David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the “tough guy” stance that President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis are taking in deterring further chemical attacks in Syria. They dive into the complications surrounding the healthcare debate, as Mitch McConnell scraps the vote on the most recent GOP bill and many of the Republicans opposed believe the government should be doing more. Finally, they discuss the PC complaints that the new Dunkirk film — a historical World War II drama — is “too white,” even though the vast majority of soldiers involved were white.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss the resignation of three CNN reporters after the redaction of a deceptive story on a top Trump advisor. They also express frustration over the tactics of Senate Republicans as the debate over the new healthcare bill escalates.Then, they decry the double standard, as it provides little coverage of the FBI’s bank fraud investigation of Bernie Sanders’ wife. And they defend John McEnroe’s controversial comments on NPR that while Serena Williams is the best women’s player of all time, she would struggle greatly on the men’s tour.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate with the pro-life community over the news that a California court is dropping 14 of 15 charges against activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, whose undercover videos show Planned Parenthood illegally selling aborted baby body parts. They also express concern over the FBI’s reluctance to state that the Alexandria shooter was politically motivated. And they discuss reports that German police are raiding homes and interrogating people over controversial social media posts.
The chairman of the House of Representatives’ powerful tax writing committee says the tax reform blueprint laid out by President Trump last week is “exciting” and predicts enactment will lead to stronger businesses and more financially secure families.
Trump’s economic team laid out the administration’s principles on Wednesday, including a call for the corporate tax rate to drop from almost 40 percent down to 15 percent, a doubling of the standard individual deduction, and creating just three tax brackets instead of seven.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, loves that Trump is going bold on tax reform.
“This is very exciting,” said Brady. “Americans saw something they haven’t seen in 30 years, which is a president willing to lead on tax reform and committed to working with the House and Senate. We want to get this done this year.”
“We only get one chance in a generation to do this, and like Reagan, we have to go bold to do it,” said Brady.
But Brady is not in a tremendous rush. He says the process needs to play out in the weeks ahead.
“Beginning [this] week, we’re going to roll up our sleeves, sitting down with President Trump’s team and the Senate as well to put together a single tax reform plan that’s going to take place over the coming weeks,” said Brady.
While partisans and the media are focused heavily on the pace of legislative action in the early stages of the Trump administration, Brady says getting it right in a timely fashion is most important.
“I think a lot of press in Washington are focused on which month this happens. My focus is on the year and that means this year, 2017. After 30 years of this broken, complicated tax code, it seems like exactly the right time to deliver,” said Brady.
Brady says the Trump blueprint would be a boon for businesses and families. He says dropping the corporate tax rate to 15 percent would make a monumental difference in America’s business climate. He says the small business owners will be smiling too.
“For small business owners, we propose to cut your taxes by more than 40 percent. That’s so you can send less to Washington. you can invest more in your business, your workers, your success. We provide full, unlimited write-offs of all your investment and building’s equipment, software and technology,” said Brady.
He says other provisions should ease the burdens of small business owners as well.
“We eliminate the death tax, so family-owned businesses no longer have to worry about Uncle Sam swooping in and taking nearly half of what you’ve earned over a lifetime. Then we eliminate some of the double taxation. For small businesses, this is game-changing, since this will grow the economy by more than nine percent” said Brady.
Where the tax bill could run into friction is over a proposed border adjustability tax, which would add a tax on imported goods. While critics say American consumers would end up paying for it in higher prices, Brady says it needs to happen, in part because everyone else except North Korea and Cuba does it.
“They take a major tax off their products heading into America. They slap a tax on their made in America products when it goes in their country,” said Brady.
“A foreign product has a major tax advantage over a made in America product, both here and abroad. So we’re saying for the first time that every product pays an equal tax. So no longer is Chinese steel getting a break over American steel, Mexican beef over American beef, Canadian autos over American autos,” said Brady.
He also says the more level playing field will likely entice many companies that left the U.S. and others that never were here to set up shop in America, adding to even more job creation.
As for families, Brady says the typical family of four will like the bigger paychecks coming home.
“You’re going to keep more of the money that you earn. The tax code is going to be dramatically simpler. If you save for retirement, education or health care, we cut your taxes in half again because we want to reward those types of savings,” said Brady.
“The bottom line is the House Republican blueprint, the idea we’re bringing to the president, is a code so fair and simple, nine out of ten Americans will be able to file using a simple postcard system,” said Brady.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to Elizabeth Warren criticizing former Pres. Obama for leaving millions of Americans feeling like they’ve been “kicked in the teeth” in the current economy. They also groan at reports that up to 50 House Republicans really don’t want to repeal Obamacare and many of those are even wobbly on giving states more flexibility. And they discuss the ouster of Jim DeMint at the Heritage Foundation and address speculation that Steve Bannon might replace him.
Ian Tuttle of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the resignation of Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley and a new poll showing the nation’s ten most popular governors are all Republicans. They also get to the bottom line of what went wrong on the United Airlines flight – quick escalation of hostilities and a failure to let capitalism solve the problem. And they get a kick out of Oregon possibly removing a ban on dueling from the state constitution.
Republican leaders are hoping to pass their health care replacement plan on Thursday, but the conservative sponsor of legislation to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act says the current GOP preserves far too much of the current system and must be rejected.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is also a co-founder and former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and has introduced legislation to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or Obamacare. Jordan is vigorously opposed to the current version of American Health Care Act, arguing this is not what Republicans promised voters since 2010.
“We’re not repealing Obamacare. Even people who are for it, like Charles Krauthammer, has said it’s Obamacare-lite. It keeps the Obamacare structure and that’s not what we told the voters. If you don’t repeal Obamacare, you’re never going to bring down the cost of insurance for middle class and working class families,” said Jordan.
“So it is really that basic. Let’s do what we said. That’s what they sent us here to do. Let’s actually repeal Obamacare. A clean and complete repeal is what we’re after. This doesn’t do it,” said Jordan.
The American Health Care Act, or AHCA, is vigorously endorsed by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. Ryan argues the plan does fulfill the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Jordan laid out several areas he insists are key differences between a complete repeal and what the GOP plan does.
“We didn’t tell voters we were going to repeal Obamacare but we were going to keep some of the taxes in place, which the speaker’s plan does. We didn’t say we were going to repeal Obamacare but take the Medicaid expansion and extend it for several years, which the speaker’s plan does,” said Jordan.
“We certainly didn’t say we’re going to repeal Obamacare and start this new program of refundable tax credits and repeal Obamacare and get rid of the mandate but keep this 30 percent surcharge that we tell insurance companies you have to levy on people who don’t maintain continuous coverage,” said Jordan.
The most disturbing issue for Jordan is Republicans getting ready to own a massive health care reform that he believes will not lower the cost of health insurance.
“This is just Obamacare in a different format, and because of that it will not bring down the cost of insurance. It will not bring down premiums. Therefore, middle class families are still going to see the ridiculous high levels they’ve seen over the last several years,” said Jordan.
Jordan and several other members of the House Freedom Caucus are demanding a full repeal of Obamacare, just as the GOP-controlled Congress did in 2015 before the legislation was vetoed by President Obama.
“The one thing we know about our plan is it’s passed before,” said Jordan.
So why won’t leaders bring up that same bill?
“They’re saying some people may not vote for that, which is amazing to me. During election time you can do one thing, but once you get in office and it actually counts you can’t? That’s what drives voters crazy,” said Jordan.
Jordan also doesn’t buy the GOP leadership’s three-step approach to reform, which includes this bill, letting Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price roll back many of the regulations in the current law and then passing market-based reforms in a separate bill that will likely require 60 votes to clear the Senate.
“That’s a joke,” said Jordan.
“We know phase two is going to get tied up in court. You saw what the courts have done on President Trump’s executive order on the travel ban. You’ve seen how he reworked it and came back with something we know is consistent with the law. And where is that right now? It’s tied up in court. So to think the left is not going to take Obamacare and tie it up in court is just ridiculous,” said Jordan.
As frustrating as it has been for full repeal proponents to plead their case with leadership, Jordan says the difference between conservatives and Democrats on the issue is like night and day.
“They view success as signing people up for government, Medicaid or Obamacare. We define success as let’s put in place the policies that make insurance affordable so that people can pick the plan that meets their needs. That’s what we’re trying to get accomplished,” said Jordan.
While Trump is vociferously supporting the GOP plan, Jordan is hopeful the president will be able to broker changes to the legislation that will rid the law of crippling insurance regulations dictating what has to be in all policies, allow for market based reforms that will drive competition and lower costs and repeal other burdensome regulations by statute.
Jordan, who met with Trump along with other Freedom Caucus members, says the White House has been far more accommodating than Republican leaders in Congress.
“We appreciate the outreach the White House did being willing to work with us. Our leadership initially talked about this binary choice, take-it-or-leave-it approach, which I don’t think is helpful. Since then I think they’ve been more open to talk with us, probably driven by the fact they don’t have the votes,” said Jordan.
With a vote planned for Thursday, Jordan suspects a scramble is underway to find more support for the AHCA.
“One thing I learned a long time ago is when leadership is out there saying they have the votes, that means they probably don’t have the votes. Based on what I know from our members of the Freedom Caucus and some other people, I believe they do not have the votes, so we’ll see how negotiations go this week,” said Jordan.
The first man to sue the federal government over the Affordable Care Act says Republicans are breaking their campaign promises to repeal the health care law and are instead abandoning free market principles with legislation that will make health care even worse and let the Democrats off the hook for the blame.
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli III launched the first constitutional challenge to the law, widely known as Obamacare, in 2010. His efforts, along with others, ultimately ended in a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision that saved President Obama’s most significant domestic policy.
Late Monday, House Republicans unveiled the text of the American Health Care Act and promoted as a means of getting Washington out of health care, reducing costs and regulations and setting the stage for market-based reforms.
But Cuccinelli says the bill is nothing more than a GOP version of Obamacare.
“This is a sloppy Democrat bill. The people who call this Obamacare-lite are wrong. It’s not lite. It’s just a Republican form. This is a really terrible piece of legislation on its own merits. It’s even worse when you realize this is what’s supposed to pass for keeping their promise to actually repeal Obamacare,” said Cuccinelli.
He says any members trying to keep their promise to repeal the law have to vote against it.
“The problem for conservatives is if it doesn’t really mean actually getting rid of Obamacare and all of the worst features of it, then it should be voted against,” he said.
“Otherwise, it’s an adoption by the Republicans of all the worst elements of Obamacare. They’re going to own the consequences. They’re going to own those price increases and health insurance increases, which will keep happening,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli says it will be up to congressional Republicans to get this right because President Trump has yet to wade into many specifics.
“Whatever bill gets to the president’s desk, he’s going to sign it. He was very unspecific in the campaign. They’ve been very unspecific in the last week or two. Clearly, they just want to check this box and ‘get it done,’ whatever that means,” said Cuccinelli.
Republicans ran on repealing Obamacare in the past four election cycles. The issue was largely responsible for the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives in 2010 and the Senate in 2014. Cuccinelli says the promise resonated with voters, so it makes no sense to abandon that mission now.
“They’re all running around, at least leadership is, afraid that they’ll upset somebody. Well, I’ve got news for you. People are already upset, and it isn’t a question of whether people are upset after you do whatever you’re going to do. If that’s all you care about, what will they be more upset about: doing what you said you would or going in another direction?” said Cuccinelli.
“If you go in another direction to appease a constituency you didn’t rely on to get elected, what you’ve succeeded in doing is ticking everyone off. That’s the direction Republicans are headed right now,” Cuccinelli.
But Cuccinelli goes a step farther. He says Republicans are really abandoning a full repeal because they do not actually want a market-based health care system.
“They don’t want the regulations to go away. That’s their dirty little secret. They don’t want market-based health care. They want big government control, even though someday it’s all going to come crashing down just because of how bankrupt it will all be,” said Cuccinelli.
He says GOP leaders have gotten comfortable turning to government to address problems.
“Let’s take (House Speaker) Paul Ryan for instance. Paul Ryan has never done anything in his adult life except be in government. It’s his solution to every perceived problem. He doesn’t rely on the market. He doesn’t trust the one force in the history of the world that has raised more people up out of poverty than any other, and that’s free market capitalism,” said Cuccinelli.
So what does Cuccinelli specifically see s the biggest problems with the GOP bill?
“There were 24 major regulations with Obamacare. Under Ryancare, 22 and a half of those stay in place. And of course we get blessed with a brand new entitlement. I don’t know if anybody in the Republican leadership noticed, but we are bankrupt. They do nothing really to resolve that problem,” said Cuccinelli.
“They make no move toward a market-based approach to health care. There’s no expansion of freedom and there’s no reason for people to want to become a doctor any more than under Obamacare,” he added
Supporters of the GOP point out that this legislation needs to start the reform process because it can pass through reconciliation, meaning a simple majority in both chambers can get the job done. They also suggest Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price can tackle most of the regulations unilaterally. Then, they say market-based ideas can come in later legislation.
Cuccinelli isn’t buying it.
“I could swallow [all of that] a whole lot more easily if the first bill was a repeal bill. So if you want us to trust you, then you do what you said you were going to do. Is that really too much to ask? Just do what you’ve been promising for seven years,” said Cuccinelli.
“Don’t put it on Tom Price to get rid of the regulations. You do it in the legislation. You do it as part of the vote. It’s what repealing means,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli says Republicans had no problem passing a full repeal in 2015 so there’s no good reason not to pass it again.
“All of them have voted on that bill. Were they lying then when they voted on it? It sure seems like it now. Why not just pass a true repeal again?” he said.
“They were loudly speechifying back then. Now they’re using scare tactics to say, ‘Those of you people who want to hold us up for this repeal bill are for Obamacare,” said Cuccinelli.
“That is the worst kind of ducking of a debate on the substance of an important, important issue to every family in America. And it’s a dodge on their campaign promises. They’re all breaking their promises and making liars out of themselves,” said Cuccinelli.
Conservatives and liberals are savaging the House Republican health care plan, but one of the leading advocates for a market-driven approach says the bill is a good start to imploding Obamacare and setting the stage for additional conservative reforms.
The plan is getting hammered by conservatives for not fully repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, failing to allow the purchase of coverage across state lines, and for allegedly replacing one entitlement program with another. Liberal critics say the plan would knock millions of Americans off health insurance and leave them one illness from bankruptcy again.
So what about those claims?
Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner is a veteran of Washington health care debates and was a fierce opponent of the Clinton health care reform effort in the 1990’s and Obamacare since 2009. She is encouraged by what she sees in the American Health Care Act and says the realities on Capitol Hill force this kind of legislation.
“It’s a first step. They’re pushing as far as they can with the process they have to go through. They do not expect any Democrats, in the House or the Senate, to vote for this. That means they have to do this through a particularly difficult process called reconciliation that limits the kinds of things you can repeal,” said Turner.
“They can’t repeal everything in the law through this process because it has to have direct spending and budget implications. They’re doing as much as they can and they have plans to go forward with other pieces of legislation, for example, that will allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. That’s not possible through this particular pathway,” said Turner.
She says this legislation is needed to gut the worst parts of Obamacare.
“There will also be follow-on legislation going forward, but not if this [doesn’t pass]. You can’t build change on the crumbling infrastructure of Obamacare. You’ve got to begin with changes that lead us in a new direction,” said Turner.
“It’s like a battleship or an aircraft carrier. It takes a long time to turn this around ,” she added.
Turner also says a lot can be done to ease the burden on all Americans without involving Congress. She says Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price can accomplish a lot through the powers granted him in the original Affordable Care Act.
“Sec. Price has control of the regulatory mechanism. There were 20 million words of regulation written to enforce Obamacare. He has the power to undo a lot of those and to rewrite them but also to provide new guidance to the marketplace to engender much more competition and consumer choice,” said Turner.
Sec. Price outlined the very same strategy Tuesday at the White House.
Turner says the GOP bill offers important provisions like eliminating a trillion dollars worth of taxes on the economy and protecting coverage while the system transitions from Obamacare. She also says the bill takes a smarter look at Medicaid dollars that should mean less burden on the taxpayers.
“It begins the pathway to reform the Medicaid program, arguably one of the worst health care programs in the country that is bankrupting the states. At the same time, millions of people (on Medicaid) can’t find a doctor to see them,” said Turner.
And how would it do that?
“This legislation would begin the process of giving states a per capita allocation. A per capita allocation is very different from a block grant. It basically says we are going to make a distinction between moms and babies who are healthy and people who have multiple disabilities,” said Turner.
She also likes that states will have much more say over health care while Washington backs off.
“It gives states more power and more authority, not only to figure out how to take care of their citizens that are on Medicaid, but also to provide their citizens with more choices from the kind of health insurance that they want to buy, rather than have the federal government tell them the health insurance they have to buy,” said Turner.
But will the plan ultimately lower premiums and deductibles? Turner says that hinges on getting people to stay on insurance for the year once they’ve purchased it and getting more, young healthy people into the system.
“You need young, healthy people in the system. What do you do? You try to give them more choices, more options of more affordable coverage. So attracting people, giving them incentive to want to stay covered, by giving states more options to provide them with choices for health insurance – not just Washington’s three or four cookie-cutter policies,” said Turner, who also advocated for multi-year policies so patients could lock in rates for years at a time.
While acknowledging the fierce opposition to the plan from the right and left, Turner says the bill not only makes key changes but looks at health care in a whole new way.
“It’s a really different philosophy of giving people the market incentive to respond to consumers who are newly empowered and want to make responsible, good choices,” said Turner. “People want insurance but they don’t want insurance that costs more than their mortgage.”
This is one of multiple perspectives we will be sharing on this legislation as the debate continues.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have all bad news, starting with a federal judge putting a hold on Pres. Trump’s immigration order without citing any law or constitutional provision and Trump’s subsequent tweets attacking the judicial system. We also blast Trump for his moral equivalence in dismissing Vladimir Putin as a killer by saying America’s done a lot of bad things too. And we discuss and debate whether the slower GOP strategy on Obamacare and tax reform is responsible leadership or letting a golden opportunity slip away.