Quick Takes: Next Up for Ryan is the Destruction of Medicare and Medicaid

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* As Republicans try to add over $1 trillion to the deficit in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy, Speaker Paul Ryan is teeing up the destruction of Medicare and Medicaid for next year. Of course, that is all because he’s so terribly concerned about the deficit.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America’s deficit.

“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. “… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”

* In September, Adele Stan wrote an important piece about the battle between Republican oligarchs, the Mercers and the Kochs. Heather Timmons has written a similar piece titled, “The three ultra-rich families battling for control of the Republican party” in which she adds the Adelsons to the mix.

Three extremely wealthy families, the Mercers, the Kochs, and the Adelsons, all prominent donors to the Republican party, now seem locked in a struggle over the future of the GOP.

As campaigning for the midterm elections in November 2018 gets under way, the three families are facing off against each other in battleground states. They’re lighting a fire under Republican politicians who are now determined to get something, anything, passed in Washington—even if it’s a last-minute tax bill that most voters don’t agree with and legislators barely had time to read.

* Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke aren’t done trashing monuments yet.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday called on President Trump to shrink a total of four national monuments and change the way six other land and marine sites are managed, a sweeping overhaul of how protected areas are maintained in the United States.

Zinke’s final report comes a day after Trump signed proclamations in Utah that downsized two massive national monuments there — Bears Ears by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly 46 percent. The president had directed Zinke in April to review 27 national monuments established since 1996 under the Antiquities Act, which gives the president broad authority to safeguard federal lands and waters under threat.

In addition to the Utah sites, Zinke supports cutting Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou, though the exact reductions are still being determined. He also would revise the proclamations for those and the others to clarify that certain activities are allowed.

The additional monuments affected include Northeast Canyons and Seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean; both Rose Atoll and the Pacific Remote Islands in the Pacific Ocean; New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte, and Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters.

* This happened at Trump’s hotel in D.C. today:

* This will become official tomorrow:

A Democratic official who has spoken to Al Franken and key aides says Franken will resign his Minnesota Senate seat on Thursday, the official tells MPR News.

The official spoke to Franken and separately to Franken’s staff. A staff member told the official that Franken had gone to his Washington home to discuss his plans with family.

* As an indicator of an upcoming blue wave in the 2018 midterms, there’s been a lot of focus on the generic ballot question. Here’s another interesting take from Gallup.

Democrats’ edge has expanded this year mainly because of a decline in Republican affiliation. A year ago, 44% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, the same percentage as now. However, Republican identification and leaning is five points lower than it was a year ago. More Americans now say they are nonleaning independents (14%) or do not have an opinion (5%) than did so in November 2016 (10% and 4%, respectively).

* Finally, here’s a little gem that showed up on my Facebook page:

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.