Matt Shuham

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously associate editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

The White House budget director on Monday threatened Democrats with a government shutdown if they don’t “behave” when it comes time to write a federal budget in September. He also defined a “good shutdown,” advocated earlier by President Donald Trump on Twitter, as one that proved Trump correct about the dysfunction of the federal government.

An animated Mick Mulvaney responded first to a reporter who asked about Trump’s Twitter dispatches Tuesday morning, in which the President urged, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”

“I think the President is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try and spike the football and make him look bad,” Mulvaney said, presumably referring to Democrats’ taunts that Trump got almost nothing his White House budget advocated for.

“I get that frustration because I think it is a terrible posture for the Democrats to take,” he continued. “If we are sitting here trying to prove to people that Washington is going to be different, that we’re going to change things and can figure a way to work with them and they do that to this President, listen, I would have taken offense at that so it doesn’t surprise me at all that his frustrations were manifested in that way. We’ve got a lot to do between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September. But if negotiations — if the Democrats aren’t going to behave any better than they have in the last couple days, it may be inevitable.”

“How would a shutdown clean up the mess?” one reporter asked.

“Sooner or later, we’ll have to start doing something different,” Mulvaney said, adding: “If we get to September and it is still business as usual, business as usual, business as usual and nothing changes, and takes a shutdown to change it, I have no problem with that.

Later in the press conference, NBC’s Peter Alexander asked Mulvaney to define what he thought Trump meant by a “good shutdown.”

“I don’t know,” Mulvaney said, pausing. “We haven’t had one.”

“But to the extent the President advocated one today, if you wanted to imagine what a good shutdown was, it would be one that fixes this town,” Mulvaney said. “One that drives the message back home to people that it really was as broken as they thought that it was when they voted for Donald Trump, and they trusted him — if that’s what is necessary to do to fix Washington, D.C., that would be a good shutdown.”

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The powerful conservative lobbying group Club for Growth on Tuesday attacked a Republican congressman who had earlier announced his opposition to Republicans’ amended bill to replace Obamacare, marking an aggressive effort to corral support behind the bill.

An amendment to the American Health Care Act from Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) would allow states to opt out of Obamacare’s price controls for sicker people if they establish high-risk pools in their place. It would also allow states to shed Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits if they identify some public interest benefit of doing so.

Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), surprising many of his colleagues, announced Monday that he could not support the amended effort.

“I have always stated that one of the few good things about ObamaCare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered,” he said in a statement, according to The Hill. “The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.”

Before the amendment was added, Club for Growth was one in a large group of conservative interests opposing Republicans’ repeal effort.

But the group threw its weight behind the amended effort, and on Tuesday turned its attention to Long. In a statement posted online by CNN’s Lauren Fox, it attacked the congressman for retreating “when it counts.”

Several Republicans, including many previously bullish about repealing Obamacare like Long and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), have announced their opposition to the renewed effort.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reminded President Donald Trump of his own campaign theme song during remarks on the five-month budget agreement reached between Republicans and Democrats: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The deal, which includes billions of dollars in military spending and border security, nonetheless doesn’t include funding for Trump’s beloved border wall, nor cuts to a slew of agencies threatened by the White House’s original budget proposal.

On Twitter Tuesday, Trump suggested changing the Senate’s filibuster rules, or simply shutting down the government, seemingly out of frustration.

“I want to respond to the President’s latest tweets about the bipartisan, bicameral deal we just reached to fund the government through September,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. “Now, members of both parties worked very hard to come to this agreement, and there was a real spirit of cooperation.”

“The President has been complaining about a lack of bipartisanship in Washington,” he added later. “Well, this deal is exactly how Washington should work when it is bipartisan. Both parties negotiated and came to an agreement on a piece of legislation that we can each support. It is truly a shame that the President is degrading it because he didn’t get 100 percent of what he wanted. Bipartisanship is best summed up by the Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want, or at least everything you want.”

The remark recalled Trump’s campaign rallies, which often closed with the Rolling Stones’ classic.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) defended Republicans’ amended plan to repeal and replace Obamacare Tuesday and said he shared “the President’s frustration” about the budgeting process, as expressed in a pair of presidential tweets.

Early on Tuesday, apparently frustrated by a five-month budget agreement which he achieved nearly none of his policy goals, Trump advocated for an old fashioned government shutdown to knock some sense into Congress — or a change to filibuster rules.

At a GOP leadership press conference, Ryan said “I share the President’s frustration” that appropriations bills had to receive enough bipartisan support to avoid a Senate filibuster. But the Speaker put on a brave face to portray the compromise budget as a win, emphasizing its defense and border patrol spending.

“I feel very good about the wins that we got with the administration in this bill,” Ryan said. “Look, I negotiated the first Murray-Ryan agreement a number of years ago. Under the Obama rules, if you wanted to help the military, if you wanted a pay raise for the soldiers, if you wanted to buy new airplanes and new ships and more munitions, a dollar for that, you had to have a dollar for domestic spending. We just broke that parity. That’s the biggest victory we could have had.”

“We knew that with a five-month bill, the wall is really more about next year, and that fight’s going to be this summer,” he said, acknowledging the biggest disappointment for Trump. “But we wanted to get the administration a really good down payment on border security.”

Earlier in the press conference, Ryan said that the President had been “nothing but helpful” in selling Republicans’ new attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

An amendment proposed by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tom MacArthur (R-NC) would allow states to eliminate Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits and price protections based on health status, if they establish high-risk pools in their place. President Trump said definitively in an interview with CBS’ John Dickerson Sunday that the bill would cover patients with pre-existing conditions. He didn’t mention that it allow premium prices to increase dramatically for those patients, a change from Obamacare.

“There are a few layers of protections for pre-existing conditions in this bill,” Ryan said. “What’s important is we want to have a situation where people can afford their health insurance. We want to have a situation where people have a choice of health insurers. That’s not happening in Obamacare.”

“The purpose of our bill is to get more choices to lower prices while preserving the protections for pre-existing conditions,” he added later. “So that is a very important thing. We’re excited about this policy. We’re making very good progress with our members and the President has been instrumental in that.”

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ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel recounted his newborn son’s open heart surgery Monday night and emphasized his belief that quality medical care should be available to everyone in the United States regardless of personal wealth. The late-night host’s tearful monologue ricocheted across the Internet Tuesday as the emotional moment quickly went viral.

Kimmel’s son, William John, was born on April 21, but nurses quickly noticed a heart murmur and low levels of oxygen in his blood. One week later, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, “Billy” was safe at home.

There, Kimmel brought up President Donald Trump’s original budget proposal to strip $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Heath, which has awarded tens of millions of dollars in grants over the years to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Billy got his successful heart surgery. (Under a bipartisan budget agreement, NIH would actually receive a $2 billion funding boost over the next five months.)

“We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all,” Kimmel said. “You know, before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition; you were born with a pre-existing condition.”

“If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”

On Tuesday afternoon, former President Barack Obama re-posted Kimmel’s story on his Twitter account, writing that it was “exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA.”

Watch Kimmel’s monologue below:

This post has been updated.

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A Republican congressman said Monday that an amendment to the GOP’s American Health Care Act would require sicker people to pay more in insurance costs than people “who lead good lives.”

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) was asked about an amendment he supports to Republicans’ health care effort that would allow states to opt out of health- and age-based pricing protections required by Obamacare, if they established high-risk pools or other equivalent measures in their place.

Opponents of the amendment say it would lead to higher costs for sicker, older people. Brooks granted that.

“My understanding is that it will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, you know, they are doing the things to keep their bodies healthy,” he said. “And right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”

A spokesperson for Brooks did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions about the remark.

“Now in fairness, a lot of these people with pre-existing conditions, they have those conditions through no fault of their own, and I think our society under those circumstances needs to help,” Brooks continued. “The challenge though is that it’s a tough balancing act between the higher cost of these mandates which denies people coverage because they can’t afford the health insurance policies anymore on the one and and having enough coverage to help those people who are truly in need, and it’s a very complicated question, and I’m sure over the years there will be different permutations of it, both in the past as we go forward.”

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President Donald Trump’s campaign organization removed a television ad from its YouTube account after questions that it may have violated military policy.

The ad, which Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. announced Monday it would spend $1.5 million airing nationwide, originally included video of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster shaking Trump’s hand at Mar-a-Lago, in uniform, after he accepted his new position in February.

Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, tweeted shortly after the ad was published that it seemed to violate military rules against partisan political activity.

A new ad on the campaign’s YouTube page, the Washington Post noted, replaces McMaster with video of Trump shaking hands with a factory worker. It is otherwise unchanged.

The Trump campaign did not immediately responded to TPM’s request for comment, nor did a White House spokesperson.

Trump filed 2020 re-election paperwork within hours of his inauguration.

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The White House maintained on Monday that it is looking into ways to create libel laws in order to sue publications that print unflattering or untrue coverage of the President.

On Sunday, a day after President Trump railed against the press at a rally marking his 100th day in office, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said of amending the Constitution to expand libel law: “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at, and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer doubled down on Monday.

“Is that a project that is currently being worked on by the counsel’s office?” the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush asked, referring to Priebus’ statements. “Can you tell me the status of that? Who is pursuing that?”

“I think the chief of staff made it very clear that it’s something that is being looked into, substantively and then both logistically, how it would happen” Spicer said. “But that’s nothing new. It’s something the President talked about on the campaign trail.”

“Is the counsel actually—” Thrush attempted.

“I will not go into it,” Spicer said.

Indeed, the President often said during the Presidential campaign, and since, that he wished to change libel laws so that he would be able to sue for “purposefully negative, and horrible and false articles” and “hit pieces.”

The Supreme Court has ruled that libel damages can be awarded to public officials only as a result of “actual malice.” Unintentional factual inaccuracies are protected by the First Amendment, as is speech critical of of the President.

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Asked whether there are enough GOP votes in the House to repeal and replace Obamacare, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday: “We’re not there yet.”

The effort to repeal President Obama’s signature legislative achievement was boosted among conservative Republicans and interest groups after the announcement of an amendment from Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), which would allow states to opt out of some Obamacare pricing guidelines meant to shield older and sicker patients.

Spicer was responding to a reporter who asked if the effort was “a handful of votes away” from passing the House of Representatives. “Is this as close to maybe getting to that magic number that you’ve talked about?” the reporter asked.

“Well sure, once we get to 216 we’ll stop counting,” Spicer said. “I think the speaker gets that. But as I mentioned to Trey, we’re getting closer and closer every day. So I would assume today we’re a closer than we were a week ago. But we’re not there yet. And that decision is going to be wholly within the speaker and majority leader and the whip to let us know when they are going to open that vote up.”

Spicer was later pressed on Meadows and MacArthurs’ amendment, which allows states to eliminate the community rating rule barring age and price discrimination in health care premiums, if they are replaced with other tools like high risk pools. Critics of the amendment say it will create dual markets for healthier, younger people and sicker, older people, creating unsustainably high premiums for some.

“When I say the whole goal of this is to give the states the flexibility to get lower premiums,” Spicer said. “That’s the goal all around, is to make sure that the system we employ gets it down.”

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