September 20, 2017

Wondering on Wednesday (v104)

The Republicans in the Senate are working hurriedly to try and rustle up enough support to drag Mike Pence in for a potential tie-breaking vote, by September 30th, on a last, best chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something that I heard Kentucky's Rand Paul describe as merely taking money away from blue states and giving it to red states.

Jimmy Kimmel, whose son was born with a congenital heart defect, met months ago with Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the coauthors of the current bill. At that time, Cassidy coined the phrase 'the Jimmy Kimmel test' which any bill would need to pass, according to Cassidy: coverage for preexisting conditions, no lifetime caps, and insurance had to be affordable. Fast forward to this week, where Kimmel called Cassidy a liar on his show. 

Cassidy says Kimmel doesn't understand the bill. 

No one understands the bill, least of all the people who will be expected to get insurance coverage under it. And the people who are working on the bill don't understand anything other than they said they're repeal and that's what they're going to do, dagnabit. 

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office hasn't chimed in, and may not have the chance to - but pretty much everyone - except 15 Republican governors, that is -  is against it, or afraid of it, or, to Cassidy's point, doesn't understand.

Paul is a no vote already. Susan Collins of Maine, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Arizona's John McCain are the other three who should vote against the bill as well, and free up the Senate to enact bipartisan reform to fix the Affordable Care Act and stop trying to bullshit their way into destroying one sixth of the US economy. 

I wonder if they - or any other Republicans - will have the courage to vote no?

Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump machine - the campaign and, perhaps, the administration as well - is barrelling along, with Paul Manafort clearly in its sights. Reports have said Manafort can expect to be indicted; that the feds picked the lock on his house early one morning to gain entrance for a search; that he met with close Putin allies during the campaign to update them about the campaign; and yes -- there were phone calls that were recorded, and the president is on the recordings. 

Someone suggested there was now no turning back -- Mueller's investigation will result in outcomes, of that there was certainty -- "even if Mueller was fired" by the administration. 

And I wonder two things here: would Trump really have the audacity to fire Mueller?  And will Manafort be the only one?

Finally, and sticking with the investigation aspect of tonight's post, the former Office of Government Ethics (OGE, now known as the OTBE - Office of Turning a Blind Eye) appeared to say it was OK for administration folks to receive anonymous donations - from lobbyists or other interested parties with money to burn - to cover legal fees related to Mueller, Inc. Some will say this is all OK, because Clinton. William Jefferson, that is, not Crooked Lyin Lock Her Up Hillary. 

Seems this question was posed back in the 1990s, and it was deemed to be technically legal, but people were subsequently advised not to take any contributions from lobbyists, anonymous or otherwise. The OTBE clarified that the original decision from 1993 stands, and strongly encouraged a deeper dive for each case. 

Not to worry, though. The RNC has stepped up to offer assistance, and has paid close to $450,000 (so far) to assist with Donald and Donny's legal fees; Trump is also dipping into his campaign coffers to help pay the bills, bless his heart.

And I can't help wondering, again, where is the swamp and who's pulling the plug?

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