Quick Takes: Trump Blames Ryan

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Here’s a quote from an AP News story titled, “For Trump and Ryan, a tortured relationship grows more so.”

The president has told those close to him that he regrets choosing to tackle the repeal and replace of Barack Obama’s health care law as his first legislative push. He has singled out Ryan for blame, saying the speaker assured him it would pass and instead handed him an early, humiliating failure…

A rational human being might recall that Obamacare repeal actually passed the House (Trump even hosted a premature celebration with Ryan in the Rose Garden), only to fail in the Senate. But aside from that, here’s Trump on the campaign trail in October promising to start Obamacare repeal on his first day in office and telling everyone that it would be easy.

Here’s my reaction:

* My must-read recommendation of the day comes from Casey Michel and is titled, “How Russia Created the Most Popular Texas Secession Page on Facebook.” Michel begins by documenting how Russia has been involved in various secession movements that have sprung up around the country. Then he zeros in on one that provides some depth for the story about how Russia used Facebook.

Enter the “Heart of Texas.” The Facebook site, for the past two years, existed as the most prominent Texas secession social media presence online. With over 225,000 followers as of summer 2017, the page, at one point last year, boasted more Facebook fans than the official Texas Democrat and Republican pages combined.

The page was laced with the kind of xenophobic, nativist, and anti-immigrant material many still associate with the Texas secession movement. Plenty of posts targeted Muslim immigrants and refugees, slammed liberals and LGBT activists, condemned vegetarians and Hillary Clinton. Taken on its face, the “Heart of Texas” page plugged material largely associated the American far-right — an amalgamation of InfoWars conspiracy, neo-Confederate separatism, and white nationalist calls for a return to an America past. The page supported the armed insurgents in Malheur, pushed conspiracies surrounding Jade Helm and Antonin Scalia’s death, shared fake Founding Father quotes, and came with the type of Texas-first chauvinism few other states can match…

For the past few months, things seemed hunky-dory for the folks behind “Heart of Texas.” They chugged along, posting much of the same material, albeit recently (and unfortunately, for those laughing along) cleaning up many of its typos.

Then, Facebook announced it was cleaning up hundreds of “inauthentic” accounts linked to Russia. And like that, the “Heart of Texas,” along with its Twitter page, was gone. Just like that, Facebook’s most popular Texas secession page was no more.

* I noted earlier that Gary Cohn has reportedly been dropped from consideration to be the next Federal Reserve Chair because Trump was angered at his lack of defense of the president’s remarks about Charlottesville. But it might go deeper than that.

A newly fraying relationship between U.S. President Donald Trump and top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn has raised questions about how long Cohn will stay in his job, say two people with close ties to the White House.

Several sources said Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, had long planned to stay in his post for at least a year. But one source said concern had grown among Cohn’s allies over the past 24 hours that he might be pressured to leave.

* There were a couple of important stories today about how Trump’s Cabinet continues their extremist actions while everyone is focused on the president’s most recent foray into bipartisanship. One comes from Sarah Kliff.

The Trump administration has let funding for Obamacare’s $63 million in-person outreach program lapse, leading to layoffs and confusion among nonprofits that enroll vulnerable populations in coverage.

“I have delivered 10 layoff notices to staff members,” says Donna Friedsam, director of Covering Wisconsin. “We don’t have a funding flow anymore.”

The government had previously announced it would cut the budget for Obamacare’s navigator program by 41 percent. But right now, the program has no funding at all. Last year’s grants ran out on September 1, and the administration still has not awarded next year’s money.

The sudden funding halt comes at a critical time for the Affordable Care Act. Navigator groups were just beginning to ramp up outreach for the health law’s open enrollment period, which begins November 1. Now, some have done an about-face: They’ve canceled outreach work and appointments with potential enrollees because they have no budget to cover those costs.

* Then there’s this from Robert Barnes:

In a major upcoming Supreme Court case that weighs equal rights with religious liberty, the Trump administration on Thursday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a brief on behalf of baker Jack Phillips, who was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to created a cake to celebrate the marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. Phillips said he doesn’t create wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it would violate his religious beliefs.

* Here is your reminder for today that what is going on in the Atlantic Ocean is truly unprecedented.

* Finally, I don’t think any of the Dreamers are taking Trump’s advice about not worrying.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.