Money Politics and the US Presidential Election
March 21, 2017 - Trump on Ryan's Healthcare Plan
Trump Mounts Muted Defense of Ryan's Unpopular Health Bill By Bloomberg
President hasnít offered a forceful public campaign for bill.
Trump delegates promotion to Pence over weekend in Florida.
President Donald Trump talks a lot about how bad he thinks Obamacare has been for the country, but he has so far mounted a lukewarm defense for the replacement plan House Speaker Paul Ryan plans to put to a vote this week, a bill thatís united conservatives and liberals in opposition.
Ryan has said heís counting on Trump to be the "great closer" for his legislation, and the president is planning to visit Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to address House Republicans in person, according to two Republican aides.
But Trump has yet to make a forceful sales pitch to his core followers or try to drum up grassroots support. At a Trump rally Monday night in Kentucky, the home state of Senator Rand Paul and Representative Thomas Massie, Republicans who oppose the bill, the president said little about Ryanís proposal. Instead, he revved up the crowd with campaign-style rhetoric about Obamacare and said he canít move on to passing tax cuts he promised during the campaign until a health-care overhaul is wrapped up.
"Thursday is our chance to end Obamacare and the Obamacare catastrophe and to begin delivering the reforms our people deserve," Trump said at the rally in Louisville. "The end result is going to be wonderful and itís going to work great."
So far, Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, have both taken a light touch promoting the House bill, suggesting the White House is more interested in maintaining some political distance in case it fails than in pushing it over the finish line. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the legislation would lead to 24 million Americans dropping or losing their health insurance over 10 years, at a savings of $337 billion for the government.
"If anyone can generate public pressure, itís President Trump," said Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster. "Itís time for him to activate that army."
The army is dormant so far. At a Tennessee rally last week, Trump devoted only about a minute of a 38-minute speech to the House Republican plan to replace Obamacare. Over the weekend, Trump traveled to his Palm Beach estate where he golfed and met with senior staff and Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, delegating the task of publicly promoting Obamacareís replacement to Pence, who spoke to a group of business executives in Jacksonville, Florida and then to a meeting of the Club for Growth, a conservative activist group that opposes the House bill, down the street from Trumpís Mar-a-Lago home.
Pence didnít mention Obamacare until he was about 11 minutes into his Jacksonville speech, and then called the House bill ďan important step in the right direction.Ē At the Club for Growth meeting, he again made no mention of Obamacare for 10 minutes before emphasizing that the House bill would ďrepeal hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes.Ē The groupís members offered light applause in response.
A White House aide said that the president has communicated with his base and shown his support for the House bill through social media and meetings heís hosted at the White House, including with Republican leaders and people who claim to have been harmed by Obamacare. Heís also leaning on surrogates like Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who has defended the plan on television.
From the beginning of their effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, House Republican leaders and the White House made little attempt to muster support for the legislation among the health-care industry, rank-and-file Republican members of Congress and certainly Democrats. Some of Trumpís long-time friends and advisers blame Ryan for not crafting a bill with broader support from conservatives.
"It is very clear now to anyone that this plan wasnít well thought out nor did it have the support needed to get passed," said Chris Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax.com and a friend of Trumpís. Ryan "did a disservice to the president."
A senior congressional aide involved in drafting the bill said Trump, Pence and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were heavily involved in crafting the legislation and that it would be a mischaracterization to lay any criticism solely on Republican leadership. The person asked not to be identified publicly discussing internal deliberations.
Neither the White House nor Ryan reached out to some of the largest conservative activist groups before the bill was introduced, resulting in swift backlash. Within hours, one conservative organization aligned with the Tea Party movement got thousands of emails from members upset that the plan didnít go far enough to repeal Obamacare. Two other groups, Tea Party Patriots and Freedom Works, have held rallies against the White House-backed plan and encouraged members to contact their elected officials.
The countryís largest doctors and hospital associations have also mounted opposition to the bill, including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. They too say no one from the White House or Congress reached out to them before or shortly after the legislation was introduced. The American Hospital Association began running television ads against the bill last week, saying it would cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance.
The Republican aide said GOP leadership is in regular contact with conservative groups, who are often in opposition to their agenda, and that it isnít a surprise that medical groups, who were involved in crafting Obamacare, wouldnít support its repeal.
Support for the Affordable Care Act has meanwhile grown since Trumpís inauguration. Fifty-one percent of Americans donít think the law should be repealed, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has tracked public sentiment on Obamacare since before it passed Congress.
The lawís defenders have packed town hall meetings hosted by Republican members of Congress and have demonstrated outside Trumpís and Penceís public events. Pro-Obamacare groups have spent $2.2 million on advertising this year through March 13, twice as much as those calling for the lawís repeal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
While his public sales effort has been light, Trump has courted members of Congress on the House bill. Numerous senators have visited the White House in the last two weeks for face time with the president, and he hosted a meeting with members of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative faction, last week. White House officials say Trump, Pence and top aides have all made calls to recalcitrant lawmakers.
Ryan says he is confident there will be sufficient votes on Thursday to pass the legislation and send it to the Senate. The House speaker has made a point to celebrate Trumpís role in persuading Republicans to support it, including the RSC meeting, which produced changes expected to be incorporated into the final version of the bill.
ďThe reason I feel so good about this is because the president has become a great closer,Ē Ryan said on ďFox News Sunday.Ē ďHeís the one who has helped negotiate changes to this bill with members from all over our caucus.Ē
Focus on Votes
However, by focusing on votes, Trump risks signing legislation thatís only popular among Beltway Republicans -- and widely unpopular everywhere else, said one Trump associate who asked not to be identified discussing White House strategy. Just 24 percent of likely voters support the White House-backed plan, and among Republicans, 37 percent favor it, according to a March 15 survey by Public Policy Polling.
Trumpís supporters could be especially hurt by the legislation. The CBO found that the plan would cause 14 million people to lose health insurance in its first year and drive up costs, especially for older, lower-income adults. A 64-year-old making $26,500 a year would see his health costs increase nearly $13,000, according to the CBOís estimates.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said the administration believes leaving Obamacare in place would be worse for Trumpís supporters. Trump has repeatedly described the law as failing, and has publicly mused that a better political strategy would be to let it collapse before trying to pass a replacement.
"We know who his voters are and weíre going to take care of them," Mulvaney said on Sunday on CBS. "But that doesnít mean weíre leaving Obamacare in place because that would actually hurt them dramatically."
Ryan said Republicans are discussing changes that would provide more financial assistance buying insurance for older, lower-income people. The bill is expected to be put to a vote on the House floor on Thursday, but not before several changes are made to the current draft.
March 14, 2017 - Trump 2005 Tax Return Leaked Out
Trump Paid $38 Million Tax on $150 Million Income: White House By Bloomberg
White House comments after MSNBC reveals that it has return.
Trump resisted releasing returns by saying heís under audit.
President Donald Trump made $150 million and paid $38 million in taxes -- apparently in 2005 -- according to a statement released by the White House.
That would give the president an effective tax rate of about 25.3 percent for that tax year. While the statement didnít specify the tax year, the White House released it ahead of an MSNBC broadcast in which Rachel Maddow promised to report on Trumpís taxes for that year.
The White House statement called the network "desperate for ratings" for being willing to violate the law by releasing Trumpís returns. Federal law makes it a federal felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for publishing U.S. tax return information.
Trump also paid tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes, the statement said.
Trump departed from roughly 40 years of tradition for major-party presidential nominees by keeping his returns secret, saying his lawyers advised him not to release returns while heís under audit. He said last February that he had been under continuous audit for the past 12 years. His lawyers released an unusual letter in March that said the years 2009 forward remained under review. Thereís no law or rule that prevents people under audit from making their returns public.
Trump and his aides have argued that the general public doesnít care about seeing his tax returns.
March 06, 2017 - Trump's Political Timeline from Goldman Sachs
One Chart Showing What Goldman Expects Trump to Accomplish This Year By Bloomberg
Wait, where's infrastructure spending?
Wall Street's hopefuls might be misreading Washington's realities.
Expectations that President Donald Trump will push through an investor-friendly fiscal stimulus package have helped boost equity markets to multiyear highs. Even a congressional address by the president that was light on details last week couldn't prevent the Dow Jones Industrial Average sailing past 21,000.
But a new note from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists suggests investors are misinterpreting the political timeline, and with it the market tea leaves. Led by Alec Phillips, the bank's senior U.S. political economist, the strategists predict that President Trump will be tied up with repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as Obamacare this fiscal year, leaving little room for tax reform and infrastructure spending.
Goldman's timeline shows when the bank predicts these proposals will turn into some sort of policy action. The ACA will be a big focus until this summer, and tax reform could drag out into 2018. Infrastructure, meanwhile, doesn't even hit DC's radar until next year.
"In our view, the slow process on ACA repeal signals that tax reform is likely to take longer than initially expected and that the final tax legislation that Congress enacts is likely to be less radical," Phillips and his team wrote in a note published on Friday, echoing comments made last month.
Infrastructure spending is "still on the agenda, but for now remains an afterthought," the economists added. "Our expectation is that new infrastructure funding will be enacted this year or next, but that it is likely to take the form of tax incentives that might be included in tax reform legislation."
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