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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Nobody told House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) that the Republican Party was joking.

He apparently read the GOP’s 2012 “Growth and Opportunity Project” autopsy’s recommendations and thought Republicans were actually trying to act as if they care about people who can’t afford lobbyists for their beach house. So the congressman went to work.

Cantor came up with a bill that at least appeared to help those Americans who have been denied by insurers because of pre-existing conditions and weren’t being helped by Obamacare. He even gave it one of those names that you can’t vote against without shaming everyone in your gene pool — The Helping Sick Americans Now Act.

The response from the conservative base was as predictable as it was loud. Fix Obamacare? Accept the results of the 2012 election? Appear willing to help extremely sick people? Oh, hell no.

The right-wing blog Red State decided that for the very first time they would “score” a vote.

“Vote no or you’ll get on our scorecard as someone who voted to help fix Obamacare and save it,” wrote Red State’s L.Ron Hubbard-figure Erick Erickson — one of the chief proponents of using the debt limit as a hostage to demand cuts, a gambit that cost America as much as $18.9 billion.

Erickson’s bluster was matched by the Heritage Foundation and the walking embodiment of the GOP’s “only worry about primaries” strategy, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). And before the bill could be voted on and that vote “scored,” the Republican leadership pulled the bill.

It’s become the consensus in Washington that there’s a Civil War going in the House Republican caucus. Politico‘s Jake Sherman explains:

In one camp are stiff ideologues who didn’t extract any lesson from Mitt Romney’s loss and are only looking to slash spending and defund President Barack Obama’s health care law at every turn. In the other are lawmakers who are aligned with Cantor, who is almost singularly driving an agenda which is zeroed in on family issues.

And who’s winning?

On Friday, Cantor sent a memo to House Republicans promising they would vote to repeal Obamacare for the 37th time.


Why a 37th vote to demonstrate that you have no actual power to repeal Obamacare? Apparently some Republicans need to lose their repealing Obamacare “virginity.”

“If you’re a freshman, the guys who’ve been up here the last year — we can go home and say, ‘Listen, we voted 36 different times to repeal or replace Obamacare.’ — tell me what the new guys are supposed to say,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) explained recently in a talk at the Heritage Foundation. “We haven’t had a repeal or replace vote this year.”

Republicans may rightly sense that we’re actually coming to the end of the golden age of pretending to repeal Obamacare.

The bill’s favorable ratings are at lows, as Republicans seek to blame the law for everything that has ever gone wrong with medical care. The greatest indication of the success of the GOP’s Obamacare misinformation campaign is that about 4 out of 10 Americans aren’t even sure if it’s really law.

Eric Cantor likely realizes that now is the time to get those freshmen de-virginized, before Americans actually know what’s in the law.

The government has been holding off on educating about the law too far ahead of its 2014 rollout date, leaving a vacuum that Republicans have filled with death panels and stories about Papa John’s cutting back its work force.

But that will change as open enrollment for the law begins in October, preceded by a summer-long campaign to educate — or correct Republican misinformation — about the law.

Republicans rant that Obamacare is driving costs up. But they don’t mention that for the first time, thanks to the law, insurance companies have to justify increases. Insurers must also refund customers’ money if they don’t use 80-85 percent of it for actual care. More than $1 billion in refunds have already been sent out.

Republicans say that the law may drive prices up for those — mostly upper-income — Americans who will be moved into higher quality plans. But they never explain — and Democrats are lax to point out — that all Americans who earn up to $45,960 for an individual or $94,200 for a family of four will receive subsidies to help pay their health insurance.

That’s right, as many as 26 million Americans will pay less for health insurance thanks to the law. And these subsidies will be mostly paid for by a small tax on those earning over $250,000. (SPOILER: This the real reason conservatives hate Obamacare. It taxes the rich to help the middle class pay for health care.)

Republicans rant about employers not hiring because of the law but they never mention that research shows the costs will likely only be higher for mid-sized businesses who didn’t previously offer coverage, effectively passing their health insurance costs on to the public.

The reality is that with tens of millions new health care customers, countless middle-class jobs will be created.

And Republicans never point out that what they’re doing when they vote to repeal Obamacare is voting to keep a system where 26,00045,000 Americans die every year for lack of insurance. They’re voting to keep paying for each other’s health care in the dumbest possible way — emergency rooms. They’re voting to allow insurers to deny coverage to kids and adults with pre-existing conditions. They’re voting for a return to a system where your insurer can invent some reason to drop you when you get sick.

What could the House GOP be doing instead of wasting millions pretending to repeal Obamacare? They could do something they’ve never done before: create jobs. Or they could at least stop killing 750,000 jobs by simply voting once to repeal the sequester.

But then it might seem as if they cared. And why would they want to do that?

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin


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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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