Quick Takes: Another Unprecedented Attempt to Repeal Obamacare

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* There are a few words that seem inadequate to capture some of the political extremes we are witnessing these days. For example, when it comes to people like Trump and McConnell, “hypocrisy” doesn’t come close capturing the extent to which they’re willing to hold themselves to a completely different standard than they do their opponents. Another word that is feeling pretty inadequate lately is “unprecedented.” For example:

In order to get the bill through, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to cut off all debate, prevent any amendments, and refuse any discussion. It’s a combination that has never been used before. It’s a genuinely unprecedented shutdown of the Senate. For anyone who claimed to be concerned over the way previous Republican bills were pushed, it might seem that this institution-flattening excercise in power would be a deal-breaker … or maybe not.

In addition to a process that’s ripping up the Senate rules, there have been no public hearings. There is no CBO score. The total amount of discussion will be limited to two minutes, with no amendments, no other votes.

* It’s not hard to guess why Republicans are attracted to this particular effort to repeal Obamacare.

Under the current proposal, federal healthcare funding in California would drop by $57,547 per person. New Yorkers would see a loss of $33,058. No other state even comes close. For many red states like Wyoming and South Dakota, the bill is a wash, dropping funding less than $1,000 over a decade. The formula has been deliberately crafted to punish states that vote for Democrats while protecting those that vote for Republicans. The effect could not be more brazen if they simply announced it.

* Yes, the current President of the United States opened his first remarks at the U.N. with this:

“I actually saw great potential right across the street, to be honest with you, and it was only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project,” he said, immediately after thanking those in attendance at a meeting on UN reform.

Trump World Tower is across 1st Avenue from the UN, between East 47th and 48th streets in New York City.

* Here’s the latest on the monuments this administration isn’t as interested in protecting:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that President Trump modify 10 national monuments created by his immediate predecessors, including shrinking the boundaries of at least four western sites, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post.

The memorandum, which the White House has refused to release since Zinke submitted it late last month, does not specify exact reductions for the four protected areas Zinke would have Trump narrow — Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou — or the two marine national monuments — the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll — for which he raised the same prospect. The two Utah sites encompass a total of more than 3.2 million acres, part of the reason they have aroused such intense emotions since their designation.

* Jay Rosen shares some interesting thoughts on why so many in the media are determined to normalize Donald Trump.

If nothing the president says can be trusted, reporting what the president says becomes absurd. You can still do it, but it’s hard to respect what you are doing. If the president doesn’t know anything, the solemnity of the presidency becomes a joke. That’s painful. If they can, people flee that kind of pain. In political journalism there is enough room for interpretive maneuver to do just that.

This is “normalization.” This is what “tonight he became president” is about. This is why he’s called “transactional,” why a turn to bipartisanship is right now being test-marketed by headline writers. This is why “deal-making” is said to be afoot when there is barely any evidence of a deal.

What they have to report brings ruin to what they have to respect. So they occasionally revise it into something they can respect: at least a little.

* Finally, just because…

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.