Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Return Of The Revenge Of The Son Of Trumpcare, Con't

The Graham-Cassidy GOP Trumpcare But Worse legislation being rushed through the Senate right now that will effectively end not only the ACA but Medicaid as well, is, as Scott Lemieux points out, old-school perfidious "states' rights" garbage.

Essentially, Republicans are claiming that many people lack access to affordable healthcare because federal politicians haven’t been creative enough, and allowing the states to experiment will solve the problem. 
But this is abject nonsense. The politics of healthcare reform in America are difficult because powerful actors have a vested interest in an inefficient and inequitable status quo. But the policy question is not difficult. Under a market system, many people cannot afford access to basic medical care, and all but the most affluent cannot afford expensive treatment for a serious illness. To get needy people access to healthcare requires some combination of public expenditure and cross-subsidization of the sick by the healthy. (During his brief “Kimmel” phase, Cassidy understood this.) 
Though the ACA did not go far enough, it used tighter regulation and more generous subsidies to provide access to tens of millions of people. Cassidy-Graham would destroy this progress. States are no more likely to find a way to provide effective coverage to more people with less money and fewer rules than they are to discover a formula to convert urine into fine Cabernet Sauvignon. It can’t be done. 
Supporters of universal healthcare in California and other states that have used the ACA to cover as many people as possible might be tempted to find a silver lining here. Couldn’t states use the increased flexibility to create a single-payer system? Almost certainly not, because the block grants aren’t generous enough. As Sarah Kliff of Vox observes, states such as California and New York would have to spend a lot more money just to retain the coverage levels of the ACA. The “flexibility” offered by Cassidy-Graham is a ruse — it would make it easy for states to cover fewer people but exceptionally difficult for states to cover more people.

And Republicans are selling this as "giving power to the states" just like reactionaries did with, you know, slavery. Jim Crow, and interracial marriage.  It's weird then that so many Republican governors are against the legislation because they understand they're going to get screwed by it.

Understand that Graham-Cassidy is there for two reasons: to destroy President Obama's signature achievement by erasing him from the history books, and to brutally punish those who voted for him so that we never dare raise our voices, our hands, or our votes against the GOP ever again, and remember, the GOP doesn't get paid until they do it.

There's a significant chance that both will be successful results of this bill becoming law.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Two more developments in Trump/Russia over the last day or so, first, Robert Mueller's office has interviewed the man who appointed Mueller to the office of special counsel to begin with, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, about Rosenstein's role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over the summer about his role in President Donald Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey, according to a person familiar with the matter. 
The questioning by investigators of the top DOJ official overseeing the probe is a rare occurrence, but the source said that Rosenstein has no plans to immediately recuse himself, an indication Mueller's office does not view him as a key witness in the obstruction of justice probe. 
Rosenstein wrote a memo detailing his concerns about Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation that the White House initially cited as the reason for firing Comey. 
Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in a statement, "As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a time when he needs to recuse, he will. However, nothing has changed."

Whether or not Rosenstein does need to recuse himself is a battle that will probably come later, but for now I would think that while the Comey firing is definitely a source of possible obstruction of justice charges, I don't think Rosenstein is the target.

But there may be some new wrinkles in what Mueller can go after if this story from Reuters is true.

U.S. President Donald Trump is using money donated to his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Following Reuters exclusive report on Tuesday, CNN reported that the Republican National Committee paid in August more than $230,000 to cover some of Trump's legal fees related to the probe.

RNC spokesperson Cassie Smedile confirmed to Reuters that Trump's lead lawyer, John Dowd, received $100,000 from the RNC and that the RNC also paid $131,250 to the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, the law firm where Jay Sekulow, another of Trump's lawyers, is a partner.

The RNC is scheduled to disclose its August spending on Wednesday. The Trump campaign is due for a disclosure on Oct. 15.

The U.S. Federal Election Commission allows the use of private campaign funds to pay legal bills arising from being a candidate or elected official.

While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump would be the first U.S. president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds to cover the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts.

Smedile said the RNC payments to Trump's lawyers were "from a pre-existing legal proceedings account and do not reduce by a dime the resources we can put towards our political work."

It was not clear how Trump's legal costs related to the Russia probe would be allocated between the campaign and the RNC, one of the sources said.

Dowd declined to say how the president's legal bills were being paid, adding: "That's none of your business."

If that money was donated by any Russians connected to this case, things could get real interesting fast on that front.  Remember that Mueller is definitely focusing on the money aspect of Trump/Russia, so Trump using the RNC to pay his legal bills, especially if the lawyers themselves may be connected to anything criminal Trump may have done, may be another avenue for Mueller to explore.  Yes, it's legal to use the money to pay for legal fees, but if the money came from illegal sources, well, that's another mess for Trump.

Stay tuned, kids.


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