Undoing Obamacare

Friday, October 13, 2017Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 9.52.11 AM

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • In a pair of announcements, President Trump said that subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out-of-pocket costs of low-income people will be cut, while sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers will be permitted. A backlash against Mr. Trump — including from fellow Republicans — was brewing as lawmakers voiced concern over how ending the subsidies would affect their constituents.

  • Tweets from Mr. Trump that partly blamed Puerto Rico for its post-hurricane crisis set off alarms on the island and sent the president’s aides scrambling to reassure its residents.

  • An American woman, her Canadian husband and three children were freed in a dramatic raid after being held for five years by a Taliban faction, the Haqqani network.
  • N.F.L. players may have an ally in labor law. In the debate over how far workers can go in banding together without retribution by their employers, many experts say showing solidarity is a legal right.

— The First Draft Team

What Would Happen if the U.S. Withdrew From Nafta

President Trump after signing an executive order called “Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America” in April.

President Trump after signing an executive order called “Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America” in April. Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Trump continues threatening to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and with negotiations on rocky ground, that risk could soon become reality. Withdrawing from the pact would bring big changes for the economy and for consumers.
Since the pact came into effect in 1994, United States trade with Mexico and Canada has more than tripled, growing more rapidly than American trade with the rest of the world. Mexico and Canada are now the second- and third-largest exporters to the United States, after China. And the two countries are the leading importers of American products.
Mr. Trump has criticized Nafta for creating an unfair playing field, allowing Mexico to steal jobs from the United States and opening the border to cheap, tariff-free goods. He wants to bring factory jobs back home.
But pulling out of the pact could have unintended economic consequences. Over the past quarter century, Nafta has reshaped the United States economy, and its demise could raise costs for American companies and consumers.
Read more »
The Farm Bureau in Tennessee offers health plans that do not meet all Obamacare requirements, and the insurance market is shakier there. Above, the Farm Bureau’s Urban Farm Day in 2014.

What Did Trump’s Health Care Executive Order Do?


Nothing yet. But it could matter for people who buy their own insurance or get it from work in the long-term.

WHITE HOUSE MEMOJohn F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, held his first extended briefing before the White House press corps on Thursday.

Trump’s Chief of Staff, Speaking With Press, Walks a Verbal Tightrope


The chief of staff, John F. Kelly, tried to show calm and order inside the White House while not appearing critical of the president’s lack of those qualities.

Representative Chris Collins of New York last month. On Thursday, he defended his actions as the largest stockholder in a biotech company, after a House ethics office report suggested further review.

House Ethics Office Says New York Congressman May Have Violated Rules


An inquiry centered on actions by a New York congressman who is a majority stockholder in a biotech company.

Trump’s Attacks on the Press: Telling Escalation From Empty Threats

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUMPresident Trump speaking to the news media at the White House last month.

Old hands like Bob Schieffer and Russell Baker take the president’s words with a grain of salt. Others are not so sure.

Facebook, Google and others positioned themselves as bettering the world. But their systems and tools have also been used to undermine democracy.

Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats


American tech companies positioned themselves as entities that brought positive change by connecting people and spreading information. Perceptions are shifting.

FACT CHECKA trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this month. Gains in the market, which are pocketed by investors, do not directly reduce the federal debt, which is how much the government owes on its borrowings.

Trump Makes Puzzling Claim That Rising Stock Market Erases Debt


The president’s comments, which do not reflect reality, come as Republicans are pushing a tax plan that experts say could add more to the debt.

In Speech to Truckers, Trump Hinted at Hostage Release

President Trump speaking to truckers at an airplane hangar in Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday. His forecast during his speech seemed to contradict his own declaration that he never telegraphs his moves in advance.By PETER BAKER

The night before their release was announced, President Trump teased the pending freedom of an American woman and her family who were held hostage for five years.

Kim Davis at the county clerk’s office in Morehead, Ky., in 2015.

Kim Davis, Once Jailed in America, Campaigns Against Gay Marriage in Romania


Her trip was organized by Liberty Counsel, a conservative research group that represented her when she was held in 2015 for contempt of court.

Illegal Border Crossings Are Down, But Trump Still Exaggerates the Numbers


The president continues to cite the change from a peak in November to a trough in April.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris. The Trump administration cited mounting arrears at Unesco as among the reasons the United States was withdrawing.

U.S. Will Withdraw From Unesco, Citing Its ‘Anti-Israel Bias’


The Trump administration also cited mounting arrears at the agency as a reason for the decision, effective at the end of 2018.

Representative Brad Sherman of California, left, and Representative Al Green of Texas taking questions in June about an effort to impeach President Trump.

House Democrats Can’t Impeach Trump, but They’re Willing to Try


Articles of impeachment against President Trump reached the House floor on Wednesday. They weren’t the first and will not be the last.

The aid package would help Puerto Rico’s financially beleaguered government avoid running out of cash in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

House Approves $36.5 Billion Hurricane and Wildfire Aid Package


The relief package is the second installment of aid passed by lawmakers to respond to this year’s hurricanes, and much more money will still be needed.

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
Lee Smith in The Weekly Standard:
“The reason no one wrote it is not because the press wanted to get Weinstein, but couldn’t prove the story. No, it’s because the press was protecting Weinstein.”
Lee Smith argues that the reason the news media waited so long to publish reports of Harvey Weinstein’s abusive behavior was not that getting anyone to go on record was so difficult. Instead, Mr. Smith, who worked at Talk, the magazine Mr. Weinstein and Tina Brown started together, suggests that “everyone had the story.”
He accuses the news media, or at least the glossy magazines that depended on the mogul to buy the rights to their stories, of wanting to protect Mr. Weinstein. The accusations against Mr. Weinstein finally broke because, as Mr. Smith asserts, “the media industry that once protected him has collapsed.” Read more »
From the Left
Rebecca Traister in New York Magazine:
“Something has changed. Sources have gone on the record. It’s worth it to wonder why. Perhaps because of shifts in how we understand these kinds of abuses.”
Ms. Traister worked at Talk magazine with Mr. Smith in 1999, where she experienced firsthand Mr. Weinstein’s belligerence and, subsequently, his power to silence his critics. She reflects on decades of silence in the news media and suggests that the accusations took so long to come to light because of cultural shifts. “Now our consciousness has been raised,” she writes, but that is not the whole story. She also notes that Mr. Weinstein has lost stature in the entertainment industry. Read more »