VIDEO: Speaker Boehner shows reporter how to tie his tie properly

Published: Thursday, May 09, 2013 @ 11:54 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 09, 2013 @ 12:50 PM

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., is known on Capitol Hill for his dapper look and perfectly tied neckwear.

Recently after an interview with Peter Cook of Bloomberg News, Boehner gave the reporter a lesson in how to tie the perfect knot.

“You don’t have a dimple. You’ve got to have a dimple in it,” Boehner said.

GOP Congress returns with big blanks to fill on health care

Published: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 3:30 AM
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 3:42 AM

After talking for the past six years about why they would repeal and then replace the Obama health law, Republicans lawmakers in the Congress return to Washington this week with many in both parties still waiting to see exactly what choices the GOP will make on changes to the nation’s health care system.

“Republican Senators are leading the charge to repeal Obamacare,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on Sunday.

Just before the Congress left town for a ten day break, Speaker Paul Ryan said he would be ready as early as this week to roll out the fine print of the GOP plan.

“After the House returns, following the President’s Day (break), we intend to introduce legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Ryan said.

The broad outlines of what the GOP wants to do are well known – but for reporters, industry lobbyists and lawmakers, the missing piece here is the nitty gritty details of the legislative text that will be extraordinarily important – along with the cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

So far, we have neither when it comes to the GOP health plans.

In the meantime, the GOP message is much the same as it has been for the past few years – Obamacare did not work, and will not work in the future, so it must be replaced.

The Speaker issued his own “Better Way” plan for health care reform back in June – but it has never been translated publicly into actual bill language, and no estimates have been released on the budgetary numbers.

Among the important unanswered questions for Republicans:

+ How much will the GOP health care bill cost
+ What parts of the Obama health law will be kept (staying on insurance until age 26, preexisting conditions have often been mentioned by GOP lawmakers)
+ How many people would be expected to gain or lose coverage
+ What taxes from the Obama health law will be repealed, changed or kept in place
+ How will the plan deal with expanded Medicaid eligibility, which has prompted questions from some GOP Governors
+ How will subsidies under the Obama health law be changed

Many more details would be in the fine print of the bill.

Republicans return to Capitol Hill after watching some of their colleagues take it on the chin at town hall meetings on the issue of health care, as supporters of the Obama health law tried to use the Congressional break of the past week to put GOP lawmakers on the defensive over possible changes.



My readout of the current situation in Congress has not changed one bit in the last few years – Republicans want to get rid of the Obama health law and institute their own policy changes, but they still don’t have one single plan that GOP lawmakers have agreed to vote for.

There are a number of cross-currents inside the Republican Party that may make it difficult to get a majority on any GOP plan in both the House and Senate.

And then there is the opposition of Democrats in the Congress, as they are more than ready to pounce on the actual details.

The time line for the GOP is to roll out the plan in coming weeks, and then have a vote on it before the House and Senate go home on a break for Easter.

We will be here every step of the way in the halls of Congress with the latest details.


health26 2 hours ago

Trump pick for Navy Secretary withdraws nomination

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 7:32 PM
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 7:35 PM

For the second time in recent weeks, a choice for a top Pentagon leadership job by President Donald Trump has withdrawn, as Philip Bilden on Sunday evening gave up his nomination for Secretary of the Navy, unable to get around financial ethics restrictions related to his own personal investments.

“This was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests,” said Defense Secretary James Mattis in a statement issued by the Pentagon.

Bilden’s decision to drop out mirrored that of Mr. Trump’s original choice for Army Secretary, Vincent Viola, who gave up his nomination because of difficulties unwinding his own personal financial holdings, and how they might ethically impact his post at the Pentagon

“I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family’s private financial interests,” Bilden said in a written statement.

Last weekend, the White House sternly rejeted reports from several news organizations that Bilden was going to withdraw from consideration for the job of Navy Secretary.

In reacting to those reports on February 18, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that talk “would be wrong.”

Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Air Force remains on track; ex-Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) was chosen for that position.

But now, the President will need to make a second choice for both Army and Navy Secretary.

Trump speech to Congress this week offers chance to push agenda

Published: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 7:43 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2017 @ 7:44 AM

While President Donald Trump has spent a good chunk of time in recent days battling with the news media, his speech to a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday will give him the chance to spur some momentum for his legislative agenda, as Republicans struggle to find final agreement on a plan to repeal and replace the Obama health law.

“The theme of the address will be the renewal of the American Spirit,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who told reporters that Mr. Trump will emphasize a series of issues.

“The address will particularly focus on public safety, including defense, increased border security, taking care of our veterans, and then economic opportunity, including education and job training, health care reform, jobs, taxes and regulatory reform,” Spicer added.

The President could well use a line that was part of his Friday speech to a conference of conservatives outside Washington, in which he said it’s time to move on his campaign promises.

“The era of empty talk is over,” the President said to applause. “Now is the time for action.”

That line immediately reminded me of a similar declaration before lawmakers in 1996, when President Bill Clinton said that “the era of big government is over.”

One might also expect some direct talk to Democrats – since they will be sitting in the hall of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Trump did just that on Friday as well, with a little humor.

“I hate having a Cabinet meeting and I see all these empty seats. I said, Democrats, please approve our Cabinet and get smart on health care, too, if you don’t mind,” the President said to applause.

While Mr. Trump seems certain to focus on repealing and replacing the Obama health law, Republicans still have not produced their own plan – that’s expected to happen in coming weeks.

Kasich fights for federal health care funds

Published: Saturday, February 25, 2017 @ 3:25 PM

            Kasich fights for federal health care funds

Gov. John Kasich met Saturday at the White House with senior Trump administration officials to urge them to continue funneling hundreds of millions of federal dollars to the states to finance health care for millions of low-income people who have received coverage under the 2010 health law.

With congressional Republicans hoping to scrap the health law, known as Obamacare, and replacing it with a substitute, Kasich has mounted an effort to retain a key feature which expanded eligibility for Medicaid coverage, the joint federal and state program which provides health coverage to low-income people.

Kasich was one of the few Republican governors to accept the additional federal Medicaid dollars available through Obamacare, allowing 700,000 previously uninsured low-income people in Ohio to receive health coverage.

Following the meeting with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Kasich said in a video posted on his Facebook page that he was “expressing my concerns and some of the ideas I think (that) can allow us to reform the health care system, save some money, but yet make certain that people who need coverage that they’re going to be able to receive the coverage that they need.”

“All in all a lot of work, but it’s worth it if we can have this come out in the right place,” Kasich said in the video posted by his staff. “I cannot predict the future. But we are certainly doing everything we can do.”

Kasich also joined the nation’s Republican governors at a second meeting in Washington to press for support to retain the Medicaid expansion. Kasich is one of a handful of GOP governors trying to propose a compromise to House Republicans to at least provide Medicaid coverage to families at the federal poverty line, which is $24,600 for a family of four.

A Kasich adviser would not elaborate on the meetings other than to say they were “productive.” But there was no sign today the Republican governors are ready to forge a consensus on Medicaid.

The Hill, a publication which circulates on Capitol Hill, quoted Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada as saying staffers from his office as well as Kasich’s will continue to meet today on whether a consensus can be reached among GOP governors.

The 2010 health law extended coverage to more than 20 million Americans previously without insurance in two ways.

Middle income people who worked for companies which did not insure their employees were eligible for federal financial assistance to buy individual health plans through state and federal marketplaces, known as exchanges.

In addition, the law expanded Medicaid to allow families of four earning as much as $33,948 annually — which is 138 percent of the federal poverty level — to be eligible for health coverage. Ohio and 31 other states accepted additional federal dollars to provide for the Medicaid coverage, while 19 states did not.

But a fissure has opened between congressional Republicans and Kasich on Medicaid as well as the 2010 health law.

In a proposed bill outlined by House Republicans, GOP lawmakers want to scale back federal spending for Medicaid and eliminate federal financial assistance used by middle income people to buy private plans.

Instead, House Republicans would replace the subsidies with tax credits to allow people to buy their own plans.

In an opinion piece Friday in Forbes Magazine, Kasich suggested scaling back Medicaid coverage to families at the federal poverty line and provide federal subsidies to families of four earning between $25,000 a year to $34,000 a year so they could buy their own private plans on the federal exchanges.

Under Kasich’s plan, as many as 150,000 people in Ohio would lose their Medicaid coverage. It was unclear whether federal subsidies would allow families earning between $25,000 a year and $34,000 a year to receive the same kind of coverage that had through Medicaid.