Progressive Breakfast for March 23

Morning Message

We Have The Chance Now To Go Bold On Health Care – And Freedom – For All

...even if the Republicans succeed in repealing the health care law, they won’t be able to erase what may be one of the Affordable Care Act’s most important accomplishments: significant progress on the idea that all people should get health care ... the left does believe that freedom and the common good go hand in hand, and we do have ideas. These ideas won’t be unfamiliar to progressives: opening Medicare to all people living in the United States, negotiating lower drug prices from drug corporations, fully funding the Indian Health System, and funding public and nonprofit health care institutions that people trust ... What’s new is the opening that the callousness of the Trump administration and the GOP provides for holding up an alternate vision...

Stop The AHCA

Overnight Speaker Paul Ryan, House Republicans and President Trump conspired to make their terrible health care repeal even worse. We expect a vote on Trumpcare later today. Call your Congressperson toll free and tell them to reject the American Health Care Act (AHCA), 1-888-701-5513 or click http://bit.ly/2nufJsb

ACA Repeal Heads Toward Uncertain Vote

No deal yet. CNN: “[Last night,] Ryan and his top deputies never came out to speak to the cameras and dozens of reporters waiting outside, and it was clear that leadership had no good news to share … Some of Trump’s personal lobbying has gotten results … Trump agreed on Wednesday to GOP Rep. Steve King’s request to lobby to change the essential health benefits provision at a later point … GOP Rep. Lou Barletta announced Wednesday that he had switched his ‘no’ vote to ‘yes’ after receiving support for his legislation to deny health care credits to illegal immigrants.”

Vote still planned for today. Politico: ” House leaders, who still say they will to bring the bill up for a vote Thursday, expressed optimism that they can still cobble together support to pass the bill. They’re hoping for another boost from Trump, who is expected to meet one-on-one with a slew of GOP holdouts throughout the day.”

Politico’s Rachel Bade tweets: “House leadership suddenly cancelled GOP conference this am. Not a good sign. House R source texts me ‘such a disaster.'”

Trump meets with House Freedom Caucus at 11:30 AM ET while moderates bolt. Reuters: “…while the president courted conservatives, the bill appeared to be losing traction among Republican moderates … Representative Charlie Dent, a leader of the ‘Tuesday Group’ of House Republican moderates, issued a statement … ‘I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low- to moderate-income and older individuals[.]'”

Freedom Caucus wants to eliminate coverage standards. CNN: “House GOP leaders are now looking to change an Obamacare provision that guarantees all health insurers cover services such as maternity, mental health and prescription drugs … insurers could [then] opt exclude some of the priciest services that sick Americans need. Carriers would also no longer have to cover annual exams and preventative tests free of charge … House leadership did not originally include it because doing so would likely run afoul of Senate rules governing budget reconciliation …”

Conservatives hope to overrule Senate parliamentarian. Roll Call: “Some Republicans are arguing that Vice President Mike Pence, serving as the president of the Senate, should disregard the advice of the Senate parliamentarian and allow provisions to repeal more of the mandates of the 2010 health care law [to be included in reconciliation.] … [But t]here does not appear to be much appetite among Senate Republicans for overruling the parliamentarian on a matter of law…”

Gorsuch Hearings End

Gorsuch ends testimony with needle unmoved. NYT: “Nothing that’s happened this week has made much of a difference. Three days of hearings marked by attacks and deflections have left the Senate Judiciary Committee more or less where it started. If the Republicans’ goal was to persuade Democrats of a moral imperative to join them in support, they fell short … And if Democrats harbored any hope of raising doubts about Judge Gorsuch among Republicans, they came nowhere close.”

Some Dems ponder deal. Politico: “A group of Senate Democrats is beginning to explore trying to extract concessions from Republicans in return for allowing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed … [One idea would] allow confirmation of Gorsuch in exchange for a commitment from Republicans not to kill the filibuster for a subsequent vacancy during President Donald Trump’s term … The current talks are limited to about a half-dozen Democratic lawmakers. They haven’t made an offer to Republicans yet, and Democratic leaders wouldn’t support one.”

Breakfast Sides

DNC leaders go on “turnaround tour” reports The Hill: “The newly minted party chairman and the Minnesota congressman will first head to Michigan… before stopping in New Jersey, Texas and Virginia over the next two weeks. Embarking on the joint trip is as much about expanding the party’s appeal in the Trump era as it is about rebuilding party infrastructure and mending intraparty wounds after the two men’s contentious chairmanship race.”

“White Working-Class Death Rate to Be Elevated for a Generation” reports Bloomberg: “Researchers who sounded the alarm on increasing white working-class mortality blamed the trend Thursday on economic upheaval that created a web of social issues so tightly interwoven that even successful policies would take years to unsnarl them … ‘The story is rooted in the labor market, but involves many aspects of life, including health in childhood, marriage, child rearing, and religion,’ the authors wrote. Without their traditional moorings, whites increasingly turned to chemical crutches. Alcoholism worsened. Suicide climbed. And when doctors began to hand out opioid prescriptions more freely during the 1990s, addiction took root.”