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Monday, March 27, 2017

The Epic of Donald Trump

Garrison Keillor. (photo: Wisconsin Public Radio)
Garrison Keillor. (photo: Wisconsin Public Radio)
By Garrison Keillor, The Washington Post
19 March 17

Now that Putin's our buddy, why do we need another $54 billion for defense? 
 
he $54 billion bonus heading for the Pentagon is a beautiful thing, and so far I haven’t heard a dog bark against it, even though we don’t appear to have $54 billion worth of new enemies and we’ve now come to admire former enemy Vladimir Putin, and the idea of throwing billions at the Islamic State is like going after bedbugs with bazookas, so there it sits, a big lake of cash waiting for water skiers.

Base pay for a private first class these days is around $22,000 and, granted, it is not rocket science — aerospace engineers can earn a hundred grand or more — but a Radio City Rockette earns about $1,500 per week. Should we be paying more for precision tap-dancing than for the defense of our country? Meanwhile, apple pickers are hauling down around $23,000 while orange pickers get $20,000. I’d say our soldiers are due for a big raise. Those caissons don’t roll themselves, you know. The shores of Tripoli are an ever-present threat to our security. And the halls of Montezuma are out for revenge.

I just hope that my good friends in the Pentagon will stop and think about the value of the arts and literature to our national defense. Some of that money, perhaps $3 billion or $4 billion, would be well spent encouraging writers and artists to cast a warmer light on our uniformed services than what we’ve seen the past century or so when, aside from George M. Cohan’s “Over There” (1917) and Frank Loesser’s “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” (1942), the arts have been decidedly anti-war.

When was the last time a great poet wrote an ode to the importance of following orders? 1854, that’s when. Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die,” immortalizing Lord Cardigan’s botched mission in the Battle of Balaclava — “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” Tennyson was England’s poet laureate at the time and felt obliged to turn a military disaster into something heroic.

No American poet laureate ever wrote anything similar, and maybe that’s because they’re paid $35,000 a year. Make that $350,000 and give the laureate the rank of major general and a cap with a plume and see if the tune doesn’t change.

Our Nobel laureate Bob Dylan could have written (but did not): 

Well it ain’t no use to sit around the barracks
And ask why you must drill.
Or ask why we have to carry rifles:
They are to injure, maim and kill.
Get out of bed at the break of dawn,
Put your helmet and your uniform on,
You’re not a bishop, son, you’re just a pawn.
Don’t think twice, it’s all right. 

It’s no wonder that wealthy New York real estate heirs shopped around for physicians to diagnose heel spurs to exempt them from the draft. For a century, nobody has written a great work of literature celebrating America’s military — “Slaughterhouse-Five”? “Catch-22”? “The Naked and the Dead”? “The Things They Carried”? I don’t think so. Nobody read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and went down to the recruiting office to sign up.

It was not always thus. Look at what Homer did for the Greeks with his “Iliad.” It’s an action epic, one hero after another, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Achilles, Ajax — no introspective nonconformist in the ranks, wondering, “Why are we brutalizing each other? Why can’t we sit down and talk through our differences?” Because we are us and they are them, and it’s one for all and all for one, so grab your spear and go puncture those Trojans, son.

What we need to make America great again is American literature about greatness. Look at Leo Tolstoy. He could’ve just written “Peace” but he wrote “War.” too, both of them, glorifying General Mikhail Kutuzov, who engineered the defeat of Napoleon.

Spending some of that $54 billion on the arts would be an excellent investment. If they need someone to write an epic poem, here I am, my pen is poised. 

Media to the right of him,
Media to the left of him,
Democrats embittered.
Loud was his battle cry,
The man with long red tie,
Onward he twittered.
Rising in early dawn,
Turning his smartphone on,
Texting he bravely fought,
Tweet after tweet he shot
With his red hat on,
Looking like George C. Scott
Playing George Patton. 

It’s the story of a man who overcame his heel-spur handicap by playing golf regularly and eventually took command in his bomber jacket and led the country to greatness. It’s going to be fantastic. I promise you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Republican failure. A people's victory. Grassroots resistance energizes the next healthcare fight.


WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24:  U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan delivers remarks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol after President Trump's healthcare bill was pulled from the floor of the House of Representatives March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. In a big setback to the agenda of President Donald Trump and the Speaker, Ryan cancelled a vote for the American Health Care Act, the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also called 'Obamacare.' (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
So sad he didn't get to yank away health insurance coverage for 24 million Americans.  Poor baby.
To nationwide cheers, Trumpcare went down in flames Friday. It was a spectacular failure on the part of a pr*sident who had vowed from the beginning to the end of his campaign that he really is the brilliant guy depicted in his ghost-written The Art of the Deal and would quickly repeal and replace Obamacare. 


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So used to snapping his fingers and having his commands carried out instantly. Not this time. Let that be an omen of what is to come.

The failure had many parents. A fractious Republican Party led by incompetents who could not wrangle their ultra-extremist wing into line. Members of the Freedom Caucus didn’t vote against the repeal-and-replace legislation because it was not good enough. They voted against it because it wasn’t bad enough.

Then there was the lunatic confidence of the leadership that the rotten replacement legislation designed to rip health care coverage away from 24 million Americans and give the 1% yet another giant tax break would sail though Congress with barely a murmur.

By Friday’s end, Donald Trump had shown himself to be master of The Art of the Squeal as he blamed the Democrats for the failure that humiliated and wounded him and Speaker Paul Ryan. “They 100 percent own it,” the pr*sident said. That generated some guffaws. 

Democrats, however, do deserve some “blame.” Not a single one of them supported the repeal-and-replace bill. They did not join the “third way” NoLabels crowd and try to compromise with Trumpcare supporters by adding, as one wag on Twitter put it, a “slice of cheese to a shit sandwich.” So hurrahs to them.

In late December, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi had launched “Our First Stand: Save Health Care,” a campaign to keep Obamacare intact that included dozens of January rallies across the nation. 

But it was the huge range of grassroots actions that did the heavy lifting.

This included action like that of The Save My Care effort. Its participants went to 53 cities in 23 states to stir opposition by giving citizens a chance to speak publicly about why health care matters to them.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) has seen 'Damning Evidence' of Trump-Russia Collusion in Classified Reports



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Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
 
'Every hour that Trump remains President is a grave threat to our national security and to the planet.
From Raw Story:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI) told LGBTQ activist and Sirius XM radio host Michelangelo Signorile that he has seen “damning evidence” that shows collusion between Pres. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government in an effort to turn the election in Trump’s favor. 

"There are things that I know,” Pocan said, according to Towleroad.com, “just that I’ve read in classified reports that I’m sure will still come out that will continue to be damning evidence when it comes to this relationship between the Russians trying to influence our elections and ultimately I think the Trump campaign’s potential coordination on it.”

Some of it is in the classified version of the report,” he said, “and some of that hasn’t come out yet.”

We’re almost hearing a chorus at this point, as Pocan’s words echo recent statements from both Rep. Adam Schiff and Clinton Press Secretary Brian Fallon.

It’s time to release the evidence to the public. Every hour that Trump remains President is a grave threat to our national security and to the planet.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Kremlingate Creeps Closer to Trump

Donald Trump, his former campaign manger Paul Manafort, and Ivanka Trump at the RNC. (photo: Getty)
Donald Trump, his former campaign manger Paul Manafort, and Ivanka Trump at the RNC. (photo: Getty)


By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone
24 March 17
 
We've yet to get an explanation for the raging cross-currents of Russian influence and Republican politics
he noose of Kremlingate is tightening – and the scandal increasingly appears to tie Trump associates to a Russian campaign to subvert American democracy.

The FBI is now weighing evidence that Trump associates communicated – and possibly coordinated – with "suspected Russian operatives" about when to release information that damaged the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, CNN reports.

This inquiry is part of the counterintelligence investigation that FBI Director James Comey described to Congress this week, examining "the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election ... and whether there was any coordination between the [Trump] campaign and Russia's efforts."

(In January, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a "multifaceted" campaign in 2016 to undermine Clinton and promote Trump – including by hacking Democratic Party operatives and relaying "material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.")

CNN's report linking Trump's inner circle to Kremlingate has surfaced just after a bombshell report by the Associated Press. AP reveals that Paul Manafort – Trump's campaign chairman from March through August of 2016 – had previously been paid tens of millions of dollars by a Russian oligarch, after Manafort pitched him a plan to "influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States ... to benefit President Vladimir Putin's government."

The AP report is stunning: From 2006 until "at least" 2009, Manafort was paid exorbitant sums – starting at $10 million a year – by Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, described in a U.S. diplomatic cable as "among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis." The payments began, the AP reports, after Manafort laid out a scheme to "greatly benefit" Putin.

Manafort's work was covert. He did not report his contract to the Justice Department, a potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the AP reports. A statement by Deripaska to the news service says Manafort was paid "to provide investment consulting services related to business interests." Manafort confirmed he'd been paid, but according to the AP, "denied his work had been pro-Russian in nature." 

The New York Times had previously reported that Manafort received $12.7 million in off-the-book payments from a pro-Russia party inside Ukraine, dating from 2007 to 2012. That disclosure prompted Manafort's formal exit from the Trump campaign in August 2016. But Manafort – who reportedly owns an apartment in Trump Tower – reportedly remained in close contact with Trump and running mate Mike Pence.

According to the Daily Beast, Manafort was a pivotal figure in the Trump transition, helping select the top ranks of the new administration. "I think he's weighing in on everything," a former campaign official said in late November. "I think he still talks to Trump every day. I mean, Pence? That was all Manafort. Pence is on the phone with Manafort regularly."

Take a step back. Consider what we're talking about here:

Manafort was previously paid tens of millions of dollars by a Russian oligarch after proposing a secret, multifaceted campaign to influence U.S. politics and media to "greatly benefit" the interests of the Putin government in the United States.

A few years later, as Manafort had risen to become the campaign chairman of the Republican nominee for president, the Putin government engaged in its own multifaceted campaign to influence U.S. politics and media – seeking to undermine Hillary Clinton and ultimately to promote Donald Trump. The U.S. intelligence assessment on Putin's interference in the 2016 election records that active Russian promotion of Trump began the same month that Manafort took the helm as Trump's campaign manager. "Starting in March 2016," it reads, "Russian Government-linked actors began openly supporting President-elect Trump's candidacy in media aimed at English-speaking audiences."

Perhaps there is an innocent explanation for these raging cross-currents of Russian influence and Republican politics. But listen to top Russia hawks in the U.S. Senate and that seems unlikely. "There are other shoes that will drop," Sen. John McCain told Bloomberg of the Manafort affair. "This is a centipede."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Unanimous Supreme Court overturns Gorsuch decision ... during his confirmation hearing



WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31:  Judge Neil Gorsuch listens as he is nominated by  U.S. President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the seat left vacant with the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Neil Gorsuch
Neil Gorsuch’s belief in reading the law as narrowly as needed to screw ordinary people reared its head again during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing Wednesday, but not because of anything Gorsuch himself said on Wednesday. No, the issue was something the entire United States Supreme Court said—that Gorsuch was wrong in a 2008 opinion dealing with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Ian Millhiser writes:

Under Gorsuch’s opinion in Luke P., a school district complies with the law so long as they provide educational benefits that “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’”
De minimis” is a Latin phrase meaning “so minor as to merit disregard.” So Gorsuch essentially concluded that school districts comply with their obligation to disabled students so long as they provide those students with a little more than nothing.
All eight justices rejected Gorsuch’s approach. IDEA, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “is markedly more demanding than the ‘merely more than de minimis’ test applied by the Tenth Circuit.” Indeed, Roberts added, Gorsuch’s approach would effectively strip many disabled students of their right to an education.
Sure, maybe if Antonin Scalia had been alive, the Supreme Court’s decision would have been 8-1, but Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas just said Gorsuch was wrong—and wrong because he would deny disabled kids an education. 

Asked about this during his hearing Wednesday, Gorsuch stuck to his confirmation strategy of appearing as bland as possible and said, “That’s fine.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Russians Hit Democracy Already Damaged by Republicans

FBI Director James Comey looks on during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign. (photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey looks on during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign. (photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News
21 March 17
 

“The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president [sic] election….”
– FBI Director James Comey, Congressional testimony, March 20, 2017

BI Director Comey let loose the mechanical rabbit of Russian interference and now all the political greyhounds are chasing it around a circular track is if it were a real quarry worth catching. That gives them all deniability for ignoring the bigger, fatter elephants in the room that actually need to be addressed.

The dominant narrative for the March 20 open hearing of the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was set in the committee’s naming of “its investigation into Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign.”

Committee chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican who has resisted any investigation into Russian ties with the Trump campaign or administration, set a sharp anti-Russian tone with his opening statement that blames the Obama administration for ignoring the committee’s warnings. Nunes framed the hearing with his limited exoneration of the Trump operation: “Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said publicly he’s seen no evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and I can say that the Committee, too, has seen no evidence to date that officials from any campaign conspired with Russian agents.”

Ohio Republican Mike Turner had a darker view, saying, “There is now a cloud over our [election] system…. The goal of the Russians is to put a cloud on our system.”

Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency, agreed that 2016 campaign activities were “calling into question our democratic process.” And Comey said Russian efforts “introduced chaos and discord and sowed doubt” and have worked to undermine and threaten our “wonderful free and fair election system.”

These sentiments, echoed over and over like a conventional wisdom mantra, are really ridiculous. Yes, the Russians interfered with the 2016 election, and maybe even influenced it. Yes, Trump operatives had contact with Russian operatives, and they may even have colluded. Yes, these are real problems, but it’s a groupthink deception, and self-deception, to treat them as if they comprise the entire problem with the American election system.

American elections went off the rails more than two decades ago and they’re been getting worse ever since. Everyone knows this, the government knows this, Congress knows this – and they do nothing to make it better, they work only to make it seem better. The history is in plain sight for anyone who wants to see it, starting well before the 2000 election. 

Money in Politics

Corrupt fundraising from corporations and individuals was one of the major elements in Nixon’s 1972 Watergate scandal, in spite of reform attempted through the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Post-Watergate reforms that passed Congress were inadequate, leading to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (informally known as the McCain-Feingold Act), that also failed to control campaign spending in a rational, democratic way. 

Voter Caging

Florida’s efforts to take Democratic voters off the rolls and to intimidate them at the polls were state policy under Governor Jeb Bush, carried out by his secretary of state, Katherine Harris, both beneficiaries of great inherited wealth. Without that corrupt preparation of the state, George Bush likely would have lost it outright. The closeness of the vote led to the chaotic recount, also abetted by Bush and Harris, setting up the opportunity to win the presidency in the courts. 

Bush v. Gore

The 2000 Supreme Court’s 5-4 partisan decision awarded the presidency to the loser of the popular vote. Al Gore, another beneficiary of great inherited wealth, and the wealthy leadership of the Democratic Party chose not to contest this all-American effort to undermine the American electoral system. The Supreme Court ruled, in effect, that elections could be fairly decided without counting all the votes. That continues to be a cloud over the election system. 

Citizens United

In January 2010, another partisan 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court upheld the notion that somehow money is speech, and those who have the most money are entitled to the most speech, allowing an already corrupted system to spin out of control. Despite their control of both houses of Congress, Democrats responded impotently and went on to lose the House in the fall. 

Voter Suppression

What Jeb Bush oversaw in Florida in 2000 looks almost benign when compared to more recent Republican voter-suppression efforts, and they continue to expand almost unchecked. Even when courts rule them illegal, Republican state legislatures bring them back in modified form. Republican election success depends on reducing the number of voters. 

Gerrymandering

Already out of control in places like Texas, where Rep. Tom DeLay stage-managed the Texas legislature’s efforts to re-draw districts that increased Republican election winners. As early as 1998, DeLay was the beneficiary of contributions from Russian oil oligarchs. In 2011, DeLay was convicted (and acquitted on appeal) of conspiracy to violate election law in 2002. Gerrymandering has historically been a bipartisan corrupt activity, but the ruthlessness of recent gerrymandering across the country is a largely Republican phenomenon to which Democrats have responded limply if at all. 

Voting Machines

Partisan-controlled, privately-owned voting machines is a blatantly corrupt concept that we have lived with for a generation with little response. Why ANY government, from local to federal, ever tolerated election machines controlled by third parties is one of the abiding mysteries of American life. The impact of these machines cannot be good, although how bad they’ve been is disputed. They seem to be on the decline. At first Diebold and other voting machines were seen as righ-wing conspiracies. In 2016, George Soros was accused of owning voting machines in 16 states. Not that it mattered: Trump won eight of them, including Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

Voter Registration Roles

Voter registration is another constant target of Republican voter suppression efforts, which aim at keeping minorities, poor people, and others off the rolls and ineligible to vote. Ruthless voter-roll purging is a common recent Republican technique. The vulnerability of voter rolls to cyber-attacks (by the Russians, for example) is uncertain and came up only briefly at the Intelligence Committee hearing. 

Voting Rights Act

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark of democratic expansion of the franchise to previously suppressed voting groups, especially black voters. According to legend, when President Johnson signed the act into law, he said that would lose the south for Democrats for a generation. That was optimistic. In 2013, the Supreme Court, in another 5-4 partisan vote, effectively declared that racism was over and gutted the Voting Rights Act. As Chief Justice John Roberts myopically stated: “Our country has changed. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

Roberts is not known to have commented publicly as to the current conditions of American bigotry as expressed by the Trump campaign and its followers, although his opinions in recent criminal cases are more sensitive to race than those of Justice Clarence Thomas. Once again, Democrats have taken the issue of voting rights and done little with it.

Given this history of the self-inflicted collapse of American democratic process, the Russians seem to be relatively minor players of recent vintage. The greater threats to American democracy by far have been the Republican Party and the Supreme Court, with little resistance from Democrats. Together our three branches of government have collaborated to create the corrupt conditions that spawned the Trump candidacy, an all-American target of opportunity the Russians were only too happy to work with.

The Supreme Court and the President seem unlikely to deal with any of this any time soon. That leaves Congress, a Republican-majority Congress, to figure out whether the country is worth saving at this point. The starting point should probably be keeping Americans from interfering with the American democratic process.



William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trumpcare will be a disaster, but GOP doesn't care



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We begin today’s roundup with The New York Times and its assessment of the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the Trumpcare:
So much for President Trump’s pledge of “insurance for everybody.”
The Congressional Budget Office said on Monday that next year 14 million fewer Americans will have insurance if the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is repealed and replaced on the terms the president is seeking. That tally would rise to 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026. By then, the total number of uninsured Americans would reach 52 million.
And for what? To give a gigantic tax cut to wealthy Americans.
According to the C.B.O. the loss of health care coverage under the Republican plan stems largely from gutting Medicaid for low-income Americans, even though Mr. Trump has said he would not cut Medicaid. Coverage would also be lost in part because insurance would become unaffordable for millions as subsidies are withdrawn, despite Mr. Trump’s claim that coverage would become “much less expensive and much better.”
Margaret Hartmann:
Just after the Congressional Budget Office said it estimates that under the Republican health care bill 14 million Americans will lose their health insurance next year, and 24 million will lose their coverage by the end of the decade, the White House said it disagrees “strenuously” with that analysis.
“We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and for their families, not that the government forces them to buy,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price explained on Monday.
Hours later, the White House’s internal analysis of the American Health Care Act leaked. It confirms that the Trump administration disagrees with the CBO’s findings – but not because AHCA will “cover more individuals.” The executive branch estimates that 26 million people would lose coverage within the next decade, far more than the CBO’s estimate of 24 million. 
Jeff Guo at The Washington Post explains that Trump-supporting areas of the country will be the hardest hit:

Grant County, Nebraska is one of the most pro-Trump places in America. In this rural community of about 700, the President won over 93 percent of the vote in the last election. But Grant County is also a place that has benefited hugely from the Affordable Care Act. In 2016, the law provided more than a quarter of its residents with tax credits to help them purchase health insurance.
Now, under the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, many Grant County residents would suffer steep cuts to the tax credits they've come to rely on. It's a nationwide pattern: Some of the harshest consequences of the GOP's health bill would fall on rural Republican strongholds — precisely the voters who helped elect Trump.
Glenn Kessler gives budget director Mick Mulvaney four Pinnochios for this wildly false claim:

“It’s there. Anybody can read it. Folks watching on television now can go online and read what the bill is. They can watch the committee hearings. Those are things that were dramatically missing in Obamacare.”
— White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” March 12, 2017 [...] 
We [had with Obamacare] about 20 hearings, many aired on C-SPAN. That’s 18 more than the current replacement bill. On top of that, the bills were available to read for many days (though, frankly, legislative language is rather dense for most laypeople). So Mulvaney’s comments are clearly wrong. [...]
We’re not sure what Mulvaney has been smoking, except his own propaganda. The process that led to the Affordable Care Act was lengthy and complex, but involved numerous hearings and ample time for public comment and input. Any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous.
Erin Gloria Ryan assesses the plan’s effect on women:

“What’s going to happen to the 2.4 million women who are folks that are accessing their health care through Planned Parenthood clinics?” Taylor says. “Planned Parenthood is the entry point or access points to health care particularly for low-income women. This is not just about Planned Parenthood as a provider. This is about taking services and health care away from people who really need it.”
Taylor is skeptical that the GOP’s proposed ACA replacement is even fiscally conservative. “In the long term, it does nothing to help women be more economically secure,” she says. “We’re just pushing people further down into the hole of poverty. And that’s unacceptable.”
Damon Linker at The Week analyzes the Republican disarray over the bill:

It would be one thing if Trump recognized how awful the GOP's plan will be for the very people he was elected to help and vowed to fight it. He could turn his ire on Ryan and the factions of the House GOP that support his plans or who think they don't go far enough in gutting ObamaCare. At least these voters would feel like their champion was going to the mat for them. They might even reasonably hope that the president would lead a charge to reform the GOP even further, by supporting "workers party" candidates to challenge Ryan and his ideological allies in the 2018 midterm elections. Such a shrewd, genuinely populist Trump might even come out in favor of a single-payer reform of the health-care system to provide security to American workers (as opposed to the greater health-care "choice" that very few outside of the House GOP's Freedom Caucus seem to be clamoring for).
But instead, Trump is pushing to pass Ryan's bill. That means he will own it — and if it passes and inflicts immense pain on these already angry voters? Then they will likely turn on the law and on Trump for supporting it.
And we close today’s roundup with Jonathan Chait’s take:

This proposal, the centerpiece of the new all-Republican government’s legislative agenda, is an expression of its shared philosophy. Donald Trump has altered the Republican stance on trade and immigration, not to mention self-enrichment by the First Family and the routine propagation of conspiracy theories by the chief executive. But he has hewed closely to the party’s conviction that the central problem in American life is a government that redistributes too much from the privileged to the underprivileged.
It remains to be seen whether enough Republicans have the courage of their convictions to follow through on this plan. Depriving millions of Americans access to medical care would impose pain more directly and widely than any legislative act in modern U.S. history.