Chinese Province Larger Than Texas Just Ran For An Entire Week On Only Renewable Energy

HuffPost

Chinese Province Larger Than Texas Just Ran For An Entire Week On Only Renewable Energy

Dominique Mosbergen, HuffPost     June 29, 2017

While the U.S. flounders on environmental action and a growing number of cabinet officials out themselves as climate deniers, China continues to make waves as an emerging leader in this space.

Chinese state media announced this week that the sprawling province of Qinghai in the country’s northwest had run for seven consecutive days entirely on renewable energy. The province, which is larger than Texas, relied only on wind, solar and hydroelectric power from June 17-23, reported Xinhua. These renewable energy sources reportedly provided Qinghai and its population of 5.8 million with 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity — equal to about 535,000 tons of coal.

Qinghai’s fossil fuel-free week was part of a trial that the Chinese government initiated to see if an entire province could successfully achieve zero emissions for an extended period of time. Wang Liming, deputy governor of Qinghai, told China Daily this month that the experiment would set a new global clean energy record.

“It will break the current record of four days held by Portugal,” he said, referring to the four days in May last year when the European nation of 10 million ran on just renewable energy.

As Grist notes, Qinghai is a hub for clean energy in China. Located on the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau, the province gets plenty of sun (more than 3,000 hours of daylight every year) and is home to the world’s largest solar farm. Also the location of the headwaters of Asia’s three largest rivers ― the Yellow, Yangtze and Mekong ― Qinghai’s hydropower potential is immense.

“Qinghai is the country’s important warehouse of natural resources and it plays a vital role in the development of the nation’s green industry,” said Miao Wei, China’s minister of industry and information technology, this month, according to China Daily.

China has been positioning itself as a global leader of green energy in recent years. In January, the Chinese government announced plans to spend $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020, an investment they could create 13 million jobs.

With its commitment to clean energy development and reduced its coal consumption, China is set to overachieve the pledges it made in the Paris climate agreement, according to a recent Climate Action Tracker report. Together with India, China’s climate commitments have been so significant that they could offset the negative impacts that President Donald Trump’s climate policies could have on the globe, the report’s authors said.

“Five years ago, the idea of either [China or India] stopping — or even slowing — coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle, as coal-fired power plants were thought necessary to satisfy the energy demands of these nations. Yet, recent observations show they are now on the way towards overcoming this challenge,” the report said. “This stands in contrast to the decisions of the U.S. administration under President Trump, who appears intent on going in the opposite direction.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost .

Business Insider

An entire region of China just ran on 100% renewable energy for 7 days

Leanna Garfield, Business Insider      June 27, 2017

From Pittsburgh to Frankfort, cities around the world are pledging to stop burning fossil fuels for electricity by 2050 or sooner.

But the Chinese province of Qinghai has already reached that goal, according to news outlet Xinhua. For seven days — from June 17 to 23 — the region ran on 100% renewable energy, including solar, wind, and hydropower.

The week was part of a trial conducted by the State Grid Corporation of China, which aims to test the viability of relying on renewables long-term. During that time, the Qinghai province generated 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of energy for over 5.6 million residents. That’s equal to burning 535,000 tons of coal.

Hydropower contributed to approximately 72% of the electricity generated during the seven days, Xinhua News said. As of May 2017, Qinghai’s power grid had a total installed capacity of 23.4 million kilowatts, with around 82% of that capacity made up of solar, wind, and hydro sources. By 2020, the province plans to expand its clean energy capacity to 35 million kilowatts, which could supply 110 billion kWh of renewable energy annually.

Nationwide, China hopes to produce 20% of its electricity from clean sources by 2030. Despite the recent rapid growth of clean energy, wind power accounted for just 4% and solar for about 1% of China’s electricity in 2016, according to The Guardian.

Qinghai is not the first place to run on 100% renewable power. Tokelau, a set of three tiny islands between Hawaii and New Zealand, replaced its diesel energy system with one that uses solar in 2012. And Costa Rica ran on 100% clean energy for 285 days in 2015, and on 98% renewables for 250 days in 2016. Austria’s largest state also currently gets all of its energy needs from solar, wind, and hydropower.

These efforts signal that a power grid that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels is possible for other cities, too.

Related: Tesla will begin selling its Solar Roof this year.

Business Insider, Science

ExxonMobil and BP want to tax themselves and give the money to Americans

Leanna Garfield      June 21, 2017

Oil companies, corporate giants, and several prominent individuals — from Stephen Hawking to Michael Bloomberg — announced Tuesday they are joining the Climate Leadership Council, a group proposing a plan to tax carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

A group of Republican elder statesmen introduced the plan in February 2017. They called it a “conservative climate solution” that would tackle global warming by taxing greenhouse-gas emissions and returning the money to American taxpayers.

The coalition argues that, by raising the price of energy that comes from fossil fuels, the free market will naturally gravitate toward renewable energy solutions.

Under the plan, the US government would tax oil companies $40 per ton of CO2 they produce, which would add about 36 cents to the cost of each gallon of gasoline at the pump. Some of that money, which the council calls “climate dividends,” would then go to Americans in monthly installments through the Social Security Administration.

The plan’s supporters include ExxonMobil, BP, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, PepsiCo, and Procter & Gamble. Individual backers include physicist Stephen Hawking, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Laurene Powell Jobs (the widow of Steve Jobs), and Stephen Chu, a secretary of energy under Obama.

While it may seem unexpected that oil companies would support such a plan, they would reap some financial benefits if it comes to fruition. In addition to instituting the carbon tax, the plan would roll back some Obama-era environmental regulations and protect oil companies from lawsuits over greenhouse-gas emissions.

For those reasons, some environmentalists are skeptical of the plan. Greenpeace called it a way for oil companies to skirt lawsuits over their contribution to climate change. ExxonMobil, for example, is under investigation to determine whether the company lied to the public or investors about climate change risks.

“ExxonMobil will try to dress this up as climate activism, but its key agenda is protecting executives from legal accountability for climate pollution and fraud. Buried in pages of supposedly ‘free market’ solutions is a new regulation exempting polluters from facing legal consequences for their role in fueling climate change,” Greenpeace’s Climate Liability Project Lead, Naomi Ages, said in a press release.

Insider

High school girls with no engineering experience won a $10,000 grant for inventing a solar-powered tent to combat homelessness

Talia Lakritz, Insider     June 21, 2017

The INSIDER Summary:

  • A team of 12 high school students invented a solar-powered tent that folds into a backpack for the homeless.
  • It has insulated fabric, solar panels, a safety locking system, and a UV sanitization system.
  • They presented their invention at MIT after winning a $10,000 grant.

For some high school students, after-school activities might consist of rehearsals, study groups, or babysitting gigs. These 12 kids invented a high-tech tent to help combat homelessness in their spare time.

The inventors, juniors and seniors at San Fernando High School in California, are part of a nonprofit organization called DIY Girls that aims to inspire girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Last year, MIT awarded the group a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant to put towards solving a real-world problem with engineering. They chose to combat the homelessness they encounter in their low-income community by inventing a solar-powered tent that folds into a backpack.

Through a combination of sewing, coding, and 3D printing, they equipped the tent with insulated fabric, solar panels, a safety locking system, and a UV sanitization system.

MIT invited them to Boston to present their invention, but they couldn’t afford the trip on their own. Thanks to a GoFundMe campaign, they surpassed their $15,000 goal and raised enough money to fly all 12 members of the group to Boston.

“The ingenuity that is possible when students are given the time and resources to explore their passions is remarkable,” the group’s coordinator wrote on their GoFundMe page.

Read the original article on INSIDER.

A Real Christian

              A Real Christian

John Hanno, tarbabys.com       June 28, 2017

What if God was one of us,                                                       Just a slob like one of us,                                                         Just a stranger on a bus,                                                          Trying to make his way home,

by Eric Bazilian (of the Hooters)

Got a heads up listening to the Norman Goldman Show on Chicago Progressive Radio Station WCPT, 82 AM. Norman marked the passing of Sister Sam, founder of Meals on Wheels, by asking his listeners: Who is a Christian…#whoisachristian ? Many progressives have been asking themselves the same question ever since Evangelical Christians and self-professed conservatives decided to install very-unchristian like and un-conservative Donald J. Trump in the White House. These last few weeks have been especially troubling. I’ve blogged often about the Trump administration and the Republi-con controlled congress’ attempts to strip away life saving health care from 23 million poor and challenged Americans, so no need to rehash this calamity.

The Donald, clearly truth challenged, and evidenced by the recent New York Times full page list of all of Donald’s lies just since he’s been in office, likes to portray himself as something he is not. In Trumps own words:

“I’m a big Christian.”

“People were not sure I was a nice person,” he said, “and I am. I am. I am. I am. I’m a giving person. I believe in God, I believe in the Bible. I’m a Christian. I have a lot of reasons. I love people.”

“Paul [Ryan] wants to knock out Social Security, knock it down, way down. He wants to knock Medicare way down. … I want to keep Social Security intact. … I’m not going to cut it, and I’m not going to raise ages, and I’m not going to do all of the things that they want to do. But they want to really cut it, and they want to cut it very substantially, the Republicans, and I’m not going to do that.”

“I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.”

“The Republicans who want to cut SS & Medicaid are wrong. A robust economy will Make America Great Again!”

“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare. They want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that,” Trump said in 2015. “And it’s not fair to the people who’ve been paying in for years.”

“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump said. “Every other Republican is going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do.”

“I’m an environmentalist, I’m the biggest environmentalist.”

But Mr. Trump fully endorsed the AHCA passed by the Republi-cons in the House, a debacle of a replacement for Obamacare, favored by only 16% of America. He then later called it “mean,” after public outcry, because it cut $880 billion from Medicaid and cut 23 million American’s healthcare. Now he’s touting a meaner and even more punitive flim-flam version of the ACA replacement proposed by the Republi-con Senate, favored by only 12 to 17% of us, because it still cuts $780 billion from Medicaid and kills healthcare for 22 million American. Both of these plans are simply enormous $1 trillion tax cuts for the richest Americans and have nothing to do with improving Obamacare or America’s health care system. It’s a historic transfer of wealth from the poorest Americans to the richest 1%.

The only explanation I can fathom from listening to Trump, is that the definition of words mean nothing to him. Words are not true or false; they’re just words, tools used to get what you want. Tools used by salesmen to close the deal. Facts are likewise not true or false, they’re just more groups of words, used for the benefit of the speaker or fabulist.

Trump’s proposed budget, roundly dismissed by anyone with any sense, including many conservatives, proposes enormous cuts to environmental programs and to social safety net programs.

Vox reports Trumps budget “will violate his promises in a rather flagrant fashion. Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports that the 2018 budget proposal will include $1.7 trillion in cuts to mandatory spending programs over the next 10 years, “from programs including SNAP (food stamps), CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), and SSDI (Disability Insurance).” But Swan obfuscates the issue by saying the plan, “won’t reform Social Security or Medicare — in line with his campaign promise.”

“Let’s be extremely clear about something: SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. It is part of the Social Security program. While in the public mind, “Social Security” usually connotes payments you receive in retirement based on your prior earnings, Social Security also encompasses a program compensating past workers who develop disabilities that prevent them from participating in the workforce. That’s disability insurance, the program that Trump’s budget is set to cut.”

And yes, Trump proposes cutting Sister Sam’s “Meals on Wheels” program and other safety net programs for the same poor and disadvantage souls Sister Sam has ministered to for the last 40 years. Norman and I and most Americans don’t believe Mr. Trump or the Republi-cons in Congress are real Christians. And we don’t need a dictionary to prove it.   John Hanno

 Sister Sam

LA Times

Sister Sam, founder of St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, dies at 82

Sister Alice Marie Quinn, known as Sister Sam, was once called “L.A.’s Mother Teresa” by former Mayor Richard Riordan. She died Friday at 82.

Andrea Castillo, Los Angeles Times     June 25, 2017

In 1977, Sister Alice Marie Quinn started what became St. Vincent Meals on Wheels with a single pot of stew served to 83 seniors in a church basement near MacArthur Park.

On Friday — days after celebrating her 82nd birthday — Sister Sam, as she was known by friends, died of natural causes.

As executive director  of St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, Sister Sam would rise every morning before dawn for an hour of prayer, then get to work overseeing the preparation and delivery of nearly 3,500 meals to the city’s homeless, homebound, disabled and terminally ill.

Her cause arose from observation. A registered dietitian, Sister Sam noticed that many low-income, elderly people living in apartments near St. Vincent Medical Center, where she had served as assistant dietary director, weren’t eating right.

“Over the years it became so much more than plates of food,” she once said. “It became friendship, family and nourishment for the soul.”

Now headquartered in an industrial-sized kitchen in the same neighborhood, the nonprofit has a staff of 78 and more than 300 volunteers who prepare, deliver and serve hot and frozen meals, as well as weekly breakfasts, to more than 1,800 Angelenos.

Chef Wolfgang Puck organized an extravagant 75th birthday party for Sister Sam. The two had been friends since the 1980s, when Puck asked her if St. Vincent could benefit from some of the proceeds from his annual American Wine and Food Festival. He has been a major fundraiser ever since.

At the time, Puck said no one deserved the honor more than Sister Sam.

“She’s like a saint,” he told The Times in 2010. “If anybody should go to heaven, it should be her. She should sit in the first row up there. Or at the best table.”

Among the accolades she and St. Vincent garnered are the International Foodservice Manufacturers Assn. Silver Plate Award in 2006, for outstanding achievement in specialty food services, and she was named “Woman of the Year” in 1988 by the state of California. In 2013, the Los Angeles City Council declared the day before Thanksgiving as St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Day.

St. Vincent Meals on Wheels is a ministry of the Daughters of Charity, an order of nuns dedicated to the poor. Sister Patricia Miguel, a fellow Daughter of Charity who was close to Sister Sam, said she never wavered in her commitment to serve homebound seniors.

“Her life of service has inspired everyone who knew her,” Miguel said.

The Daughters of Charity has named the organization’s longtime director of development, Daryl Twerdahl, as the interim executive director.

“Sister Alice Marie mentored us, loved us, chided us, but above all else, she taught us to serve with compassion and respect,” Twerdahl said. “We will continue her legacy with every meal served.”

The viewing is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and the rosary will be held at 7. A mass and burial will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Services will be at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 621 W Adams Blvd. Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery, 966 Potrero Grande Drive in Rosemead.

GOP health-care debate turns to stark question: help vulnerable Americans, or help the rich?

Washington Post    PowerPost

GOP health-care debate turns to stark question: help vulnerable Americans, or help the rich?

By Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Kelsey Snell        June 29, 2017

The Republican debate over how to overhaul the Affordable Care Act turned sharply Thursday to a divisive and ideological question: How much money should the Senate health-care bill spend on protecting vulnerable Americans, and how much on providing tax relief to the wealthy?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in an effort to strike a balance between centrists and conservatives, is now making concessions to both factions of his caucus, according to lawmakers and aides.

But this effort was complicated by a new Congressional Budget Office estimate Thursday finding that the Republican plan to change how Medicaid payments are calculated starting in 2025 would lead to significantly deeper reductions in its second decade than at the end of the first decade.

By 2036, the new analysis says, the government would spend 35 percent less on Medicaid than under the current law, compared with a 26 percent decrease in the first decade.

McConnell is rewriting his proposal to provide tens of billions more for opioid treatment and assistance to low- and moderate-income Americans, in part by potentially preserving a 3.8 percent tax on investment income provided under the Affordable Care Act that the current draft of the Senate bill would repeal. At the same time, the new draft aims to placate the right by further easing the existing law’s insurance mandates and providing higher tax deductions for the health-savings accounts that conservatives favor, Republicans said.

By Thursday afternoon, Senate leaders agreed to dedicate $45 billion to opioid funding, according to GOP aides, a concession that Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) had been seeking for weeks. The draft released last week includes only $2 billion.

It remains unclear whether these changes, if adopted, would garner enough support for the bill to pass. But they may represent the most viable path forward if Republicans want to rewrite the 2010 health law known as Obamacare without any help from Democrats.

“We will, it appears to me, address the issue of ensuring that lower-income citizens are in a position to be able to buy plans that actually provide them appropriate health-care,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “And with that, my sense is that the 3.8 percent repeal [in the current draft] will go away.”

The 3.8 percent tax applies only to individuals making over $200,000 a year, and married couples earning more than $250,000. Repealing it as of Dec. 31, 2016, as the bill does now, would cost the federal government $172 billion in revenue over the next 10 years, according to a recent CBO analysis.

The updated Medicaid estimate from the CBO, which shows how spending would shrink over the next 20 years, underscored the extent to which McConnell’s plan would squeeze the longstanding public insurance program.

The current draft already cuts $772 billion over 10 years from Medicaid, which covers poor Americans as well as the elderly, children and pregnant women.

The updated analysis, requested by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and other Senate Democrats, calculated the impact of pegging the program’s inflation rate to the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers, as opposed to the medical inflation rate.

According to analysts at the health consulting firm Avalere and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, this would translate into a cut of at least $330 billion in 2036.

The report suggested that as the spigot of federal funding constricted over time, “states would continue to need to arrive at more efficient methods for delivering services (to the extent feasible) and to decide whether to commit more of their own resources, cut payments to health care providers and health plans, eliminate optional services, restrict eligibility for enrollment, or adopt some combination of those approaches.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) used the report as an opportunity to push GOP leaders to abandon plans to repeal the ACA and begin negotiations with Democrats over how to fix the health-care system.

“Rather than pushing a partisan bill that cuts taxes for the rich and slashes Medicaid, Senate Republicans should start over on health care and work with Democrats on a bipartisan plan to improve our health care system,” Schumer said in a statement.

With senators leaving town Thursday for a 10-day break over the July 4th holiday, Republicans are not likely to announce any new deal or unveil full legislation until after their return next month. That would give time for the CBO to analyze the new proposals and for senators to hear from constituents, setting up a few more days of haggling when they return July 10 and a vote possible the week after that.

Corker, who met with GOP leaders Wednesday, said he believes “the route being pursued” is to preserve the tax and use that money to provide subsidies for lower-income people.

He added that he voiced directly to President Trump his unease with the idea of slashing taxes for the wealthy while “increasing the burden” on lower-income Americans.

Minutes later, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) acknowledged that keeping the tax was being discussed, but he underscored that no final decision had been made.

In a sign of the sharp disagreements that continue to plague Senate Republicans, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) disputed Corker’s notion that the tax cut would be jettisoned, calling the proposal a “very bad idea.”

“I’m not at all convinced that that’s where it’s going,” Toomey said.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said that while he thought it was a bad idea to use the investment tax to help fund the ACA’s existing programs, lawmakers may need to keep the tax. Scott said there is clear pressure from at least three senators to preserve it, and their votes are critical to passing the bill.

“Keeping it now is a whole new conversation,” Scott said. “particularly when you have three senators already heading in that direction.”

The dispute underscores the challenge Senate leaders face as they reexamine the tax portion of their Better Care Reconciliation Act. One bit of wiggle room in their negotiations is the CBO’s analysis of the bill’s impact on the federal deficit, which allows them to spend as much as $198 billion without violating Senate budget rules.

The draft bill that stalled this week would phase out the program’s expansion under the ACA over three years and rein in spending on the overall program, especially starting in 2025. It would also repeal or delay $541 billion in taxes, primarily on wealthy Americans and insurers.

The measure eliminates every tax imposed under the ACA except the “Cadillac” tax on employers offering generous health plans. That tax is suspended until 2026 to comply with congressional budget rules.

The move to cut Medicaid, which covers nearly 70 million Americans, helps offset the bill’s generous tax cuts. But it has generated significant opposition among more than a half-dozen centrists who fear the reductions will impede the nation’s effort to address the opioid crisis and could leave many vulnerable Americans without any health coverage at all.

With Vice President Pence prepared to cast the tiebreaking vote, Republicans need the support of all but two of their 52 senators.

Pence was in the Capitol Thursday as the health-care talks continued in small and large group settings. Asked if he was changing any minds, the vice president replied: “We’re working hard.”

McConnell hopes to send a revised version of the bill to the CBO as soon as Friday to get a vote on the bill before Congress’s August recess.

Meanwhile, according to lobbyists briefed on the matter, negotiators are looking at how to provide states with more ways to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandates — a key demand of conservatives. These rules include an essential benefits package that any ACA-compliant plan must offer, such as maternity and newborn care as well as preventive care and mental-health and substance-use treatment.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have indicated they could potentially support the bill if leadership tacked on an amendment offered by Cruz, allowing insurers to opt out of all the Obamacare insurance regulations as long as they provided one fully compliant plan.

House conservatives also asserted themselves in the upper chamber’s debate Thursday, as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) came over to the Senate side of the Capitol. Meadows said Cruz’s amendment, or something similar, would be essential to win his support.

A growing number of senators have said they back the Cruz proposal but leaders worry that it may run afoul of Senate rules. McConnell is using the budget process to pass the health bill with a slim majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes needed for most other legislation. But that also restricts the legislation to policies that have an impact on taxes, spending and the deficit.

Cornyn told reporters that leaders held a special meeting on Thursday to figure out if the Cruz amendment fits within those rules.

“We’re trying to figure it out,” Cornyn said. “Because there is a lot of support for the idea.”

Lee spokesman Conn Carroll said he also wants a provision to ensure the executive branch can’t single-handedly block states from revamping their ACA marketplaces. The current measure makes it much easier for states to use an existing federal waiver system, under Section 1332 of the law, to make changes as long as they are approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

While the Senate bill gives states wide latitude to alter the marketplaces through this system, it would preserve a requirement that CMS has to determine that these changes would not increase the federal deficit. Lee wants an independent agency, such as the Government Accountability Office, to make that determination rather than a division of the Health and Human Services Department.

But if leadership added on the Cruz amendment, that might be enough to win over Lee’s vote. “I think that would be enough for us,” Carroll said in an interview.

The main tax change conservatives are now seeking — allowing people to put more money into health-savings accounts — would also benefit wealthier Americans. Families earning over $60,000 made up nearly 65 percent of the total that contributed to HSAs in 2014, according to recent data from the Treasury Department. Nearly two-thirds of those people earned between $75,000 and $200,000.

Paige Winfield Cunningham, Mike DeBonis and Amy Goldstein contributed to this report.

Whatever happens, the GOP is bringing us a whole lot closer to single payer

Washington Post  Plum Line

Whatever happens, the GOP is bringing us a whole lot closer to single payer

By Paul Waldman     June 27, 2017

The Republican health-care bill is not dead yet, but it’s in rough shape. Whether it passes or not, it has been an utter debacle for the GOP, making the Affordable Care Act they’re trying to undo more popular than ever, energizing the Democratic base, complicating the relationship between President Trump and Congress and sowing justified distrust of Republican motives among the broader public.

It has also done something else: moved the debate on health care in America to the left and made single payer much more likely.

Even if the Senate bill fails, Republicans give up and move on to tax reform, and the status quo remains in place, this debate will have had profound effects on our politics. While the Democratic Party may have been moving to the left on health care anyway, its momentum in that direction may now be unstoppable. And the entire country will be more receptive than ever to the arguments Democrats will make. This, by the way, will also be the case if the GOP repeal effort succeeds, because it will make so much that people hate about our health-care system a lot worse.

Let me point to one politician as an illustration. For years, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s position on single payer has essentially been “Maybe someday” — not opposed to it, but focused in the short term on the more urgent priority of defending and enhancing the ACA. But in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, we learn that she is now ready to take that plunge:

“President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” she said during an interview in her Senate office last week. “Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.”

Warren is not going to be the last Democrat to take this step. In fact, any Democrat who runs for president in 2020 — and there will be a lot of them — will have a hard time explaining to the primary electorate why they don’t want single payer, and most or all of them will probably say they do.

We can make an analogy with what happened in the GOP after the failure of comprehensive immigration reform. In 2013, the Senate passed a comprehensive bill with the support of many Republicans. But after it died in the House, Republican politicians went in exactly the opposite direction, telling their base that the only question was how much they hated “amnesty” and how tough they would be on undocumented immigrants. Then their party nominated someone who said he would build a wall on our southern border, create a “deportation force” and ban Muslims from entering the country.

The situations aren’t exactly the same, but the point is that a dramatic political failure — whether it’s yours or the other party’s — can have profound effects on the choices politicians make about how to approach the electorate. And it’s important to understand that while there are some Democratic politicians who emphatically favor single payer and would be unsatisfied with anything less, most of them would be willing to advocate for a range of policy options, depending on what looks politically achievable and what their base demands at a particular moment.

All the ups and downs of the past eight years, from the beginning of the debate on the ACA to the end of the debate on Republican repeal plans, hold many lessons for Democrats who are still eager to address the problems in the American health-care system. Among other things, we know that voters are risk-averse, that they’re extremely sensitive to out-of-pocket costs, that they want security and that arguments about the glories of the free market aren’t going to be persuasive to them. After seeing how desperately unpopular this Republican plan is, Democrats are going to be much less afraid to defend government health care and advocate its expansion.

And they know that whatever they propose next has to be simple and understandable. We can debate whether the ACA had to be as complex as it was, but next time around, no Democrat is going to believe that you can take on President Trump with a technocratic approach to health care. Saying “Here are the 10 tweaks I’d make to the ACA” isn’t going to cut it.

That isn’t to say that whatever plans they propose won’t be fully fleshed out under the hood, but they’ll have to be presented in a way that is easy for voters to understand. And, yes, Republicans will cry about “Washington bureaucrats making decisions for you,” but Democrats are less likely to be intimidated. Ask your parents or grandparents on Medicare how they feel about their coverage — Medicare is the most popular health insurance program we have, and it’s run by Washington bureaucrats.

It’s important to keep in mind that “single payer” isn’t one thing — if you look around the world at highly developed countries, there is a spectrum of health systems with various levels of public and private involvement. But what they have in common is that they achieve universal coverage while working better and costing less than ours. We could well have 15 Democratic presidential candidates proposing 15 different kinds of single payer. Some may be highly socialized systems — what Bernie Sanders would likely advocate if he runs again — but the ones that are most appealing could be hybrid systems of the kind that have been successful in countries such as France. The way it works is that there’s a government plan that covers everyone’s basic needs, but you can also buy supplemental private insurance to get as many more benefits as you want.

Among the advantages of a hybrid system is that one can actually see a path from where we are now to there. That path runs through Medicaid, which now covers nearly 75 million Americans. What if we auto-enrolled everyone under 65 in Medicaid — it’s there if you need it, but if you have different insurance you’d prefer, go ahead and use that instead. No one would be without coverage. Private insurance would evolve into something you buy to fill in the gaps and get perks that Medicaid wouldn’t provide. Instead of covering all your health care, employers could provide the supplemental private insurance.

As a political matter, you could sell this as something that we could transition to over an extended period, and as a system that satisfies the goals of both liberals and conservatives. Liberals get the universal coverage and security they want, and conservatives get the freedom they want — if you’re rich enough to buy a supplemental plan that includes deliveries of Dom Perignon during any hospitalization, go right ahead.

That isn’t to say that Republicans wouldn’t resist and there won’t be more intense arguments about health care, because they would and there will be. But by handling this debate so terribly and proposing something so monstrous, Republicans have opened up the space for Democrats to go much further than they’ve been willing to before. It’s not impossible to foresee Democrats winning the House in 2018, then taking the presidency and the Senate in 2020 — and then taking the first steps toward making single-payer health care in America a reality.

The Great Obamacare Conundrum

The Great Obamacare Conundrum

John Hanno    June 26, 2017

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act was a game (life) changer for many 10’s of millions of workers locked into a dead-end crap job, because they needed (often because they or a family member had a pre-existing condition) the mediocre health insurance plans offered by their employers.

Soon after the ACA was passed and folks were allowed to participate in the exchanges, and after concerned, responsible or self-serving employers advised many of their low wage employees that it would then be financially beneficial for these workers (and also the employer, who would no longer have to subsidize their premiums) to switch to the ACA, the shackles were finally thrown off these indentured servants. 10’s of thousands of workers changed jobs or were finally able to leave the workforce altogether.

Even after the U.S. Congress stripped some common sense parts of the original ACA, including the public option, the ACA was head and shoulders above many of the pre-Obamacare plans. That’s the reason every individual ACA benefit, with the exception of the mandate, is overwhelmingly popular with Americans (even conservatives) and why the Republi-cons are having such a hard time trying to now Indian-give these life saving benefits.

The ACA finally eliminated all restrictions to pre-existing conditions and allowed young people to stay on their parents policies through age 26, a huge benefit to families with students in college. All ACA plans cover the same set of essential health benefits. Every health plan must cover the following services: Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital.) Emergency services. Hospitalization (like surgery and overnight stays). Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care (both before and after birth.) Mental health and substance use disorder, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy.) Prescription drugs. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills.) Laboratory services. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management. Pediatric services, including oral and vision care (but adult dental and vision coverage aren’t essential health benefits). Additional benefits: Plans must also include the following benefits: Birth Control coverage. Breastfeeding coverage

Essential health benefits are minimum requirements for all plans. Specific services covered can vary based on each state’s requirements. Plans may offer additional benefits, including: Dental coverage. Vision coverage. Medical management programs (for specific needs like weight management, back pain, and diabetes.)

I think if any of us were tasked with formulating a quality, comprehensive healthcare plan that we wouldn’t mind paying for, if we had premium subsidies based on our income, Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) would be exactly what we would come up with.

The Republic-con House and Senate plans would eliminate or diminish most of these essential requirements of Obamacare, probable 8 of 10. This is ‘Back to the Unhealthy Future.’

The ACA, admittedly, didn’t do enough to control healthcare costs. The ability to negotiate with drug companies, hospitals and other providers was booted from the original ACA proposals in order to get 60 votes in the senate. Both Republicans and some Democrats in health insurance and Pharma states objected to holding insurance and drug companies greedy feet to the American health care system run-away wild-fires. And the public option (another erstwhile Republican idea that was removed) would have added more competition to the insurance companies mix. But the Republi-cons rejected their own common sense prescription.

Unfortunately, too many healthcare providers complain about the reimbursement rates typical for Medicare, Medicaid and even treatments for Veterans and consequently refuse to participate in these plans or treat these patients.

But the poop hit the reality fan long ago. American’s on average spend $9,541 per person on healthcare, almost 3 times what other developed countries spend and with lower health outcomes to boot. Trump and the Republi-cons really need to stand up for the American consumer, not the Koch brothers and the super rich. We are at a tipping point. Healthcare is 1/6th of our economy and climbing.

Big Pharma, for profit health insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and other health care providers should prepare themselves for more scrutiny and lower incomes and profits, and take advantage of the reprise and grace period granted by the Obama administration and the Democrats to fundamentally restructure their business model. America can no longer afford the 30% or more they skim off the top of America’s unsustainable health care gravy-train.

Reluctant doctors and other healthcare providers should prepare themselves for a healthcare system that will rely on more inclusive government plan participation and on reduced reimbursement rates for their services, just like the rest of the developed world. Doctors in Germany and the rest of Europe and Scandinavia (who’s other workers earn substantially more on average than those in the U.S.) earn approximately half of what doctors earn in the U.S. and doctors in the rest of the developed world earn even less, between 25 and 30%.

Unscrupulous and greedy employers, who are supporting the Republi-con Obamarcare replacement boondoggle, should in reality, prepare themselves for paying much better wages and compensation if they want to attract and retain valuable employees. Baby Boomers are retiring by ten’s of thousands a month and employers who abet or stand silent while Republi-cons in Congress punish the remaining workers between 50 and 65 years of age, (pre-Medicare) with sky-rocketing health insurance premiums and deductibles, and with renewed obstacles to pre-existing conditions and over-all crappier insurance plans, will only exacerbate their self-inflicted worker shortage dilemma.

And transferring the Medicaid program to States who can’t run deficits, minus the substantial backing of Federal dollars (now more than 95%), will not end well. Medicaid covers more than 76 million Americans. Medicaid covers 12 percent of all adults, 20% of all Americans, 30% of all adults with disabilities, 39% of all children, 40% of all poor adults, 49% of all American births, 60% of all children with disabilities,  64% of all nursing home residents and 76% of all poor children.

Trump and the Republi-cons scream daily that Obamacare is dead and dying but that’s only in Red States where Republicans are in control of the levers of governance, the apparatus that can and has opposed or crippled implementation and support of their own citizens access to Medicaid and the Obamacare exchanges.

Obamacare attempted to not only “protect patients” but to also “control costs.” They succeeded for the most part on both counts; with the exception of many Red States controlled by Republi-con governors and legislatures, in particular those that not only refused to support their own citizens, by disallowing their expansion of Medicaid, but by doing everything they could to oppose and cripple the ACA exchanges. They either refused to set up their own state exchanges and or refused to support the federal ones.

Obamacare reduced the typical cut for the insurance industry from 30% to 15% of premiums. And for the first time, the ACA substantially emphasized preventative care, in order to head off expensive emergency room visits and ultimately to avoid the astronomical costs for untreated end stage health care consequences like cancer and diabetes. Many of the issues in the ACA were originally “conservative Republican” proposals. But no matter how Trump and the Republi-cons try to obfuscate the truth, increases in premiums under Obamacare were at the lowest rates in 20 years.

But it’s obvious the Republic-con lapdogs in congress and the right’s media (not true conservatives at all) take their marching orders from the rich and powerful like the Koch brothers empire. Their modus operandi is and will continue to be: (1) To keep employees poor and desperate enough to stay at crappy jobs offering substandard wages and benefits, (2) To return control of our healthcare back to the insurance industry, (3) To refuse to allow the American health care consumer (just like the rest of the world) negotiate equitable prices for drugs and health supplies and services, (4) Propose policies like killing Obamacare, to somehow attempt to reverse the tanking American labor participation rate (5) Propose a plan, as the Trump administration just did, to have the government and public schools pay for training or retraining workers for the growing number of job openings, left unfilled because industry refuses to pay living wages for these touted mythical openings. (6) Attack the Veterans Administration Health System, as Trump just did. The V.A., just like Medicare and Medicaid, has long ago negotiated lower drug prices and costs for services. In spite of some past problems at the historically underfunded V.A., veterans overwhelming hold their V.A. system in high regard and want control of their healthcare to remain with the V.A., not the private sector, as Trump and the Republi-cons propose. (7) And of course above all else, A-to cut taxes, B-to cut taxes and C-to cut taxes for the richest 1% or 1/10th of 1%, while passing the bill off onto the rest of American taxpayers and health care consumers, including small businesses.

Only 16% of American’s approved of the House passed AHCA and the new Senate proposed plan doesn’t fare much better (12 to 17% approval).

And all this “repeal and replace pain” will be foisted on the unsuspecting American middle class, poor, elderly and disabled, just so the Republi-con panders can reward their rich benefactors, with what they gleefully hail as the largest tax cut in our history. Their goal was never to improve Obamacare, never to actually “improve” our healthcare system; that was obvious to anyone with half a brain. This is a tax cut plan, pure and simple. All the lipstick on this pig can’t cover that up. Repeated attacks on the exchanges and the Medicaid expansion for the most vulnerable Americans was a primary goal; and of course trying to overturn or diminish anything accomplished by President Obama and the Democrats to reverse the right’s decades long campaign to reverse New Deal remedies, was gravy on the Republi-cons anti-labor and anti-middle-class agenda.

Trump and the Republi-cons should take note that California and other states are already on their own “yellow brick road” to single-payer, universal health insurance plans. It could be 3 years or 5 years or a bit longer, but most or all of America will soon have a single payer, universal healthcare system, just like the rest of the developed world.

But unless voters in the Red States held back by Republi-con ideologues, demand the same, they will remain crippled by the evildoers loyal to campaign contributors and not the American public. We may ultimately have 2 separate health systems. One for blue states and one for red.

Women, including those that depend on Planned Parenthood for their primary healthcare, nurture and build better families. Families unburdened by overwhelming healthcare debt and the threat and consequences of bankruptcy contribute to better communities. Better communities build better states. A healthy America, with healthy states is a more prosperous and stronger country.

John Hanno,   www.tarbabys.com

Associated Press

Donors to GOP: No cash until action on health care, taxes

Steve Peoples, Associated Press     June 26, 2017 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — At least one influential donor has informed congressional Republicans that the “Dallas piggy bank” is closed until he sees major action on health care and taxes.

Texas-based donor Doug Deason has already refused to host a fundraiser for two members of Congress and informed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., his checkbook is closed as well.

“Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed,” Deason said in a pointed message to GOP leaders. “You control the Senate. You control the House. You have the presidency. There’s no reason you can’t get this done. Get it done and we’ll open it back up.”

Indeed, there was a sense of frustration and urgency inside the private receptions and closed-door briefings at the Koch brothers’ donor retreat this weekend in Colorado Springs, where the billionaire conservatives and their chief lieutenants warned of a rapidly shrinking window to push their agenda through Congress and get legislation to President Donald Trump to sign into law.

No agenda items mattered more to the conservative Koch network than the GOP’s promise to overhaul the nation’s tax code and repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law. At the moment, however, both are bogged down by GOP infighting that jeopardizes their fate.

At least one Koch official warned that the Republican Party’s House majority could be in jeopardy if the GOP-led Congress doesn’t follow through.

“If they don’t make good on these promises … there are going to be consequences, and quite frankly there should be,” said Sean Lansing, chief operating officer for the Koch network’s political arm, Americans For Prosperity.

Deason, who is keeping the “Dallas piggy bank” closed for now, said he was recently approached by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, about hosting a fundraiser.

“I said, ‘No I’m not going to because we’re closing the checkbook until you get some things done,'” Deason said, noting he’s encouraged nearly two dozen major Texas donors to follow his lead.

“There is urgency,” said AFP president Tim Phillips. “We believe we have a window of about 12 months to get as much of it accomplished as possible before the 2018 elections grind policy to a halt.”

The window for action may be even smaller, some Koch allies warned at the three-day donor retreat that drew roughly 400 participants to the base of the Rocky Mountains. The price for admission for most was a pledge to give at least $100,000 this year to the Kochs’ broad policy and political network. There were also at least 18 elected officials on hand.

Some hosted private policy discussions with donors while others simply mingled.

In between meetings, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., predicted dire consequences in next year’s midterm elections should his party fail to deliver on its repeated promises.

“If we don’t get health care, none of us are coming back,” he said in a brief interview. “We said for seven years you’re gonna repeal Obamacare. It’s nowhere near repealed.”

It’s the same for an overhaul of the tax code, Brat said: “We don’t get taxes through, we’re all going home. Pack the bags.”

While some donors threatened to withhold campaign cash, Koch’s team outlined a broader strategy to help shape the debate.

Already, Americans For Prosperity claims a paid staff of more than 400 full-time activists in 36 states. Koch officials said that the network’s midterm budget for policy and politics is between $300 million and $400 million.

The group is actively lobbying Senate Republicans to change their current health care proposal, which it views as insufficiently conservative.

“We are not committed to the Senate bill in its current form, but there is still time to make changes and we’re actively working to improve it,” Phillips said.

At the same time, Koch’s allies are aggressively pushing forward on taxes.

The network is running what it describes as “a first wave” of digital ads calling on more than 50 House and Senate Republicans in both parties to overhaul the tax code. Later in the summer, Philips said, his organization will begin hosting rallies and other events to generate momentum for a tax overhaul in all 36 states where they have full-time operations.

Another Koch donor, Chris Wright, of Colorado, predicted Republicans have a 10-month window before any chance of major policy action is suffocated by next year’s midterms.

“If we don’t get anything done by then, the elections probably don’t go very well,” Wright said. “They may not go well anyway.”

 

Chicago Tribune

CBO: 22 million more would be uninsured by 2026 under Senate health bill

Amy Goldstein, Washington Post

Senate Republicans’ bill to erase major parts of the Affordable Care Act would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured in the coming decade — about 1 million fewer than similar legislation recently passed by the House, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The forecast issued Monday by Congress’ nonpartisan budget scorekeepers also estimates that the Senate measure, drafted in secret mainly by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and aides, would reduce federal spending by $321 billion by 2026 — compared with $119 billion for the House’s version.

The CBO’s analysis has been awaited as a crucial piece of evidence as McConnell and other Republican leaders try to hurry a vote on the bill this week. But they are navigating an expanding minefield of resistance from their own party’s moderate and conservative wings, while Democrats are united against it.

Several moderates have said they will decide whether they can support the Better Care Reconciliation Act based on how it will affect Americans who have gained coverage under the ACA during the past few years, while their conservative colleagues are focused on its impact on the federal deficit.

Of the 22 million who stand to lose coverage, 15 million of them would have no insurance next year, the nonpartisan budget office said. That could be a particular concern to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces perhaps the toughest 2018 re-election race of any Senate Republican and who’s said he can’t support a health care package that cuts Medicaid like the GOP plan and takes coverage from “tens of millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Nevadans.”

The fresh figures come as President Donald Trump, in a sharp pivot from the praise he initially lavished on the House bill, is urging the Senate to provide Americans more generous help with health insurance. On Sunday, the president repeated during a “Fox and Friends” TV appearance a word he had used in a private White House lunch earlier this month with a group of GOP senators: that the House’s version is “mean.”

The CBO has been regarded over its four-decade history as a source of neutral analyses devoid of political agenda. Its current director, Keith Hall, is a conservative economist who served in the administration of President George W. Bush and was appointed to his current role two years ago by a Republican Congress.

Nevertheless, senior Trump aides have repeatedly sought to cast doubt on the budget office’s credibility. “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on the March day that the budget office issued its cost estimate of a preliminary version of the House GOP’s health-care legislation.

While they differ in important details, both the Senate GOP’s plan and the American Health Care Act narrowly passed by House Republicans in May share the goal of undoing central aspects of the sprawling health-care law enacted by a Democratic Congress seven years ago.

Both bills would eliminate enforcement of the ACA’s mandate that most Americans carry health insurance, relying on subtler deterrents to keep people from dropping coverage. The House version would let insurers temporarily charge higher rates, while the Senate added a provision Monday that would let health plans freeze out customers for six months if they let their coverage lapse.

In different ways, both would replace federal subsidies that help the vast majority of consumers buying coverage through ACA marketplaces, instead creating smaller tax credits that would provide greater assistance to younger adults while making insurance more expensive for people from middle age into their 60s.

After two years, both also would end subsidies that now help about 7 million lower-income people with ACA health plans afford deductibles and co-pays. And both would repeal an array of taxes that have helped to pay for the ACA’s benefits, including levies on health insurers and on wealthy Americans’ investment income.

For the Senate bill, the CBO’s estimates of insurance coverage and federal spending are influenced by the fact that its forecast covers a 10-year window and the legislation’s most profound changes for the nation’s health-care system are tilted toward the latter part of that period.

The bill would, for instance, leave in place the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid through 2020. After that, it would begin a three-year phaseout of the federal money that under the ACA has paid almost the entire cost of adding 11 million Americans to the program’s rolls in 31 states.

That means the extra funding wouldn’t disappear until the mid-2020s — roughly when sharp new restrictions on federal payments for the entire Medicaid program would take effect.

Over the weekend, the senior Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees the CBO said in a tweet that he had asked the budget office to estimate the Senate bill’s effect on insurance coverage over a longer time horizon. “GOP is hiding the worst Medicaid cuts in years 11, 12, 13 and hoping CBO stays quiet,” wrote Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Business Insider

Medicaid cuts in the Senate healthcare bill could be brutal for people living in nursing homes

Lydia Ramsey,  Business Insider    June 26, 2017

  • Medicaid covers health care expenses of 74 million low-income Americans, including nursing home care for those who can’t afford it.
  • Medicare, a program that covers medical expenses for Americans over 65 does not cover nursing homes.
  • The New York Times reports that 42% of Medicaid spending goes to services like nursing home care. Cutting spending in the program would hit the elderly, or put pressure on nursing home operators to cut back.

Republicans in Congress are eager to make cuts to government spending on health insurance plans for low-income people. On June 22, Senate Republicans released their version of a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The plan, like one passed by the  House of Representatives, rolls back many of the provisions of Obamacare, including taking deep cuts from Medicaid — the federal program that covers medical expenses for low-income Americans.

That rollback in Medicaid funding could particularly hit one unexpected group of people: elderly people living in nursing homes. Even though elderly Americans get medical coverage from Medicare — that program doesn’t cover long-term stays in nursing homes. For the most part, people pay out of pocket for nursing homes. Once that gets depleted, residents start to qualify for Medicaid to cover their stay.

Medicaid covers more than 74 million Americans, including low-income people, families, and kids, as well as pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. The New York Times detailed the impact of Medicaid cuts on nursing home care in a story this weekend, and reports that — even though they only make up 6% of all Medicaid enrollees — those who use long-term services like nursing homes account for about 42% of total Medicaid spending.

Cuts to Medicaid spending could put those services on the chopping block.

“Moms and kids aren’t where the money is,” Damon Terzaghi, senior director at the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities told the Times. “If you’re going to cut that much money out, it’s going to be coming from older people and people with disabilities.”

Under the Senate’s bill, titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Medicaid expansion that took place under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) would be phased out. In other words, those who gained coverage through the expansion would be without once again, though they could access coverage through the individual insurance market.

The bill also scales back federal funding for Medicaid — which is more than half the spending for the program at the state level. That would leave states — which also fund the program — with fewer resources.

By law, state Medicaid programs have to cover nursing homes. If those states receive less funding from the federal government, it could increase the pressure on the operations of nursing homes, in turn possibly limiting who can qualify for care.

Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of federal funding each state receives, with those in dark blue receiving the most support. Ultimately it’s these dark blue states that are most likely to feel the cuts being proposed by Republicans.

Daily Kos

Trump Threatens Blackmail if Murderous Republican “Health Care” Scam Is Not Passed.

By Dartagnan     June 26, 2017 

It’s no surprise that threatening the lives of Americans comes remarkably easy to an Administration knee deep in an FBI investigation of its own criminality. With its willing Republican allies in the U.S. Congress, apparently it comes even easier:

During an off-camera briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer signaled that the Trump administration is willing to use low-income Americans’ health insurance as a bargaining chip to persuade Congress to pass Trumpcare, which will result in tens of milliuons of Americans losing their health insurance.

The “bargaining chip” is the lives and health of seven million Americans who receive Federal subsidies (known as cost-saving reductions or “CSR’s”) in order to afford co-payments and deductibles for their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The issuance of this thinly veiled blackmail threat was delivered today by the White House Occupant’s mouthpiece, Sean Spicer:

Spicer made clear that the administration will do what it can to continue to destabilize Obamacare exchanges by only committing to the CSR payments one month at a time.

“We committed to making them last month, and that’s as far as we will go at this time,” Spicer said. “We’re not committing to them this month.”

But Spicer then signaled that the “dynamic” will change if the Senate passes a health care bill.

So with the lives of seven million “expendables,” i.e., Americans without the political clout to buy off a Republican Senator, in the balance, and with the insurance exchanges and insurers that support the only lifeline those people have threatened with ruin due to deliberate underfunding by a malevolent President, this Administration today coldly revealed its inner Ratfucking Self to anyone who hadn’t already taken note of the complete lack of concern anyone in the Trump regime has ever expressed towards the welfare of the American people it was elected to serve.

Let’s go over that again, just to clarify what Trump told Americans today:

“If we can pass health care overall, then that changes the dynamic,” Spicer said. “It will ultimately be up to the president to decide.”

We are told it would “change the dynamic” if Americans are willing to trade their health and lives and those of their families so that some sociopathic billionaires like Robert Mercer and Sheldon Adelson are allowed to shove their snouts deeper into the public trough via some massive tax cuts. Because that’s what this charade of Republicans actually “caring” about ordinary Americans’ health care has always been about. It’s certainly not about keeping people healthy or alive.

The Blackmailer-in-Chief let his support flow from his mentally disturbed fingers earlier today: Yes, let it “crash and burn” along with the lives of all of those expendable people in need of basic health care. Just another threat, like the non-existent tapes of his conversations with the former FBI Director.

What a heartless thing to say, even for this…person in the Oval Office. But no one should be surprised:

In an interview with The Economist in May, Trump signaled he will eventually stop paying CSRs — the only question is when.

“[T]here is no Obamacare, it’s dead. Plus we’re subsidizing it and we don’t have to subsidize it. You know if I ever stop wanting to pay the subsidies, which I will,” Trump said. “Anytime I want.”

It’s difficult to imagine a real American President saying something so blithe, callous and juvenile.  He makes Nixon look positively angelic by comparison.

CNN

Koch brothers’ political network critical of Senate healthcare bill

By Maeve Reston, CNN        June 25, 2017

Story highlights:
  • Donor group plans up to $400 million in spending in run-up to 2018 midterm elections
  • “Senate bill needs to get better,” says top lieutenant

Colorado Springs (CNN) As growing opposition imperiled passage of the Senate version of the healthcare bill, leaders of the conservative Koch network voiced sharp criticism of the legislation at their donor retreat here — stating that the bill needed dramatic changes before they would support it.

The Koch network announced Saturday that they plan between $300 and $400 million on their political and policy objectives during the 2018 political cycle as Democrats wage an intense battle to win control of the House. The network has made the repeal of Obamacare a central focus of their political and policy work. They believe that neither the House, nor the Senate version achieve that goal.

“This Senate bill needs to get better. It has to get better,” said Tim Phillips, a top lieutenant in the network who recently met with White House officials to outline their proposed changes to the health care system.

The proposed changes to Medicaid, Phillips said, were unacceptable, because they just amount to tinkering around the edges rather than reforming the program. The Senate bill would dramatically scale back federal support of Medicaid and phase out the money that the government has provided to expand eligibility for Medicaid in the states.

Several GOP senators have announced their opposition to the Senate bill in its current form. Among them are conservative senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, who believe the bill does not go far enough and are attending the Koch network donor retreat this weekend. For several other senators, like Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, the cuts to Medicaid go too far. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose two members in order to win passage for the bill.

        ‘The bill is not going to fix healthcare’

The Koch network has strongly opposed the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare — arguing that by adding people to the rolls, the quality of care for the most vulnerable Medicaid recipients has plummeted.

“It was a struggling — frankly failing — program before this dramatic expansion,” said Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch network’s political organizing arm.

“To simply say we’re going to do a slight nip and tuck to a program that — because of Obamacare — has added millions and millions of people is frankly immoral. It’s not right to do that.”

“At the end of the day, this bill is not going to fix healthcare,” said James Davis, a spokesman for the network during an afternoon session with reporters. “We are going to be focusing our efforts out into the future on how we can fix it.”

Phillips, a top lieutenant with the network, noted that the organization was louder in their opposition to House version earlier this year, because they wanted to remind White House and Congressional officials that repealing Obamacare “was a promise that had been made to repeal Obamacare during four consecutive national elections beginning in 2010, and that the vast majority of members had pledged that.”

Republicans now living some of Democrats’ Obamacare nightmares.

Activists with the network have been more engaged in negotiations on the Senate bill, which is one reason they are in a wait-and-see mode.

                  ‘We are more optimistic’

Charles Koch, who was a vociferous critic of Donald Trump during the 2012 presidential campaign, did not mention the bill or the President as he welcomed hundreds of donors to the historic Broadmoor Hotel at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain Saturday evening. (Koch met with Vice President Mike Pence on Friday). Instead he praised the depth and breadth of his organization, which will hold a series of seminars this weekend focused on their legislative priorities, including criminal justice reform, education, tax reform and poverty.

“We are more optimistic now about what we can accomplish than we have ever been,” he said in remarks to donors, noting the group’s work propelling the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Earlier Saturday, the network announced a new partnership with football star Deion Sanders. The Koch network pledged to spend $21 million on the joint initiative with Sanders to reduce persistent poverty in Dallas.

Six senators are taking part in the seminars this weekend: Senators John Cornyn, Cory Gardner, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee; along with four Governors: Greg Abbott of Texas, Matt Bevin of Kentucky, Eric Greitens of Missouri, and Doug Ducey of Arizona.

ThinkProgress

White House threatens to sabotage insurance of low-income people if Trumpcare isn’t passed

The Trump administration is putting poor people in a lose-lose situation.

Aaron Rupar, Journalist ThinkProgress     June 26, 2017

During an off-camera briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer signaled that the Trump administration is willing to use low-income Americans’ health insurance as a bargaining chip to persuade Congress to pass Trumpcare, which will result in tens of millions of Americans losing their health insurance.

Spicer detailed the administration’s position in response to a question about whether the Trump administration will cover next month’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for low-income people who purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. As Thinkprogress has previously detailed, the payments “partially subsidize deductibles and co-payments for more then 7 million low-income Americans, making it possible for many of them to afford their insurance. Cutting off the payments could potentially kick millions of people off the state exchanges, pushing some private insurers to withdraw as well. Premiums could shoot up across the board.”

Spicer made clear that the administration will do what it can to continue to destabilize Obamacare exchanges by only committing to the CSR payments one month at a time.

“We committed to making them last month, and that’s as far as we will go at this time,” Spicer said. “We’re not committing to them this month.”

But Spicer then signaled that the “dynamic” will change if the Senate passes a health care bill. The bill on the table — which was written in secret by Republican senators and hasn’t been subject to a hearing — is in some ways harsher than the House version that would result in 23 million Americans losing their health insurance. But unlike the House bill, the Senate version continues to temporarily provide tax subsidies for consumers to buy health insurance on exchanges, albeit ones that are much less generous than Obamacare.

“If we can pass health care overall, then that changes the dynamic,” Spicer said. “It will ultimately be up to the president to decide.”

Spicer then made an explicitly political case for why Trump won’t commit to making the CSR payments — an assurance that would undermine the administration’s ongoing effort to blow up Obamacare by encouraging insurance companies to continue to offer plans on the exchanges.

“If the president were to hypothetically say he’s going to make the payments in perpetuity or for a year, I think that continues to prop up a failed system and continues to do wrong by the American taxpayer and it also doesn’t lend itself to the expediency that I think we want to help get a new health care system in place,” he said.

Trump himself alluded to the chaos ending the CSR payments would sow in insurance markets in a tweet earlier Monday in which he threatened to let Obamacare “crash & burn!”

In an interview with The Economist in May, Trump signaled he will eventually stop paying CSRs  — the only question is when.

“[T]here is no Obamacare, it’s dead. Plus we’re subsidizing it and we don’t have to subsidize it. You know if I ever stop wanting to pay the subsidies, which I will,” Trump said. “Anytime I want.”

As The Weekly Standard detailed, the administration’s posture on CSRs “has already accelerated the collapse of health care exchanges as insurers move to limit their risk by raising prices or withdrawing from markets altogether.”

My Best Friend

               ‘My Best Friend’

Father of one of the seven Navy sailors killed in a ship collision speaks out on the bond with his son: “There was no place that I could go that he couldn’t go with me… he was my best friend.”

http://cnn.it/2rXn7gG

Father of killed Navy sailor speaks

Father of one of the seven Navy sailors killed in a collision speaks out on the bond with his son: "There was no place that I could go that he couldn’t go with me… he was my best friend." http://cnn.it/2rXn7gG

Posted by CNN on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The New York Times used a full page to print all of Trump’s lies since taking office

Business Insider

The New York Times used a full page to print all of Trump’s lies since taking office

Sonam Sheth   June 25, 2017

The New York Times used a full page in this week’s paper to print out every lie President Trump has publicly told since taking office just over five months ago.

The list contains Trump’s contradictions on a slew of topics, like the Iraq War, NATO, the administration’s controversial travel ban, the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration, the ongoing controversy over Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible role in it, and more.

Trump has contradicted himself on a regular basis since taking office and during the presidential campaign.

His rise to political stardom was built on the false “birther” theory that former president Barack Obama was born in Kenya and not a US citizen. Beginning in 2011, Trump led the charge calling for Obama to release his long-form birth certificate, which he eventually did. Trump did not publicly disavow his comments until last September during the election, five years after he initially pushed the conspiracy theory.

He blamed then-candidate Hillary Clinton for starting the controversy, saying, “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it, you know what I mean.” That claim has never been substantiated.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

Trump’s tendency to spout falsehoods also led former FBI director James Comey to testify under oath that he did not trust the president to be honest about the nature of their meetings.

When asked by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr why he documented his interactions with Trump more meticulously than he did with Obama, Comey replied: “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.”

Here’s what The Times’ list looks like in print:

New York Times

T r u m p ’ s   L i e s

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.

By David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson       June 23, 2017

Jan. 21 “I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)Jan. 21 “A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.” (Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.)Jan. 23 “Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.” (There’s no evidence of illegal voting.)Jan. 25 “Now, the audience was the biggest ever. But this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive.” (Official aerial photos show Obama’s 2009 inauguration was much more heavily attended.)Jan. 25 “Take a look at the Pew reports (which show voter fraud.)” (The report never mentioned voter fraud.)Jan. 25 “You had millions of people that now aren’t insured anymore.” (The real number is less than 1 million, according to the Urban Institute.)Jan. 25 “So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that.” (There were no gun homicide victims in Chicago that day.)Jan. 26 “We’ve taken in tens of thousands of people. We know nothing about them. They can say they vet them. They didn’t vet them. They have no papers. How can you vet somebody when you don’t know anything about them and you have no papers? How do you vet them? You can’t.” (Vetting lasts up to two years.)Jan. 26 “I cut off hundreds of millions of dollars off one particular plane, hundreds of millions of dollars in a short period of time. It wasn’t like I spent, like, weeks, hours, less than hours, and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. And the plane’s going to be better.” (Most of the cuts were already planned.)Jan. 28 “The coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost has been so false and angry that the Times actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers.” (It never apologized.)Jan. 29 “The Cuban-Americans, I got 84 percent of that vote.” (There is no support for this.)Jan. 30 “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage.” (At least 746 people were detained and processed, and the Delta outage happened two days later.)Feb. 3 “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” (There is no evidence of paid protesters.)Feb. 4 “After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!” (It never apologized.)Feb. 5 “We had 109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers and all we did was vet those people very, very carefully.” (About 60,000 people were affected.)Feb. 6 “I have already saved more than $700 million when I got involved in the negotiation on the F-35.” (Much of the price drop was projected before Trump took office.)Feb. 6 “It’s gotten to a point where it is not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.” (Terrorism has been reported on, often in detail.)Feb. 6 “The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!” (It didn’t apologize.)Feb. 6 “And the previous administration allowed it to happen because we shouldn’t have been in Iraq, but we shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out. It created a vacuum, ISIS was formed.” (The group’s origins date to 2004.)Feb. 7 “And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years.” (It was higher in the 1980s and ’90s.)Feb. 7 “I saved more than $600 million. I got involved in negotiation on a fighter jet, the F-35.” (The Defense Department projected this price drop before Trump took office.)Feb. 9 “Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave ‘service’ in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!” (It was part of Cuomo’s first question.)Feb. 9 Sen. Richard Blumenthal “now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” (The Gorsuch comments were later corroborated.)Feb. 10 “I don’t know about it. I haven’t seen it. What report is that?” (Trump knew about Flynn’s actions for weeks.)Feb. 12 “Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!” (The media did cover it.)Feb. 16 “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all won bigger margins in the Electoral College.)Feb. 16 “That’s the other thing that was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports.” (Delta’s problems happened two days later.)Feb. 16 “Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.” (The jobs are a result of its investment plans announced in October 2016.)Feb. 16 “When WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they’re not giving classified information.” (Not always. They have released classified information in the past.)Feb. 16 “We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. But we had a bad court. Got a bad decision.” (The rollout was chaotic.)Feb. 16 “They’re giving stuff — what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on the debates. Which, by the way, nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.” (It was widely covered.)Feb. 18 “And there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing.” (Refugees receive multiple background checks, taking up to two years.)Feb. 18 “You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” (Trump implied there was a terror attack in Sweden, but there was no such attack.)Feb. 24 “By the way, you folks are in here — this place is packed, there are lines that go back six blocks.” (There was no evidence of long lines.)Feb. 24 “ICE came and endorsed me.” (Only its union did.)Feb. 24 “Obamacare covers very few people — and remember, deduct from the number all of the people that had great health care that they loved that was taken away from them — it was taken away from them.” (Obamacare increased coverage by a net of about 20 million.)Feb. 27 “Since Obamacare went into effect, nearly half of the insurers are stopped and have stopped from participating in the Obamacare exchanges.” (Many fewer pulled out.)Feb. 27 “On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million. And I would say I devoted about, if I added it up, all those calls, probably about an hour. So I think that might be my highest and best use.” (Much of the price cut was already projected.)Feb. 28 “And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.” (NATO countries agreed to meet defense spending requirements in 2014.)Feb. 28 “The E.P.A.’s regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands.” (There’s no evidence that the Waters of the United States rule caused severe job losses.)Feb. 28 “We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials.” (They can’t lobby their former agency but can still become lobbyists.)March 3 “It is so pathetic that the Dems have still not approved my full Cabinet.” (Paperwork for the last two candidates was still not submitted to the Senate.)March 4 “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” (There’s no evidence of a wiretap.)March 4 “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” (There’s no evidence of a wiretap.)March 7 “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” (113 of them were released by President George W. Bush.)March 13 “I saved a lot of money on those jets, didn’t I? Did I do a good job? More than $725 million on them.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 13 “First of all, it covers very few people.” (About 20 million people gained insurance under Obamacare.)March 15 “On the airplanes, I saved $725 million. Probably took me a half an hour if you added up all of the times.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 17 “I was in Tennessee — I was just telling the folks — and half of the state has no insurance company, and the other half is going to lose the insurance company.” (There’s at least one insurer in every Tennessee county.)March 20 “With just one negotiation on one set of airplanes, I saved the taxpayers of our country over $700 million.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 21 “To save taxpayer dollars, I’ve already begun negotiating better contracts for the federal government — saving over $700 million on just one set of airplanes of which there are many sets.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)March 22 “I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.” (Riots in Sweden broke out two days later and there were no deaths.)March 22 “NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that.” (It has fought terrorism since the 1980s.)March 22 “Well, now, if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong — in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people.” (There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.)March 29 “Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!” (It didn’t apologize.)March 31 “We have a lot of plants going up now in Michigan that were never going to be there if I — if I didn’t win this election, those plants would never even think about going back. They were gone.” (These investments were already planned.)April 2 “And I was totally opposed to the war in the Middle East which I think finally has been proven, people tried very hard to say I wasn’t but you’ve seen that it is now improving.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)April 2 “Now, my last tweet — you know, the one that you are talking about, perhaps — was the one about being, in quotes, wiretapped, meaning surveilled. Guess what, it is turning out to be true.” (There is still no evidence.)April 5 “You have many states coming up where they’re going to have no insurance company. O.K.? It’s already happened in Tennessee. It’s happening in Kentucky. Tennessee only has half coverage. Half the state is gone. They left.” (Every marketplace region in Tennessee had at least one insurer.)April 6 “If you look at the kind of cost-cutting we’ve been able to achieve with the military and at the same time ordering vast amounts of equipment — saved hundreds of millions of dollars on airplanes, and really billions, because if you take that out over a period of years it’s many billions of dollars — I think we’ve had a tremendous success.” (Much of the price cuts were already projected.)April 11 “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve.” (He knew Steve Bannon since 2011.)April 12 “You can’t do it faster, because they’re obstructing. They’re obstructionists. So I have people — hundreds of people that we’re trying to get through. I mean you have — you see the backlog. We can’t get them through.” (At this point, he had not nominated anyone for hundreds of positions.)April 12 “The New York Times said the word wiretapped in the headline of the first edition. Then they took it out of there fast when they realized.” (There were separate headlines for print and web, but neither were altered.)April 12 “The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.” (NATO has been engaged in counter-terrorism efforts since the 1980s.)April 12 “Mosul was supposed to last for a week and now they’ve been fighting it for many months and so many more people died.” (The campaign was expected to take months.)April 16 “Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!” (There’s no evidence of paid protesters.)April 18 “The fake media goes, ‘Donald Trump changed his stance on China.’ I haven’t changed my stance.” (He did.)April 21 “On 90 planes I saved $725 million. It’s actually a little bit more than that, but it’s $725 million.” (Much of the price cuts were already projected.)April 21 “When WikiLeaks came out … never heard of WikiLeaks, never heard of it.” (He criticized it as early as 2010.)April 27 “I want to help our miners while the Democrats are blocking their healthcare.” (The bill to extend health benefits for certain coal miners was introduced by a Democrat and was co-sponsored by mostly Democrats.)April 28 “The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it’s $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.” (The U.S. had an $8.1 billion trade surplus, not deficit, with Canada in 2016.)April 28 “She’s running against someone who’s going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your health care, and he’s for open borders — lots of crime.” (Those are not Jon Ossoff’s positions.)April 28 “The F-35 fighter jet program — it was way over budget. I’ve saved $725 million plus, just by getting involved in the negotiation.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)April 29 “They’re incompetent, dishonest people who after an election had to apologize because they covered it, us, me, but all of us, they covered it so badly that they felt they were forced to apologize because their predictions were so bad.” (The Times did not apologize.)April 29 “As you know, I’ve been a big critic of China, and I’ve been talking about currency manipulation for a long time. But I have to tell you that during the election, number one, they stopped.” (China stopped years ago.)April 29 “I’ve already saved more than $725 million on a simple order of F-35 planes. I got involved in the negotiation.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)April 29 “We’re also getting NATO countries to finally step up and contribute their fair share. They’ve begun to increase their contributions by billions of dollars, but we are not going to be satisfied until everyone pays what they owe.” (The deal was struck in 2014.)April 29 “When they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure. And then I get there. Number one, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped.” (China stopped in 2014.)April 29 “I was negotiating to reduce the price of the big fighter jet contract, the F-35, which was totally out of control. I will save billions and billions and billions of dollars.” (Most of the cuts were planned before Trump.)April 29 “I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it.” (There’s still no evidence Trump’s phones were tapped.)May 1 “Well, we are protecting pre-existing conditions. And it’ll be every good — bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.” (The bill weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.)May 1 “The F-35 fighter jet — I saved — I got involved in the negotiation. It’s 2,500 jets. I negotiated for 90 planes, lot 10. I got $725 million off the price.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)May 1 “First of all, since I started running, they haven’t increased their — you know, they have not manipulated their currency. I think that was out of respect to me and the campaign.” (China stopped years ago.)May 2 “I love buying those planes at a reduced price. I have been really — I have cut billions — I have to tell you this, and they can check, right, Martha? I have cut billions and billions of dollars off plane contracts sitting here.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)May 4 “Number two, they’re actually not a currency [manipulator]. You know, since I’ve been talking about currency manipulation with respect to them and other countries, they stopped.” (China stopped years ago.)May 4 “We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.” (We’re not.)May 4 “Nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters.” (Polls show most Americans do care.)May 8 “You know we’ve gotten billions of dollars more in NATO than we’re getting. All because of me.” (The deal was struck in 2014.)May 8 “But when I did his show, which by the way was very highly rated. It was high — highest rating. The highest rating he’s ever had.” (Colbert’s “Late Show” debut had nearly two million more viewers.)May 8 “Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows — there is ‘no evidence’ of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” (Clapper only said he wasn’t aware of an investigation.)May 12 “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.” (The F.B.I. was investigating before the election.)May 12 “When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” (Clapper said he wouldn’t have been told of an investigation into collusion.)May 13 “I’m cutting the price of airplanes with Lockheed.” (The cost cuts were planned before he became president.)May 26 “Just arrived in Italy for the G7. Trip has been very successful. We made and saved the USA many billions of dollars and millions of jobs.” (He’s referencing an arms deal that’s not enacted and other apparent deals that weren’t announced on the trip.)June 1 “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So, we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.” (The agreement doesn’t allow or disallow building coal plants.)June 1 “I’ve just returned from a trip overseas where we concluded nearly $350 billion of military and economic development for the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.” (Trump’s figures are inflated and premature.)June 4 “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” (The mayor was specifically talking about the enlarged police presence on the streets.)June 5 “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” (Trump signed this version of the travel ban, not the Justice Department.)June 21 “They all say it’s ‘nonbinding.’ Like hell it’s nonbinding.” (The Paris climate agreement is nonbinding — and Trump said so in his speech announcing the withdrawal.)June 21 “Right now, we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.” (We’re not.)

All the President’s Lies

President Trump’s political rise was built on a lie (about Barack Obama’s birthplace). His lack of truthfulness has also become central to the Russia investigation, with James Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., testifying under oath about Trump’s “lies, plain and simple.”

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.

We have set a conservative standard here, leaving out many dubious statements (like the claim that his travel ban is “similar” to Obama administration policy). Some people may still take issue with this standard, arguing that the president wasn’t speaking literally. But we believe his long pattern of using untruths to serve his purposes, as a businessman and politician, means that his statements are not simply careless errors.

We are using the word “lie” deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump’s part. But it would be the height of naïveté to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying.

Trump Told Public Lies or Falsehoods Every Day for His First 40 Days

The list above 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.

The end of May was another period of relative public veracity — or at least public quiet — for the president. He seems to have been otherwise occupied, dealing with internal discussions about the Russia investigation and then embarking on a trip through the Middle East and Europe.

Trump’s Public Lies Sometimes Changed With Repetition

Sometimes, Trump can’t even keep his untruths straight. After he reversed a campaign pledge and declined to label China a currency manipulator, he kept changing his description of when China had stopped the bad behavior. Initially, he said it stopped once he took office. He then changed the turning point to the election, then to since he started talking about it, and then to some uncertain point in the distant past.

The Public’s Mistrust of Trump Grows

Trump has retained the support of most of his voters as well as the Republican leadership in Congress. But he has still paid some price for his lies. Nearly 60 percent of Americans say the president is not honest, polls show, up from about 53 percent when he took office.

Source: Quinnipiac

David Leonhardt is a New York Times columnist. Stuart A. Thompson is the graphics director for the Opinion section.

Sources: Politifact; Factcheck.org; The Washington Post Fact Checker; The Toronto Star

Correction: June 23, 2017: An earlier version of this graphic included an incorrect total for the number of days Donald Trump told a lie during his first two months as president. It was 20, not 25.

Another day, another poll showing how deeply unpopular the GOP health-care bill is

Washington Post Analysis

Another day, another poll showing how deeply unpopular the GOP health-care bill is

By Philip Bump     June 22, 2017

The day that Republican members of the House were first supposed to vote on the American Health Care Act, the legislation that would overhaul the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) by cutting taxes on wealthy Americans and reducing spending on Medicaid, Quinnipiac University dropped a big, juicy fly in the ointment.

Only 17 percent of the country approved of the bill, a poll from the university showed — including less than half of Republicans.

Over time, those numbers haven’t really improved. Earlier this month, the most recent Quinnipiac poll showed the same figure: 17 percent approval. Support from Republicans, which had come oh so close to 50 percent in late May, was back down to about 4 in 10.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans introduced their own bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. It was crafted behind closed doors, and there’s no polling available on Americans’ views of it. But at noon on the day it dropped, so, too, did a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.

Only 16 percent of Americans said the House bill was a good idea — including only a third of Republicans. That’s down 7 percent from last month.

It’s hard to overstate what a disaster those numbers are for the Senate Republicans. The best possible defense — and the defense that appears to have motivated the manner in which the bill was drafted — is that this is a poll number on a different piece of legislation. This is probably what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) et al. are hoping will happen: They say, “Hey, this is the BCRA, not the AHCA, not sure how you made that mistake,” and then rush the bill to a vote before people realize how similar the two pieces of legislation are.

And they are similar, in the places that will affect the most people. A Washington Post analysis shows that the big-picture effect is to cut certain taxes (that mostly benefit the wealthiest Americans) and to cut Medicaid benefits (that heavily benefit the poor and disabled) with the likely net effect of substantially increasing the number of Americans who don’t have insurance. It won’t take much time for the similarities between the two bills to be made obvious, and therefore, for this bill to similarly fare poorly in the polls.

The Kaiser Family Foundation polled on the elements of the AHCA (that’s the House bill; these acronyms are confusing) a month ago. Even among Republican voters, most of the components were pretty unpopular.

The work requirement is in the Senate bill, in a form, and that’s popular with most Republicans, as are the high-risk pools. But so are the Medicaid cuts, the tax reductions — and the least popular provision, charging more for older customers.

Again: This is among Republicans. Is this a recipe for a more popular piece of legislation?

Republican senators are being asked to stand with party leadership on this bill to meet the Republican commitment to repeal Obamacare. That commitment powered a lot of grass-roots energy within the Republican base — but while that’s enough to ensure victory for some members of the party’s caucus, others need an awful lot of votes from independents (and even some Democrats) for whom that commitment was never appealing.

Shortly after Obamacare passed in 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that it was more popular than not, although still had less than 50 percent approval. By that November, polling was about even — but the Democrats were demolished in House elections in part (but by no means solely) because of the party’s efforts to reform health care. Some Democrats took a tough vote for Obamacare — and lost their jobs.

On a bill that was about as popular as it was unpopular.

What’s the case McConnell makes to Republicans from moderate states who are up for reelection next year on voting for his unpopular bill?

AP FACT CHECK: Trump and missions unaccomplished

Associated Press

AP FACT CHECK: Trump and missions unaccomplished

Jim Drinkard and Calvin Woodward, Associated Press   June 24, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has a way of presenting missions as accomplished even when they’re not.

So it was when he told Iowans he’s put farmers back at their plows, secured a historic increase in military spending and empowered home-builders to swing their hammers again. Those all remain aspirations, not achievements.

Trump is also known to propose something already in effect, as when he declared “the time has come” for a welfare moratorium for immigrants. President Bill Clinton signed such a moratorium into law in 1996.

A look at a variety of Trump’s statements from the public square over the past week:

TRUMP: “We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money. And that’s good right? … Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea.” — in Iowa on Wednesday.

THE FACTS: His idea? Others came forward with such proposals back when he was criticizing solar power as too expensive.

The notion of adding solar panels to the wall he wants to build along the Mexico border was explored in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March. Vasilis Fthenakis, director of the Center for Life Cycle Analysis at Columbia University, and Ken Zweibel, former director of the Solar Institute at George Washington University, concluded it was “not only technically and economically feasible, it might even be more practical than a traditional wall.”

They said a 2,000-mile solar wall could cost less than $1 billion, instead of tens of billions for a traditional border wall, and possibly become “wildly profitable.” The writers were studying a concept laid out by Homero Aridjis and James Ramey in the online World Post in December.

The idea also was proposed by one of the companies that submitted its design to the government as a border wall prototype. Las Vegas-based Gleason Partners proposed covering some sections of the wall with solar panels and said that selling electricity from it could eventually cover the cost of construction.

Trump repeatedly described solar power in the campaign as “very, very expensive” and “not working so good.”

TRUMP: “So, we’ve achieved a historic increase in defense spending.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: He hasn’t. He is proposing a large increase but Congress is still debating — and is nowhere near deciding on — more money for defense for 2018.

All that’s been achieved is a $25 billion increase for this year and there’s nothing remotely historic about that. The Pentagon has received annual budget increases equal to or greater than $25 billion seven times in the past 15 years alone.

TRUMP: “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.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: A federal law passed in 1996 already has that effect. It 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. States typically have the authority to determine eligibility for local programs. As for people in the country illegally, they are generally prohibited from those benefits altogether. Same with foreigners who are in the U.S. on non-immigrant visas.

TRUMP: Addressing why he raised the possibility that his Oval Office conversation with fired FBI Director James Comey might have been recorded: “When he found out that I, you know, that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed.” — Fox News interview aired Friday.

THE FACTS: There’s no evidence of any change in what Comey testified on June 8 before the Senate Intelligence committee. In that appearance — the only time Comey has publicly addressed the subject — his story was consistent. He said that on three occasions beginning in January he’d told the president that he was not then the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation on him as part of its work to probe Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election.

Since then, it has been reported that Trump is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller over his May 9 firing of Comey and whether that or other actions by the president constitute obstruction of justice.

TRUMP: “You see what we’ve already done. Home-builders are starting to build again. We’re not confiscating their land with ridiculous rules and regulations that don’t make sense.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: 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 home-builders come from local governments, rather than federal rules.

TRUMP: On cutting regulations to help farmers: “Farmers are able to plow their field. If they have a puddle in the middle of their field, a little puddle the size of this, it’s considered a lake and you can’t touch it. And if you touch it, bad, bad things happen to you and your family. We got rid of that one, too, OK?” — Iowa speech

THE FACTS: He didn’t get rid of the regulations he’s talking about. He signed an executive order in February directing the Environmental Protection Agency to review a rule protecting clean water. The rule can stop some farmers from using pesticides and herbicides. It’s still in place, pending the review.

TRUMP: “Former Homeland Security Advisor Jeh Johnson is latest top intelligence official to state there was no grand scheme between Trump & Russia.” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: Johnson did not state that conclusion. He was homeland security secretary (not adviser) from December 2013 to January 2017. He was asked at a House Intelligence committee hearing Wednesday whether he knew of any evidence of collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign.

Johnson said he was not aware of any information beyond what’s been reported publicly and what the U.S. intelligence community has gathered. That is not a statement of belief that no collusion took place. Pressed on the matter, he said Comey probably had some information to go on when the FBI opened an investigation into possible collusion.

TRUMP: “Unemployment is at a 16-year low.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: Unemployment is indeed that low, at 4.3 percent.

TRUMP: “We are 5 and 0, as you know, in these special elections. And I think the Democrats thought it would be a lot different than that. 5-0 is a big — that’s a big margin.” — Fox News interview aired Friday.

THE FACTS: Wrong score. Right score: 4-1. Republicans won open House seats in Kansas, Georgia, Montana and South Carolina. Democrats held onto a seat in California.

Trump’s miscount wasn’t a one-time gaffe. It was also a line that roused supporters in his Iowa speech. “So, we’re 5 and 0. We’re 5 and 0,” he said to applause Wednesday night. “Five and 0. Five and 0,” he said at another point.

TRUMP: “Since I was elected, illegal border crossings — and this is without the wall, before the wall — have decreased by more than 75 percent, a historic and unprecedented achievement.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: That’s overblown, according to government figures about the Mexico border. The decrease in his first four full months in office is about 59 percent, still substantial but not more than 75 percent.

More than 56,600 foreigners have been caught crossing from Mexico illegally between February and May, down from 137,800 people in the same period during President Barack Obama’s last year in office.

The number of illegal crossings is not known because some people slip in undetected. Officials consider the number arrested to be representative of the broader trend of attempts to cross illegally.

In bragging that the numbers are down “without the wall,” Trump omits the fact that there already are roughly 650 miles of fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile long Mexican border.

TRUMP: “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.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: 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.

Taxes made up 26.4 percent of the total U.S. economy in 2015, according to the OECD. That’s far below Denmark’s tax burden of 46.6 percent, Britain’s 32.5 percent or Germany’s 36.9 percent. Just four OECD countries had a lower tax bite than the U.S.: South Korea, Ireland, Chile and Mexico.

It’s not clear Trump will sign the largest tax cut in U.S. history. His administration has yet to settle on enough details of any planned overhaul to make that claim. To put the claim in context, President Ronald Reagan essentially cut taxes during his first term by slightly more than 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. For Trump to surpass that, his tax cut would essentially have to be more than $400 billion a year.

TRUMP: “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.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: 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. He would have had to pay taxes on any capital gains from the sale, but that sum would only be a fraction of the figure cited by Trump. Moreover, Cohn had to divest the stock in pieces, so the final tally from his sales is unclear, as the stock has declined from highs in March.

It’s also worth noting the president’s about-face praise for Wall Street. His campaign 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.

TRUMP: “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.” — Iowa speech.

THE FACTS: There is no publicly available evidence to support this claim about the violent gang. In recent weeks, federal authorities have arrested hundreds of suspected MS-13 gang members. Many of those arrested have been identified by the government as immigrants, but it is unclear if they have yet been deported. Any suspected gang members who are U.S. citizens cannot be kicked out of the country. The gang was formed decades ago in Los Angeles and has spread.

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.

SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, on Republican health care legislation: “They want to bring the bill to the floor, rush it in the dark of night, for a simple reason — they are ashamed of their bill. They don’t want anybody to see it, least of all the public. … They can’t even whisper what it’s about they are so, so ashamed of it.” — Senate speech Tuesday.

THE FACTS: Both parties resort to secrecy in Congress at times, especially when hard-fought legislation is at stake. When Democrats grappled with a conservative uproar over President Barack Obama’s health care bill, they held private meetings to iron out details and reach agreements to clinch the legislation’s approval. That said, they also held scores of hearings and staged many days of debate in 2009 and 1010. The Senate’s Republican leadership has held no hearings on its legislation, the contents of which are unknown. It’s unusual for such a major bill to be written from scratch behind closed doors then rushed through Congress in a few days.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: “I like that line that says, you know, the Internal Revenue Code is twice as long as the Bible, with none of the good news.” — speech Tuesday to manufacturers.

HOUSE SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: “You know, there’s this old line about the tax code. Our tax code is about five times as long as the Bible but with none of the good news.” — speech to the same group Tuesday.

THE FACTS: Ryan has the ratio about right: The tax code runs nearly 4 million words, according to a 2013 government report, while the Bible has 700,000 to about 800,000, depending on the version and variations in translation. Pence understated the difference. Both got laughs.

A number of Republicans over the years have compared the size of the texts to make the point that Americans are under an unholy burden from the IRS.

Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Alicia A. Caldwell, Jill Colvin and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

EDITOR’S NOTE: A look at the veracity of claims by political figures

This, Right Here. This Is Where Obama Choked.

Esquire

This, Right Here. This Is Where Obama Choked.

The American people had damn near an absolute right to know this information.

By Charles P. Pierce      June 23, 2017

It so happens that Friday is an official Ratfcking Holiday, and a very important one. It’s June 23 or, as we who celebrate it like to call it, Smoking Gun Day. It was 45 years ago to the day that H.R. Haldeman stopped by the Oval Office and, with a tape recorder whirring merrily away in a drawer, he and Richard Nixon discussed how to get the CIA to turn off the FBI’s investigation of Watergate because that investigation was moving into “some productive areas.” They talked about ripping scabs open, and “that whole Bay of Pigs thing,” and having Walters tell Gray not to go into this thing any further, period. “All I can conclude,” Patrick Buchanan reportedly said when this tape finally came to light, “is that the old man has been shitting us.”

So, in honor of the day, The Washington Post comes up with an amazing tale of the way ratfcking is done in the modern era. It begins with a top-secret communique delivered to President Barack Obama last August.

Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race. But it went further. 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.

The dynamite, she go boom.

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.

I seem to remember this remarkable coincidence.

The piece is too long, too well reported, and too detailed to summarize in block quotes, but what it makes sadly clear is that the culture of secrecy within the intelligence community worked invariably to empower the ratfcking, rather than to hinder it.

Over that five-month interval, the Obama administration secretly debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could “crater” the Russian economy.

All well and good. Go get ’em, tiger.

However, like so many things about the Obama administration, the response to what the Russians did was measured and allegedly proportional. (“I feel like we choked,” one official told the Post.) But, you may ask, what about the election that was going on at the same time the Obama administration was retaliating for Russian interference in its process?

They were concerned that any pre-election response could provoke an escalation from Putin. Moscow’s meddling to that point was seen as deeply concerning but unlikely to materially affect the outcome of the election. Far more worrisome to the Obama team was the prospect of a cyber-assault on voting systems before and on Election Day. They also worried that any action they took would be perceived as political interference in an already volatile campaign. By August, Trump was predicting that the election would be rigged. Obama officials feared providing fuel to such claims, playing into Russia’s efforts to discredit the outcome and potentially contaminating the expected Clinton triumph.

This, right here. This is where they choked. The American people had damned close to an absolute right to the information their government already had. The most fundamental act of citizenship is the right to cast an informed vote. The idea that the Obama administration withheld the fact that the Russians were ratfcking the election in order to help elect a vulgar talking yam is a terrible condemnation of the whole No Drama Obama philosophy. Would Donald Trump have raised hell if the White House released what it knew? Of course, he would have. But, as it was, the American people went to vote with only about half of the information they needed to assess his candidacy. This was a terrible decision.

Before departing for an August vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Obama instructed aides to pursue ways to deter Moscow and proceed along three main paths: Get a high-confidence assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia’s role and intent; shore up any vulnerabilities in state-run election systems; and seek bipartisan support from congressional leaders for a statement condemning Moscow and urging states to accept federal help.

Ah, yes. “Bipartisan support.” The brilliant snow-white unicorn pursued by that administration for nearly eight years. How did that work out? How did it ever work out?

On Aug. 15, Johnson arranged a conference call with dozens of state officials, hoping to enlist their support. He ran into a wall of resistance. The reaction “ranged from neutral to negative,” Johnson said in congressional testimony Wednesday. Brian Kemp, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia, used the call to denounce Johnson’s proposal as an assault on state rights. “I think it was a politically calculated move by the previous administration,” Kemp said in a recent interview, adding that he remains unconvinced that Russia waged a campaign to disrupt the 2016 race. “I don’t necessarily believe that,” he said.

Really, now. How did it ever work out?

The meeting devolved into a partisan squabble.

“The Dems were, ‘Hey, we have to tell the public,’ ” recalled one participant. But Republicans resisted, arguing that to warn the public that the election was under attack would further Russia’s aim of sapping confidence in the system. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went further, officials said, voicing skepticism that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims. Through a spokeswoman, McConnell declined to comment, citing the secrecy of that meeting. Key Democrats were stunned by the GOP response and exasperated that the White House seemed willing to let Republican opposition block any pre-election move.

So they choked a second time, scared out of what they should have done by Mitch McConnell, ace conniver. (What the hell did they expect? Patriotism?) I repeat: the American people needed to know this before they voted, spin and fauxtrage and punditry be damned. They had a right to factor the question, “Why does Putin want this guy to be president?” into their thinking in the voting booth.

When U.S. spy agencies reached unanimous agreement in late September that the interference was a Russian operation directed by Putin, Obama directed spy chiefs to prepare a public statement summarizing the intelligence in broad strokes. With Obama still determined to avoid any appearance of politics, the statement would not carry his signature.

It’s at moments like this that I wish he’d never given that speech in Boston in 2004. It froze him into a public persona and a political stance that made even justifiable partisan politics look like base hypocrisy. It is entirely possible that, at what we must now believe was a critical moment (if not the critical moment) of his presidency, the better angels of a president’s nature were the voices he should have avoided at all cost.

Anyway, read the whole thing. It’s a fascinating window into presidential decision-making on the fly, as well as a look at how intelligence is gathered and managed. The 2016 presidential election was corrupted at its heart, and we do not know yet how fully it was corrupted, and that’s the most lasting scandal of all.

Washington Post Article Follows Below.

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