The Republican plan to overhaul the US healthcare system is “far worse” than Obamacare, according to Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, and represents a disgraceful effort to “give massive tax breaks” to the wealthy.
Last week, the Republican Party released new healthcare legislation aimed at dismantling the “skyrocketing costs” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law by Barack Obama in 2010.
“It is an absolute disaster, it is a disgrace and this really has nothing to do with healthcare. What this has everything to do with is a massive shift of wealth from working middle income people to the very richest people in this country,” Sanders said.
The act has already provoked the ire of the American Medical Association, which says it “cannot support” the move in its current guise.
Under the amendments, a much-maligned Obamacare individual mandate which saw people taxed for not having health insurance will be stricken from the system. Meanwhile, Medicaid, a social welfare program providing low income earners with greater access to medical services, would be frozen in 2020.
The AHCA also repeals the high income Medicare tax, which required people earning more than $200,000 to pay a 0.9 percent tax on their wages. A second 3.8 percent tax on “unearned income” like investment revenue will also be abolished.
“They’re going to decimate Medicaid, which is why the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association oppose it. This is a disgrace,” Sanders said.
Asked by CBS host John Dickerson how the ACA could continue in its “rickety” financial state, Sanders admitted the legislation is not perfect but said that, under Republican plans, up to 10 million people may soon be without health insurance.
Sanders added: “It is very hard for [Paul Ryan] or anybody not to deny that what Republicans are bringing forth is far, far worse than Obamacare and that its primary purpose is massive tax breaks to the very wealthiest people in this country.”
Appearing on the same Sunday show, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Obamacare was collapsing and that he expected the new legislation to pass in the Senate.
In what could be considered a message to reluctant conservatives still on the fence about backing the act, Ryan said he agreed with President Donald Trump that next year could be an electoral “bloodbath” for Republicans if the new legislation fails.
In a time of virtually complete political polarization, there is one point upon which both parties appear to agree: moral outrage at the notion of Russian attempts to influence our election.
There are bipartisan demands for a special prosecutor and a full criminal investigation. However, while the outrage is most evident, the alleged crime is more difficult to discern. Before we order a massive independent investigation, it might be useful to examine both the basis for the self-evident outrage and the less-than-evident crime.
Moral outrage as political necessity
As our politicians went on the air to vent their disgust over Russians trying to influence our election, there was an interesting study published this month on moral outrage in an academic journal, Motivation and Emotion. The researchers found that moral outrage is rooted, not in altruism, but self-interest — often to affirm one’s own status and avoiding responsibilities or guilt.
“Individuals,” the study notes, “respond to reminders of their group’s moral culpability with feelings of outrage at third-party harm-doing.” The most astonishing aspect of this study is that it was not done entirely on Capitol Hill.
Many other countries can be forgiven if they are a bit confused by the expressions of outrage at the notion that Russia hacked emails or tried to influence our election. The United States objecting to hacking or influencing elections is akin to Bernie Sanders expressing disgust over accounting irregularities.
The United States has not only extensively engaged in surveillance in other countries but hacked the accounts of our closest allies, including the personal communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Moreover, our country has a long history of direct interference in foreign elections from overthrowing governments to funding opposition movements.
One study found 81 different instances of the United States interfering with the elections of other countries between 1946 and 2000. We learned from the best; foreign interference in our country goes back to 1700s when France and Britain actively sought to influence our early governments.
Democratic leadership have a particular interest in expressing moral outrage over the election. The extent to which the election becomes an example of “third-party harm-doing,” the less attention will be drawn toward the party establishment which virtually anointed Hillary Clinton as their candidate despite polls showing that voters wanted someone outside of the establishment.
Not only did they select the single greatest establishment figure, but someone with record negative polling. “The Russians did it” is a much better narrative.
Of course, the Russians did not “hack the election.” No votes were fabricated. Indeed, there is no proof of emails being fabricated (despite the claims of some Democratic leaders like Donna Brazile at the time). The reason the public has not risen up in anger is that it is hard to get the public outraged over being shown the duplicitous and dishonest character of their leaders — even if the release was clearly one-sided against Democrats.
The public has every right to be outraged, but the outrage of our government officials would make Claude Reins blush.
Moral outrage in search of a crime
In the end, Russian attempts to influence our election should be a matter of national concern and investigation, though we would be in a far superior position if we acknowledged our own checkered past in such efforts. However, the call for a “Special Counsel” or “independent prosecutor” seems a bit premature since we do not have a clear crime other than the hacking itself (which has already been confirmed).
Clearly the Russians hacked DNC emails but we do not need a special counsel to confirm extensive hacking operations by a host of different countries. It is like complaining about the weather.
Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (and the acting deputy attorney general), could determine that an investigation by the Justice Department would still present a conflict of interest even after the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The process for the appointment of special counsels through the courts lapsed in 1999. Thus, the current standard would involve Boente determining that the “criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted” and must be done outside of the Department. But what is the crime under investigation?
The suggestions that Sessions committed perjury are far-fetched and unsupported.
Some have suggested violations of the Logan Act. However, that 1799 law concerns calls for the fine or imprisonment of private citizens who attempt to intervene in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments. It has never been used to convict a United States citizen and does not appear material to these allegations. If there were monetary payments to influence the election, that would constitute a crime but there has yet to be evidence such crimes.
Finally, there do appear to have been criminal leaks during and after the election. However, those are insular, conventional matters for investigation by the Justice Department.
We generally do not start special counsel investigations absent a clear articulated and supportable criminal allegation. There are a host of obvious political or policy concerns that could be the subject of an independent investigation by a commission or joint legislative/executive effort. There are real concerns over conflicts in the current administration given the focus on the presidential election.
Yet, we are simply likely to confirm much of what we know: we were hacked. We are also likely to confront what many do not want to discuss: we have hacked others for years.
Until there is more evidence of a crime by United States citizens, there is little reason for a special counsel as opposed to the current investigations. We should investigate the hacking and efforts to influence our elections, certainly. But our politicians may want to leave the moral outrage and hypocrisy behind.
Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and teaches a course on the Constitution and the Supreme Court.
The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.
US President Donald Trump still believes millions of people voted illegally in the November election, the White House has confirmed. The president also hinted at a major announcement on national security on Wednesday.
In a tweet on Wednesday, newly-inaugurated US President Donald Trump, said he would be asking for a “major investigation into voter fraud.”
According to Trump, the investigation would include anyone “registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead [and many for a long time].”
“Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” Trump said.
The tweets on Wednesday came just hours after a press conference in which White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump’s belief that millions of people had voted illegally in the November election was based on “studies and evidence.” He did not, however, provide examples.
“I think he’s stated his concerns of voter fraud, and people voting illegally during the campaign, and he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.”
During the transition period after the November vote, Trump claimed he would have won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College vote that secured his victory had it not been for people voting illegally.
Trump-style populism in France
Trump repeated the claim at a reception with members of Congress on Monday evening where he told attendees that between 3 million and 5 million people cast ballots illegally, the “New York Times” reported.
State officials in charge of the election have said they found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and there has been no history of it in US elections. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, said he had seen no evidence to back up Trump’s claims.
Fact-checking website Politifact debunked the claims in November, and other independent studies found that incidents of voting fraud were likely isolated and were unlikely to occur on such a large scale.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who lost the Democratic Party nomination to Hillary Clinton, said Trump was sending a message to Republican state governors to go forward with voter suppression.
“The great political and democratic crisis we face now in this country is not voter fraud, it is voter suppression. And it is my belief we have to do everything we can to make sure that everybody in this country who is legally able to vote is able to vote,” Sanders told ABC News.
Series of policy decisions
Trump’s comments came as he made significant policy decisions in the opening days of his administration.
Since taking office on Friday, Trump has sent directives to curb the flow of information from several government agencies involved in environmental issues, issuing a media blackout for federal agencies.
On Saturday, he signed an executive order directing that the permitting process and regulatory burden for domestic manufacturers be streamlined to fix an “incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible” system.
Trump is also poised to restore the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, saying he would announce his choice next week to fill the seat left vacant since the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scaliamore than 11 months ago. Three federal appeals court judges are among those under close consideration.
aw/cmk (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)
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President Jimmy Carter endorses Hillary Clinton 19 Hours Ago|02:22
PHILADELPHIA — Don’t stay at home this November, former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday night.
This “will be a very important election, one that will define for a generation who we are as a nation and as a people,” the 39th president said in a video address at the Democratic National Convention. “At a moment when it’s become more important than ever to lift people up, … we see a Republican candidate who seems to violate some of the most important moral and ethical principles on which our nation was founded.”
“We can, and must, do better,” he said.
Before Carter’s address was delivered, Hillary Clinton officially became the Democratic nominee, making her the first woman in a major U.S. political party to win the nomination.
On the road to her historic nomination, she overcame the fierce challenge by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the primaries.
Pres. Carter’s grandson: Strength will elect Hilary Clinton as president 21 Hours Ago|00:46
“We Americans have a clear choice before us. I feel proud that the two Democratic candidates, who competed through a long primary season, … comported themselves with dignity, talked about issues that matter, and presented a vision for our nation,” Carter said. “I thank Senator Sanders for energizing and bringing so many young people into the electoral process. To all of you young Americans, I say: Stay engaged, stay involved and be sure to vote this November.”
The 91-year-old Carter revealed last August that he had cancer and that it had spread to his brain. However, the drug pembrolizumab helped keep it from spreading further. In fact, the drug was so effective that researchers stopped a study on the drug, saying it worked so well they wanted to offer it to everyone in their trial.
Last November, he said he was doing well on his treatments, with no signs of more spreading.
In introducing Carter, his grandson Jason said Tuesday that “the cancer is gone.”
PHILADELPHIA – Democrats tried to turn their attention Monday night from an email scandal that claimed their party chairwoman and sent Bernie Sanders supporters into near rebellion with a scorching attack on Donald Trump that ranged from unnamed references by Michelle Obama to in-your-face attacks by Elizabeth Warren and Sanders himself.
The Vermont senator blasted Trump as a candidate who “insults” minorities and “divides us up.”
“Based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,” the Vermont senator told the rowdy and emotional convention crowd, with many of his supporters visibly crying during his remarks and chanting his name.
Sanders appealed to supporters Monday night to get behind Clinton, as he tried to restore order at the Democratic convention after a chaotic opening day marked by intense street protests and near-constant disruptions inside the arena from delegates and others loyal to him.
Sanders suddenly found himself in the role of helping the Democratic Party whose establishment had shunned him for much of the primary race. But he now is virtually their only hope for easing the tensions at the Philadelphia convention, where delegates are poised to crown Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee on Tuesday.
“I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process. I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am,” he told delegates. “But to all of our supporters – here and around the country – I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.”
Sanders argued that, despite his differences with Clinton during the primary campaign, her views are far more in line with his than are Republican nominee Trump’s – on issues ranging from the minimum wage to climate change to college tuition costs.
“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues,” he said. But Sanders said they have come together on some of them, and his side was able to win major changes to the party platform.
“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her tonight,” Sanders said, though some in the audience still booed at Clinton’s name.
Sanders was joined by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in appealing to the left wing of the party to unite behind Clinton. First lady Michelle Obama, too, worked to ease the tensions in the convention hall in an earlier speech that at times seemed to rally the divided crowd.
“America faces a choice,” Warren said. “We’re here today because our choice is Hillary Clinton. I’m with Hillary.”
She called Trump a “man who inherited a fortune from his father” and cares only for himself.
“Donald Trump has no real plans for jobs, for college kids, for seniors. No plans to make anything great for anyone except rich guys like Donald Trump.”
The liberal icon, who spoke right before Sanders, still faced small pockets of unrest as she delivered a full-throated Clinton endorsement, with some people chanting “we trusted you” over her remarks. But Warren called Clinton “a woman who fights for all of us.”
Together, the two speakers had an opportunity to tamp down the unrest among liberal activists, many of whom not only backed Sanders during the turbulent primary battle but wanted to either see Warren step into the ring or be tapped for running mate. Whether their words can now help calm the storm inside and outside the convention hall remains to be seen.
Sanders’ speech could help. “It was a very unifying message, the essence of unity,” Kit Andrews, a Vermont alternate delegate and Sanders supporter, told FoxNews.com. “It’s a long process to bring people together. He has always said that.”
Sanders and Warren, along with Michelle Obama and Clinton booster New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, addressed the convention at the close of a noisy and boisterous Monday session. From the very start, Sanders supporters booed and jeered convention officials as they tried to gavel in.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who was presiding, scolded the protesters as they interrupted at the very mention of Clinton.
“We are all Democrats, and we need to act like it,” she said.
Michelle Obama, speaking hours and countless disruptions later, seemed to draw a more positive response, eliciting applause during her lines on Clinton.
“I’m with her,” Obama declared, asking Democrats to do for the former secretary of state what they did for her husband – and turn out to the polls.
“Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago. … We need to get out every vote!” she said. “Let’s get to work.”
The audience remained visibly divided during her remarks, however, with one man being shushed for saying, “We love you, Michelle.”
Obama didn’t leave the stage without taking a veiled shot at Trump. She warned that the White House couldn’t be in the hands of someone with a “thin skin or tendency to lash out or someone who tells voters the country could be great again.
Booker, who had been considered for running mate before the job went to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, earlier blasted Republican nominee Donald Trump while touting Clinton’s support for a “fair wage” and “debt-free college” – and trying to connect her ideals to Sanders’.
“It represents the best of our values, the best of our history and the best of our party — all of our shared ideas and values together,” Booker said.
Several celebrities including comedian Sarah Silverman and actress Eva Longoria also rallied to Clinton’s defense – with Silverman even taking on the Sanders crowd, saying, “Bernie or bust people, you’re being ridiculous.”
Even before the disruptions in the arena, the convention had kicked off Monday under a cloud of controversy — after the leak of emails indicating an anti-Bernie Sanders bias inside the DNC forced the resignation of Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
She had been expected to open the convention anyway, but after facing continued backlash from Sanders supporters Monday morning was replaced in that role by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Anti-Clinton sentiment, however, continued to run high inside and outside the convention site, as pro-Sanders and other demonstrators marched from Camden to downtown Philadelphia and ultimately toward the arena – all while the convention was gaveling in. Inside the hall, Sanders supporters jeered Democratic officials trying to move the proceedings along.
The developments added up to a far more chaotic start than at the Republicans’ convention a week ago in Cleveland. Trump, from the sidelines, stoked the unrest inside the Democratic ranks by tweeting about how Bernie Sanders had been mistreated by the party.
He tweeted before the convention start: “The Democrats are in a total meltdown but the biased media will say how great they are doing! E-mails say the rigged system is alive & well!”
FoxNews.com’s Joseph Weber, Fox News’ Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
After a turbulent show of Republican disunity last week, this week the Democrats take their turn in Philadelphia. But the convention comes on the heels of several embarrassments for the party.
In the wake of revelations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) displayed favoritism toward presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, addressed convention delegates Monday night in an effort to quell disunity amongst the party in the run-up to Thursday night’s official nomination. But even as he spoke in favor of Clinton, some of his supporters jeered when he mentioned her name.
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At the opening of the convention, the DNC issued a publicly apologized to Sanders on Monday after leaked emails suggested the party’s leadership had worked to sabotage his presidential campaign. The committee offered its “deep and sincere apology” to the Vermont senator, his supporters and the entire party for what it termed “the inexcusable remarks made over email.” The statement was issued by incoming interim party leader, Donna Brazile and six other officials, who also noted that comments in the emails “do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process.”
The apology seemed to do little to appease many die-hard Sanders supporters. Hundreds of his backers marched from Philadelphia City Hall towards the convention center on Monday chanting “Nominate Sanders or lose in November.” Then, in the early hours of Monday’s events, it appeared many of his supporters were intending to stage protest events during the proceedings.
Sanders, allies join forces to demonstrate a united party
Sanders issued a request to his supporters to show party unity as a “personal courtesy” to him and “not engage in any kind of protest on the floor” of the convention. Staffers from both the Clinton and Sanders camps met in the hope of forming a strategy that would avoid excessive disruptions on the convention floor. The Vermont senator entreated his supporters in Philadelphia to remain united: “Our credibility as a movement will be damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays,” he wrote.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton appeared together recently at a high school in New Hampshire
Some prominent supporters of Sanders were also added last-minute to Monday night’s speaking program in an attempt to promote party unity amongst the fractious delegate gatherings. Those added to the roster include Maine lawmaker Diane Russell and Ben Jealous, the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In a direct appeal to last-ditch Sanders supporters, some of whom have vociferously stated that they would not vote for Clinton in a general election, Jealous said: “Join us at the ballot box and we will elect Hillary Clinton as president of these United States.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who many observers believed to be a top choice for consideration as Clinton’s running mate, also addressed the convention Monday night before Sanders takes the stage. Warren’s relentless public attacks on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have garnered considerable attention on both sides of the aisle.
Shadow of DNC chair resignation, email hacks hangs over convention start
The convention had kicked off with an element of embarrassment to the party as current party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had announced her intention to resign as chair at the conclusion of the convention.
Just hours later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced it was looking into the email hack that led to the leaks of information on the high-level favoritism toward Clinton. Both top Democrats and independent intelligence experts have blamed Russia for the hack. The FBI released a statement Monday stating that the agency “is investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and are [sic] working to determine the nature and scope of the matter,” though it stopped short of laying blame on Moscow. “A compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously, and the FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
First Lady Michelle Obama was also on Monday night’s speaking schedule as well, as is former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire businessman is expected to appeal to nontraditional Republican and independent voters and issue an endorsement of Clinton as a preferable alternative to Trump.