Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Don't Go Wraith, Folks

This morning President Trump went on Twitter to claim that Sen. Richard Blumenthal was essentially lying when he repeated Judge Gorsuch's critical comments about the President.

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What The GOP's Obamacare Debate Is Really About

The key thing to understanding the debate over health care policy in the United States is that it's not really about health care policy, it's about money.

This may sound weird on first read, but there's actually not a lot of disagreement about the basic contours of health care policy. It seems like there is. But most of the policy debates are proxies for the underlying disagreements over whether and how much government should spend on health care.

The political challenge for Republicans has always been how to mask their ideological preference not to spend much (or any) on health care. To do that, they've mounted a sustained decades-long attack on any reform efforts as too costly, inefficient, unworkable, and a threat to liberty. At the same time, they've had to come up with a proposals of their own to make it sound like they actually have a workable health care policy: tax credits, health savings accounts, high risk pools, etc.

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The Gorsuch Confirmation Just Got Much More Interesting

Let me start by saying that I fully expect that if Democrats filibuster President Trump's nomination of Judge Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, Republicans will abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and confirm him on a party line vote. I do not see this as a surprise or even necessarily a bad thing inasmuch as the filibuster was effectively abolished in 2005. Back then Democrats entered into an agreement with Republicans not to filibuster now-Chief Justice John Roberts in exchange for not abolishing the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments. In other words, the Supreme Court filibuster has only existed as a mirage for more than a decade. So absent some disqualifying revelation I fully expect Gorsuch to be confirmed.

But something happened today that will make his confirmation process considerably interesting than I'd anticipated.

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Three Dimensional Integration

I've been saying for months that the language of 'conflicts of interest' for President Trump is entirely inadequate and frankly silly. The concept of a conflict of interest is one that speaks to a situation in which an overlap or conflict between an individual's personal and professional or public interests makes it impossible for that individual to act in an ethical manner or to appear to be doing so. It has no meaning when the actor - in this case, the President - is openly using his office for personal profit. In other words, it has no meaning when the President refuses to recognize any difference between his public responsibilities and his personal and familial business interests, the state and himself. He recognizes no conflict. Indeed, there isn't one. President Trump is openly using his office to become the billionaire he always wanted to be. And now his Press Secretary has said as much.

Just a few moments ago, Sean Spicer said that Nordstrom's decision to drop Trump's daughter's eponymous clothing line constitutes a political attack on the President and he is within his rights to retaliate.

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Thank Trump For Everything

I don't know the particulars of the new Intel plant in Arizona that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich just announced with President Trump from the Oval Office. But I have followed the DC tech advocacy conversation for many years. And Intel does roughly 75% of its manufacturing in the United States and this has always been, not surprisingly, a key part of its corporate advocacy and marketing in the US. It thus seems highly likely that if Intel saw demand for more product it would choose to manufacture them in the United States.

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Abuse Of Power

It starts small, but this is real, not just some hypothesized conflict of interest, but actual misuse of office for personal familial financial gain.

Question of the Day

This afternoon, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway told CNN's Jake Tapper that President Trump's false statements are less important than the "many things he says that are true." But this prompted an immediate debate within TPM. Was Conway saying that the true things Trump says are simply much more important than the false things? Or was she saying that the overall ratio was good? Like net more true statements than false statements or something like a batting average? Here's Conway. What do you think?

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