Trump’s healthy distance
President Donald Trump didn’t master all the details of the House Republicans’ health bill, but he got deeply involved in getting it passed — twisting arms, making threats and hailing the result as a “great plan.” More recently — in a nod to its unpopularity in polls — he called it “mean.”
Senate Republicans are about to unveil their version, drafted in deep secrecy by a select group overseen by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with Trump kept at a distance.
The Senate GOP has made it clear to the White House that the less involved Trump is, the better the bill’s chances, CNN reports. Which may suit him fine.
If it passes, Trump will likely quickly embrace it as advancing his promise to repeal Obamacare. (Bridging differences with the House for a final bill would still be no easy feat.) If it fails, Trump has a stronger case at trying to avoid blame.
The bill would reverse much of the 2010 Obamacare legislation and reduce government’s role in providing coverage and setting standards. Medicaid would face cutbacks.
The take-away: Georgia lessons
Democratic losses in four special House elections since April show the electoral landscape now remains much the same as when Trump took office five months ago, Newsday’s Dan Janison writes.
Despite all the anti-Trump demonstrations, the president’s bad poll numbers, extended anxiety over health care and complications over Russia, the GOP held its home turf in Georgia’s Sixth District Tuesday, with Republican Karen Handel defeating Democrat Jon Ossoff.
As Trump thumbs nose, Rice bops Pelosi
By Thursday morning, Trump resumed taking nasty personal shots at rival leaders on Twitter. "I certainly hope the Democrats do not force Nancy P out. That would be very bad for the Republican Party - and please let Cryin' Chuck stay!" the president tweeted.
The "Nancy P" was in reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) was on NBC's "Morning Joe" and CNN's "New Day" calling for a change in leadership in the caucus, but declining to say whom she would support as a successor.
After the special-election losses, Rice said: "The first step to getting to a winning strategy is a change in leadership. "I sat in a meeting the other day and heard a rationale about how we should be happy we didn't lose as badly two days ago as we did a year ago."
"Nancy Pelosi was a great speaker. She was a great leader, but her time has come and gone," Rice said. "She's a great fundraiser, but if the money we are raising through her leadership is not helping us win elections, we have to have this conversation now."
Trump feels energy at Iowa rally
At a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump went public for the first time with a possible new twist on his promise to build the wall — put solar panels on it to generate energy that would pay for most of it, rather than send the bill to Mexico.
“My idea,” Trump told the crowd of 5,000. Well, maybe not. The Associated Press reported that it was part of a proposal by one of the bidders offering designs for the wall.
He also picked a puzzling place to knock wind power as unreliable. Iowa gets almost a third of its energy from wind, the highest percentage of any state.
As for the rest, Newsday’s Emily Ngo tweeted “A call for unity, criticism of Democrats, another call for unity, criticism of Democrats, then a call for unity.”
A slight reversal of fortune
Trump’s net worth has slipped to $2.9 billion from $3 billion a year ago, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The calculation is based on figures compiled from lenders, mortgage documents, annual reports, market data and Trump’s financial disclosure last week.
The decrease is driven mostly by a drop in the value of three office properties in Manhattan, including Trump Tower. The cause, Bloomberg News said, is changes in the New York office market, where demand for space in vintage properties is falling under competition from new skyscrapers.
Nothing to say
The Congressional Black Caucus rejected an invitation to meet with Trump, with its chairman saying the members never got a response on issues raised during a session in March, which include criminal justice reform and voting rights.
“Given the lack of response to any of the many concerns we have raised with you and your administration, we decline your invitation,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) wrote in a letter to the White House. “I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for,” the letter said.
Less than two weeks ago, Trump seemed to siding with Saudi Arabia in a dispute among Gulf states, accusing Qatar of being “a funder of terrorism.”
Now the State Department is blasting Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others for their blockade against Qatar, raising doubts about their claims against their neighbor, ABC News reports.
What else is happening
- Trump’s budget calls for sharp cuts in funding to housing programs, with a notable exception — a type of federal housing subsidy paid directly to private landlords, The Washington Post reports. As it happens, Trump benefits from the subsidy because he has a partial stake in Brooklyn’s Starrett City.
- Trump will hold his first major re-election fundraiser next week. Where? Where else — his Trump International Hotel in Washington. It’s a big-donor event.
- Members of both parties in Congress want to place new limits on the Trump administration’s war-making powers because the president is delegating key decisions to the Pentagon, such as setting troop levels for Afghanistan, CNN reports.
- White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended a shift to more off-camera briefings, telling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that some reporters ask “snarky” questions because they “want to become YouTube stars.”
- A speech by Queen Elizabeth at the opening of Parliament said nothing about a Trump visit to Britain, prompting fresh doubts on whether it will happen. The two governments said it wasn’t mentioned because discussions are still continuing on dates for a visit.