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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

It would appear that Paul Ryan still lacks the votes to pass the Obamacare repeal and replace bill (that also ends Medicaid as we know it) tomorrow. Reports are he will be putting the squeeze on individual members this evening, but in the meantime a deal of sorts is apparently being worked out to win over recalcitrant conservatives by promising to gut Obamacare's 10 essential health benefits, the bare minimums insurance plans must cover – not now, but later in the Senate. Alice Ollstein has the details.

FBI Director James Comey tells House Intelligence Committee that the FBI – and the Justice Department more broadly– have "no information" to support President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped on order of then-President Obama.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on the Flynn affair: "I just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We'll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we're spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense."

That was the same mindset – an aversion to accountability in exchange for perceived short-term political gain – that produced an explosion of GOP corruption in the mid-aughts. There's little evidence the party learned from that sordid period, and Trump seems likely to reproduce it, except bigger, more garishly, and with more conspicuous gilding. And his congressional enablers seem ready to help out, if only by omission of real oversight.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings – not exactly known for teaming up – are preparing a letter to the White House and the Office of Government Ethics expressing bipartisan alarm over Kellyanne Conway promoting Ivanka Trump's product line on TV from the White House.

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

Could the White House have been unprepared for the backlash to the "extreme vetting" executive order? It beggars belief, but the tone of this new statement directly from the President is defensive (I do too have "compassion" for the "suffering"), wounded ("This is not about religion"), self-justifying (Obama did the same thing!), lashing ("this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting"), and bewildered (Why doesn't the media recognize my good intentions?).

Here's the full statement:

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