Austrians Lean Toward Nationalist Government Led by a Millennial

Austrians profiting from the fastest economic growth in six years look likely to ditch their current coalition in favor of a new government backed by anti-immigration nationalists and headed by the world’s youngest leader.

Polls suggest that Austria’s 31-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz will lead his conservative People’s Party to victory in Sunday’s election. That could set the stage for a coalition with Heinz-Christian Strache’s populist Freedom Party, unwinding a decade of Social Democratic-led administrations that revived the economy but struggled with issues over immigration and welfare.

“People are worried about the future and that is the currency that matters in this election,” said Christoph Hofinger, head of the SORA polling institute in Vienna. “The debate is revolving around the issue of fairness, and a lot is also linked to migration.”

After a surge of support for populist candidates in elections this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany, Austria looks like it will go one further and elect an anti-immigration alliance.

Chancellor Christian Kern, 51, a former business executive plucked from the national railroad by the Social Democrats in May 2016, has been dogged by sloppy campaign management. Despite overseeing faster growth in the export-oriented economy, Kern has struggled to connect with voters.

His No. 1 goal is achieving full employment, since “modernizing the country with investment in education, security, health care and pensions” depends on it, Kern said late Thursday in the campaign’s final debate.

While those themes have resonated in previous campaigns, they’re not what Austrians are most concerned about now, according to Hofinger. Voters are instead gravitating toward promises by both the People’s Party and Freedom to limit the number of immigrants Austria receives and force newcomers to adapt local customs more quickly, he said.

The swell of anxiety over immigration to Austria began building 2015, when almost 70,000 mostly-Muslim refugees sought asylum from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Schools and hospitals in the nation of 8.7 million struggled to accommodate the newcomers, and disagreements over whether it was fair to give immigrants generous welfare support dominate the media.

Read Why Austria May Elect the World’s Youngest Leader: QuickTake Q&A

Compared with 10 years ago, more Austrians say they feel like they’re not being heard and are in search of law-and-order leadership, a SORA institute study showed. More than two-fifths of voters declared their desire for a “strongman” leader, according to the research, periodically commissioned by the federal government to gauge public attitudes and consciousness about the country’s Nazi history.

Step forward Kurz, the foreign minister who’s distanced himself from the People’s Party’s leadership and forged similar views with Freedom’s Strache on immigration. Both men want to restrict immigrant access to Austria’s social-security system and impose tighter policing on the country’s borders. The Freedom Party came within 30,000 votes of winning the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, in a run-off vote last year.

“Austria deserves someone who is ready to take on real responsibility for the population,” Strache said in a parliamentary speech this week, in which he chided Kern for letting thousands of refugees enter Austria, transported on the national railroad he ran before becoming chancellor.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-14/austrians-lean-toward-nationalist-government-led-by-a-millennial

    Trump Officials Dispute the Benefits of Birth Control to Justify Rules

    When the Trump administration elected to stop requiring many employers to offer birth-control coverage in their health plans, it devoted nine of its new rule’s 163 pages to questioning the links between contraception and preventing unplanned pregnancies.

    In the rule released Friday, officials attacked a 2011 report that recommended mandatory birth-control coverage to help women avoid unintended pregnancies. That report, requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, was done by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — then the Institute of Medicine — an expert group that serves as the nation’s scientific adviser.

    “The rates of, and reasons for, unintended pregnancy are notoriously difficult to measure,” according to the Trump administration’s interim final rule. “In particular, association and causality can be hard to disentangle.”

    Multiple studies have found that access or use of contraception reduced unintended pregnancies. 

    Claims in the report that link increased contraceptive use by unmarried women and teens to decreases in unintended pregnancies “rely on association rather than causation,” according to the rule. The rule references another study that found increased access to contraception decreased teen pregnancies short-term but led to an increase in the long run.

    “We know that safe contraception — and contraception is incredibly safe — leads to a reduction in pregnancies,” said Michele Bratcher Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. “This has been data that we’ve had for decades.”

    Riskier Behavior

    The rules were released as part of a broader package of protections for religious freedom that the administration announced Friday.

    The government also said imposing a coverage mandate could “affect risky sexual behavior in a negative way” though it didn’t point to any particular studies to support its point. A 2014 study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found providing no-cost contraception did not lead to riskier sexual behavior.

    The rule asserts that positive health effects associated with birth control “might also be partially offset by an association with negative health effects.” The rule connects the claim of negative health effects to a call by the National Institutes of Health in 2013 for the development of new contraceptives that stated current options can have “many undesirable side effects.” 

    The rule also describes an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality review that found oral contraceptives increased users’ risk of breast cancer and vascular events, making the drugs’ use in preventing ovarian cancer uncertain.

    Federal officials used all of these assertions to determine the government “need not take a position on these empirical questions.”

    “Our review is sufficient to lead us to conclude that significantly more uncertainty and ambiguity exists in the record than the Departments previously acknowledged.”

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-06/trump-officials-dispute-birth-control-benefits-to-justify-rules

      Catalonias Split With Spain Is About Identity, Not Just Money

      As recently as July, secessionists in Catalonia seemed to be in retreat. Spain was the fastest-growing of continental Europe’s big four economies, creating jobs at a rapid clip. A poll that month by the Catalan government showed that support for independence had fallen to 35 percent, its lowest level since 2012. It appeared that Enric Millo, the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia, might have been right when he predicted in 2012 that once removed from the flame of financial crisis, “separatism would sink like a soufflé.”

      What’s sinking instead is the reputation of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Acting on his orders, Spanish police used batons and rubber bullets against those who took part in an Oct. 1 referendum on independence that Spain’s constitutional court had declared illegal. Hundreds were injured in the melees.

      The Catalan government claimed that despite Madrid’s attempts at suppression, 2.3 million people voted—about 42 percent of the total electorate—and about 90 percent of them chose to separate from Spain. The Spanish government cast doubt on the result, pointing out that the referendum, in addition to being illegal, lacked certified voter lists and wasn’t overseen by an official election board. And many of those who opposed secession heeded Madrid’s reminder that the vote was illegal. Spain’s King Felipe VI said in a televised address that separatist leaders showed “unacceptable” disloyalty.

      Featured in , Oct. 9, 2017. Subscribe now.
      Photographer: Juan Teixeira/Redux

      The groundswell of separatist sentiment in Catalonia has shown Spain and the world that money isn’t everything. A strengthening economy may have quelled Catalan nationalism a bit, but the desire many have for independence had deeper sources and never went away. Then Rajoy, playing to his conservative base, badly miscalculated. He thought a show of force would keep voters at home. But his attempt to stop the vote just pushed more Catalans into the separatist camp. “In the longer term, the divisions in Spain become more entrenched,” says Antonio Barroso, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London.

      Economics probably did matter in Catalonia, just not in the way that Spanish optimists were thinking. The reality is that the region hasn’t fully recovered from the global financial crisis, which pushed the economy into a double-dip recession and sent unemployment in the so-called autonomous community as high as 24 percent. (It’s still more than 13 percent.) “The financial crisis brought to the fore the fact that so much of our money is transferred” to the central government, says Jordi Galí of Barcelona’s Center for Research in International Economics, known by its initials in the Catalan language, CREI. “In a context of high growth and prosperity, this may be more easily forgotten. But during the crisis the Catalan government had to undertake huge cuts in services: health, education.”

      The transfers issue might not have been enough to stir secessionism all by itself. After all, there’s little call in Connecticut to break away from the U.S. even though the state gives more than it gets. The difference is that the northeastern corner of Spain has its own language, traditions, and aspirations to national greatness. Its history is a seesaw of autonomy and what some see as subjugation. Catalans still commemorate the fall of Barcelona to King Philip V of Spain on Sept. 11, 1714. In 1939 the city fell to the Nationalist forces of Francisco Franco, who suppressed Catalan culture during his 36-year rule.

      In recent years, independence-minded Catalans have focused their anger on a 2010 ruling by Spain’s constitutional court that erased parts of a legislative deal that accorded the region broad autonomy. In 2012 the Catalan economist Xavier Sala-I-Martin likened Spain to a possessive husband who reacts wildly when his wife asks for a divorce. “We Catalans have tried to explain during 30 years that we were uncomfortable and the replies have been no’s, scorn, indifference, and contempt. And now they’re surprised!” the Columbia University professor wrote on his blog.

      The marriage is far worse now. “People are extremely disappointed, and I would say shocked, by the activities of the Spanish police,” says Giacomo Ponzetto, an Italian who teaches at CREI in Barcelona. “It was absurd, unacceptable behavior, and I would add extremely stupid.” Stupid as in self-defeating, he says. “The Catalan government was looking for this. It’s very obvious. They wanted to provoke a response.”

      Like it or not, Catalonia has been very much part of Spain—not least because it’s a fifth of the national economy. It exports more to the neighboring region of Aragon than to France, and more to Madrid than to Germany or Italy, says Pankaj Ghemawat, who teaches at the New York City branch of IESE Business School, which also has campuses in Madrid and Barcelona.

      Many economists think Catalonia would be worse off economically on its own. The outcome hinges on whether it would assume a share of Spain’s national debt, whether it would be permitted to join the European Union and adopt the euro, and how much it would cost to replicate services—such as defense—it gets from Madrid. Further complicating matters, Spain could throw up legal obstacles to secession. One reason many Catalans have shied from independence in the past is that they weren’t ready to take a leap into the unknown.

      But the violence that marred the Oct. 1 vote has focused Catalans’ minds on issues other than euros. “At some point the economic considerations start to be irrelevant and identity becomes paramount,” says Ghemawat. On Oct. 1, he says, “we took a giant step in that direction.”

        BOTTOM LINE – A long and painful downturn fanned separatist sentiment in Catalonia, which, contrary to predictions, didn’t die down with the recovery.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-05/anatomy-of-a-bad-marriage

        Daily Show’s Trevor Noah thinks it’s finally time to talk about guns in America

        Image: Dennis Van Tine/Sipa USA

        In the wake of a mass shooting that left 59 dead and more than 520 people hurt, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is a time to unite as a country.” 

        Well, The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah thinks that’s BS. On Monday night, he called out politicians and members of the media who claimed right now is not the time to talk about gun control. 

        “I feel like people are becoming more accustomed to this kind of news,” he said, noting there have been 20 mass shootings in the two years he’s lived in the United States. 

        After the latest shooting — in which a gunman fired at a country music concert from his Las Vegas hotel room — pundits even turned to hotel security as a possible culprit. Instead of, you know, sane gun laws. 

        “We seem to do everything to avoid talking about guns,” Noah said. 

        The talk show host pointed out that Congress was still considering the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which would make it easier to buy silencers and armor-piercing bullets.

        “I can only say I’m sorry,” Noah told the people of Las Vegas, “sorry that we live in a world where people would put a gun before your lives.”

        Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/02/trevor-noah-daily-show-las-vegas-shooting/

        Trump’s New Obamacare Killer to Cost Uncle Sam $194 Billion

        President Donald Trump is halting some Obamacare subsidies. A big money saver for taxpayers, right? Wrong. The move could actually force the government to dole out almost $200 billion more on health insurance over the next decade.

        Here’s why: The insurer payouts Trump cut off aren’t the only government funds financing the program. Consumers also can get help with their insurance premiums. When the insurer subsidies are discontinued, those premiums are pushed higher — and because the consumer subsidies are far bigger than those given to insurers, that’s a costly trade.

        More than eight in ten individuals who buy Obamacare plans get help paying their premiums directly from the federal government. Those subsidies effectively cap how much people have to pay for insurance as a percentage of their income. 

        Even if premiums climb, people who receive those benefits won’t pay more out of their own pockets. The subsidies are available to people making as much as four times the federal poverty level, or just over $97,000 for a family of four.

        That means that those most likely to be hurt by the president’s action aren’t low-income people who will still get help with their costs. Instead, consumers who make too much money to qualify for subsidies will now have to pay a much higher price for their health plans.

        It all adds up to a hefty bill for taxpayers for as long as the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that ending the cost-sharing payments would increase the U.S. fiscal shortfall by $194 billion over the next decade as subsidy outlays jump.

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-13/trump-s-latest-obamacare-killer-will-cost-uncle-sam-194-billion

          These Suburbanites May Have No Fracking Choice

          When Bill Young peers out the window of his $700,000 home in Broomfield, Colo., he drinks in a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains. Starting next year, he may also glimpse one of the 99 drilling rigs that Extraction Oil & Gas Inc. wants to use to get at the oil beneath his home.

          There’s little that Young and his neighbors can do about the horizontal drilling. Residents of the Wildgrass neighborhood own their patches of paradise, but they don’t control what’s under them. An obscure Colorado law allows whole neighborhoods to be forced into leasing the minerals beneath their properties as long as one person in the area consents. The practice, called forced pooling, has been instrumental in developing oil and gas resources in Denver’s rapidly growing suburbs. It’s law in other states, too, but Colorado’s is the most favorable to drilling.

          Now fracking is coming to an upscale suburb, and the prospect of the Wildgrass homeowners being made by state law to do something they don’t want to do has turned many of them into lawyered-up resisters. “It floors me that a private entity could take my property,” says Young, an information security director.

          Many states require 51 percent of owners in a drilling area to consent before the others have to join. Pennsylvania doesn’t allow forced pooling at all in the Marcellus, one of the most prolific shale gas regions in the country. Texas, the center of the nation’s oil production, has strict limits on the practice. Despite its founding cowboy ethos of rugged individualism, Colorado has one of the lowest thresholds. “There’s a tension in oil and gas law between allowing private property owners to develop their mineral estates on their own and the state’s desire to ensure that ultimate recovery of oil and gas is maximized,” says Bret Wells, a law professor at the University of Houston.

          The rise of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing over the past decade has ushered in a modest oil boom on Colorado’s Front Range by enabling companies to wring crude more cheaply from the stubborn shale that runs beneath Denver’s northern suburbs. From 2010 to 2015, Colorado’s crude output almost quadrupled. This year the state is pumping more than 300,000 barrels a day, most of it from the Wattenberg oil field beneath Wildgrass and beyond.

          Colorado’s population is booming, too. As Denver’s suburbs bloom northward into oil and gas territory—Wildgrass is about 20 miles north of Denver, not far from Boulder—housing developments are erupting where once there were only drilling rigs and farmland. And because horizontal drilling can reach as far as 2 miles in all directions from a well, companies need underground access to more land to maximize production from each site. The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission issues hundreds of pooling orders every year. “It’s an entirely new issue,” says David Neslin, former director of the commission, now an attorney at Davis Graham & Stubbs in Denver. “That’s creating some understandable friction with local governments and local communities.”

          Denver-based Extraction Oil & Gas is at the epicenter of that friction. Although it has rural holdings, a substantial amount of its reserves are located in populated areas. So the company, like others in the region, has put a lot of energy—and cash—into making its operations more palatable to suburbanites who fear the prospect of a drilling rig sprouting up within sight of their kiddie pools. Extraction almost exclusively uses electric drills, which are quieter than diesel-powered, and a new generation of hydraulic fracturing equipment that cuts noise. “It’s incumbent upon us to learn to live with these communities,” says Extraction spokesman Brian Cain. “Where we can go the extra mile to minimize impacts, we wish to do so.”

          The company’s latest project involves drilling 99 horizontal wells in Broomfield. That means leasing mineral rights from Wildgrass residents. Letters went out to some of them last year offering a 15 percent royalty and a $500 signing bonus. Some signed, others demurred, and still others organized a campaign aimed at blocking the project. Extraction hasn’t applied for a forced pooling order, but Young and his neighbors have come to believe it’s inevitable.

          The suburb’s agitation prompted the city to create a special task force to evaluate Extraction’s proposal. The company responded by taking members of the task force on a tour of oil and gas country. It wanted to show how its operations are less disruptive than traditional drill sites.

          Ultimately, the company agreed to more stringent environmental standards than the state requires. It will move some wells 1,300 feet from neighborhoods, almost three times farther than the law mandates. It will reduce the number of wells per site, monitor air emissions as well as water and soil quality, and build pipelines to transport oil immediately off-site instead of storing it in the city. “I can see Broomfield turning out to be a new model for how large-scale development gets done,” says Matt Lepore, director of the state commission, which will rule on Extraction’s applications for siting the wells this month.

          Such concessions have smoothed the path for development in many communities. But for some Wildgrass residents, any leasing is unacceptable. They say they fear accidents, such as the April pipeline explosion that killed two people and destroyed a home in Firestone, 20 miles away. Some simply find the terms of the initial lease offer laughable.

          “The money is so negligible,” says Elizabeth Lario, a health coach who’s lived in Wildgrass since 2005. And then there are property values: Homes in Wildgrass range from $500,000 to more than $1 million. “The royalties won’t offset the drop in property value,” says Stephen Uhlhorn, an engineer who’s lived in Wildgrass for four years. Oil development “is now hitting affluent neighborhoods where people have assets and livelihoods that exceed the value of any royalty they’re offered.”

          The bedrock of Colorado’s oil and gas policy is a 1951 law that says responsible fossil fuel development is in the public interest. The state, the law says, must protect the public from “waste”—industry parlance for oil that’s left in the ground. While Colorado has some of the strictest environmental regulations of any oil-producing state, it gives companies latitude in choosing where to drill. The Colorado Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the state’s interest in developing mineral resources preempts any local law that would curb drilling.

          Efforts to change the statute have fizzled. State Representative Mike Foote, a Democrat whose district is adjacent to Broomfield’s, introduced a bill earlier this year to raise the pooling threshold to 51 percent. It passed the House by a slim margin but died in a Senate committee in a party-line vote, with Republicans opposed. “The oil and gas industry pretty much controls the capital, particularly in the Senate,” Foote says. “Operators can do whatever they want.” Lepore, the head of the state oil commission, concedes the pooling threshold is low compared with other states. “I have no philosophical objection to a 51 percent requirement,” he says. “There are intelligent changes that could be made to the forced pooling law.”

          Young, the Wildgrass resident, received a lease offer last year. Since then he’s been working with a lawyer to consider his options, and so far he doesn’t like them. “You couldn’t put a Walmart where they’re putting these wells—no one would approve that zoning,” he says. “But for some reason, the industry is completely exempt from everything.”

            BOTTOM LINE – In Colorado, whole neighborhoods may have to lease the minerals under their land if just one homeowner agrees.

            Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-03/these-suburbanites-may-have-no-fracking-choice

            NFL Players and Owners Push Back Against Trump Comments

            President Donald Trump accelerated his criticism of the National Football League on Sunday by saying fans should consider not going to games, sparking strong objections from players and owners including a longtime friend and contributor.

            Robert Kraft, chairman and chief executive officer of the NFL champion New England Patriots, said he was "deeply disappointed” by Trump’s comments Friday that “son of a bitch” players who refuse to stand during the national anthem to protest treatment of minority citizens should be released by their teams.

            Players locked arms, knelt or raised fists during today’s pregame renditions of the anthem, which were broadcast live at all games by the Fox and CBS networks. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee last year, locked arms with his players before his team’s game against the Baltimore Ravens in London. Several other owners joined their players on the field while most of the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in their locker room during the anthem.

            Trump, speaking to reporters on his return to Washington Sunday night, said he was “not at all” encouraging a boycott with a morning tweet that read, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

            “They can do whatever they want,” Trump said. “I’m just telling you from my standpoint I think it is very disrespectful to our country.” He also said the player protests “are a big reason” the league’s television ratings have fallen.

            Buffalo Bills players kneel before their NFL game on Sept. 24.

            Photographer: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

            The criticisms, directed primarily at black athletes, came after Trump repeatedly equated the actions of both sides after the death of a woman who was protesting against a demonstration by neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Confederate heritage groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.

            They also come at the start of a critical week for some of Trump’s key legislative priorities, with Republicans’ latest and possibly last attempt to repeal and replace the Obamacare health care law on the brink of defeat and negotiations beginning in earnest on a tax package.

            Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended Trump’s comments and called on the NFL owners to enact a rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem.

            “This is about respect for the military and the first responders and the country,” Mnuchin said on ABC’s "This Week” program. “They have the right to have their First Amendment off the field. This is a job and the employers have the right, when the players are working, to have rules."

            Owners’ Support

            Trump’s new campaign also may jeopardize the support he has enjoyed since the early days of his campaign from a number of CEOs and NFL owners — one of whom, Woody Johnson of the New York Jets, was named Trump’s ambassador to the U.K.

            “There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,” said Kraft, who also donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural and sat with the president at dinner when he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort in February. “I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal.”

            The national anthem protests began in August 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled before a pre-season game. Kaepernick was joined in his protest by some teammates and players on other teams as the season progressed.

            Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March and hasn’t been signed by another team, although the protests have continued this season.

            US President Donald Trump walks towards Air Force One in New Jersey on his way to Alabama on Sept. 23.

            Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

            ‘Lack of Respect’

            NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, without mentioning Trump, said Saturday that “divisive comments” weren’t helpful.

            “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said in a statement. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all of our players.”

            Trump himself was once owner of the New Jersey Generals of the long-defunct United States Football League, which fought a losing battle against the NFL.

            Colin Kaepernick, center, with Eli Harold and Eric Reid kneel during the anthem prior to a game in Oct. 2016.

            Photographer: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

            ‘Little Ding’

            The president also raised eyebrows Friday by saying that penalties for hard hits in the NFL are “ruining the game,” as the league attempts to respond to evidence of long-term brain injury causing premature deaths and disability to some of its players.

            Trump’s comment came a day after news that Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots player convicted of murder who hanged himself in a Massachusetts jail in April at age 27, had been found to suffer from a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) associated with repeated concussions.

            Trump made similar comments about the NFL at least twice in 2016, deriding concussions as “a little ding on the head” and lamenting the demise of “violent, head-on” tackles.

            A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that all but one of 111 former NFL players whose brains had been inspected had evidence of CTE, which can only be diagnosed post-mortem.

              Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-24/trump-promotes-nfl-boycott-as-stalwart-ally-kraft-leads-pushback

              John McCain won’t back Graham-Cassidy bill, likely ending GOP health care push

              (CNN)Sen. John McCain announced Friday in a statement that he cannot “in good conscience” vote for the GOP’s latest plan to overhaul Obamacare, likely ending Republicans’ latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

              “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will (affect) insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”
              McCain’s “no” vote makes it very likely Republicans won’t be able to repeal and replace Obamacare before September 30, as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he would not back the effort and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is also expected to vote “no” on the proposal.
                Republicans need at least 50 votes to pass the measure under the process of reconciliation.
                McCain was one of three most-watched members on the fence and considered a key vote on the bill. Without his support, Republicans would need to get Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, as well as Collins to sign on. It’s unlikely considering the fact that Collins said Friday afternoon that she was leaning against the bill and had key concerns that the legislation did not do enough to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions.
                “I’m leaning against the bill,” Collins said Friday at a Portland, Maine, event, according to The Portland Press Herald.
                A Republican aide involved in the process said Friday afternoon that GOP leaders are at the “evaluating options” stage right now.
                The aide added, “I’m not breaking news telling you this isn’t good.”
                Paul, the only other Republican other than McCain who has so far definitively come out against Graham-Cassidy, is “unlikely” to change his mind even if changes are made to the bill, his spokesman Sergio Gor told CNN.
                McCain’s announcement comes despite that one of the bill’s key sponsors — Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — is a close confidant. The thinking was if anyone could convince McCain to vote “yes,” it would be Graham.
                “I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it,” McCain said. “The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.”
                McCain has said for weeks that he would not support health care legislation that had not gone through “regular order,” meaning Senate hearings, an amendment process and a rigorous floor debate.
                Graham said he “respectfully” disagrees with McCain and will “press on” with his legislation.
                “My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is,” Graham said in a statement and on Twitter.
                McCain voted “no” on the last health care proposal in July for the same reason. McCain’s dramatic floor vote, which happened just weeks after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, came in the early morning and was captured as one of his most “maverick” moments in the Senate.

                Democrats praise McCain

                Just moments after McCain announced his opposition, Democrats seized on the opportunity to bring back bipartisan talks that had stalled last week.
                Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee had held bipartisan hearings over the last month on how to stabilize Obamacare marketplaces and were making progress in their negotiations. But the House leadership made it clear last week that the chamber probably would not be able to pass such a bill.
                As soon as McCain announced his opposition, Murray announced she was still open to reigniting those talks.
                “I agree with Senator McCain that the right way to get things done in the Senate — especially on an issue as important to families as their health care — is through regular order and working together to find common ground,” Murray said. “I’m still at the table ready to keep working, and I remain confident that we can reach a bipartisan agreement as soon as this latest partisan approach by Republican leaders is finally set aside.”
                Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also praised McCain shortly after his announcement.
                “John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”
                For her part, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said her members would continue working “to put the stake in the heart of this monstrous bill.”
                “This weekend, we will continue to highlight the devastating costs Republicans are trying to inflict on hard-working Americans,” she said in a letter to colleagues.
                This story has been updated and will update with additional developments.

                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/22/politics/john-mccain-health-care/index.html

                91-year-old former congressman sets the Twitter bar in the Trump era

                John Dingell has been owning Twitter for years.
                Image: ambar del moral/mashable

                91-year-old former congressman John Dingell has been quick, witty, and on fire with his 140 characters for years.

                Despite his age, he knows how to use the tweet machine the way it was intended: biting commentary, playful retweets, and insightful and smart reactions. Time and again he’s shown he’s mastered Twitter.

                After tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump was elected, Dingell’s Twitter game has become even more relevant and fiery.

                After the violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s bumbling mess of a response to the anti-Semitism and white supremacy on display, Dingell took to Twitter in the days following. One particular tweet resonated, with thousands praising the longtime Michigan lawmaker for posting what the president struggled to say. 

                Just look at those likes.

                Once known as an imposing Democrat with strong opinions and determined to pass universal health care, he’s refocused his energy toward the Twittersphere, where he still speaks his mind loud and clear even if it’s not on Capitol Hill.

                Sure, Dingell also spends a lot of his time tweeting about Michigan sports. But after retiring after nearly 60 years in office at the age of 87 (he was the longest-serving member of Congress in history), he’s kept a running commentary on the ridiculousness of the government and society in general.

                In the Trump era, where the president uses a micro-blogging platform to announce policy, devise political strategy, and sling insults, Dingell’s reactions and responses are a go-to source of humor, insight, and reflection.

                Dingell’s Trump tweets also have bite. Since inauguration day (and throughout the election, too, if you want to look back and laugh-cry) we’ve been treated to these gems that often encapsulate what a lot of us are thinking.

                On resignation

                On Trump’s staffing problems

                On the health care fight

                On Russia and lying

                On Trump’s Middle East trip

                On cake 

                When Trump gave an interview about a missile strike on Syria he talked mostly about “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.” It was — weird. Dingell noticed.

                On the wall

                Dingell joined Twitter in 2010. In the seven-plus years since, he’s tweeted almost 5,000 times. Trump, 71, joined about a year earlier, but has racked up nearly 40,000 tweets — eight times the number of tweets, which seems like a good way to measure Trump’s Twitter obsession.

                Dingell’s targets go beyond Trump. 

                Years before the former reality TV show host joined the political circus, Dingell was posting sharp commentary on, well, everything. The Atlantic called his Twitter feed “the best” back in 2014. Some of Dingell’s earlier Twitter home runs include a post about Sharknado, excellent usage of the hashtag and term “YOLO,” and taking an internet meme to disparage himself. 

                In recent days he’s brought down Sen. Ted Cruz with his wit. He’s plugged in to internet culture, whether it’s April the pregnant giraffe or the Kardashians.

                With Dingell’s decades of insider knowledge, his posts go beyond your average snarky Trump commentary that poke at the thin-skinned president. Luckily, Dingell hasn’t gotten blocked, and maybe he won’t if he keeps up with his smartly crafted ripostes.

                His tweets spark discussion, replies, and thousands of retweets and likes.

                If this retired 90-something Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient can keep up with Trump and everything else on Twitter, there’s no excuse for the rest of us. Except for the fact that John Dingell has already won Twitter. Maybe the rest of us should just go home.

                Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/16/john-dingell-twitter-trump/

                Obama slams Trump for rescinding DACA, calls move ‘cruel’

                Washington (CNN)Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday bashed his successor’s decision to rescind an immigration order shielding some children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling the move “cruel” and “self-defeating.”

                “To target these young people is wrong — because they have done nothing wrong,” Obama wrote in a post on Facebook hours after the decision was announced by President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It is self-defeating — because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel.”
                The lengthy statement is among Obama’s most forceful since departing office. Though he didn’t mention Trump by name, he sharply criticized the President’s motives and insisted rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was not legally required.
                  “It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” Obama wrote. “Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”
                  Obama said he hoped lawmakers pass a bill allowing those eligible for the DACA program to remain in the United States. And he framed the decision as a question of “basic decency.”
                  “This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated,” he wrote. “It’s about who we are as a people — and who we want to be.”
                  Former President Bill Clinton joined Obama in calling Trump’s decision “cruel.”
                  “It’s wrong because it’s bad policy that solves no pressing problem and raises new ones. It’s wrong because it’s irresponsible, passing the buck instead of offering sensible solutions for immigration reform. Most of all, it’s wrong because it’s cruel to send these young people to places many of them have never lived and do not know. For them this is home. The United States is their home,” Clinton said in a statement on Tuesday.
                  Clinton’s statement also called on Congress to act immediately to “protect their status and pave the way for their future and America’s future.”
                  Former Vice President Joe Biden also criticized Trump’s move.
                  “Brought by parents, these children had no choice in coming here. Now they’ll be sent to countries they’ve never known. Cruel. Not America,” Biden tweeted.

                  Promised to speak out

                  Just before leaving office in January, Obama told reporters during a news conference that he would speak out sparingly in his post-presidency. But he said revoking DACA was among the actions that would prompt him to weigh in.
                  “The notion that we would just arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids, when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves, I think would be something that would merit me speaking out,” Obama said at the time.
                  DACA amounts to Obama’s chief legacy item on immigration, though it’s far reduced from the vision for major changes that he entered office promising.
                  During his first years in office, Obama focused heavily on repairing a damaged economy. Instead of immigration, he chose health care as his first major legislative push.
                  He approved the program in 2012 after unsuccessful efforts in Congress to pass a measure that would allow children of undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally to avoid deportation.
                  During most of his first term, Obama insisted that taking action unilaterally to spare DACA recipients from deportation wasn’t possible. Instead, he said it was up to Congress to craft a solution.
                  But after legislative efforts failed, Obama asked his attorney general and other administration lawyers to reassess his options for taking executive action. His administration argued that circumstances had changed after Congress was unable to pass legislation.
                  Months before his re-election, he announced in the Rose Garden that he was taking action on his own, though qualified his move as a short-term fix.
                  “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix,” Obama said. “This is a temporary stopgap measure.”
                  His decision ignited controversy and legal challenges, though polls show a large majority of Americans support measures that would allow people who came to the country illegally as children to remain.

                  Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/05/politics/obama-daca/index.html