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On the roster: Can ObamaCare sequestration save Senate health plan? - The Rulebook: Order out of chaos - GOP operative sought hackers to target Hillary-States buck Trump voter fraud probe - Busted coverage
CAN OBAMACARE SEQUESTRATION SAVE SENATE HEALTH PLAN?
There’s not wanting to pass a piece of legislation and then there’s hating it so much that you have to hold yourself hostage to make it happen.
That’s the big idea from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., that has now been embraced by President Trump. Republicans would vote to repeal ObamaCare, effective one year from now. Then, having walked the plank, lawmakers would work through the rest of the summer to fashion a real replacement.
The idea has considerable merit since it both satisfies conservative demands for an absolute repeal of the 2010 health law rather than the ObamaCare-lite alternatives that have been put forward so far.
For everyone else, the appeal is about the pressing issue of how to prevent collapse and devastating losses of coverage to consumers. By giving the existing law another year, Congress would let insurers have the predictability and stability they need to set rates and write policies for 2018.
Call it ObamaCare sequestration.
Indeed there is much to commend the idea… which is probably why it was almost exactly what the first proposal in the House looked like back in March.
As you recall, Trump scuttled Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposal for a two-step repeal-then-replace. Conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul convinced Trump that Ryan was trying a bait-and-switch and that former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation would, ultimately, be spared.
What Paul and Trump got for their trouble is an unloved, forlorn bill in the House that neither repeals the law nor replaces it. The Senate version is even more modest in its changes to ObamaCare. Not a very a successful gambit.
The reason that Republicans are struggling so much is because they are trying to do the legislative equivalent of killing a fly with a nuclear bomb.
The urgent business for Congress is figuring out what to do for next year, but that doesn’t necessarily have to have much to do with the long-term solution for federal subsidies for health insurance.
Crafting big, complex legislation as a precondition for dealing with a relatively small, straightforward problem makes no sense.
There will of course be costs – economic and political – for having failed to settle on an ObamaCare alternative over the course of seven years of symbolic votes to repeal the law. But it’s too late to cry over that now. The GOP went on its ObamaCare safari and forgot to pack its rifles.
But that doesn’t mean that they can’t get their acts together, nor does it mean that even a bit of bipartisanship could break out, under the right circumstances.
Sometimes, high pressure is what’s needed to get legislation done, but this is one of those times when lawmakers might benefit by dialing it down.
THE RULEBOOK: ORDER OUT OF CHAOS
“The first wish prompted by humanity is, that this severe trial may issue in such a revolution of their government as will establish their union, and render it the parent of tranquillity, freedom and happiness…” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 20
TIME OUT: WORK TO BE DONE
American Heritage: “Altogether seventeen of the signers [of the Declaration of Independence] suffered extreme, and in some cases total, property losses. One in nine of them lost his life. But not one man of the fifty six lost his ‘sacred honor.’ Throughout the long ordeal of an often-floundering war, in a cause that at times seemed hopelessly lost, there was not among the fifty-six men a single defection—despite the reservations that some had had about independence at the beginning and despite the repeated sagging of popular support for the war. … They did not write memoirs of the event or, for the most part, even refer to it in their letters. In doing a job that had to be done, they seemed, like Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire [who wrote] at the time, with orthodox New England respect for understatement, ‘The Declaration before Congress is, I think, a pretty good one.’”
[Watch Fox: “I’ll Tell You What” returns to television! Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt and an all-star lineup are going to skip the controversies of the moment and focus on a big question for Independence Day weekend. : Is America up to the task of defending the liberty won by our founders? Guests include: Historians and authors Richard Brookhiser and Amity Shlaes, WSJ columnist Daniel Henninger and Sen. Ben Sasse R-Neb. Tune in Sunday at 9 pm ET.]
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Trump net job-approval rating: -12.4 points
Change from one week ago: +4.8 points
GOP OPERATIVE SOUGHT HACKERS TO TARGET HILLARY
New York Post: “A Republican opposition researcher hunted for copies of missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server — which he believed had been hacked — before the 2016 election and implied to associates he was working with then Trump adviser Michael Flynn, according to a report. The Wall Street Journal said that GOP operative Peter W. Smith was scouring the world of hackers, including Russians, to get the Clinton emails, which the former Democratic presidential candidate said were deleted because they were personal. … ‘He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’’ Eric York, an Atlanta computer-security expert, told the paper. … And Smith —who died at age 81 shortly after talking to the Journal — told the paper he knew Flynn, but he never said Flynn was involved. …In his interview with the Journal, Smith said his group found groups of hackers — including two that were Russian — claiming to have missing Clinton emails.”
Rice to testify under oath about unmasking - Fox News: “Former national security adviser Susan Rice will testify before the House intelligence committee about Russian actions during the 2016 presidential campaign and allegations that she ‘unmasked’ the names of Americans in contact with Russian officials, a high-ranking committee source told Fox News Thursday. It was not immediately clear when Rice would testify, with one congressional source telling Fox News the committee had issued a list of dates when they would hear from witnesses, but not names. Rice spokesman Eric Pelton told Fox News that Rice was ‘cooperating with the bipartisan Russia investigations conducted by the Intelligence committees, as she said she would.’ Rice has come under fire for her alleged role in revealing the names of Trump associates during last year's presidential election.”
STATES BUCK TRUMP VOTER FRAUD PROBE
Fox News: “Democratic state officials already are refusing to cooperate with the voter fraud investigation ordered by President Trump, saying they will not hand over the extensive ‘voter roll data’ the commission is seeking. The response comes after Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state serving as vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, wrote to all 50 states this week asking for their input as well as voter registration data. ‘I have no intention of honoring this request. Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia,’ Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe countered in a statement Thursday, claiming the commission is based on the ‘specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November.’ Trump created the panel via executive order in May to review alleged voter fraud, after making the explosive claim that 3 million to 5 million people illegally voted in the 2016 presidential election.”
Trump names former Elections Commission member to voter fraud probe - The Hill: “President Trump on Thursday named a former member of the Federal Election Commission to his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Hans von Spakovsky, a member of the FEC nominated by former President George W. Bush, will join the presidential commission to investigate instances of voter fraud during the 2016 election.”
Trump says he wants ‘energy dominance’ - Time
Trump overrules cabinet, plots global trade war - Axios
More court challenges expected for Trump's new travel ban - AP
Pence to replace his chief of staff - NYT
GOP senators call for McConnell to shorten August recess - Politico
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
On this holiday weekend Sen. Rand Paul R-KY, talks all about repealing and replacing ObamaCare with guest anchor John Roberts. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.
#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.
AUDIBLE: READY FOR LAUNCH
“We’ve warned the Senate that there’s nothing they could do that would blow the health care bill to Mars more than taking the pro-life components out of it.” – Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., talking to McClatchy Newspapers.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“…I strongly disagree with Stirewalt's position that 490,000 West Virginians and 62 million odd voters didn't expect, and more importantly, want this exact behavior from him. Indeed, looking at Trump's campaign, it was one long ‘Twitter rant’ filled with and fueled by insults, often personally directed. His supporters loved it. Who can forget their chants and more? Worse still, today's reality was plainly before us. Trump never had a plan or policy for any of the issues today's column cites, e.g. ‘ISIS - gone in 30 days;’ ‘Healthcare - who knew it was so complicated’ and so on. Say what you will about Clinton, but at least she had given these and other issues serious thought and had devised policy. A rare bright spot within the tempest, more Americans voted for Clinton.” – Geoff Pomerantz, New York
[Ed. note: Expectations and aspirations are two different things, Mr. Pomerantz. There is little doubt that many of the president’s supporters expected this kind of behavior from Trump. But that’s not the same as voting for him in hopes that he would persist in this way. An individual voter’s motivations are bound to be complex. We have never seen an election where voters took such a dim view of both major party candidates. We ought to give one another the benefit of the doubt when it comes to motives and assume, unless presented with evidence to the contrary, that nearly all of those who cast their ballots for either Clinton or Trump did so with hope.]
“You speak very harshly about President Trump’s tweets regarding Mika BUT you did not say a word about the disgusting and shameful diatribe she issued towards him. What she said was totally uncalled for, inappropriate, and clearly incorrect by any measure. In the future, I hope you can be more equal in your derogatory remarks towards BOTH sides of such a situation, rather that the one sided approach you chose. Otherwise, I enjoy your comments on the political scene.” – Eric Kunz, West Chester, Pa.
[Ed. note: I certainly take your point Mr. Kunz, but in the end, I just can’t summon the will to care deeply about the musings of talk show hosts. Not that there is anything wrong with hosting a talk show. I’ve done it myself! But it simply doesn’t rise to a level sufficient to merit our attention here. The fact that the president cannot take the same approach, though, may be most telling of all.]
“I've sometimes thought that you have been unfair to President Trump during his time in office, and part of that is probably my partisan convictions. But I also believe people sometimes focus on the wrong things. … However, I so admired your Halftime report of June 29th that I felt compelled to write you for the first time. I'm no genius, but the way I see it, the president has three kinds of supporters. One type won't even show support for fear of the response. The other likes the snarky tactics and ‘in your face attitude’ of the president and sometimes mimics it. Then there's the third sort which is willing to sit down at a gatherings and discuss the country. President Trump completely undermines those try to sell the vision while dealing with the nightmare of the visionary. … There's no talking about Trump's agenda because Trump the man is the center of every conversation. You can't try to build up his policy when it's always buried under a mountain of tweets.” – Daniel Mazzanti, Loma Linda, Calif.
[Ed. note: Thank you for your very thoughtful note, Mr. Mazzanti! The frustration I feel with Trump is the same I have for any politician who squanders the hard work and resources of his or her supporters.]
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HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
WBBM: “Former Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler gave his phone number out on national television Thursday. What could possibly go wrong? ‘If you want an interview, there you have it,’ Butler said in disclosing his digits. He got calls. The newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Butler has been bombarded after he invited anyone to call who had a complaint about him. Enter Michael Byrne. The Evanston man’s own phone number is just one digit off from the one Butler gave out, and calls are flooding into his phone too. ‘Hello, this isn’t Jimmy Butler,’ he said Thursday, taking a call. Byrne says he’s gotten about 60 missed calls and even more text messages meant for Butler. ‘One guy wanted to play darts and have a drink together,” he tells CBS 2. ‘If I’m ever in Minneapolis, I guess I have a lot of offers.’ Byrne says he’s called the Wolves office to complain. He’s also looking for work and hopes someone might call who will hire him.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“This is how Hugo Chavez would talk about his opponents. This is how the worst dictator, [Rodrigo Duterte] in the Philippines, would talk about opponents. It is degrading and it sort of reduces the United States from a grand republic to a banana republic.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
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.