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Trump defends GOP health care bill, blasts Obamacare

President Donald Trump is pictured.

"Democrats slam GOP healthcare proposal as Obamacare premiums & deductibles increase by over 100%," President Donald Trump tweeted. | Getty

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Republican governors could be secret weapon against health care bill

Brian Sandoval is pictured. | AP

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is a Republican moderate who has hammered the repeal efforts for months. | AP Photo

A handful of GOP governors opposed to their party’s proposals to overhaul Medicaid could potentially kill Mitch McConnell’s effort to repeal Obamacare.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican moderate who has hammered the repeal efforts for months, helped to deliver Sen. Dean Heller to the “no” column Friday. He stood next to Heller in the governor’s conference room in Las Vegas as the Nevada Republican announced he could not vote for the Senate repeal plan as written.

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“I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” said Heller, becoming the fifth senator to go public with a threat to vote against the bill since it was unveiled. “It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes.”

Other GOP governors, including Ohio’s John Kasich and Arizona’s Doug Ducey, are pressing their own lawmakers — including Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — to oppose or alter provisions the state executives fear would cut billions in Medicaid funding to their budgets over the next decade.

Governors have no authority over their lawmakers, of course, and their sway is as much about personal relationships as it is about state politics. But even a handful of strongly opposed Republican governors could provide political cover for their senators to oppose the legislation.

And that could be a problem for McConnell, who can afford to lose only two of his 52 members to pass the bill, which could see a floor vote as soon as next week.

Kasich, for instance, whose state expanded Medicaid, has spearheaded much of the opposition to GOP plans to restructure Medicaid, but it is unclear yet whether he has persuaded Sen. Rob Portman, the state’s one GOP senator.

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"Gov. Kasich is going to speak out every day until the vote is taken," said John Weaver, a Republican political strategist who advises Kasich. “What influence that has on Rob Portman? I have no idea."

Portman is among the moderates also being wooed by McConnell. A co-leader of a group of GOP senators from states that expanded Medicaid, the Ohio senator has sought a longer phase-out of that program and wants more money to address the opioid crisis since many substance abusers have gotten treatment through Medicaid. He has not said how he plans to vote.

Ducey, meanwhile, wrote a letter to McCain obtained by POLITICO expressing support for repealing Obamacare, which he called "a policy disaster," but outlining his objections to the Senate draft: He complained about a three-year phase-out of Medicaid expansion funding, saying he would not have enough time to plug holes in the state’s budget.

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May’s rights offer falls flat on its face

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Macron’s EU charm offensive stops at Eastern Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands as he arrives at the Europa Building in Brussels | John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

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‘Trump Is What Happens When a Political Party Abandons Ideas’

Almost two years ago, I wrote an article for Politico endorsing Donald Trump for president. It was a tongue-in-cheek effort—I “supported” Trump only because I thought he would lose to Hillary Clinton, disastrously, and that his defeat would cleanse the Republican Party of the extremism and nuttiness that drove me out of it. I had hoped that post-2016, what remained of the moderate wing of the GOP would reassert itself as it did after the Goldwater debacle in 1964, and exorcise the crazies.

Trump was a guaranteed loser, I thought. In the Virginia presidential primary, I even voted for him, hoping to hasten the party’s demise. In the weeks before the November election, I predicted a Clinton presidency would fix much of what ails our country. On November 8, I voted for Clinton and left the ballot booth reasonably sure she would win.

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Needless to say, I was as dumbfounded by the election results as Max Bialystock was by the success of “Springtime for Hitler.” For two months after Trump won, I couldn’t read any news about the election, and considered abandoning political commentary permanently. It wasn’t just that Trump disgusted me; I was disgusted with myself for being so stupid. I no longer trusted my own powers of observation and analysis.

Almost everything that has happened since November 8 has been the inverse of what I’d imagined. Trump didn’t lose; he won. The Republican Party isn’t undergoing some sort of reckoning over what it believes; his branch of the Republican Party has taken control. Most troubling, perhaps, is that rather than reassert themselves, the moderate Republicans have almost all rolled over entirely.

Trump has turned out to be far, far worse than I imagined. He has instituted policies so right wing they make Ronald Reagan, for whom I worked, look like a liberal Democrat. He has appointed staff people far to the right of the Republican mainstream in many positions, and they are instituting policies that are frighteningly extreme. Environmental Protection Administration Administrator Scott Pruitt proudly denies the existence of climate change, and is doing his best to implement every item Big Oil has had on its wish list since the agency was established by Richard Nixon. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is actively hostile to the very concept of public education and is doing her best to abolish it. Every day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions institutes some new policy to take incarceration and law enforcement back to the Dark Ages. Trump’s proposed budget would eviscerate the social safety net for the sole purpose of giving huge tax cuts to the ultrawealthy.

And if those policies weren’t enough, conservatives—who, after all, believe in liberty and a system of checks and balances to restrain the government to its proper role—have plenty of reason to be upset by those actions Trump has taken that transcend our traditional right-left ideological divide. He’s voiced not only skepticism of NATO, but outright hostility to it. He’s pulled America back from its role

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