FROM Molly Reynolds
Senate healthcare bill: Reductions in medical care, cuts in taxes Republicans have promised to abolish Obamacare and cut taxes for the richest Americans. First the House, and now the Senate, would accomplish both at the same time… at the cost of shredding the safety net for millions of poor and elderly people. A few moderate Republicans say the Senate bill goes too far; some conservatives say it doesn't go far enough. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to find an acceptable balance to pass it by the end of next week. We look at the elements and get a progress report.
War on poverty or war against the poor? The White House budget request is called A New Foundation for American Greatness , in tune with the best-known slogan of the Trump campaign. Massive cuts in safety-net programs, from Medicaid to food stamps, are supposed to get people off the dole and into the workforce. Where are the jobs? Massive tax cuts for the wealthy are expected to trickle down and be offset by growth in the economy. It's a formula that hasn't worked before, and the Budget Director admits that $2 trillion in revenue has been double counted.
A Republican 'victory' that might not last With some help from the President, House Republicans have shown they can pass a bill, but the GOP still hasn't shown it can govern. Some Congressmen who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare didn't have time to read the measure. Some senators say they'll start over from scratch. Nobody knows what the House bill would cost or how many people would lose health insurance. It is clear that tax breaks would go to the wealthy. Democrats are already targeting Republicans for next year's mid-term elections. How confident should they be?
Lofty new rhetoric for a familiar message The President who's picked so many fights with so many people told Congress last night it's time for a change. "The time for trivial fights is behind us… Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope. Our citizens deserve this, and so much more – so why not join forces to finally get it done and get it done right?" Even some "Never Trump" hold -outs were impressed — but the bar was low for supporters who only hoped their President would act "presidential." The consensus is that he did, but without explaining how ambitious plans can be paid for or how to resolve conflicts with his own Republican Party in Congress. Has "Teleprompter Trump" replaced "Twitter Trump" for the long term — or just for a one-night stand?
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?