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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

At almost exactly the same moment that Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in the White House briefing room that President Trump opposes the Alexander-Murray deal to stabilize Obamacare, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) himself was telling reporters, including TPM’s Alice Ollstein, that he didn’t think Trump opposed the deal, based on their phone call Wednesday morning. Story coming soon.

Alice Ollstein’s feature this morning on the initial round of state reactions and insurer retrenchment to President Trump’s multiple attacks on the underpinnings of Obamacare is worth your time.

But a quick point on just how upside down these attacks are, even from the perspective of what is good for Trump politically. As Tierney Sneed reported for us yesterday, the downsides for Trump himself are extraordinary. He either doesn’t care, doesn’t understand, or can’t see past the initial flush feeling of having taken a sledgehammer to his predecessor’s signature legislative achievement (keeping in mind he himself has zero such achievements).

With Trump U, Trump Steaks, Trump Ice and all the other Trumpian cons, there was an upside for Trump. That’s the whole point of the con. As Josh explained at length over the weekend, the I win-you lose paradigm for deal-making and negotiations is all Trump knows. But the latest attacks on Obamacare have no discernible upside: they raise rates, further destabilize the markets, and cost the government more money.

We can’t get inside his head to know whether he has convinced himself otherwise or those around him have fed him a crock of nonsense to convince him. But it’s not hard to anticipate seeing this kind of story in a few months: Trump said to be frustrated that he wasn’t fully briefed on the consequences of his anti-Obamacare policies.

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We were getting hints of this late this afternoon and now Politico, first, then the Washington Post are reporting, citing anonymous sources, that President Trump will end Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. This move, in combination with the executive order Trump signed earlier in the day, threatens to begin the unraveling of the Obamacare marketplaces.

CBO projects cutting off the payments will make premiums 20 percent higher by 2018 and 25 percent higher by 2020, while raising the budget deficit by nearly $200 billion by 2026.

What the GOP Congress could not do – repeal Obamacare – Trump is attempting, ham-handedly, with no replacement plan of any kind even contemplated. Just break it and let Congress, maybe, sort it out.

Late update: The White House press secretary just put out a statement confirming the CSRs will end:

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A little inside baseball on the mechanics of the coverage of the President’s Obamacare executive order: He has signed it, and the White House has released talking points. But annoyingly the executive order itself has still not been released. So we wait for the exact details, though many of the specifics will probably have to be filled in during the regulatory process.

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