Monday, January 16, 2017

Last Call For The Piggy Bank And The Sledgehammer

Trump's picks to fill his cabinet aren't even pretending anymore to be anything other than outright grifters.  Take HHS pick Rep. Tom Price, who has plenty of experience ripping off taxpayers by playing the ol' pick-a-winner game as a member of Congress.

Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary. 
Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN. 
Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented
Zimmer Biomet, one of the world's leading manufacturers of knee and hip implants, was one of two companies that would been hit the hardest by the new CMS regulation that directly impacts the payments for such procedures, according to press reports and congressional sources. 
After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company's political action committee donated to the congressman's reelection campaign, records show
If confirmed, Price will be a key player in Trump's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump last week said a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare will be submitted "as soon as" Price is confirmed. He will appear before the Senate health committee this week, but must also appear before the Senate Finance Committee. 
The new revelation is the latest example of Price trading stock in a health care firm at the same time as pursuing legislation that could impact a company's share price. The issue has become a major liability for the congressman after The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could impact them.

I mean they're not even pretending anymore.  No wonder Republicans are so eager to get rid of ethics oversight and independent watchdogs.  The Trump era is going to make Republicans stinking rich as they profit directly and indirectly from legislation for corporate lobbyists at the expense of taxpayers.

But really, Hillary something something emails, so we had to elect them, right?

Brazile Nuts

I guess it was a requirement, but here we have Donna Brazile apologizing for the DNC's catastrophic screw-up in 2016 as the party still searches in vain for someone who manages to meet the bar of "not as much of a screw-up as Debbie Wasserman Schultz".

Donna Brazile, the outgoing interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, kicked off a series of “future forums,” which will select her replacement, by apologizing for the party's 2016 defeats.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it: We failed,” Brazile said. “We made some serious mistakes and some strategic errors. We got cocky about our invincible blue wall, and then we saw it crumble because of just a few thousand votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.”

Brazile was elevated to interim chair after the release of emails stolen from the DNC effectively forced Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) from the role. Wasserman Schultz, who was then facing a stiff primary challenge for her South Florida congressional seat, became a villain for supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who blamed her for a late-skewing and limited schedule of primary debates.

But the well-liked Brazile came under fire from another set of stolen emails, including two she'd sent to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, informing him that CNN — where she was a political analyst — had shared possible primary debate and forum questions with her. That ended her time at CNN.

In her Phoenix remarks, Brazile defended the DNC employees who had spent the second half of 2016 being exposed by hacks.

“Let me just say how proud I am of the DNC and all the staffers who lived through that,” Brazile said. “They were attacked and harassed every day — often attacked by the people who should know better.”

Brazile also condemned the online conspiracy theory that Seth Rich, a young DNC staffer who was fatally shot last July in Northwest Washington, had been killed in a DNC coverup.

Russian hackers, she said, had ended up enlisting the media in a campaign of sabotage.

We failed under extraordinary circumstances,” she said. “If you are an American, you are a victim of a hostile attack, a murderous dictator who wanted to affect the election. They hired an army of trolls to spread lies and distract from the real issues.”

Which is true, and as I've said before the notion that the DNC screwed up and the Russians helped the GOP can both be simultaneous factors in Clinton's loss.  But my benefit of the doubt for whoever replaces Brazile will at this point be zero.  Whoever does get her job will need to start delivering immediately on getting the Senate back in 2018, or we're not going to have a country much longer.

Schumer Makes The GOP An Offer

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has made it crystal clear: If Republicans repeal ObamaCare without immediately implementing a plan to replace it, Democrats will not help them out of a pickle down the road.

Senate Democratic sources familiar with Schumer’s thinking say he will not engage in any negotiations to pass a watered-down version of the landmark healthcare reform law if Republicans unilaterally force its repeal first under special budgetary rules.

“That’s not a close call. They’re doing something so extraordinary reckless. You cannot reward hostage taking,” a Democratic senator said. The Democratic senator said.
Republicans have refused to work with President Obama for six years to come up with fixes to improve the law because they wanted to heighten its unpopularity and score political points.

Now, even if the GOP can secure a repeal through the budget reconciliation process – which requires only a majority – they’ll need support from at least eight Democrats to hit the 60 votes needed to pass repeal legislation.

The senator said Schumer’s view and the prevailing view in the Democratic Caucus is that they should not lift a finger to help Republicans out of a political mess if they repeal the healthcare reform law without having a replacement ready to avert severe market disruptions.

The spoiler is that the GOP has nothing of the sort.  In fact, they don't have a replacement at all, and haven't had a replacement for the six years that they've been trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.  Schumer is making the right call here: let the Republicans completely own getting rid of health coverage for tens of millions of Americans, and let them completely own trying to replace it.

Of course Republicans will never replace Obamacare, no matter what magical unicorn bullshit Donald Trump is pushing, so it's up to Schumer to make sure that they know up front whatever to try will need Democratic help, which means Chuck is in the driver's seat. We'll see. 


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