Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2013/11/authors/kevin-drum/2010/authors/matt-connolly http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Republican No Votes on AHCA Were All Over the Ideological Map http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/republican-no-votes-ahca-were-all-over-ideological-map <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's a fascinating chart <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/with-gop-plan-dead-trump-eyes-other-ways-to-reshape-health-care-1490434201" target="_blank">from the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wsj_republican_holdouts.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Even the <em>Journal's</em> own description says "holdouts from two wings of the party" sank the health care bill. But that's not what their own chart shows. Ideologically, there was neither a "coverage caucus" nor a "conservative" caucus. The holdouts spanned the entire spectrum of the party in a pretty even way.</p> <p>I can't think of any insightful point to make about this, but it's worth mentioning anyway. The conventional narrative of the bill being caught between two extreme ends of the party looks like it's not really correct.</p> <p>By the way, here's how the <em>Journal's</em> article begins:</p> <blockquote> <p>With the collapse of Republicans&rsquo; health plan in the House on Friday, the Trump administration is <strong>set to ramp up its efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act</strong> in one of the few ways it has left&mdash;by making changes to the law through waivers and rule changes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Obamacare won't implode on its own, but it might after Trump does everything he can to sabotage it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Mar 2017 18:54:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 328866 at http://www.motherjones.com The Mayberry Machiavellis Lost a Battle on Friday. But the War Is Not Over. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/mayberry-machiavellis-lost-battle-friday-war-not-over <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here is the last paragraph of David Brooks' blow-by-blow evisceration of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/opinion/the-trump-elite-like-the-old-elite-but-worse.html?_r=0" target="_blank">every single thing related to the Republican health care debacle:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The core Republican problem is this: The Republicans can&rsquo;t run policy-making from the White House because they have a marketing guy in charge of the factory. But they can&rsquo;t run policy from Capitol Hill because it&rsquo;s visionless and internally divided. <strong>So the Republicans have the politics driving the substance, not the other way around.</strong> The new elite is worse than the old elite &mdash; and certainly more vapid.</p> </blockquote> <p>Remember the <a href="http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a2880/dilulio/" target="_blank">Mayberry Machiavellis?</a> In the Bush White House they were "staff, senior and junior, who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption." This is now the entire Republican Party. Keep in mind that they never wanted to propose an Obamacare replacement in the first place. They figured they could just promise one for later. So deliciously Machiavellian! But it turned out that even the rubes who usually took their cues from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity saw through their repeal-and-delay ploy. So they had to come up with a plan. Any plan.</p> <p>And they did. Within a few days they whipped up a health care bill. No one cared very much what was in it. Sean Spicer's initial selling point&mdash;seriously&mdash;was the fact that it was much shorter than Obamacare. A few days later the CBO gave it possibly the most devastating score of any bill in history: 24 million people would lose coverage. But that was just substance, not important stuff like politics, so Republicans shrugged. When Tucker Carlson told Donald Trump about the millions who would be kicked off their plans, Trump muttered "I know" and swiftly moved on.</p> <p>Then the horsetrading began. Not over details here and there, but over the very foundations of the bill. Old people would see their premiums treble or quadruple, which nobody considered a problem until AARP pointed out that old people vote. So Paul Ryan tossed in $75 billion and told the Senate to figure out what to do with the money. Cutting nearly a trillion dollars in Medicaid funding wasn't enough for some? Fine, let states add work requirements. The ultras don't like essential health benefits? Out they go. Progress is being made.</p> <p>By the time they were finished, a Rube Goldberg bill that was as brutal as anything we've ever seen had almost literally become tatters. Nobody cared what was in it. Nobody cared if it would work. Nobody cared if it would actually cover anyone.</p> <p>And even at that, something like 90 percent of the Republican House caucus was apparently willing to shrug and vote for it. Promise made, promise kept. Who cares what's in it?</p> <p>The silver lining here is that apparently there really is a limit to the power of Mayberry Machiavellianism. Merely repeating that the bill was "great" over and over wasn't enough. The hustle was just too raw. Even the white working class, the famous demographic that delivered the White House to Donald Trump, <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/images/polling/us/us03232017_Ukqbwg46.pdf/" target="_blank">disapproved of the bill 48-22 percent.</a></p> <p>So now we move on to tax cuts for the rich. Will the hustle work this time? Or has health care finally made even the Fox News crowd skeptical that Republicans actually care about the working class?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:55:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 328861 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump Beats Obama LOLOLOLOLOL http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/trump-beats-obama-lololololol <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The American Action Network PAC aired a bunch of ads on basketball games tonight <a href="http://screengrabber.deadspin.com/basketball-fans-treated-to-ads-congratulating-republica-1793629526" target="_blank">congratulating Republican members of Congress</a> for voting to repeal Obamacare. Here's my artist's conception of Obama's response.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_comstock_sign.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px -15px 0px;"></p> <div class="caption">Pete Souza/The White House via ZUMA</div> <p>Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Barton (R&ndash;TX) earns quote-of-the-day honors for this explanation of why, after Republicans had unanimously voted to repeal Obamacare repeatedly over the past six years, <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/leadership-pulls-obamacare-repeal" target="_blank">they couldn't get it done this time:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Sometimes you&rsquo;re playing Fantasy Football and sometimes you&rsquo;re in the real game. We knew the president, if we could get a repeal bill to his desk, would almost certainly veto it. <strong>This time we knew if it got to the president&rsquo;s desk it would be signed.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>LOLOLOLOLOL. And Trump himself <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/president-trump-called-my-cellphone-to-say-that-the-health-care-bill-was-dead/2017/03/24/8282c3f6-10ce-11e7-9b0d-d27c98455440_story.html" target="_blank">comes in a close second:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I&rsquo;m a team player....It&rsquo;s very hard when you need almost 100 percent of the votes and we have no votes, zero, from the Democrats. <strong>It&rsquo;s unheard of.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Unheard of! LOLOLOLOLOL.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Mar 2017 04:15:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 328856 at http://www.motherjones.com What If I Told You That Republicans Spent Only 36 Days on Trumpcare? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/what-if-i-told-you-republicans-spent-only-36-days-trumpcare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If you want to know why Trumpcare failed so disastrously, here's a big part of the answer:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trumpcare_days_1.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>The process toward passing Obamacare began on March 5, 2009, when President Obama convened a "health summit" with various players in the health care industry. It finished 383 days later, on March 23, 2010, when he signed it into law.</p> <p>Trumpcare began life on February 16, 2017, when Paul Ryan released an outline of what a Republican bill would look like. It was abandoned 36 days later, on March 24, 2017.</p> <p>And this doesn't even count the fact that Democrats had been seriously debating and designing health care policy for decades before Obamacare was born. Republicans had never gone much beyond the debating point stage. But policy matters: detailed, messy, real-life policy that makes compromises in order to produce something that works and has the support of all the stakeholders. The problem is that Trump isn't used to that kind of thing. Ezra Klein points out today that, in fact, Trump isn't a very good dealmaker. That's true, and it's something I've written about frequently. <a href="http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/24/15049820/donald-trump-extremely-bad-making-deals" target="_blank">But he also says this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In Trump&rsquo;s past jobs, he could simply move on from failed deals and find new partners, and new markets, and new sectors. But that&rsquo;s not how the presidency works, and it&rsquo;s not clear he realizes that.</p> </blockquote> <p>"Take it or leave it" works only if you really are willing to leave it. Trump often is, because he can always turn around and do a different deal with someone else. But there's only one Congress. If Trump gets bored after a whole month of negotiations and gives up, there's no other Congress he can turn to. That's why Trumpcare is dead.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Mar 2017 01:06:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 328851 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump: Failure of Health Care Bill Is All Democrats' Fault http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/trump-failure-health-care-bill-all-democrats-fault <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's laughable watching President Trump whine endlessly this afternoon about how his health care bill didn't get any Democratic votes. Not one! The Democrats just wouldn't work with him to craft a bill! Boy, that sure makes things tough.</p> <p>Needless to say, neither Trump nor Paul Ryan ever tried to bring Democrats into this bill. It was purely a Republican plan from the start, and neither of them wanted any Democratic input. That's just the opposite of Obamacare, where Democrats tried mightily to get Republican buy-in, and still ended up getting no Republican votes in the end. Not one!</p> <p>Anyway, Trump's plan now is to wait for Obamacare to implode and then Democrats will <em>have</em> to do a deal. I guess it hasn't occurred to him that he could do a deal with Democrats right now if he were really serious about fixing health care. But no. Trump says he intends to move on to tax reform, because that's something he actually cares about.</p> <p>In the meantime, it's very unclear what will happen to Obamacare. With so much uncertainty surrounding it, it's hard to say how insurance companies will respond. They might give up and pull out. Or they might stick it out and wait. It's pretty close to a profitable business now, so there's probably no urgency one way or the other for most of them. And anyway, somewhere there's an equilibrium. Having only one insurer in a particular county might be bad for residents of that county, but it's great for the insurer: they can raise their prices with no worries. There are no competitors to steal their business, and the federal subsidies mean that customers on the exchanges won't see much of a change even if prices go up. In places where they have these mini-monopolies, Obamacare should be a nice money spinner.</p> <p>April will be a key month, as insurers begin to announce their plans for 2018. We'll see what happens.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> It was also amusing to hear Trump say that he learned a lot during this process about "arcane" procedures in the House and Senate. Like what? Filibusters? Having to persuade people to vote for your bill? The fact that the opposition party isn't going to give you any votes for a bill that destroys one of their signature achievements? Reconciliation and the Byrd rule? I believe him when he says this was all new to him, which means he never had the slightest clue what was in this bill or how it was going to pass.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 21:07:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 328841 at http://www.motherjones.com Obamacare Repeal Is Dead http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/republican-health-care-bill-dead-now <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Well, that's it. Obamacare repeal has failed. The House will not vote on the Republican health care bill.</p> <p>So what's next? The first thing, of course, is for Trump to insist that he bears no blame for this. Possible candidates for being thrown under the bus include Paul Ryan, the Freedom Caucus, Democrats, Obama, and illegal immigration.</p> <p>But what's next <em>after</em> that? This is the depressing part. From a partisan perspective, I imagine the best bet is to sabotage Obamacare as much as possible and wait for it to fail. Then Trump can say that he was right all along (isn't he always?) and now we <em>really</em> have to do something.</p> <p>But there's also the perspective of what's best for the country. If Obamacare repeal can't pass, the best bet is to work on making Obamacare better. This could be done fairly easily, since it's mostly tweaks that are needed. There are even deals to be made here. Democrats would probably be willing to give Republicans some things they want (tort reform, expanded HSAs, etc.) in return for modest changes that would make Obamacare more stable (higher penalties, tweaks to the subsidies, funding the risk corridors, etc.).</p> <p>But that's a fantasy. There's little chance of anyone in Congress these days working across the aisle to do what's best for the country.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> And the winner is...Democrats!</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">TRUMP tells me in interview this is now the Democrats' fault, and that he anticipates that when Obama "explodes" they will be ready to deal</p> &mdash; Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) <a href="https://twitter.com/maggieNYT/status/845362688557486081">March 24, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 19:39:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 328831 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 24 March 2017 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/friday-cat-blogging-24-march-2017 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>ZOMG! If Hopper is even closer than this, HOW CLOSE IS SHE???</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2017_03_24.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 19:00:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 328826 at http://www.motherjones.com The Latest: Trump Still Insisting on Vote for Doomed Health Care Bill http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/latest-trump-still-insisting-vote-doomed-health-care-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So here's where we are. Apparently things are getting worse, not better, for the Republican health care bill. More and more members of the House are publicly saying they'll vote No, and it's threatening to turn into a bandwagon. Who wants to vote in favor of a terrible bill that's going down to defeat anyway?</p> <p>Paul Ryan and the rest of the House leadership is <a href="https://www.axios.com/healthcare-bill-might-get-yanked-from-house-floor-2328191380.html" target="_blank">considering pulling the bill</a> rather than suffering through an embarrassing loss, and Ryan has told President Trump he doesn't have the votes to pass it. Trump still wants a vote, though, so he can take down the names of the No voters and <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/24/bannon-tells-trump-keep-a-shit-list-of-republicans-who-opposed-you.html" target="_blank">swear eternal vengeance</a> on them. He's already <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/trump-house-caucus-criticism-236458" target="_blank">declared war on the Freedom Caucus.</a></p> <p>Anyway, the vote is only about an hour away (3:30 pm Eastern), and it hasn't been officially postponed yet. Sean Spicer just told the press corps that it was still going forward. Paul Ryan may know when to beat a tactical retreat, but Trump is not really a tactical retreat kind of guy. Most likely, he's going to insist on a vote no matter what. And the bill will go down.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:04:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 328821 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Are Hellbent on Killing Off Internet Privacy Protections. Why? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/republicans-are-hellbent-killing-internet-privacy-protections-why <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/technology/congress-moves-to-strike-internet-privacy-rules-from-obama-era.html" target="_blank">From the <em>New York Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Republican senators moved Thursday to dismantle landmark internet privacy protections for consumers</strong> in the first decisive strike against telecommunications and technology regulations created during the Obama administration, and a harbinger of further deregulation.</p> <p>The measure passed in a 50-to-48 vote largely along party lines. The House is expected to mirror the Senate&rsquo;s action next week, followed by a signature from President Trump.</p> <p>The move means Verizon, Comcast or AT&amp;T <strong>can continue tracking and sharing people&rsquo;s browsing and app activity without permission,</strong> and it alarmed consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers. They warned that broadband providers have the widest look into Americans&rsquo; online habits, and that without the rules, the companies would have more power to collect data on people and sell sensitive information.</p> </blockquote> <p>This kind of thing genuinely puzzles me. It's not unexpected, but I still can't figure out why Republicans are so hellbent on doing this. There's nothing particularly conservative about allowing telecom companies to collect personal information without permission. Neither the general public nor the tea party base is clamoring to repeal this rule. And there's no special reason Republicans should favor telecoms in their endless fight against content providers (Google, Facebook, etc.).</p> <p>But Republicans seem to prefer a privacy free-for-all. Is this just blind opposition to something Democrats like? Part of a general attitude that big corporations should be able to do anything they want? Or perhaps it's just a realistic appraisal of the fact that Americans seemingly <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/21/the-state-of-privacy-in-america/" target="_blank">don't care much about their personal information:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pew_privacy_concerns.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Personally, I favor very strong privacy protections. But even a more moderate view should understand that certain industries operate core infrastructure we all have to interact with: banks, credit card companies, doctors, phone companies, internet providers, and so forth. This puts them in a unique position to collect a lot of information.</p> <p>But being in that position shouldn't mean they get to do anything they want with all this information. Quite the contrary. The fact that we have essentially no choice in dealing with these folks means that privacy regulations should be especially tight on them. They shouldn't be able to share their information with anyone else except under very specific conditions (for example, blinded scientific studies), and they should even be limited in what they can do with this information internally&mdash;especially since "internally" can mean a huge number of subsidiaries and sister corporations these days.</p> <p>But for now, that's off the table. Big telecoms will be allowed to do anything they want and only a few privacy nuts seem to care. Still, you can put me down among the 8 percent who aren't thrilled about large corporations all having access to information about everything I buy. It's a lonely 8 percent, but at least there are still a few of us around.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:24:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 328811 at http://www.motherjones.com LA's Parker Center Should Be Relegated to Dragnet Reruns http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/las-parket-center-should-be-relegated-dragnet-reruns <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Behold Parker Center, former home of the LA Police Department and star of many a <em>Dragnet</em> episode:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_parker_center.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px -15px 0px;"></p> <div class="caption">From the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library</div> <p>You can see a more recent picture <a href="http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/parker-center-the-l-a-mall-and-the-future-of/article_f54fd08a-3d45-11e5-a6f8-b71b97bfea72.html" target="_blank">here.</a> Parker Center was built in 1955 but has been empty for years. It's also, as you might expect, the focus of yet another tedious battle from preservationists who seemingly want to save <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-parker-center-plan-20170321-story.html" target="_blank">any gigantic box ever built by a notable architect:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The building was designed by Welton Becket, the prolific architect behind the Capitol Records building, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, the Cinerama Dome and the jet-age Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport.</p> <p>Los Angeles city engineers contend that the mid-century building, which now sits empty, is seismically unsafe....The Los Angeles Conservancy disputes the city&rsquo;s analysis and accuses officials of using inaccurate estimates to justify Parker Center&rsquo;s demolition &mdash; something the city denies.</p> <p>The battle over the building, which was named for former Police Chief William Parker, comes as city leaders push for a dramatic remake of the Civic Center, roughly 10 square blocks of government buildings surrounded by Little Tokyo, the Historic Core and Chinatown.</p> </blockquote> <p>Who cares if it's seismically unsafe? If the city wants to build something more useful on the site, they should go ahead and do it. It's one thing to preserve houses and smallish buildings here and there, but multi-acre structures in the heart of a city should be preserved only if they're truly unique, historical treasures. The Parker Center, like the Ambassador Hotel, just doesn't qualify. It's a typical mid-century design, nicely executed, but nothing more. This kind of acreage can't be set in amber without a helluva good reason.</p> <p>I wish preservationists would back off from this kind of stuff and put their energy into truly important fights. The center of a city is a living thing, and it needs to change to accommodate the needs of its residents. That's hard to do if giant swaths are declared off limits. Buildings that aren't truly iconic need to make room for the new when their time is up.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:29:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 328796 at http://www.motherjones.com When Telemarketers Call, Just Hang Up http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/when-telemarketers-call-just-hang <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>At the <em>LA Times</em>, David Lazarus writes about the <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-chatbot-phone-scam-20170324-story.html" target="_blank">latest in robocall scamology:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s the most cunning robocall scam I&rsquo;ve encountered &mdash; and the fact that I&rsquo;ve fallen for it more than once tells you how successful it can be. The phone rings. You pick it up and say &ldquo;hello.&rdquo; There&rsquo;s a brief silence and then a woman&rsquo;s voice says, &ldquo;Oh, hi there!&rdquo; She offers an embarrassed laugh. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry, I was having a little trouble with my headset!&rdquo;</p> <p>....This is a new and highly sophisticated racket known as the &ldquo;can you hear me&rdquo; scam, which <strong>involves tricking people into saying yes and using that affirmation to sign people up for stuff they didn&rsquo;t order.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Take my advice: never interact in any way with telemarketers, silicon or otherwise. Don't say "I'm not interested." Don't say anything. Just hang up. Period.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:46:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 328781 at http://www.motherjones.com We Have a Bill! But Can It Pass? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/we-have-bill-can-it-pass <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It looks like we have a <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/what-s-in-the-health-care-bill-changes-unveiled-late-last-night" target="_blank">final health care bill.</a> As expected, it eliminates all of Obamacare's essential health benefits. Say hello to health care insurance that doesn't cover hospitalization! The repeal is set for 2018, so states that want to set up their own lists of essential benefits had better get cracking.</p> <p>In a vain attempt to avoid headlines about how Republicans are being mean to women, the final version of the bill also adds $15 billion to the "stability" fund for maternity care and a few other things. It pays for all these changes by delaying the repeal of the Medicare surcharge on the rich. Oddly, though, this $15 billion appears to be <a href="https://rules.house.gov/sites/republicans.rules.house.gov/files/115/policymngr-amdt.pdf" target="_blank">only for the year 2020.</a> Is this a typo? Or what?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:25:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 328771 at http://www.motherjones.com How Paul Ryan Sold Out, In One Chart http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/how-paul-ryan-sold-out-one-chart <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Why is Paul Ryan having such a hard time selling his Obamacare repeal to the ultra-conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus? One chart tells the story:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ryan_conservative_bona_fides_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p><a href="http://voteview.com/dwnomin.htm" target="_blank">According to DW-NOMINATE,</a> when Ryan first entered Congress in 1999 he was the 18th most conservative member of the House. Almost no one was more conservative than Ryan. He was a member in good standing of the ultras.</p> <p>But every year he got a little more moderate. By 2014, he ranked only 51st. The tea partiers who have been elected in the past decade look at Ryan as a guy who sold out. He's no longer even in the top 50, let alone the top 30 or 40 that it takes to be a solid ultra.</p> <p>To you and me, 51st out of 435 seems pretty damn conservative. But to the folks who rank from 1st to 40th, Ryan looks like a guy who's steadily compromised with the swamp until he's become just another get-along-go-along guy. They don't trust him, and that's why he can't convince them to vote for his health care bill.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 05:50:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 328746 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Is D-Day For the Republican Health Care Bill http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/friday-d-day-republican-health-care-bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/trump-freedom-caucus-health-care-236418" target="_blank">From <em>Politico</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>President Donald Trump is demanding a vote Friday in the House on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said. If the bill fails, Trump is prepared to move on and leave Obamacare in place, Mulvaney said.</p> </blockquote> <p>This makes sense on a whole bunch of levels:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>As a threat against conservatives:</strong> Vote for the bill or else Obamacare stays around forever and it's your fault.</p> <p><strong>As a boredom minimizer:</strong> I doubt very much Trump himself cares one way or the other about health care, and he's probably tired of all boring technical talk that surrounds it (EHBs, continuous coverage, age bands, etc. etc.). He also instinctively understands that the whole thing is a shit show that's making him more and more unpopular.</p> <p><strong>As politics:</strong> The current debacle has shown that there's just no sweet spot acceptable to both moderate and conservative Republicans. Why keep beating yourself up over it?</p> <p><strong>As revenge against liberals:</strong> Trump has said that 2017 is the year Obamacare unravels. He will now do everything he can to make that come true, and there's a fair amount he can do.</p> <p><strong>As substance:</strong> It frees up time for taxes and trade, things Trump is more interested in.</p> </blockquote> <p>Besides, I don't think Trump wants to stay in Washington over the weekend. The Mar-a-Lago golf course beckons. So let's just put this baby to bed one way or the other, OK?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:31:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 328741 at http://www.motherjones.com The Republican Health Care Bill Is In Deep Trouble http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/republican-health-care-bill-deep-trouble <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jonathan Chait has a question:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">From the House Democrats' perspective, isn't the best case that the House Rs walk the plank and pass it? (and then bill dies in the Senate?) <a href="https://t.co/NbSnrhywCx">https://t.co/NbSnrhywCx</a></p> &mdash; Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) <a href="https://twitter.com/jonathanchait/status/845003199060828161">March 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>No, no, no, no, no! Remember when we thought it might be better if Donald Trump won the Republican primary because Hillary Clinton would be sure to beat him? Then James Comey came along.</p> <p>Shit happens, people, and there's no predicting it. I doubt that the Republican bill can pass the Senate, <em>but it might</em>. The only thing we should care about is taking every possible opportunity to stop it, whenever and wherever we have a chance. Period.</p> <p>(Besides, I doubt that voting for this bill will do much harm to Republicans when the midterms roll around. That's still 20 months away, and besides, at least the yes voters can say they did everything they could to repeal Obamacare but leadership screwed it up.)</p> <p>And speaking of the Republican bill, apparently the whip count really is falling short. So now the vote has been postponed to Friday. Maybe. It all depends on whether Paul Ryan and Donald Trump can figure out something else to capitulate on in order to win the votes of the crackpots in the Freedom Caucus.</p> <p>Oh, and one more thing: <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/hr1628.pdf" target="_blank">CBO has rescored the bill.</a> The original version reduced the deficit by $337 billion. The new one reduces it by only $150 billion. But that's already out of date. They'll have to score it again after Ryan and Trump finish negotiating with the conservatives. But it's worth noting that Ryan doesn't have a lot of headroom left if he also needs to negotiate with moderates who want a slightly less brutal program. Another $150 billion and the bill won't reduce the deficit anymore. And if it doesn't reduce the deficit, it can't be passed under reconciliation.</p> <p>But wait! One final thing: earlier I noted that the Republican bill is allowed to repeal only the elements of Obamacare that directly affect the budget. So if Republicans try to add provisions that repeal, say, essential benefits or pre-existing conditions, the Senate parliamentarian is likely to rule that they have to be jettisoned. However, as the presiding officer of the Senate, VP Mike Pence has the final word on this. He could just declare the parliamentarian wrong and allow the vote to go forward.</p> <p>But what justification would he offer? As it happens, Republicans already have one handy. Last year, a number of them made the argument that the "direct effect" rule should be applied to the <em>whole bill</em>, not to its individual parts. In other words, Obamacare can be repealed completely because Obamacare as a whole directly affects the budget. If Republicans go down this road, that's what you're likely to hear.</p> <p>However, my guess is that if Pence does this, he'll lose a whole bunch of votes from moderate senators who won't be a party to something that effectively kills the filibuster. So it probably can't pass the Senate either way.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 21:38:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 328721 at http://www.motherjones.com Lunchtime Photo http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/lunchtime-photo-0 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Beware the tree of death. It awaits multitudes if Republicans pass Trumpcare.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tree_sunset_orange.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:05:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 328701 at http://www.motherjones.com Conservatives Demand End to Pre-Existing Conditions Ban http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/conservatives-demand-end-pre-existing-conditions-ban <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I guess I was wrong last night. The <em>New York Times</em> says President Trump has caved in to demands to repeal the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/us/politics/health-republicans-vote.html" target="_blank">minimum set of required benefits for health care insurance:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>President Trump agreed to the demands of conservative House Republicans to remove federal requirements that health insurance plans provide a <strong>basic set of benefits like maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits</strong> as he struggles to round up enough votes to pass a broad health care overhaul.</p> </blockquote> <p>But the <em>Washington Post</em> reports that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/gop-health-care-plan-hangs-in-balance-as-house-leaders-push-for-thursday-floor-vote/2017/03/23/6e8bf05a-0fbd-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html" target="_blank">this still wasn't enough:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Conservative House Republicans rebuffed an offer by President Trump on Thursday to strip a key set of mandates from the nation&rsquo;s current health-care law, raising doubts about whether House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has the votes to pass the bill.</p> <p>....Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), asked whether the White House had made its final negotiating offer, said that if that&rsquo;s the case, <strong>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re not going to pass the bill.&rdquo;...</strong>As of mid-afternoon Thursday, 37 House Republicans &mdash; mainly Freedom Caucus members &mdash; had announced their opposition to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what do conservatives want? Here's the <em>Post</em> again:</p> <blockquote> <p>Conservative lawmakers have asked to eliminate much of [Obamacare&rsquo;s] Title I, which....bars companies from setting insurance rates based on a person&rsquo;s sex, <strong>medical condition,</strong> genetic condition or other factors.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, insurers could charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition. That would effectively kill off the Obamacare provision that requires insurers to cover everyone who applies. They'd simply price policies out of reach for people with expensive pre-existing conditions and that would be that.</p> <p>Would this pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who has to agree that repealing Title 1 "directly affects" the budget? I doubt it. Would Mike Pence go ahead and overrule her? Maybe. Is this whole thing a debacle beyond imagining? Oh yes.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> It's worth pointing out that if Republicans go down this road, they've essentially killed the filibuster completely. Basically, they would have set a precedent that anything can be added to a reconciliation bill&mdash;which can't be filibustered&mdash;and the vice president will overrule the parliamentarian and declare that it's OK. At that point, the Senate can include reconciliation instructions for just about anything in its annual budget resolution. As long as the president and vice president are from the same party, they can then pass anything they want with 51 votes.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:37:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 328686 at http://www.motherjones.com Republican Health Care Bill Has 17% Approval Rating http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/republican-health-care-bill-has-17-approval-rating <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2443" target="_blank">Quinnipiac reports today</a> that public approval for the Republican health care bill is a dismal 17 percent. Allow me to put this into perspective with a bar chart:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_approval_various_healthcare.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Sad.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 17:06:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 328651 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Is Always Right: A List http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/donald-trump-always-right-list <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As a public service, here are all the things Donald Trump has been right about:</p> <ol><li>Sweden</li> <li>Anthony Weiner</li> <li>NATO not focusing on terrorism</li> <li>Brexit</li> <li>Election being rigged against Bernie Sanders</li> <li>Obama "wiretapping" him</li> <li>Three million illegal votes</li> <li>Thousands of Muslims celebrating on 9/11</li> <li>Beating Hillary Clinton</li> <li>Donna Brazile</li> <li>Ted Cruz's father<sup>1</sup></li> <li>British spying<sup>1</sup></li> <li>NATO not paying its bills</li> <li>Jobs statistics</li> </ol><p>Not bad, Mr. President! Maybe you could whisper in my ear who the next Super Bowl champ is going to be. I promise not to tell anyone.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Special Trump exemption: It doesn't matter if he was right because he was just quoting other people.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:30:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 328646 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Is Always Right http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/donald-trump-always-right <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>Time's</em> Michael Scherer <a href="http://time.com/4710456/donald-trump-time-interview-truth-falsehood/" target="_blank">interviewed President Donald Trump on Wednesday</a> for an upcoming cover story. Scherer's thesis is that Trump deliberately makes unproven charges because "the fact that they are disputed makes them a more effective message, that you are able to spread the message further, that more people get excited about it, that it gets on TV."</p> <p>Sure. It's as good a theory as any. As usual, I could spend the whole day just pulling out excerpts and&mdash;oh hell, let's pull out some excerpts. There's this:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>You say that Ted Cruz's father was with Lee Harvey Oswald.</em></p> <p>Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he's a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn't, <strong>I didn't say that. I was referring to a newspaper.</strong> A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.</p> </blockquote> <p>And this:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>You don't feel like Comey's testimony in any way takes away from the credibility of the tweets you put out, even with the quotes?</em></p> <p>No, I have, look. I have articles saying it happened. But you have to take a look at what they, they just went out at a news conference. Devin Nunes had a news conference. I mean I don't know, I was unable to see it, because I am at meetings, but they just had a news conference talking about surveillance. Now again, it is in quotes. That means surveillance and various other things. <strong>And the <em>New York Times</em> had a front-page story, which they actually reduced, they took it, they took it the word wiretapping out of the title, but its first story in the front page of the paper was wiretapping.</strong> And a lot of information has just been learned, and a lot of information may be learned over the next coming period of time. We will see what happens. Look. I predicted a lot of things that took a little of bit of time. Here, headline, for the front page of the <em>New York Times</em>, "Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides." <strong>That's a headline. Now they then dropped that headline, I never saw this until this morning. They then dropped that headline, and they used another headline without the word wiretap, but they did mean wiretap. Wiretapped data used in inquiry. Then changed after that, they probably didn't like it. And they changed the title. They took the wiretap word out.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And finally this:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>But you are saying to me now, that you don't believe the intelligence community when they say your tweet was wrong.</em></p> <p>I'm not blaming. First of all, I put Mike Pompeo in. I put Senator Dan Coats in. These are great people. I think they are great people and they are going to, I have a lot of confidence in them. So hopefully things will straighten out. But I inherited a mess, I inherited a mess in so many ways. I inherited a mess in the Middle East, and a mess with North Korea, <strong>I inherited a mess with jobs, despite the statistics, you know, my statistics are even better, but they are not the real statistics because you have millions of people that can't get a job, ok.</strong> And I inherited a mess on trade. I mean we have many, you can go up and down the ladder. But that's the story. Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, <strong>I can't be doing so badly, because I'm president, and you're not.</strong> You know. Say hello to everybody OK?</p> </blockquote> <p>Trump obviously prepared for this interview, and his theme was: I am always right. Seriously. Over and over he went down a list of all the things he's predicted that turned out to be true. <em>Donald Trump is always right.</em> Got it? Okay then.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:56:13 +0000 328636 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Now Considering How to Make a Bad Health Care Plan Into a Complete Wreck http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/republicans-now-considering-how-make-bad-health-care-plan-complete-wreck <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Our acronym for the day is EHB, which stands for Essential Health Benefits. These are things which every health care plan is required to cover, and Obamacare spells out ten of them:</p> <ol><li>Doctor visits</li> <li>Emergency room visits</li> <li>Hospital visits</li> <li>Prescription drugs</li> <li>Pediatric care</li> <li>Lab services</li> <li>Preventive care</li> <li>Maternity care</li> <li>Mental health care</li> <li>Rehabilitation services</li> </ol><p>The Republican health care bill is still having trouble getting enough votes to pass, so Paul Ryan is thinking about placating conservatives by repealing all of these EHBs. This means that a health insurer could literally sell you a policy that didn't cover doctor visits, hospital visits, ER visits, your children's health care, or prescription drugs&mdash;and still be perfectly legal. Here's a rough estimate of how much we spend nationally on each of these categories of EHB:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_expenditures_ehbs.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>There are many problems with repealing Obamacare's minimum required benefits, but I'd like to list just three:</p> <ul><li>Oh come on. This is ridiculous.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Even if the current version of AHCA doesn't cause a death spiral, it sure would if EHBs got repealed. Insurers would assume that anyone who asks for a policy that covers one of these (former) EHBs is pretty sure they're going to need it. Naturally they'd price their policies accordingly: Worthless policies would get really cheap, but comprehensive policies would get astronomically expensive. Virtually no one would be able to afford them.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>There's a good chance that repealing the EHBs would not only produce crappier insurance policies, but would also cost the government more money. Think about it. Every year AHCA provides you a tax credit for health insurance. You might as well use it, right? So insurers would all compete to offer policies that cover almost nothing but cost exactly $2,000 or $3,000 or $4,000. Everybody would sign up for one, because it's free so they might as well. So instead of, say, 10 million people using the tax credits, 30 million would. These policies wouldn't do squat, but Uncle Sam has to pay for them anyway&mdash;and now he's got to pay for three times as many of them.</li> </ul><p>This is all pretty straightforward stuff, and it's hard to believe that Ryan would go down this catastrophic road. Enough's enough. If I had to guess&mdash;and we might well know the answer before I wake up on Thursday&mdash;I'd say that Ryan tries to buy off the conservatives by taking maternity benefits off the EHB list and leaving everything else alone. After all, it's maternity care that really seems to be a burr in the ass of the Freedom Caucus folks.</p> <p>Why? Because they're knuckle-draggers. It's hard to put it any other way. They figure that being pregnant is solely a woman's responsibility and there's no reason men should have to help pay for it. Really. I'm not joking. What can you even say to people so terminally dimwitted?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 05:35:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 328616 at http://www.motherjones.com CNN: Trump Team Gave Russians "Thumbs Up" to Release Hillary Smears http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/cnn-trump-team-gave-russians-thumbs-release-hillary-smears <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/22/politics/us-officials-info-suggests-trump-associates-may-have-coordinated-with-russians/index.html" target="_blank">CNN has some breaking news:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The FBI has information that indicates <strong>associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign,</strong> US officials told CNN....The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings.</p> <p>....One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests <strong>"people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready."</strong> But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial.</p> </blockquote> <p>Apparently this is all "raising suspicions" among counterintelligence officers about ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.</p> <p>If everything we've heard today is true, members of the Trump team were (a) in frequent contact with the Russians to coordinate the release of smears against Hillary Clinton, and (b) in frequent contact with some <em>other</em> group of people who were under surveillance for...something. What busy beavers!</p> <p>Meanwhile, Devin Nunes is pretending to be shocked that the NSA does stuff that everyone on the planet knows the NSA does. I can only assume he was hoping to distract everyone from what's really going on, the way Trump does with his tweets. But Trump is a master, and Nunes is apparently an idiot. His attempt at misdirection was so barefaced and hamhanded that he probably just made things worse.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 23 Mar 2017 01:22:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 328611 at http://www.motherjones.com Devin Nunes Is Playing a Familiar Republican Game Today http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/devin-nunes-playing-familiar-republican-game-today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When a big story breaks while I'm at lunch, it can be a real pain in the ass. Instead of following it in real time, I have to rush around later trying to piece together what's happened. On the other hand, sometimes this is a blessing, because by the time I get to the story it's clearer what the real issue is. I think today is an example of the latter.</p> <p>For starters, here's a nutshell summary of what happened. Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, took the stage a few hours ago to declare himself "alarmed." He believes that some of Donald Trump's transition team might have been "incidentally" recorded during surveillance of foreign nationals. He won't say who. Nor will he say who the foreign nationals were, other than "not Russian." And as soon as he was done with his press conference, he trotted off to the White House to brief President Trump.</p> <p>There are several problems here. First, Nunes didn't share any of this with Democrats on the committee. Second, incidental collection is both routine and inevitable in foreign surveillance. Congress has had ample opportunity to rein it in if they wanted to, and they never have. Third, if this was part of a criminal investigation, Nunes may have jeopardized it by going public. Fourth, the chair of the Intelligence Committee isn't supposed to be briefing the president on the status of an investigation <em>into the president's activities</em>.</p> <p>This is plenty to embarrass the great state of California, from which Nunes hails. But for what it's worth, I don't think any of this is the biggest issue. <a href="http://www.vox.com/world/2017/3/22/15025816/trump-wiretapping-devin-nunes" target="_blank">This one is:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>He claims to have gotten the information personally from an unspecified source, and had not yet met with FBI Director James Comey to review the raw intelligence intercepts he was provided. Why would he go public without first consulting spies to see if what he had was actually worth sharing with the public?</p> </blockquote> <p>Oh. This is one of those deals where the Republican chair of a committee gets some information; releases a tiny snippet that makes Republicans look good; and then eventually is forced to release the entire transcript, which turns out to be nothing at all like the snippet. We've seen this gong show a dozen times in the past few years.</p> <p>My advice: ignore everything Nunes said. He's obviously carrying water for Trump, hoping to drive headlines that vaguely suggest the Obama administration really was listening in on Trump's phone calls. I gather that he's succeeded on that score. For now, though, there's no telling what this raw intel really says. Eventually the intelligence community will provide analysis, and committee Democrats will get to see the transcripts too. Then we'll have a fighting chance of knowing whether it's important or not. In the meantime, everything Nunes said is literally worthless. He's not "probably right" or "probably wrong." He's nothing.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:58:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 328591 at http://www.motherjones.com Lunchtime Photo http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/lunchtime-photo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's been raining around these parts. Well, not <em>raining,</em> really. More like sprinkling a bit now and again. Lightly sprinkling. Nevertheless, Hilbert's disgust with this intolerable situation practically oozes out of him, doesn't it?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lunchtime_hilbert_umbrella.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:29:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 328571 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Another Nominee For Labor Secretary About to Spontaneously Combust? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/another-nominee-labor-secretary-about-spontaneously-combust <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I really don't know if this is a justified line of attack, but hoo boy, this is a headline you <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/labor-nominee-acosta-cut-deal-with-billionaire-in-sex-abuse-case-involving-40-underage-girls/2017/03/21/d33271a8-0d85-11e7-ab07-07d9f521f6b5_story.html" target="_blank">really don't want to see about a cabinet nominee:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wapo_acosta_deal_sex_minors.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 65px;"></p> <p>Labor Secretary is turning out to be a little like being the drummer for Spinal Tap. The previous one not only had to withdraw under a hail of criticism, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-cke-andy-puzder-20170321-story.html" target="_blank">but he even lost his old job in the process.</a> Now we've got a guy accused of going soft on child rapists. Maybe it's time for Donald Trump to take this whole vetting thing a little more seriously.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:37:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 328562 at http://www.motherjones.com