Fox News Halftime Report

Will GOP wager House control on TrumpCare?

Chris Stirewalt

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On the roster: Will GOP wager House control on TrumpCare? - Trump ‘honored’ to meet Kim under ‘right circumstances’ - Trump offers invite to Filipino strongman - Trump open to gas tax hike for infrastructure cash - Sandwiches… Is there anything they can’t do?

WILL GOP WAGER HOUSE CONTROL ON TRUMPCARE
Falstaff
says that “the better part of valor is discretion.”

If that’s the case, then the spending plan that Congress coughed up just before 10 p.m. ET Sunday night is valorous indeed. It was so discreet, it’s almost like they didn’t want anybody to know that they were passing it… 

Republicans realized that even a brief partial government shutdown would have been a calamity for a party with total control of Washington. Being eager to move on to more enjoyable things than stopgap spending, President Trump and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill threw in the towel.

And that may prove to be either a strategic retreat to mount a more impressive advance. Or, it could be the beginning of a rout.

That will substantially depend on what happens with the third incarnation of TrumpCare now being touted as riding a rocket ship toward passage in the House.  

In a Sunday morning interview with CBS News, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus predicted that TrumpCare 3.0 “will be one of the fastest pieces of signature legislation to go through for a president since [Franklin Roosevelt].”

But that promise for new deal-style speed seems to be in conflict with what Priebus’ boss who told Fox News’ Eric Bolling in an interview that will air today at 5 p.m. ET that he might walk away from a plan that isn’t good for Trump’s blue-collar political base.

“We’re either gonna have a great plan, or I’m not signing it,” the president said.

This would seem to suggest that there are some, um, disagreements present. The legislation that is due up for a vote as soon as Wednesday would be even less generous with subsidies and guarantees for working-class Americans.

The same goes for the hanging question about insurance for individuals with preexisting conditions. Trump on Sunday told CBS News that the plan would “beautifully” deal with individuals who prior to ObamaCare could not get coverage in the normal insurance market.

Trump said that the legislation is “changing” and will have “guarantees” for coverage of those with preexisting conditions. “I mandate it,” Trump said.

The change to the law would have to be pretty significant since the last version circulated would allow states to opt out of the preexisting condition requirement. And many states would be tempted to do so since the requirement proves hugely expensive for insurers and has been a massive driver of rate increases since 2010.

Your takeaway here, though, is that as we hear promises of momentum on TrumpCare once again, we hear the same confusion we did the first two times around.

It’s hard to imagine why the dozens of vulnerable House Democrats from more-moderate suburban districts would want to take such a substantial political risk on legislation that started as unpopular and only gotten worse, especially when their president suggests he might kill the whole thing in the end, anyway.

It was said that the reason that the White House rolled out the first draft of the new GOP tax plan was that Team Trump had learned a lesson from the botched health insurance law.

It would seem not.              

House leaders still have no incentive to call a vote for a bill that can’t pass. The relationship between members and leaders has as a core principle the idea that the leaders don’t ask the members to walk the plank on doomed legislation.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi never learned that lesson and made Democratic defeat in 2010 even worse than necessary by forcing House Democrats to cast votes on global warming legislation even though it was already declared dead in the Senate.

This is starting to look increasingly like that debacle, and rank-and-file House members know it.

Sunday’s short-term spending package cleared the table so Republicans can focus on more pressing concerns. Faced with a looming deadline and a politically disastrous outcome, they opted not to fight.

But it’s not hard to imagine that that’s where Republicans are going to eventually end up on ObamaCare: bailing out insurance companies and extending subsidies this fall and making no substantive changes to the law.

And if they use their legislative reboot bought at the price of a porky, aimless spending package to just stumble on TrumpCare again, that’s exactly where they will end up.

THE RULEBOOK: ONCE UPON A TIME…
“It should not be forgotten that a disposition in the State governments to encroach upon the rights of the Union is quite as probable as a disposition in the Union to encroach upon the rights of the State governments.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31

TIME OUT: IT’S GONNA BE MAY
Smithsonian: “May Day under King Henry VIII was a time of celebration and revelry. For 16th-century Londoners, it marked both the start of summer and the Feast of St. Joseph the Laborer. They’d drink and carouse all night before, then decorate the city with green boughs and spend the day watching plays about Robin Hood, outlaw and hero of the everyman. But in 1517, the usually festive day turned fearful. Over 1,000 angry citizens rampaged the city; within days, hundreds were arrested and more than a dozen were executed, their bodies displayed on gibbets. A cherished festival day had become violent—and all because London workers claimed foreigners were stealing their jobs. In the months leading up to what would come to be called the Evil May Day riots, a palpable sense of tension grew in the city. There was an ongoing economic downturn.”

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TRUMP ‘HONORED’ TO MEET KIM UNDER ‘RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES’
Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump said he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions… ‘If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,’ Trump said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg News. … North Korea has become the most urgent national security threat and foreign policy issue facing Trump as his first 100 days in office passed. Kim’s regime has continued development of its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile program in defiance of international condemnation and sanctions. Kim has never met with a foreign leader since taking charge after his father’s death in 2011 and hasn’t left his isolated country. ‘Most political people would never say that,’ Trump said of his willingness to meet with the reclusive Kim, ‘but I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news.’”

Trump invites Filipino strongman Duterte to White House - NYT: “President Trump on Saturday invited the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to the White House, embracing an authoritarian leader who is accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects…”

Buuuuuttt... Duterte may snub - AFP: “Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he may turn down an invitation by Donald Trump to visit the United States, as he welcomed three Chinese warships to his home town. Duterte, who has loosened the Philippines' long alliance with the United States while strengthening ties with China and Russia, said he could not commit to the American president because of a busy schedule that included a trip to Moscow.”

TRUMP OPEN TO GAS TAX HIKE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE CASH
Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump said he’s willing to raise the U.S. gas tax to fund infrastructure development and called the tax-overhaul plan he released last week the beginning of negotiations. ‘It’s something that I would certainly consider,’ Trump said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg News in the Oval Office, describing the idea as supported by truckers ‘if we earmarked money toward the highways.’ Trump released a tax plan on April 26 that would cut the maximum corporate tax rate to 15 percent from the current 35 percent. The same reduced rate would apply to partnerships and other ‘pass-through’ businesses. He said he is willing to lose provisions of his tax plan in negotiations with Congress but refused to specify which parts. He also repeated his call for a “reciprocal tax,” which would be aimed at imposing levies on imports to match the rates that each country charges on U.S. exports.”

SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -8.2 points
Change from one week ago: +4 points

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump airs first campaign ad for 2020 re-election bid - WaPo

N.Y. state lawmakers introduce a bill to release Trump’s tax returns - AP

Trump says he will choose from same list of names for second SCOTUS pickWashTimes

Trump on Obama wiretapping claim: ‘I don't stand by anything’Politico

Controversial Trump advisor on Islamism Sebastian Gorka said to be leaving White House WashEx

After firing up N.H. Dems with campaign-style speech, Biden says ‘Guys, I'm not running’ - Fox News

NYT Editorial Board blasts Obama over big money speeches - NYT

Greg Sargent offers some somber news for Democrats on working-class white votersWaPo

GOP faces long odds in retaining seat with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen retirement - Politico

AUDIBLE: THE TOUGHEST JOB YOU’LL EVER LOVE
“You make a mistake here, there is nothing to work out. You know it’s trouble. It could be big trouble. And it is life-threatening trouble for lots of people, potentially.” – Trump said in an interview with WashEx when reflecting on decisions that the president must make that involve life and death.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Your erudition is delightful. I, also, am a major fan of Bonhoeffer’s writings and personal courage of his convictions, and I am also a one who thinks that the major mistake of the capital ‘C’ Church was, indeed, its alignment with the Roman Empire, no matter which direction that moved. The Church grew when it was not a part of the earthly power system, and has struggled ever since. As much as I admire Dostoevsky’s Christianity, unless ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ is tongue in cheek, he, was wrong.” – Rev. John Johnson, Tucson, Ariz.

[Ed. note: However delightful you find my erudition, Rev. Johnson, it’s a hodgepodge at best, especially when it comes to ecclesiastical history. But I do know enough to say that the periods of growth and devotion we have seen through time have not much coincided with the application of governmental force on its behalf. Augustine, it seems, knew this well, and so, obviously, did Bonhoeffer.]   

“Your characterization of the direction of President Trump's decisions in his first 100 days as ‘normality’ stunned me -- not because you're in any way inaccurate, but because you eschewed the ugly neologism ‘normalcy’ in favor of its literate, though seldom used, alternative. It's nice to know that there's at least one other linguistic fussbudget in America.” – Bob Foys, Chicago

[Ed. note: We would have to blame Warren Harding for that one, I guess… I don’t always succeed in choosing the right words, but I certainly know the ones that hit me wrong. ‘Normalcy’ seems to have sprung up sometime in the middle of the 19th century, and like many unnecessary American words has a pseudo-scientific or at least more businesslike sound about it. But I suppose compared to similarly annoying expressions of the current day – ‘impact’ as a verb, ‘bandwidth’ and, God help us, ‘synergize’ – ‘normalcy’ wasn’t so bad.]

“After reading your report on ignorance, and your expressed concern for developing citizenship in our youth, I wanted to reassure you. I am just returned from two days of leader development at our D-Bar-A Scout Ranch in Michigan. The Boy Scouts of America are alive and well, and developing citizenship steadily. … At this training, I was heartened to see seven Scout leaders I had the pleasure to build up over the last ten years serving diligently as training staff. They are giving forward what was given to them. …The Republic will prosper and grow.  These youth leaders are prepared. Stop by any of our Scout camps. Friday evening bonfire at summer camp should not be missed.” – Don McGaffey, Redford, Mich.

[Ed. note: Here, here, Mr. McGaffey! It is very easy to despair about the future given the current level of discourse in America. But it never fails that when I see what commitment, vigor and passion so many young people in organizations like yours are doing, I’m always encouraged. And that even goes for millennials, who I think have gotten a bad rap on the whole. Thank you and your colleagues for raising up a new generation that not only understands the American creed but can be a good custodian of it.]

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SANDWICHES, IS THERE ANYTHING THEY CAN’T DO?
KCRA: “Typically on Sundays, [Ellen Meharey] attends church then walks her two dogs, Joey and Bella. ‘I wanted to get something to eat before I took the dogs out,’ said Ellen Meharey. … While making that sandwich, Meharey says she heard a screech and then a bang. She looked outside and saw a truck lying on its side in her front yard. It scrunched the hood of her car, struck her wheelchair ramp and knocked off her railing. … Then, she took a moment to think. She could have been standing in that exact spot with her dogs if it was not for that sandwich. ‘I either would have been out in the street, or I would have been just coming down the ramp,’ said Meharey. ‘And I would have probably gotten killed.’ She remains thankful she switched up her Sunday routine and grateful she lives where she lives.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.