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Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 12:47 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 3:51 PM
WASHINGTON — Following criticism from organizations representing older Americans, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., modified a health care bill he backs to help people between ages 55 and 64 buy individual health insurance policies.
In a letter to Congress and a TV commercial, AARP assailed the House Republican leadership health care plan which would replace the 2010 health known signed by former President Barack Obama and known as Obamacare.
The TV commercial, called “Stop The Age Tax,” runs an unusually long time of one minutes and 18 seconds. In it, a man in his 50s chops wood and complains the GOP bill overcharges “older Americans for their health insurance.”
So is AARP, which represents 38 million people, correct? Let’s check.
How does the House Republican leadership bill change the individual market?
Under Obamacare, a family of four earning between $34,000 and $98,000 a year a year can receive subsidies to buy individual polices through the exchanges. The Republicans would scrap the subsidies and substitute a refundable tax credit ranging from $2,000 a year to $4,000 a year based on how old you are as opposed to income. A 27-year-old would be eligible for the $2,000 credit while a 60-year-old would be eligible for the $4,000 credit. When an individual earns more than $75,000 a year, the refundable tax credit is slowly phased out.
What is a refundable tax credit?
Unlike an ordinary tax credit, a refundable tax credit means an individual can receive more federal dollars as a refund than they actually paid in taxes.
How does the Republican refundable tax credit compare to the Obamacare subsidies people receive to buy individual policies in the exchanges?
Depends on your age and where you live. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a 27-year-old earning $30,000 a year in Montgomery County would receive a $2,000 tax credit under the Republican bill to buy an individual policy compared to $480 subsidy under current law. A 40-year-old would receive a $3,000 refundable tax credit compared to $1,130 under Obamacare. But a 60-year-old earning $30,000 a year would receive the $4,000 refundable tax credit under the GOP bill compared to $5,190 a year under Obamacare.
What if you earn more money?
Kaiser calculates a 27-year-old in Montgomery County earning $50,000 a year would receive a $2,000 a year tax credit under the Republican plan compared to nothing under Obamacare. A 40-year-old would receive a $3,000 tax credit compared to nothing under Obamacare. By contrast, a 60-year-old earning $50,000 annually would receive a $4,000 tax credit under the GOP bill versus a $2,570 subsidy.
What if you live in a different county?
You can use the following link to check for yourself: http://kff.org/interactive/tax-credits-under-the-affordable-care-act-vs-replacement-proposal-interactive-map/
Are deductibles higher under the Republican plan?
According to Kaiser, the answer is yes. Kaiser projects that the average deductible for a typical plan in the individual market would be $1,550 a year higher under the GOP bill than Obamacare — climbing from $2,550 to $4,100.
Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of Kaiser, wrote Wednesday that “if people have modest means and limited tax credits, and coverage is expensive, they will mostly buy health plans with lower premiums — and high deductibles.”
Any other changes that could hurt someone older?
Under Obamacare, insurers cannot charge premiums to older people that are more than three times what they charge younger people. Under the House Republican plan, they can charge five times what they charge younger people.
So it appears if you are older and earn less, you do not do not do as well under the GOP plan as Obamacare?
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 10:13 PM
For the second time in a week, late decisions by a pair of GOP Senators provided the margin of victory for a nominee of President Donald Trump, as after fears of a rare confirmation rebuke, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday got in line behind the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, setting up a vote later this week for his confirmation in the full Senate.
The key votes were delivered by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – who last week made a late switch to help salvage the nomination of Mr. Trump’s choice to run NASA – and by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who had talked for weeks that he would never vote to shift the CIA Director over to the post of Secretary of State.
But after a late lobbying effort by President Trump, Paul stuck with the White House on Pompeo.
“I have changed my mind,” Paul said at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Back in March when the President fired Rex Tillerson from the Secretary of State’s job, Paul had made clear he was not going to vote for Pompeo, worried the CIA chief was too set on excessively using U.S. military force around the world.
Labeling Pompeo a “neocon,” Paul had said at the time that he would not vote for the CIA chief, worried that Pompeo was too much like the Republican Party that strongly backed with war in Iraq on Saddam Hussein.
“I simply cannot support Pompeo’s nomination to be our chief diplomat,”
the Kentucky Republican made clear.
But after talks with Pompeo and the President, Paul gave in.
The late changes saved the GOP from an embarrassing foreign policy setback for the President – at a time when he is hosting the French President, and will later in the week receive the German Chancellor.
“He is extremely qualified for the position,” the President’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued for Pompeo, as she joined GOP Senators in reminding Democrats of the bipartisan votes for past Secretaries of State.
“John Kerry was confirmed 94-3. Hillary Clinton was confirmed 94-2. Condoleezza Rice was confirmed 85-13. Colin Powell was confirmed unanimously by voice vote,” Sanders told reporters.
The turn of events came hours after the President had blasted Democrats for delaying many of his nominees, by stretching out debate time on the Senate floor, leaving little time for work on legislation.
While the President accurately nicked the Democrats for slow-walking many nominations on the Senate floor, certain high-profile choices like Pompeo, Jim Bridenstine for NASA, and Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell have been held up in the Senate not because of Democrats – but because of a lack of unity among Republicans.
For example, Grenell’s nomination was sent to the Senate floor back on January 18. While Democrats did object to action in March, there has been no effort by Senate Republicans to hold a vote – which likely means there aren’t fifty votes for his nomination.
When Monday began, that was in question for Pompeo as well, but the support of Paul, Flake, and a handful of Democrats, means the President will get his Secretary of State.
“The President deserves to have a Secretary of State that agrees with him or her, in general, on a foreign policy direction,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as he argued for Pompeo’s approval.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:12 PM
Ending almost fourteen months of temporary leadership at NASA, Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma was sworn in Monday afternoon as the new leader of the space agency, as Trump Administration officials vow that Bridenstine will help revive manned space exploration efforts by the United States.
After taking the oath – with his wife and three children at his side – Bridenstine told NASA employees that he was committed to seeing that the U.S. remains the world’s leader in space.
“I will do my best to serve our storied agency to the utmost of my abilities, as we reach for new heights, as we reveal the unknown for the benefit for human kind,” Bridenstine said.
“NASA represents what is best about the United States of America,” Bridenstine added.
“We lead, we discover, we pioneer and we inspire. I look forward to our journey together.”
“It’s an important moment in the life of this agency,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who trekked over to NASA Headquarters for the swearing-in, again saying that President Trump is strongly behind a forward-looking NASA.
“We will send American astronauts back to the moon,” Pence said,’ vowing that the Trump Administration will lay the groundwork for travels to Mars.
“And NASA will lead the way,” the Vice President said to applause.
Bridenstine’s nomination was bitterly opposed by many Democrats in the Congress, who bristled at his conservative political views, and questioned his lack of space expertise, which also gave a handful of GOP Senators second thoughts.
But after months of delay, the White House was able to convince Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to vote for Bridenstine, pushing him over the top to a bare majority confirmation vote of 50-49 last week.
Bridenstine inherits an agency which just saw a big boost in its budget courtesy of a recent spending deal in the Congress, as NASA for the first time now has a yearly budget of over $20 billion.
“He will be an excellent leader,” said Rep. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was one of a handful of lawmakers there for the ceremony.
After the swearing-in and Bridenstine’s remarks, NASA then checked in by video relay with several astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
“I thank you for being part of the vanguard in space,” said the Vice President.
Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 9:57 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 9:08 PM
WASHINGTON — Omarosa Manigault Newman, the “Apprentice” star turned White House aide, was removed from the White House Tuesday night,“physically dragged and escorted off the campus,” according to several news reports.
Manigault Newman announced her resignation on Wednesday, effective next month.
Update Dec 13, 2017 8:44 PM EST: Manigault Newman's departure came after a dust-up with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to White House correspondent April Ryan, who described a "vulgar" exchange on CNN between Manigault Newman and Kelly when the former reality TV star was barred from the president's residence Tuesday night.
The Wall Street Journal confirmed Ryan's account, although the Secret Service denied its agents were the ones that "physically" removed Manigault Newman from the White House.
Reporting regarding Secret Service personnel physically removing Omarosa Manigault Newman from the @WhiteHouse complex is incorrect.— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) December 13, 2017
The Secret Service was not involved in the termination process of Ms Manigault Newman or the escort off of the complex. Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual's pass which grants access to the complex.— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) December 13, 2017
Original report: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Manigault Newman’s resignation is effective Jan. 20, 2018, on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.
“We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service,” Huckabee Sanders said.
WH confirms Omarosa has resigned. pic.twitter.com/F56UMzh4NF— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 13, 2017
Contrary to the White House statement, sources told reporter April Ryan and The New York Times's Yamichi Alcindor that Manigault Newman did not resign. Instead, sources said she was fired Tuesday.
According to multiple sources Omarosa did not resign. She was even escorted out of he building and off campus.— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) December 13, 2017
On Omarosa's exit: I just talked to sources who tell me Omarosa was let go yesterday and that she was escorted off of the White House grounds by security. They say she is now calling friends saying that she left voluntarily because her year anniversary was coming up.— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) December 13, 2017
Manigault Newman serves as the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. She previously served as Trump's chief adviser on African-American issues in the White House, according to The Hill.
Manigault Newman was one of Trump's most prominent African-American supporters. The president thanked her in February during an event for African-American History Month, saying that she was "very special."
"I want to thank my television star over here," Trump said at the Feb. 1 event, referencing Manigault Newman's time on his business reality show competition, "The Apprentice."
"Omarosa is actually a very nice person. Nobody knows that, but I don’t want to destroy her reputation. She is a very good person and she’s been helpful right from the beginning of the campaign. And I appreciate it. I really do."
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:52 PM
After a two-day meeting last week with the Japanese Prime Minister in Florida, more diplomacy is in the future for President Donald Trump this week, as he receives two major European leaders at the White House, with the French President and German Chancellor coming to Washington, D.C. for meetings with Mr. Trump.
One of the main topics is expected to be the Iran nuclear deal, which the President has repeatedly threatened to abandon; that threat will draw the attention of both the French and German leaders.
“Would it be a mistake for the President to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal?” Macron was asked on Fox News Sunday.
“I don’t have any plan B for nuclear against Iran,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.
Here are some of the issues likely to come up this week as Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold separate talks with Mr. Trump:
1. Iran nuclear deal squarely in Trump’s focus. Since way back on the 2016 campaign, President Trump has made clear that he wants to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, but aides so far have steered him clear of that move, arguing the agreement includes not only the U.S., but Europe as well. Mr. Trump’s latest deadline for action is May 12, when another waiver of economic sanctions against Iran is due for action by the President. It’s not clear what type of deal the U.S. and Europe could develop which would be accepted by Iran. And it’s an issue that certainly has the attention of much of Europe.
2. Trump continues to ruffle feathers over trade. Whether it is with American farmers or foreign governments, the President’s push to levy new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, as well as possibly billions of dollars in products from China, the President has roiled world markets and relations with other world leaders, as many in his own party warn against starting a trade war with Beijing. In order to get his message directly to Mr. Trump, the French leader went on Fox News Sunday to say that the idea of tariffs on friends is not a good strategy for dealing with allies like France. It’s still not clear if Europe will get an exemption from the new steel and aluminum tariffs.
3. Nailing down the details of a Kim Jong Un summit. As Macron and Merkel arrive, the President and the White House seem certain to be pressed this week on what’s next with scheduling a meeting between Mr. Trump and the North Korean leader. Some reports have indicated that such a summit would take place in Europe – Sweden and Switzerland have been mentioned as possible sites – but so far, nothing has been hammered out. On Sunday, Mr. Trump mocked those who have raised questions over what might be achieved with a U.S.-North Korean summit. “Funny how all of the Pundits that couldn’t come close to making a deal on North Korea are now all over the place telling me how to make a deal!” the President tweeted.
4. Mar-a-Lago no refuge from Russia probe; neither is DC. While the President was at his Florida retreat for six days last week, the Russia probe continued to rage around Mr. Trump – and Mr. Trump seems certain to hear more about this week, whether it’s the fallout from the release of memos by former FBI Director James Comey, or other items. At a news conference with the Japanese Prime Minister in Florida, the President told reporters, ‘there was no collusion with Russia.’ Over the weekend, Mr. Trump continued his Twitter jabs at Comey, labeling him a “proven liar and leaker.” The President even seemed to take a shot at his Attorney General as well over investigating Comey and Hillary Clinton.
5. The President’s personal lawyer remains in legal limbo. After challenging the legality of an April 9 FBI raid, Michael Cohen will evidently not be getting any quick action on his effort to suppress any evidence uncovered by the feds. A special FBI team will be able to continue to evaluate evidence seized, as the judge in the case set a status hearing on the matter for May 24 – almost five weeks from now. Federal Judge Kimba Wood has said she might let the FBI “taint team” review the evidence, or appoint a ‘special master’ to oversee any questions about attorney-client privilege involving Cohen and the President. That is not good news for Cohen, and not good news for the White House, as this story may not be going anywhere before Memorial Day.