Category Archives: Lobbying

(Update) Draining the Trump Swamp: Democrats file Emoluments Clause lawsuit

I posted about these lawsuits the other day, Draining the Trump Swamp: Emoluments Clause lawsuits are heating up, which referenced another lawsuit yet to be filed by Democrats in Congress.

That lawsuit has now been filed. Democrats in Congress Sue Trump Over Foreign Business Dealings:

Nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress filed a federal lawsuit (.pdf) on Wednesday accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from business dealings with foreign governments.

The plaintiffs — believed to be the most members of Congress to ever sue a sitting president — contend that Mr. Trump has ignored a constitutional clause that prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers without congressional approval.

It is the third such lawsuit against Mr. Trump on the issue since he became president, part of a coordinated effort by the president’s critics to force him to reveal his business entanglements and either sell off his holdings or put them in a blind trust.

Like the previous two federal lawsuits, this one, filed in federal court in Washington, accuses Mr. Trump of illegally profiteering from his businesses in a variety of ways, including collecting payments from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels and accepting trademark approvals from foreign governments for his company’s goods and services.

But it creates a new group of plaintiffs who claim the president’s actions have damaged them: Democratic members of the House and Senate who say they have been wrongly deprived of their constitutional right to rule on whether Mr. Trump can accept such economic benefits from foreign governments, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who led the effort with Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, provides: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

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Evil GOP Bastards plot the destruction of health care in secret – call your senators

The Beltway conventional wisdom was that the awful Zombie Trumpcare bill passed by the House was dead on arrival in the Senate, and senators would draft a more favorable bill to appeal to mythical moderate senators. Or the “Obamacare” repeal effort would die in the Senate.

Beltway conventional wisdom is almost always wrong, however, because the pundits always ignore the iron law of GOP politics: the mythical moderates always cave to the radical conservatives. That’s what makes them”mythical,” moderate Tea-Publicans do not actually exist.

Sarah Kliff reports at Vox.com, Obamacare is in real danger:

The Affordable Care Act is in deep trouble — in Washington and large swaths of the country.

Senate Republicans began to coalesce around the framework of a plan to repeal and replace the law last week. Their plan would, like the bill the House passed in May, almost certainly cause millions of low-income Americans to lose coverage by ending the Medicaid expansion. It would help the young and healthy at the expense of the older and the sick.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) told reporters this past week that the Senate bill will overlap the House bill by as much as 70 or 80 percent.

Meanwhile, across the nation, health insurance plans are beginning to flee the Obamacare marketplace. They’ve cited the uncertainty around the health care law’s future, sown by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration. The number of counties with zero health plans signed up to sell 2018 coverage keeps growing.

The possibility that Republicans will repeal Obamacare or drive it into collapse is an increasingly real one. That’s a reality where millions fewer have health insurance and lower-income Americans struggle to afford coverage.

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Evil GOP bastards are still trying to destroy health care — contact your senators

While everyone is distracted today with James Comey laying the predicate for an obstruction of justice charge against Donald Trump (and any co-conspirators), keep your eye on Congress because the evil GOP bastards (right) are still busy trying to take health care away from 24 million Americans and to destabilize the health insurance market for everyone else, with less coverage and higher premiums.

Joan McCarter at Daily Kos writes, McConnell starts fast-track process for Trumpcare in the Senate:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began the procedure Wednesday for fast-tracking Trumpcare to get it to the floor with a minimum of transparency and a maximum of pressure.

McConnell began the process under what is known as Rule 14, according to the Senate minority whip’s office, to allow a repeal bill to be put directly on the Senate calendar so that it is available for a floor vote when Republicans are ready to vote on it. The move comes as GOP senators continue their closed-door meetings to hash out a deal that would secure the 50 votes they’ll need to pass legislation dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which they they are pushing through a process known as reconciliation that avoids a Democratic filibuster.

Rule 14 allows a bill to bypass committees and be sent directly to the floor, without going through normal procedural requirements, like the two-day availability of a committee report prior to floor consideration. The one thing McConnell has to do is get a Congressional Budget Office score before a vote. Former Sen. Harry Reid’s Chief of Staff, Adam Jentleson (who knows McConnell as well as anyone on the Hill) agrees with our speculation that McConnell is following the Ryan model—push this thing through as fast as he can, pressuring his conference to get the 50 votes he needs.

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Trump tweets are creating foreign policy crises

Another day, another foreign policy crisis created by our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief. Steve Benen explains, Trump makes Middle Eastern crisis worse with strange tweets:

When Donald Trump returned from his first overseas trip as president, he and his aides were quick to applaud themselves for a sojourn they described as a “historic” success. This was a trip for the ages, Trump World said. The stuff legends are made of. Ballads will someday be written to honor Trump’s nine-day journey.

If you asked the president and his aides why they were so impressed with themselves, they tended to point to Trump’s time in Saudi Arabia. Exactly two weeks ago today, a senior administration official, talking to reporters aboard Air Force One, declared with a straight face, “Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.”

Even at the time, the comments seemed almost delusional, but today, they’re even worse.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.20.20 AMh/t Salon

Yesterday, in an unexpected development, five Middle Eastern countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen – broke off ties with Qatar, hoping to isolate the country politically and economically. The countries said they were isolating Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

Wait, it is Saudi Arabia that is the sponsor of Wahabi fundamentalism, and was home to 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers, who had financial support from highly placed Saudis according to the “28 pages” on Saudi involvement in the 9/11 terrorist assault. What We Know About Saudi Arabia’s Role in 9/11. Oddly enough, Trump’s immigration ban doesn’t include the country most of the 9/11 hijackers came from. Qatar, on the other hand, hosts the largest US military base in Mideast.

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Questions for Martha McSally re: health care

Below is some recent reporting on health care to help you formulate your questions for Rep. Martha McSally for her “chicken bunker” tele-town hall tonight.

The largest health insurance companies in the United States reaped historically large profits in the first quarter of this year, despite all the noise you hear surrounding the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplaces. Profits are booming at health insurance companies:

Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group — the big five for-profit insurers — cumulatively collected $4.5 billion in net earnings in the first three months of 2017. That was by far the biggest first-quarter haul for the group since the ACA exchanges went live in 2014. Other major insurers, such as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield company Health Care Service Corp., also are improving their ACA operations.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 7.21.55 AM

Aetna lost money only because it had to pay Humana a $1 billion break-up fee after their merger failed; otherwise it would have been in the black. Some other things to keep in mind:

  • The ACA exchanges represent a small amount of the insurance market, and most of the for-profit carriers have bailed on those plans.
  • Employer-based coverage is a profit center, but insurers continue to invest more in Medicare Advantage and Medicaid.
  • Congress suspended the ACA’s health insurance industry fee for 2017, which is creating a temporary windfall.
  • The first quarter of the year is usually good for health insurers. Deductibles are reset, leaving people on the hook for a lot of their out-of-pocket medical expenses. The fourth quarter usually is the worst, since people often reach their deductibles by the end of the year.

Uncertainty over the future of health care for millions of Americans grew deeper Monday after the administration and House Republicans asked an appeals court for a 90-day extension in a case that involves federal payments to reduce deductibles and copayments for people with modest incomes who buy their own policies. Insurers seek stability as Trump delays health care decision:

The fate of $7 billion in “cost-sharing subsidies” remains under a cloud as insurers finalize their premium requests for next year.

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Rep. Martha McSally ‘chicken bunker’ tele-town hall tonight (Updated)

UPDATE:  Rep. Martha McSally on Wednesday morning announced she has canceled a telephone town hall later today that was set to give constituents a chance to talk to her directly about health-care legislation. Rep. Martha McSally cancels today’s phone-in town hall due to emergency trip:

In a brief statement, McSally’s office said the congresswoman was traveling to Tucson because a man described as a father figure is gravely ill.

“The man who has been a father figure in Rep. McSally’s life for the last twenty (years) took a turn for the worse this morning in his battle against cancer and his health is rapidly deteriorating,” read the statement from her spokeswoman, Kelly Schibi.

“Rep. McSally has to urgently fly back to Tucson this afternoon. She regretfully will have to reschedule the health care telephone town hall for the next available date. Due to this emergency, the Congresswoman will also miss votes on Wednesday and Thursday. Rep. McSally has already informed the Speaker of this unfortunate circumstance. She appreciates her constituents’ understanding during this difficult time.”

The Arizona Daily Star reports, McSally to hold phone-in town hall Wednesday evening:

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally announced she will hold a telephone town hall at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, giving constituents a chance to talk to her directly about health-care legislation.

To participate in the call, dial 877-229-8493 and enter the code 114341.

Our “cowardly lion“ congresswoman Martha McSally is too afraid to meet her constituents face-to-face to explain her votes in a public forum.

The tele-town hall comes nearly three weeks after McSally rallied the GOP troops to “Let’s get this fucking thing done!” in voting in favor of the “Zombie Trumpcare” American Health Care Act, which narrowly passed on a party-line vote.

McSally-tatoo-caption

According to FiveThirtyEight’s Congressional Tracker (last updated May 18), Rep. McSally stands by her man Donald Trump 100% of the time.

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