Monday, January 23, 2017

Team Never Trump Folds Immediately

Once again, if you thought Senate Republicans were going to ever really oppose the Trump Regime, you're too stupid to be allowed to vote.

After weeks of agonizing over Rex Tillerson’s ties to Russia, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said Sunday that they will vote for President Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, essentially clinching approval for Tillerson. 
Though Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is still holding out on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Graham and McCain’s support will allow Trump to breathe easier, knowing that Tillerson will likely be confirmed later on the Senate floor. Tillerson needs just a bare majority of votes to win approval, and it appears highly unlikely now that Tillerson will lose the three or more Republican votes that could have scuttled his nomination.

McCain said he was “very cautious” about voting for Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO who once received an Order of Friendship award from Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the Arizona senator said that his deference to a new president combined with several private conversations with Tillerson sealed the deal. 
“He talked to me a lot about his views with Russia, a lot about the events that have taken place, about … what his duties were as a head of one of the world’s largest corporations,” McCain said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Listen, this wasn’t an easy call, but I also believe that when there’s doubt, the incoming president gets the benefit of doubt, and that’s the way I’ve treated every president.” 
The Foreign Relations panel will vote on Tillerson’s nomination Monday, and Rubio still hasn’t decided whether to vote for Tillerson. The Florida senator said Friday that Tillerson has addressed “some” of his concerns that were brought to light at a brutal inquisition during Tillerson’s confirmation hearing, where Rubio criticized Tillerson for not coming down harder on Putin, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia.

Oh, and Marco Rubio?  He folded this morning.  Tillerson will easily be confirmed by the Senate.

So many suckers, so little time.

Graham, McCain and Rubio folded within days of Trump assuming power.  Don't expect anything other than capitulation from them in the future.  Tillerson, Sessions, Perry, all will be slam dunks.

There's a reason for that.

The Trump Austerity Plan Starts With Medicaid

If you were somehow expecting the Trump regime to save you from House Speaker Paul Ryan's trillions in draconian austerity cuts, you're exactly the fools that Trump and the GOP were counting on to hand over the power to destroy the safety net to them.  They were laughing at you then. They're coming for you now with the long knives.

President Trump’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will propose giving each state a fixed amount of federal money in the form of a block grant to provide health care to low-income people on Medicaid, a top adviser to Mr. Trump said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. 
The adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who is Mr. Trump’s White House counselor, said that converting Medicaid to a block grant would ensure that “those who are closest to the people in need will be administering” the program. 
A block grant would be a radical change. Since its creation in 1965, Medicaid has been an open-ended entitlement. If more people become eligible because of a recession, or if costs go up because of the use of expensive new medicines, states receive more federal money. 
If Congress decides to create block grants for Medicaid, lawmakers will face thorny questions with huge political and financial implications: How much money will each state receive? How will the initial allotments be adjusted — for population changes, for general inflation, for increases in medical prices, for the discovery of new drugs and treatments? Will the federal government require states to cover certain populations and services? Will states receive extra money if they have not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, but decide to do so in the future? 
Ms. Conway, speaking on the NBC program “Sunday Today,” said that with a block grant, “you really cut out the fraud, waste and abuse, and you get the help directly” to intended beneficiaries. 
Medicaid covers more than 70 million people at a combined cost of more than $500 billion a year to the federal government and the states. More than 20 million people have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act, more than half of them through Medicaid.

So the Trump plan would not only eliminate Medicaid coverage for ten million by rolling back Medicaid expansion, but converting Medicaid to a block grant would eliminate coverage for tens of millions more, particularly in red states.  States wouldn't have to spend the money on coverage, and in fact red states would almost certainly use the money to give tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy (since states actually have to balance their budgets.)

In other words, this will end up being hundreds of billions in austerity cuts yearly, and tens of millions of Americans without basic health coverage.

That's just the start.  I don't think people have realized yet just how bad these cuts are going to be, and I don't know if Senate Democrats will be able to stop it.

These Disunited Nations

As I keep saying, while everyone's pointing at Trump's obvious lies and authoritarian overtures, please keep an eye on the GOP in Congress as they use him for cover to distract America from their efforts to undo the last eight decades of progress and turn America into a dangerous rogue nation.

A bill co-sponsored by about half a dozen Republicans would force the United States to quit its membership in the United Nations.

Earlier this month, Rep. Michael Rogers (R-AL) filed legislation called The American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017 on behalf of himself and at least four other GOP co-sponsors.

The measure aims to repeal the United Nations Participation Act on 1945, which authorized U.S. membership in the intergovernmental organization.

The bill states that the president “shall terminate all membership by the United States in the United Nations, and in any organ, specialized agency, commission, or other formally affiliated body of the United Nations.”

Additionally, the measure prohibits “diplomatic immunity for U.N. officers or employees.” Without immunity protection for diplomats, the organization would be forced to re-locate its headquarters outside of the United States.

Again, I don't see how this measure would get through the House, let alone Democrats in the Senate, but the larger point is the fringe Bircher idiocy that always powered the GOP is now firmly in charge of the party.

With the diplomatic damage of wanting to leave the UN and wanting to relocate the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, ripping up the TPP and NAFTA and starting a trade war with China, and all but dismantling the decades of intelligence community cooperation with the UK, Canada, Australia and other partners by embracing Moscow, the US is heading for a diplomatic nightmare scenario under the Trump regime.

The cost for all that will be massive and lasting.  We're heading for rogue nation status pretty quickly here, and it won't take long for the nations of the world to unite against us.


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