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Have We Found a Straggler?

We've been hunting around to try to find out where everyone stands on the Medicare phase out question, as you know. And we may have found a Republican who's on the fence or wavering about supporting Paul Ryan's plan to phase out Medicare and replace it with private insurance and vouchers. Most Reps and Senators line up along expected party lines. We're most interested in the ones that don't. We may have found one: Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

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Babies and Bathwater

An important corrective from TPM Reader JES ...

So much of the response from Dems in post-mortems seems like they are treating a problem that didn’t occur. Democrats won the popular vote (by what looks like it will be millions of votes) and would have won control of the House absent gerrymandering. It was a consequential election not a landslide. These things are different. The consequences haven’t been greater in a long time, but acting like it was 1984 or 1972 is an error all in itself.

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Where Do We Stand on Phasing Out Medicare?

I wanted to take a moment to update you on where we stand on Paul Ryan's plan to phase out Medicare and replace it with private insurance and vouchers. The short version: where we are is not good. Somewhat paradoxically, Medicare may actually be in far greater danger of being dismantled than Obamacare. More on that in a moment.

In recent days we noted that Paul Ryan and people in the Trump camp had suggested that Congress might use a single piece of legislation or at least simultaneously repeal Obamacare and phase out Medicare. It was suggested that this might happen as soon as January. That still may happen.

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Above and Beyond Prime

For everyone who has asked if there's a way to support TPM journalism over and above for Prime subscription, this is for you.

This is a note for current Prime subscribers. We've heard from lots of you over the last week that we should raise the cost of a Prime subscription (not going to do that) or give you some way to support TPM and our 2017 reporting plans beyond your $50 annual subscription fee. Well, yes we do! We allow readers to purchase "credit subscriptions" (here's an overview of the concept from 2013) which we then assign to readers who can't afford to subscribe. Everybody wins: you add more reporting firepower, people who can't afford to subscribe get access. Here is the link. You can buy one for $50 or 10 for $500 or 20 for $1000. However many you want. And to be clear, zero is totally fine too. No one should feel under any obligation to do this. If you've signed up for Prime you are 100% good with this. This is purely for people who can and would like to. It's more money to do more reporting and allows us to create a viable subscription model while not excluding readers who don't have the resources to afford a subscription. Want to support TPM over and above your Prime subscription? This is how. Just click right here.

Key Medicare Wobblers

From what we can tell, when it comes to Paul Ryan's Medicare Phaseout plan, the two wobbliest Republican members of Congress are Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Jaime Herrara Beutler (R-WA). They both oppose 'privatization' but aren't clear on what they mean by it. So they seem to be hedging their bets and hoping the storm passes. Also hedging or refusing to give answers are Reps. Babin (R-TX), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Ryan Zinke (R-MT). (Here's the full list which we are continuing to update.) If anybody can figure out where these members of Congress stand or whether they're willing to take a position, by all means let us know. The lead on Medicare Phaseout in the House says they'll try to do it this summer.

Late Update: We've now received a new letter (see list) from Sen. Joe Donnelly confirming that he opposes the Ryan Medicare Phaseout plan.

Hatch Wants Phaseout if Dems Will Help

Interesting report here from Lauren Fox about a Q&A with Sen. Orrin Hatch about Medicare. Hatch makes pretty clear that he supports the Ryan Medicare Phaseout plan (phasing out Medicare and replacing it with private insurance and vouchers.) But he also makes clear that he's reluctant to do it unless Democrats give Republicans cover. As we predicated, a lot of this will come down to whether Democrats give Republicans cover to phaseout Medicare on a notionally bipartisan basis. He also makes clear that he thinks some form of phaseout will be necessary to afford the rest of Trump's agenda. Read.

Power Politics

From Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer outside of Trump Tower a few moments ago (emphasis added):

“Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel. We have no doubt that Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is a true friend of Israel, he was one of Israel’s greatest friends in the Congress, one of the most pro-Israel governors in the country, and we look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever”