‘Let Obamacare Fail’

Wednesday, July 19, 2017Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 9.05.42 AM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
The G.O.P.’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act collapsed, seemingly ending a seven-year quest to undo President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
New revelations emerged about President Trump’s meetings this month with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and his son’s meeting last year with a Russian lawyer and others.
— The First Draft Team
The Upshot

Trump Seems Much Better at Branding Opponents Than Marketing Policies

Donald J. Trump, the master brander, has never found quite the right selling point for his party’s health care plan.
He has promised “great healthcare,” “truly great healthcare,” “a great plan” and health care that “will soon be great.” But for a politician who has shown remarkable skill distilling his arguments into compact slogans — “fake news,” “witch hunt,” “Crooked Hillary” — those health care pitches have fallen far short of the kind of sharp, memorable refrain that can influence how millions of Americans interpret news in Washington.
Analyzing two years of his tweets highlights a pair of lessons about his messaging prowess that were equally on display as the Republican health care bill, weakly supported by even Republican voters, collapsed again in Congress on Monday. Mr. Trump is much better at branding enemies than policies. And he expends far more effort mocking targets than promoting items on his agenda.
Read more »
President Trump walks along the South Lawn driveway with Vice President Mike Pence on Monday in Washington.

As Relations Worsen, Iran Says U.S. Sanctions May Violate Nuclear Deal


The Trump administration announced new restrictions, mainly aimed at the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and has revived notions of abandoning the agreement.

Trump Administration Is Weighing New Sanctions Against Venezuela

By MAGGIE HABERMAN AND ERNESTO LONDOÑOPresident Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela on Tuesday in Caracas, the capital.

Administration officials say they want President Nicolás Maduro to hold off on coming elections seen by critics as a power grab.

Students at the University of Maryland won a competition this year to develop social media campaigns to combat terrorism.

Students Are the Newest U.S. Weapon Against Terrorist Recruitment


The Department of Homeland Security is giving college students funding to develop social media campaigns and other tools to counter recruitment by groups like the Islamic State.

A fence along the border between the United States and Mexico near Brownsville, Tex. The Department of Homeland Security has identified the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas as a priority area for a border wall.

Engineers Begin Preparatory Work for Border Wall Construction


The Army Corps of Engineers is drilling and taking soil samples to determine the most effective types of barriers in various places along the Mexican border.

The Afghan team at the opening ceremony of the First Global robotics competition in Washington on Sunday.

Afghan Girls’ Robotics Team Wins Limelight at Competition


Six girls from Herat, initially denied entry to the U.S. for the First Global robotics competition in Washington, are now the stars of the show.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, right, spoke this month with Senators Shelley Moore Capito, center, and Joe Manchin III outside the Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, W.Va.

Perry Praises ‘Clean Coal,’ but Trump Administration Policies Don’t Promote It


A visit by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to a West Virginia laboratory whose budget he would cut highlighted the contradictions in the administration’s policies.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in Istanbul this month. A State Department spokeswoman said decisions on restructuring were not yet final.

War Crimes Office May Be Closed in State Dept. Reorganization


Human rights advocates warned that closing the office could hurt American efforts to bring war criminals to justice.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert left federal court in Chicago after being sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2016.

Hastert, Ex-House Speaker Who Admitted Sex Abuse, Leaves Prison


J. Dennis Hastert, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to financial crimes tied to a sex abuse cover-up, will serve the rest of his sentence in a halfway house.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• Philip Klein in Washington Examiner:
“The problem for Republicans is that they cannot have all things. They cannot simultaneously have a cheaper, less regulated market, with lower taxes and spending, that provides relief to Obamacare’s victims — without being willing to accept that a certain amount of disruption will occur to the law’s beneficiaries.”
Mr. Klein, a conservative writer who has written a book on replacing the Affordable Care Act, says there is a fundamental problem blocking congressional Republicans from addressing health care: themselves. He argues that the caucus is too divided between those who want a “root and branch” repeal of former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law for a market-based solution and those who would be uncomfortable taking benefits away from constituents. And a “bill that isn’t governed by any clear vision, and thus isn’t representative of coherent policy” can never succeed. Read more »
From the Left
• Ezra Klein in Vox:
“The Republican failure to craft an effective replacement for Obamacare isn’t an accident. It’s a function of the fact that Obamacare is largely working, and Republicans who spent years persuading themselves and their base it’s a catastrophic failure are now slamming into that reality.”
Mr. Klein identifies the problems with the Affordable Care Act: It works poorly in certain pockets of the country, deductibles are too high and premiums are volatile. He then presents an analysis of its achievements, points to positive polling numbers and argues that Republicans are politically boxed-in because Democrats already “took many of their best ideas on health care” in crafting the existing legislation. Read more »
More selections »