Tom Price: GOP health care bill will give Americans 'the kind of coverage that they want'

Mar 23, 2017 3

As moderate House Republicans scrambled to shore up support for their ObamaCare replacement bill Wednesday night, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price told Fox News that the legislation would let Americans “to the kind of coverage that they want for themselves, not that the government forces them to buy.”

RYAN VOICES CONFIDENCE ON OBAMACARE REPEAL AS CONSERVATIVES CALL TO ‘START OVER’ 

Price told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the House plan, which is scheduled for a vote Thursday, “encompasses all of the kinds of things that conservatives and Republicans and the American people have been talking about for the last seven years,” since ObamaCare became law. 

“What we’re trying to get to again is making certain that it’s patients and families and doctors that are in charge of healthcare, not Washington D.C.,” Price said.

The secretary, a former Georgia congressman, told Carlson that most Americans “don’t like what’s going on right now” with ObamaCare.

“You’ve got 20 million people who have said ‘phooey’ on the whole program [and said] we’re either going to pay the penalty or ask for a waiver, and you’ve got another 20 million individuals that aren’t getting the kind of coverage that they want,” Price said, “so this is a program that I think will work extremely well and we are again focusing on the individuals across the land who want to be able to select their coverage.”

Hawaii legislator quits Republican Party after Trump criticism

Mar 23, 2017 1

A Hawaii lawmaker who says she was pressured to give up her leadership post at the statehouse after criticizing President Donald Trump resigned Wednesday from the Republican Party.

Rep. Beth Fukumoto said members of the GOP refused to oppose racism and sexism including a suggestion by Trump to create a Muslim registry during his campaign.

“As a Japanese-American whose grandparents had to destroy all of their Japanese artifacts and items and bury them in the backyard to avoid getting taken and interned, how could I not have said anything?” Fukumoto asked. “And how could my party have not said anything?”

Fukumoto was voted out of her post as House Minority Leader in February after calling Trump a bully in a speech at the Women’s March in Honolulu, saying many of his remarks were racist and sexist and had no place in the Republican Party.

Since then, she sought feedback from her constituents about leaving the GOP and said three-quarters of the more than 470 letters she received supported the move.

She said she agrees with many Democratic positions on affordable housing and equitable taxes, and hopes to join that party.

Hawaii Democratic Party leader Tim Vandeveer said Democrats will give Fukumoto a fair shake, but some members are concerned about her past voting record on civil rights and women’s issues.

“Changing political parties is not like changing jackets, just because the weather’s better on our side of the street,” Vandeveer said.

Fukumoto voted against same-sex marriage when it came before the Legislature in 2013. She said Wednesday she voted that way to represent the majority of her constituents, but if she was voting on her own, she would have voted yes.

On reproductive rights, Fukumoto said she does not believe in abortion in all three trimesters but does not want to rescind individuals’ rights once they have been granted.

“We have choice laws in Hawaii and I’m not looking to repeal those laws,” she said.

Members of the Democratic Party on Oahu will ultimately decide whether to accept Fukumoto, but the process could take months, Vandeveer said.

Fukumoto said she’s received letters of encouragement from Democrats and Republicans in nearly every state.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz welcomed her to the party in a tweet, saying he’s proud of her courage.

Republican state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, a Fukumoto ally who voted against removing her from leadership, said, “the tiny party’s brand is further weakened and its relevance to the wider, diverse constituency looks bleak.”

With Fukumoto’s departure, Hawaii has just five Republican state representatives and no Republican state senators.

Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Fritz Rohlfing declined to immediately comment because he had not yet reviewed Fukumoto’s resignation letter.

US-Backed Syrian Militia Has Office in Moscow: Dunford

Mar 22, 2017 6

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said Wednesday that the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, backed by the U.S. in the effort to rout ISIS from Raqqa, has an office in Moscow.

“I’m going to be quite honest with you,” Dunford told senators questioning the scope of the accelerated campaign to defeat ISIS, the shifting loyalties of the various factions supported by the U.S. in the fight, and the potential threat from Russia’s backing of opposing groups.

“The group that we are supporting, certainly at the political level, has been engaged in Russia,” he said of the YPG, or People’s Protection Units. “The YPG has a political office in Moscow itself, but the groups that we’re providing support to on the ground are not being supported directly by Russian military forces.”

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), which has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S. Turkey has repeatedly threatened to attack the YPG, but the U.S. considers the group the most effective rebel fighting force in northeastern Syria.

Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, has said that the YPG fighters will take part in the eventual assault to take Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Dunford was testifying with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis before the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on a $30 billion supplemental for defense spending this year, but the hearing turned into a wide-ranging overview of how the money would be used.

Mattis disclosed that the 30-day plan he gave President Donald Trump late last month to speed up the anti-ISIS campaign was short on specifics. “We’ve got the skeleton plan put together. We’re fleshing it out,” he said, adding it will be weeks or months before it is a finished product.

Mattis described the strategy as an “interagency-developed report” that embraces “economic, diplomatic, military, covert means.”

“We should have this done in the next couple of months, if that long,” he said. “It may not even take us another month, but we’re still putting it together.”

In the meantime, a small contingent of Army Rangers and Stryker combat vehicles have moved into Manbij, about 70 miles north of Raqqa, to provide a “visible presence” of U.S. forces to ward off any attempts by Turkish-backed local forces or Syrian army troops backed by Russia to enter the city.

In addition, about 400 Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit have entered Syria to set up a firebase with M777 .155mm howitzers to support an assault on Raqqa. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division is also deploying to Kuwait for potential use in the train, advise and assist role in either Iraq or Syria.

When his detailed plan for defeating ISIS is complete, Mattis said, the U.S. will seek to put pressure on the group on several fronts simultaneously. The plan is to “increase the number of fights in a number of locations so they have cascading problems. We intend to throw them on their back foot.”

The Iraqi Security Forces, advised by the U.S., have used similar tactics in the months-long campaign to retake Mosul in northwestern Iraq. The attack had stalled until the ISF began pushing against ISIS on three separate avenues of approach.

Mattis suggested that a major increase in the number of U.S. troops on the ground may not be necessary to carry out the new plan. Currently, “a few troops have been added for fire support or for monitoring,” he said in a reference to the Army Rangers in Manbij and the Marines at the firebase near Raqqa.

“They’re not there permanently,” although they are in addition to the 500 U.S. troops currently authorized for Syria, he said.

In seeking to walk the senators through the complicated battlefield in Syria, Dunford drew a distinction between the YPG and the affiliated group called the “Afrin Kurds” who operate well west of Manbij in the Afrin area of northwest Syria and are directly supported by the Russians.

“I can confirm for you that the specific group [Afrin Kurds] that’s being supported by the Russians is not a group that has received training, equipment, resources from us in the northwest part of Syria,” Dunford said.

“In the specific groups that we do provide support to and the ones that we have asked to provide additional support to, we do have a very detailed vetting process that we use to mitigate the risk of weapons or equipment falling in the wrong hands,” he said.

On the budget, Mattis called on Congress to “look reality in the eye” and approve a $30 billion supplemental in defense spending for fiscal 2017. “Looming threats have outstripped the level of resources we have been allocating to defense,” he said.

The additional funding request, backed by President Donald Trump, “will help address the worsening security situation confronting us around the globe,” Mattis said.

“We must recognize that hesitation now to invest in defense would deepen the strategic mismatch between our future security and the military means to protect our people and freedoms,” he said.

Mattis also urged lawmakers not to neglect the role of diplomacy in avoiding conflicts. Trump has proposed major cuts in the State Department’s budget, but Mattis said “diplomatic solutions will remain our preferred options.”

However, “we cannot deny the role of our military in setting the conditions for diplomatic progress.”

Mattis said the $30 billion would “get our aircraft back in the air, our ships back to sea, and our troops back in the field with refurbished or new equipment and proper training. This is a necessary investment to ensure our military is ready to fight today.”

The $30 billion includes $24.9 billion in the base budget and $5.1 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations — the so-called “war budget” to fund the anti-ISIS campaign.

At a Pentagon briefing last week, budget officials said the $30 billion would pay for 28,000 more soldiers and modernization of Army aircraft, drones and air defense systems; 6,000 more service members for the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as pilot training and 24 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets; and 4,000 airmen, as well as more pilots, additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and C-130 Hercules tanker variants, and upgrades to F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

US-Backed Syrian Militia Has Office in Moscow: Dunford

Mar 22, 2017 9

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said Wednesday that the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, backed by the U.S. in the effort to rout ISIS from Raqqa, has an office in Moscow.

“I’m going to be quite honest with you,” Dunford told senators questioning the scope of the accelerated campaign to defeat ISIS, the shifting loyalties of the various factions supported by the U.S. in the fight, and the potential threat from Russia’s backing of opposing groups.

“The group that we are supporting, certainly at the political level, has been engaged in Russia,” he said of the YPG, or People’s Protection Units. “The YPG has a political office in Moscow itself, but the groups that we’re providing support to on the ground are not being supported directly by Russian military forces.”

Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), which has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S. Turkey has repeatedly threatened to attack the YPG, but the U.S. considers the group the most effective rebel fighting force in northeastern Syria.

Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, has said that the YPG fighters will take part in the eventual assault to take Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Dunford was testifying with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis before the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on a $30 billion supplemental for defense spending this year, but the hearing turned into a wide-ranging overview of how the money would be used.

Mattis disclosed that the 30-day plan he gave President Donald Trump late last month to speed up the anti-ISIS campaign was short on specifics. “We’ve got the skeleton plan put together. We’re fleshing it out,” he said, adding it will be weeks or months before it is a finished product.

Mattis described the strategy as an “interagency-developed report” that embraces “economic, diplomatic, military, covert means.”

“We should have this done in the next couple of months, if that long,” he said. “It may not even take us another month, but we’re still putting it together.”

In the meantime, a small contingent of Army Rangers and Stryker combat vehicles have moved into Manbij, about 70 miles north of Raqqa, to provide a “visible presence” of U.S. forces to ward off any attempts by Turkish-backed local forces or Syrian army troops backed by Russia to enter the city.

In addition, about 400 Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit have entered Syria to set up a firebase with M777 .155mm howitzers to support an assault on Raqqa. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division is also deploying to Kuwait for potential use in the train, advise and assist role in either Iraq or Syria.

When his detailed plan for defeating ISIS is complete, Mattis said, the U.S. will seek to put pressure on the group on several fronts simultaneously. The plan is to “increase the number of fights in a number of locations so they have cascading problems. We intend to throw them on their back foot.”

The Iraqi Security Forces, advised by the U.S., have used similar tactics in the months-long campaign to retake Mosul in northwestern Iraq. The attack had stalled until the ISF began pushing against ISIS on three separate avenues of approach.

Mattis suggested that a major increase in the number of U.S. troops on the ground may not be necessary to carry out the new plan. Currently, “a few troops have been added for fire support or for monitoring,” he said in a reference to the Army Rangers in Manbij and the Marines at the firebase near Raqqa.

“They’re not there permanently,” although they are in addition to the 500 U.S. troops currently authorized for Syria, he said.

In seeking to walk the senators through the complicated battlefield in Syria, Dunford drew a distinction between the YPG and the affiliated group called the “Afrin Kurds” who operate well west of Manbij in the Afrin area of northwest Syria and are directly supported by the Russians.

“I can confirm for you that the specific group [Afrin Kurds] that’s being supported by the Russians is not a group that has received training, equipment, resources from us in the northwest part of Syria,” Dunford said.

“In the specific groups that we do provide support to and the ones that we have asked to provide additional support to, we do have a very detailed vetting process that we use to mitigate the risk of weapons or equipment falling in the wrong hands,” he said.

On the budget, Mattis called on Congress to “look reality in the eye” and approve a $30 billion supplemental in defense spending for fiscal 2017. “Looming threats have outstripped the level of resources we have been allocating to defense,” he said.

The additional funding request, backed by President Donald Trump, “will help address the worsening security situation confronting us around the globe,” Mattis said.

“We must recognize that hesitation now to invest in defense would deepen the strategic mismatch between our future security and the military means to protect our people and freedoms,” he said.

Mattis also urged lawmakers not to neglect the role of diplomacy in avoiding conflicts. Trump has proposed major cuts in the State Department’s budget, but Mattis said “diplomatic solutions will remain our preferred options.”

However, “we cannot deny the role of our military in setting the conditions for diplomatic progress.”

Mattis said the $30 billion would “get our aircraft back in the air, our ships back to sea, and our troops back in the field with refurbished or new equipment and proper training. This is a necessary investment to ensure our military is ready to fight today.”

The $30 billion includes $24.9 billion in the base budget and $5.1 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations — the so-called “war budget” to fund the anti-ISIS campaign.

At a Pentagon briefing last week, budget officials said the $30 billion would pay for 28,000 more soldiers and modernization of Army aircraft, drones and air defense systems; 6,000 more service members for the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as pilot training and 24 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets; and 4,000 airmen, as well as more pilots, additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and C-130 Hercules tanker variants, and upgrades to F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

JFK's diary reveals fascination with Hitler, compared to 'legend'

Mar 22, 2017 19

A young John F. Kennedy filled dozens of pages in what historians believe to be his only diary. In one of the most interesting entries, Kennedy compares Adolf Hitler to a “legend.”

After the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945, JFK visited Hitler’s bombed Bavarian Berghof residence and Eagle’s Nest mountain retreat. 

FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO PRESERVE JFK’S SAILBOAT

After the visit, which was part of his German tour as a Hearst newspaper war correspondent, a 28-year-old Kennedy wrote about his fascination with the dictator, who had just committed suicide four months prior to JFK’s visit.

“He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him,” he wrote. “He had in him the stuff of which legends are made.”

LOST JOHN F. KENNEDY ASSASSINATION TAPES ON SALE

Kennedy predicted in his diary that Hitler would “emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived.”

The diary is set to be auctioned on April 26 at RR Auction in Boston by Deirdre Henderson, who was JFK’s research assistant when he was a Massachusetts senator.

Kennedy gave Henderson the diary so that she would be informed about his views on foreign policy issues and national security. She addresses his thoughts on Hitler in the auction description.

“When JFK said that Hitler ‘had in him the stuff of which legends are made,’ he was speaking to the mystery surrounding him, not the evil he demonstrated to the world,” she says. “Nowhere in this diary, or in any of his writings, is there any indication of sympathy for Nazi crimes or cause.”

Henderson told People that Kennedy’s interest in Hitler’s legacy could be credited to his education and his lifelong interest in history. She says he was doing his historical research even at the age of 12, when he was reading Churchill’s memoirs of World War I.

“It’s the mystery surrounding Hitler – why did he do what he did? I don’t think anyone will ever know,” she said. “But JFK was analyzing it and saying Hitler was a legend – and Hitler is a legend. But he’s not a good legend. You can’t translate that as meaning he had admiration for him.”

She intends to auction the original manuscript in honor of what would have been Kennedy’s 100th birthday on May 29.

“It’s part of his legacy.”

Immigration: As LA rebuffs Trump's order, others embrace it

Mar 22, 2017 15

Los Angeles went a step further than the rest of the country Tuesday in shielding illegal immigrants from immigration officials: It passed a directive forbidding firefighters and airport police from cooperating with federal immigration agents.

The directive was yet another attempt by the city to rebuff the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. The Los Angeles Police Department already prohibits police from even asking a suspect’s legal status – even with probable cause.

It follows a wave of similar measures across the country by cities and states that are vowing to not only resist the president’s tough immigration measures – but outright defy it.

DHS NAMES LOCAL JAILS THAT WON’T HOLD ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

“In Los Angeles, we don’t separate people from their families because it’s inhumane,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday. “In Los Angeles, we don’t demonize our hardworking neighbors just because they speak another language or come from another country. That’s un-American.”

There are about 300 jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to turn over illegal immigrants.

President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds from these so-called sanctuary cities. The administration has refused to tell Fox News if, when or how they plan to do so.

But while states like New York and California are pushing to defy the president’s immigration policies, others are embracing them.

WHITE HOUSE BLAMES MD. SCHOOL RAPE ON LAX BORDER, SANCTUARY POLICIES

Several states are attempting to leverage the power of the purse to force more liberal cities to cooperate with ICE. Lawmakers in Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas introduced bills to penalize sanctuary cities. On Tuesday, Mississippi became the first state to approve such a bill. The governor has vowed to sign it.

By contrast, lawmakers in California are close to passing legislation that would prohibit police or jails from even talking to ICE, a move critics say is a clear violation of federal law.

That proposal is opposed by several sheriffs who oversee jails, including LA Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

“We look to be able to strike that balance between public safety and trust,” said McDonnell, who oversees the nation’s largest jail. 

“We do a better job because we work together than we otherwise would; counter-terrorism is a great example.” 

McDonnell is one of the few politicians opposing the bill because it would prohibit jail officials from even identifying violent criminal aliens for deportation.

“We can allow ICE access to those individuals. That’s a system that by and large works very well for us at this point and one of the main reasons I look at Senate Bill 54 as something that is unnecessary.”

McDonnell also told the Los Angeles Times that the proposal before state lawmakers would hurt immigrants – not help them. He told the Times that if immigration officials cannot go to the jails to pick up illegal immigrants then they will fan out through the streets to find them.

“They are going to have no choice but to go into the communities and arrest not only the individual they are seeking but also people who are with that person, or other people in the area who are undocumented,” McDonnell told the Times. “That is something none of us want.”

Ryan voices confidence on ObamaCare repeal as conservatives call to ‘start over’

Mar 22, 2017 13

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that Republicans have a “moral obligation” to avert an ObamaCare collapse and pass replacement legislation heading for the floor, voicing confidence about the looming vote despite mounting turbulence inside the party.

As an influential conservative faction urged GOP leaders to “start over” and warned more than two-dozen members are against the bill, Ryan asserted in an interview with Fox News’ Dana Perino that they are “adding votes, not losing them.”

“We are in the fourth quarter of the House passing this bill which is the fourth committee—that’s when a lot of negotiations intensify near the end of the process,” Ryan said of the American Health Care Act. “This is called legislating—we have to broker compromises to make sure we draft legislation that can actually pass.”

He spoke as a key House committee was prepping the legislation for an expected floor vote on Thursday. President Trump and Vice President Pence also were doing what they could to sway hold-out Republicans.

Ryan told Fox News that Trump is a “fantastic closer” and has convinced about 10 members so far to switch their votes.

“The president has been bringing members down and talking to members and closing the deal,” Ryan said. “This is so encouraging—we’ve never seen this kind of presidential engagement with our members before—President Trump and Vice President Pence are rolling up their sleeves.”

The White House said that, piece by piece, member by member, they are getting “much closer” on a health care deal. During the daily White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president believes the health care bill will pass the House on Thursday.

“We’re going to get it done,” Spicer said, adding that there was no “Plan B” for health care.

Despite confidence stemming from the House Republican leadership and the Trump administration, more than 25 House Freedom Caucus members plan to vote ‘no,’ according to the conservative bloc. 

“I can tell you that opposition is still strong—they don’t have the votes to pass this tomorrow,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said on Wednesday. “We believe that they need to start over and do a bill that actually reduces premiums.”

A House Republican senior aide said Wednesday there are no plans to pull the bill or delay the vote planned for Thursday.

Much is on the line for both Ryan and the Trump White House, after Republicans vowed repeatedly during the 2016 campaign to replace the Affordable Care Act. But they’ve had difficulty striking the right balance in a bill to win over a majority not only in the House but the Senate.

Republican leaders have tried to assuage conservative concerns by giving states more flexibility on Medicaid, further curtailing the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion and also offering more health care aid to elderly residents.

While this doesn’t go far enough for some conservative lawmakers – and Democrats are opposed to virtually every aspect of the overhaul – Ryan told Fox News that passing the AHCA is important so that they can “move onto tax reform and economic growth.”

“Governing is tough—we’ve gone from being the opposition party for the last 10 years to being a governing party within the last four months,” Ryan said, noting that the AHCA would cut $1 trillion in ObamaCare taxes. “It looks messy, but this is the system the founders envisioned—we either repeal and replace and make tax reform easier, and if we don’t, it will make tax reform $1 trillion harder.”  

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Should Trump let TrumpCare fail?

Mar 22, 2017 14

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On the roster: Should Trump let TrumpCare fail? – Former Trump campaign boss offered to help Putin – Final hurdle for insurance bill ahead of Thursday vote – Thune warns nuclear option is real – Audible: Yes, dear – Oops!

SHOULD TRUMP LET TRUMPCARE FAIL?
Does it really matter if TrumpCare is any good?

Some would argue that at least at this point, it doesn’t. Count among that number President Trump himself.

He is increasingly focused on the tax cuts he wants Congress to enact and treats the overhaul of former President Obama’s health insurance law as more a matter of necessity – and perhaps annoyance – than opportunity.

The argument basically is that whatever bill Congress eventually gags out on health insurance after a back-and-forth with the Senate, and lots of grisly sausage making, won’t look much like this anyway. And the important thing is to just get some momentum going on the president’s ambitious policy proposals.

That’s not a crazy idea. But it’s also understandable that conservative Republicans would resist the concept knowing that it’s probably all downhill from here for their policy preferences.

It’s not that hard to imagine a scenario where a compromise bill limps out of the House and the Senate with at least some Democratic support and conservatives being left with little to do other than stomp on their hats.

Whatever you think about their opposition to the bill, at least grant them the presupposition of sincerity. Conservatives believe this legislation will hurt people and the country in the long run. And they understand this is their best chance to stop it.

Trump, who is obsessed with winning, and conservatives, who are obsessed with policy, are both acting in what they believe to be rational ways for their own interests.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not both at least partly wrong…

If Trump’s first legislative foray crashes and burns in the House Thursday, his ability to enact the rest of his agenda will be cast into doubt. He is an unpopular, divisive figure, who has also seen his young administration perpetually marred – whether you think fairly or not – by scandal.

A high-profile loss on TrumpCare would not just diminish his perceived power in Washington, but also likely set off a panic among investors who to this point have been irrationally exuberant about the chances for sweeping economic reforms. Surging stocks and consumer confidence would come tumbling down.

If conservatives kill TrumpCare they will in fact have felt a serious blow to the president who holds their only chance for acting on health care or any other policy priority.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that passing it is the right thing to do either.

There is strong reason to believe that TrumpCare will be even less popular than ObamaCare. It is essentially a stingier version of the original. It will be automatically disliked by all Democrats and some Republicans, an intensified inversion of what happened with the 2010 law.

As much as Trump wants a short-term political victory, he could be setting himself up for enormous political pain in 2018 and 2020.

The president warns that Republicans could lose Congress if they don’t pass this bill, but they could also lose it if they do pass it. That’s why so many in Congress are urging Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan to ask for a do-over.

Conservatives’ think that, informed of their concerns, Trump and Ryan should go back to the drawing board and craft new legislation more ambitious in scope and more effective.

There is an alternative, however…

Trump could also just let this measure fail in the House, blame conservative Republicans for obstructionism and just move on. Yes, it would necessitate coming up with some even more cockamamie patch for ObamaCare, but that would come later and be done in a midnight massacre of parliamentary tricks.

If it was good enough for almost every spending bill of the past five years, why not for a short-term bailout of the insurance industry this fall? And assuming that Trump really doesn’t care about the policy specifics here, what is the point of enacting unpopular legislation at all?

Further, if Trump can stick the blame on conservative Republicans for not repealing ObamaCare, he will be off the hook for his campaign promises in this area indefinitely. Ryan’s next demands can be met with raspberries at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, as well. Yes, markets will skid and worries will grow, but better to do it now on an issue Trump cares less about than later when the core of his policies – tax cuts and a trillion-dollar infrastructure stimulus package – are on the line.

If Republicans really don’t care about deficits and are ready to accept the federal government’s obligation to try to provide universal coverage, maybe Trump should just keep the more generous plan propped up for at least another year or so, and, absolved of blame in this matter, simply move on.

What’s the point of being post-ideological if you can’t take advantage of the political upsides? 

THE RULEBOOK: HA!
“It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 28

TIME OUT: TROPHY OF CHAMPIONS
History: “On this day in 1894, the first championship series for Lord Stanley’s Cup is played in Montreal, Canada. The Stanley Cup has since become one of the most cherished and recognized trophies in sport. The Stanley Cup was the creation of Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, lord of Preston and the 16th earl of Derby…He served in Canada’s House of Commons from 1865 until he was named governor … Stanley became an ice hockey fan after watching an 1889 game at the Montreal Winter Carnival…In honor of the new sport, Lord Stanley then donated a lavish trophy to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association…Stanley had intended for the cup to be presented to the winner of a challenge series, or tournament, so in 1894 it was given to the Montreal AAA team upon their defeat of the Ottawa Generals in the championship round of a tournament specifically created to award the Cup as Lord Stanley had intended.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with
your tips, comments or questions.

FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN BOSS OFFERED TO HELP PUTIN
AP: “President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests. Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.”

FINAL HURDLE FOR TRUMPCARE AHEAD OF THURSDAY VOTE
The Hill: “The GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan is just one committee away from a vote on the House floor, where it is far from clear if it has the support to survive. The House Rules panel has taken up the American Health Care Act (AHCA), with discussions and debate expected to last through Wednesday afternoon. The legislation is expected to clear the Rules Committee, but at least 23 Republican members have come out against it, enough to doom the bill in the House. Republicans have submitted more than 20 amendments for consideration, highlighting the divide between conservatives and leadership, though it’s unclear if any will be accepted Wednesday.”

[Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, urges House GOP to cancel health care vote fearing it won’t pass.]

Budget scorekeeper says fewer people insured under replacement than simple repeal – NYT: “The Congressional Budget Office recently said that around 24 million fewer Americans would have health insurance in 2026 under the Republican repeal plan than if the current law stayed in place. That loss was bigger than most experts anticipated, and led to a round of predictable laments from congressional Democrats — and less predictable ones from Republican senators, including Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and John Thune of South Dakota, who told reporters that the bill needed to be ‘more helpful’ to low-income people who wanted insurance. But one piece of context has gone little noticed: The Republican bill would actually result in more people being uninsured than if Obamacare were simply repealed.”

THUNE WARNS NUCLEAR OPTION IS REAL
Fox News: “As Senate Democrats float new options for complicating a vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Republicans appear ready to return fire with a bomb of their own – a nuclear one. Top Republican Sen. John Thune, of South Dakota, all but confirmed Wednesday that his party is willing to use what’s known as the ‘nuclear option,’ to lower the vote threshold to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch if Democrats try to filibuster. ‘We will do what is necessary to confirm Judge Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, yes,’ he told Fox News’ Shannon Bream on ‘America’s Newsroom,’ when asked if they’d go that route. Thune, who serves in the No. 3 position in Senate GOP leadership as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, added that Democrats ‘have not laid a glove on him’ in the hearings and predicted the judge would get an ‘affirmative’ vote in the Senate.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
WSJ Editorial Board warns Trump risks becoming a ‘fake president’ if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth –
WSJ

Trump raises over $30 million at banquet for House Republicans – Politico

Trump to attend NATO summit as first scheduled overseas trip – USA Today

Labor nominee says politics won’t influence hiring in his department – AP

Money flooding in to Price’s former House seat sets expectations high for Democrats – Politico

Why are so many American men not working? – Atlantic

AUDIBLE: YES, DEAR
“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.” – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an interview with IJR.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“​Every President is responsible for the actions of the executive departments of his administration. The Obama FBI was/is surveying the opposition party running against the former President’s party. That’s damning enough.” – Steve Odom, Murfreesboro, Tenn.​

[Ed. note: Well, to be fair Mr. Odom, the FBI was surveilling the candidate of the president’s party too…]

“Thank you so much for devoting time during the most recent episode of I’ll Tell You What to discuss Dana’s recent volunteer work on the Mercy ship. Your articulation of the great need, how we should respond – especially as it relates to those who call ourselves followers of Christ, and the reward and blessing we receive when we choose to serve our fellow man was a refreshing break from the world of politics. (By the way, I LOVE the weekly discussions about food during ITYW and even updates on the diabetic cat.)” – Michael Milligan, Oklahoma City, Okla.

[Ed. note: Torah is an inspiration to us all, Mr. Milligan. His brave fight against feline diabetes is an encouragement to all of us buffet all stars who hope for more trips to the chocolate fountain. As for Mercy Ships, I am reminded of the prayer attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or at least said to have been posted on the wall in the orphanage were she did her work. It reads in part, “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway. … What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway. … The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”]

“Why isn’t the FBI investigating Donna Brazile’s and CNN’s attempt to influence the election? Did she break any laws?” – Ron Geiss, San Jose, Calif.

[Ed. note: If it were a crime for political operatives to try to help their preferred politicians get more favorable treatment on television shows, federal prisons would be well beyond capacity already. What Brazile did was unethical in that she did not reveal to her employer, CNN, that she was helping one of its guests cheat. but that’s hardly a crime. Remember, debates are television programs, hosted by networks, or, in the case of the general election, a bipartisan commission. There is no federal control or oversight of the process. It’s just a TV show that happens to be more important than the rest. The reason the FBI is investigating Russia’s efforts to harm Hillary Clinton is because that is a hostile foreign power interfering with U.S. governance, not a well-known political flack flacking too hard for her friend.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

OOPS!
AP: “An Islamic television station in Senegal says it has filed a formal complaint against unknown saboteur ‘X’ for taking over the network and airing pornography instead of its regularly scheduled religious programming. Viewers tuning into Touba TV on Monday afternoon got a shock when hardcore pornography was aired from 1:10 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Touba TV on Wednesday called the broadcasting blunder a ‘criminal act’ and said the formal complaint will make it possible to identify the ‘authors who have an unknown agenda.’ The broadcaster said its viewers were offended, and it condemned the attempt as a ‘satanic move’ to sabotage the values it advocates. The privately run station usually broadcasts religious programs advocating Islamic values and teachings, including sermons and prayers.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Ever since the Bork nomination and the fiasco of the attacks on him it’s understood your job up there is to dance, to express a fealty to the constitution.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily “Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including “The Kelly File,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.

David Brock, Media Matters founder and Clinton ally, suffers heart attack

Mar 22, 2017 16

David Brock, founder of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America and longtime ally of the Clintons, suffered a heart attack while working in his Washington, DC office on Tuesday. 

“David Brock suffered a heart attack while working in the Washington DC office early Tuesday afternoon. He was quickly transported to a local hospital, received prompt medical treatment, and we are looking forward to a swift recovery,” said Brock’s chief of staff, Bradley Beychok.

We thank everyone for their well wishes, and especially want to thank the wonderful doctors and staff who treated David. We kindly ask for privacy as he recovers,” Beychok said in the statement.

The 54-year-old former conservative now heads a group that aims to combat conservatives in the media.  

Dems seize on Supreme Court ruling tossing legal standard set by Gorsuch

Mar 22, 2017 12

Senate Democrats on Wednesday seized on what, for nominee Neil Gorsuch, was an ill-timed ruling from the Supreme Court – a unanimous decision that ended up tossing a legal standard set by Gorsuch nearly a decade ago.

The ruling came as Gorsuch faced his second day of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his nomination to the Supreme Court.

The unanimous Supreme Court decision ruled for a family that had a sued a local school district over special education accommodations for children with disabilities. The court said schools must, under a federal law, meet higher standards to provide individualized programs to students requiring special education.

“When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing merely more than de minimus progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all. For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to ‘sitting idly awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out,’” Justice John Roberts wrote. 

With its decision, the court tossed a standard set by Gorsuch in a 2008 opinion on a separate case, as part of the 10th Circuit bench. That opinion had said a Colorado school didn’t have to pay a private school to educate an autistic boy, saying he had been making some progress and that was good enough under the law.

On the sidelines of the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted: “Today President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, was unanimously rebuked by the Supreme Court.”

He added, “SCOTUS has found that disabled students are entitled to substantially greater protections under fed law than Judge Gorsuch previously ruled.”

In the hearing room, Gorsuch pointed to the case as an example of those where he doesn’t like the result, but followed circuit court precedent.

But Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin said he was concerned that Gorsuch had gone further than that precedent.

Gorsuch responded: “If anyone is suggesting that I like the result where an autistic child happens to lose, it’s a heartbreaking accusation.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, later defended Gorsuch, saying this was an example of Gorsuch doing “exactly” what he has vowed – following precedent.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.