Republicans emerge as president’s biggest obstacle…

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 4.02.30 PM

By Lisa Lerer

With friends like these: Trump struggles to win GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans have a lot to say about their new president.

Donald Trump‘s proposed budget is “draconian, careless and counterproductive.” The health care plan is a bailout that won’t pass. And his administration’s suggestion that former President Barack Obama used London’s spy agency for surveillance is simply “inexplicable.”

With friends like these, who needs Democrats?

Less than two months in, Republicans have emerged as one of the biggest obstacles to Trump’s young administration, imperiling his early efforts to pass his agenda and make good on some of his biggest campaign promises.

Trump’s embrace of a House GOP plan to overhaul the country’s health system faces deep opposition from across the party, as does his push to get U.S. taxpayers to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Republicans largely rejected his thin, 53-page first budget, joking that there’s a “fat chance for skinny budget” on Capitol Hill. And his tax reform and infrastructure plans have yet to gain any real traction in Congress.

Trump insisted on Friday that he is leading a party that is coalescing behind him.

“I think we have a very unified party. I think actually more unified than even the election,” he said at a White House news conference with German leader Angela Merkel. “You see when they talk about me, I seem to be very popular, at least this week within the party.”

Long a divisive political figure, Trump entered office with historically low approval ratings and a popular vote loss of nearly 3 million. Still, he claimed a sweeping mandate when he arrived in Washington, fiercely pushing back on any suggestion that he won with less than a historic margin and moving quickly on a series of controversial executive orders.

Now, his administration has reached the limits of what it can achieve without Congress, leaving Trump struggling to lead his party on Capitol Hill — starting with the health care bill.

After years of campaign promises to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” the bill presents the first major test of whether Trump and Republican leaders can marshal a fractious GOP caucus behind a major legislative initiative. GOP leaders fear that failure could chip away at Trump’s already thin political capital, dooming future efforts on tax reform and infrastructure.

Trump’s early missteps have overshadowed one of the administration’s smoothest-sailing moves — the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Confirmation hearings begin Monday.

“A president only has so much political capital to expend and so much moral authority as well, and so any time your credibility takes a hit I think in many ways it weakens the officeholder,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who had described the surveillance claims as “inexplicable.”

The furor over Trump’s unproven claim that Obama wiretapped his New York skyscraper prompted Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma to suggest Trump owes his predecessor an apology.

Republicans almost immediately balked at Trump’s budget, with Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers uttering the “draconian” complaint and others questioning why Trump’s core supporters took a hit.

“Rural America stepped up to the plate behind the president in his last election, and we’re wholeheartedly behind him. We need to make sure that rural America at least gets its fair share,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.

Trump is hardly the first president to clash with members of his own party. Few congressional Democrats felt a personal connection to Obama, who came under criticism for his hands-off approach to Congress, and his lack of interest in schmoozing with lawmakers or using the trappings of his office to woo them.

While Trump has hosted Republicans for bowling, pizza and other White House events, he’s been hampered by his inexperience with governing and his distance from establishment GOP politics. A businessman, Trump has never lined up lawmakers behind a bill, crafted a political coalition or passed a budget — nor have many of his closest aides.

During his campaign, he embraced a populist platform, rejecting traditional conservative positions on issues like trade and cutting costly mandatory programs like Social Security.

Many congressional Republicans, from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on down, were slow to embrace Trump’s candidacy, and some of those concerns linger.

His series of false claims since the election haven’t helped the relationship, distracting from his agenda on Capitol Hill and forcing Republicans to answer near-daily questions about his accusations.

But Trump also seems eager to keep some wiggle room between his presidency and a bill some friends and allies believe is a political trap. They fear the legislation — they’ve dubbed it Ryancare — could violate some of Trump’s populist campaign promises, like providing health insurance for all Americans and preserving Medicaid, for a conservative Republican agenda led by Ryan.

“Speaker Paul Ryan and the establishment GOP have pulled a fast one on President Trump,” wrote Eric Bolling, a Fox News host with close ties to Trump, in an op-ed.

____

AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner contributed to this report.

‘Unprecedented freedom’: Republicans present Obamacare replacement

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 4.01.36 PM

The GOP-proposed American Health Care Act would return power to the states and offer greater choice, lower costs and more flexibility to individuals – and do it in around 100 pages, the bill’s architects told reporters after their proposal was made public.

“As Republicans, we have a choice. We can act now, or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity,” said Kevin Brady (R- Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Brady addressed reporters on Tuesday with Greg Walden (R-Oregon), who co-wrote the Republican proposal.

The proposal devolves power and decision-making back to the states, restores the free market to health insurance, and provides $10 billion a year from Congress to the states to subsidize Medicaid and ensure continuing coverage, Walden and Brady said. Tax credits toward healthcare would be available immediately, grow with age, expand with family, and transfer with employment.

“This is unprecedented freedom,” Brady said.

*

“We have crafted the biggest entitlement reform in the past 20 years,” said Walden, who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where the proposal originated.

In contrast with the 2,400 pages of the ACA “written in the dark of night,” the new bill is just over 100 pages and available to the American public, Walden said.

“I encourage them to actually read the bill, find out what’s in it,” he added, referencing Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) famous phrase about the original ACA, when she was House majority leader.

The new bill restores free markets and “rescues Americans from failures of the Affordable Care Act,” Brady said. “More people have opted out of Obamacare than are taking it. And those who have it, frankly, can’t use it.”

Walden backed him up by citing the Congressional Budget Office’s claim that 21 million would be covered, when it reality that number was 10 million, with young people choosing to pay the penalties instead.

“This insurance market is collapsing before our eyes,” the Oregon Republican said, pointing out that 225 counties across the US had only one insurance option last year, with that number growing to 1,022 in 2017, “and that was before Humana pulled out.”

“We’ve arrived to the scene of a pretty big wreck and we’re trying to clean up the mess,” Walden said.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 4.06.31 PM

The bill would also eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood and redirect the money to community health centers, so women would continue having access to healthcare. Pre-existing conditions would continue to be covered under the proposal, though there would be a penalty for letting the coverage lapse, as some people would game the system to avoid paying premiums under Obamacare by quitting the plan for three months then re-upping, Walden claimed.

Democrats have denounced the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, dubbed “Obamacare,” by saying it would “Make America sick again,” in reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Some Republicans have also been critical of the proposed replacement, calling it “Obamacare lite” or “Obamacare 2.0” and arguing it does not go far enough.

Trump cuts US debt by $12bn in his first month in office, accuses media of ‘not reporting’ it

The US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he managed to decrease the US total public debt by US$ 12 billion during his first month in office while the former President Barack Obama increased it by US$200 billion over the same period.

*

Trump has also accused the media of turning the blind eye to this fact.

“The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo,” he said in his Twitter post.

captureHe then added that he has “great optimism for future of the US business and jobs” and promised “big tax and regulation cuts.”

capture

The figures presented by Trump coincide with the data issued by the US Treasury Department, according to which, on January 20th, the day of Trump’s inauguration, the overall US debt stood at $19,947 billion. On February 21st, a month later, the total US debt load amounted to $19,935 billion.

Moreover, between February 22 and February 23, the US debt fell by further $ 22 billion from $ 19,935 billion to $ 19,913 billion.

The US public debt really grew by more than US$ 200 billion from US$ 10,626 billion to US$ 10,838 billion in Obama’s first month in office, according to the US Treasury data.

According to the website USdebtclock.org, which tracks how much the US debt grows in real time, the debt had grown by $ 9 trillion or by 86 percent from $ 10.7 trillion to $ 19.6 trillion during Obama’s two terms in office, hitting a record high.

*

The largest budget item is Medicare/Medicaid which has seen over $1.1 trillion added to US debt. Social Security accounted for $900 billion, while $585 billion was spent on defense and war.

However, the New York Times reported in 2009 that Obama banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller. This decision led to a situation, in which the spending seemed to grow to a larger degree previously.

Trump’s statements come just a day after the Council on Foreign Relations predicted that “Trump’s policies would be likely to significantly widen the budget deficit.”

In November 2016, after the US elections, the Tax Policy Center (TPC) also said that the federal debt would rise by $7.2 trillion n ten years and by $20.9 trillion by 2036.

READ MORE:Trump tax plan helps ultra wealthy, businesses more than middle class, hurts single parents

Trump vowed to reduce the US debt and to eliminate deficit spending during his presidential campaign. On Wednesday, he once again addressed this issue and pledged to make Washington stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

capture

“The finances of our country are a mess, but we’re going to clean them up,” the president said, adding that “we won’t let your money be wasted anymore.”

“We must do a lot more with less,” he said.

REPORT: CNN CAUGHT HANDING OUT QUESTIONS AT CRUZ-SANDERS DEBATE

CNN “reminds” audience member what to ask

Jamie White | Infowars.com – FEBRUARY 8, 2017

CNN was caught handing out an apparently edited question to a member of the audience “clarifying” what to ask Ted Cruz during the debate Tuesday night with Bernie Sanders about the future of Obamacare. 

The question, read by Carol Hardaway is as follows:

“I have multiple sclerosis but could not afford insurance – without the treatment or medications I need, I had problems with walking, with my speech, and my vision. When the affordable care act was passed I moved from our home state of Texas because they refused to expand Medicaid to Maryland and within 2 weeks I started receiving treatments through Medicaid and am now well enough to work as a substitute teacher.”

“Senator Cruz, can you promise me that you and the Republican leaders in congress will have – actually have a replacement plan in place for people like me who depend on their Medicaid? In other words, I like my coverage, can I keep it?”

The email is from a Gmail account, with the subject line “Your Question,” as the picture shows.

This isn’t the first time CNN has been caught “managing” questions from the audience.

Just last October, WikiLeaks revealed that CNN commentator and former chair of the DNC Donna Brazile funneled questions to Hillary Clinton ahead of a major Democratic primary debate. She was fired as DNC chair and let go as commentator shortly after the revelations came to light.

A month later, WikiLeaks again revealed that CNN was caught asking the DNC to prepare questions for Wolf Blitzer’s interview with then-candidate Donald Trump

“Wolf Blitzer is interviewing Trump on Tues ahead of his foreign policy address on Wed,” wrote the DNC’s Lauren Dillon to fellow Democrats. “Please send me thoughts by 10:30 AM tomorrow. Thanks!”

Now that CNN is understood to be the fake news network, it’s surprising that they’re still digging their own grave by continuing to brazenly peddle fake narratives.

Ten Questionable Federal Gov’t Expenditures Greater Than Trump’s Border Wall

By Jeff Poor

Many of President Donald Trump’s critics are grappling with the reality the U.S. government will actually build the much-ballyhooed border wall Trump had pledged to repeatedly during his campaign.

However, those critics are still arguing the money put toward the project would be a waste.

The main question now is how the government will pay for it, to which Trump had said throughout the 2016 presidential campaign that Mexico would be responsible for the project’s financing.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell estimated the cost would be between $12-15 billion. Similarly, House Speaker Paul Ryan had put the price tag at between $8-14 billion.

Assuming the cost is on the high end of those estimates at $15 billion, the total cost of the border wall would constitute nearly 0.4 percent of the federal government’s $3.8 trillion FY 2015 budget.

While there are many other big ticket items on the federal budget, many of them dwarf the cost of a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Here are a few:

1) The War on Poverty: On the 50th anniversary of the so-called War on Poverty in 2014, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector estimated taxpayers have footed a $22 trillion bill for the effort.

As Rector also points out, however, is that in that 50-year timespan, the poverty rate was the same that was when President Lyndon B. Johnson began the “war on poverty.”

Lyndon Baines Johnson, Harry Truman,

“The U.S. Census Bureau has just released its annual poverty report,” Rector wrote. “The report claims that in 2013, 14.5 percent of Americans were poor. Remarkably, that’s almost the same poverty rate as in 1967, three years after the War on Poverty started.”

In case you were wondering, the cost of this ongoing war would be enough to foot the bill for 1,466 border walls.

2) The Lockheed Martin F-35 Stealth Fighter Jet Project: According to Reuters, the cost to build the fighter jet program is estimated to be $379 billion, which would be roughly the cost of 25 border walls.

F35-Jet_Reuters

Back in December in a tweet, Trump criticized the costs of the project, which have been plagued with problems and cost overruns, and said he was asking Lockheed Martin competitor Boeing to price out a similar project.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-4-12-21-pm

Early on, some anticipated that throughout the lifespan of the F-35, the federal government could spent up to $1 trillion overall in building the fighter jet and for its maintenance.

3) A Day and a Half of Running the Federal Government: The federal budget is currently around $3.8 trillion. If you take there are 365 days in a year, 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in an hour, that comes to a total of 525,600 minutes per year. Divide that $3.8 trillion by 525,600 and you will find the U.S. government spends about $7.2 million per minute.

AP Photo

At $7.2 million per minute, that is $432 million per hour and nearly $10.4 billion a day.  With the wall at a cost of $15 billion, that would be roughly a day and a half of operating the federal government as a whole.

4) Medicare, Medicaid Improper Payments: A 2015 Government Accountability Office report estimated in 2014 the federal government made $59.9 billion in improper Medicare payments and $17.5 billion in improper Medicaid payments for a grand total of $76.4 billion, or roughly the cost of five border walls.

AP Photo/Bradly C. Bower

That same report found that when the $76.4 billion figure was combined with 122 programs, including the EITC, that number in FY 2014 comes out to $124.7 billion in improper federal government payment, which was up from $105.8 billion a year earlier.

5) Maintenance of Vacant and Unused Properties: The federal government reportedly spent $25 billion annually in 2009 on maintaining vacant and unused building.

The figure was cited in a 2009 Heritage Foundation report, which was calculated by then-Senate Oversight Subcommittee chairman Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK):

Unused Federal Property:

  • $25 billion wasted per year in unused federal property. (At $21 per square foot occupancy cost, 1.186 billion square feet of excess space)
  • Federal buildings worth tens of billions of dollars sit empty around the country. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has set a goal of reducing the inventory of all real property by 5%, or $15 billion, by 2009. Based on this goal, it appears that OMB considers this amount– at the very least—to be excess.
  • DoD spends $3-4Billion on maintenance of unused buildings each year.

The figures have been revised downward over the year, to $8 billion in 2013 and to $1.7 billion in 2016. However, the cumulative amount over the past decade would have been more than enough to finance a border wall.

6) The Littoral Combat Ship Program: The U.S. Navy’s controversial Littoral Combat Ship program comes in with a price tag of $29 billion.

The project, which includes ship prototypes built in Mobile, AL and Marinette, WI, has been fraught with problems and targeted for those problems and cost overruns on a bipartisan basis by the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and ranking Democrat Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).

Lockheed Martin via Getty Images

“Until these actions are taken, we will have significant concerns about supporting the procurement of additional LCSs,” McCain and Reed wrote to Navy officials last fall in a letter according to Bloomberg News.

7) Earned Income Tax Credit Program Improper Payments: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is regarded by its critics as nothing more than wealth transfer program that exists under the guise of eliminating poverty.

According to the Brookings and Urban Institutes’ Tax Policy Center, in 2015 the ETIC provided an estimated $69 billion in benefits to 28 million recipients.

However, as the Washington Examiner’s Byron York pointed out, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration stated, “The IRS estimates that 23.8 percent ($15.6 billion) of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2015.”

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-4-17-11-pm

At $15.6 billion, that is roughly the cost of the border wall.

8) U.S. Postal Service: Even though the postal service generates revenue by charging for certain services, it still loses money that is absorbed by the taxpayer.

The U.S. Postal Service has fallen on hard times given more efficient means of communication have replaced the need for the agency’s first-class mail.

Mail US Postal (Justin Sullivan / Getty)

For FY 2012 alone, the USPS lost $15.9 billion. Although they have shrunk over the last four years, the agency has continued to post losses, including $3.9 billion in 2013, $5.5 billion in 2014, $5.1 billion in 2015 and $5.6 billion in 2016 for a grand total of $36 billion since 2012.

The USPS also enjoys a federal government-imposed monopoly on access to mailboxes and is exempt from local regulations and taxes that its privatized competitors do not enjoy.

9) NASA: Even though the last U.S. manned space flight was in 2011, NASA still has an annual budget of $18.5 billion.

A sizable chunk of that budget is dedicated to the agency’s Earth sciences division estimated at $2 billion, which has been at the forefront of climate change research.

NASA vowed to award up to three $30,000 prizes for the most promising in-suit waste management systems

However, a recent Guardian article by Oliver Milman anticipates funding on climate change to stripped and rededicated to deep space exploration under President Trump.

For the time being, NASA has been reliant upon the Russians to send U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, which came at a $457.9 million cost in 2014.

10)  Farm Subsidies: According to Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, the federal government through the Department of Agriculture spends at least $25 billion on farm subsidies.

“The particular amount each year depends on the market prices of crops and other factors,” Edwards wrote last October for DownsizingGovernment.org, a project of the Cato Institute. “Most agricultural subsidies go to farmers of a handful of major crops, including wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton. Roughly a million farmers and landowners receive federal subsidies, but the payments are heavily tilted toward the largest producers.”

USDA127

To Edwards’ point, farm subsidies often go to those not necessarily of financial assistance from the government. Among those receiving those subsidies according to a 2015 Economist magazine piece are Walmart heirs Alice, Jim and Rob Walton, rockers Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen and CNN founder Ted Turner.

Trump signs order to ‘ease burden of Obamacare’ before it can be replaced

On his first day in the White House, Donald Trump signed an order ‘to ease the burden of Obamacare as we transition from repeal and replace,’ his press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

On Friday night, just after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed the executive order as the new administration and Congress are working to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Spicer told reporters.

In addition, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus sent a memo to all government agencies calling for a freeze on regulations.

It is still not clear what the executive order entails.

*

Hours after taking the oath of office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, titled “Minimizing the economic burden of the patient protection and affordable care act pending repeal.”

The executive order calls for the “prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

The executive order does not repeal Obamacare itself, and says that before the repeal happens, “it is imperative for the executive branch to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.”

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also sent a memo to all government agencies calling for a “regulatory freeze until further notified,” incoming press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 and upheld by the US Supreme Court on June 28, 2012.

Under the law, insurance providers were prevented from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and all Americans were mandated to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

As of February 2016, the official ACA website says that roughly 20 million Americans were enrolled in Obamacare, including those on the Medicaid expansion, and young adults who were allowed to stay on their parents plan until they turned 26 years old.

Republicans cited problems with Obamacare from vanishing health plans to increased  premiums as reasons for repealing and replacing.

Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare over 50 times while Obama was in office. On September 30, 2013, Republicans failed to defund the law through the spending process, causing the government to shut down for 16 days.

Since then, Trump has promised to “immediately repeal and replace” the bill, which he has called “a total disaster.”

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-3-30-23-pm

Last week, in a 51-48 vote, the US Senate pproved a Republican-backed budget measure that would make it easier for Obamacare to be repealed. With a Republican majority, they passed Concurrent Resolution 3, a reconciliation measure that set budget levels from 2018 to 2026

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-3-31-33-pm

Democrats have warned that repealing Obamacare without a replacement bill would cause millions of Americans could lose their insurance.

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-3-32-36-pm

While there still is no replacement bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said that the Republicans will outline a replacement strategy a week from the inauguration at a congressional retreat in Philadelphia.

“Some of these steps will be taken by Congress; some of these steps will be taken by the incoming Trump administration,” Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to official transcripts. “This will be a thoughtful, step-by-step process. We’re not going to swap one 2,700-page monstrosity for another.”

CBS spotlights Obamacare nightmare for Tennessee family: Spiking premiums, declining choice

Dan Troop

How many of the newly insured are now on Medicaid?
BonnieBlue2A

Obamacare was designed to destroy health insurance in the USA so that people would call for single payer. It is sickening that Obama, Pelosi, Reid et. al. DEMOCRATS did this to Americans.
Jack MeOff

You wanted Obamacare now deal with Obamacare.
rapidroy7

Pull your ears back you look funny!
aries37

“Recent Immigrants” — you mean ILLEGALS??
watcherjohnny

“Obamacare – The Fruits of Socialism” (Hope you like rotten fruit).
askarainbow

Well here’s a solution in their ability to recruit younger persons . . . . make the penalty for younger persons higher than the insurance premiums. .. . . like triple ( or more) the penalty for those in the “””basement dweller” “category.. Tough if they graduated college, ow on humongous student loans and can’t find decent jobs!!!!!
Unapologetic White Male

It is unaffordable! Yet we are still being forced to buy it! How fucked is that?
Scarlett O'hara

Were they so stupid to think the young people were going to buy insurance? How can that be, when they allowed the young 26 and under to be on their parents insurance? The Law is built on a lie! Just a way to take over folks lives!