First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter
The political status of the GOP’s health plan: Critical condition
We wrote on Tuesday that the House Republican Obamacare replacement plan faced four main political hurdles, and in the first 24 hours of being introduced, it already tripped over the first one — conservatives who argue it looks too much like Obamacare. Indeed, right now, the House GOP plan is going to have to fight a three-front war to survive, and we’re not even including Democrats here. The first (and most immediate) front of opposition are the conservatives who are calling this “Obamacare-Lite” or “Obamacare 2.0”; the second front are the moderates who want to keep Medicaid expansion and Planned Parenthood funding (which is irreconcilable with the goals of the first front); and third front are powerful/influential industry groups. Here’s where each of those fronts stand right now:
Obamacare-Lite!/We Want Full Repeal!
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
- Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)
- Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
- Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)
- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
- Heritage Action
- Club for Growth
- Americans for Prosperity/Freedom Partners (Koch Brothers organizations)
- Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon
- Breitbart News
Don’t Touch Our Medicaid Expansion!
- Sen. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
- Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Don’t Touch Planned Parenthood!
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- American Hospital Association
WSJ editorial page, Chamber of Commerce support the plan
That said, House Republican leaders got some good news yesterday when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page embraced their health-care proposal. “The House plan isn’t perfect, but it’s the only reform opportunity Republicans will get,” the Journal’s editorial page writes. And right now, that maybe the best argument that supporters have.
If the politics look bad for the GOP health plan, the policy might even be worse
Meanwhile, NBC’s Benjy Sarlin looks at the policies behind the House health-care plan, and experts say it has two main drawbacks — it insures fewer people, and it doesn’t drive down costs. “They rarely agree on much, but health care experts on the left, right and center of the political spectrum have found consensus on the House GOP's Obamacare replacement: It won't work. While their objections vary depending on their ideological goals, the newly introduced Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) is facing an unrelenting wave of criticism. Some experts warn that the bill is flawed in ways that could unravel the individual insurance market." More from Sarlin: “Let's start with the primary objection from the center and left: It's very likely people will lose insurance coverage if the GOP plan became law, taking full effect in 2020. Possibly a lot of people... Republicans have long argued that the goal of a replacement should be to reduce the cost of insurance and health care procedures rather than simply hand money over to individuals to buy it. But experts complain that the GOP plan leaves out the most prominent proposals (especially among conservatives) that might drive costs down. And some of its features could potentially drive prices higher.”
The Russia story still isn’t going away for Team Trump
"Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski approved foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s now-infamous trip to Moscow last summer on the condition that he would not be an official representative of the campaign, according to a former campaign adviser," Politico says. "A few weeks before he traveled to Moscow to give a July 7 speech, Page asked J.D. Gordon, his supervisor on the campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee, for permission to make the trip, and Gordon strongly advised against it, Gordon, a retired naval officer, told POLITICO. Page then emailed Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks asking for formal approval, and was told by Lewandowski that he could make the trip, but not as an official representative of the campaign, the former campaign adviser said. The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity because he has not been authorized to discuss internal campaign matters... Lewandowski told POLITICO he did not recall the email exchange with Page, but he did not deny that it occurred.
One of the reasons why Trump’s government is off to such a slow start
“Steven Mnuchin’s picks for the top ranks of the U.S. Treasury are stalled due to resistance from White House aides, including one recruit whose Twitter account was scrutinized for potential criticism of Donald Trump, according to people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg writes. “Bogged down are Mnuchin’s choices for his senior management team — deputy secretary, undersecretaries for domestic finance and international affairs, general counsel and several other posts, these people said. Mnuchin has complained privately to friends that President Trump’s advisers are hindering him as he tries to get the Treasury up and running.”
Hawaii files suit against Trump’s revised travel ban
“Hawaii intends to file a legal challenge Wednesday to President Donald Trump's new order restricting entry to the United States from six majority Muslim nations, the state said in a legal filing,” per NBC News. “Court documents filed in U.S. District Court of Hawaii asks a judge to approve a briefing schedule for a forthcoming motion seeking a temporary restraining order over the new executive order, which the state's attorney general has called a "Muslim ban 2.0."
At 11:00 am ET, the president meets with Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs… He has a lunch on the topic of infrastructure… He visits with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) at 2:30 pm ET… He meets with conservative leaders on health care at 5:05 pm ET… And then he has dinner at the White House with Ted Cruz and his wife.
What were other presidents doing on March 8?