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Daily Reads: GOP Lawmakers “Get an Earful” About Health Care at Parades; Legislative Headaches Ahead

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

GOP Lawmakers "Get an Earful" About Health Care at Parades

Fireworks. (Photo by Chris/ flickr CC 2.0)

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Independence Day –> We hope you had a great 4th of July! In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, we’re happy to see that “44 states have defied the Trump administration’s request for private voter information,” according to CNN.

Dave Weigel reports for The Washington Post that while more Republican senators “joined a delegation to Afghanistan this week than scheduled town halls” during the July 4th break — and many remained scarce at the usual parades and barbecues — those who did face their constituents heard “an earful” about health care.

In a sad trombone moment, hundreds of “armed militia group members, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Ku Klux Klaners, supporters of President Donald Trump and other self-described patriots descended upon the Gettysburg battlefield” this weekend “to defend the site’s Confederate symbols from phantom activists with the violent far-left group Antifa.” But rumors of a massive antifa riot were simply the fever dreams of a few far-right blogs, and HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias and Andy Campbell report that the goons found “no foe to fight” and “the only bloodshed came when a lone militia group member accidentally shot himself in the leg.”

Elsewhere, conservatives were outraged at NPR’s liberal bias when it sent out a series of tweets on Tuesday — and they let NPR know it — but only because they weren’t familiar with the Declaration of Independence. Minnesota Public Radio’s blog has some highlights.

And historian Gleb Tsipursky writes at Scientific American that it had “always been a bit uncomfortable thinking of myself as ‘American,’ especially around July 4th,” because it “obliges me to identify with aspects of the US that I am not happy about.” But he reconciled that problem by identifying as a “weird American,” and finds adding “weird” to other aspects of life is often helpful.”

Back to business –> North Korea fired off what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking any target in the world. But Daniel Politi writes at Slate that, “earlier, US and South Korean officials had said the launch appeared to be of an intermediate-range missile but officials said they are analyzing the data to figure out whether it could have been an ICBM rocket. Experts who quickly analyzed the missile’s trajectory said it could potentially reach Alaska but not other parts of the continental United States.”

With the Korean Peninsula is teetering on the brink of war, we’ll see how Trump manages his first international crisis. David Sanger writes for The New York Times that his “options are few and risky.”

Cognitive dissonance” –> Alice Ollstein reports for Talking Points Memo that Justice Department compliance counsel Hui Chen — DOJ’s corporate watchdog — “announced her decision to resign last month, saying it was impossible to go after corporate fraud and corruption when President Donald Trump himself was engaging in such practices.” In a post on Linkedin, Chen wrote, “Trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome.”

Turning the corruption up to 11 –> On Saturday, Coral Davenport reported for The New York Times that “while much of Mr. Trump’s policy agenda is mired in legal and legislative delays, hampered by poor execution and overshadowed by the Russia investigations, the [Environmental Protection Agency] is acting.” Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard, told Davenport that “the number of environmental rollbacks in this time frame is astounding.” And the key insight here is that EPA chief Scott Pruitt “is doing all this largely without the input of the 15,000 career employees at the agency he heads.” Instead, he “relies on the counsel of a small network of… former lobbyists and senior industry officials.”

Between a rock and a hard place –> Having spent years falsely claiming that raising the debt limit has some connection to government spending — it’s only about Congress paying the bills that have already arrived — the chickens are coming home to roost for GOP leaders. According to Niv Elis at The Hill, “only 16 House Republicans who are currently in office backed the last ‘clean’ debt hike, and few of them will say they are certain to support it this year.” That means they’ll need many Democratic votes for a “clean” hike, and Dems are in no mood to bail out their GOP counterparts in this climate.

Budget Guru Stan Collender characterizes the next couple of months worth of headaches on congressional Republicans’ collective plate as “the big hurt,” as they’ll return from the holiday with tight timelines to come up with a budget resolution, avert a debt-limit disaster and struggle to pass a package of tax cuts financed by killing a bunch of sick people.

Does that bit about killing people sound over the top? –> Yes it does, but last week, Harold Pollack, a professor of public health at the University of Chicago, wrote for Slate that the “existing research… suggests that thousands of Americans will probably die needlessly every year if BCRA is passed. That’s not inflated rhetoric. That’s what any reasonable person would predict based on the available data.”

And Dean Baker writes at the the Center for Economic and Policy Research blog that while “Trump and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly charged that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is collapsing” as insurers pull out of the ACA’s exchanges, “there is an important part of the story that Trump and other Republicans forget to mention: The lack of competition in the exchanges is overwhelmingly a problem for people living in states controlled by Republican governors.”

At The New York Times, pediatrician Aaron Carroll and economist Austin Frackt write that some conservatives are promoting the idea that not having insurance is better than being enrolled in Medicaid. It is true that Medicaid patients have poorer health outcomes, but this is because it’s a sicker population with lower incomes than the uninsured. Caroll and Frackt write that this is a “misinterpretation” of the data, but given that the authors of the papers they cite “practically shout that the correlations they find are not evidence of causation,” perhaps a word that rhymes with “fly” would better describe this talking point.

Seventy-two –> Joey Chestnut downed 72 hot dogs, with buns, to take home the title at this year’s Nathan’s contest yet again. Unfortunately, he fell one dog short of his own record. Meanwhile, Miki Sudo won her fourth title in the women’s division after chowing down 41 weiners.

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

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