Health insurance in russia: Will Dems ignore voters on health care again?

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**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up  here .** On the roster: Will Dems ignore voters on health care again? – I’ll Tell You What: A mauve colored brine – Trump dangles Manafort pardon – Pelosi clears first hurdle for speakership – Community chest WILL DEMS IGNORE VOTERS ON HEALTH CARE AGAIN?  It’s maybe not surprising given the degree to which our politics devotes itself to exploiting rather than solving problems, but it looks like we are headed for a third straight crackup on health insurance.  First, a little history. Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008 had more to do with the Iraq War and the financial panic than anything else, but the availability and affordability of health care was not an inconsiderable part.  Starting with prescription drugs and escalating through the Democratic primary fight between  Hillary Clinton  and  Barack Obama  over their competing insurance programs, the issue was front and center for years. And as long as the subject was being dealt with in abstract terms, it was all good.  But in the spring of 2009 as Democrats tried to bridge the divide in their party, Obama ended up with a program that proved unsatisfactory to most. The then-new president had misunderstood his mandate on the subject. Middle class voters were looking for cost relief, but the aim of his program was providing coverage for the millions who did not have insurance on a permanent basis. To address his goal but not lose support from moderate Democrats, Obama ended up with a Frankenstein program built around inefficient, disruptive cost shifting. He promised it would not only extend coverage to the working poor but also lower costs across the board.  He achieved much of the first goal through the expansion of Medicaid but failed terribly at the second, more politically significant aim.  While Democrats were busy trying to stand up and operate this  Rube Goldberg  contraption, Republicans were happily gloating. ObamaCare was persistently unpopular and failed to deliver on many key promises. “If you like it you can keep it…” But like the Democrats before them, Republicans were not listening to what voters were actually saying. Many Republicans believed that Americans were happy with the system prior to ObamaCare and that it would be simply enough to go back to the way things were. The GOP engaged in a great deal of magical thinking about undoing the Obama presidency, and this was the first and most egregious example.  After spending eight years running  against  ObamaCare, Republicans got a lesson in the careful reading of public opinion polls when they went to repeal the sucker. The majority that was dissatisfied with the law comprised two groups: Those who thought it went too far and those who thought it did not go far enough.  As they went to repeal the law, Republicans were surprised to find growing support for ObamaCare and sagging numbers for their own handling of the issue. Republicans had failed to craft a solution for the same problem that Obama had failed to address: Making care cheaper and more readily available for the 90 percent of Americans who have insurance.  Well, folks, here we go again.  A new survey out from the  Kaiser Family Foundation , the leading outfit for public opinion research on the subject, has what should be some sobering news for Democrats.  The group’s pollsters asked voters what health care issue they’d most like Congress to act on in 2019. Guess what topped the priorities for every group, Democrats, Republicans, independents and overall: Affordability and cost. In second place across the board was dealing with ObamaCare, and after that it’s a mishmash. But in last place? With just five percent overall: Health care/insurance for everyone.  Democrats were quite right to capitalize on health care in their 2018 midterm messaging. They enjoy a higher degree of trust among voters on an issue that regularly tops the list of concerns among Americans. But that doesn’t mean the same thing as saying voters agree with Democrats on health care.  Democratic socialists and other liberal activists are pushing to make “Medicare for all” a litmus test for 2020 and a central part of the party’s congressional agenda. They would not be the first to ignore the loud and clear message from American voters, but they certainly can’t expect a different result than we’ve seen in the last two clattering failures on the subject.  THE RULEBOOK: ‘EXCRESCENT POWER’ IS AN A+ BAND NAME “Out of this lifeless mass has already grown an excrescent power, which tends to realize all the dangers that can be apprehended from a defective construction of the supreme government of the Union.” –   James Madison ,  Federalist No. 38 TIME OUT: WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN  History:  “[On this day in 1925] The Grand Ole Opry, one of the longest-lived and most popular showcases for western music, begins broadcasting live from Nashville, Tennessee. The showcase was originally named the Barn Dance, after a Chicago radio program called the National Barn Dance that had begun broadcasting the previous year. Impressed by the popularity of the Chicago-based National Barn Dance, producers at WSM radio in Nashville decided to create their own version of the show to cater to southern audiences who could not receive the Chicago signal. Both the Grand Ole Opry and the National Barn Dance aired on Saturday nights and featured folk music, fiddling, and the relatively new genre of country-western music. … The WSM producers recognized that Americans were growing nostalgic for the rural past, so all live performers at the Grand Ole Opry were required to dress in hillbilly costumes and adopt old-time names. The four-and-a-half-hour Grand Ole Opry program became one of the most popular broadcasts in the South, and like its Chicago cousin, helped make country-western an enduring part of the popular American musical landscape.” Flag on the play? -  Email us at  HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM  with your tips, comments or questions. SCOREBOARD Trump job performance  Average approval:  40.6 percent Average disapproval:  55 percent Net Score:  -14.4 points Change from one week ago:  down 2.4 points  [ Average includes: Gallup: 38% approve – 60% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve – 54% disapprove; CBS News: 39% approve – 55% disapprove; Monmouth University: 44% approve – 49% disapprove; CNN: 41% approve – 57% disapprove. ] I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: A MAUVE COLORED BRINE This week  Dana Perino  and  Chris Stirewalt  discuss the power structure of the new Congress, the President's participation in the G20 summit and the necessity of doctor's visits. Plus, mailbag questions and trivia.  LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE TRUMP DANGLES MANAFORT PARDON NY Post:  “He’s never discussed a pardon for  Paul Manafort ,  President Trump  said Wednesday — but it’s ‘not off the table.’ ‘It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?’ the president said during an Oval Office interview. He ripped special counsel  Robert Mueller ’s probe and charged that Manafort, former political adviser  Roger Stone  and Stone’s associate  Jerome Corsi were all asked to lie by the special counsel. ‘If you told the truth, you go to jail,’ Trump said. ‘You know this flipping stuff is terrible. You flip and you lie and you get — the prosecutors will tell you 99 percent of the time they can get people to flip. It’s rare that they can’t,’ Trump said. ‘But I had three people: Manafort, Corsi — I don’t know Corsi, but he refuses to say what they demanded. Manafort, Corsi and Roger Stone.’ ‘It’s actually very brave,’ he said of the trio. ‘And I’m telling you, this is McCarthyism. We are in the McCarthy era. This is no better than McCarthy. And that was a bad situation for the country. But this is where we are. And it’s a terrible thing,’ Trump added.” Former campaign chief said to have been hustling for one –   NYT:  “A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations. The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence.  Rudolph W. Giuliani , one of the president’s personal lawyers, acknowledged the arrangement on Tuesday and defended it as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel’s inquiry and where it was headed.” Senate Republican leadership blocks Mueller protection bill -  NBC News:  “Senate Republicans blocked a vote on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday, despite a threat from a GOP Senator to hold up judicial nominees until action is taken on the measure. Critics of President Donald Trump in both parties have for months advocated for legislation to safeguard Mueller and his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, but the effort gained renewed momentum earlier this month when Trump fired former attorney general Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker , a controversial loyalist who has criticized the Russia probe before joining the administration. Advocates’ hopes were raised briefly when the second-ranking Senate Republican, Sen.  John Cornyn  of Texas, said in an interview that the chamber might take up the bill this week after all.” PELOSI CLEARS FIRST HURDLE FOR SPEAKERSHIP Politico:  “ Nancy Pelosi  has clinched the Democratic nomination to be House speaker on a 203-32 vote. But despite the overwhelming support, a vocal group of Democratic critics have vowed to defeat her during a floor vote on Jan. 3. Pelosi needs 218 votes to be elected. As Nancy Pelosi is on the verge of winning her party‘s nomination to be speaker in the 116th Congress, she met with three of her most vocal Democratic critics. Reps.  Seth Moulton  (Mass.),  Tim Ryan  (Ohio) and  Kathleen Rice  (N.Y.), who have led the anti-Pelosi faction within the Democratic Caucus, huddled with Pelosi Wednesday afternoon just prior to the caucus meeting, according to Democratic sources. The anti-Pelosi group held a private discussion on Tuesday evening, during which some lawmakers raised the possibility of backing Pelosi if she agreed to a transition timeline for new leadership, said the sources. But the gathering did not lead to a truce.” Trump claims he may use military if congress nixes border cash -  WaPo:  “President Trump said he is considering a backup plan if Congress rejects his demand for $5 billion in funding for his border wall, potentially including the continued use of troops and razor wire to prevent migrants from entering the country. Trump’s remarks, made Tuesday during an Oval Office interview with The Washington Post, are a sign that he could be softening his position on the issue ahead of a Dec. 7 deadline. Trump had previously declared that he was willing to force a partial government shutdown if lawmakers did not agree to the $5 billion figure. Republicans control both the House and Senate until the new Congress convenes in January. ‘We need Democrat votes to have a wall,’ Trump said. “Now, if we don’t get it, will I get it done another way? I might get it done another way. There are other potential ways that I can do it. You saw what we did with the military, just coming in with the barbed wire and the fencing, and various other things.” Schumer not backing down -  National Review:  “Senate minority leader  Chuck Schumer  said Tuesday that if the government shuts down next month amid a fight over funding for the construction of a wall at the southern border, it will be the fault of President Trump and congressional Republicans. … A new bill to continue funding the Department of Homeland Security would need 60 votes to pass the narrowly divided Senate. ‘Left to our own devices, the Senate and House could come to an agreement,’ Schumer continued. ‘The Republicans are in control of the presidency, the House, and the Senate. A shutdown is on their back.’ Schumer added Senate Democrats plan to “stick to the $1.6 billion” for the border wall that they have already negotiated with Republicans. CLOSER THAN USUAL, BUT NO UPSET IN MISSISSIPPI Roll Call:  “From the public hanging remark to her debate performance, it was pretty clear that  Cindy Hyde-Smith  was out of her league. … Former Rep.  Mike Espy  might have been a little rusty more than two decades after his last congressional run, but his biggest handicap was being a Democrat in a Republican state. After all the attention surrounding the senator’s ‘public hanging’ comment, where she went to school, and what bills she passed in the Legislature, Hyde Smith’s final percentage wasn’t dramatically different from that of a typical Mississippi Republican candidate. The Inside Elections Baseline Republican performance of Mississippi is 58 percent and Hyde-Smith received 54 percent. But Espy narrowed the gap, receiving 46 percent compared to the Baseline Democratic performance of 40 percent. … Even though the majority wasn’t at stake in Mississippi, the outcome is still consequential. Hyde-Smith’s victory gives Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a little extra margin for the next two years and it makes it one seat more difficult for Democrats to regain the majority in the 2020 elections.” Ducey gets pressure from D.C. to tap McSally for McCain seat –   WaPo:  “Days after the midterm election, Senate Majority Leader   Mitch McConnell and Arizona Gov.  Doug Ducey  spoke privately about a sensitive topic with far-reaching implications — the Senate seat that John McCain  held for three decades before his death in August.  Jon Kyl , the former senator Ducey appointed to replace ­McCain, made no promises about serving beyond this year. Most of his fellow Republicans are convinced he will not return in 2019 and Ducey will once again have to appoint a senator. In a telephone call confirmed by two people familiar with the conversation, McConnell (R-Ky.) told Ducey: If there is an opening, consider appointing  Martha McSally , the Republican congresswoman who came up short in her bid for Arizona’s other Senate seat this year. But some Republicans in Arizona, including those in Ducey’s inner circle, have reservations about appointing McSally. They have questioned her campaign’s strategic decisions and wondered why she was not able to win in a state that President Trump carried in 2016 and where Ducey coasted to reelection this year.” 2020 Senate map an improvement for Dems, but still tough –   FiveThirtyEight: “The Senate battleground is certainly better for Democrats in 2020 than it was this year, but it will still be an uphill climb. Republicans made a net gain of two seats this year, securing a 53-47 majority. This means Democrats must net four Senate seats in 2020 to recapture control — or three, if they also win the vice presidency. … There will be at least 34 seats up for election in 2020, 22 of which are currently held by Republicans and 12 of which are currently held by Democrats — a stark contrast to the 2018 cycle, when Democrats were on the hot seat. That said, to make the kind of gains they need, Democrats will have to overcome the partisan lean of some fairly red states, plus successfully defend two seats of their own in Republican territory.” Dems already lining up to take on Gardner -  The Hill:  “Community organizer  Lorena Garcia  on Tuesday announced that she’ll run for Senate in Colorado in 2020, becoming the first Democratic opponent to challenge Sen.  Cory Gardner  (R). Garcia, the executive director at the nonprofit Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, tweeted on Tuesday that she’s running against Gardner to focus on ‘economic equity for all,’ arguing for the need for a ‘new voice’ in the Senate. ‘We are at a crossroads in our history where we can no longer accept the status quo and must take action to fix our broken government systems,’ Garcia, a self-described progressive, said in a statement, according to the Colorado Springs Independent.” Byrne feeling out Sessions for 202 Senate run -  Yellowhammer News: “Congressman Bradley Byrne  (AL-1) has spoken with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions twice recently, with Byrne providing updates on his travels around the state in preparation for an expected 2020 U.S. Senate campaign. A spokesman for Byrne outlined, ‘Congressman Byrne has spoken with Jeff Sessions twice in the last few weeks. The calls were primarily just to check in, as they have been friends for years. Congressman Byrne told Senator Sessions he was continuing to get around the state to discuss running for Senate in 2020, but that was the extent of their conversation regarding the Senate race, to my knowledge.’” PLAY-BY-PLAY Sources say Trump doesn’t feel urgency behind choosing a new Attorney General  -  Bloomberg Illinois Democrat faces outrage after wishing death on family of Republican fellow legislator  -  WaPo Trump hosts Cuomo to discuss infrastructure spending  -  The Hill Yikes: ‘How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime’  -  Miami Herald

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