Friday, July 7, 2017

Last Call For Mitch's Plan D

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is running into the reality that Trumpcare doesn't have the votes to pass in his own party, as I mentioned this afternoon GOP senators like Jerry Moran are running from this mess as fast as they can.  So Mitch is going for Plan D, and that's instituting what was always going to be his real plan: a fake and insincere effort to shame Democrats into sharing the blame for massive Medicaid cuts with a bogus GOP "fix" to Obamacare.

A bill focused on buttressing the nation’s insurance marketplaces will be needed if the full-fledged Republican effort to repeal much of President Barack Obama’s health care law fails, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday. It was one of his most explicit acknowledgments that his party’s top-priority drive to erase much of Obama’s landmark 2010 statutes might fall short. 
The remarks by McConnell, R-Ky., also implicitly meant that to show progress on health care, Republicans controlling the White House and Congress might have to negotiate with Democrats. While the current, wide-ranging GOP health care bill — which McConnell is still hoping to push through the Senate — has procedural protections against a Democratic Senate filibuster, a subsequent, narrower measure would not and would take 60 votes to pass. 
The existing bill would fail if just three of the 52 Republicans vote no, since all Democrats oppose it. McConnell was forced to cancel a planned vote on the measure last week after far more Republicans than that objected, and he’s been spending the Independence Day recess studying possible changes that might win over GOP dissidents.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said at a Rotary Club lunch in this deep-red rural area in southern Kentucky. He made the comment after being asked if he envisioned needing bipartisan cooperation to replace Obama’s law. 
No action is not an alternative,” McConnell said. “We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”

The problem of course is that GOP senators will lose to Democrats if they pass Trumpcare, but they will be primaried out of a career if they pass a "fix" to Obamacare.  It's Republicans in the Senate who are being held responsible to and for Mitch's hostage crisis, along with what Mitch hopes are enough Democrats to make this a "bipartisan" bill.  Steve M. sees the obvious trap for the Dems here:

Let's say Republicans give up on repeal, then invite Democrats to negotiate on a bipartisan bill to save the system. At that point, why would Republicans have a motivation to ensure the system can still work well? Now they'd have someone to blame for failure. A year from now, the various Trumpcare bills will be down the memory hole. The Republican narrative -- probably persuasive to GOP voters -- will be "We invited Democrats to the bargaining table, and this was the outcome.
I know the conventional wisdom is that Republicans now own health care, because every voter knows they control the White House and Congress. But Democrats are quite visibly on the sidelines now. If they join in the talks, can't the GOP message machine assign them a disproportionate share of the blame for the results? I know McConnell seems now to be much less of a tactical genius than we thought he was a month ago, but I think he still might salvage a winning (i.e., opposition-bashing) message from this.

Salvage?  As with Gorsuch, Mitch has already won. In fact, the message will be "Democrats forced us into this mess that they created.  We tried to fix it, they blocked it.  Now you're stuck with this failing Obamacare program for good."

Even better, Trump will be sabotaging Obamacare through the White House, and running against his own party.  Republican voters will side with Trump on this.  The real message will be "we need more Republicans in Congress!"

The press will go along too.  It'll be the Medicare doc fix/AMT fix/debt ceiling kabuki all over again, and it'll be Obama's fault.

But we only get to this point if Dems play along.  I'm betting they will: Mitch is all but saying that if they don't go along, they will let Obamacare collapse and people will die as a direct result.  Mitch doesn't give a damn.  Democrats do, so they will give in. Real lives are on the line here.  In the end, Dems won't have a choice.

The bottom line is that Obamacare will stumble along year after year, with a permanent bomb strapped to it, and one Democrats know Mitch and the GOP will detonate and kill millions if they don't obey.

It's happened before.

It will happen again.  Democrats still haven't figured out that they only way to beat McConnell is not to play his game.  Last time, it cost us a Supreme Court seat.  This time it will cost us Obama's legacy and probably far, far worse.

And Moran, Moran So Far Away

Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran thought he could have his July 4th recess Trumpcare town hall meeting cake and eat it too as he held it in the remote western part of the state.  The event in tiny Palco, Kansas, population 277, in Rooks County, population 5,200, a county that Trump won by 70 points in November.

Only one small problem, and that is Kansans, even in Rooks County, have had about enough of the GOP.

But about 150 people tried to squeeze into a community center room set up to hold less than half that many people, many of them from outside the area. While the audience applauded Moran for opposing a health care bill written by Senate GOP leaders, the applause was louder for speakers who advocated a universal government-run health care program such as Medicare for the elderly or Medicaid for the poor.

Moran announced last week that he would oppose the Senate Republican bill after a budget analysis suggested 22 million more people would be uninsured under the proposal by 2026. Moran said the legislation needs to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and not hurt rural hospitals. 
“I will choose country over party,” Moran said. “I will choose Kansans over party.” 
Like many other Republican lawmakers, Moran has been a persistent critic of the 2010 Affordable Care Act championed by former President Barack Obama and filed legislation during the Democrat’s administration to repeal it. 
The general push still has the support of many Republican voters in the area, including Ashley Kuhn, the 32-year-old director of a day care center down Main Street from the community center where Moran had his town hall. She said she’s seen her family’s health insurance co-payments double and deductibles rise, and she blames it on Obama’s signature health care law. 
“Health care needs to be changed,” she said. 
But Moran’s town hall drew supporters of Planned Parenthood and members of health care advocacy groups from as far away as the Kansas City area. They were there to press Moran to pursue a bipartisan solution that built on the existing health care law and moved the nation toward broader government coverage. 
“Who doesn’t want health care?” Jeff Zamrzla, a retired and disabled Marine and 59-year-old Democratic activist from Salina, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the east of Palco, said after the forum. “Who doesn’t want to be able to live a life that’s worth living?”

The real albatross around Moran's neck is Kansas GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.  Kansans found out the hard way that Republican economic projections aren't worth a fart in a plains tornado, so you'll excuse them if they don't actually believe Republicans like Moran anymore.

Moran's seat is pretty safe, frankly, but not even he's stupid enough to vote for Trumpcare as it is. That may change, he's still a Republican after all.  But for now, Trumpcare is dead as long as Moran won't vote for it.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

As all eyes are on the meeting today between Donald Trump and his boss Vladimir Putin in Hamburg today, it's important to note that Russia expects its new client state to be sufficiently deferential, and that the Trump regime isn't moving quickly enough to remove Obama-era sanctions on Moscow.  As such, it looks like Vlad has sent a message to its American vassals reminding them just who they now work for.

Hackers working for a foreign government recently breached at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas, according to current and former U.S. officials, sparking concerns the attackers were searching for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid.

The rivals could be positioning themselves to eventually disrupt the nation’s power supply, warned the officials, who noted that a general alert was distributed to utilities a week ago. Adding to those concerns, hackers recently infiltrated an unidentified company that makes control systems for equipment used in the power industry, an attack that officials believe may be related.

The chief suspect is Russia, according to three people familiar with the continuing effort to eject the hackers from the computer networks. One of those networks belongs to an aging nuclear generating facility known as Wolf Creek -- owned by Westar Energy Inc., Great Plains Energy Inc. and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative Inc. -- on a lake shore near Burlington, Kansas.

The possibility of a Russia connection is particularly worrisome, former and current officials say, because Russian hackers have previously taken down parts of the electrical grid in Ukraine and appear to be testing increasingly advanced tools to disrupt power supplies.
The hacks come as international tensions have flared over U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election. The U.S., which has several continuing investigations into Russia’s activities, is known to possess digital weapons capable of disrupting the electricity grids of rival nations.

“We don’t pay attention to such anonymous fakes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, in response to a request to comment on alleged Russian involvement.

It was unclear whether President Donald Trump was planning to address the cyberattacks at his meeting on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In an earlier speech in Warsaw, Trump called out Russia’s “destabilizing activities” and urged the country to join “the community of responsible nations.”

The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation said they are aware of a potential intrusion in the energy sector. The alert issued to utilities cited activities by hackers since May.

May?  You mean back when the Russians were demanding that the Trump regime return their US compounds near NYC and DC after Obama kicked them out in December?  Trump definitely wanted to do it, but that was too much even for Republicans in Congress to stomach.

So it looks like we have our response from Vlad, ever so gently reminding us that being able to hack the control systems of several nuclear power plants at will should serve as sufficient impetus to maybe start taking his requests as demands that should be met.

Meanwhile, the intelligence community is warning that Russian agents are running amok right now and the Russians being able to fiddle with our nuke plants may actually be the least of our concerns.

Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence-gathering efforts in the US, according to current and former US intelligence officials who say they have noticed an increase since the election. 
The officials say they believe one of the biggest US adversaries feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response from both the Trump and Obama administrations. 
"Russians have maintained an aggressive collection posture in the US, and their success in election meddling has not deterred them," said a former senior intelligence official familiar with Trump administration efforts. 
Russians could also be seeking more information on Trump's administration, which is new and still unpredictable to Moscow, according to Steve Hall, retired CIA chief of operations. 
"Whenever there is a deterioration of relations between countries — the espionage and intelligence collection part becomes that much more important as they try to determine the plans and intentions of the adversarial government," Hall said. 
Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling. 
"The concerning point with Russia is the volume of people that are coming to the US. They have a lot more intelligence officers in the US" compared to what they have in other countries, one of the former intelligence officials says. 

The Russians are playing the long game and winning.  Obama underestimated them, much to America's sorrow.  But Trump knows damn well that the Russians are a threat and he's ignoring it.  The question is why, and the obvious answer is that they have quite a bit of leverage over him, which means Putin is largely expected to get what he wants from us on a number of things, especially Syria.

As such, Donald gets to check in with his new boss today: the real President of the United States.



Related Posts with Thumbnails