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A Top Republican Vows a Vote on Health Care, but Uncertainty Reigns

Jamie Florence

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A Top Republican Vows a Vote on Health Care, but Uncertainty Reigns

 

Mr. McCain’s surgeons are not giving interviews. His communications director, Julie Tarallo, said more information would be released when it became available.

Aides to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said it was unclear how long the delay would last.

The timing of the Senate vote is crucial. The more it is delayed, the more likely the bill is to fail, supporters and opponents say. Moreover, the Senate schedule will soon be packed with other legislation, like an increase in the statutory limit on federal borrowing and spending bills for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. In addition, Republicans are eager to cut taxes and simplify the tax code.

The Senate has struggled to pass a health care bill, delaying a vote on a previous version of the legislation in June.

Several Republican senators have expressed reservations or outright opposition to the new version as well, and Republicans need Mr. McCain’s vote to have any chance of passing it.

The bill, to repeal and replace major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, is a top priority for President Trump and Republicans in the House, which passed its own repeal bill in early May.

Mr. Cornyn acknowledged that “there’s uncertainty about what the final outcome will be.” Asked what would happen if the bill did not pass, he said: “I assume we’ll keep trying. But at some point, if Democrats won’t participate in the process, then we’re going to have to come up with a different plan.”

Critics of the Senate’s health care bill, taking advantage of the delay, said Sunday that Republican leaders needed to rework the legislation in fundamental ways. Given the additional time, they said, Senate committees should hold hearings to solicit opinions from the public and from experts on health care and insurance.

“We should not be making fundamental changes in a vital safety net program that’s been on the books for 50 years, the Medicaid program, without having a single hearing to evaluate what the consequences are going to be,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Roughly 20 million people have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act, a pillar of President Barack Obama’s legacy. But Mr. Cornyn described the law on Sunday as a failed “exercise in central planning and command and control.”

The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, declined to comment beyond wishing Mr. McCain a quick recovery, as did Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Trump has been urging lawmakers to pass the bill, saying he is waiting with pen in hand.

On Friday, Mr. Pence assured skeptical governors that “the Senate health care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society,” putting the program, which serves more than 70 million low-income people, on “a path to long-term sustainability.”

But Ms. Collins said: “I would respectfully disagree with the vice president’s analysis. This bill would impose fundamental, sweeping changes in the Medicaid program, and those include very deep cuts. That would affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, including disabled children, poor seniors. It would affect our rural hospitals and our nursing homes. And they would have a very difficult time even staying in existence.”

She added, “There are about eight to 10 Republican senators who have serious concerns about this bill.”

Republicans hold 52 Senate seats, and all Democratic senators oppose the bill. Ms. Collins and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, have said they will vote against even starting the debate, meaning all other Republican senators need to vote for the legislation if it is to pass.

Mr. Paul’s reasons for opposing the bill are very different from Ms. Collins’s; he says it retains too much of the Affordable Care Act. And he predicted that support for the legislation would erode because of the delay prompted by Mr. McCain’s absence.

“The longer the bill’s out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover that it’s not repeal,” he said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And the more that everybody’s going to discover that it keeps the fundamental flaw of Obamacare. It keeps the insurance mandates that cause the prices to rise, which chase young, healthy people out of the marketplace and leads to what people call adverse selection, where you have a sicker and sicker insurance pool and the premiums keep rising through the roof.”

Voters “elected us to repeal Obamacare,” Mr. Paul added. But with the bill drafted by Mr. McConnell, the senior senator from his home state, he said, “we’re going to keep most of the taxes, keep the regs, keep the subsidies and create a giant bailout superfund for the insurance companies.”

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said Sunday that he did not think delaying the vote would change the outcome.

“Time is not the problem in the present health care bill,” Mr. Schumer said. “The problem is the substance. It slashes Medicaid, which has become something that helps middle-class New Yorkers — millions of them, literally — and millions of Americans.”

The delay gives critics of the repeal bill more time to investigate numbers being used by the Trump administration to defend it.

The administration has been telling Congress and governors that the bill includes plenty of money to provide private insurance for people who would lose Medicaid coverage. But those estimates are based on particular assumptions chosen by administration officials. Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, a Republican, and others have questioned the validity of those assumptions.

The assumptions, made by political appointees in the Trump administration, specify how states would use money provided by the bill and how many people losing Medicaid would buy private insurance.

In a report on the House bill last month, the office of the actuary at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said most of the people who lost Medicaid coverage would “ultimately be uninsured, though a small fraction would choose to purchase individual insurance.”

Millions of people have gained coverage in the 31 states that chose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and many of them are projected to lose that coverage under the Senate and House bills, which would roll back the expansion of Medicaid.

When Congress convened in January, Republicans appeared to be on course to repeal the Affordable Care Act within a month or two, but they met with growing resistance as lawmakers, consumers, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies scrutinized the proposals. Mr. McConnell delayed a vote scheduled for the week before the Fourth of July. Then, with no visible progress toward agreement, he delayed the Senate’s August recess by two weeks so senators could keep working.

Administration officials will use the time provided by the latest delay to try to persuade undecided Republican senators to vote for the bill. They will also try to raise doubts about the work of the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that an earlier version of Mr. McConnell’s bill could increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million by 2026, compared with current law.

The nonpartisan budget office had been expected to issue a report on the latest draft of the bill on Monday, but it now plans to take more time.

Lawmakers are eager to see what the office says about a proposal added to the bill last week in a bid for support from the most conservative Republican senators. Under the proposal, insurers could offer cheaper, less comprehensive health plans if they also offered three standard plans with all the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act.

The author of the proposal, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said it would give consumers “the freedom to choose among more affordable plans” that were “free from Obamacare’s insurance regulations.”

The skimpier plans would cover less and presumably cost less, and insurers said they would also attract healthier people.

“These junk insurance plans could charge people more or simply deny them coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington.

Via: NYTimes

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Trump will declare North Korea a state sponsor of terror

Riot Housewives

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Trump will declare North Korea a state sponsor of terror

President Trump said Monday that he will designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, a move designed to further isolate the nation for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Trump said the move will impose further penalties on Pyongyang and result in the “highest level” of sanctions ever placed on the country. He added that the designation will be formalized Tuesday.

Trump said the decision “should have happened years ago” and will ramp up pressure on the “murderous regime” to “end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development.”

The decision returns North Korea to a list it was removed from in 2008 to ease nuclear talks with the George W. Bush administration.

Trump’s announcement comes days after his return from a five-nation tour of Asia, which focused on curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

White House officials telegraphed the move before Trump’s departure.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters earlier this month that the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother at a Malaysian airport played into the decision. The half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was killed with a banned nerve agent.

North Korea will join Iran, Sudan and Syria on the State Department’s list of terror sponsors.

The designation allows the U.S. to cut off foreign assistance, weapons sales, commercial exports and financial transactions with Pyongyang.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson conceded the “practical effects may be limited” because Pyongyang is already heavily sanctioned by the U.S. government.

But he called the move “very symbolic” of the U.S. desire to increase pressure on Kim Jong Un in an effort to persuade him to drop his nuclear program.

“We still hope for diplomacy,” Tillerson told reporters during a surprise appearance at the White House. “This is only going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk.”

Trump had been under pressure from members of Congress to slap the designation on North Korea.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) applauded the administration for relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“Over the past year alone, Kim Jong Un and his regime brazenly assassinated his brother with a chemical weapon and brutally tortured Otto Warmbier, leading directly to his tragic death,” he said in a statement, referring to the American student who died after his release from custody in North Korea.

“These aren’t isolated incidents, but are examples of a consistent pattern of terror,” Royce said, adding that Pyongyang’s push to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles threatens global security.

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Politics

Fox News Host Thinks Its Possible To Keep Roy Moore Away From The Senate (TWEETS/VIDEO)

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Fox News Host Thinks Its Possible To Keep Roy Moore Away From The Senate (TWEETS/VIDEO)

 

On Sunday morning, Alabama’s largest newspapers ran a front-page editorial pronouncing Roy Moore unfit for the Senate on a number of counts–not the least of which was the numerous allegations that he molested and improperly pursued women and girls over several years.

Moore’s reaction was predictable. First, he threw red meat to his supporters by reminding them that his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, supported abortion.

He then reverted to what has become his standard line–the allegations are a witch hunt orchestrated by Democrats and establishment Republicans to keep him out.

Well, by Moore’s definition, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett is a full-on, bleeding-heart liberal. After all, Jarrett believes that if Moore wins in December, the Senate shouldn’t seat him until it looks into the allegations.

Jarrett has been responsible for some of the worst recent moments on the fair and balanced network. He believes that Hillary Clinton should have faced a grand jury over her emails, believes any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign was legal, and thinks James Comey broke the law by leaking his memo of the now-infamous conversation in which Donald Trump told him to lay off Michael Flynn. All of these statements have been called out as BS by other legal analysts.

It initially looked like more of the same when the allegations against Moore first broke. Jarrett said that he was skeptical of them because they were reported by The Washington Post after that paper endorsed Jones. But as more and more women have come forward, Jarrett has become a vocal opponent of Moore. On Wednesday, he told Sean Hannity that from his perspective, the accusers’ stories were credible because of their detail.

On Sunday’s edition of “Fox & Friends,” Jarrett dropped a bombshell–he believes that Moore should not be allowed to take his seat until it is determined that he is fit to serve in that august body.

 

Jarrett was discussing the furor over Al Franken’s sexual misconduct in 2006 with hosts Pete Hegseth, Abby Huntsman, and Ed Henry when the discussion turned to Moore. While noting that the Senate Ethics Committee would potentially be investigating the incident even though it took place before Franken was in the Senate, Henry wondered if the committee would do the same with Moore.

Jarrett believes that “it’s a sure bet” the Ethics Committee will look into the allegations. But he went further than that. He believes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans should not seat Moore until the completion of that review.

And what if the committee finds there’s a there there?

“If the committee says this man is not fit to sit in the U. S. Senate, and I happen to think that his the case, then he would never be seated.”

Henry cried that it would open a Pandora’s box, raising the prospect that every Senator could face an ethics investigation. Hegseth agreed, wondering how it would look if “six people in a distant capital,” rather than “millions of voters,” decided who was fit to serve in the Senate.

Jarrett pointed out that under Senate rules, it is “within their latitude, authority, and discretion” to refuse to seat an elected Senator. He was referring to Article One, Section 5 of the Constitution, which makes each chamber of Congress “the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own Members.”

Admittedly, this situation has taken us into uncharted waters. At this point, the allegations against Moore seem to be reaching the proportions of those against Bill Cosby–far too many women have come forward for them to be credibly dismissed. No one wants a serial sexual harasser and pedophile in the Senate.

However, as much as the thought of saying “Senator Roy Moore” turns my stomach, merely refusing to seat him could potentially open a can of worms. In 1967, the House refused to seat Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. amid a series of scandals. Powell sued, and the case eventually made it to the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in Powell v. McCormack that the House could not deny Powell his seat, since he had been lawfully elected and met the constitutional requirements to serve in the House. The Court found that since the House erred by excluding him by a simple majority, rather than moving to expel him with a two-thirds majority.

Based on that precedent, if I were McConnell, I would let Moore be seated, but deny him any committee assignments pending an Ethics Committee investigation. If the committee finds there’s a there there, Moore should be expelled–an idea that Cory Gardner of Colorado has already proposed. In the absence of something we haven’t heard or seen, it shouldn’t be too hard to find 60 votes to expel him.

Based on Moore’s current line, he would likely scream that the Senate is trying to overturn an election. But he’s dead wrong. If done properly, the Senate would be well within its rights in booting out a manifestly unfit person from its ranks.

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NBA

‘I Should Have Left Them In Jail’ (Trump’s Juicy TWEET)

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‘I Should Have Left Them In Jail’ (TWEET)

 

President Donald Trump has regularly shown that he will lash out against people he feels do not show him the proper respect. Go ahead and add three players of the UCLA Men’s Basketball program to that list, all thanks to LaVar Ball, who is the father of one of those players, as well as our President’s tiny ego.

The three basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting sunglasses. One of the players, LiAngelo Ball, is part of a high profile basketball family. His father, LaVar, had some controversial words concerning the President’s role in bringing his son home.

Appearing on ESPN Friday, LaVar was asked about the President’s role in keeping his son out of jail. LaVar responded in his typical braggadocio:

What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

In reality, the three athletes never actually went to jail. Trump spoke with the Chinese President Xi Jinping after hearing of their predicament, and they were allowed to return to the United States. They have since been suspended by the UCLA athletic program.

However, LaVar’s comments to ESPN appeared to strike a raw nerve with President Trump. He posted the following to Twitter, again making use of his newfound 280 character limit:

His tweet reads:

Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!”

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Just… unpack that.

The President of the United States is picking a fight with three college students, all because the father of one of those students brushed off the President’s role in keeping his son out of a Chinese jail for shoplifting sunglasses.

Meanwhile, the former President of the United States was apparently born in Kenya and is a secret Muslim spy. His handpicked predecessor is the leader of a tightly knit criminal conspiracy (and a WOMAN!). She also apparently raped children in the basement of a pizza parlor.

 

Featured image via Flickr user Michael Vadon / CC BY 2.0.

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