Tag Archives: republicans

Elon Musk Threatens to Ditch Trump’s Advisory Council Over Paris Climate Treaty Withdrawal

Mother Jones

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Amid news reports that President Donald Trump is preparing to pull the US out of the Paris climate treaty on Wednesday, Tesla CEO and member of Trump’s economic advisory council, Elon Musk, threatened to step down as an adviser if the president went through with the withdrawal.

Musk took to Twitter to insist he had done all he could to convince Trump to remain in the accord. When asked what he would do if his efforts went unheeded, the Tesla CEO said he would have no choice but to leave:

Musk is among a growing list of executives, Republicans, and oil industry leaders urging Trump to remain in the treaty that 195 countries have signed.

In December, Musk attracted widespread criticism for his decision to serve on Trump’s advisory team, which includes other heads of powerful companies such as Disney and Walmart. While he previously expressed reservations regarding Trump’s fitness for the Oval Office, Musk would later rationalize his decision to advise Trump as his effort to provide a “voice of reason” in the increasingly erratic administration.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer refused to confirm mounting reports of Trump’s plan to pull out of the agreement. When asked specifically about Musks’ threat, Spicer told reporters, “Let’s wait and see what the president’s decision is.”

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Elon Musk Threatens to Ditch Trump’s Advisory Council Over Paris Climate Treaty Withdrawal

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Less Liberal Contempt, Please

Mother Jones

Michael Tomasky writes today that elite liberals need to make peace with middle America. We need to be willing to welcome folks to our side of the aisle even if they don’t agree with every single liberal piety:

There are plenty of liberals out there in middle America, and plenty of liberalish moderates, and plenty of people who lean conservative but who aren’t consumed by rage and who think Barack Obama is a pretty cool guy and who might even have voted for him. These people are potential allies. But before the alliance can be struck, elite liberals need to recognize a fundamental truth: All of these people in middle America, even the actual liberals, have very different sensibilities than elite liberals who live on the coasts.

First of all, middle Americans go to church….Second, politics simply doesn’t consume middle Americans the way it does elites on the coasts….They talk kids, and local gossip, and pop culture, and sports….Third, their daily lives are pretty different from the lives of elite liberals. Few of them buy fair trade coffee or organic almond milk. Some of them served in the armed forces. Some of them own guns, and like to shoot them….Fourth, they’re patriotic in the way that most Americans are patriotic. They don’t feel self-conscious saluting the flag.

….We need to recognize that in vast stretches of this country, hewing to these positions doesn’t make someone a conservative.

There’s nothing especially new here. It’s basically the old problem of Reagan Democrats, which liberals have been wrestling with for a couple of generations. I’d argue that it has two fundamental origins.

First, the great sort. A century ago, hardly anyone had more than a high school education. Both of my grandfathers were plenty smart enough to go to college, but neither one did because they couldn’t afford it. (I don’t need to bother telling you about my grandmothers, do I?) Because of this, people of widely different intelligence mixed together all the time. There wasn’t really much choice.

After the war, that changed. College became widely available, and nearly everyone who was smart enough to go, did so. Thirty years later, their kids mostly went to college too. But among the postwar generation that didn’t go to college, their kids mostly didn’t either. Since then, there’s been yet another generation, and we’re now pretty solidly sorted out. Those of us with college degrees marry people who also have degrees. Our kids all go to college. Our friends all went to college. And we live in neighborhoods full of college grads because no one else can afford to live there.

On the other side, it’s just the opposite. Your average high school grad marries someone who’s also a high school grad. (If they get married at all.) Their kids are high school grads. Their friends are high school grads. And their neighborhoods are full of high school grads.

The two groups barely interact anymore. They don’t really want to, and they’re physically separated anyway. (More and more, they’re also geographically separated, as liberals cluster in cities and conservatives live everywhere else.)

Second, there’s the decline of unions. Fifty years ago, the working class commanded plenty of political respect simply because they had a lot of political power. No liberal in her right mind would think of condescending to them. They were a constituency to be courted, no matter what your personal feelings might be.

But young liberals in the 60s and 70s broke with the unions over the Vietnam War, and the unions broke with them over their counterculture lifestyle. This turned out to be a disaster for both sides, as Democrats lost votes and workers saw their unions decimated by their newfound allies in the Republican Party. By the time it was all over, liberals had little political reason to care about the working class and the working class still hated the hippies. Without the political imperative to stay in touch, liberals increasingly viewed middle America as a foreign culture: hostile, insular, vaguely racist/sexist/homophobic, and in thrall to charlatans.

By the early 90s this transformation was complete. On the liberal side, elites rarely interacted with working-class folks at all and had no political motivation to respect them. Republicans swooped in and paid at least lip service to working-class concerns, and that was enough. It didn’t put any more money in their pockets, but at least the Republicans didn’t sneer at their guns and their churches and their fatigue with rapid cultural change.

I don’t think there’s any good answer to the great sort. Certainly not anytime in the near future. But this affects Republicans too, so it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. The bigger problem, I think, is the decline of unions, which broke the political ties between working-class and middle-class liberals. There’s no realistic way that unions are going to make a comeback, which means that liberals need to come up with some other kind of working-class mass movement that can repair those ties. But what? This has been a pet topic of mine for years, but I’m no closer to an answer than I was when Reagan took office.

In the meantime, we can still try to do better. Rhetorically, the big issue dividing liberal elites and middle America is less the existence of different lifestyles, and more the feeling that lefties are implicitly lecturing them all the time. You are bad for eating factory-farmed meat. You are bad for enjoying football. You are bad for owning a gun. You are bad for driving an SUV. You are bad for not speaking the language of microaggressions and patriarchy and cultural appropriation. Liberals could go a long way toward solving this by being more positive about these things, rather than trying to make everyone feel guilty about all the things they enjoy.

Substantively, liberals might have to shift a little bit, but not by a lot. We don’t have to become pro-life, but we need to be more tolerant of folks who are a little uneasy about the whole subject. We don’t need to become Second Amendment zealots, but we should be more tolerant of folks who don’t want to be sneered at for keeping a gun around the house for self defense. We don’t need to tolerate racism, but we should stop badgering folks for not being able to express themselves in the currently approved language of wokeness.

It goes without saying—which is why I need to make sure to say it—that the whole point here is to broaden our appeal to people who are just a little bit on the conservative side of center. That is, persuadable, low-information folks who agree with us on some things but not on others. The hard-right conservatives are out of reach, and there’s no reason to try to appeal more to them.

In the same way that right-wing Republicans need to learn how to talk about women’s issues (see Akin, Todd), Democrats need to learn how to talk about middle America. No more deplorables. No more clinging to guns and religion. Less swarming over every tin-eared comment on race.

In general, just less contempt. Does it matter that working-class folks often display the same contempt toward us? Nope. As any good lefty knows, contempt from the powerful is a whole different thing than contempt from the powerless. We need to do better regardless of what anyone else does.

Can we do it? It’s worth a try.

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Less Liberal Contempt, Please

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Obamacare Is Pretty Stable — Unless Republicans Cripple It

Mother Jones

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The CSR subsidies that President Trump keeps threatening to kill are pretty important:

Here in California, our insurance commissioner has asked all health insurers for two sets of rate hike requests: one that assumes the CSR subsidies continue and one that assumes they don’t. We won’t get the rate requests for several weeks, but I expect that we’ll see the same kind of difference. At a guess, average rate increase requests will be around 6 percent with CSR and 15 percent without.

Just to be crystal clear about this: What this means is that if Republicans stop screwing around with CSR, rate hikes nationwide would probably be in the 5-10 percent range, which is fairly normal. It also shows that the market has started to stabilize after last year’s big increases. The only reason we’re likely to see another year of big increases is because of a deliberate campaign to undermine the Obamacare market by Republicans.

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Obamacare Is Pretty Stable — Unless Republicans Cripple It

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Brennan: CIA Was Original Source of Trump-Russia Investigation

Mother Jones

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How did the FBI’s investigation into the Trump-Russia connection get started, anyway? Former CIA director John Brennan says he was the one who got the ball rolling:

I encountered . . . intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” Brennan said, adding that he did not see conclusive evidence of collusion but feared that Trump associates were wittingly or unwittingly being used to advance the interests of Moscow.

….Brennan testified that he was disturbed by intelligence that surfaced last year showing a pattern of contacts between Russian agents or representatives and people with links to the Trump campaign. “That raised concerns in my mind,” Brennan said….With that remark, Brennan appeared to identify the point of origin of the FBI investigation that began in July — the first time a U.S. official has provided insight into what prompted the bureau probe.

That’s from the Washington Post. Brennan was testifying before Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the New York Times adds this disheartening tidbit:

On Aug. 4, as evidence of that campaign mounted, Mr. Brennan warned Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., not to meddle in the election. Not only would interference damage relations between the two countries, he said, it was certain to backfire.

“I said that all Americans, regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election, cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption,” Mr. Brennan said. “I said American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in election.”

Mr. Brennan’s warning proved futile. Though intelligence agencies are unanimous in their belief that Russia directly interfered with the election, it has become a divisive partisan issue, with Democrats far more likely than Republicans to accept the conclusion. President Trump has declared that “Russia is fake news” and tried to undermine the conclusions of his own intelligence services.

I don’t blame Brennan for thinking that Russian interference in the election would outrage everyone regardless of party. I suppose I might have thought the same thing. But it ain’t so anymore:

As always, click the link for the whole story.

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Brennan: CIA Was Original Source of Trump-Russia Investigation

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There’s No Way Republicans Will Truly Confront Trump on His Scandals. It Would Destroy Their Party.

Mother Jones

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Following the explosive report that President Donald Trump leaned on then-FBI director James Comey to go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn—and the explosive report that Trump’s transition team knew Flynn was under FBI investigation when Trump tapped him to be his top national security aide—an increasing number of congressional Republicans have begun to accept the need for full-scale investigations along with the appointment of Robert Mueller as the new special counsel to examine the Trump-Russia affair. But party leaders have not reached the point where they are willing to truly confront the scandal-plagued president. The GOP establishment can’t and won’t thoroughly challenge Trump over the assorted controversies brewing within his chaotic administration. To do so would risk a nuclear civil war that could blow their party to smithereens.

Ever since Trump moved into the White House, liberals (and others) have plaintively asked, why aren’t Republicans fiercely investigating Trump and his crew and seeking to hold them accountable for various instances of improbity? There’s been plenty to choose from: the Trump-Russia scandal, the smorgasbord of financial conflicts of interests involving Trump and his family members in and out of government, other possible ethics violations (including nepotistic hiring), the ever-widening Michael Flynn affair, and so on. In the wake of Trump’s firing of Comey, the guy in charge of a FBI investigation that could land on Trump’s doorstep, and the subsequent report (denied by the White House) that Trump pressured Comey on Flynn, some GOPers on Capitol Hill have gently called for probes into these matters. But by and large, Republican leaders have not dared to take on Trump vigorously. “The last thing I’m going to do is pre-judge anything,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday.

One reason Republicans have been reticent to criticize Trump is obvious: they care more about working with—that is, using—Trump to attain their most beloved policy desires: generous tax breaks for the wealthy, draconian budget cuts for government programs (including those that assist low- and middle-income Americans), and the repeal-and-replace-or-whatever of Obamacare. But there’s a related reason: if congressional Republicans were to challenge Trump in forceful fashion, it could destroy the GOP.

Pop quiz: who’s the most vengeful politician on the scene today? Yes, it’s Trump. As I reported before Election Day, Trump is completely obsessed with revenge. For years, Trump often said in paid speeches that a key to success is that you have to be a merciless SOB when dealing with foes. Here’s how he spelled it out: “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it.” Another time, he elaborated:

One of the things you should do in terms of success: If somebody hits you, you’ve got to hit ’em back five times harder than they ever thought possible. You’ve got to get even. Get even. And the reason, the reason you do, is so important…The reason you do, you have to do it, because if they do that to you, you have to leave a telltale sign that they just can’t take advantage of you. It’s not so much for the person, which does make you feel good, to be honest with you, I’ve done it many times. But other people watch and you know they say, “Well, let’s leave Trump alone,” or “Let’s leave this one,” or “Doris, let’s leave her alone. They fight too hard.” I say it, and it’s so important. You have to, you have to hit back. You have to hit back.

With the president showing signs of narcissism and paranoia—on Tuesday, he declared, “No politician in history…has been treated worse or more unfairly” than he has been—Republican politicians who dare to confront Trump can expect to be targeted and mowed down by Trump.

Prior to the recent Comey and Flynn controversies, many GOPers were scared of Trump. A House Democrat a few weeks ago told me of a conversation he had with a Republican colleague whom he was close to persuading to sponsor a piece of legislation that would likely be popular in the GOPer’s district but not fancied by the Trump White House. “I just can’t do it,” the Republican finally admitted to the Democrat. “He’ll come after me on Twitter.” The wrath of Trump was something this Republican feared deeply—just over a policy disagreement.

Imagine if Republicans squared off against Trump regarding a matter involving his integrity—or one that could pose an existential threat to his presidency. (Examining the Comey issues as possible acts of obstruction of justice could well lead to the question of impeachment.) Trump certainly would not consider such action kindly. And if he were going to screw them back 10 times as hard, what would that mean for congressional Republicans?

It would be quite improbable that a raging and revenge-seeking Trump would be able to collaborate with Republicans on legislative priorities. What would be more important for Trump: working with Republicans to achieve tax reform or extracting payback?

If the going gets tougher, Trump will insist on fealty from his fellow Republicans. Yet if some opt to join the forces of investigation, a dividing line would be created within the party: you’re with Trump, or you’re not. Of course, Trump and his minions would be keeping score. During the the first and chaotic effort of House Republicans to gut Obamacare, the Trump White House considered compiling an enemies list of those GOPers who opposed the Trump-backed bill. Republicans who threatened his presidency could expect much worse than being placed on a roster of unfriendlies.

This is far more than an inside-Washington affair. Trump’s base is the party’s base. Despite all the screw-ups, false assertions, broken promises, and flip-flops of Trump’s still young (but exhausting) presidency, he remains hugely popular among Republicans—84 percent of Republicans still approve of Trump in the latest Gallup poll—who presumably buy his “fake news” attacks on media reports that cast him as an autocratic, truth-challenged, and bumbling president. If Republicans on Capitol Hill turn against Trump they could well encounter the fury of their most dependable voters. In the fight for the soul of the party, could GOP leaders (Washington insiders!) best the demagogic Trump? Sen. Mitch McConnell or Rep. Paul Ryan would be no match for him. The idea of a President Pence would likely be little consolation for the base during a clash between Republicans and Trump.

The Republican establishment has already demonstrated that political calculations, not principles, are its driving force. And one calculation is easy to process: if the GOP breaks rank with Trump on any of these scandals, there will be no turning back. An irate (and irrational?) Trump would demand retribution. A base already suspicious of GOP insiders could become furious. Tax cuts and the like would be at risk. The party itself would be endangered. Of course, as is so often noted, if the Republicans start to feel Trump-related electoral pain—say, they lose one of the upcoming special House elections in GOP-leaning districts—they might reevaluate their situational loyalty to Trump. But the smart ones know the costs of such a course—even if necessary for survival—could be exceedingly high.

There is no good answer for congressional Republicans facing the dilemma of what to do about Trump. They long ago decided to lash themselves to a man with a decades-long record of dishonesty, arrogance, bullying, sleazy deal-making, and score-settling. There are no easy escape routes. No convenient off-ramps. No lifeboats on this ship. He made the bed, and they leaped into it. (Oh, Donald!) Now they’re screwed. The old cliché is that you don’t go after the king unless you can kill the king. But for Republicans, the situation is worse that that: it may not be possible for them to battle their king without razing their kingdom.

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There’s No Way Republicans Will Truly Confront Trump on His Scandals. It Would Destroy Their Party.

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Senate Republicans Are Arguing About How Badly to Screw the Poor

Mother Jones

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Medicaid doesn’t get a lot of attention in the debate over Trumpcare, but it’s likely that more people would be affected by Medicaid cuts than by any other single part of the bill. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Senate conservatives still aren’t satisfied:

Some conservative Senate Republicans, such as Mike Lee, want to immediately start phasing back federal money for expansion enrollees, a process that would take 10 years….Conservatives also hope to use a different formula to calculate federal Medicaid funding that would mean less money for states. The House bill would slash an estimated $839 billion from Medicaid over the next 10 years, according to the CBO. Senate conservatives want to change federal funding of Medicaid in part by pegging it to a different inflation measure, which long term would mean less generous payments to the states than under the House GOP bill.

….Centrist GOP senators are on board with some Medicaid cuts but disagree over how best to implement them. Some say the House plan to halt federal funding for new expansion enrollees in 2020 is too harsh and want a longer sunset of the program.

Nearly a quarter of all Americans depend on Medicaid as their primary (or only) source of health coverage. That’s the American health care system for you. Nonetheless, of course Republican centrists are on board with “some” Medicaid cuts. They only want to quibble over whether 10 million poor people should be tossed out of the program by 2026 or if it would be more humane to toss out 9 million poor people by 2028. Decisions, decisions.

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Senate Republicans Are Arguing About How Badly to Screw the Poor

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Republicans Pass Trumpcare, Then Go Into Hiding

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It’s been a longtime complaint of mine that Democrats have been so lackluster in the support of Obamacare. But that’s nothing. After watching Republicans dash for the exits after passing Trumpcare, here’s how I now think of Democratic enthusiasm for Obamacare:

After voting to pass Trumpcare, Republicans are practically scurrying to find rocks to hide under. They don’t want to talk to reporters and they don’t want to hold townhalls for their constituents. You’d think they’d all be proud of their votes. But it sure doesn’t seem like it. Funny, isn’t it?

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Republicans Pass Trumpcare, Then Go Into Hiding

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How to Pass a Thousand-Year Tax Cut

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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.

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How to Pass a Thousand-Year Tax Cut

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Trump Brought the War on Women Mainstream in His First 100 Days

Mother Jones

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When a video of Donald Trump boasting about grabbing women “by the pussy” leaked a month before the 2016 presidential election and his party seemed on the cusp of rejecting him, onlookers wondered whether his apparent admission of sexual assault might have finally crossed a line with voters. But conservatives who were reassured by his promises to roll back reproductive rights turned a blind eye to the sexual-assault claims.

With those concerns about his electability far behind him, as president Trump has made good on his assurances. He may have discussed child care and other so-called family-friendly policies, but in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, the country has seen an unprecedented rollback of many hard-won reproductive rights. Trump has pushed to defund Planned Parenthood, appointed a Supreme Court justice who he promised would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, and cut off US aide for family-planning services globally. States have also ridden the Trump wave: 1,053 measures—both restrictive and proactive—have been introduced in state legislatures in 2017 alone.

Women have not been passive in the face of these setbacks. They came out in droves to protest Trump’s inauguration during the Women’s March the day after his inauguration. Eleven-thousand women have told Emily’s List, an organization that gets pro-choice women elected to office, that they want to run for something next year, compared with 900 last year. And women already in positions of power have taken Trump to task on his Cabinet nominees, his travel ban, and his environmental policies.

But if his first 100 days as president are any indication, the three-plus years ahead will be grueling for women in the United States and abroad. Here’s what’s happened so far.

Planned Parenthood

In the weeks following Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, his daughter Ivanka took the unexpected step of reaching out to Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to request a meeting. On the campaign trail, her father had promised to “defund” the women’s health care provider by prohibiting low-income patients from using their Medicaid coverage for care at Planned Parenthood clinics because the group also performs abortions.

Richards sought to explain to Ivanka Trump that Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood don’t fund abortions, but instead go to other forms of reproductive health care—cancer screenings, pap smears, contraception, and more—because of the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited the use of federal funds for almost all abortions for more than 40 years.

But in the months following the meeting, the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress launched an offensive against Planned Parenthood. Bills proposing to prohibit the use of Medicaid by patients at Planned Parenthood were introduced in both the House and the Senate and are still awaiting a vote. A week after Trump’s inauguration, audio was leaked of a closed-door meeting where Republicans voiced concerns about the political repercussions of defunding a women’s health organization that’s popular even among Trump voters. A month later, Trump tried to cut an informal deal with Planned Parenthood: keep your funding, maybe even increase it, if you stop providing abortions. The women’s health organization rejected the idea. Soon after, the Trump administration’s Obamacare repeal bill was introduced, including a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. That bill failed, but the revised version of the repeal bill, introduced by Republicans this week, contains the same provision and is still awaiting a vote.

Another administration effort to kneecap Planned Parenthood’s funding, however, was more successful. A bill allowing states to withhold Title X family-planning funds from health care providers that offer abortion, like Planned Parenthood, passed both chambers of Congress in February and March. Title X grants help fund nonabortion services such as contraception for low-income women, and more than one-third of the 4 million patients who use Title X each year receive care at Planned Parenthood.

Vice President Mike Pence was essential to that bill’s passage. After two GOP senators voted against the bill, Republicans were forced to whisk in the vice president to cast a tie-breaking Senate vote to advance the legislation. In April, Trump signed the bill into law in a private ceremony, an uncharacteristically publicity-shy moment for a president who has seemed to relish in the public spectacle of his other signings.

State restrictions

Trump’s election greatly emboldened anti-abortion state legislatures to propose measures that restrict women’s access to the medical procedure. His win came months after the Supreme Court ruled last June on the biggest abortion rights case since Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt reaffirmed a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, a ruling that made restricting access through TRAP laws—or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers—a violation of a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

It was hailed as a massive win for reproductive rights advocates, but Trump’s victory and Republican-dominated statehouses reinvigorated both abortion opponents and abortion rights advocates who collectively have proposed 1,053 state-level provisions regarding women’s reproductive health in 2017. Thus far, 18 abortion restrictions have been enacted at the state level, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank. Twenty-two states have potential legislation on deck to ban abortion in most cases outright—four of these are bans known as “trigger laws,” meaning they would automatically become state law should Roe v. Wade be overturned in the Supreme Court. And despite the Supreme Court ruling just last year, 30 states have introduced TRAP legislation in the hopes that a new justice would tip the scales should another challenge to the constitutionality of those laws arise.

Also trending in anti-abortion state legislatures this year are fetal burial laws, which require tissue extracted from the uterus after an abortion to be buried rather than disposed of as medical waste, creating additional costs and burdens for providers; religious liberty protections for crisis pregnancy centers—in Oklahoma; counseling that relies on anti-scientific information to persuade women that medication abortion can be reversed—in Indiana; personhood bills that endow a fetus or an embryo as a person with full rights under the Constitution—in Iowa and North Carolina; and waiting periods between the initial medical evaluation and the actual abortion procedure—in Colorado. Ohio and Kentucky passed laws banning abortions after 20 weeks, and Pennsylvania and Montana are considering similar bills, as are others.

Weakening Roe v. Wade

Years before running for president, Trump said that, despite his personal dislike of abortion, he was “pro-choice in every respect” and that abortion “is a personal decision that should be left to women and their doctors.” But in recent years, the reality TV star turned politician has said he no longer supports abortion access. During his presidential campaign, Trump’s stance remained anti-abortion with the then-candidate saying that the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that women had a constitutional right to an abortion under the 14th Amendment, will happen, automatically,” should he be elected and have the chance to appoint justices to the nation’s highest court. In the months after his election, anti-abortion advocates have argued that he will make good on that promise.

But overturning Roe will be a complicated task and is likely one of the hardest goals for Trump to actually achieve. The Supreme Court recently affirmed women’s constitutional right to abortion without undue burden in its Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision last June, and it will likely take years before another challenge makes its way to the Supreme Court. For the court to decide to completely overturn Roe, it would need to reject more than four decades of settled precedent.

Still, there are ways that Trump can begin laying the groundwork for overturning the landmark ruling. He has consistently promised to place “pro-life justices on the US Supreme Court,” and while some anti-abortion advocates argued that his pool of potential picks weren’t sufficiently conservative, there is still plenty for them to like about Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment, Neil Gorsuch. Since being appointed to the circuit court by George W. Bush in 2006, Gorsuch has taken conservative stances on reproductive issues—recently he wrote the dissenting opinion in a ruling that blocked Utah from defunding Planned Parenthood.

During his time on the appellate court, Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s effort to fight against the Obamacare rule requiring companies to include contraception coverage in their health insurance plans. While Gorsuch is likely to be a strong voice in favor of pro-life advocates, as a successor to Antonin Scalia, he will not drastically shift the balance of the court. But if Anthony Kennedy, a frequent swing vote, or a more liberal justice like Ruth Bader Ginsburg vacates their seat in the next few years, Trump would have an opportunity to move the Supreme Court in a decidedly anti-Roe direction.

States also play a large role in determining what will happen. While the Supreme Court’s newest member adjusts to being on the bench, conservative-led legislatures have remained undaunted in their efforts to get another abortion rights case before the courts. Abortion restrictions, particularly the emergence of bans before fetal viability, have become some of the biggest sources of a potential court challenge. As Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, said in a recent interview with Mother Jones, some states “are thinking about being the state that overturns Roe v. Wade, and the way to do that is to adopt something like a 6-week abortion ban or a 20-week abortion ban and then send that up through the courts.”

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Trump Brought the War on Women Mainstream in His First 100 Days

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Paul Ryan Isn’t Even Trying to Pass a Health Care Bill Anymore

Mother Jones

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The LA Times reports that House Republicans have steadfastly refused to reach out to Democrats in an effort to pass their health care bill. This is no surprise. They’re well aware of how they suckered Democrats in 2009, killing months of time in “talks” even though none of them ever planned to support Obamacare. They figure Democrats would do the same to them, and they’re right.

But then we get this:

And senior House Republicans and White House officials have almost completely shut out doctors, hospitals, patient advocates and others who work in the healthcare system, industry officials say, despite pleas from many healthcare leaders to seek an alternative path that doesn’t threaten protections for tens of millions of Americans.

….Health insurers, who initially found House Republicans and Trump administration officials open to suggestions for improving insurance markets, say it is increasingly difficult to have realistic discussions, according to numerous industry officials. “They’re not interested in how health policy actually works,” said one insurance company official, who asked not to be identified discussing conversations with GOP officials. “It’s incredibly frustrating.”

Another longtime healthcare lobbyist, who also did not want to be identified criticizing Republicans, said he’d never seen legislation developed with such disregard for expert input. “It is totally divorced from reality,” he said.

It’s increasingly obvious that Republicans aren’t actually trying to pass a health care bill. They just want to be able to tell their base that they tried. And President Trump wants to erase the taste of defeat from the first health care bill.

If House Republicans were serious, they’d engage with the health care industry. They haven’t. If they were serious they’d care about the CBO score. They don’t. If they were serious they’d be crafting a bill that could pass Senate reconciliation rules. They aren’t even trying. If Senate Republicans were serious they’d be weighing in with a bill of their own. They aren’t wasting their time.

In the beginning, I think Paul Ryan really did want to pass something, mainly so that it would make his tax cut plan easier to pass. But he’s given up on that. At this point he just wants a piece of paper that gets 218 votes and demonstrates that the Republican caucus isn’t hopelessly inept. He knows it will be DOA in the Senate, but at least it will get health care off his plate once and for all. Then he can move on to cutting taxes on the rich, which is what he really cares about. And he’ll have no trouble rounding up votes for that.

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Paul Ryan Isn’t Even Trying to Pass a Health Care Bill Anymore

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