Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 36: Zombie, Zombie, Zombie-ie-ie Health Care

July 23, 2017 – Day 256 Post Election

The TrumpShaker Top Three
July 23, 2017 – National Vanilla Ice Cream Day – Day 256 P.E (Post Election).
Zombie, Zombie, Zombie-ie-ie Health Care
As the week began, it looked like we had finally put an end to the Republican tax cut plan disguised as a health care plan. We thought the final nail was hammered into the coffin when three Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME), and Shelley Moore Capito (WV), came out against it. Maybe next time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will realize it’s a good idea to include women when writing legislation.

It was time to celebrate; the wicked old RepubliCare plan was dead. Trump even thought it was over, and so he congratulated himself for getting almost all the Republican votes: “The vote would have been pretty close to, if you look at it, 48 to 4. That’s a pretty impressive vote by any standard.”  I can think of at least one standard in which that’s not an impressive vote — the one that requires 50 votes to pass a bill.

However, just as everyone was preparing their eulogies, McConnell decided he wasn’t ready to bury his opportunity to take health care from 23 million. Like a mad scientist, McConnell has reanimated RepubliCare and now as darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand.  Senators crawl in search of blood, to terrorize y’awl’s neighborhood.

So here is what it will look like this week as the Republicans stumble along, hungry for votes (and brains):

  • There will likely be a health care vote on Tuesday. However, no one has any idea what it will be on. Senator Collins said this morning on Face the Nation, “we don’t know whether we’re going to be voting on the House bill, the first version of the Senate bill, the second version of the Senate bill, a new version of the Senate bill, or a 2015 bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act now and then said that somehow we’ll figure out a replacement over the next two years.” Seems like more thought should go into voting for something that affects 1/5 of the economy.
  • Preventing senators from knowing what they will vote on is actually part of McConnell’s plan. You see, first the Senate has to vote on a “Motion to Proceed” (MTP) to the actual vote. Without a defined bill, McConnell can get that Motion to Proceed to pass by telling each group of Republicans that the final bill will be close to what they want and to just vote for the MTP so that it can be discussed.
  • After the MTP, it’s go time and literally limitless amendments can then be introduced. The approved amendments will not have new scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). So McConnell is hoping in the chaos, confusion, and cloud of legislative war, he can jam something through.  If he’s successful, the one thing we know is that no Republicans will likely understand what the repercussions of what they approved will be.

Other news that registered on the health care plan’s EKG this week:

  • The CBO found that a straight repeal of Obamacare with no replacement would leave 32 million uninsured and double premiums by 2026.
  • McConnell suffered another big setback to passing RepubliCare when the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that several key provisions in the most recent version of the Senate bill would need 60, not 50, votes. Some Senate Republicans – most prominently, everyone’s least favorite person, Ted Cruz (R-TX) – are suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence, who presides over the Senate, should disregard the Parliamentarian’s ruling. Doing so would throw out decades of Senate precedent and basically eliminate the filibuster. Even for a man who made a mockery of the Supreme Court confirmation process, destroying the legislative filibuster might be an authoritarian power grab too far for McConnell.
  • Trump does not even understand what health insurance is (much less the intricacies of the Republican plan). This week, President Lucille Bluth Trump, in a far-ranging and bizarre interview with The New York Times, described the health care situation as, “You’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan.” The best that the collective minds on Twitter could conclude was that Trump has confused health insurance with Gerber baby life insurance, which is a $1/week life insurance plan and is a heavy advertiser on Fox & Friends.
  • Even without an alternative plan, the Trump administration is trying to kill the Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration has ended contracts with organizations in 18 cities that provide assistance to those trying to sign up for ACA plans. More sinister is that the Trump administration is allegedly using federal funds that have been allocated to spread awareness of the ACA to instead run anti-ACA ads.  Even if the Republicans are stopped this week in repealing the ACA, they apparently won’t stop trying to keep people from getting insured. This is not normal. The government should not actively work against the laws that it is tasked with implementing.
As The Tяump Turns
Former director of the NSA and the CIA, Michael Hayden, called the Russian interference in the 2016 election the “most successful covert operation in history.” Well, on this week’s episode of As The Tяump Turns, that covert operation got a bit more overt.

  • An 8th person, a senior VP at a company founded by a Russian oligarch, has been identified in the now infamous meeting that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had with the Russian female version of Tom Hagen.
  • Two weeks ago, Trump’s very long and very collegial meeting with Putin at the G-20 was all the rage. This week, we found out Trump had yet another, previously undisclosed, meeting with Putin at the G-20. They chatted for an hour at a dinner. In what was a shocking (even, by Trump standards) display of incompetence and disregardsfor national security protocol, Trump didn’t bring a translator because the U.S. translator only knew Japanese. This means no American, but Trump, has any idea what was said in that meeting.
  • Trump has been reportedly asking advisers if he can pardon everyone he knows, including himself. You know, just your typical conversations of an innocent President, who is six months into his term.

Next week’s episode of As The Tяump Turns could be our most dramatic yet! After the Senate passed a bill on a vote of 98-2 to increase sanctions on Russia and limit Trump’s ability to unilaterally undo the sanctions, Paul Ryan has been sitting on the bill. Reports are that a compromise has been reached, and a vote is likely in the House as early as Tuesday. If it passes, will Trump dare to veto it?

O Beauregard, Where Art Thou?
The odyssey of evil Christmas elf, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, took several more turns this week. First, he continued his efforts to bring back the worst of the 80’s and its war on drugs byissuing a new directive on civil asset forfeiture – extending it to states even where it has been banned. Under civil asset forfeiture, the police can seize property, e.g., money, cars, houses, of people suspectedof a crime. That’s right, just suspected, not convicted, not even charged. And guess who gets to keep the property? The police. Created to be a tool to fight drug kingpins, the victims tend to be the least powerful in our society. Civil forfeiture is executed on a major scale. In 2014, the federal government seized over $5 billion in property via civil forfeiture. That is about $1 billion more than was lost across the U.S. from burglaries, i.e., taken by actual criminals. Thankfully, Sessions’s actions have already received strong bipartisan criticism, as there are members of both parties who still think the government should not be able to just take private property on a whim.

When not being hammered by Congress, Sessions was being beat up by his old friend, Trump. Trump told the New York Times that, “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”

Besieged on all sides, Sessions must feel all alone, like no one is listening. Well, it turns out, someone has been listening to what he was doing. The Washington Post reported the U.S. spy agencies overheard Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak reporting to his superiors in Moscow that he and Sessions had discussed Trump campaign matters during the presidential race. This is a direct contradiction to what Sessions said in his news conference when he announced his recusal.

Kakistocracy – kakə̇ˈstäkrəsē
Government by the Worst People

This week’s examples of our kakistocracy in action:

As part of his “Make America’s Skies Gray Again” plan Trump will reportedly nominate a coal industry lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, as the EPA’s deputy minister and nominate an energy industry attorney, Bill Wehrum, as assistant administrator for air and radiation.

For the position that serves as the USDA’s chief scientist, Trump has nominated Sam Clovis. Clovis has no formal education in science and he is “extremely skeptical” of climate change.

The GOP senators confirmed John K. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. As a reminder from last week’s edition of The TrumpShaker, Bush has compared Roe v. Wadeto the Dred Scott decision, used the word “faggot” in a formal speech, and in his personal blog cited supremacist media sources and touted “birther” theories about President Obama.

This week, Trump actually did nominate someone qualified for something. He nominated former Utah governor and ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, to be the ambassador to Russia. However, the Trump administration still found a way to mess that up, misspelling Huntsman’s name in the official press release.

The biggest news in the kakistocracy this week was that question-avoiding, press-admonishing, lie-spouting, and bush-hiding Press Secretary Sean Spicer stepped down. On Friday, we got our first taste of new slick talking White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci or, as he goes by, “The Mooch.” (Seriously, I’m not making that up. That’s his nickname. You know, you’re definitely getting a reference in the coming weeks to The Gooch from Diff’rent Strokes from me, right?) In the first five minutes of his press conference, The Mooch managed to put Spicer’s regular mammoth lies to shame. He said about Trump, “I have seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden . . . and he’s hitting foul shots and swishing them.” You will be able to convince me that Trump had more people at his inauguration than Obama before I will believe he’s some hybrid between Tom Brady and Steph Curry.

Quick TrumpShakes
Cold as ICE – This week’s update on the United States kicking out those yearning to breathe free comes from Cleveland.  After 16 years in the United States, Jesus Lara Lopez kissed his four children and wife good-bye as he boarded a flight to Mexico under deportation orders. ICE did not reconsider his case despite a plea from Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and a petition with 34,000 signatures.

Bombing the Shit Out of ISIS Civilians – In the earliest days of his campaign, before we could imagine the upside down world that awaited us, Trump said he would “bomb the shit out” of ISIS. Well, he has, and an estimated 2,200 civilians have been killed by U.S.-led coalition bombings since Trump’s sparsely attended inauguration six months ago. That’s 12 civilians per day. Under Obama’s leadership, an estimated 2,300 were killed in attacks against ISIS as well, but that was over his entire administration.

Paul Ryan – Silent but Deadly – Recently, we here at The TrumpShaker congratulated Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) for getting her amendment to end the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force approved by House Appropriations Committee. This meant that Lee’s amendment was to have a full hearing in the House of Representatives. However, a lot of things that should happen don’t happen with Paul Ryan (R-WI) in charge. Ryan pulled Lee’s amendment, literally in the middle of the night, without warning.

Not Honest Abe (But She’s My Hero) – In his crazy New York Times interview, Trump said he was seated next to Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s Prime Minister during the G-20 summit dinner. Trump said, “So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe, who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman but doesn’t speak English . . . Like, not ‘hello.’” Well, Akie Abe did go to English-speaking schools in Tokyo, worked for a global PR firm, and has given a speech before in English. So, while it’s not clear if she’s comfortable speaking English, there’s a chance that she pretended to not know English to avoid talking to Trump for two hours. If so, she’s my new personal hero. In fact, I was even able to get an interview with her to find out why she did it.

He’s Mr. Short Term Memory – Apparently, putting less care into his national security clearance disclosures than I put into reviewing the waiver at a waterslide park, Jared Kushner has revised his disclosures yet again, adding in 70 assets worth $10.6 million.

As American as Indentured Labor – This week was declared “Made in America” week by the Trump administration. The Made in America campaign was slightly buried by the other administration themes this week of Russian collaboration and Republican infighting. However, Mar-a-Lago knew how to celebrate it in style. Trump’s Florida club asked permission to hire 70 foreign workers because it cannot find qualified citizens to serve as cooks, waiters, and housekeepers. I think they forgot to say they can’t find qualified citizens “at the wages we like to pay.”

Featured Articles of the Week

Joel Clement, former director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Interior Department, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post to let all of us know that the Trump administration is trying to silence scientists.

In honor of Trump’s six months in office, here’s The New York Times’s updated list of every complete lie that Trump has told since January 21, 2017.

Action Center
I’m hoping this will be the last time I have to feature a resource to fight the Republican attack on health care.  Learn what you can do to fight back against RepubliCare with these resources from Indivisible.
Outraged? Please Share: