Senate Parliamentarian Rules Against Healthcare Provisions

The Senate Parliamentarian gives rulings on all bills before they are voted on. Because the healthcare bill is being passed under reconciliation rules to make it possible to ram it through with 50 votes plus a Pence tiebreaker, it is subject to what are called “Byrd Rules.”

The Parliamentarian has found several points in the bill that she judges not subject to reconciliation rules and therefore would need 60 votes to pass. The Parliamentarian’s findings are subject to Senate approval, so this all might seem like a waste of time, but her findings can be used by the Democrats as delaying tactics and might be the subject of lawsuits further down the line.

The questionable topics are

  • Restrictions on abortion coverage
  • A provision defunding Planned Parenthood
  • A newly permissive state waiver process
  • Changes to rules governing insurance pricing by age
  • Funding for cost-sharing reductions
  • Elimination of the medical-loss ratio rule
  • The Cruz Amendment

These are pretty significant pieces of the bill. The New York Times has an explainer and the judgement of a panel of experts as to how likely each provision is to be struck. They also have an article on the politics of it, as does New York Magazine. There are a couple of others, but those seemed best to me. Here’s an explanation from the Senate Budget Committee’s Minority [Democratic] staff. Maybe David will have more to say.








Saturday Morning Open Thread: Call Him Jared

I particularly love the other two dogs, giving Mr. Happy Laps the hairy eyeball — and a wide berth.

Apart from maybe hitting the pool, what’s on the agenda for this summer weekend day?

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Speaking of ludicrous instinctive actions from an organism not bred for critical thinking…

Jared Kushner failed to disclose dozens of financial holdings that he was required to declare when he joined the White House as an adviser to President Trump, his father-in-law, according to a ­revised form released Friday.

A separate document released Friday also showed that Kushner’s wife, presidential daughter Ivanka Trump, had been paid as much as $5 million from her outside businesses over an 84-day span this spring around the time she entered the White House as a senior adviser and pledged to distance herself from her private holdings.

And they both continue to draw large sums from outside interests: The couple has jointly made at least $19 million in income from business ventures and listed more than $80 million in real estate and other revenues since the start of 2016, the documents show…

Ivanka Trump also listed ­receiving $2.4 million in hotel-related revenue from the Trump International Hotel in Washington. She said she earned $787,500 from a publisher’s advance for her book “Women Who Work,” which debuted in May. And she reported $2.5 million in salary and severance from her “continued participation in employer-sponsored 401(k) plan” of Trump Payroll Corp., a side entity that handles Trump Organization wages.

For his part, Kushner earned millions from his family’s real estate over the past year, his filing shows. He pulled in between $1 million and $5 million between January 2016 and March 9 of this year from BFPS Ventures, a holding company valued at between $5 million and $25 million.

An earlier version of Kushner’s disclosure form described BFPS as a company focused on “real estate in New York.” However, public documents revealed, and Kushner’s legal team later confirmed, that it held a wide range of entities, including an Oklahoma oil and gas firm that has been sold…



Late Night Open Thread: A Little Silhouette-o of A Man


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Archetypical celebrity clown figure for a clownshow “administration”. Buzzfeed:

Trump “wanted to give Scaramucci something to do because he likes him on TV,” a source close to the White House’s press operation told BuzzFeed News.

“Ivanka has been pushing this for some time. Since the communications job was open, Trump thought it would be a nice fit. But the president doesn’t understand what kind of responsibilities come with that job, and Sean did. Sean would have been expected to serve as press secretary, and do the comms job while Scaramucci held the ceremonial title, and he would have reported to him. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” the source said.

“And Trump did it over the objection of several senior staff who know Scaramucci in that job is a joke,” the source added…

At his first White House daily press briefing on Friday, Scaramucci named Sarah Huckabee Sanders the new press secretary. She read a statement from Trump about Spicer’s resignation, complete with an odd line about television ratings at the end: “I am grateful for Sean’s work on behalf of my administration and the American people. I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities. Just look at his great television ratings. Sean will continue to serve the administration through August.”

Scaramucci then took over, calling Spicer — a Navy reservist — a “true American patriot” and said he hoped he would go on “to make a tremendous amount of money.”…

Scaramucci was calm, chatty, and easily engaged reporters — something Spicer was never quite able to master at the White House — and repeatedly said how much he loves people in the White House and how much he loves the president.

Though his presentation was sleek, the substance from previous news conferences wasn’t that different: When asked about Trump’s baseless claim that about 3 million people illegally in the election, he said, “There’s probably some level of truth to that.”…

Those close to the administration who have remained skeptical of Priebus and Spicer because they don’t consider them Trump loyalists see the shakeup positively. This is “all good! Trump needs more people around him he can trust,” one of them wrote to BuzzFeed News…

Scaramucci, who recently sold his stake in his hedge fund, was originally under consideration for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, a post held by Valerie Jarrett under President Barack Obama. But White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus tried to get Scaramucci to pull out, claiming that his ethics review was taking too long. Priebus, according to reports at that time, did not want someone as close to the president in that position as Scaramucci is and sees him as a possible threat to his own power…

“Commutations” Director.



Patrice O’Neal Was Right

I absolutely love comedians- there is nothing better than a good stand up comedian doing his thing. I particularly like edgy comedians who really take risks. I’m not talking about douchebags like Andrew Dice Clay, who just stand up and spew racist, misognystic hit. Edgy in that you think about things and it makes you uncomfortable and only they could get away with it. Richard Pryor. One of my all time favorites was Patrice O’Neal, who was an absolute genius. Watch from the beginning until 7:20.

Now read this:

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigned Friday, less than a week after a city officer shot and killed a woman who had called officers for help.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said she asked Harteau to resign because “I’ve lost confidence in the chief’s ability to lead us further — and from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well.”

White woman’s life is valuable. Philando Castile and countless others? Well, shit happens.



Friday Night News Dump the First: The Man Who Wasn’t There Strikes Back!

The Washington Post reports:

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

Like the original leak that led to Attorney General Sessions recusal from the counterintelligence and criminal investigations into Russian active measure, cyberwar interference in the 2016 elections, the leak reported today is another warning shot. The former was meant to signal to AG Sessions that it would not end well if he messed with, or allowed others to mess with, the ongoing investigations. Today’s is a reminder. But it is also meant as a warning to others as well: “we have the intercepts of Ambassador Kislyak’s communications back to Moscow. We know what he told Putin and Lavrov. And if you interfere in Special Counsel Mueller’s work that information will find its way out.” Hence this from WaPo’s report:

But U.S. officials with regular access to Russian intelligence reports say Kislyak — whose tenure as ambassador to the United States ended recently — has a reputation for accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington.

Ambassador Kislyak’s tenure at the Russian Embassy in DC is coming to a close, but he remains both the gift that keeps on giving and the man no one from the 2016 campaign can seem to remember. Ambassador Kislyak is Mearn’s man who wasn’t there.

Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three

The man was waiting there for me

But when I looked around the hall I couldn’t see him there at all!

Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!

Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair

A little man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today

Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

And right now AG Sessions wishes he’d just go away already. What remains to be seen is whether AG Sessions, or anyone else, has gotten the message.



Made It In One Piece

I left later this morning so I would not be driving into the sun, which worked like a charm. I forgot, however, that it was Friday night and everyone was fleeing NYC, so the drive was hellish once I reached the NY border. There were so many bad drivers that I had to limit my music listening to Portishead and Ween to keep my blood pressure under 10000000.

Got here and the kids are watching Paul Blart, Mall Cop II, and we need to jail the creators before they make a third.

Oh, also left my AMEX at My Sister’s Bistro, so they have to mail that to me. Otherwise, everything is ok. ABC’s mom is here with her big dopey white lab named Polo P. Digglesworth, and I like that there is a dog in the house.








Friday Evening Open Thread: “An Impossible Hand”

Further proof — as if we needed it — that the entire Republican party has abandoned all thought of governing in favor of merely obstructing.

What’s on the agenda as we start the much-needed weekend?



Friday Afternoon Open Thread

A funny thing I saw on Twitter:

Also, never change, Florida. (H/T: Valued commenter Jack the Second.)








Spicey Out

I'm in a little diner in the middle of PA ony way to visit ABC, and ACTION NEWS on the tv set tells me that Spicer has resigned and an internet troll is now running the WH comms shop.

*** UPDATE ***

SWEET MOTHER OF GOD LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS FISH SANDWICH!

The butter knife is for reference. Apparently I am eating Moby Dick for lunch.








Gimme some money

I’ve been traveling the past few weeks, but I’m back and I want to keep raising money for the midterm elections.

You can donate here to every Democratic nominee for the House who runs against a Republican incumbent.

Goal Thermometer

You can donate here to the guy running against Paul Ryan (Randy Bryce).

Goal Thermometer








Open Thread

Sorry, moving in slow gear today.

ETA:

Quirky “art” in Guffey, Colorado

Guffey is a tiny hamlet off Rt 9, on the way to Eleven Mile Reservoir. Which is where I wish I was for the weekend, camping, fishing for trout, and catching crawdads in my traps (and, at night, wading and using my hands and a headlamp). Great fun, alas I’m no longer close.

On the way home, I’d always stop at Rita’s in Guffey for some chow, usually a very peppery green chile. On the way out, I’d often drive to Fairplay and hit Dorothy’s Tamales (a converted bowling alley that still opens for bowling after dinner!), then back South to the reservoir. Should you ever be near Breckenridge, Buena Vista, or are driving West from Colorado Springs, check them out. Their bison tamales with red chile are beyond description – they’ve perfected that dish, literally, as in you cannot believe that someone has made something so good, so perfect, so complex. Food like that is sublime, even transcendent, and you’re lucky if you encounter it.








On The Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

So far, this feature has been about travel, with the occasional “local” picture or two. I think limiting this to just travel is just that – limiting. So I’m changing this up a bit to include neat, colorful, funny, interesting, poignant, etc. pictures that don’t require travel – for you!

As always, if you’re on a trip or have a story to share, you can just pitch in below. Please hold off sending new pictures as the new form will launch Monday.

Travel safely everyone, even if it’s just down the hall for that second cup of coffee. Most importantly, have a great weekend!

Read more



Friday Morning Open Thread: Got Plans for Next Weekend?

Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’…


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As we brace for the predictable Friday News Dump, what’s on the agenda for the day?


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And if we ever get a break from the cascade of healthcare / Russiagate newsbursts, let’s not forgot Kansan Kris Kobach’s openly fraudulent Voter Fraud Commission…



Timelines for plumbing

A friend of the blog asked me to look at Senator Cardin’s (D-MD) ACA improvement bill, SB 1511. It’s a perfectly fine bill. It wants a public option tied to Medicare opt-out. It wants to increase the value of CSR. It wants to increase the subsidy range to 600% of the Federal Poverty Line. It wants to do something with prescription drugs. It wants to do a lot. And it wants all of these changes to go live on January 1, 2018. That is five months from now.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently scored HR 1628, the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act which would sunset all funding and spending of the ACA on 12/31/19. The political theory behind a two year phase out is that at some point the artificial crisis will force action on a replace bill that will be conservative leaning but have large bi-partisan majorities so everyone is responsible and no one is to blame. The crisis point is twenty nine months from now.

The Cardin bill is too late to implement even if we lived in a counterfactual universe where it was signed into law on Friday afternoon.

The hypothetical replacement bill, even if it was to be signed into law on Friday evening, might be too late to implement for January 1, 2020.

Plumbing is a challenge. Anything more complex than explicitly appropriating Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies and perhaps adding money to outreach efforts won’t have a positive effect for a 1/1/18 start date. The Cardin bill builds on current structures and current regulations in the counterfactual universe of Hillary Clinton being president but it wants to start up a new insurer and it wants to dramatically alter the composition of the on-Exchange market while changing the actuarial value of the plans sold. The insurers have spent a year or more building the 2018 product profile and have submitted their tentative offerings for approval. At this point, their plumbers can’t build brand new plans from scratch and have them reviewed and approved to go on sale on November 1st.

Any hypothetical replace bill would take down significant elements of the current regulatory structure. New rule-making from at least the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury would be needed. That means the federal regulators would need to figure out what Congress intended, then they would need to create drafts, solicit comment, revise the regulations. That is not a fast process. Once final regulations are issued, insurers have to figure out what they need to do and then build.

Insurers and the federal government should have all of the changes in final testing by July 2019 for a November 1, 2019 launch date. Rule making would eat up a year and insurers would be scrambling for a year to build. They don’t need to be able to have their operational process be 100% effective on Day 1. As a lowly plumber on the launch date of the ACA Exchanges in 2013 I had jury-rigged a bastardized manual process for the piece that I was responsible for with the intent of getting the system fully automated by early January. Minimal initial operational capability needs time.

Anything that is a tweak and an adjust to the basic regulatory framework of the ACA has enough time to be implemented for the 2019 plan year. Major changes for January 1, 2020 would be a plausible challenge with significant probabilities of failures and painful issues if Congress had a bill signed this weekend.

This entire piece is premised on the absurd assumption that a law is signed on July 21, 2017. This is an extraordinarily generous assumption regarding plumbing. Anything that happens will be working with an even more compressed time frame than the one I sketched out here.



Late Night Oldies with Poor Sleep Hygiene Open Thread: ‘President’ Trump’s Big Vroom-Vroom TeeVee Show!!!

And he wouldn’t be in the White House if not for all those busy little GOP elves (and their Russian ‘assistants’). THANKS EVER SO FECKIN’ MUCH, REPUBS!

The producers of children’s television know the key to holding a distractible audience’s attention: interactivity…

It turns out you can apply the same formula to morning news. “Fox & Friends,” the three-hour wake-up program on Fox News, is an interactive magic mirror for Donald J. Trump.

President Trump is the show’s subject, its programmer, its publicist and its virtual fourth host. The stars offer him flattery, encouragement and advice. When he tweets, his words and image appear on a giant video wall. It’s the illusion of children’s TV — that your favorite show is as aware of you as you are of it — except that for Mr. Trump, it’s real.

In January the hosts, “Romper Room”–style, even pretended to be watching Potus, showing a video feed of the White House and asking him to flash the lights on and off if he was watching. (Producers added an effect of the lights flickering, a “TV trick” the hosts later acknowledged.)…

Suddenly, for no other reason than its No. 1 fan, it is the most powerful TV show in America. (It’s also easily the most-watched cable news morning show, averaging 1.6 million viewers in the year’s second quarter, following a post-Trump ratings boost.) Mr. Doocy and Mr. Kilmeade now offer strategic advice on health care legislation. Politicians use the show as a kind of virtual Oval Office pitch meeting. In turn, Mr. Trump’s live tweets set and reshape the show’s focus…

TV news has covered and worried presidents for decades, but it has never been as central to the mind-set of a president as it is to Mr. Trump: reality star, producer and cable-news junkie. But since his amour fou with CNN and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” has gone bad — he claims not to watch them anymore, yet somehow stays deeply familiar with them — he has favored “Fox & Friends,” which requites his love…

Diagraming the feedback loop between “Fox & Friends” and the president requires a very small bulletin board and maybe six inches of yarn. On July 11, the show aired a segment blaming Democrats for “obstructing” Mr. Trump’s nominees. At 6:42 a.m., it posted the segment on Twitter, and Mr. Trump retweeted it quickly. At 6:59, he tweeted… Ten minutes later, that tweet was on the “Fox & Friends” video wall, prompting the hosts to criticize the Democrats again.

“This is anti-American,” Mr. Kilmeade said.

“Well, it’s anti-Trump, ultimately,” Mr. Doocy said.

“Which is anti-American,” Mr. Kilmeade said…

When George Orwell predicted a 24/7 Big Brother video autocracy, he didn’t know it would be aimed at a four-year-old’s comprehension level. But this is America, land of FreeDUMB!