The CBO predicts Trump's move to end ObamaCare subsidies will hike premiums, uninsured rate, deficits
On Thursday night, the Trump administration formally decided to end cost-sharing subsidies that the Health and Human Services Department has been paying insurers to lower premiums for millions of lower-income customers purchasing insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) praised the move as an affirmation that "the power of the purse belongs to Congress, not the executive branch" — House Republicans had sued to stop the payments, and the White House had been appealing a court ruling agreeing the subsidies were illegal.
Other lawmakers from both parties, aides to President Trump, HHS officials, and medical and insurance groups had urged Trump to continue authorizing the subsidies, so as not to sabotage the health-insurance markets and cause premiums to soar.
Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district. @potus promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) October 13, 2017
In August, the Congressional Budget Office reached that same conclusion. In order for customers to qualify for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), they have to sign up for "silver" plans, and the CBO projected that "gross premiums (that is, before premium tax credits are accounted for) for silver plans offered through the marketplaces would, on average, rise by about 20 percent in 2018 relative to the amount in CBO's March 2016 baseline and rise slightly more in later years." The number of uninsured would rise by about 1 million in 2018, though it would drop again as people purchased lower-cost plans, and because customers would be shielded from the premium hikes by larger federal subsidies, the federal deficit would rise by $194 billion over the next 10 years.
Earlier Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding lower-cost, sparser-coverage insurance options, and "until the White House's announcement late Thursday, the executive order represented Trump's biggest step to date to reverse the health-care policies of the Obama administration," The Washington Post says. You can read the entire CBO analysis here. Peter Weber
Forged documents accusing Chuck Schumer of sexual harassment apparently used a real complaint against John Conyers as a template
A forged 13-page document accusing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) of sexual harassment apparently copied language from a legitimate complaint filed against recently ousted Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), The Daily Beast reports.
Axios wrote Tuesday that the fake document that was circulated to several major media companies looked like a lawsuit that had been filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It named a former Schumer staffer, who worked in his office from 2009 to 2012; when approached by Axios, the woman said that she had never seen the document before and that the claims are "completely false, my signature is forged, and even basic facts about me are wrong."
Right-wing personalities Charles Johnson and Mike Cernovich had "boasted" about the documents earlier this week, The Daily Beast writes, with Johnson posting on Facebook that "Michael Cernovich & I are going to end the career of a U.S. Senator." But upon closer inspection, there were several telltale signs that the documents had been forged:
The Conyers complaint references "House Rule 23" and a "mediation" process between Conyers and his accuser. The fake Schumer complaint also describes allegations as falling under "House Rule 23," which of course does not exist in the Senate. The "mediation" process in the Schumer document was never mentioned again. [The Daily Beast]
It's been two months since The New York Times dropped its Harvey Weinstein bombshell, spurring sexual harassment victims to speak out against the biggest names in politics and entertainment.
Now, the Weinstein story continues. In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, actress Salma Hayek details years of horrifying encounters with the man she calls her "monster."
Hayek's op-ed revolves around her time working with Weinstein on the Miramax movie Frida, in which she starred as artist Frida Kahlo. Weinstein's abuse began with lewd sexual demands and turned to violent threats, Hayek says. He additionally tried to infuse sex appeal into the movie, which Hayek says he told her was "the only thing I had going for me." Weinstein nearly refused to release the film in theaters altogether, Hayek writes.
Frida ended up winning two Oscars, but Hayek says she just wanted to distance herself from the whole experience. Even when reporters approached Hayek for the initial Weinstein story, she declined:
I had brainwashed myself into thinking that it was over and that I had survived; I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn't consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference. [Salma Hayek, via The New York Times]
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson extended an olive branch — or at least, an olive twig — to North Korea, saying the U.S. was willing to have talks with Pyongyang without preconditions.
Predictably, Tillerson's optimism was undercut just a day later by the White House, in keeping with a year-long pattern of President Trump disregarding statements made by his secretary of state.
"Given North Korea's most recent missile test, clearly right now is not the time [for negotiations]," a White House spokesman said to Reuters on Wednesday. Last month, Trump told South Korea's parliament that he would not negotiate with Kim Jong Un unless North Korean leaders "cease their threats and dismantle their nuclear program."
While Tillerson did say that the U.S. needed "a period of quiet" before coming to the negotiating table, on Tuesday he invited North Korea to "talk anytime" — breaking with longstanding U.S. policy by opening the diplomacy door even if North Korea does not give up its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea's most recent missile test on Nov. 30 showed that it now possesses missiles that are likely capable of hitting the continental United States. Throughout Tillerson's bizarre tenure as secretary of state, Trump has frequently struck a more aggressive tone on North Korea than his top diplomat. Kelly O'Meara Morales
House Democrat, scandalized by colleagues' clothes, reportedly calls certain outfits 'an invitation' for harassment
Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) told her colleagues at a private Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday that she believes some lawmakers' clothing choices are "an invitation" for sexual harassment, Politico reports. The comments reportedly stunned other Democrats in attendance, with one claiming "nearly everyone in the room's mouths were wide open aghast."
"I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor," Kaptur, 71, allegedly said at the meeting, which was convened to discuss recent sexual harassment controversies on Capitol Hill. She reportedly added: "Maybe I'll get booed for saying this, but many companies and the military [have] a dress code. I have been appalled at some of the dress of ... members and staff. Men have to wear ties and suits."
In a statement to Politico, Kaptur clarified that "under no circumstances is it the victim's fault if they are harassed in any way. I shared the stories from my time here in the context of the 'Me Too' legislation and how we can elevate the decorum and the dress code to protect women from what is a pervasive problem here and in society at large."
The House has a fairly strict dress code that not infrequently leads to appalling shirt-tie combinations, although House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) moved to relax rules last summer after controversy erupted over women not being allowed to wear sleeveless dresses around the chamber. Read more about Kaptur's comments at Politico. Jeva Lange
Kebab lovers in Europe just won a huge legislative victory.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament rejected a proposed ban on additives that add flavor to kebab meats, The Guardian reports. Green and Social Democrats in the legislative body had proposed nixing the ingredients, claiming that consumption of phosphate chemicals is linked to heart disease.
But kebabs sans phosphates aren't so tasty, kebab lovers argue. The chemicals are added in small quantities to the huge chunks of meat that are roasted on vertical spits in order to make them juicier, and phosphate fans say the additives also play a large role in keeping the meat from disintegrating as it cooks.
The ban on phosphates was defeated by just three votes — but the debate is not entirely over. The EU's European Food Safety Authority will release the findings of a study on the risks of phosphates next year. In the meantime, Europe's Christian Democrats celebrated the triumph bluntly: "We saved your kebab. You're welcome." Kelly O'Meara Morales
A new nationwide Monmouth University poll released Wednesday does not have a lot of good news for Republicans. Perhaps most stunning are the results of a generic 2018 House ballot, where Democrats hold a 15-point edge on the GOP. Overall, 51 percent of registered voters said that if the election was held today, they'd vote or lean toward voting for the Democrat in the race. Just 36 percent of voters said they'd vote or lean toward voting for the Republican.
Politico's Jake Sherman offered some insight on just how significant that chasm is:
A 15-point gap. Republicans were freaking out at 7 points. https://t.co/YUCCPqW9ED
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 13, 2017
The director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, said there could be even more bad news for Republicans due to President Trump's approval rating hitting its lowest number since he took office. "Republicans have to be worried about being dragged down by the weight of Trump's negatives in 2018 if this trend continues," Murray said. Overall, Trump's approval rating is a mere 32 percent, while 56 percent of Americans disapprove:
George W. Bush did not reach 32% until mid-2006, bloodiest months of sectarian violence in Iraq - and 6 months before GOP lost both houses of Congress https://t.co/zZaS3p6G0w
— David Frum (@davidfrum) December 13, 2017
The numbers out of Monmouth don't appear to be a fluke. Pew also recorded Trump at his lowest approval rating ever last week. Additionally, Suffolk University found that among Fox News watchers, Trump has plummeted from a 90 percent approval rating in January to a mere 58 approval rating in December.
Politically, Meghan McCain and Joe Biden have a lot to argue about. But emotionally, they're on the same page.
McCain, the daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), and the former Democratic vice president shared a heartwarming moment on The View on Wednesday as McCain emotionally discussed her father's cancer diagnosis. The senator was diagnosed with gliobastoma earlier this year — the same cancer that Biden's son, Beau, passed away from in 2015.
On the show, McCain tearfully told Biden how she thinks about Beau almost every day because of the shared diagnosis. Biden quickly walked over to McCain and grabbed her hand, describing how Beau looked up to her father and his courage, long before they were affected by the same illness.
Biden and the senator are longtime friends. "There is hope," Biden told McCain. "And if anybody can make it, your dad [can]." Watch the whole exchange below. Kathryn Krawczyk
In emotional moment on @TheView, Joe Biden consoles Meghan McCain, whose father was diagnosed with same cancer Biden's late son Beau had. "There is hope. And if anybody can make it, your dad [can]." pic.twitter.com/tQUy11X5sV
— ABC News (@ABC) December 13, 2017