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#WNWU 7/14 “Failure to Lead”

Week of 7/14 “Failure to Lead”

Once again the news of the week was how the Republican held Congress and the Republican held Executive Branch were unable to accomplish the campaign promise they’ve been running on for eight years: repeal and replace Obamacare. The Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act pitted conservatives, who didn’t think it went far enough, against moderates, who knew the bill would take coverage away for scores of their constituents. This set the bill up for failure in the Senate where a razor thin margin is needed to pass legislation.

When the BCRA didn’t have the votes to even get to the floor for debate, Mitch McConnell dangled the idea of a straight repeal. Less than 24 hours later, that idea was also dead. On top of it all, Trump completely failed to offer anything more than threats for those who signaled they would vote no.

The challenge the Republican Party is facing right now is that the Party as it stands is not designed to lead. Since the Tea Party wave of 2010, the Party has become simply about obstruction and not legislating. They have measured success in how little they have gotten done. They managed to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act 50 times, but could not keep government running.

All those problems were easy to hide when they were the opposition party. Now that they are in control, however, the freshman statesmen elected since 2010 simply have no idea how to govern. Those who have been there longer are grappling with a party whose base is too thinly connected by too many constituencies. How do you both appease affluent people who don’t want to subsidies the insurance policies of the working class, with working class individuals who would die without the insurance they can afford with those subsidies? You cannot.

Democrats should be careful not to repeat these mistakes. Resisting and obstruction are great… but coalitions, debate, compromise, and original ideas are what the country needs.

Russia Investigation:

  1. For months of Trump saying that the Russian investigation was a witch hunt. During his long New York Times interview this week, he stated that Mueller better not start investigating his personal finances because the investigation is only about Russia. Well, unfortunately for Trump, Mueller is now investigating his personal business, as well as several of his associates. (Bloomberg)
  2. Trump has started asking if it is possible for him to pardon himself, family members and aides, and what he can do to stop the Mueller investigation. (Washington Post)
  3. Trump’s aides are doing opposition research on Mueller’s team, looking for conflicts of interest. This is to be expected as President Bill Clinton did the same thing when he was under investigation. (New York Times)
  4. The slow drip, drip, drip of information about the meeting between Trump’s campaign and Russian lawyers/lobbyists continues. Now, we know there were at least eight people in the room. And it is safe to say they aren’t the kind of people who are passionate about adoption. (The Hill)
  5. The Trump people knew about Don Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyers and lobbyists three weeks before he shared his incriminating emails on Twitter. Trump’s reelection campaign paid Don Jr.’s lawyer $50,000. (The Hill)
  6. Your long read of the week. The New Republic has an excellent article on the Russian mobsters and oligarchs who have laundered money through Trump properties over the past 30 years. (The New Republic)
  7. Deutsche Bank was the only major bank who was willing to lend to Trump after a number of his bankruptcies. It is now being investigated by federal banking regulations directly about Trump’s accounts. It is expected they will be asked to give this info to Mueller’s team soon. (New York Times)
  8. In trying to spin that the meeting between the Trump Campaign and Russian lobbyists as nothing, Trump’s personal lawyer said the Secret Service vetted and approved the meeting. To which the Secret Service replied, ‘nope.’ (Reuters)
  9. Trump has named new White House Council to specifically deal with the Russian Probe. As a reminder, White House Council represents the office of the President, not the president himself. (NPR)
  10. After a series of profane and arguably threatening emails sent by Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz, his role is being reduced. He is being replaced by Attorney John Dowd and White House lawyer Ty Cobb. This story is just breaking, but I do believe we will be hearing push back about a White House lawyer helping the Trump legal team shortly. The US taxpayer does not pay for the President’s legal defense. (Politico)

Administration:

  1. Trump stated during his New York Times interview that he never would have offered Jeff Sessions the Attorney General position if he knew he would have recused himself on Russia. Sessions in turn said he has no plans on resigning. Sessions recused himself months ago. He had to. The law is pretty clear that Session must recuse himself from any investigations around a campaign he was involved in. (New York Times)
  2. Trump and Putin had a second, previously undisclosed meeting at the G20. Both leaders left during a private dinner and met with only Putin’s translator present. It is a breach of protocol for Trump not to have his own translator there. The White House says they spoke for a few minutes, an observer says they were gone for about an hour. (Reuters)
  3. Trump has certified Iran compliant with the Nuclear Agreement, reluctantly. In the hour-long meeting where Trump’s national security team urged Trump to certify the deal, Trump spent 55 minutes telling them he didn’t want to. (New York Times)
  4. Trump said this week that a 20 year old pays $12 a year for health insurance. His description of how health insurance works is in line with how life insurance works. It underlines that he really doesn’t understand how health care or health insurance works, which is one of the reasons why he has been so ineffective at developing workable legislation. (Washington Post)
  5. Trump ends a CIA program to aid moderate rebels in Syria. This was one of the things Moscow requested of America. (Washington Post)
  6. Rex Tillerson has approved closing the State Department’s War Crimes Office. This office has spent the past two decades bringing war criminals to justice. There is concern among experts that this change will send the message to perpetrators of mass atrocities that the US is no longer watching. (Foreign Policy)
  7. Trump’s budget does not balance, according to the CBO. Using far more realistic growth projections, the CBO estimates that the budget will lead to a $270 billion deficit, not the surplus Trump is promising. (Fox News)
  8. Sexual assault on college campuses is a known problem. In an attempt to address this problem, Education secretary Betsy DeVos brought in three men’s rights group, who push the idea that most college sexual assault is made up and that the accused are the real victims. Needless to say, this move did not sit well with many people. (NPR)
  9. The Department of Health and Human Services is spending taxpayer dollars on a PR effort to undermine Obamacare. It is legal for HHS to use money for public education, but illegal for the office to use public funds to influence policy or for partisan activities. Democratic lawmakers are trying to get more information on these campaigns. (Business Insider)
  10. Sean Spicer as resigned as Press Secretary following Trump’s appointment of Wall Street financier and right wing pundit Anthony Scaramucci. Spicer opposed the appointment, resigning instead of working for Scaramucci. Goodbye Spicey. May you ride your podium into the bushes for some R&R. (New York Times)
  11. After the failure of the Senate health care legislation, Trump again doubled down on his idea of letting Obamacare fail and blaming it on Democrats. He’s threatening to hold subsidies payments that make insurance affordable for millions of Americans. (Politico)

Congress:

  1. After seven years of nothing but repeal promises from Republicans, how is it that they can’t pass a bill while they hold Congress and the White House? The New York Times explains all of the reasons and summarizes it like this: GOP divisions and a fed-up president. (New York Times)
  2. After the failure of the most recent health care bills, Republicans worked late into the night to try and find a solution. Reluctantly, they admit they may have to work with Democrats. (Reuters)
  3. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved a plan to make the FAA a non profit. Now the bill will move to the full House. (USA Today)
  4. More than 300 tele-townhalls have been held so far this year, the majority by Republican lawmakers. Staff screens the calls to give the impression of democracy when the events are absent of it. (The New Yorker)
  5. Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer after a surgery to remove a blood clot over the weekend. Even though his prognosis is not good, McCain reportedly asked doctors when he could go back to Washington, and quickly criticised Trump for ending the program to arm moderate rebels in Syria. Fight on Senator McCain, fight on. (USA Today)
  6. The White House does not like Senator Jeff Flake. It was reported that Trump was willing to put $10 million of his own money into defeating Flake in a primary. Potential opponents including Kelli Ward and Jeff DeWit have met with the President. (Politico)
  7. The Federal Elections Commission is the only federal agency that works to ensure that American elections systems are secure. House Republicans want to defund it. (Wall Street Journal)

State/Other:

  1. As petition gatherers get close to meeting their goal of turning the fate of the school voucher expansion into the voters, the architect of the legislation, Debbie Lesko, is not happy. She may pull the legislation and break it up into smaller bills. If there is no law to refer, the item cannot go on the ballot. But don’t think this means the anti-voucher people won. Lesko plans on breaking up the law into several new bills, which will be much harder to refer. (Arizona Central)
  2. The Supreme Court has expanded what qualifies as a close relative connection for people from six majority Muslim nations looking to travel to America. Now, people like cousins and grandparents of Americans are allowed in. The Court did keep in place the Administration’s block of refugees who have a relationship with a refugee resettlement program. (Washington Times)
  3. Many cities are putting in place higher minimum wages, only to have states override them. Those in St. Louis who enjoyed a pay bump to $10 an hour will now be back to $7.70. (NPR)
  4. Although the U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world, the nation ranks lowest in terms of efficiency, equity and outcomes, according to a new report by the World Health Organization. The US ranked the worst among developed nations for its health care. Increased access and lowered costs for care would help move the US up. (Times)
  5. The U.S. Military is paying $130,000 a month, far above market value, to lease space in Trump Tower. The department with the lease is tied to White House Security. Trump hasn’t been to Trump Tower in months. (Wall Street Journal)
  6. Polling suggests that even though America favors Democratic values and candidates, conservatives are more likely to vote. An important read for people involved in any mid term campaign. (Washington Post)