President Trump “will sign an executive order on Thursday directing an overhaul of major federal regulations that would encourage the rise of a raft of cheap, loosely regulated health insurance plans that don’t have to comply with certain Obamacare consumer protections and benefit rules. … It’s not yet clear how far the administration will go, or how quickly it can implement the president’s order. But if successful, the new rules could upend the way businesses and individuals buy coverage—lowering premiums for the healthiest Americans at the expense of key consumer protections and potentially tipping the Obamacare markets into a tailspin.” (Politico)
Democrats have already signaled they will use the move to target congressional Republicans up for reelection. DSCC spokesman David Bergstein: “This order, coupled with the GOP’s ongoing sabotage of the health insurance system, will have an expensive and tangible impact on voters, and they will hold every Republican Senate candidate accountable in 2018.” (release)
IRAN UPDATE. “Republicans in Congress will face a wrenching choice if President Trump follows through on decertifying the Iran nuclear deal. Decertification would unlock a fast-track procedure for Congress to reimpose sanctions, leaving Republicans with two unappealing options. Snap back the sanctions, and Iran likely walks, killing an agreement that top administration officials say is in the national interest. Do nothing, and the deal likely stands, preserving a pact that Republicans have lambasted for years.
“For now, it appears that Republicans have little appetite for reviving the sanctions. Yet the pressure from hard-liners to act will be intense.
“Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA 39), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, signaled the GOP’s likely approach on Wednesday. He said the U.S. should demand Iranian compliance with the agreement but also impose new sanctions for activities outside the scope of the deal.” (The Hill)
TRUMP IN PENNSYLVANIA. Trump “took a victory lap in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, touting strong economic numbers as proof of his administration’s success, and calling on Congress to pass major tax reform to continue to spur growth.
“The Trump White House has delivered ‘incredible results and results that in many cases the media hates to report,’ the president declared, ticking off numbers such as low unemployment, growing GDP, and a surging stock market—trends that were well under way during President Barack Obama’s second term. The dig at the media came after Trump suggested earlier Wednesday that the government crack down on certain media outlets.”
“The speech marked a continuation of the president’s road show to promote tax reform and turn up the heat on Senate Democrats seeking re-election in 2018 in states he carried last November.” (Politico)
YIKES. In a revealing Vanity Fair piece, Trump reportedly vented, “I hate everyone in the White House!”
“Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision.”
Another account reveals that “several months ago … former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, ‘What’s that?’ According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30% chance of making it the full term.” (Vanity Fair)
MEANWHILE, OVER AT KELLY’S OLD SHOP. The White House announced on Wednesday that Trump “will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen to run the Department of Homeland Security.
“Nielsen served as White House chief of staff John Kelly’s top aide during his time as DHS secretary and moved with him to the West Wing as his principal deputy chief of staff when he was appointed in July, leaving the Cabinet post vacant.” (Politico)
COLLECTIVE YAWN ONSET. “As the 2018 midterm election begins, strategists from both parties are confronting a new, Donald Trump-affected reality: Revelations that would have once infuriated the public, even scuttled a campaign, now risk being greeted with indifferent shrugs.”
“Democrats and Republicans alike see recent instances where politicians have gotten away with things that would once have been disqualifying. It partially explains, for example, how the party could kick Todd Akin to the curb—he of ‘legitimate rape’ infamy in 2012—while this year embracing Roy Moore, an Alabama special election Senate candidate who was twice removed from the state Supreme Court for misconduct and has a long history of derogatory remarks about Muslims and gay men and women.”
“Of course, recent events have demonstrated that no matter the shifting standards, damaging information can still knock politicians out of office. Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, was forced to resign in September after a series of reports about his use of private flights.” (McClatchy)
IDAHO. “A former GOP state lawmaker has launched a new political action committee to encourage Independent and Democratic voters to register as Republicans so they can participate in Idaho’s closed GOP primary election.”
The group, Moderates Are Taking Hold, “will help educate Independent and Democratic voters on the importance of casting a vote in the GOP primary because Republican candidates rarely face competitive opponents in the general election.” (AP)
HACKING. “Google searches for hundreds of state and local Republican committees across the nation, including in Nassau and Suffolk, were altered Wednesday to display the bumper sticker slogan ‘Repeal and Replace Trump,’ with the ‘T’ replaced with the hammer and sickle, a communist symbol.
“At least 10 New York county and village GOP committees appear to have been affected, including in Huntington and Smithtown, along with GOP and Democratic committees in New Jersey, South Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, Montana, Alabama and Washington, D.C. Party websites or social media pages were not effected.” (Newsday)
POLL. “American voters feel better about the economy and good about their own pocketbooks, but still disapprove 56% to 38%” of the job Trump is doing, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll (Oct. 5-10; 1,482 RVs; +/-3). “Voters today say 55% to 43% that Trump is not fit to serve as president, compared to 56% to 42% not fit two weeks ago.” (release)
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After initially promising it in August, "President Trump said Monday that he will declare a national emergency next week to address the opioid epidemic." When asked, he also "declined to express confidence in Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), his nominee for drug czar, in the wake of revelations that the lawmaker helped steer legislation making it harder to act against giant drug companies."
In the wake of Sunday's blockbuster 60 Minutes/Washington Post report on opioid regulation and enforcement, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has introduced legislation that "would repeal a 2016 law that hampered the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to regulate opioid distributors it suspects of misconduct." In a statement, McCaskill said: “Media reports indicate that this law has significantly affected the government’s ability to crack down on opioid distributors that are failing to meet their obligations and endangering our communities."
"The United States military said on Monday that it would practice evacuating noncombatant Americans out of South Korea in the event of war and other emergencies, as the two allies began a joint naval exercise amid heightened tensions with North Korea. The evacuation drill, known as Courageous Channel, is scheduled from next Monday through Friday and is aimed at preparing American 'service members and their families to respond to a wide range of crisis management events such as noncombatant evacuation and natural or man-made disasters,' the United States military said in a statement."
Speaking at the Heritage Foundation Thursday, Speaker Paul Ryan threatened, "We’re going to keep people here for Christmas" if tax reform doesn't get passed. He added, "I don’t care. We have to get this done." However, hopefully this won't happen. Senate is set to pass a budget resolution next week and then resolve differences with the House. Hopefully the House will pass the measure and send it to the Senate by November.