May 25, 2017: What 23 million? | A ‘Very Silly Budget’ | The Kasowitz Connection

1. AHCA Cuts 23 million. Hooray.

Well, the long awaited Congressional Budget Office score of the House Republican replacement of Obamacare is in, and this is the bottom line: if it passes, 23 million people will be booted from the insurance rolls by 2026. That is ugly math for re-election.

But many Republican outlets focused on the good news from the C.B.O., namely that the new plan, the American Health Care Act,  could lower premiums and reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion, while glossing over the bad news. The Fox News headline ran “CBO: House-approved health care bill to lower premiums, stabilize marketplace.”  The Daily Caller went with “CBO: ACHA could lower premiums.” 

According to The Washington Examiner, Paul Ryan, at least, was prepared for an aggressive defense of the ACHA:

The political nonprofit aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan is planning an advertising blitz to counteract a potentially bad score for the Republican healthcare bill from the Congressional Budget Office.

American Action Network on Tuesday announced a $2 million ad campaign in 21 House districts and national television, timed to coincide with Wednesday's expected release of the CBO analysis of the American Health Care Act, which passed the House on May 4.

What We’re Watching:

We expect the G.O.P. defense will solidify into a coherent narrative, but, for now, some, like the bloggers at TownHall, were using the-best-defense-is-an-offense strategy. Instead of focusing on Washington, they focused on Democrat-dominated California, where a bill has been introduced in the the legislature for single-payer health care.

The new system would more than double the cost of California's already-swollen annual budget, with no specific pay-fors in the offing.  Even if you assume that employers would dump all of their employees into the government system (how would that prospect go over with voters?) and the state could magically repurpose all of those dollars to fund the new scheme, California would still be $50-100 billion short.  Every single year.  This would require massive, across-the-board, economy- and -job-crushing tax increases on everybody -- including middle-income and working-class earners.  In other words, despite Democrats' leading gubernatorial contender actively campaigning on this ridiculous fantasy, California's single-payer dreams are likely to go the way of Vermont's.

2. Sap of the Moment: Katy Perry

Terrorist attacks invariably offer a chance for the Red Media to say I told you so. The horrific attack in Manchester was no exception. Conservatives of all sorts love to play the left as soft on Muslims, and the singer Katy Perry gave folks just the right opening to get righteous when she  came out and said “I think the greatest thing we can do is just unite, and love on each other… no barriers, no borders, we all need to just coexist.”

Jim Geraghty of National Review huffed:

I just wish there was someone around Perry who could pull her aside after a statement like that and say, “Katy, dear, a lack of unity, love, and coexistence is really not the problem here.”

If there were 20,000 people around the bomb as it detonated this week, 19,999 of them had no real significant conflict with each other. Whatever gripes, grievances, and problems they had, they had no murderous rage directed at another person. They just were there to either enjoy a concert or do their jobs at the venue.

There was only one guy in that whole crowd who couldn’t unite, who didn’t have love for anyone, and who couldn’t coexist with everyone else around him. And all it took was his bloodthirsty act to end young, innocent lives and create a lifetime of pain for so many people there that night.

3. National Review on Trump’s Budget: “A Very Silly Proposal”

There was fairly widespread agreement in the Mainstream Media that Trump’s $4.1 trillion dollar budget proposal was DOA in Congress. Perhaps because there was no way it could be enacted, the Red Media engaged the budget lightly:

National Review ran with a headline “The Return of the Naïve Supply-Sider ,” and then got into the meat of the issue:

“President Donald J. Trump has produced a very silly budget proposal. Thankfully, presidential budget proposals have all the effect of a mouse passing gas in a hurricane — Congress, not the president, actually appropriates funds and writes the tax code. Presidential budget proposals are not received as actual fiscal blueprints but as statements of priorities, and so we must conclude that President Trump’s top priority is refusing to deal with reality.” 

Meanwhile, LifeZette focused on Republican Senators who were being disloyal by attacking the budget:

Despite a profoundly skinny budget that eliminates deficits in 10 years, some Capitol Hill Republicans are unhappy with President Donald Trump’s initial defense bid in the 2018 budget negotiations. The usual suspects are led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is Trump’s leading critic in the Senate, and a determined advocate for massive defense-spending increases. 

Twitter, however, was much more intent on defending the proposal against  liberals who excoriated the White House for balancing the budget on the backs of the poor:

Trish Regan @trish_regan, Fox Business News, with 282K wrote (but later retracted):

 @BilldeBlasio says children will die bc of @POTUS budget cuts. Lies! Budget gives more power to each state to make its own decision on HC

Deplorable Me @chowdallas 11.9K followers wrote:

Dems are trying to scare ppl about budget cuts!  Don't let them go there!  Half of them don't understand it/the other half doesn't care!  

Charlie Kirk ‏@charliekirk11 with 156K followers said:

Trump's budget cuts domestic spending?  GOOD! Just a start. Slash and cut every program. Government is TOO BIG!

4. Appointing a Private Attorney is One Thing, Kasowitz is Another

Yesterday, Fox Business Network and ABC broke the news that Trump had tapped his longtime legal adviser Marc Kasowitz to serve as his private attorney while the special counsel investigates whether his campaign worked with Russia in last year's election. Mainstream Media seemed to think the move signaled the president’s concern about the seriousness of the investigation. But a columnist for Hot Air saw it as normal and even commended Trump’s decision: 

The attorney-client privilege is weak with White House counsels, which the Watergate scandal made clear; the White House counsel works for the people first, not the president. If Trump needs effective legal advice, he’d have to seek it out himself. Hiring an attorney isn’t an admission of guilt either, even though “lawyering up” carries that popular connotation. It’s a recognition that effective legal advice is needed, and since this investigation has proceeded to a special counsel, that’s also obvious enough to make this hire unremarkable — and prudent. Don’t read much more into this decision. 

Meanwhile, Fox’s take was much more critical. In an article, it quoted a prominent, unnamed  Washington attorney about Kasowitz: 

“The fact that he has been Trump’s lawyer for years will not be a plus,” said one prominent Washington attorney who personally knows special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller. “This pick will strike Mueller as strange.” 

Fox also pointed to media criticism of Kasowitz’s representation of Russia’s largest bank, OJSC Sberbank. 

What We’re Watching:

When in doubt deflect… A story getting a lot of play on social media yesterday was an article from Circa, a millennial-focused media outlet started in 2016 who gained influence in Conservative circles following its aggressive reporting on Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The article charged that once top-secret documents revealed that “The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.” 

Tweeted syndicated radio show host and National Review contributor Mark Levin:

Obama illegally spied on Americans for years.  Where's the special prosecutor?  

The reactions on the Conservative SubReddit were also outraged:

[–] Constitutionalist:

So, if I read this correctly, under the Obama admin the NSA basically bypassed the FISA courts willy-nilly, shared unmasked US identities in foreign surveillance acts on people like, say, I dunno, people contacting known leak points like Wikileaks or people involved in political campaigns? And then they disclosed it in the final days of the admin, in secret, and had basically all the detailed evidence of exactly of whose rights were violated and whose identities were compromised and to whom all deleted? Seriously!? 

5. #StandwithHannity

Speaking of hot social media topics, the feud between Sean Hannity and Media Matters is on. On Tuesday night, Sean Hannity announced he would stop his fulminations over the Seth Rich murder conspiracy story for now “out of respect for the family’s wishes.” He then attacked the watchdog site for running an ad with the headline “These are Sean Hannity’s advertisers,” Hannity told Huffpo that progressives were trying to silence his conservative voice. His Twitter rant was somewhat less measured:

Liberal Fascism. Mmfa is targeting my advertisers to silence my voice. They hope to get me fired. Rush, O'Reilly, Beck, Imus, & now me. 

Yesterday, many on the right used the hashtag #standwithhannity to voice their support.

Amy Mek @AmyMek got 2.0K loves for her Twitter poll:

If @FoxNews fires the incredible,  @seanhannity would you ever watch Fox News again?
#StandWithHannity #TruePatriot
Sean Hannity

And Charlene @HyvlMeditative got 301 loves for this:

Sean Hannity is 100% right, Seth Rich was murdered by @TheDemocrats which is why they want to shut him down
Not today Satan

6.  Fake News Poll Watch

The Hill published new poll results on fake news that should worry the Mainstream Media and represents a victory of sorts for Conservative outlets: Apparently, everyone has been tainted by the false news label.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the mainstream press is full of fake news, a sentiment that is held by a majority of voters across the ideological spectrum.

According to data from the latest Harvard-Harris poll, which was provided exclusively to The Hill, 65 percent of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media.

That number includes 80 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats. Eighty-four percent of voters said it is hard to know what news to believe online.

“Much of the media is now just another part of the partisan divide in the country with Republicans not trusting the ‘mainstream’ media and Democrats seeing them as reflecting their beliefs,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn. “Every major institution from the presidency to the courts is now seen as operating in a partisan fashion in one direction or the other.”

What We’re Watching:

Last night, the media -- with the help of Fox News staffers who were eyewitnesses --  broke the news that a reporter from The Guardian was body-slammed by a GOP House candidate in Montana, Greg Gianforte. Animosity toward reporters seems to have reached a fever pitch in some circles. The local paper, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle wrote, “There might be some Republican voters who will sympathize with the candidate” but the incident “is most likely to help his Democratic opponent.” Meanwhile, we’ve already noticed that some Republicans are rallying around the candidate’s actions on social media.