks of his administration, as the president has routinely contradicted him and reportedly bad-mouthed him behind closed doors. In recent weeks, Trump has expressed his dark discontent with Spicer by replacing him with Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the White House daily briefings—the way Casey Stengel used to platoon Moose Skowron and Joe Collins at first base. June 22, 2017 http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/22/trump-doesnt-want-to-be-president-215292

      2. Rick Klein: The Senate’s Unhealthy Start on Health Care

      “It’s a discussion draft that will leave much to discuss, and it’s unlikely to get prettier from here. The history of health care bills in Congress provides a clear lesson: process matters. On that count, the Senate’s health care effort is off to a distinctly unhealthy start, with members of the GOP’s conservative and moderate wings sounding similar only in their skepticism around a bill that’s been kept from even most of them until today. The secrecy has built anticipation and trepidation around the details, and now people will be able to judge the impact on their lives. Medicaid cuts, pre-existing conditions, abortion and Planned Parenthood; there’s enough cobbled together to convince senators that they’ll want to hear from constituents, or at least stakeholder groups, before taking votes that leadership insists need to happen before the Fourth of July.”

      “‘I’ve been talking about a plan with heart,’ President Trump said Wednesday night in Iowa, in another implicit dig at the House bill he once celebrated, adding that he told senators to ‘add some money to it.’ Nobody is against ‘heart.’ But the details are not even an easy sell at campaign-style rallies, much less congressional hearings and voter gatherings, with an effort that starts out as unpopular as this does.” http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/note-senates-unhealthy-start-health-care/story?id=48202692

      3. Eugene Robinson: With Health Care Bill, the GOP Is Mounting a Historic Heist

      Fundamentally, what Republicans in both chambers want to do is cut nearly $1 trillion over the next decade from the Medicaid program, which presently serves almost 70 million people. Medicaid provides health care not just for the indigent and disabled but also for the working poor -- low-wage employees who cannot afford health insurance, even the plans offered through their jobs.

      Additionally, about 20 percent of Medicaid spending goes to provide nursing home care, including for middle-class seniors whose savings have been exhausted -- a situation almost any of us might confront. Roughly two-thirds of those in nursing homes have their care paid by Medicaid.

      Why would Republicans want to slash this vital program so severely? You will hear a lot of self-righteous huffing and puffing about the need for entitlement reform, but the GOP's intention is not to use the savings to pay down the national debt. Instead, slashing Medicaid spending creates fiscal headroom for what is euphemistically being called "tax reform" -- a soon-to-come package of huge tax cuts favoring the wealthy. June 23, 2017 https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/06/23/with_health_care_bill_the_gop_is_mounting_a_historic_heist_134262.html

      4. Henry A. Waxman: Republicans aren't just repealing Obamacare, they are gutting a guarantee of healthcare for the poor

      Three million and $1.6 trillion. The first number represents an estimate of the children who would lose healthcare coverage under the bill Republican senators worked on in secret and finally unveiled on Thursday. The second number reflects the total amount of Medicaid cuts — in the form of the elimination of the Medicaid expansion for working families that was part of the Affordable Care Act, capped federal spending for Medicaid and additional cuts proposed in the president’s budget — that would go to pay for tax breaks for billionaires.

      As with the House version of the American Health Care Act — also written in secret and passed in reckless haste — the Senate revision would end Medicaid as we know it. In essence, Trumpcare would abandon the federal government’s 52-year responsibility to guarantee healthcare for those unable to afford it on their own.

      Legislation needs to pass sufficient public scrutiny or it’s unworthy of becoming law. If monumental, transformative legislation can be written in the dark and enacted in a rush— and children’s lives are compromised or ruined so that billionaires can get tax cuts they don’t need — it would rank among the worst scandals in U.S. history. Americans of conscience must mobilize now to stop this from happening. 6/22/17 http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-waxman-ahca-abandons-working-families-20170622-story.html


      5. David Frum What Happens When a Presidency Loses Its Legitimacy?

      Day by day, revelation after revelation, the legitimacy of the Trump presidency is seeping away. The question of what to do about this loss is becoming ever more urgent and frightening.

      The already thick cloud of discredit over the Trump presidency thickened deeper Friday, June 23. The Washington Post reported that the CIA told President Obama last year that Vladimir Putin had personally and specifically instructed his intelligence agencies to intervene in the U.S. presidential election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

      It’s not seriously disputed by anyone in a position of authority in the U.S. government—apart from the president himself—that Donald Trump holds his high office in considerable part because a foreign spy agency helped place him there. So now what?. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/what-happens-when-a-presidency-loses-its-legitimacy/531447/

      6. Gene B. Sperling and Michael Shapiro: How the Senate's Health-Care Bill Would Cause Financial Ruin for People With Preexisting Conditions

      The Senate health care bill will open the door to states forcing people with pre-existing conditions into segregated markets that will lead them to pay far, far higher costs than everyone else. People with pre-existing conditions could run into new annual or lifetime limits on how much insurance coverage they can get. That means those with the most serious chronic health conditions (and their families) will be at increased risk of financial devastation and even bankruptcy. The bottom line is that the backdoor discrimination the Senate plan allows against those with pre-existing conditions is as cruel as the discrimination in the House bill which the Senate claimed to fix.

      This bill will take American healthcare back to what everyone in the U.S. should recognize was a completely broken system before the Affordable Care Act. It will takes the country back to a system in which companies often profited not by how well they provided healthcare but by how well they discriminated against or screened out those who faced the most challenges. President Trump promised “insurance for everyone” and lower costs, but this bill will bring the country back to a system in which insurance only works for the healthy, and the sick can’t afford the coverage they need. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/ahca-senate-bill-preexisting-conditions/531375/


      7. John Cassidy: The Dubious Counting at the Center of the G.O.P.’s Health-Care Reform

      After Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, released a draft of the Senate health-care bill, on Thursday morning, the media finally began focussing on the essence of what Republicans are proposing: an enormous redistribution of wealth into the pockets of the already-wealthy. The bill would modify the health-insurance subsidies introduced under the Affordable Care Act and dramatically cut Medicaid, all to deliver a big tax cut to the nation’s richest households. But there’s another aspect of the legislation that has received less attention, and that’s the way it staggers its various provisions, and claims billions of dollars in savings that are far from guaranteed.

      If McConnell’s proposal were signed into law, the tax cuts for families earning more than a quarter of a million dollars a year would take effect immediately—in fact, they would be backdated to the start of the 2017 tax year. June 23, 2017 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/the-dubious-counting-at-the-center-of-the-gops-health-care-reform


      8. Jeet Heer: The Twin Authoritarians Who Are Endangering American Democracy

      If the Republican Party needs Trump, the president is equally dependent on the GOP. Given his manifest disinterest in policy and the details of governance, he would be unable to pass anything without crafty leaders like McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. But there is a more sinister dimension to Trump’s alliance with these Republican leaders: Congress has the power to check the president, including impeachment and removal if necessary. Ryan and McConnell are the bulwarks protecting Trump from a wide range of areas where he should be held accountable. If they wanted to, they could push for laws requiring him to reveal his taxes, force him to place his assets in a blind trust, and use nepotism rules to limit the power of family members, among a range of other checks.

      In theory, Trump could reject a health care bill from Congress on the grounds that it would violate his campaign promises to protect Medicaid and “to have insurance for everybody.” He’s reportedly grumbled in private that the House bill, which closely matched the Senate’s, is “mean.” But that should not raise the hopes of Obamacare’s defenders. A presidential veto, or even the threat of one to lessen the cruelty of the AHCA, is out of the question. Reveling in his emerging kleptocracy, Trump is smart enough to know that he has to stay on Ryan and McConnell’s good side if he wants to hold on to the presidency. June 25, 2017 https://newrepublic.com/article/143503/twin-authoritarians-endangering-american-democracy


      9. The News & Observer Editorial: Senate GOP health care bill fails

      Mitch McConnell pronounced the ACA a “failure” and President Donald Trump, of course, called it a “disaster” hundreds of times on the 2016 campaign trail. But there were problems with Republicans’ criticisms: First, they weren’t accurate and were steeped in the politics of hate, trying to get the conservative GOP base stirred up about the president; second, Trump had no clue what the ACA was or how it worked.

      The truth is, 22 million people now have health insurance who might not have had it; the federal deficit didn’t explode, which Republicans predicted; and the ACA was paid for with taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on medical industry companies. The ACA needed fine-tuning, of course. But it was not a failure, and far from it – for example, the millions of Americans who were helped by Medicaid expansion, another benefit of the ACA.

      The Senate version of its replacement is steeped in reckless disrespect for the intelligence of the American people, and a callous and even dangerous attitude toward the poor and the middle class when it comes to ensuring their health care. Which it doesn’t. http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article157703099.html


      10. Frank Rich: Just Wait

      Unlike Nixon, who had to contend with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Trump has the shield of a Republican Congress led by craven enablers terrified of crossing their Dear Leader’s fiercely loyal base. That distinction alone is enough to make anti-Trumpers abandon all hope.

      I’m here to say don’t do so just yet. There’s a handy antidote to despair: a thorough wallow in Watergate, the actual story as it unfolded, not the expedited highlight reel that most Americans know from a textbook précis or cultural artifacts like the film version of All the President’s Men. If you look through a sharp Nixonian lens at Trump’s trajectory in office to date, short as it has been, you will discover more of an overlap than you might expect. You will learn that Democratic control of Congress in 1973 was not a crucial factor in Nixon’s downfall and that Republican control of Congress in 2017 may not be a life preserver for Trump. You will find reason to hope that the 45th president’s path through scandal may wind up at the same destination as the 37th’s — a premature exit from the White House in disgrace — on a comparable timeline.

      But as was also true with Nixon, some time and much patience will be required while waiting for the endgame. The span between Nixon’s Second Inaugural and his resignation was almost 19 months. Trump’s presidency already seems as if it’s lasted a lifetime, but it’s only five months old. Never forget that the Watergate auto-da-fé wasn’t built in a day. June 25, 2017 http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/frank-rich-nixon-trump-and-how-a-presidency-ends.html


      11. Jack Shafer: America’s Mayor

      Watching Trump campaign for president—and now, watching him try to be president—it’s apparent that the superficial duties of the job, the kind of civic theater that mayors specialize in, are at the heart of his model of leadership. Doesn’t he look happiest when boarding Marine One or Air Force One, stepping into his armored limo, gripping-and-grinning, traveling to Saudi Arabia to collect chintzy honors from a king, calling on the pope, filling the federal equivalent of potholes, and being photographed with world leaders? When he blows kisses to Vladimir Putin, it feels less like serious diplomacy toward a belligerent nation than like courting Moscow as a future sister city.

      The superficial duties of the job, the kind of civic theater that mayors specialize in, are at the heart of Trump’s model of leadership.

      Our classic big-city mayors all cut a similar figure. Even after winning office, they kept campaigning, stumping for their causes without apology. They blustered in the name of the neighborhoods, the parishes and the synagogues. They feuded with their enemies. Loudly. They “fixed” things, looked for deal-making partners and struck alliances. They maintained peace between labor and capital, and they kept civil order. They played the booster. The classic mayors knew how to shame companies from moving their headquarters out of town, how to crowd their way to the center of any photo opportunity, how to junket and how to get results. Most of all, classic mayors were virtuosos in the art of blowing their own horns.

      Like your average mayor, Trump thinks he won office on the strength of his personal charms. When he speaks, he sounds like that mayor who delights in hearing the sound of his own voice, whether he’s addressing a captive audience or a joint session of Congress, or making girl talk on the phone with bestie Putin. The deeper responsibilities of the job, however—the nation-scale responsibilities—daunt him. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/26/trump-president-style-mayor-215294

      12. David Brooks: The G.O.P. Rejects Conservatism

      Because Republicans have no national vision, they seem largely uninterested in the actual effects their legislation would have on the country at large. This Senate bill would be completely unworkable because anybody with half a brain would get insurance only when they got sick.

      Worse, this bill takes all of the devastating trends afflicting the middle and working classes — all the instability, all the struggle and pain — and it makes them worse. As the C.B.O. indicated, the Senate plan would throw 22 million people off the insurance rolls. It would send them to private insurance plans that they could not afford to buy. Under the Senate bill, deductibles for poor families would be more than half of their annual income. The plans are so incompetently and cruelly designed that as the C.B.O. put it, “few low-income people would purchase any plan.”

      This is not a conservative vision of American society. It’s a vision rendered cruel by its obliviousness. I have been trying to think about the underlying mentality that now governs the Republican political class. The best I can do is the atomistic mentality described by Alexis de Tocqueville long ago:

      “They owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands. Thus not only does democracy make every man forget his ancestors, but it hides his descendants and separates his contemporaries from him; it throws him back forever upon himself alone and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart. JUNE 27, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/opinion/the-gop-rejects-conservatism.html?_r=0


      13. Jonah Shepp: Jared Kushner’s Road Map to Nowhere

      President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner spent the better part of last week in the Middle East, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to relaunch U.S.-brokered peace talks. Shockingly, the trip was not a great success.

      Maybe Trump thinks Kushner has some special insight into the Middle East on account of his Jewish heritage, or maybe Kushner just fancies himself a budding statesman and convinced his doting father-in-law to let him play action-hero diplomat in the most volatile region of the world. In any case, Trump’s willingness to hand his daughter and son-in-law the keys to the government whenever they want to drive it constitutes a level of reckless, corrupt nepotism the likes of which this country has rarely seen. June 28, 2017 http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/jared-kushners-road-from-jerusalem-to-nowhere.html