No bad martinis in sight today. Nope, we’ve got all crazy ones for you! Today, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shake their heads as outspoken liberal Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr suddenly has no opinion on China throwing a fit over one pro-Hong Kong tweet from a general manager in the league. They also roll their eyes as CBS announces it will be making a miniseries out of former FBI Director James Comey’s book about his career. And they react to the very different opinions of GOP Trump challengers Joe Walsh and Mark Sanford, as Walsh demands impeachment and Sanford says he will probably vote for Trump if the president wins the GOP nomination next year.
This past week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected annual deficits in this and the next fiscal year will near $1 trillion and that the U.S. will rack up more than $12 trillion in debt over the next decade.
There was virtually no reaction from the White House, Congress, or political figures of any stripe. The media also largely ignored the news.
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is trying to sound the alarm about the debt crisis and is seriously considering a GOP presidential campaign to stress the issue since no other candidates are.
Sanford also spent separate three-term stints in the House of Representatives. He was defeated in the 2018 Republican primary after running afoul of President Trump and GOP leaders over government spending.
In discussing the latest CBO forecasts, Sanford began saying the mounting debt is simply a deferred tax on future generations who will have to pay the bills. Then he stopped himself and warned that the current generation could well face it too.
“This is not just a next generation problem. There is a proverbial straw that breaks a camel’s back. We are growing ever closer to that moment.
“I believe we’re walking toward the most predictable financial crisis in the history of man. It is not something that will happen to the next generation, but it’s going to happen in the next couple of years,” said Sanford.
“Think about this: we will spend more on interest (on the national debt) than we do on national defense in 36 months. That’s not a kid or grandkid problem. That is our problem,” said Sanford.
Sanford says he cannot pinpoint what will “light the match that lights the fire” or when exactly that might happen. However, current government estimates suggest Medicare will go insolvent in seven years and Social Security will follow suit in 15 years.
For his part, Sanford worries that increased tariffs will be a recipe for economic trouble. He says trillion dollar deficits are always alarming, particularly so in during a good economy.
“The deficits that we’re running are being run in peacetime and relatively calm economic waters. You reverse the economic waters and the deficits explode,” he said.
If the CBO projections are correct, the official national debt will stand at $34-35 trillion a decade from now. Sanford says the real numbers are far worse.
“The Congressional Budget Office numbers are not real. Those are fairly conservative numbers. This is why a variety of different organizations, like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Government have said those numbers could actually stretch closer to $2 trillion a year in operating deficits,” said Sanford.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Sanford discuss why neither party is serious about reining in federal spending, what action he thinks needs to be taken to return to fiscal stability, and how he is deciding whether to run for president.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America scrutinize Ilhan Omar’s call to impeach President Trump in the aftermath of his racially-charged Twitter tirade. They discuss Joe Biden recycling an old Obamacare sales pitch for his new healthcare reform plan. And they try to figure out why former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is considering a challenge to Trump in the 2020 Republican primary.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus is pushing for quick congressional action to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and says the plans it supports will mean better coverage, lower costs and more control for patients.
And House Freedom Caucus Chairman says if Republicans don’t follow through on their promises to repeal and place the law, voters ought to send them packing next year.
“I am confident we can do that, and I am confident that if we don’t do that, everybody should send us home and they would have every right to send us home if we don’t deliver on a real promise to make it affordable,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who leads the House Freedom Caucus in the current Congress. “We promised to do that. We’ve got to deliver.”
Reports vary widely as to how soon Congress may tackle the repeal, with some lawmakers wanting to get it done in President Trump’s first 100 days and others thinking repeal and replacement may not be completed until later this year or even early 2018.
Meadows says the GOP consensus is to get this done quickly, but a debate is brewing about whether to repeal now and replace later or pass the two bills at the same time.
“It’s that replacement plan that really is providing a great anxiety among some of the Republican members, what it should include and what it shouldn’t include. There’s still some disagreement there but I’m optimistic that we will go ahead in the next 30-45 days and vote on something in the House and the Senate and move this along,” said Meadows.
“If it waits until next year, it won’t get done, so [Americans] need to weigh in with their member of Congress to say, ‘We want them to act now,'” said Meadows.
Meadows also rejects the idea of allowing the current system to fester for another year as a means of building public demand for repealing and replacing current law.
“I can tell you from a principle standpoint, to suggest that we allow it to continue to spiral down so that more people are hurt is not something that would be prudent,” said Meadows.
But Meadows also dismisses the alarm from Democrats that repealing Obamacare will means tens of millions of Americans will lose their coverage.
“The Affordable Care Act, the way it is now, is not sustainable. A lot of those people who may have gotten coverage won’t be able to keep their coverage on the current trend,” said Meadows.
Many of those Americans who now have coverage got it through the expansion of Medicaid. Meadows admits that will be one of the thornier issues to navigate.
“It is a critical component that we have to address in some shape, form, or fashion. But whether they get this done with block grants on a per capita basis or some other mechanism, I believe that we can come up with a workable solution that doesn’t leave anybody behind and provides an adequate safety net,” said Meadows.
Last week, the House Freedom Caucus threw its support behind legislation from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that is designed to repeal the current law and simultaneously replace it with legislation that will patients much more freedom in choosing their coverage. Paul is fiercely urging GOP leaders not to blow a hole in the deficit by repealing the law and only then getting to work on a replacement.
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., is offering a companion bill in the House that Meadows says goes a step farther than Paul’s approach in the effort to break up monopolies in the insurance market.
Meadows says there are some must-haves for conservatives in any replacement legislation.
“It’s one of the few plans that is out there that won’t blow a hole in the deficit, actually will bring down costs, and hopefully will not only address the concerns about pre-existing conditions that many of my constituents and people across America have been concerned about, but do it in a way that actually drives the cost of health care down,” said Meadows.
Meadows says the final legislation needs to require insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and forbid carriers from cancelling policies when people get sick. He also wants more flexibility and freedom for people in their Health Savings Accounts, but is shying away from mandating that children be allowed to stay on their parent’s policies until they are 26 years old.
“We think the private sector can actually address that probably better than making it a mandate,” said Meadows, who also strongly endorses a plan from Sen. Paul to provide tax deductions for doctors who work a lot with low income patients.
“They don’t get to write that off now, so this will actually be an incentive to provide health care on a more philanthropic basis,” said Meadows.
Meadows says the cooperation between the White House and Congress has been excellent and that GOP leaders are showing respect for conservative ideas and strategies. At the same time, Meadows expects an intra-party clash over tax credits.
“Probably the biggest stumbling block right now is the leadership’s desire to use an advanceable, refundable tax credit, where a number of us probably don’t feel that’s the best approach to address it,” said Meadows.
Meadows urges his fellow Republicans to move intelligently but swiftly towards their top legislative priority. He says lawmakers need to stand on principle and let the political chips fall where they may.
“I think it’s more important that we act now to put forth not only a repeal but a replacement of all of it and make the tough decisions. As members of Congress, if we make the right decision and it sends us home, so be it,” he said.