POLITICS
07/19/2017 06:49 pm ET

Desperate Trump Trying 'Point And Run Thumb Across Neck' Move

Bullies gonna bully.
Carlos Barria / Reuters

This administration is so incompetent corporations can’t even get what they want out of Washington. Mitch McConnell is going ahead with an Obamacare repeal vote, because the cool thing about not being capable of basic human emotions is that not only can you do disastrously evil things, but when your plans fail, you don’t feel anything. And a Trump administration official worried that this week might be when “everything starts to unravel,” though we’re pretty sure that process started when Florida’s early returns weren’t swinging Hillary’s way. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, July 19th, 2017:

HORRIBLE BILL IS HORRIBLE - Do any Republican senators even remember why they’re doing this anymore? Jeffrey Young: ”Thirty-two million fewer people would have health coverage, health insurance premiums would double and the insurance market would destabilize over the next 10 years under legislation the Senate may take up next week, according to a report the Congressional Budget Office published Wednesday…. About three-quarters of the country’s population would live in geographic areas with no health insurance providers by 2026, the report says.” [HuffPost]

Instead, they could, you know, try to make health care better.

VLADIMIR PUTIN HAVING BEST WEEK IN WASHINGTON - Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous: “President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials. The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later. Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.” [WaPo]

PETULANT BULLYING HAVING FAILED, TRUMP TURNS TO …  … more petulant bullying. Marina Fang: “President Donald Trump used a lunch with Republican senators Wednesday to jokingly threaten vulnerable GOP lawmakers who have opposed recent Senate attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. ‘The other night, I was very surprised when I heard a couple of my friends — my friends,’ Trump said, looking around at the senators in the room. ‘They really were — and are.’ ‘They might not be very much longer, but that’s OK,’ he added. Seated next to Trump at the lunch was Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is up for re-election next year. ‘This was the one we were worried about,’ Trump said, turning to Heller. ‘Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?’ Heller laughed uncomfortably.” [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE DEALING WITH EVEN MORE FIREY DUMPSTER FIRE - Annie Karni and Eliana Johnson: “The president’s most senior aides appeared eager to move on from the health care loss, busying themselves with their own pet projects…. If there was concern at the White House on Tuesday for the future of Trump’s first-year agenda, it wasn’t about reviving the debate on replacing Obamacare but, rather, about what comes next. ‘The real fear is that this is where everything starts to unravel,’ said a senior White House aide. ’It makes things harder for the debt ceiling and it makes tax reform way harder. People are saying, “Oh, my God, if we couldn’t come together on repeal and replace, how are we possibly going to do tax reform?” … It was left to chief of staff Reince Priebus and legislative director Marc Short to hike up to the Hill with Vice President Mike Pence for a regular weekly policy lunch with Senate Republicans. There, Priebus was photographed crouching behind a trashcan in the hallway, talking on his cellphone. The conversation at the meeting, according to a White House adviser, was focused on how to move forward.” [Politico]

BLAME GAME! Alexander Bolton: “Tensions are bubbling over between President Trump and Senate Republicans. White House officials are blaming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for getting stuffed at the goal line on ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation, while GOP senators say Trump failed to provide any meaningful political momentum for the prized measure. ‘He was of no help,’ grumbled one GOP senator, who doubted that Trump would have done much to defend lawmakers from political attacks if the bill passed. A member of Trump’s team says their boss bears no responsibility for the embarrassing loss because McConnell was in charge of putting together a Senate package. ‘This was McConnell’s deal,’ said a White House official when asked what went wrong.” [The Hill]

 

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GOP MIGHT NOT GET THEIR ROSEBUD, EVEN - When Republican-controlled Washington can’t even get the tax code they want… Kate Kelly and Alan Rappeport: ”With President Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act nearly dead, administration officials are scaling back their ambitions to cut the corporate tax rate sharply, apparently taking a more pragmatic approach as they scramble to secure a major legislative victory this year. In recent days, discussions among Mr. Trump’s economic advisers over promised tax cuts for corporations and individuals have taken on new urgency, a person who has been briefed on the matter said. One crucial point of discussions in the coming days, the person said, will be the proposed business tax rate. In April, a White House policy paper pegged it at 15 percent for corporations and small businesses alike. The current rate is 35 percent.” [NYT]

Hey, they’re getting some things done: “Senate Republicans are scheduled to vote Thursday to confirm a federal judge who compared abortion to slavery, calling them ‘the two greatest tragedies in our country.’” [HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery]

HIGH COURT STYMIES TRAVEL BAN - Area politician tries to ban grandparents ― framed needlepoint messages asking God to bless this mess to follow? Lawrence Hurley: ”The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday a bid by President Donald Trump to block a judge’s ruling that prevented his travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries from being applied to grandparents of U.S. citizens. But in a partial win for Trump, the court put on hold part of the judge’s ruling that would allow more people to enter the United States under a separate ban on refugees if it went into effect. The brief order said the court’s decision is temporary while the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers a separate appeal on the same issue. Three of the conservatives on the court of nine justices noted that they would have granted Trump’s request in full. The Trump administration last Friday asked the high court to overturn a decision on Thursday by a U.S. district judge in Hawaii, which limited the scope of the administration’s temporary ban on refugees and travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.” [Reuters]

STUPID, WRONG THING IS STILL STUPID & WRONG - Sam Levine: “President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tried to reassure Americans that their voter fraud commission’s work would be fair and bipartisan during the panel’s first official meeting on Wednesday…. The meeting offered a chance for Trump, Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the commission’s vice chair, to reassure Americans after widespread resistance to the panel’s request that all 50 states hand over detailed voter information. While the commission laid out about a dozen topics related to election integrity it intended to pursue, it did little to allay concerns it would be a partisan effort to stir up unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.” [HuffPost]

 

TRUMP ‘VOTER FRAUD’ CZAR WON’T ADMIT CLINTON WON POPULAR VOTE - Empiricism is so last century. Marina Fang: ”Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the head of President Donald Trump’s commission investigating voter fraud, on Wednesday refused to concede that Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in last year’s presidential election. The commission, which held its first public meeting at the White House on Wednesday, was formed after Trump claimed without evidence that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally ― about the margin of Clinton’s popular-vote victory. Trump won the Electoral College to become president…. Kobach refused to acknowledge Clinton’s popular-vote win, even after repeated questions from MSNBC’s Katy Tur. ‘We may never know the answer to that question,’ he said. Kobach claimed that if people cast illegal ballots, ‘you still won’t know if they voted for Trump, Clinton, or someone else. It is hard to know exactly what the final tally would be in that election.’” [HuffPost]

 

LAWMAKERS TRYING TO OUTLAW ISRAEL BOYCOTT SUPPORT - This seems…ill-advised. Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim: ”[A] group of 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. The proposed measure, called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), was introduced by Cardin on March 23. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the bill ‘was drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.’ Indeed, AIPAC, in its 2017 lobbying agenda, identified passage of this bill as one of its top lobbying priorities for the year.” [The Intercept]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - The running of the dogs.

COMFORT FOOD

- Incredible ― but definitely awful ― grocery store puns.

- British Airways makes a strong play for the best in-flight safety video.

- The reason there isn’t more free parking.

TWITTERAMA

@BenjySarlin: According to our reporting, the Senate bill is both a particle and a wave and we can determine it’s position or momentum but not both

@mattdpearce: Just filed a bunch of public-records requests and, as a millennial, I demand immediate gratification

@andylevy: i have no idea what louise mensch would be doing differently if she were a russian agent trying to make ppl investigating russia look silly

Got something to add? Sen  tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffpost.com)

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