Don’t sugarcoat this. Trump just called for 32 million people to lose health coverage.

By Greg Sargent

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

 

THE MORNING PLUM:

President Trump’s profound ignorance about policy and the inner workings of our system, and his total disinterest in informing himself about these topics, have produced an unfortunate result: Many of his tweets about matters of substance tend to get ignored as Trump just being Trump. Meanwhile, the viscerally disgusting insults (such as the one claiming Mika Brzezinski bled from her face-lift) make international news.

But Trump’s tweet this morning about health care actually does matter, a lot:

This is getting a lot of attention today, but mainly as a call for Republicans to adopt a particular legislative strategy. As such, it makes little sense: Republicans are struggling to find 50 votes for their current repeal-and-replace bill, with many moderates balking, so it’s hard to see how outright repeal could get a bare majority.

Beyond this, though, it’s worth taking Trump’s tweet as an actual policy statement. Trump has now called for total repeal of the Affordable Care Act, with no guarantee of any specific replacement later, or even a guarantee that any replacement would ever materialize at all.

It’s hard to estimate what would happen if Republicans did act on this and Trump signed it. Republicans probably wouldn’t be able to repeal some key portions of the Affordable Care Act — particularly its insurance-market regulations — via a simple majority “reconciliation” vote. But they could theoretically repeal things with a budgetary orientation, such as the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies to lower-income people why buy insurance on the exchanges.

We can estimate the impact of repealing those things. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office has already done so, when it analyzed a previous version of a GOP repeal bill over a year ago. And that analysis found that repealing those things would result in 32 million people losing coverage by 2026, 19 million of them people who would lose Medicaid coverage.

This is unequivocally what Trump has now called for. And it is substantially worse than what is currently being debated in the Senate, which would result in 22 million people losing coverage over 10 years, 15 million of them from Medicaid, per the CBO.

“When Republicans floated their repeal bill back in 2016, CBO concluded that 32 million people would lose coverage, relative to the current baseline, by 2026,” Nicholas Bagley, a health policy expert at the University of Michigan, emailed me today. “Fully 19 million people would be kicked off of Medicaid. Those coverage losses are even grimmer than the losses from the House and Senate bills that are currently under discussion.”

Whether Trump meant this or not, or even knew what he was calling for, are irrelevant. That’s because it could theoretically happen. In fact, conservative senators such as Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ben Sasse of Nebraska are actively calling on fellow Republicans to go forward with repeal alone right now. Sasse doubled down by tweeting an endorsement of Trump’s demand.

Trump, it pains me to inform you, is the president. When he calls on Congress to do something, he is basically saying that he would sign it if they did do it. There is no reason to treat this as trivial or frivolous simply because Trump is an ignoramus and a buffoon. Indeed, Republicans have in fact voted for repeal multiple times in the past. The only reason they aren’t doing so right now is because repeal cannot pass, now that there is a Republican in the White House who would actually sign such a bill. (Yes, Trump would sign such a bill in two seconds. He called for one today, remember?)

In this sense, Trump’s tweet is actually kind of useful. It reveals once again that Republicans have been running a massive scam on Obamacare for years. They constantly fulminated for repeal, and voted repeatedly for it, in the full knowledge that President Barack Obama would veto it and that they would not face the consequences of their rhetoric and vote. The promise of unspecified replacements allowed Republicans to claim they would act to make sure millions didn’t lose coverage, without saying how. But now that repeal could become a reality, they are no longer willing to vote for it, because they would be held accountable for those consequences. By calling for straight-up repeal right now, Trump has inadvertently called their bluff.

Indeed, it’s not even clear that Senate Republicans can pass repeal and replace, because it has become obvious that even this would result in many millions losing health coverage, extracting an immense human toll that is now a genuine possibility. Moderate Republican senators have conceded this to be the case, and their seemingly genuine qualms about this constitute a pleasant surprise. But Republicans who have no serious misgivings about such an awful outcome have resorted, for political reasons, to all manner of lies and obfuscation to obscure this reality.

This includes Trump and the White House, who have dissembled relentlessly about how their plan would leave everybody covered and wouldn’t cut Medicaid at all. But now Trump has confirmed that he is indeed for full repeal, full stop — which would result in 32 million fewer covered — without any guaranteed “replacement” providing any cover to advance the lie that millions wouldn’t lose coverage. Trump has unmasked his own scam.

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Donald Trump Is Proving Too Stupid to Be President

“You know, I’m like a smart person.” Uh huh.

 (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

BY MAX BOOT   [foreignpolicy.com]

I’m starting to suspect that Donald Trump may not have been right when he said, “You know, I’m like a smart person.” The evidence continues to mount that he is far from smart — so far, in fact, that he may not be capable of carrying out his duties as president.

There is, for example, the story of how Trump met with the pastors of two major Presbyterian churches in New York. “I did very, very well with evangelicals in the polls,” he bragged. When the pastors told Trump they weren’t evangelicals, he demanded to know, “What are you then?” They told him they were mainline Presbyterians. “But you’re all Christians?” he asked. Yes, they had to assure him, Presbyterians are Christians. The kicker: Trump himself is Presbyterian.

Or the story of how Trump asked the editors of the Economist whether they had ever heard of the phrase “priming the pump.” Yes, they assured him, they had. “I haven’t heard it,” Trump continued. “I mean, I just … I came up with it a couple of days ago, and I thought it was good.” The phrase has been in widespread use since at least the 1930s.

Or the story of how, after arriving in Israel from Saudi Arabia, Trump told his hosts, “We just got back from the Middle East.”

These aren’t examples of stupidity, you may object, but of ignorance. This has become a favorite talking point of Trump’s enablers. House Speaker Paul Ryan, for example, excused Trump’s attempts to pressure FBI Director James Comey into dropping a criminal investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on the grounds that “the president’s new at this” and supposedly didn’t realize that he was doing anything wrong. But Trump has been president for nearly five months now, and he has shown no capacity to learn on the job.

More broadly, Trump has had a lifetime — 71 years — and access to America’s finest educational institutions (he’s a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, he never tires of reminding us) to learn things. And yet he doesn’t seem to have acquired even the most basic information that a high school student should possess. Recall that Trump said that Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, was “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.” He also claimed that Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War, “was really angry that he saw what was happening in regard to the Civil War.”

Why does he know so little? Because he doesn’t read books or even long articles. “I never have,” he proudly told a reporter last year. “I’m always busy doing a lot.” As president, Trump’s intelligence briefings have been dumbed down, denuded of nuance, and larded with maps and pictures because he can’t be bothered to read a lot of words. He’d rather play golf.

The surest indication of how not smart Trump is that he thinks his inability or lack of interest in acquiring knowledge doesn’t matter. He said last year that he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.”

How’s that working out? There’s a reason why surveys show more support for Trump’s impeachment than for his presidency. From his catastrophically ill-conceived executive order on immigration to his catastrophically ill-conceived firing of Comey, his administration has been one disaster after another. And those fiascos can be ascribed directly to the president’s lack of intellectual horsepower.

How could Trump fire Comey knowing that the FBI director could then testify about the improper requests Trump had made to exonerate himself and drop the investigation of Flynn? And in case there was any doubt about Trump’s intent, he dispelled it by acknowledging on TV that he had the “Russia thing” in mind when firing the FBI director. That’s tantamount to admitting obstruction of justice. Is this how a smart person behaves? If Trump decides to fire the widely respected special counsel Robert Mueller, he will only be compounding this stupidity.

Or what about Trump’s response to the June 3 terrorist attack in London? He reacted by tweeting his support for the “original Travel Ban,” rather than the “watered down, politically correct version” under review by the Supreme Court. Legal observers — including Kellyanne Conway’s husband — instantly saw that Trump was undermining his own case, because the travel ban had been revised precisely in order to pass judicial scrutiny. Indeed, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in refusing to reinstate the travel ban on June 12, cited Trump’s tweets against him. Is this how a smart person behaves?

You could argue that Trump’s lack of acumen is actually his saving grace, because he would be much more dangerous if he were cleverer in implementing his radical agenda. But you can also make the case that his vacuity is imperiling American security.

Trump shared “code-word information” with Russia’s foreign minister, apparently without realizing what he was doing. In the process, he may have blown America’s best source of intelligence on Islamic State plots — a top-secret Israeli penetration of the militant group’s computers.

Trump picked a fight on Twitter with Qatar, apparently not knowing that this small, oil-rich emirate is host to a major U.S. air base that is of vital importance in the air war against the Islamic State.

Trump criticized London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, based on a blatant misreading of what Khan said in the aftermath of the June 3 attack: The mayor had said there was “no reason to be alarmed” about a heightened police presence on the streets — not, as Trump claimed, about the threat of terrorism. In the process, Trump has alienated British public opinion and may have helped the anti-American Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, win votes in Britain’s general election.

Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord apparently because he thinks that global warming — a scientifically proven fact — is a hoax. His speech announcing the pullout demonstrated that he has no understanding of what the Paris accord actually is — a nonbinding compact that does not impose any costs on the United States.

Trump failed to affirm Article V, a bedrock of NATO, during his visit to Brussels, apparently because he labors under the misapprehension that European allies owe the United States and NATO “vast sums of money.” In fact, NATO members are now increasing their defense spending, but the money will not go to the United States or to the alliance; it will go to their own armed forces. Trump has since said he supports Article V, but his initial hesitation undermines American credibility and may embolden Russia.

Trump supporters used to claim that sage advisors could make up for his shortcomings. But he is proving too willful and erratic to be steered by those around him who know better. As Maggie Haberman of the New York Times notes: “Trump doesn’t want to be controlled. In [the] campaign, [he] would often do [the] opposite of what he was advised to do, simply because it was opposite.”

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet certify that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” he can be removed with the concurrence of two-thirds of both houses. That won’t happen, because Republicans are too craven to stand up to Trump. But on the merits perhaps it should. After nearly five months in office, Trump has given no indication that he possesses the mental capacity to be president.

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NBC: Trump’s lawyer has hired his own lawyer

  • Cohen is expected to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee.
 [cnbc.com]
Stephanie Keith / Reuters
Michael Cohen, attorney for The Trump Organization, arrives at Trump Tower in New York City, U.S. January 17, 2017.

President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer Michael Cohen has hired his own lawyer, NBC News reports.

Cohen has hired Stephen Ryan, of McDermott, Will & Emery. Trump’s lawyer is said to be testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee on September 5, NBC News reported.

This story is developing and will continue to be updated.

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Donald Trump doesn’t get the special counsel investigation. And he’s never going to.

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump has, throughout his life, had one setting when it comes to stories he doesn’t like: Attack, pivot, declare victory.

From his rise in Manhattan social circles to his career as a real estate developer to his time as a reality TV star, he’s always employed these same basic tactics. If someone writes or says something Trump doesn’t like, he either threatens to or actually sues while simultaneously pushing out a counter-narrative aimed at discrediting the initial report and turning the story toward more favorable ground for him.
Everything is to be treated as a tabloid story that can be shaped, changed, rebutted, knocked down and torn apart though force of will — and words.
It’s worked remarkably well for Trump. And so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that he’s brought that blueprint to Washington with him.
Except that the White House — and the political and legal worlds it touches — isn’t the same thing that Trump is used to facing. Not at all. The rules governing this world aren’t the rules of the tabloids of New York City media. Bob Mueller isn’t some “Page Six” reporter.
Trump doesn’t seem to have even the slightest understanding of that distinction. His twin tweets Thursday morning make that point better than I ever could.
“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice,” Trump tweeted at 6:55 a.m. ET. He quickly followed that tweet with this one: “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA”
This isn’t the first time that Trump has employed such over-the-top rhetoric to describe the special counsel investigation being led by Mueller, a former FBI director. On May 18, Trump tweeted something very similar to what he said this morning: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” Trump wrote.
This is standard-issue stuff in the Trump playbook. When attacked, attack back — harder. Go after the story in big, broad ways — “total hoax” is one way Trump has described the federal investigation — and assume that the average person won’t consume enough details or follow it closely enough to see whether you’re right or wrong.
But this investigation isn’t anything like what Trump has faced before. He can’t simply say this is all a “witch hunt” or a “hoax” and have it disappear. Short of firing Mueller, which seems to me incredibly unlikely — particularly after the leak of the obstruction investigation — Trump can’t stop it. The investigation will proceed no matter what Trump says about it or who involved in it he calls names. It will also, eventually, reach some conclusions about the nature of Russia’s hacking of the election and whether or not there was any collusion in that effort by any member of the Trump campaign.
That train has already left the station. And Trump’s ability to derail it is decidedly limited.
That doesn’t mean Trump’s use of his tried and true “attack, pivot, declare victory” strategy against Mueller and the special counsel investigation won’t have any impact.
The more Trump casts the investigation as biased and unfairly targeted at him, the more his supporters will believe that it is. Which means that if Trump either fires Mueller — again, that is so hard to imagine — or works to discredit the final conclusions of the special counsel, there will be a ready bloc of his supporters eager to adopt and spread that message.
“I told you this whole special counsel was a witch hunt,” you can imagine Trump saying to nods from his supporters. “Of course they concluded I was in the wrong. They had decided that before they even started investigating. We need to drain the swamp and make America great again.”
That line will work with his supporters. But it won’t change the underlying facts Mueller unearths — and the reverberations they could cause among everyone outside of Trump’s most loyal backers.
Trump is a blunt instrument. He knows one way of doing things. And that way has always worked for him. But this investigation is both more serious than anything Trump has faced before.
Almost everyone grasps that. Everyone except Donald John Trump, that is.

GOP Strategist Blasts Trump Supporters Over Unquestioning Loyalty: ‘Embrace His Utter F*cking Degeneracy’

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 7.33.12 AM

GOP strategist Rick Wilson put up a blistering tweetstorm on Monday night, ripping into the “clickservatives, Trump fellators, fanboys, grunting MAGA mouthbreathers” who offer unconditional support to President Trump.

Wilson took notice of how NewsMax CEO Chris Ruddy announced that the president is thinking about firing Robert Mueller as the special counsel for the ongoing investigations into Russia’s election meddling. Wilson agrees with Ruddy that firing Mueller would be a major misstep for Trump, though Wilson doubted that the president’s supporters would care because crushing their political enemies is the only thing that matters, regardless of the consequences or fallout.

To that end, Wilson wrote that Trump supporters should just stop pretending to care about the law or political precedent, and swear fealty to what they are truly loyal to:

Certainly one of the better tweetstorms we’ve seen!