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First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter
Republicans set to give Obamacare repeal one last try
WASHINGTON — If we've learned anything from the health care debate over the last several months, it's that the GOP's Obamacare repeal efforts never die — like (take your pick) a Bruce Willis action hero or a horror villain. And ahead of the Senate’s September 30 reconciliation deadline, Republicans appear to be giving Obamacare repeal one last try with Graham-Cassidy.
The problem with this last (?) repeal push: It’s unclear if it will win over the same GOP senators who thwarted the previous Obamacare repeal effort — Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and John McCain, R-Ariz. Additionally, it’s picked up what seems to be this hard “no” — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — which means that Republicans have to win over TWO of these FOUR senators to pass the legislation via reconciliation. That won’t be easy.
NBC’s Benjy Sarlin breaks down what’s in Graham-Cassidy: “It would do away with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, subsidies for private insurance, eliminate the requirement that Americans have insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and payments to insurers to reduce out-of-pocket costs. In their place, it would offer states a new block grant they could use to spend on health care mostly as they saw fit. But the block grant would include less total federal spending, meaning states would struggle to cover the same number of people.”
Also: "It would slash the most from large blue states that spend more on health care, like New York and California, and redistribute it to poorer red states that spend less, like Texas and Alabama. Smaller states that rely on Obamacare's Medicaid funding, like Kentucky and Alaska, could be hit hard as well. In effect, the bill would open up all 50 states to major health care changes depending on their approach. Some might loosen protections on pre-existing conditions by allowing insurers to charge sick patients more or drop requirements that insurers cover certain essential health benefits. States also would not be required to focus their spending on low-income residents, who were the largest beneficiaries of Obamacare.”
There won’t be a full CBO score for Graham-Cassidy
Here’s one other disadvantage — or advantage — for this Obamacare repeal effort: There won’t be a full CBO score before any vote, NBC’s Sarlin adds.
“[T]he Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency that reviews legislation, announced on Monday that it would not be able to complete a full study by September 30. When the CBO looked at previous GOP bills that scaled back Medicaid funding and imposed caps on future spending, however, it estimated major losses from those policies alone. The CBO also predicted that loosening protections on pre-existing conditions would cause some insurance markets to become unstable and significantly raise costs for certain medical treatments while lowering premiums.”
“America First” comes to the United Nations
NBC’s Ali Vitali previews President Trump’s big speech before the United Nations at 10:30 am ET. “President Donald Trump will make his first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, projecting his ‘America First’ platform onto the world stage with an appeal for ‘burden sharing’ in the face of global challenges and putting North Korea squarely in his sights.
“Trump will call on nations ‘to do their part in confronting’ the threat of ‘rogue regimes,’ like North Korea and Iran, a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing on Monday,” Vitali adds. “The North Korea ‘menace’ will be a central focus of the president's address, the official said, adding that Trump will paint a picture of an increasingly dire situation in the face of inaction.”
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Making sense of last night’s new Russia stories
Two different Russia-related stories were published last night, and they both involve former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort. Story #1 via the New York Times: Mueller’s team has threatened to indict Manafort. Story #2 from CNN: The U.S. government wiretapped Manafort before and after the 2016 election.
Some nuggets from both stories:
- “Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry,” the Times says.
- “Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive,” per CNN’s account of the wiretaps on Manafort.
- “A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party,” CNN adds.
- “The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year. Sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI's efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives,” CNN also writes.
Debate night: Northam vs. Gillespie
At 7:00 pm ET, one of us moderates a debate between Virginia gubernatorial candidates Ralph Northam (D) and Ed Gillespie (R). The debate is hosted by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, and it will air on NBC’s D.C. affiliate — as well as the state’s other NBC affiliates.
The polls show that this gubernatorial race is close, and here’s what we wrote about the contest’s big stakes.
Roy Moore talks about “reds and yellows” fighting
We’ve told you about the controversial comments that Roy Moore, the frontrunner next week’s GOP Senate runoff in Alabama, has made over the years. Well, you can add another.
NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald: “Roy Moore … referred to ‘reds and yellows fighting’ in a campaign speech, a video shows. Moore, the ultra-conservative former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, lamented racial divisions in his remarks on Sunday. “‘We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,’ he said.”
“‘Red’ and ‘yellow’ are widely recognized as racial slurs. Video of Moore's speech was made public by a Republican tracking the race and first reported by The Hill. NBC News also obtained the video.
“Responding to criticism about his remarks on Facebook late Monday, Moore quoted the popular Bible school song, ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children,’ written in the 1800's. ‘Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. This is the Gospel. If we take it seriously, America can once again be united as one nation under God,’ Moore said.”