USAThe Shitstain blames Democrats for stunning failure to repeal Obamacare
Weeks of negotiations over American Health Care Act fail to build a GOP consensus, forcing president to pull legislation from House vote
Ben Jacobs and David Smith in Washington
Saturday 25 March 2017 10.13 GMT
Donald Trump suffered a major legislative reversal on Friday as Republicans were forced to pull their repeal of the Affordable Care Act from the House floor.
After weeks of contentious negotiations over the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Republicans had to admit defeat as they could not gain sufficient support from their own side for the plan to overhaul US health insurance.
Speaking afterward in the Oval Office, Trump blamed Democrats for the failure of a bill to repeal the signature achievement of Barack Obama. “If [Democrats] got together with us, and got us a real healthcare bill, I’d be totally OK with that. The losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare. They 100% own it,” he said.
Trump refused to bash the House speaker, Paul Ryan, but declined to answer a question about policy changes he would like to see in health reform. Instead, he said he was ready to move on to tax reform, saying: “We’re probably going to start going very strongly on big tax cuts. Tax reform that will be next.”
He added: “We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty.”
Earlier on Friday, as it became clear that Republican resistance to the bill was hardening, Ryan went to the White House to tell Trump in person that he did not have the votes to pass the bill.
The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, had insisted the vote would go ahead at 3.30pm ET. “Has the team put everything out there, have we left everything on the field? Absolutely,” he told reporters at his daily briefing. “But at the end of the day this isn’t a dictatorship and we’ve got to expect members to ultimately vote how they will according to what they think.”
However, Spicer’s imagined 3.30pm deadline slid by, ignored by Republicans on Capitol Hill, and the first reports emerged that Trump had asked for the vote to be pulled. Minutes later House Republicans, short of votes, had withdrawn the health bill.
At a press conference soon afterward, Ryan admitted: “Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains and, well, we’re feeling those growing pains today. I will not sugarcoat this: this is a disappointing day for us.”
He said “doing big things is hard” and conceded that after almost a decade of saying no to everything in opposition, the Republicans had failed to come together and agree on something they have opposed for seven years. “We are going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Ryan said he had recommended the bill be pulled when he realized the votes were lacking. But he praised Trump’s role in the negotiations, adding: “The president gave his all in this effort; he’s really been fantastic. Still, we’ve got to do better and we will.”
Asked how Republican members could now go back to their constituents having failed to keep their promise, Ryan replied: “That’s a really good question. I wish I had a better answer for you.”
Separately, a Washington Post reporter described a call with Trump in which he said the bill would not return any time soon.
Ryan also conceded that Republicans would now move on to other priorities – securing the border, rebuilding the military and tax reform. “Now we’re going on to move on with the rest of our agenda because we have big, ambitious plans to improve people’s lives in this country.”
Although speculation had grown on Friday afternoon that the bill would be pulled, the announcement came as a surprise to Republican members.
An emergency meeting of the House Republican Caucus was called shortly before the scheduled vote. As it was announced, the House went to recess, with Democrats shouting in a taunting manner, “Vote, vote, vote”, daring Republicans to bring the bill up. They did not.
In a short meeting, Ryan announced that the bill was being pulled from the floor in a terse statement to members.
Many moderates in swing districts were wary of supporting the legislation, which included major cuts to Medicaid and was estimated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to lead to 24 million fewer Americans having health insurance over the next 10 years.
Conservatives also objected to the legislation for keeping too much of the architecture of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently referred to as Obamacare. Although the Republican leadership made a major concession to them on Thursday by removing the federal mandate that health insurance plans cover “essential health benefits” such as maternity care and mental healthcare, this was not enough to win them over.
As the Nevada Republican Mark Amodei put it, the GOP caucus “didn’t spend a lot talking about a unified Republican vision for what we should do with healthcare in the House”. Paul Gosar, a member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, which was instrumental in this setback, pointed a finger at White House staff.
The result is a major political blow to Paul Ryan, a healthcare policy specialist who led the effort in pushing the AHCA. It also leaves Trump in a vulnerable position. The president ran on a platform of repealing the “disaster” of Obamacare and replacing it with “something terrific”. However, Trump, author of the Art of the Deal, failed to accomplish that goal in his first major attempt to negotiate on Capitol Hill.
Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, called Friday “a great day for our country”, adding: “What happened on the floor was a victory for the American people.”
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said in a statement: “Ultimately, the Trumpcare bill failed because of two traits that have plagued the Trump presidency since he took office: incompetence and broken promises. In my life, I have never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House today.
“They can’t write policy that actually makes sense, they can’t implement the policies they do manage to write, they can’t get their stories straight, and today we’ve learned that they can’t close a deal, and they can’t count votes.
“So much for The Art of the Deal.”
Members of the Republican caucus took different lessons from the failure to even bring the AHCA to the vote.
Louie Gohmert of Texas, an arch-conservative who was opposed to the bill, pointed fingers at House leadership, which he implied had left both rank and file and Trump boxed in with no alternative.
“The president didn’t really get involved until after they created this bill and he was fighting for it,” Gohmert said.
Bradley Byrne, a loyal Republican from southern Alabama, expressed his readiness to still vote for the AHCA after it was pulled. He mourned the fact that House Republicans fell just short, in his opinion. “There were 200 plus ... ready to do whatever it takes and ... with that group of people we can do a lot,” said Byrne. He didn’t blame anyone for the setback, praising both Ryan and Trump, who he described as doing a “great job”.
Republicans wondered whether this doomed any hope of healthcare reform. Gohmert seemed to sympathize with Trump’s desire to move on to tax reform, adding: “If I were president, I wouldn’t deal with healthcare any more, but as a legislator it is a problem and we should pick it back up and do it right.”
Speaking before the bill was pulled, the North Carolina congressman Mark Walker, chair of the Republican Study Committee, told reporters: “I can’t pretend that this is a win for us. I’m sure our friends on the left, this is a good moment for them. In fact, probably that champagne that wasn’t popped back in November may be utilized this evening.”
**********Shitstain Trump tried to burn down Obamacare. He set his hair on fire instead
It was a humiliating defeat, which Donald Trump tried to blame – unbelievably – on the Democrats
Friday 24 March 2017 20.51 GMT
Burning Obamacare to the ground was always a House Republican obsession that Trump, in the heat of the campaign, took up to spite the president while tossing a little red meat to Republicans. “Repeal and replace” is alliterative, after all: it sounds nice enough on an arena stage. It’s just hard to pull off in the real world, as Donald Trump found out on Friday.
Blessed with total control of government, Republicans can only think of how best to burn the house down – and they’re not even doing a good job at that. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, unjustly heralded as a policy wonk, tried to rush his healthcare bill to the floor for a vote on Thursday, only to find the moderates and extremists in his party rebelling. On Friday, Donald Trump was forced to pull the bill, due to lack of support from his own party.
It was a humiliating defeat, which he tried to blame – unbelievably – on the Democrats.
Ryan’s Trumpcare was a horrendous concoction and should disabuse fawning congressional reporters of the notion that the speaker is a man of deep intellect and self-reflection. Had the bill not fallen flat on its face this Friday, it would have had little chance of passing the Senate.
What remains is the fact that Donald Trump couldn’t close the deal. He is hoping everyone blames Ryan, and Trump is lucky that his supporters might do just that. The diehards, inhabiting his post-factual universe, will simply write Ryan off as a loser – they hated him anyway – and hail their king for the bounties he’s still promising.
But healthcare will ultimately be Donald Trump’s problem. That’s how our politics work. So far, the president has been more fatuous than fascistic, though he belatedly realized what an albatross the bill had become. His negotiating powers, whatever they ever were, failed.
Were Trump the deal-making genius his ego tricked himself into believing he was, he would never have taken up this healthcare venture. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that only 17% of Americans approved of Trumpcare. Trump’s poorest and least educated supporters had much to lose and nothing to gain from the legislation.
That’s why demolishing Obamacare never made sense. After all, Trump, via Steve Bannon, promised economic nationalism, a robust spending plan for those who he believed deserved it most: the white and native born. Trump wasn’t going to lose any votes by focusing on immigration and infrastructure spending at the expense of Obamacare, which rank-and-file conservatives resent less now that Obama himself has been removed from the equation.
Far from upholding the most basic protections for the working-class, the Trump administration has, instead, evolved into one of the most rightwing in recent memory. It is stocked with the kind of appointees (Mick Mulvaney, Tom Price) who could have been plucked from Congress by Presidents Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.
This is the difference between Trump and someone like the French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the Front National leader who identifies closely with the billionaire. Le Pen’s fiscal platform is unapologetically leftist, rejecting the austerity measures embraced by Europe’s financial class.
Trump rages with all the hate of Le Pen and none of the savvy. Blaming Ryan for Trumpcare’s failure will not absolve him of trying to do a very stupid thing. If he chooses to weaken healthcare in other ways – to somehow prove Obama left the country with a self-destructing system – he’ll still be the president when premiums skyrocket as insurers struggle to adapt to this instability.
In 2018, 2019, and 2020, screaming Obama’s name won’t matter anymore. The country will just know President Trump and the damage being done.
*************Why the Republican healthcare bill was doomed: a failed political balancing act
With hardline conservatives pulling in one direction and moderates in the other, the party leadership had no choice but to withdraw the measure
Jessica Glenza in New York
Friday 24 March 2017 19.47 GMT
Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, looked a lot like a tall man trying to stay warm under a short blanket. When Republicans pulled in one direction, they lost coverage at the other end.
Hardline conservatives wanted to change regulations that define health insurance, such as a requirement that health plans cover maternity care. But when they got the concessions, the Republicans lost moderate members, who were concerned their constituents would lose basic services. That left the party leadership with no choice but to pull the bill or risk a humiliating defeat.
What would the bill have done if it had passed?
A late amendment to American Health Care Act struck at the heart of Barack Obama’s ACA, allowing states to define the health benefits that insurance policies must cover, called “essential health benefits”.
Just as they sound, these benefits define American health insurance. They require companies to cover the expense of having a baby, catching a cold, or breaking a leg.
Republicans argued that people should “choose” the coverage they want, but because health insurance is interconnected, such a policy was likely to harm all patients.
Think of the health insurance system as a tower of blocks – if you remove one from the middle, it makes the entire structure less sound. That is a good analogy for how removing essential health benefits works. Once one benefit is removed, it makes plans which continue to offer that benefit more expensive, meaning only really sick people will buy them – which further drives up the cost.
For example, before the protections were passed, 62% of insurance plans bought on the open market did not include maternity care, according to the health and human services department. Often, maternity care was offered as an expensive add-on. Another 34% of plans did not cover substance abuse (think: opioid crisis), and 9% did not cover prescriptions (remember that cold?).
That kind of federal plan could be hard for states to decide on by January 2018, and could tempt them instead to certify “bare bones” plans as eligible for federal tax credits.
Hollowed-out protections for sick people
With the essential health benefits gutted, some experts believed insurance companies would have an incentive to offer a narrower list of benefits. Why?
Because Republicans maintained a requirement that insurance companies sell policies to even very sick people. Experts believed that would push companies to offer skimpy plans, to keep sick people off their rolls.
Imagine a world in which some health plans did not cover chemotherapy. Plans that that did would be much more expensive, because people who had cancer in the past, or whose family had a history of cancer, would be more likely to sign up and use those services.
The effect would be that so many sick people would sign up, the cost of coverage would increase for everyone under that plan.
But wouldn’t people still get help to buy insurance?
Yes – and that was one of the reasons the health plan was always going to be difficult for a broad base of Republicans to support. Giving Americans tax credits to buy health insurance looked to conservatives too much like Obamacare, while huge overhauls to Medicaid – public health insurance for the poor – left moderate Republicans worried about constituents who depend on those services.
Further, Republicans’ last-minute amendments actually increased the price tag of their bill, without insuring more Americans. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that the changes still left 24 million Americans without insurance and reduced savings over the next decade, from $337bn in the first draft, to just $150bn.
The age tax
On the moderate end, the very powerful American Association of Retired Persons was upset at what it called the “age tax”. That was a plan to allow insurance companies to charge Americans aged over 50 five times more than the young.
Combined with Republicans’ plans to offer less financial help to the poor, it meant a 64-year-old earning $26,500 per year would pay $12,900 more every year for their insurance. Republicans added an $85bn slush fund to the bill to try to counter these costs, but it was unclear how much that might have helped older Americans. Currently, insurance companies are allowed to charge older Americans three times more than the young.
Under the Republican plan, the less money you made, the worse off you would be. An analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that people who make less than $10,000 per year would have lost $1,400 per year because of cuts to Medicaid. People earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would have seen a small tax break of about $60.
However, the very poorest would probably suffer the most. A vast $880bn cut to Medicaid would result in 14 million fewer people using the service, Congressional analysts found.
By contrast, rich Americans would have seen a significant tax benefit. People who earn $200,000 per year or more would see an average tax break of $5,640, or about 1.1% of their income. Nearly all of that is from tax breaks Republicans included in the bill.
But wouldn’t this bill spur competition?
Some analysts think it would, especially for young people. But it would still leave many more people, 52 million by the end of the decade, uninsured.
That is not just an inconvenience. Lack of health insurance could result in more than 44,000 deaths per year, researchers at the American Journal of Public Health found. That is more than kidney disease causes.
************Democrats Are The Big Winners After Republicans Self-Destruct On Health Care Bill
By Jason Easley on Fri, Mar 24th, 2017 at 7:05 pm
There were clear winners and losers in the aftermath of the Republican health care bill fiasco, with Democrats having all of the reasons to celebrate.
1). Donald Trump – Trump personally lobbied 120 House Republicans. He held numerous meetings with House Republicans on the Hill and in the White House, and at the end of the day, he couldn’t get enough votes to pass a health care bill that he supported. Trump was exposed as being politically weaker than anyone could have imagined. He has no ability to sway members of Congress within his own party. Trump still has not signed a major piece of legislation. His first major attempt at getting a bill passed resulted in total humiliation. The implosion of his health care bill confirmed the impression that Trump is a failing president.
2). Paul Ryan – For years, Speaker Ryan has been dreaming of a Republican-controlled federal government that would pass his agenda. Ryan got his government and then completely failed to keep his caucus unified, as the same dysfunctional ideological forces that paralyzed the House for years took apart his health care bill. Paul Ryan showed no leadership, no ability to round up votes, and was powerless to hold Republicans together. Ryan made John Boehner look like a strong Speaker with his performance on health care. It turns out that Ryan isn’t a wonk, or a good leader, or respected among his peers.
3). The Republican Ability to Govern – Even with control of Congress and the White House, Republicans still can’t govern. Republicans wanted control of everything. They got it, and then promptly fell on their faces. This is a black eye that Republicans will not soon get over. House Republicans have been screaming loudly and proudly since 2011 that they have no interest in governing. The same Republicans who want to vote against everything killed their own health care bill. Repealing Obamacare was supposed to be the easy issue for Republicans. If they can’t keep it together on health care, they may not pass a single major piece of legislation that becomes law this year.
1). Nancy Pelosi – For years as Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi has demonstrated an ability to hold Democrats together. Trump and Ryan picked up zero Democrats on any of the procedural votes for the health care bill. No Democrats supported the bill, and zero Democrats would have voted for the bill. While Paul Ryan was unable to get enough votes for passage as Republicans split in an at least three different directions, Democrats were a united front, and the credit for that unity goes to Nancy Pelosi.
2). The Democratic Party – Trump and Ryan did Democrats a gigantic favor when the came up with a health care bill that was so unpopular it ended up with a 17% approval rating. The bill was so offensive to everything that Democrats stand for. As Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said during his speech on the House floor, “I will fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time. I will fight every single attempt to turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, and a cold shoulder to the sick, to our seniors, and to working families.” Democrats rediscovered their heart, soul, and purpose in this health care fight, and they emerged as a stronger opposition to Trump and the GOP.
3). Barack Obama – For numerous reasons, Obama is a winner. His signature legislative achievement is alive and well. While the ACA is not as popular as Medicare and Social Security is getting more popular by the year, and is already viewed by many as a cherished right. Obama looks great compared to the way that Trump has bumbled and fumbled on health care. The nation took for granted the steady competence of Obama, but they have gotten a crash course in presidential incompetence, thanks to Donald Trump.
4). The American People – Someday the American people will look back on this day and realize that they dodged a large bullet. Republicans are still going to try to take health care away from millions, but the good news is that 14 million people won’t be losing their health care next year, Medicaid isn’t about to be destroyed, and control of health care won’t be handed back to the insurance companies. This is a great day for America, as a horrible piece of legislation met its deserved fate.
********If Shitstain Trump Thought Losing On Health Care Was Bad, Wait Until He Sees What Democrats Do To Gorsuch
By Jason Easley on Fri, Mar 24th, 2017 at 10:26 pm
During an interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made it clear that Democrats plan to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Schumer is going to force Gorsuch to get 60 votes or be replaced by a new nominee.
Schumer said that Senate Democrats weren’t impressed by Gorsuch, and he warned that it is going to be hard for him to get 60 votes. Schumer said, “Everyone should have to get 60 votes.” He added, “If a judge can’t 60 votes, you don’t change the rules, you change the judge or the nominee.”
Senate Democratic Leader Schumer made it clear where this is going. Senate Democrats are going to filibuster and require Gorsuch to get 60 votes for confirmation. Since there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate for Trump’s nominee, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is going to have an interesting decision to make. Either McConnell will change the rules to require a simple majority for Supreme Court confirmation, or Gorsuch will sit in Merrick Garland limbo land until there are 60 Republicans in the Senate, or Trump picks a new nominee.
The House win on health care has emboldened Democrats. Senate Democrats were already planning on stopping Gorsuch, but with momentum on their side, they are now looking to hand Donald Trump a devastating series of defeats that will crush his presidency, and make it clear that despite his promises of winning, Trump is nothing but a loser in the Oval Office.
***************Democrats Introduce the Mar-a-Lago Act to Force Release of Shitstain Trump Visitor Logs
By Hrafnkell Haraldsson on Sat, Mar 25th, 2017 at 7:56 am
"It’s simple: the American people have a right to know who has access to the president and who has leverage over this administration.”
It was a rather pointed statement aimed at Donald Trump when Democrats named their bill the Mar-a-Lago Act, or Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Jack Reed (D-RI), requires the release of visitor logs to the public wherever Trump holds court, though it is named after Trump’s self-styled “Winter White House.” A House version of the bill is being introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL).
MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin’s response says it all:
Bill. Of. The. Year.
Senate Dems introduce the MAR-A-LAGO Act: Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness. pic.twitter.com/aoLlz7mxgr
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 25, 2017
The Obama administration made visitor logs public. As Sheldon Whitehouse said, “if [Trump] won’t adopt that policy himself, Congress should require it.” He addded in a tweet,
If we’re going to take "#draintheswamp" seriously, we need to know who has access to Mar-a-Lago, @POTUS' self-described "Winter White House" https://t.co/eAR5AcXPQk
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) March 24, 2017
Tom Carper said in a tweet that “The business of the President of the United States is the business of the people of the United States.”
Senator Reed issued a statement saying,
“Access to the President, in any setting, presents a serious array of national security issues. There should be transparent process for Americans to find out, when appropriate, who has access to the President.”
Donald Trump’s administration, you have to admit, has a good reason to not follow in this practice, what with Russians sneaking in back doors at odd hours.
And yes, that was at Trump Tower, you say. Worry not: The Mar-a-Lago Act also covers Trump Tower and the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.
Tom Udall said in a statement,
“It’s simple: the American people have a right to know who has access to the president and who has leverage over this administration.”
And who might be taking photos of the nuclear football, you know, besides folks who’ll post their photos online in contrast to sending them to…oh, maybe the Kremlin.
Udall added that,
“By refusing to release the White House visitor logs, President Trump is only validating the rampant concerns about who may be pulling the levers in his administration.
“The President should end his administration’s disturbing pattern of stonewalling information and immediately reinstate the previous administration’s policy of publishing White House visitor logs.”
Because the Obama visitor logs became available 3-4 months after the fact, Democrats say they expect to see the first Trump logs on April 20.
Admittedly, getting the bill passed will be tough because it’s going to need Republican support. If the GOP was serious about their calls for transparency under Obama, they would support it. But the reality is that all too many Republicans still have hands dirtied in the Trump swamp.
Nevertheless, it was a step that needed to be taken. The point had to be made because as John Wonderlich, Executive director of the Sunlight Foundation put it in a statement,
“As long as President Trump continues to conduct public business in his private business, the same standards of disclosure should apply to Mar-a-Lago as the White House.“
Democrats are keeping the pressure up on Donald Trump. The Mar-a-Lago act is a necessary step in holding this reckless president to account.
While many Republicans are willing to permit or even commit treason to get their agenda passed, no one will be able to say the same of the Democrats, who, as Rep. John Lewis said, fought to their last breath for freedom.