Trump: Optimistic on health bill
President Donald Trump is taking his obligatory swipes at Democrats opposing the Senate health care bill, but balking Republicans are the ones who can expect to feel the most heat.
An outside group run by many of Trump’s campaign advisers launched a $1 million-plus ad blitz against Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who said he opposed the bill in its current form because of Medicaid cuts.
A Trump tweet Saturday didn’t name names but said: “I cannot imagine that these very fine Republican Senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer!”
While Heller and other GOP moderates such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine say too many Americans will go unprotected, four conservatives say it doesn’t go far enough in dismantling Obamacare.
The president told Fox & Friends in a segment that aired Sunday, “I don’t think they’re that far off,” and “I think we’re going to get there.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), on ABC’s “This Week,” rated the bill’s chances as “50-50.”
See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa and Scott Eidler.
The mean test
Trump in the Fox interview affirmed that he had privately knocked the House health care bill as “mean,” and he added, “I want to see a bill with heart.”
He also said former President Barack Obama “used my term, mean” to describe the bill. It was unclear whether Trump meant that as a complaint.
Obama in a Facebook post last week attacked “the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation,” calling it “not a health care bill” but “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”
The take-away: Small ‘w’
Trump never tires of declaring himself a winner. It often takes contortions of logic and fact for him to run up his score.
The latest claim: that his bluff about having tapes of James Comey scared the fired FBI director to tell a less damaging story about Trump. There’s no evidence that Comey pulled any punches, and the episode prompted the naming of a special counsel.
Hollow or exaggerated too were his boasts of saving jobs at Carrier — the company just announced 600 are Mexico-bound — and of spurring the opening of a new coal mine that actually was in the works last year. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Russia did it, so blame Obama
After months of equivocation and even suggesting it was a “hoax,” Trump now seems to agree that Russia meddled in the election — and says it’s Obama’s fault for not stopping it.
“Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?” he tweeted late Friday. “He should have done something about it,” Trump repeated in the Fox interview.
It’s not “just out” — intelligence officials went public about Russia’s hacking in early October. Trump apparently was referring to a Washington Post report on second-guessing among former Obama administration officials over whether it did too little. One reason for hesitance was worry that Obama would be accused of interfering in the election.
So now that Trump is in charge, what’s he doing to stop Russia from doing it again? Not much, NBC News reports.
Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — whose meetings with various officials in Trump’s orbit are part of the Russia investigations — will be leaving Washington and returning to Moscow next month, BuzzFeed reported.
Fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions all have come under scrutiny after failing to report contacts with Kislyak.
What else is happening:
- The Supreme Court is expected to decide within days whether the Trump administration can enforce a ban on visitors from six mostly Muslim countries, The Associated Press reports.
- Trump’s budget would eliminate a long-standing anti-poverty program and cost Nassau and Suffolk counties $18.3 million in annual funding that has been used to revitalize blighted neighborhoods, build affordable housing and fund local food banks, Newsday’s Figueroa reports.
- Last week’s GOP victory in a Georgia House race underscores that Democrats are still searching for a message beyond opposition to Trump, according to a Washington Post analysis.
- Senior administration officials and key allies of Trump are urging him to adopt a policy seeking regime change in Iran, Politico reports.
- For the first time since 1996, the White House did not host an iftar dinner to commemorate the end of the fast for Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. Trump and first lady Melania did release a statement on Saturday wishing “warm greetings” to those celebrating Eid al-Fitr.
- Trump played golf at his Virginia club Sunday — his 31st visit to one of his courses since becoming president. Some golf fans were outraged by a video that emerged last week of Trump driving a golf cart over a green at Bedminster — a no-no, The Washington Post reported. Then again, he owns it.