The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Senate To Act This Week On Obamacare Repeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate will take its first steps toward repealing President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform act by the end of the week, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday.

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” McConnell said: “There ought not to be a great gap” between repealing the act and replacing it and that Republicans would be “replacing it rapidly after repealing it.”

McConnell did not define what he meant by “rapidly.” Another top Republican, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, told Fox News that it could take two years to fully replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

“I think everybody recognizes that there will be a transition period,” Scalise said. “President-elect Trump and our leaders have said nobody is going to get the rug pulled out from underneath them.”

Scalise cited a previously proposed Republican bill to repeal the healthcare law that laid out a two-year transition period for putting in place an alternative. “That’s a benchmark for what we’re looking at again,” he added.

Since his election on Nov. 8, Trump, who will be sworn in as Obama’s successor on Jan. 20, has made clear he wants to move swiftly on his campaign pledge to repeal and replace the 2010 law.

Republicans have a chance to make good on the Republican president-elect’s promise since they control both chambers of Congress. House Republicans took a step last week to clear the decks for Obamacare repeal by approving a procedural rule that would make it harder for Democrats to impede progress on such legislation.

Repealing the act without an immediate replacement raises the question as to what happens to those who have insurance under Obamacare.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Obama said that while the law could theoretically be repealed, “suddenly 20 million people or more don’t have health insurance.”

“I think Republicans now are recognizing that may not be what the American people, including even Trump voters, are looking for,” he said.

‘MAY TAKE TIME’

The healthcare law extended insurance coverage to millions of Americans through an expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and the creation of online exchanges where consumers can shop for private health insurance coverage. The law also provides for subsidies to help individuals and families afford coverage purchased on the exchanges.

Reince Priebus, Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, told “Face the Nation” that while repealing and replacing Obamacare all at once would be ideal, it “may take time” to get all elements of the new plan ready.

Obamacare came under renewed criticism recently after the government disclosed that benchmark 2017 Healthcare.gov premiums would rise 25 percent compared with 2016. Several large health insurers have withdrawn from the market, saying they are losing money.

Obama said he expected the law to survive, albeit in a modified form.

“If in fact the Republicans make some modifications,” he said, “and re-label it as Trumpcare, I’m fine with that.”

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Caren Bohan and Peter Cooney)

IMAGE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks about the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Trump Questions NATO, Asia Nuclear Weapons Ahead Of Washington Summit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday doubled down on his criticisam of NATO, a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy for decades, and called for the alliance’s overhaul days before world leaders convene in Washington.

President Barack Obama will host the Nuclear Security Summit on Thursday and Friday with 56 delegations in attendance. While preventing nuclear terrorism will headline the discussions, Trump’s views could be a topic as well, particularly behind the scenes.

In another sharp departure from historic U.S. policy, Trump said in an interview published on Sunday by The New York Times that he would consider letting Japan and South Korea build their own nuclear weapons, rather than rely on America for protection against North Korea and China.

The billionaire businessman, vying to win his party’s nomination for the Nov. 8 presidential election, also said he might halt U.S. purchases of oil from Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies unless they commit ground troops to fight Islamic State or pay the United States to do so.

“NATO is obsolete,” Trump said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

The 28-country North Atlantic Treaty Organization was set up in a different era, Trump said, when the main threat to the West was the Soviet Union. It is ill-suited to fighting terrorism and costs the United States too much, he added.

“We should readjust NATO … it can be trimmed up and it can be, uh, it can be reconfigured and you can call it NATO, but it’s going to be changed,” he said.

On March 21, Trump said the United States should slash its financial support for NATO, which was formed in 1949 after World War Two and became a bulwark against Soviet expansionism.

Russia will not attend the upcoming nuclear summit, but China’s President Xi Jinping will.

Obama said the United States will review international efforts to combat Islamic State militants during the summit in the wake of the Brussels attacks.

Trump’s chief rival for the Republican nomination, Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the real estate mogul’s views on NATO “catastrophically foolish.” Speaking on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Cruz said Trump is “out of his depth.”

“Abandoning Europe, withdrawing from the most successful military alliance of modern times, it makes no sense at all,” Cruz said. “It would hand a massive victory to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, a massive victory to ISIS,” the militant group also known as Islamic State.

Cruz said if he were elected president, his approach to Islamic State would be to “carpet bomb them into oblivion.”

 

(Additional reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Mary Milliken)

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he leads the news media on a tour of the construction site of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington, March 21, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Bourg