Here's the latest on TrumpCare:

Pre-existing Conditions. Matt Fiedler of the Brookings Institution notes that the MacArthur Amendment does more damage than it seems. At first glance, it eliminates community rating—the requirement that everyone pays the same premium even if they have a pre-existing condition—only for a limited time and only for people who have failed to maintain continuous coverage. But it's worse than that:

Implementing a waiver like the one permitted by the MacArthur amendment would have the effect of completely unraveling community rating. Under the waiver, insurers would set two premium schedules: (1) a community-rated premium schedule for people who demonstrate continuous coverage; and (2) a medically underwritten premium schedule for people who do not demonstrate continuous coverage.

Healthy people would always prefer to pay an underwritten premium since it would allow them to avoid being pooled together with sicker people who have higher health care costs. Indeed, a healthy person opting into the underwritten pool could realize savings of hundreds or thousands of dollars per year.

Basically, there would be a price for healthy people and a price for sicker people. If you have a pre-existing condition, you'll end up paying the higher price, and it might be very high indeed.

High-Risk Pools. TrumpCare imagines that people with pre-existing conditions could be segregated into high-risk pools run by the states. However, Emily Gee of CAP estimates that its funding for this is wildly inadequate:

Records from the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, the program that provided coverage to high-cost enrollees until the exchanges became available, show that average annual claims costs were $32,108 in 2012....For subsidies to cover 68 percent of enrollees’ premium costs, as ACA tax credits do now in the individual market exchanges, the government would have to put up $32.7 billion annually.

....The $13 billion per year that the AHCA provides for possible risk pool funding would leave a $20 billion shortfall annually. That gap is too big to be filled in by states, which would already be responsible for contributing to the stability fund.

Employer Plans. Obamacare eliminates annual and lifetime caps on coverage, even for employer plans. TrumpCare allows states to opt out of that:

Bottom line: As bad as TrumpCare was originally, and as much as you thought the MacArthur Amendment made it worse, it's even worse than that. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Republicans would like to pass a permanent tax cut. Sadly for them, Senate procedures prevent that. The only way to avoid a Democratic filibuster is to pass their tax plan via reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate and can't be filibustered. But thanks to the Byrd Rule, any reconciliation bill that increases the deficit beyond a 10-year window is once again subject to a filibuster, and that would doom any tax measure. This limits Republicans to tax plans that sunset in 2028.

But wait. Maybe there's an alternative. The Wall Street Journal explains:

President Donald Trump has said he wants to cut taxes, big-league, and Republicans are having trouble squeezing his ambitions into congressional rules forbidding bigger deficits after a 10-year budget scoring window.

Some lawmakers are exploring a way around that problem: Make the window bigger. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) suggested last week a “longer horizon” to overcome obstacles posed by the process known as reconciliation....A 15-year, 20-year or 30-year budget window could let Republicans pass a temporary tax cut that is long enough to give companies confidence to invest but short enough so its fiscal effects peter out by the 2030s or 2040s.

Surprised? That's because everyone always talks about the Byrd Rule forbidding deficit increases beyond a 10-year "budget window." But that's not what it says. Here's the actual relevant language:

A provision shall be considered to be extraneous if it [decreases] revenues during a fiscal year after the fiscal years covered by such reconciliation bill or reconciliation resolution.

In this context, "extraneous" means it can be filibustered, and there's nothing in there about ten years. That's just custom. If Republicans felt like it, they could pass a bill that "covers" the next millennium and sunsets in 3018. Here is Daniel Hemel, an assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago:

“I don’t think there’s anything magical about the number 10, other than 10 has been the maximum number for long enough that 11 would seem like a break from Senate norms.”

But who cares about Senate norms? Not Republicans. So there must be something more to this or they'd just go ahead and do it. One possibility is that there are still a handful of old-school deficit hawks left in the party, and they won't vote for a longer budget window. Or there might be some arcane technical issue involved. I would be fascinated to hear from a real budget expert on this.

Lunchtime Photo

Today's photo might not seem like much. But sometimes what's important isn't what's there, but what's not there:

It's nothing special, just a small orange grove on the corner of Helena and Santa Ana St. in Anaheim, about a mile from Disneyland, and it's the last orange grove in the city. Here's what's missing:

You've all heard of the Haymarket bombing and the Ludlow massacre and the Harlan County War. We don't have any labor history quite like that here in Orange County, but we do have the all-but-forgotten Citrus War. On June 11, 1936, orange pickers in Anaheim, Fullerton, Tustin, and elsewhere went on strike, demanding better wages and the end of a corrupt bonus system. OC Weekly editor-in-chief Gustavo Arellano has almost single-handedly worked to revive the memory of this strike, so I'll let him pick up the story from there:

On June 15, 1936, at the break of dawn, about 200 Mexican women gathered in Anaheim to preach the gospel of huelga—strike....The women spread across the groves of Anaheim, the heart of citrus country, urging workers to let the fruit hang. Twenty Anaheim police officers confronted the women; they refused to disperse. At some point there was an altercation, and 29-year-old Placentia resident Virginia Torres bit the arm of Anaheim police officer Roger Sherman. Police arrested Torres, along with 30-year-old Epifania Marquez, who tried to yank a strikebreaker—a scab—from a truck by grabbing onto his suspenders....Torres and Marquez received jail sentences of 60 and 30 days, respectively. But Orange County responded with an organized wrath years in the planning.

....Wonder why Orange County trembles whenever its Mexicans protest? Welcome to the Citrus War of 1936, the most important event in Orange County history you’ve never heard of.

Orange County leaders kept up a brave public face, but as the strike continued they began to panic. Sheriff Logan Jackson deputized hundreds of men and arrested dozens of strikers and sympathizers on flimsy charges. They were all tossed in jail with no jury trial. In early July, with violence breaking out on both sides, Jackson deputized more guards and armed them with taxpayer-supplied shotguns:

Orange County now had 400 emergency deputies. Police departments across the county asked merchants not to sell ammunition to Mexicans anymore. It was time to end the strike.

....Strikers fought with “iron bars, clubs and their fists,” according to the Register. Guards responded with guns....The Sheriff’s Department and politicians quickly responded. Officers pulled over anyone who looked Mexican and was close to the fields; by the end of July 7, deputies crammed over 200 Mexicans into Orange County Jail, charging them with rioting even though most were far from the scenes of fighting.

With that, the war was really and truly on:

Progressive journalist Carey McWilliams, who chronicled "the rise of farm fascism" in California during the 30s, wrote that the Orange County strike was "one of the toughest exhibitions of ‘vigilantism’ that California has witnessed in many a day....Under the direction of Sheriff Logan Jackson, who should long be remembered for his brutality in this strike, over 400 special guards, armed to the hilt, are conducting a terroristic campaign of unparalleled ugliness." But it worked. As the terror campaign against the pickers escalated, union solidarity began to unravel. On July 27, pickers and growers reached an agreement that raised wages modestly but didn't allow the pickers to unionize. After six weeks, the Citrus War was over.

There's still not so much as a plaque to tell you where the Citrus War started. However, two years ago a memorial called the "Table of Dignity" was commissioned at the Orange County Fairgrounds. Unsurprisingly, it suffered through endless problems, was closed, then renovated, and finally, after going wildly over budget, is now set to be reopened during the summer fair this year.

The Citrus War and its predecessors are the foundation of Orange County's famous conservatism. For decades Orange County was an agricultural county, and California's agricultural counties are almost all harshly conservative, anti-union places. This is why, compared to the California everyone is familiar with, inland California is like a whole different state—and as conservative in its way as anyplace in the Deep South. The only thing that makes Orange County unusual is that it's on the coast and eventually became too expensive for agriculture. But the conservatism lingers on. For now.

Ladies and gentlemen, your liberal media at work:

Can you spot the smarmy white guy saying that liberals just like playing the race card over the Civil War? Can you spot the actual historian with the furrowed brow? Can you spot the black guy who's so disgusted he can't even? And of course, the chipper CNN host who thanks everyone for a fascinating debate at the end.

I'm going to lunch now. I can't promise that I'll be back.

Donald Trump on the Republican health care bill today:

“I want it to be good for sick people. It’s not in its final form right now," he said during an Oval Office interview Monday with Bloomberg News. "It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare."

The latest version of the House GOP bill, which Republican leaders are trying to figure out whether they have the votes to pass this week, wouldn’t live up to that promise and would weaken those protections.

What does this mean? Just the usual argle bargle? Has Sean Spicer already repudiated it? Hold on, let me check....

I guess not. Spicer says "we're not there yet," but he was talking about votes, not the legislative language. I can't tell for sure, but it doesn't look like anyone even asked Spicer directly about whether Trump planned to ask for further amendments to the bill.

Just argle bargle, I guess. Does anyone on Capitol Hill even pay attention to Trump's aimless word spasms anymore?

Greg Sargent reports today on work by Priorities USA to figure out why so many people who voted for Obama in 2012 turned around and voted for Trump in 2016:

One finding from the polling stands out: A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy — twice the percentage that said the same about Trump. I was also permitted to view video of some focus group activity, which showed Obama-Trump voters offering sharp criticism of Democrats on the economy.

....The poll found that Obama-Trump voters, many of whom are working-class whites and were pivotal to Trump’s victory, are economically losing ground and are skeptical of Democratic solutions to their problems.

I'm afraid I can't find this very interesting without answers to a few questions:

  • How many voters switched from Obama to Trump? Are we talking 5 percent? 1 percent? Less?1
  • How does this compare to other years? Is it unusually high?
  • How does this compare to other years after a party has held the White House for eight years?

That said, let's assume this is a problem. What should Democrats do about it? Here's my take: above all, these folks want steady, secure jobs. Health care is great. Free college is great. Childcare is great. All that stuff is great, but it's not fundamentally what drives the votes of these party switchers. What they want to hear about is jobs. They want their old-time good jobs back.

Trump had a good message on jobs: the Chinese stole them from you and I'll get them back. This is not an especially correct message, but it's both plausible and galvanizing. It works.

So what should the Democrats' message be? What policy would plausibly and directly impact the likelihood of these "left behind" folks getting good, steady jobs again? There's trade, of course, which Bernie Sanders raised in the primaries, but I think Trump has that one covered. It needs to be something else. But what?

If it takes more than a sentence or so to explain, it's no good. If it's couched in liberalese, it's no good. If it's not viscerally plausible, it's no good. If it's about "retraining," it's no good. If it's gobbledegook about the changing world, it's no good. If it's not directly focused on getting a good job, it's no good.

Any ideas?

1Please note my admirable restraint in not mentioning that if it weren't for James Comey, Hillary Clinton would have won and the number of vote switchers would probably have been minuscule.

Our historian-in-chief raises a provocative question that no one has considered before:

"People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?" Trump said during the edition of "Main Street Meets the Beltway" scheduled to air on SiriusXM. "People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?"

So what's this all about? Listening to the audio, it seems like it's just a case of Trump's usual ignorance and free association. It went like this: 2016 was a nasty campaign —> Andrew Jackson also ran a nasty campaign —> Jackson was tough but had heart —> Jackson was angry about the Civil War1 —> What's the deal with the Civil War, anyway?

But there's another possibility: this is yet another shout-out to his base. After all, the usual lefty lies about the Civil War that infest our schools revolve around racism and slavery in the South. It's political correctness run amuck! Isn't it about time that we really ask what caused the Civil War? It was probably just a minor misunderstanding. You know, tariffs and whatnot. Maybe Lincoln couldn't handle it, but Trump could have.

From there, it's just one nice, easy step to believing that those Confederates weren't such bad guys really. They were just defending their, um, traditional way of life against the elite, snobbish Yankees. So let's leave all those monuments and flags alone, amirite?

1Don't even ask. Nobody knows what Trump was thinking here.

UPDATE: It's also worth noting that merely by saying this, Trump will get lots of earnest liberals to start discussing it. And liberals being who they are, they will earnestly note that the causes of the Civil War really are complex. I expect a New York Times op-ed tomorrow or Wednesday. End result: lots of wasted pixels and a public that more-or-less figures that Trump was right.

I think we all understand that nobody cares about Donald Trump's relentless lying. We've certainly been hit over the head with it enough times. Still, the sheer volume is pretty staggering. Here's the Washington Post's roundup of Trump's first hundred days:

488: The number of false or misleading claims made by the president. That’s an average of 4.9 claims a day.
10: Number of days without a single false claim. (On six of those days, the president golfed at a Trump property.)
4: Number of days with 20 or more false claims. (Feb. 16, Feb. 28, March 20 and April 21.) He made 19 false claims on April 29, his 100th day, though we did not include his interview with “Face the Nation,” since that aired April 30.

Five lies per day! And not just any lies. Trump's lies are so much more brazen than that. He's the first president to have hacked the modern media so thoroughly. He realizes he can literally say anything he wants and it doesn't matter if the Washington Post or anybody else calls him out later. The only thing that matters is that he said it and it got on TV.

Karl Rove glimpsed this new reality back in the aughts, but was too conventional a politician to take it to its logical conclusion. Trump is the modern-day Galileo who finally put it all together.

Apparently Democrats and Republicans have agreed on a budget for the remaining five months of the fiscal year. So no government shutdown! Hooray!

So how did the negotiator-in-chief make out? President Trump had demanded money for his southern border wall, funding for a new deportation force, spending cuts for "sanctuary cities," defunding of Planned Parenthood, cuts in science and clean energy spending, and cuts to the NIH. I don't think anyone really understood that last demand—who hates medical research?—but for some reason Trump wanted lower NIH spending. CNN tells us what he got:

The plan would add billions for the Pentagon and border security but would not provide any money for President Donald Trump's promised border wall with Mexico....There is no money provided for a deportation force and there are no cuts of federal monies to so-called sanctuary cities....In the proposal, there are no cuts to funding for Planned Parenthood, a demand from Democrats. Funding for the National Institute of Health is increased by $2 billion and there is additional money for clean energy and science funding.

So there's a bit of extra defense spending—though less than half of what Trump wanted—that nobody really objected to in the first place, and that's it. In other words:

Don't get too excited, though. Negotiations for next year's budget are already underway.

Nobody ever quite knew what Sebastian Gorka's job was at the White House. He was a former Breitbart News editor recruited to be part of the Strategic Initiatives Group, a sort of shadow National Security Council concocted by Steve Bannon. But that never went anywhere, and Gorka couldn't get a job on the real National Security Council because he couldn't get a security clearance. So instead he went on TV a lot. The Washington Examiner explains:

A White House source said Gorka's role has always been unclear and said Gorka never had national security issues in his portfolio. "This guy has always been a big mystery to me," the source said of Gorka's contributions to the staff.

The source said Gorka's only known duties included speaking on television about counterterrism, as well as "giving White House tours and peeling out in his Mustang," but added that he had few notable responsibilities.

The Examiner reports that Gorka "will soon accept a position outside the White House," which is a very Hirohito-esque way of putting it. "Gorka's new role will deal with the 'war of ideas' involved in countering radical Islamic extremism, a senior administration official said, and will entail an appointment to a federal agency." But not the State Department. Or anyplace else important, I guess.

Oh, and Gorka has lately been accused of belonging to an anti-Semitic far-right party in Hungary with Nazi roots. But I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.