Tag Archives: politics

Watch Trump Call Obamacare Repeal "So Easy"

Mother Jones

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After a week of emergency meetings and last-minute attempts to unify their party, Republican leaders pulled their Obamacare repeal bill from the House floor Friday when it became clear they didn’t have enough support to pass.

The decision comes as a major defeat for President Donald Trump, who during the campaign bragged that Obamacare repeal would be “so easy.”

“Together we’re going to deliver real change that once again puts Americans first,” Trump said at an October rally in Florida. “That begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare…You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost—and it’s going to be so easy.”

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Trump also argued on the campaign trail that electing a Republican-controlled Congress would allow him to quickly dismantle the health care law and pass other pieces of legislation. “With a Republican House and Senate, we will immediately repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said at another event. “A Republican House and Senate can swiftly enact the other items in my contract immediately, including massive tax reduction.”

“We will repeal and replace Obamacare, and we will do it very, very quickly,” Trump said during the final week of the campaign. “It is a catastrophe.”

Trump’s confidence in his ability to win the health care fight continued through the first few weeks of his presidency. On February 9, he bragged that when it came to repealing Obamacare, “Nobody can do that like me.”

By the end of February, Trump had changed his tune somewhat. “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” the president said. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

One person who certainly did know was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who successfully shepherded Obamacare through the House in 2010. On Thursday, she mocked Trump for trying to rush the repeal bill through the chamber, calling it a “Rookie’s error.”

“Clearly you are not ready,” Pelosi said.

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Watch Trump Call Obamacare Repeal "So Easy"

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Kansas Republicans Just Defied Donald Trump and Voted to Expand Medicaid

Mother Jones

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On the same day the House was supposed to pass a bill dismantling Medicaid, Kansas Republicans took a big step toward expanding the program in their state.

In a voice vote Thursday morning, a committee in the Kansas Senate approved legislation that would enable the state to take advantage of an Obamacare provision offering Medicaid health insurance coverage to a wider group of poor people. The federal government would provide the vast majority of the funding.

Many deep-red states like Kansas have rejected Medicaid expansion based largely on their ideological objections to Obamacare. But as I reported earlier this week, a new bloc of moderate Republicans in the state—back by the health care industry and business community—have teamed up with Democrats to push Medicaid expansion. They point out that the state has given up, to date, nearly $2 billion in federal funds that could have helped both improve the health of the state’s low-income communities while also boosting its economy.

The Kansas House overwhelming passed Medicaid expansion earlier this year. The full state Senate is expected to vote on the issue Monday, according to KCUR. But they would likely need to cobble together a veto-proof majority, since Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has vocally opposed to adopting the program. In fact, Brownback released a letter Thursday, signed with seven other Republican governors, asking Congress to pass the repeal of Obamacare, which would eventually end funding for new sign-ups in the Medicaid expansion and would prevent states such as Kansas signing up in the meantime.

It’s unclear if Congress will heed Brownback’s request. The GOP’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare was supposed to get a vote in the full House sometime Thursday, but with both conservatives and moderate Republicans balking, the vote was delayed. The Trump administration set a deadline for a Friday vote, saying the White House would otherwise abandon the effort. Congress is currently debating the measure, but vote counts from various news outlets suggest Republicans currently lack enough votes to pass the bill.

Read more about the fight for Medicaid expansion in Kansas here.

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Kansas Republicans Just Defied Donald Trump and Voted to Expand Medicaid

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Republicans Delay Vote on Health Care Bill

Mother Jones

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In a major blow to President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the House vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which was slated for Thursday, has been postponed.

The delay comes just hours after a failed emergency meeting between Trump and members of the House Freedom Caucus, hard-line conservatives who demanded the American Health Care Act eliminate Obamacare’s so-called essential health benefits. The potential concession to the Freedom Caucus’ demands reportedly alarmed more moderate-leaning Republicans.

It’s unclear when a rescheduled vote will take place.

As of Thursday afternoon, 47 House Republicans remained undecided about their vote on Ryan’s health care legislation; 31 Republican lawmakers said they would reject the proposal. With all Democrats voting no, the bill can only afford to lose 22 Republicans to secure passage.

This is a breaking news post. We will update as more information becomes available.

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Republicans Delay Vote on Health Care Bill

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5 Things We’ve Learned About Neil Gorsuch So Far

Mother Jones

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Two days into Neil Gosuch’s confirmation hearings, the proceedings have yielded little insight into the Supreme Court nominee’s views about important legal precedent or landmark cases. In keeping with the tradition of previous nominees, he has declined to give any opinions on past or future cases, or explain his personal views on controversial legal issues from abortion to gay marriage. And he’s sidestepped questions about his work in the Bush Justice Department, which included helping the administration defend torture and denying access to the courts for detainees at Guantanamo. But the hearings have unearthed some more obscure trivia about the 10th Circuit judge. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits that have emerged so far:

He likes David Foster Wallace: Waxing poetic about his view of the law, Gorsuch told the Judiciary Committee: “We’re now like David Foster Wallace’s fish. We’re surrounded by the rule of law. It’s in the fabric of our lives.”

Gorsuch was referring to the story the late writer told in a 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College. “There are these two young fish swimming along,” Wallace told the graduating students, “and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys, how’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?'”

His confirmation hearing isn’t the first time Gorsuch has referenced Wallace’s fish. He’s invoked it at least once before, in an article for the Harvard Journal of Law and Policy. “If sometimes the cynic in all of us fails to see our Nation’s successes when it comes to the rule of law,” he wrote, “maybe it’s because we are like David Foster Wallace’s fish that’s oblivious to the life-giving water in which it swims.”

He thinks it’s OK for a women to be president even if the founders didn’t: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked Gorsuch about his belief that judges should interpret the Constitution the way the Founders would have written it, better known as originalism, which would seem to make it difficult for the law to adapt to modern life. “I’m not looking to take us back to quill pens and horse and buggies,” Gorsuch told her. But Klobuchar pressed on. She wanted to know how he could square his originalist philosophy with the fact that the Constitution as first written didn’t allow women to vote. “So when the Constitution refers 30-some times to ‘his’ or ‘he’ when describing the president of the United States, you would see that as, ‘Well back then they actually thought a woman could be president even through women couldn’t vote?'” she asked. In response, Gorsuch growled, “Of course women can be president! I’ve got two daughters. I hope one of them grows up to be president.”

He loves The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) opened his questioning of Gorsuch by asking him: “What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?” The judge responded with a smile, “42.” Gorsuch explained that the question is a joke he uses to break the ice when swearing in nervous lawyers.

Gorsuch claimed everyone knew the answer to the question because it comes from Douglas Adams’ cult classic novel, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was clear that aside from Cruz, most of the senators on the Judiciary Committee had not read the book. “If you haven’t read it, you should,” Gorsuch told them. “It may be one of my daughter’s favorite books. And so, that’s a family joke.” Cruz gave Gorsuch a dreamy look and said that he saw Gorsuch’s Hitchhiker joke as “a delightful example of the humanity of a judge that your record has demonstrated.”

He had a pet goat: In his opening statement Monday, Gorsuch gave a shout out to his daughters, who were home in Colorado watching the hearings on TV. He reminisced about “devising ways to keep our determined pet goat out of the garden,” one of his favorite memories with them.

His kids have engaged in “mutton busting”: Cruz got Gorsuch talking about the Denver rodeo, where he takes his law clerks every year. The spectacle finishes up with the prize steer visiting the lobby of the Brown Palace hotel. As part of the festivities, the rodeo features something called mutton busting—a children’s version of bronco riding, done on sheep instead of bulls—which Gorsuch described like this:

You take a poor little kid, you find a sheep, and you attach the one to the other and see how long they can hold on. And you know, it usually works fine when the sheep has got a lot of wool and you tell them to hold on. I tell my kids hold on monkey style. Really get in there, right? Get around it. Because if you sit upright, you go flying right off. Right? You want to get in. The problem when you get in is that you’re so locked in that you don’t want to let go. Right? So then the poor clown has to come and knock you off the sheep. My daughters got knocked around pretty good over the years.”

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5 Things We’ve Learned About Neil Gorsuch So Far

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I Went to a Town Hall Meeting in a County Ravaged by Opioids. What I Saw Broke My Heart.

Mother Jones

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This week I’m spending time in two counties in Northeast Ohio. Like so many places in the Rust Belt, Ashtabula and Trumbull counties have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic. I’m talking to people here about what the drugs have done to their communities. I’ll be tweeting about what I’m seeing.

Two weeks ago, Brian Reed read on Facebook that there had been another overdose in his hometown of Warren, Ohio—this one in a supermarket parking lot. Police warned residents of the Rust Belt town to avoid the area. “Prayers to the family,” Reed wrote in the comments section of the article.

Later that afternoon, two detectives knocked on the door to tell him that the victim was his son, David. The 29 year old had been the father of two, with another on the way.

David’s death was one of 16 fatal overdoses so far this March in Trumbull County, a monthly record in a northeast Ohio region that has been devastated by the spread of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid far more potent than morphine or heroin. The county is decidedly rural—farmland studded with small towns of chain stores and vacant mom-and-pop shops, country music, and sermons on the radio. On Monday night, 275 residents made the drive to a town hall about the epidemic. When asked who had lost a loved one to overdose, many people raised their hands.

The exact cocktail of drugs that killed David won’t be known for several more weeks; with so many deaths, there’s a backlog in toxicology testing. But all signs point to fentanyl: Increasingly, drug users checking into treatment are testing negative for heroin but positive for the synthetic opioid, said Dr. Daniel Brown, the chief medical officer of local drug treatment center Meridian Healthcare. “There’s no naturally occurring opiate in their system—it’s all fentanyl,” he said. “I don’t foresee us going back to having naturally occurring opiates such as heroin. It’s probably here to stay.”

After each overdose death in Trumbull County, Humphrey Garmaniuk, the county coroner, receives a phone call and his team examines the scene. “I did one this morning, he was found by his son,” he said. “I have a 31-year-old lady waiting for me tomorrow.”

Despite the barrage of bad news, there were some reasons to be hopeful. Due to an aggressive county-wide effort to distribute the overdose reversal drug naloxone to drug users and their families, 132 overdose victims were successfully revived by community members last year. Medication addiction treatments are increasingly available, said county mental health board executive director April Caraway. Brian Reed encouraged attendants to spread the word about Ohio’s Good Samaritan law, which protects those who call 911 in overdose cases from being arrested.

Participants asked questions on note cards: What kind of addiction treatment is best to start with? Are there support services for the children of users? Does using naloxone over and over just enable drug users? And, finally: “Story of hope: Beauty and beast. Daddy was the beast when he was doing drugs. Now he’s my prince. My father’s been clean for three years.”

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I Went to a Town Hall Meeting in a County Ravaged by Opioids. What I Saw Broke My Heart.

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