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Obamacare lives, but it’s ailing. Will Trump help fix it?

President Donald Trump meets with members of the

President Donald Trump meets with members of the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Credit: THEW/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

No repeal, replace. Now repair?

Donald Trump got in some last-minute licks Tuesday at “certain so-called Republicans” whose opposition doomed the latest GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. But for the moment, the president has quieted his frequent threat to let it “implode.”

Trump said in a meeting with House members from both parties that he would work with Democrats on health care if the Republicans “didn’t get repeal done,” according to Rep. Richard Neal (R-Mass.).

But it was unclear how much he — or congressional Republicans — were willing to compromise their goal to wipe Obamacare off the books with Democrats’ calls to strengthen it and stabilize health insurance markets.

The Trump administration let subsidy payments for September go through, but hasn’t said what it will do next month. The uncertainty comes as insurers will soon have to set rates for 2018.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) placed his hopes on the resumption of bipartisan negotiations between the top Republican and Democrat on the health committee.

See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.

This Trump tweet followed early Wednesday: "We will have the votes for Healthcare but not for the reconciliation deadline of Friday, after which we need 60. Get rid of Filibuster Rule!"

Trump’s long game on NFL

Great anger” was Trump’s tweet on the Monday night football crowd booing when the entire Dallas Cowboys team took a knee before the national anthem. “Big progress” was Trump’s take on the Cowboys then standing when the anthem was played.

Trump rejected the notion that he was spending too much time stirring up fans against the NFL at the expense of such urgent concerns as Puerto Rico hurricane relief. “It’s really caught on,” he reportedly told conservative dinner guests Monday.

Trump said Tuesday that  the NFL should ban kneeling. “I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem,” said the president, who hasn’t acknowledged the protests’ declared aims to call attention to racial injustice and, since his attacks, to defend free expression.

The NFL did not respond.

Rescuing Puerto Rico

While not talking less about the NFL, Trump is talking more about hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico. Trump said he will visit the island next Tuesday and touted his administration’s emergency relief efforts amid calls for quicker and more robust aid, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.

Trump said it was more difficult to get aid to Puerto Rico than it was to Florida and Texas, also battered by hurricanes, because of the geography. “It’s out in the ocean. You can’t just drive your trucks there from other states,” he said.

The Trump administration denied a request to waive the Jones Act, which limits shipping to Puerto Rico to U.S.-flagged vessels.

The take-away: No, you shut up

Each side of the nation’s political divide has strong opinions on what those on the other side should and should not say, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Trump assailed political correctness — meant to scold and at times punish for speech and symbols at odds with left-of-center sensibilities.

But from the right — with Trump leading the charge — there is a push to enforce what may be described as cultural or sentimental correctness against protest methods they deem unpatriotic.

Justice isn’t blind, just choosy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Justice Department will get behind students who sue universities claiming their free speech rights have been violated.

The move comes amid repeated instances on campuses of left-wing groups trying to shut down appearances by conservative speakers.

But Sessions lined up with Trump in condemning the NFL anthem-time protest gestures. “These players, with all the assets they have, can express their political views without, in effect, denigrating the symbols of our nation, a nation that has provided our freedom to speak,” Sessions said.

About 200 protesters were kept out of Sessions’ invitation-only address at Georgetown University’s law school. But in at least one row of the auditorium, students sat silently with duct tape over their mouths.

Puzzled in Pyongyang

North Korean government officials are so confused by Trump that they have been quietly trying to arrange talks with Republican-linked analysts in Washington, according to The Washington Post.

“They can’t figure him out,” one person familiar with the outreach effort said. One source of their bewilderment are seeming contradictions at times between Trump’s remarks and those from the secretaries of state and defense.

Trump again warned Tuesday that while military action is “not a preferred option,” the U.S. is “totally prepared” to carry it out. “If we take that option, it will be devastating,” he said.

What else is happening

  • A majority of Americans — 57% — disagree with Trump’s call to fire NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, even though most say they would personally stand, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
  • Trump returned to New York City Tuesday night to headline a campaign fundraiser with deep-pocketed donors who spent up to $250,000, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports. The total haul was about $5 million.
  • Trump bet on the loser in Alabama’s GOP Senate primary. Despite his hosting of a rally for Luther Strange, the winner was Roy Moore, who was backed by ex-Trump aide Steve Bannon.
  • Strange's loss led Trump to delete his tweets boosting him, including one that said: "Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job — vote today for Big Luther."
  • Trump will limit the number of refugees entering the United States in the next fiscal year to 45,000, the lowest level in decades, Politico reported. Former President Barack Obama had set this year’s cap at 110,000.
  • Trump wants to save money on the next version of Air Force One by not bothering to give it in-flight refueling capacity — which could matter in a national emergency. “It will certainly be a limiting factor,” Sen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee Tuesday.
  • Dunford also testified that he has advised the White House to keep any transgender troops who have served “with honor and value.” Trump tweeted in July his intention to ban transgender troops.
  • The IRS is sharing information with Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller about key Trump campaign officials, including Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn, CNN reports.
  • Acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg will resign at the end of the week, convinced that Trump had little respect for the law, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed law enforcement officials.

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