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HUFFPOST HILL - Paul Ryan Suddenly Grateful For Obamacare's Psychiatric Coverage

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Today is International Women’s Day, though some refer to it by its nickname, January 20th, 2021. Ted and Heidi Cruz will be dining with Donald Trump tonight, presumably so Ted can elaborate on how Trump is a “sniveling coward” and Trump can find new ways to call Heidi ugly. And the president met with the founder of TMZ, making us wonder how long until  he awards the creator of “1001 Ways to Die” a Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, March 8th, 2017:
TRUMP APPOINTING SOMEWHAT SUSPECT PEOPLE, PT. 52,691,003 - Justin Elliott, Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw: “A Trump campaign aide who argues that Democrats committed ‘ethnic cleansing’ in a plot to ‘liquidate’ the white working class. A former reality show contestant whose study of societal collapse inspired him to invent a bow-and-arrow-cum-survivalist multi-tool. A pair of healthcare industry lobbyists. A lobbyist for defense contractors. An ‘evangelist’ and lobbyist for Palantir, the Silicon Valley company with close ties to intelligence agencies. And a New Hampshire Trump supporter who has only recently graduated from high school. These are some of the people the Trump administration has hired for positions across the federal government, according to documents received by ProPublica through public-records requests. While President Trump has not moved to fill many jobs that require Senate confirmation, he has quietly installed hundreds of officials to serve as his eyes and ears at every major federal agency, from the Pentagon to the Department of Interior.” [ProPublica]

SESSIONS MET WITH RUSSIANS A THIRD TIME - Again, it’s not that he did, it’s that he lied about it. Christina Wilkie: Sessions appears to have left out a third instance in which [he and Russia’s ambassador] crossed paths. In April of 2016, Sessions attended a VIP reception at a hotel in Washington, D.C., with President Donald Trump and roughly two dozen guests, including four ambassadors. One of them was Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The cocktail meet-and-greet took place in a private room at the Mayflower Hotel near the White House. Shortly thereafter, Trump delivered a foreign policy speech in the hotel’s ballroom, where he called for improved U.S.-Russia relations. Kislyak was seated in the front row. Though the event was small, it is unclear if Sessions and Kislyak spoke directly, and a spokeswoman for the attorney general did not respond immediately to questions about the event from The Huffington Post. Organizers said the event included a receiving line. Sessions did not mention the Mayflower event when he was asked during his confirmation hearings if he had any contact during the presidential campaign with Russian officials. Nor did he put that event in his amended testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.” [HuffPost]

EVERYONE HATES AHCA - Daniel Marans and Laura Barron-Lopez: “Provisions in the House Republicans’ Obamacare replacement bill that would raise insurance costs for older Americans are drawing resistance from the influential seniors’ lobby. The American Health Care Act, as Republicans are calling it, would allow insurers to make premiums for older Americans five times what they charge younger workers ― provided that a state’s regulations allow for it. Obamacare had capped this ratio, known as an ‘age rating,’ at 3 to 1. The measure was chief among the reasons AARP, the nation’s largest organization for older Americans, cited in explaining its opposition to the House bill on Tuesday evening. ‘Older Americans need affordable health care services and prescriptions,’ AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a statement. ‘This plan goes in the opposite direction, increasing insurance premiums for older Americans and not doing anything to lower drug costs.’” [HuffPost]

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GOP RUSHES AHEAD WITH PLAN TO INCREASE ABORTIONS, DESTROY FAMILIES - This goes hand-in-hand with all the swamp-draining the Trump administration has been undertaking. Laura Bassett and Jeffrey Young: “Since former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2009, making birth control free for millions of women, unintended pregnancies fell 18 percent and the U.S. abortion rate reached a record low.  Now, Republicans have proposed a replacement for Obamacare, which ― in the name of restricting abortion ― could have the opposite effect. The bill ‘defunds’ Planned Parenthood, one of the leading providers of affordable contraception in the nation, by preventing Medicaid from reimbursing Planned Parenthood for its health and family planning services to poor women. And it would dramatically roll back Medicaid coverage in general, which accounts for three-quarters of all public dollars spent on family planning and pays for nearly half of U.S. births. ‘This bill would be devastating to reproductive health for low-income Americans,’ said Adam Sonfield, senior policy director for the Guttmacher Institute.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP DOESN’T WANT HIS NAME ON THE HEALTH BILL HE SUPPORTS - Matthew Nussbaum and Jennifer Haberkorn: “He built his career in large part by plastering his name on skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, books, wines and steaks, but there appears to be one place President Donald Trump does not want his favorite five-letter word — the Republican health care bill…. But conservatives rallying against the plan have filled the branding void with what they hope to be their own derogatory titles like Ryancare, Obamacare 2.0 and Obamacare-lite. When asked during the daily White House briefing on Tuesday whether the White House would embrace the House GOP plan as Trumpcare, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price demurred. ‘I prefer to call it patient care,’ Price said. White House press secretary Sean Spicer was pressed on the same issue. ‘We’re less concerned with labels right now and more in terms of action and results,’ he said.” [Politico]

BREITBART GOING AFTER DADDY - Oliver Darcy: “Breitbart...signaled this week that its brief cease-fire with the establishment wing of the administration may have come to an end...when Breitbart savaged House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposal, which Trump supports, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The website deemed it ‘Obamacare 2.0’ and told its readers the legislation ‘gives illegal aliens healthcare through identity fraud’ and amounted to ‘GOP welfare entitlement.’ … An additional story by Matthew Boyle, the website’s Washington editor, went after Spicer for ‘inaccurately’ saying the bill ‘fully repeals Obamacare.’ ‘We are Breitbart,’ Boyle wrote in a Slack conversation about his story, according to a screenshot obtained by Business Insider. This is war.’ Boyle added: ‘There are no sacred cows in war.’” [Business Insider]

This press release arrived in political inboxes today: “Republican Paul Nehlen today announced he is mulling a 2018 challenge to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R - WI), citing wide discontent with Ryan’s wounded roll-out of House Republican version of the Obamacare 2.0 bill.”

TAX PLAN LOSING THE PAID STOOGE VOTE - On the plus side for Republicans, at least *some* of them are getting paid for opposing their disastrous health plan. Isaac Arnsdorf: “An old Washington operator, former Sen. Phil Gramm, has stormed back onto the scene to try to torpedo a key part of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s tax plan. Senate Republicans found Gramm’s takedown of the border adjustment tax so persuasive at a lunch meeting last month that Ryan himself had to clean up at the next week’s lunch. In a widely read Wall Street Journal op/ed, Gramm argued that the proposal would cost consumers and convulse financial markets. But Gramm failed to mention that one such victim of the tax change could be his own employer: a private equity firm, Lone Star Funds, whose extensive overseas holdings stand to suffer. Gramm, 74, said in an interview the firm doesn’t pay him to lobby and the policy’s impact on its portfolio isn’t clear…. Gramm’s reappearance in the middle of a lobbying feeding frenzy had left allies and enemies a like wondering who he was representing. The former Senate Banking chairman is part of a growing class of influencers, many of them former lawmakers, who take advantage of legal loopholes to avoid publicly disclosing their activities.” [Politico]

HEIDI CRUZ SPENDS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY IN THE WORST POSSIBLE WAY - At the very least, the Cruz family name will be rehabilitated finally after Rafael Cruz killed JFK.  Chris Wilson: “On Wednesday evening, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife, Heidi, will dine with President Trump at the White House. Cruz has been effusive in his praise of Trump lately, calling his joint address to Congress a ‘positive, unifying vision for the country.’ But the two former primary foes were not always so cordial, as the 2016 campaign got personal, dragging in both men’s wives, conspiracy theories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and National Enquirer stories.” [Yahoo News]

WELL, THIS IS TERRIFYING - [especially derp-y voice] But what about the New Black Panthers! Samuel Levine: “New Hampshire lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow counties to send police to residents’ homes to verify the address they use when they register to vote. The provision is part of a bill designed to check the registration of voters who enroll to vote on election day or within 30 days of it. The current law allows anyone who is 18 and domiciled, or living day to day in the state, to vote. The bill under consideration would require those who register to vote to show some kind of proof that they intend to live in New Hampshire or sign an affidavit promising to show documentation in 10 or 30 days following the election. If a voter doesn’t provide that proof, officials could take several actions to verify that person’s address, including sending law enforcement there or requesting that the secretary of state send a letter.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a startled dog.

WE WANT TO DIE -  Michael M. Grynbaum: “Since Inauguration Day, President Trump has spent his time meeting with heads of state, titans of industry, economic advisers and public health specialists. And the founder of TMZ. Mr. Trump, in a meeting last Wednesday that went unmentioned on his public schedule, spent about an hour in the Oval Office chatting with Harvey Levin, the tabloid emperor whose Los Angeles-based news site and television show are leading purveyors of gossip and scandal. Face time with the leader of the free world is a coveted commodity, and Mr. Trump has granted few one-on-one interviews with journalists since taking office. But he and Mr. Levin have some history: The TMZ chieftain interviewed Mr. Trump for a Fox News special, ‘Objectified: Donald Trump,’ that aired last fall.” [NYT]

COMFORT FOOD

- Mark International Women’s Day with these polling questions from the mid-20th century.

- Child invades local weather forecast to talk about farts.

- The GIF of Theresa May swallowing a fish that no one asked for.

TWITTERAMA

@morninggloria: Was spacing out and thought I heard a man who had just inhaled some helium getting mad on TV but it was just a Spicer press conference

@elisefoley: I’m not wearing red today but I am being rude to the men in my office, which I think counts for something.

@SopanDeb: CNN hiring Jason Miller as an analyst is a good reminder that you can consistently spout falsehoods and get paid well for it by CNN.

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