December 7, 2016
- Allepo just lost Old Town to government forces
- Trump was named Person of the Year by Time
- It turns out the Taiwan phone call was pre-planned and orchestrated via lobbyist Bob Dole
- Trump named his China ambassador, and China seems pleased
- Early legislation is coming into focus: tax cuts, military spending, and repealing Obamacare
- Trump has put a bunch of generals in high ranking positions
- Ben Carson is head of HUD
- Schumer is talking tough, using language like “bring it on” and “all signs suggest a fight is coming.”
- Pelosi is fighting back a lot as well, notably alongside Bernie Sanders when talking about privatizing medicare.
A new George Washington Battleground Poll came out recently, and it has some interesting data. First, the #1 concern people want Trump to work on in his first 100 days is “Division in the country,” scoring 21%. The second most important issue is the economy, at 15%.
When you combine the first and second most important issues together, the numbers look like this:
32% division in country
24% health care
22% dysfunction in government
14% illegal immigration
13% foreign threats
7% social security
5% the deficit
Two things jump out at me. First, taxes and the deficit just aren’t seen as a huge deal compared to everything else. I found some Gallup data that said 60% of Americans believe the rich don’t pay enough in taxes. And a “slight majority,” which I assume means 51%, wanted government to redistribute wealth by “heavy taxes on the rich.” And beyond that, 45% of Americans agree with a proposal to “raise federal income tax rates on households making over $250,000 a year.”
That’s a pretty clear result when it comes to taxing the rich. What about the middle class and the poor? 46% say the poor pay too much, which is the highest number in eight years. 53% say the middle class pay too much, and people’s personal tax burdens feel higher than they’ve been in 15 years.
So if we put it all together, we see that only 6% rate taxes as one of their top two concerns. Then when asked about it, they think the rich should pay more, the poor and middle class should pay less, and people like them should pay less as well.
So the key for Trump here is to make sure upper class tax cuts, which we’re pretty sure are coming, are paired with tax cuts for everyone.
The next thing I wonder about is that 24% health care number. That’s a pretty high number. But some percentage of those people are saying “repeal the whole thing and start over” whereas some are saying “I want a single-payer system like in Western Europe.” So it’s a grab bag that can mean a lot of things, both “Obamacare goes too far” and “Obamacare doesn’t go far enough.”
And while we’re talking about mandates and Obamacare, Susan Collins of Maine just signaled that she’s not a fan of repeal without knowing what it will be replaced with.
“You can’t just drop insurance for 84,000 people,” Collins said, referring to people who have signed up for ACA insurance in Maine.
Collins said she’s interested in an approach advocated by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who recently told reporters that an ACA replacement should be the “first” focus of Congress.
“I think what we need to focus on first is what would we replace it with and what are the steps that it would take to do that?” Alexander said, according to a report in Slate magazine. Collins said her first impression is to agree with Alexander.
“It strikes me as a more cautious approach,” she said.
I called some Republican Senators’ offices, and while no one was able to firmly say their Senator would require a replacement before voting on repeal, there were a few interesting notes:
John McCain’s staffer said “I don’t think he’d vote for repeal without a replacement, though he hasn’t spoken about this directly.”
I called Richard Burr, Senator from North Carolina, and asked “Would he vote to repeal without a replacement ready to go?” The staffer said “No.” To be clear, this is a staffer rather than the Senator answering the question himself. But if this is true, that’s interesting.
Susan Collin’s office reiterated that it hinges on what the law would be replaced with.
And I didn’t call Lamar Alexander from Tennessee, but as the article above points out, he’s arguing for replace.
Obviously none of that means much until we get more details. But in a world where these four Senators stick to demanding a replacement plan before repeal, it can’t pass. The GOP can only afford to lose three votes or else the whole thing fails.
Another consideration is whether or not they should kill the filibuster, meaning 50 would be enough to move forward. That would certainly doom Obamacare, and allow the president to fast-track all kinds of legislation. But I’m not sure I’d mind so much in the long term.
If the Democrats got their hands on the Senate again, which is very likely in the next two elections, I’d love to see what they could do without having to contend with the filibuster anymore. The Obama administration would have been a lot different with it. This is something Republicans are quite aware of, which is why Orrin Hatch is so dead set against it.
“Are you kidding?” Hatch said in an interview with The Huffington Post on Thursday. “I’m one of the biggest advocates for the filibuster. It’s the only way to protect the minority, and we’ve been in the minority a lot more than we’ve been in the majority. It’s just a great, great protection for the minority.”
Meanwhile, Schumer and others in the Democratic leadership are saying “You break it, you buy it” with regards to repeal. Their gamble is the GOP throws everything into a tailspin, but can’t count on Democratic votes to save them, and the public blames the party in power.
“They’re going to find repealing Obamacare without putting in a replacement will be far more disastrous and less clever than they think,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader, told CNN Thursday. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
Meanwhile, the GOP assumes that by 2018 Democratic senators will want to make a deal. So they’re going to play a game of chicken over who will take the blame for messing up the bill. Should be interesting to watch.
It would be nice if so many people weren’t so severely affected by it, though. If it weren’t for politics and positioning, both sides would agree that some changes need to be made, they’d make them, and we’d move on. But the sides disagree deeply and want to make sure to get credit for fixing it, so here we are.
Moving forward, we’ve got a few things to keep an eye on:
- Can the GOP get to 50 votes for repeal?
- Whether or not they do, they still need 60 votes for broader changes.
- And if they can’t get 60 votes, will they abolish the filibuster?
Oh, and one other detail: the polls are telling us that repealing Obamacare is incredibly unpopular as of right now. Everyone agrees we need tweaks, most people agree we shouldn’t shutter it outright. So the goal for the GOP is to somehow frame what they’re doing as a revision, not a gutting. It’s a tall order.