McConnell Delays Trumpcare Vote
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McConnell Delays Trumpcare Vote

Republican Senators Baulked After the Budget Office Said 22 Million Would Lose Insurance

No vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)  couldn’t find enough senators willing to hold their noses and vote for the Republican tax cut disguised as the Trumpcare healthcare plan. “We’re going to press on,” McConnell said, adding he remains optimistic. “We’re continuing to talk.” Since the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill would leave 22 million more Americans without insurance after 10 years, several Republicans senators had said they would not even support allowing the bill to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote. Trump said: “This will be great if we get it done and if we don’t get it done it’s going to be something that we’re not going to like and that’s OK, and I can understand that.” Senators will head home to celebrate July Fourth celebrations and see (or avoid) angry constituents. In South Carolina, members of the Indivisible Midlands dressed in wedding gowns to sing about their desire to marry the state’s two bachelor senators for their health insurance.

Hacked. Computer systems from Russia to the United States were struck on Tuesday in an international cyberattack that bore similarities to a recent assault that crippled tens of thousands of machines worldwide. As reports of the attack spread quickly, the Ukrainian government said that several of its ministries, radiation monitoring at the Chernobyl nuclear facility, local banks and metro systems had been affected. A number of companies—including the Danish shipping giant Maersk; Rosneft, the Russian energy giant; and WPP, the British advertising agency—also said they had been targeted. In the United States, Merck, the drug giant, confirmed that its global computer networks had been hit. It remains unclear who is behind this cyberattack.

Photo by Angel Valentin for The Washington Post

Fake news. Time magazine has asked the Trump Organization to remove fake magazine covers of Time from the company’s golf clubs after a report in The Washington Post. The bogus covers, dated March 1, 2009, show Trump with the headline “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” They have been displayed in at least four of the Trump clubs, including Mar-a-Lago. Trump has continued to target the press. Three journalists at CNN resigned Monday after questions about sourcing for a story on Wall Street financier and Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci.

The Trump bump. Just 22% of people surveyed in 37 nations think Trump will do the right thing in international affairs, according to the Pew Research Center. A median of 64% trusted former President Barack Obama. Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany topped the list of countries with plunging confidence in our nation’s leadership. “In the eyes of most people surveyed around the world, the White House’s new occupant is arrogant, intolerant and even dangerous,” said Pew.

The rich get richer. Billionaire Warren Buffett may soon become the biggest shareholder in both the second and third largest U.S. banks, The Wall Street Journal reports. Buffett is expected to acquire $16 billion in Bank of America Corp. stock after results of a Federal Reserve stress test are revealed today.  Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. will acquire the stock in a complicated swap of preferred shares for common shares. Buffett is already the largest shareholder of the scandal-plagued No. 3 bank, Well Fargo.

Foreign agent man. The consulting firm of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was paid more than $17 million to lobby for a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin. Manafort and former national security adviser Mike Flynn are being investigated for potential criminal violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Manafort has registered as an agent of a foreign government.

Retirement pay. Nine House Republicans are criticizing Trump’s proposal to cut federal workers’ pay and increase the amount that they pay toward their retirement. The budget would increase employee contributions by 1 percentage point a year for the next six years. It also would eliminate the cost-of-living adjustment for current and future participants in the Federal Employee Retirement System and generally cut the COLA by 0.5 percent for people in the Civil Service Retirement System.  Unlike a private pension plan or 401k with a company match, all of the money in the FERS pension plan, except for investment earnings, comes from the workers. Trump’s move, then, would effectively cut workers’ cash wages in order to finance larger contributions to their pension plans. “The proposals break a promise to employees and retirees who have based career planning on longstanding promised benefit calculations,” the House members wrote. “They and their families don’t deserve to be treated in this cavalier manner.” The Republicans who signed the June 17 letter are Rob Bishop of Utah, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Austin Scott of Georgia, Chris Smith of New Jersey, and Rob Wittman of Virginia. About 100 House Democrats earlier asked House leaders to block legislation that includes those proposals.

Featured photo: Video grab of Indivisible Midlands’ “Marry You for Health Care”

June 28, 2017