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The Washington Report – June 26, 2015
29 Jun 2015

The Washington Report – June 26, 2015

Momentous decisions made this week by the Supreme Court on Marriage Equality and Healthcare.


Congress leaves today for the 4th of July recess.  The Washington Report will be back on July 10th.


Joyce Rubenstein and the Capstone Team (John Rogers, Steve Moffitt, Alan MacLeod, Diane Rogers, Erik Oksala and Ross Willkom)

P.S. The Washington Report won’t be published next week … back on June 26th.


gay rightsDISCRIMINATION IS WRONG.  AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL NYT: “The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.”

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

– Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined in the opinion by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented and each wrote separate opinions.

JOHN ROBERTS FULL-THROATED DISSENT The Fix: “Today’s Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states completely undermines America’s democratic process.” That’s the bold statement Chief Justice John Roberts made in his principal dissent. In one day, Roberts said, the court has basically transformed the societal institution that has held together humanity for millennia.”


JOHN ROBERTS SAVES OBAMACARE, AGAIN NationalJournal: “Obamacare dodged yet another existential threat Thursday at the Supreme Court, making the law’s survival more assured than ever before. In a 6-3 ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court upheld Obamacare’s insurance subsidies nationwide, rejecting a potentially devastating lawsuit that had aimed to ax those payments to people in 34 states. The ruling is a huge relief for President Obama, whose signature domestic achievement was on the line; and for Republicans, who were deeply divided over possible “fixes” if the Court had ruled the other way. It’s also the second time in three years Roberts has helped pull Obamacare back from the brink of disaster; Thursday’s ruling came almost exactly three years after Roberts cast the deciding vote to uphold the health care law’s individual mandate. Roberts’s decision, joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy as well as the Court’s four traditional liberals, is a particularly strong, square win for the administration. Unlike its ruling on the individual mandate, this time the Court didn’t reach for a middle ground. There are no signs of a last-minute change of mind. The Court accepted pretty much all of the Obama administration’s front-line arguments in defense of Obamacare’s subsidies.”

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
– Chief Justice Roberts

CONSERVATIVES TO ROBERTS: TRAITOR Politico: “Conservatives were left baffled after Chief Justice John Roberts saved Obamacare three years ago. On Thursday, as the George W. Bush appointee again helped President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement avoid a potentially devastating blow, they felt betrayed. Adding to the sting: The chief justice wasn’t just along for the ride. When the court’s ruling allowing the law’s insurance subsidies to be offered nationwide emerged, he wrote the majority opinion and delivered it from the bench.”

TWEET DU JOUR — ‏@samsteinhp: “That Senate aide responsible for the drafting error in the ACA must be so f…ing relieved right now. If you’re out there, call me!”

antonin scaliaANTONIN SCALIA WENT FULL SCALIA IN HIS OBAMACARE SCATHING DISSENT … “PURE APPLESAUCEThe Fix: “In his 21-page dissenting opinion on the Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia went full Scalia. He suggested we start calling the Affordable Care Act “SCOTUScare” rather than Obamacare. He also wrote … “the Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years” and “will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence.”  Scalia criticized the Court’s interpretation, which he said “means nullifying the term ‘by the State’ not just once, but again and again.”  He called the decision “interpretive jiggery-pokery,” a “defense of the indefensible,” and “pure applesauce.” And he wrote about the “somersaults of statutory interpretation” the Court performed and said “words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.” AND IN CONCLUSION “[T]he cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites,” he wrote Thursday. “I dissent.”

You sure do, Justice Scalia.


REPUBLICAN VOTERS WON ON THE OBAMACARE RULING The Fix: “Whether or not Republican politicians consider Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling a negative for them is open to interpretation. The 2016 candidates have railed against it in press releases, but deep down inside, it’s hard to believe that they wanted to deal with the fallout of the nuclear detonation that a ruling against Obamacare would have been. They still have their political cudgel, and they don’t have to clean up a mess. WIN-WIN. And for Republican voters, the win is even clearer. HERE ARE THE NUMBERS:  1.8 million people in counties who voted for Obama might have lost subsidies.  4.5 million who live in counties that voted for Romney could have, too. Not all of these people would have seen big spikes in what they have to pay for insurance if the decision had gone the other way. But nearly nine-in-10 nationally receive some subsidy, meaning millions would have been negatively affected.”

RULING GIVES GOP A REPRIEVE Boston Globe “It allows Republicans to avoid the massive political backlash expected if the court sided with conservative plaintiffs and left more than 6 million people in 34 states without subsidies to buy health insurance. … Though the ruling guarantees that the … law will be a GOP rallying crying for a fourth straight election, there’s some evidence that popular opinion is shifting. A CBS/New York Times poll released Monday showed for the first time that more Americans approve of the health law than disapprove [47-44].”


SUPREMES ON HOUSING NJ: “Advocates for more racially integrated housing won a major victory Thursday at the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, the court said certain housing policies that put minorities at a disadvantage, even if they aren’t expressly intended to discriminate, can be challenged in court. The court sided with a community organization alleging that Texas’ housing department had improperly clustered Section 8 housing in low-income, high-crime areas — essentially preserving the segregation that federal housing law was designed to end. The question before the high court was whether the Fair Housing Act — a law intended to outlaw racial discrimination in housing — allows people to sue over practices that might not be explicitly discriminatory, but end up hurting minorities disproportionately.”


WHO KNOWS WHAT A ‘BLUE SLIP’ ISSUE IS? Politico: “The NDAA hit a ‘procedural hurdle,’ in the words of one House aide…. It was described as a ‘BLUE-SLIP’ issue. Under the Constitution, bills that raise revenue must originate in the House. ‘Blue-slipping,’ according to the Congressional Research Service, is when the House determines that a Senate-introduced bill violates this clause in the Constitution and returns it to the Senate. SASC Chairman John McCain worked with Senate leaders Thursday morning to quickly strike a provision in the NDAA to resolve this procedural issue that threatened to hold up attempts to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the annual defense policy measure. McCain got unanimous consent in the Senate to strike a little-noticed provision in the Senate bill, Section 636, which changes the way the Defense Military Retirement Fund is treated under the tax code. Other parts of the bill overhauling military retirement benefits are not affected.”


CURES’ BILL SPARKS GOP COMMITTEE CHAIRS FIGHT OVER HOW TO PAY FOR THE MEDICAL INNOVATION MEASURE NationalJournal: “For Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, just passing a medical-innovation bill is not enough. The term-limited chairman wants to knock it out of the park, sending a strong message to the Senate and securing a legacy item that could potentially save lives.There’s just one thing standing in his way: Austerity. Budget Chairman Tom Price is pushing back against the 21st Century Cures Act, according to several sources, wary of a bill that in his estimation creates a federal spending mandate by authorizing a five-year, $10 billion fund within the NIH. DILEMNA FOR GOP Voices in the party have for a few years been pushing to shed the draconian image of a party so preoccupied with budget cuts that they will not spend money on medical research or other worthy pursuits. But the party’s push for austerity has been a strong countervailing voice. … So Upton has been working overtime to get this bill through. He has more than 200 bipartisan cosponsors and on Wednesday was working the House floor to beat back any dissent. He said he hopes that by the July 8 target date for a floor vote, he can wrangle 300 to 350 supporters.The innovation fund, which would draw $2 BILLION A YEAR FOR FIVE YEARS and be offset with spending cuts elsewhere, would be overseen by the Appropriations Committees. But sources said those conditions have done little to allay Price’s concerns. IT’S COMPLICATED The measure’s fate was complicated further this week with the CBO handing down a $106 billion price tag between 2016 and 2020. Upton’s committee had worked to offset part of the bill’s cost with cuts elsewhere, and in part with savings from Medicare Part D. But several members objected, While CBO scored the NIH Innovation Fund spending as discretionary, it was intended to be mandatory funding. The rest of the money will go toward the reauthorization of NIH programs and is discretionary. … while Upton has said he wants a bill on Obama’s desk by the end of the year, the Senate is in no hurry. “We won’t finish our work until about Thanksgiving, but I don’t see that as any problem because we’re on a parallel track with the House, we’re working with the administration, and we’ll put our bills together in a conference,” Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in an interview.That, Upton said, is why he is trying so hard to not just pass the bill, but pass it resoundingly. “We think if we have a good vote … that sends a strong signal to the Senate that they should take a good look at this bipartisan bill,” Upton said.


TRADE BILL VICTORY FOR OBAMA The Hill: The Senate voted Wednesday to approve fast-track authority, securing a big second-term legislative win for President Obama after a months-long struggle.The 60-38 Senate vote capped weeks of fighting over the trade bill, which pitted Obama against most of his party — including Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). TRADE BILL VICTORY FOR McCONNELL & BOEHNER The Republican leaders worked closely with an administration they have more frequently opposed to nudge the trade bill over the goal line.


church memorial

While the golden age of print newspapers has passed, the front page still has the ability to shock, inspire and move us. Here’s the front cover of the Charleston Post & Courrier, last Sunday.  We Remember. RIP.

President Obama will speak today at the service for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator.


confederate flagTHE GOPS REMARKABLY RAPID POLITICAL SHIFT ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG The Fix: “On Monday, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) told America she would support an effort to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds in South Carolina. Haley said this was no longer a matter of debate between men and women who look at the flag as a symbol of a “noble history” and those who see it as a distinctive emblem of brutal oppression. … Using a slightly different but similar set of words, so did Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina vying for the White House, and the state’s other GOP senator, Tim Scott. So, too, did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. And so, too, did former governor Rick Perry, a Republican from Texas running for president, and former South Carolina governor and now-Rep. Mark Sanford. And, within moments of Haley’s announcement, two Wisconsinites — Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus — offered more tempered endorsements of the idea. Both said they supported Haley’s call for the flag to come down. By late Monday, the GOP speaker of the Mississippi state House said the Confederate flag should be removed from his state’s flag, too. DOING THE RIGHT THING It was as if some kind of interrogation room spotlight was turned on Monday and Republican officials all over the country suddenly, all at once, saw the flag in a new and different way. Of course, opinions do change. Circumstances can make even the most complicated issues clear and new constituencies matter. But it is also possible that what we witnessed Monday was a great flight to a new position now that it constitutes relatively safe political ground. Haley’s decision to go there — as the governor of the last state to fly the Confederate flag above its capitol dome — freed up others to say, “Me too!” [This] kind of mass and seemingly well-timed shift has been seen from elected officials many times before — most recently on the other side of the aisle (as many Democrats did on gay marriage).




JEB! 5 TAKEAWAYS on JEB LAUNCH Politico: “1. ¡JEB, the Latino candidate! From beginning to end, Bush’s campaign kickoff bore the stamp of Miami’s Latin flavor. … 2. Jeb wants to be the candidate of reform, not grievance. … 3. Jeb wants to change the legacy script. … 4. Jeb’s stances on immigration and Common Core distance him from the GOP base, but his Catholic faith brings him back into the flock. … 5. Jeb’s bringing hustle to the game, and trying to shake the entitlement rep.”  JEBS TOUGHEST STRETCH MAY BE PAST WSJ: “In some ways it’s the campaign being run in reverse order: Usually a candidate announces, then tries to take advantage of the surge of interest to raise money. … Usually high name identification is a significant plus … Usually, the ‘campaign in disarray’ stories come months into the effort.”


JEB AND HILLARY HAVE NO NEW IDEAS.  NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE “If a Rip Van Winkle of the Potomac awoke today, he’d just shrug and go back to sleep.” (by Michael Lind, Politico Magazine contributing editor …click to read entire article)


DONALD TRUMP’S SPECTACULAR, UNENDING, UTTERLY BAFFLING, OFTEN-WRONG CAMPAIGN LAUNCH and DONALD TRUMP’S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY IS GREAT ENTERTAINMENT. IT’S TERRIBLE POLITICS The Fix: “We are through the looking glass here, people.” “Reality TV star Donald Trump announced Tuesday morning that he’s running for president. … The prevailing sentiment seemed to be a collective eye roll and a laugh. That’s the wrong reaction. Trump’s candidacy is a terrible thing for politics, plain and simple. Here’s why: Trump can’t and won’t be ignored. Ever.

BEST LINE… “HE IS A CAR ACCIDENT CANDIDATE … You know you shouldn’t slow down to look but you know you will.”

JUST IN … UNIVISION CUTS TIES WITH TRUMP NPR  “Following comments Donald Trump made about Mexican immigrants during his presidential announcement last week, Univision, the nation’s largest Spanish-language TV network, has announced it is cutting ties with Trump and dropping plans to broadcast the Miss Universe Pageant (Trump co-owns the pageant).”

NOW THERE ARE 13 Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal aimed for creative — and likely hoped for buzz — when he announced his presidential campaign via video on Wednesday.


INTERESTING FACEBOOK DATA Politico: “… for each candidate’s launch day (conversation related to the candidate, for the 24 hours starting at 12:01 a.m. ET): 1) Hillary: 4.7 million unique people, 10.1 million interactions … 2) Cruz: 2.1 million people, 5.5 million interactions … 3) Rand: 865,000 people, 1.9 million interactions … 4) Ben Carson: 847,000 people, 1.5 million interactions … 5) Rubio: 695,000 people, 1.3 million interactions … 6) Sanders: 592,000 unique people, 1.2 million interactions … 7) Jeb: 493,000 people, 849,000 interactions … 8) Huckabee: 458,000 people, 814,000 interactions … 9) Perry: 422,000 people, 763,000 interactions … 10) Fiorina: 304,000 people, 515,000 interactions … 11) Santorum: 169,000 people, 266,000 interactions … 12) Graham: 84,000 unique people, 142,000 interactions … 13) O’Malley: 84,000 people, 120,000 interactions … 14) Pataki: 59,000 people, 81,000 interactions … 15) Chafee: 20,000 people, 27,000 interactions.”


A SUMMER READ RECOMMENDATION by EVAN THOMAS Often remembered as a brooding, vengeful, and almost cartoonish figure, his life was far more complicated than its caricature,” in The Atlantic, excerpting Evan’s book out June 16th, “Being Nixon: A Man Divided”: “Though he gave off every sign of being a man who totally lacked self-awareness, he was … engaged in a terrific, if only dimly understood, battle within himself to overcome his fears and agonies.”


ATES OPEN Financial Times: “Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is planning to double his personal investment in innovative green technologies to $2 Billion over the next five years in an attempt to ‘bend the curve’ in combating climate change. The billionaire philanthropist said he had already invested about $1Billion in dozens of early stage companies – including battery storage, next-generation nuclear and free air carbon capture – hoping they … develop ‘breakthrough’ technologies.”

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