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Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

President Donald Trump offered several excuses for the Senate GOP’s failure to move forward a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, including a weak attempt to blame Democrats for the legislation’s downfall, in a series of tweets throughout the morning on Tuesday.

Trump also vacillated on strategies for the Senate as it continues to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, offering no less than three different proposals for the chamber’s next approach between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

The Senate bill fizzled on Monday night with a total of four GOP senators openly opposing the bill. Trump suggested that those Republicans who didn’t back the bill are not “loyal” and also indicated he was disappointed by Democratic senators, who were never on board with Republicans’ plans to repeal the health care law.

He then suggested a new strategy for the Senate: let Obamacare fail before working on a replacement.

This came after a Monday night tweet in which Trump proposed repealing Obamacare now and working on a replacement later, perhaps with the help of Democrats.

Later on Tuesday morning, Trump blamed the Senate’s very small majority for the health care bill’s failure, again trying to pin Republicans’ issues on Democrats.

Trump went on to suggest that Senate Republicans nix the legislative filibuster that allows Democrats to force the Senate to pass bills with 60 votes, rather than a simple majority.

However, nuking the filibuster would not have enabled Senate Republicans to pass their bill. They were working within the reconciliation process for this reason, and weren’t able to lock down even the 50 votes from Republican senators necessary for that process.

Throughout the Obamcare repeal ordeal, Trump has gone back and forth on new strategies as the Senate has struggled to reach consensus on a bill.

The President suggested letting Obamacare “crash & burn” after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delayed a vote on the original Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare in late June. Just a few days later, Trump turned around and endorsed a repeal and delay plan in the event that the Senate bill failed.

The President was blindsided by the decision by Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas Monday night to come out against the bill, blocking it from moving forward, according to a report in Politico. He was at a dinner with a few Republican senators, where he was telling them that they would look like “dopes” if they could not pass the legislation, per Politico.

“If the Republicans have the House, Senate and the presidency and they can’t pass this health care bill they are going to look weak,” Trump said, according to an unnamed source who spoke with Politico. “How can we not do this after promising it for years?”

After the Senate Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare again failed to gain enough support to move forward, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pushed for the Senate to consider a plan he drafted with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

Graham and Cassidy announced their plan last week, which would keep some of the taxes imposed by Obamacare and send those funds to the states in the form of block grants. Their legislation also maintains Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnall (R-KY) has a different plan, however. Unable to move forward with the replacement bill, McConnell said late Monday night that he would push to bring the House replacement bill to the floor of the Senate and allow a vote on an amendment to repeal Obamcare with a two-year delay.

After the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare faltered Monday night with two more senators coming out against the bill, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) urged the Senate GOP to hold hearings on health care and work with Democrats to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote. As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure,” he said in a statement. “The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does not appear to be taking the approach laid out by McCain. Late Monday night, he announced that he will push to bring the Hosue repeal bill to the floor and allow senators to vote on an amendment to repeal Obamacare with a two-year delay.

After two more Republican senators on Monday night came out against the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, solidifying the legislation’s demise, President Donald Trump called for Congress to pass a clean repeal of Obamacare and come up with a replacement with Democrats later.

Trump also endorsed that strategy after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delayed consideration of the Senate bill at the end of June when it failed to earn enough support to proceed.

McConnell announced late Monday night that he will try to bring the House repeal bill to the floor and allow Senators to vote on an amendment repealing Obamacare with a two-year delay.

While Senate Republican leaders work to whip enough votes for their Obamacare repeal bill, the White House and its allies have been meeting with potential primary challengers to one of the GOP caucus’ most vulnerable senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona, according to a Monday report in Politico.

Trump himself has spoken to Jeff DeWit, the Arizona state treasurer and former Trump campaign aide, who is considering a Senate bid, two sources told Politico. White House officials have also talked to former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who challenged Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in his primary last year and has already announced a primary challenge to Flake, and met with potential primary challenger and former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham, according to the report.

David Bossie, a former Trump campaign aide who runs Citizens United, told Graham that conservatives were likely to back either him or DeWit in a primary with Flake, three unnamed sources told Politico.

Flake has aired criticism of Trump before, calling on him to drop out of the presidential race after the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape and questioning his decision to fire James Comey as FBI director.

Read Politico’s entire report here.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Sunday made a bold and questionable prediction about the Senate GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare: He argued that the legislation could actually provide health insurance to more individuals than the Affordable Care Act, a claim undermined by the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill.

Price made the comment while discussing how the Senate bill closes a gap that existed in certain states that chose not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. In those states, there is a section of the population that does not qualify for traditional Medicaid, but makes too little to qualify for subsidies on the exchanges since Obamacare intended to cover it through Medicaid expansion. The Senate bill closes this gap, and Price used that provision to argue that more people would be covered under the new legislation.

“That also is one of the reasons we believe we’re gonna be able to cover more individuals on this bill than are currently covered. I know that’s counterintuitive to folks that have been reading other headlines, but the goal is to get every single American covered and have access to the kind of coverage that they want,” he said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

The CBO has yet to release its score of the revised Senate repeal bill, but its analysis of the initial version of the bill shows that 22 million fewer people would have health insurance by 2026. It’s not clear that the revisions to the Senate bill would improve matters much.

Price on Sunday tried to delegitimize that CBO score, calling it an “opinion” and arguing that the CBO does not take into account people who purchase catastrophic plans.

Host Maria Bartiromo said she thought it was an “important point” that many people who would go without coverage under the Senate plan would do so by choice.

“Oh, it is an important point. It’s also CBO’s opinion,” Price said in response, noting people could purchase catastrophic plans under the Senate bill, which only cover three primary care visits a year and have high out-of-pocket costs. He claimed that “a health savings account with a high deductible catastrophic plan” does not “count in CBO’s formula.”

“So CBO doesn’t even capture those individuals who say to the federal government, ‘I don’t want the plan that you think I need, I want the plan that I know I need for myself and my family,'” Price said. “So those numbers are so flawed in terms of what actually happens in the real world when people act for themselves in an appropriate way and get that kind of coverage that they want.”

Price’s comments about the CBO’s methodology appear to be misleading, however. In a December blog post, the CBO said that it counts “catastrophic plans as private insurance coverage because they typically provide major medical coverage and are permitted under the ACA in limited circumstances.”

Watch Price’s interview via Fox News:

Walter Shaub Jr., who will resign as director of the Office of Government Ethics on Tuesday, lamented in a New York Times interview published Monday that President Donald Trump has had a damaging attitude toward ethics, undermining the United States’ position as a role model on ethics.

“It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility,” he told the New York Times over the weekend. “I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”

He said that Trump’s frequent trips to his own properties has raised ethics concerns.

“It creates the appearance of profiting from the presidency,” he said. “Misuse of position is really the heart of the ethics program, and the internationally accepted definition of corruption is abuse of entrusted power. It undermines the government ethics program by casting doubt on the integrity of government decision making.”

The White House dismissed Shaub’s concerns in a statement to the New York Times.

“Mr. Schaub’s penchant for raising concerns on matters well outside his scope with the media before ever raising them with the White House — which happens to be his actual day job — is rather telling,” spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told the Times. “The truth is, Mr. Schaub is not interested in advising the executive branch on ethics. He’s interested in grandstanding and lobbying for more expansive powers in the office he holds.”

Shaub announced earlier this month that he will resign as director of OGE after challenging the White House on ethics issues for six months. In an interview with the Washington Post earlier this month, Shaub said he felt he couldn’t accomplish anything else from within the Trump administration.

He told the New York Times that he would like to push several changes to ethics procedures in the executive branch and argued that the ethics office should be strengthened. He specifically called for giving OGE some subpoena power and requiring that presidential candidates release their tax returns. Shaub also said that Congress should create new conflict of interest standards for the president and clarify the role of OGE.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the new chair of the House Oversight Committee, told the Times that he plans on meeting with Shaub before he leaves OGE. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on that committee, will also meet with Shaub and is working on ethics reform legislation, per the New York Times.

Correction: The original post incorrectly identified Rep. Elijah Cummings as a Republican. He is a Democrat. We regret the error.

 

As revelations about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the 2016 campaign continue to dominate the news cycle, the White House on Sunday announced new theme weeks in an apparent attempt to redirect attention to other issues.

This week will be “Made in America” week, White House spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre told the White House pool reporter on Sunday. The White House will then push an “American Heroes” themed week and an “American Dream” themed week, per Aguirre Ferre.

The White House has rolled out themes in the past in an attempt to direct the media’s attention to a specific policy matter, but the strategy has not kept the Russia probes out of the news.

Asked why there hasn’t been a week devoted to health care, a senior White House official told pool reporters, “Every day and every week, in a sense, is a health care week. It’s something that enormous White House and administration resources have been devoted to since day one.”

The administration’s decision to focus on American-made products has prompted discussion of Trump brand items. Many Trump products are not American-made, and as the Washington Post reported recently, Ivanka Trump brand items are also largely manufactured abroad.

In a Washington Post op-ed published Sunday evening, Joe Scarborough slammed the GOP, declaring in the headline that President Donald Trump “is killing the Republican party.”

Scarborough, a former congressman and co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” revealed last week that he is leaving the Republican Party, and in his Sunday op-ed he explained his reasoning.

“I did not leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left its senses. The political movement that once stood athwart history resisting bloated government and military adventurism has been reduced to an amalgam of talk-radio resentments,” he wrote.

He criticized Trump and Republicans for accepting him as the leader of their party.

“The GOP president questioned America’s constitutional system of checks and balances. Republican leaders said nothing. He echoed Stalin and Mao by calling the free press ‘the enemy of the people.’ Republican leaders were silent. And as the commander in chief insulted allies while embracing autocratic thugs, Republicans who spent a decade supporting wars of choice remained quiet,” Scarborough wrote. “Meanwhile, their budget-busting proposals demonstrate a fiscal recklessness very much in line with the Bush years.”

“It is a dying party that I can no longer defend,” he declared.

Read the entire op-ed at the Washington Post.

The White House solicited comments on its bogus “election integrity” commission that has so far faced nothing but setbacks and embarrassments, and the public feedback has been correspondingly negative—and hilarious.

The Trump administration this week posted public comments it received from the end of June through July 11, and it appears that the White House inbox has been flooded with angry Americans tearing into what the President himself has referred to as a “voter fraud panel.”

Some commenters expressed serious concern with the commission’s actions, including the worry that the commission’s request to states for the last four digits of voters’ social security numbers could open people up to bank fraud. Many states rejected the commission’s request for detailed data on voters, with some noting that sharing pieces of the requested data would violate state law.

Quite a few commenters politely urged the commission to withdraw its request for the data and offered suggestions for expanding voting rights and securing elections in the United States.

Others offered angry rebuttals and profanity-laden comments railing against the commission and its vice chair, Kris Kobach, the Republican Kansas secretary of state notorious for his efforts to restrict voting rights.

“You’re a disgusting fraud with no moral bearing whatsoever,” one commenter told Kobach.

The White House did not redact personal information, like home and email addresses, for those who submitted contacts. TPM only published screengrabs from the documents that do not include identifying information.

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