Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

There's a very good story out today from Bloomberg chronicling the flow of money from the former Soviet Union into real estate ventures built by or licensed with the name of Donald Trump. In this case most of what we are talking about is not investment in projects or loans to fund them but the purchase of individual apartments units - though sometimes in bulk - in Trump branded or owned buildings. This is a story we and others have told you. But this new article firms the story up considerably with a new level of detail.

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There was a flurry of statements, recognitions and un-promises over the course of last night on the same front. Yesterday Vice President Pence tried to assuage Republican concerns that President Trump has had an at best diffident approach to his support of the House repeal bill. Coming out of that meeting, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told reporters, "This president is ready to put the full weight of his bully pulpit and all of his tools [behind the bill]. It was very important for us to hear that, because there are a lot of people who need that shoring up.”

This has been a very real and justified concern for the members who have to vote on this bill and face voters in less than two years. As we've discussed, President Trump's grasp of the details of health care policy is so thin, his ideology so protean and his narrow self-interest so total that any Republican on Capitol Hill has to be highly concerned he'll abandon them in the lurch. Something like that seemed to happen last night. When Tucker Carlson pressed Trump on how the bill would hurt his own core supporters, the President said in so many words that yeah, the bill may suck and if it does he won't sign it.

Good luck to anyone foolish enough to vote for a bill the President himself may turn against.

Then Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been saying that this is the bill and it ain't changing, suddenly said this bill actually can't pass the House.

Clearly the GOP leadership, in both chambers, is realizing that something with this bill will need to change. But the problem goes deeper than this. It's not simply that the plan appears to need major changes to pass. The issue is that it will require changes in what look like two, irreconcilable directions. Each side might be capable of some bargaining and compromise. But it's not to me how the compromises that might be possible with the House 'Freedom Caucus' members get anywhere near the ones demanded by Senators who have to face real electorates.

Much of this is just the predictable outcome of almost eight years of promises and activism that were always going to be hard to fulfill. It's mostly that. But a very big part of this is a point we've noted a few times in recent weeks. When it comes to difficult and/or consequential legislation, it is usually the case that the President is the critical element in the equation. It is only the President who controls a sufficient menu of threats and favors, a sufficiently loud voice and in the beginning of the presidency at least a lot of popularity to get at least everyone in his party moving in unison.

Donald Trump has shown little ability or inclination to play that role. He seems more focused standing back and being ready to jump on whichever side ends up being most popular or least likely to put him in a bad position. That's the last thing legislation needs from a President.

"We will take care of our people or I’m not signing it." That's Donald Trump last night in an interview with Tucker Carlson.

It certainly makes sense both politically and morally that President Trump night push or sign a bill that victimizes his own supporters as much as anyone. Every President recognizes and serves the needs of his core supporters, the bedrocks of his political coalition. But it is rare to see a President who so openly presses his goal of serving the needs of his own supporters either to the exclusion or indifference of everyone else.

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"We're trying to make sure we're weeding out those with upward mobility. It's very crucial that this has some teeth to it, because what you don't want is for the money to be rationed out among a larger amount of people." Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) on his faction's efforts to impose a work requirement on Medicaid as part of the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare.

As today's feature piece by Tierney Sneed suggests, much of what Republicans are calling Obamacare repeal is actually turning out to be an effort to gut Medicaid.

Here's where we are. Speaker Ryan from about an hour ago: "This is something we wrote with President Trump."

In other words, let me invite you back on my sinking boat. Ryan went on to say: "This is something we wrote with the Senate committees. So just so you know, Maria (Bartiromo), this is the plan we ran on all last year." So he wants to invite a lot of people onboard.

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If you're involved in politics in any way, it is always important to distinguish between what matters, what's important and what will have concrete effects, effects on political outcomes, elections, and so forth. Often they overlap. But that is not always the case.

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One thing you learn watching legislative politics for a long time is that when a party has a huge amount staked on passing a piece of legislation, they usually find a way to do it, even if it seems all but impossible on the surface. A big counterexample to this rule of thumb was the failure of health care reform in 1994 when Democrats failed Even to hold a vote on a bill and were promptly crushed in the 1994 midterms. The success of reform in 2010 is a good example of the rule of thumb I'm talking about.

With all this said, on its face, things are looking pretty dicey at the moment for Obamacare repeal.

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I wanted to take a moment to recommend a book. But before I do that. I want to start with a quotation.

"Nazi Germany and its overtly exterminationist imperial project of the later 1930s and and early 1940s owed much to the logic of ethnic conflict and irredentism created by the Great War and the redrawing of borders in 1918-19."

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