Did Trump Actually Want RyanCare to Pass?

March 27th, 2017

Yesterday House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the ObamaCare “repeal” bill from consideration. This was not surprising, in that the Republican base hated the bill even more than Democrats did, mainly because it was an awful bill. Voters elected Republicans who promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, not embrace and extend it.

Let’s face it: A firm grasp of health care policy specifics and a deep understand of the many nuances of federalism are not among Trump’s demonstrated virtues. But he would have had to be very tone-deaf indeed not to notice the discord RyanCare engendered in the Republican ranks.

The media is spinning this as a terrible defeat for President Trump, because of course they are, and because he publicly supported the bill. And Trump did give every indications that he would have signed the bill or proclaimed it both a win and a campaign promised fulfilled had it passed. But I didn’t see the sort of push and focus from Trump indicating that this very major piece of legislation was even his top priority thus far, much less the make-or-break bill of his presidency.

Read this phone interview Trump had with Robert Costa of the Washington Post just hours after the bill was pulled.

efore I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.

The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.

Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. He is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.

“As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them,” he said. “After Obamacare explodes.”

“The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes, they come to us, and we make one beautiful deal for the people.

Spin? Sure. But it does sound like he already has his talking points warmed up and ready to go. Democrats killed the bill. Not one of them was willing to vote for it. ObamaCare’s failures are (still) on their head. Someday soon Democrats will come to us begging for a deal

Maybe passing RyanCare was actually Trump’s plan A. But maybe having it fail, and sticking the failure on Democrats (rather than the House Freedom Caucus) was always a very close plan B.

As Scott Adams has noted time and again, Trump appears to view almost everything through a persuading and deal-making lens. RyanCare wasn’t a failure, it was just an opening bid in a much longer negotiation. (Ann Althouse has similar thoughts.)

The question then becomes: Does the next ObamaCare repeal effort actually end ObamaCare and moves us back toward federalism, or does Trump cut a deal with Democrats to try to pass some sort of move to even more socialized medicine? The later seems unlikely, since a Republican-controlled House and Senate would never pass it and Democrats hate President Trump far too much on an irrationally visceral level to work with him. (Which is ironic, given that he seemed the most liberal Republican candidate when he joined the field in Presidential field in 2015).

For mainstream media pundits spinning this as a crippling loss for Trump: I tend to doubt it. A bill that wasn’t passed in March 2017 isn’t going to be much on the minds of voters in November 2018. Now Trump need not worry about fracturing Republicans over a flawed ObamaCare bill and can move on to other priorities.

LinkSwarm for March 24, 2017

March 24th, 2017

This week I started a new job and started working on my taxes, so expect scattered patches of Light Blogging for the next few weeks…

  • Everyone in Washington hates Donald Trump’s new budget. So it must have something going for it. This is a budget plan that will surgically remove trillions of dollars of wasteful spending from the obese $3.9 trillion federal budget. Many agencies will have to live with cuts of 5, 10 and 30 percent, while other outdated, duplicative or unproductive programs will go to the graveyard.”
  • Neil Gorsuch appears to be headed toward confirmation to the Supreme Court.
  • The Obama Administrations was carrying out surveillance of the Trump transition team:

    “First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Second, details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. Fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”

    One wonders if his data collection was as “incidentally” as the IRS auditing conservatives…

  • Borepatch has a handy summary of the global warming controversy, with just enough technical details to provide a nice overview.
  • London: “You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.” Also this: “According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, every year 17,000 Muslim women in Britain become victims of forced marriages, are raped by their husbands or subjected to female genital mutilation.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Italians used to look to Europe as a kind of savior: the Italian state was corrupt and inept, but Brussels would set a higher standard, and by loyal support for the EU, Italy could rise above its own problems. These days, the EU looks more like an anchor than a lifejacket.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Philadelphia’s Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams indicted on corruption and bribery charges. Oh, he also allegedly stole more than $20,000 from his own mother’s Social Security and pension funds. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he appointed a general counsel to the NLRB after the Senate refused to confirm him.” Notable: 6-2 Supreme Court decision. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “I would argue that Pakistan’s history teaches at least three lessons. The first: Elections alone do not produce democracy. The second: Majority rule without minority rights leads to egregious illiberalism. Third: A state committed to the pursuit of religious ‘purity’ will always find some of its subjects in need of ‘cleansing.’ Down that path despotism lies.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Denmark doesn’t want to become Sweden.
  • The shape of battles to come.
  • Kurt Schlichter imagines how a second Korean War would unfold. Not so hot for the norks…
  • He came to America illegally with a dream…of raping a two year old. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • I’m still not tired of all the winning.
  • “Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice.” Faster please.
  • Texas to eliminate legal bribery in Brown County.
  • Karl Rehn on beyond the 1%. “93% of the 3.2 million adult gun owners in Texas likely do not train. 4% of them take the mandatory new permit course, at best 3% of them take some kind of NRA course, and only 1%, less than 30K, take any kind of post-CHL level course or shoot any kind of match, including all kinds of pistol, NRA high power, and all the shotgun sports.”
  • Dwight blogged about a case where a convenience store robber was found not guilty of aggravated assault because he was using an Airsoft pellet gun in the robbery. Evidently the reason for the verdict was the DA’s decision not to seek a lesser charge. It seems that the possibility of convicting on lesser charges is subject to instructions from the judge. The question that occurs to me: Is a criminal jury empowered to find a defendant guilty of one or more lesser charges if they were given no instructions regarding lesser charges from the judge?
  • London jihad-attack tweet:

  • Scott Adams describes how Bloomberg assembled a hit piece on him by taking things out of context, all because he was predicting a Trump victory in 2016. Remember: Every MSM hit piece on a conservative you see is constructed and slanted in similar ways.
  • Exit fat Barbie.
  • Statistical analysis of writer’s work. Elmore Leonard hates exclamation points, but James Joyce loves them…
  • ObamaCare Repeal: The Dam Breaks

    March 23rd, 2017

    After a couple of weeks of President Trump and GOP House leadership insisting “Nope, this is it! Kiss this pig or it’s nothing!” and conservatives replying “Die in a fire!” it looks like the GOP establishment has finally gotten the message.

    First came this news from Senator Mike Lee:

    Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on Wednesday that the Senate parliamentarian has told him that it may be possible for Republicans to push harder on repealing Obamacare’s regulations than the current House bill, which contradicts the assertion by House leadership that the legislation goes after Obamacare as aggressively as possible under Senate rules.

    “What I understood her to be saying is that there’s no reason why an Obamacare repeal bill necessarily could not have provisions repealing the health insurance regulations.”

    Now Speaker Paul Ryan, the pig’s primary pimp, has relented as well:

    In a last-minute bid to woo conservatives ahead of a high-stakes vote on Thursday on repealing and replacing Obamacare, House leaders are considering gutting more Obamacare regulations.

    The news comes as President Trump and White House officials are in talks with House conservatives over changes that can win over holdouts and secure enough votes to move the bill to the Senate.

    Among the many arguments conservatives have made against the House healthcare bill, one of the most significant is that it leaves too many costly regulations in place and thus fails to address long-standing criticisms of Obamacare — that it limits choices and drives premiums higher than they otherwise would be.
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    Previously, House leaders have argued that the regulations could not be nixed, because doing so would blow up the bill in the Senate, where Republicans will have to pass the measure under restrictive rules to enable it to clear with a simple majority.

    But a House leadership aide told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday that Republicans received new information from the Senate, indicating that axing the regulations would not automatically doom the bill from being considered on an expedited basis.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office is now more open to nixing the regulations, known as “essential health benefits.” Under Obamacare, all insurance policies must include ten categories of benefits, such as maternity care and preventive coverage, that make policies more comprehensive but also make it costlier for individuals who would prefer cheaper plans with fewer benefits.

    You know what would be a great bill? One that completely repealed ObamaCare. You know, the way every Republican House and Senate member running for election since 2010 has promised.

    The Trump Administration can also gut Obamacare without any help from congress:

    Within the bill there are 2,500 references to “the Secretary”. 700 times the Secretary “shall” do something, 200 times the Secretary “may” do something, and 139 occasions when the “Secretary determines” what should be done.

    These “shall” and “may” determinations cover things like what type of insurance coverage Americans are required to have, how insurance networks and exchanges are organized, how grant money is doled out, what the “essential health benefits” that every insurance policy must cover are.

    Suppose the new Secretary determines that Americans “shall” only be required to have catastrophic insurance? Or no insurance at all? What if the “essential health benefits” are left to the discretion of the purchaser of the insurance policy? What if the Secretary “determines” that there will be no insurance mandates or penalties? Or that insurance “may” be sold across state lines?

    The Secretary also has discretion over “pilot programs” and “demonstration projects” for controlling costs. These include wellness plans, information technology, quality measures, and national payment for Medicaid. Perhaps throw in tort reform and a rollback of many of the many more onerous regulations strangling the medical profession. The Secretary “may” implement these reforms.

    In reality, the Secretary has the statutory power to infect Obamacare with the cancer of repeal and replace, metastasizing into so many aspects of the law that what emerges is a shadow of the original bill. Repeal and replace from within.

    The downside to this approach is that any future Democratic administration could restore all the Obamacare nightmare taxes and regulations at will.

    Still, there’s no reason Republicans can’t pursue a two-track approach: Gut it administratively while also working on a full legislative repeal.

    Both approaches are far superior to the original “embrace and extend” ObamaCare bill Republican leadership originally tried to cram down representative’s throats….

    Hamas Sought More Accurate Maps to Aim Rockets

    March 23rd, 2017

    “The Hamas terror group requested better quality maps from a Turkish charity in order to gain more accuracy when firing rockets, according to Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency.”

    Plus the usual diversion of humanitarian funds to terrorism:

    The Shin Bet discovered after questioning Muhammad Murtaja, who was arrested last month on suspicion of working on behalf of Hamas, that over the past two years the terror terror organization had asked the Turkish IHH organization for advanced satellite mapping programs to improve the accuracy of its rockets, the Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported.

    The Shin Bet investigation reportedly revealed that during its last war with Israel in 2014, Hamas used Google Maps in order to target locations in Israel, leading to most of the rockets missing their targets. Many of the other rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

    Murtaja, the manager of the Gaza branch of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), is accused of having taken advantage of his position in TIKA in order to direct funds and resources away from “meaningful humanitarian projects” and toward Hamas’s military wing.

    Honestly, the entire reason I’m linking this story is to use this:

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

    8 Parcel Bombs Intercepted in Greece

    March 22nd, 2017

    Here’s a story that seems to have largely flown below the media’s radar: eight parcel bombs intercepted in Greece:

    ATHENS — Greek counterterrorism officers have uncovered eight parcel bombs resembling those sent last week to the German finance minister in Berlin and to the Paris offices of the International Monetary Fund, a police official said on Tuesday.

    The devices were discovered on Monday during a search of the Hellenic Post’s main sorting office, north of Athens, according to a police spokesman, Theodoros Chronopoulos. “The packages were destined for European countries,” he said, calling them “similar” to the ones sent to the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, and to the I.M.F.’s offices.

    According to reports in the Greek news media, which Mr. Chronopoulos did not confirm, the packages intercepted at the Athens sorting office were addressed to European Union officials and to multinational companies. The targets reportedly included the leader of the eurozone group of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who coordinates meetings on Greek bailout talks, and an unidentified official of the European Central Bank, one of Greece’s three main international creditors.

    The Paris bomb injured a worker, but none of the bombs have caused fatalities.

    As tempting as it is to pin any bombing jihadists, the targets suggest this was a bombing campaign carried out by the radical Greek left in advance of the Greek debt farce playing out again this summer. “A fresh crisis over Greek debt could be triggered as soon as in July when Greece is due to repay some 7bn euros to its creditors – money the country cannot pay without a fresh injection of bailout cash.”

    I would say “stay tuned,” but I think we all know exactly how the current round of the farce will play out this summer…

    Travis County is Number 1…in Refusing to Hold Illegal Aliens

    March 21st, 2017

    The list of local municipalities defying federal immigration law is out.

    One of President Trump’s first executive orders promised a weekly recounting of the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and a list of the recalcitrant local law enforcement departments that failed to turn those people over to federal officials.

    The Department of Homeland Security on Monday delivered the first report. But rather than provide a complete tally, it contained misleading information that only prompted confusion and defiance from law enforcement officials from the jurisdictions in question.

    The report, which covers Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with deportations, issued 3,083 detainers, which are requests to local police departments to hold undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents who could be deported.

    The report showed, however, that only 206 of those detainers were declined by local law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, ICE officials say the lack of cooperation endangers Americans.

    Guess which political locale has defied federal law the most?

    Travis County, Tex., which includes the city of Austin, declined the most detainers, 142, out of the 206 rejections nationwide listed in the ICE report.

    Officials in Travis County said the high number of declined requests was the result of a change in policy by Sally Hernandez, a Democrat who became sheriff in January. She announced that unless individuals in the Travis County jail had been charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling, they would be allowed to post bond and released despite requests from ICE.

    So thanks to a Democratic Party functionary, Travis County has almost 75% of the entire nation’s non-compliance with federal immigration law. Digging into the actual report, many of the illegal alien felons Travis County refused to hold for deporation have committed sexual assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, burglary and DUI.

    And these are the people Sally Hernandez prefers to see set free back into the community rather than lawfully deported to their home countries.

    The Travis County policy has been criticized by Gov. Greg Abbott, who has threatened to cut off Texas’ criminal justice grant funding for the county.

    After the release of Monday’s report, Mr. Abbott said the findings highlighted the need to get rid of sanctuary cities in the state.

    “The Travis County Sheriff’s decision to deny ICE detainer requests and release back into our communities criminals charged with heinous crimes – including sexual offenses against children, domestic violence and kidnapping – is dangerous and should be criminal in itself,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement.

    SB 5, the bill to abolish sanctuary cities in Texas, has passed the Texas senate and is currently pending in committee in the house.

    It’s time for Travis County to prioritize the safety of American citizens over that of illegal alien felons.

    Texas Bathroom Bill Advances

    March 20th, 2017

    Last week the Texas Senate approved SB-6, the bill that rolled back the Obama Administration’s illegal imposition of tranny bathrooms on the nation.

    Remember when Obama campaigned on letting middle-aged men in dresses use the girl’s bathroom?

    Me neither.

    Out beyond a small but very vocal minority of Social Justice Warriors, no one was asking for tranny bathrooms, and outside of locales like San Francisco, I doubt even Democratic politicians are willing to campaign for them. That is why they had to be introduced by stealth and fiat.

    Tranny bathrooms represent the high-water mark of the hard left’s attempts to impose the idea of “gender as social construct” (as opposed to the obvious scientific truth of two biological sexes) on a resisting nation. That is why the cultural elites have been so desperate to defend the idea despite its widespread unpopularity. If you can get people to pretend a man wearing a dress has been magically transformed into a woman, despite the XY chromosomes in his body, you can get them to pretend to believe in just about anything.

    That’s why the left has fought the rollback so hard, why North Carolina had to be “punished” for daring to respect obvious scientific and time-honored truths rather than “gender fluid” fad popular among liberal elites.

    It remains to be seen whether Texas House speaker Joe Straus will bow to the will of the people, or to the cowardly business interests desperate to avoid elite wrath. Since Straus has never met a Democratic interest he wasn’t willing to cave to, it may require a concerted effort (perhaps by way of a discharge petition) to get HB 1362 voted on.

    LinkSwarm for March 17, 2017

    March 17th, 2017

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Insert your own Irish-related drinking joke here.

  • President Trump’s approval ratings rise.
  • Did Obama use a British intelligence agency to spy on Trump? (Maybe not.)
  • Did the Obama Administration use Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac as a slush fund to pay for ObamaCare?
  • Senate Democrats are paralized what do to over Neil Gorsuch. Everyone agrees Gorsuch is extremely qualified, but the leftwing nutroots are threatening to primary any Democrat who votes to confirm him. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Finally: “A House panel held a hearing on possibly splitting the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday morning.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • In talking about the House GOP’s pathetic ObamaCare replacement, Stephen Green hits the nail on the head: “Congress is warped because the American electorate has yet to accept that other people’s money does eventually run out — and that we are all the other people.” That’s why we need someone committed to reform in the White House, and Greece and Venezuela’s examples fresh in the public’s eye…
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: “What we reject is immigration without assimilation.” (Hat tip: Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.)
  • ICE arrests 248 illegal aliens, most in the sanctuary city of Philadelphia. “20 had a conviction and/or pending charges or 48 percent (88 of those arrested had criminal convictions and 32 of those arrested have pending criminal charges). In addition, 50 had been previously removed from the United States and subsequently illegally re-entered.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Meanwhile, in Australia: “Teacher quits after primary school students threaten to behead her.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Iraqi government forces besieged Islamic State militants around Mosul’s Old City on Thursday, edging closer to the historic mosque from where the group’s leader declared a caliphate nearly three years ago.”
  • Former Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich says that one of his phonecalls was wiretapped. “If a member of Congress can have his phone tapped, this can happen to anybody.”
  • Ten Senate Democrats are vulnerable in 2018. They’re prime targets for takedowns in the midterm elections. But the process starts now, not then…In order of vulnerability (most to least), the target list features: 1) Joe Donnelly-IN; 2) Bill Nelson-FL; 3) Sherrod Brown-OH; 4) Claire McCaskill-MO; 5) Heidi Heitkamp-ND; 6) Tammy Baldwin-WI; 7) Jon Tester-MN; 8) Joe Manchin-WV; 9) Debbie Stabenow-MI; 10) Bob Casey, Jr.-PA.” Agree with the list, but not the order, since Heitkamp hails from a state Trump won by 36 points. But seeing Stupak bloc flip-flopper Donnelly go down at last would be extremely satisfying…
  • Breakdown of 2016 Presidential race demographics. Least likely to vote for Trump: Black single women. Most likely to vote for Trump: Mormons. Usual poll caveats apply. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Remember convicted felon Brett Kimberlin? There’s always some Kimberlin news floating around the blogsphere, usually in relation to his latest ludicrous lawsuit getting laughed out of court. But this week he made the news for being involved in selling hoax documents designed to bring down Donald Trump. “The entire set of documents appear to have been forged as part of an elaborate scam.” So, like most Kimberlin escapades, the story ends in embarrassing failure. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Cenk Uygur: Why the Democratic Party is useless. 1. As with all these critiques of the Democratic Party from the left, it’s right about the party being a corrupt institution for entrenched interests and wrong about America being gung ho for socialism. 2. Boy, that “not being polite” stuff sure helped Democrats recall Scott Walker! 3. “Cenk Uygur” sounds like a dark, forbidding fortress at the edge of Mordor.
  • Holland is the canary in the European coalmine of radical Islamization. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Speaking of Holland, Geert Wilders placed second in Dutch elections, which falls short of a serious challenge to the Islamophillic and Eurocentric establishment.
  • Dear Sen. McCain: (Sigh).
  • Rand Paul fires back: “He makes a really, really strong case for term limits. I think maybe he’s past his prime. I think maybe he’s gotten a little bit unhinged.”
  • Germany wants to fine companies for not censoring fast enough. What do you want to bet that objections to the rousing success of their Muslim immigration policy are first on the list of things to be censored?
  • Camille Paglia has a new book out, and offers up an interview where she talks about modern feminism (against), southern women (for), working class men (for), Michel Foucault (against), and pornography (for).
  • Soros Fellow Flees Country While Wife Arrested For Welfare Scam.” It seems that earning $1.5 million a year at the Washington, D.C., offices of Mayer Brown LLP just wasn’t enough for Fidelis Agbapuruonwu… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Three #BlackLivesMatter protestors arrested for beating up a homeless man.
  • Man gets a C when he should have gotten an A for a school assignment. So he did what any of us would have done: Successfully amends the Constitution. (Hat tip: Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett’s Twitter feed.)
  • Dwight has some Austin-related memoes from the police beat.
  • “Coming up next on Most ShockingMormon Justice!”
  • King King burns.
  • He divided them again!
  • Schumer steals again. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Singer Kelly Clarkson is selling her Tennessee mansion. I like how it’s half typical rich-person mansion, and half Bass Pro Shop…
  • Follow-Up: Same Robbery, Different Angles

    March 16th, 2017

    This is more extensive footage of the same robbery from different angles:

    And Hsoi’s comment on the previous video appears to be correct: Security guard Brian Harrison does appear to have to re-cock the slide during the fight, indicating some sort of misfire.

    Security Guard 1, Bank Robber 0

    March 16th, 2017

    Would-be bank rubber walks into bank high on drugs, wearing a ski mask, fires into ceiling.

    In what looks like less than a second, bank guard (and former deputy) Brian Harrison draws his own weapon and fires, hitting the suspect.

    The entire gun battle, with several shots fired from both robber and guard, is less than 10 seconds and ends with the robber dead from multiple hits.

    Some might quibble about Harrison’s stance and grip (as the link does), but the video makes it obvious that going for quick reaction time over form was the right decision in this case…