new health care plan, revised travel ban, and, as always, twitter
Trump accuses Obama of wiretapping
In a series of early morning tweets on Saturday, President Trump accused former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in October 2016 “just before [Trump’s] victory.” Following Trump’s claim, Press Secretary Sean Spicer released a vague statement requesting that any congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election include an investigation into “whether executive branch investigative powers were abused.” On Sunday, FBI director James Comey “asked the Justice Department to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion,” reports the New York Times, “a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness.”
A spokesperson for former President Obama formally denied the allegation, writing that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”
At Vox, Andrew Prokop traces the sources and series of events that led to Trump’s “tweetstorm” Saturday morning.
Travel Ban, Revised
On Monday, President Trump signed a new executive order on immigration, this time excluding Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens are barred from entering the US for 90 days while the administration “improve[s] the screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the USRAP.” This time around, green card holders and people with US visas are not included in the ban and “the indefinite pause in Syrian refugee admissions has been removed.” The order is set to take effect on March 16th.
At FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten and Oliver Roeder review the differences between the first executive order and the second, and explain why the new one may still be on legally shaky ground.
Draft of House GOP Healthcare Bill
Also on Monday: the House GOP released the draft of the American Health Care Act, their proposed replacement to the Affordable Care Act. In a comprehensive analysis for Vox, Sarah Kliff identifies a few of the noteworthy features: (1) the individual mandate is gone, but other more popular Obamacare features, like banning discrimination against people with preexisting conditions and allowing young adults up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance, remain; (2) Medicaid expansion will continue until 2020, likely thanks to “intense pressure from the 15 Republican governors who run states that have expanded Medicaid”; (3) under the new plan, people with a lapse in coverage could be charged an extra 30 percent; (4) tax credits, based on age – unlike the ACA, which based tax credits on income – would be used to purchase health insurance.
As the Washington Post reports, the proposed bill has received criticism from both ends of the political spectrum, from conservatives in the Freedom Caucus of the House that don’t believe the plan goes far enough, to Democrats and “moderate Republicans, AARP, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association.”
The Trump Administration, which supports the bill, is promising a three-phrase approach to overhauling the current health insurance system: (1) passing the proposed American Health Care Act, (2) making adjustments on regulations that are too burdensome, and (3) “going back to Congress with bills that let insurance companies sell policies across state lines or allow the government to use its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices.”
You can read the bill in its entirety here.
WikiLeaks publishes CIA “hacking arsenal” that details how the agency uses phones, tablets, computers, and other smart devices as tools for spying…Women’s Strike shuts down school districts in Alexandria, Virginia, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina…people in at least 14 states were unable to dial emergency 9-1-1 Wednesday night when AT&T cellphone service was disrupted…former Utah governor Jon Huntsman is appointed as new US ambassador to Russia…former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page was granted approval by the Trump campaign to visit Russia in July 2016, on the condition he did not visit as an official representative of the campaign.
above image: ted eytan / flickr