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Let's Not Pretend We Didn't Know This

You've probably seen this evening's Washington Post story which reports that a secret CIA assessment, presented to a bipartisan group of Senators last week, concludes that Russia intervened in the 2016 election for the purpose of helping Donald Trump win the presidency. Let me take a slightly contrarian position on this revelation. With the obvious caveat that intelligence assessments can be wrong, this is a huge, huge deal. But it's not a new huge deal.

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No Words

I have nothing but silence to offer. This is TPM Reader TC.

I'm a longtime reader. Thank you for your wonderful reporting and analysis over so many years.

I am prompted write to you for the first time because I appreciate very much your attempt to closely track the GOP's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

So many times in these discussions words fail to capture the stakes of the issue. When we speak of 20 million, or 23 million people who may "lose their health insurance" if the ACA is repealed, I suspect most of your readers absorb that as a useful data point and then, quite naturally, move on. Their eyes slide to the sentence that follows.

I am writing in the hope that I can get your readers to pause for a moment and consider what this loss truly means, behind the abstractions.

My wife has advanced colo-rectal cancer. She was diagnosed in 2008 when our three children were 3, 2 and 9 months old.

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GOP Plans Major Social Security Cuts

We'll have a story coming shortly on what I just mentioned a short time ago: that Republicans are now planning to pass major cuts to Social Security this year. Specifically, this bill is being introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Social Security Subcommittee, the committee with jurisdiction over Social Security.

Until then let me cover the broad details of the plan.

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Going for the Big Enchilada

Republicans apparently aren't going to be satisfied with phasing out Medicare. They're going to try to pass huge cuts to Social Security this year too. Not Bush-style partial phaseout but just big, big cuts. And you're out of luck even if you're a current beneficiary.

More shortly.

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He Won't Because He Can't

TPM reader JG adds some details to my suggestion that Trump may be refusing to divest himself of his business because he can't. As JG suggests, the issue is likely not cash flow per se. But creditors often require cash flow to service debts. As a condition of borrowing he may have agreed not to divest himself of certain properties.

I'm a (very) longtime reader, and a corporate lawyer. I agree with your story today regarding the possibility that Trump can't divest. It occurred to me right after the election that it would be impossible for Trump to sell if the companies were valued less than their debt, and that it would be very unattractive for him to sell if the companies were highly leveraged, because he'd have to pay off debt and could be left with very little of the proceeds. I still think this is a likely explanation.

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Flynn to McCaffrey: Sorry About the Tweets

You likely heard that retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey expressed deep concern over Gen. Michael Flynn's appointment as National Security Advisor after reviewing some of Flynn's "demented" tweets. Just a few moments ago McCaffrey appeared on MSNBC, seemingly at least partly reassured, after getting a "long email" from Flynn explaining himself.

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The Rush for Repeal and Never Replace

I've mentioned this point a few times. But there are the details. Why the rush to repeal the ACA even if there's a notional long 'transition period'? Simple. Repealing the ACA produces a huge tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. We've noted that. What few have noted is that by killing the funding now, the GOP is all but guaranteeing there will never be a replacement for Obamacare and that the 20 to 30 million American who lose their insurance now will ever get it back. Think about it. The GOP is asking people to believe that they will pass a major tax hike in 2018 to fund their 'replacement' for Obamacare. Here are the details.

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Key Findings on Medicare

This is from a just released Pew Poll ...

A second major issue likely to be considered by the 115th Congress – possible changes to Medicare – has not resonated widely with the public. Overall, only about half of the public (51%) has heard a lot (12%) or a little (39%) about a proposal to change Medicare to a program that would give future participants a credit toward purchasing private health insurance. About as many either have heard nothing (48%) or don’t know (1%).

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Maybe the Answer Is That He Can't Divest

Since Donald Trump's surprise election one month ago, there's been a bubbling conversation about the mammoth conflicts of interest he will have if he is running or even owning his far flung business enterprises while serving as the head of state. I've suggested that the whole notion of 'conflicts of interest' doesn't really capture what we're dealing with here, which is really a pretty open effort to leverage the presidency to expand his family business. But a couple things came together for me today which make me think we've all missed the real issue.

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