Fox News Halftime Report -- A struggling bill needs a super salesman

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Fox News Halftime Report

June 28, 2017

By Chris Stirewalt

 

On the roster: A struggling bill needs a super salesman - White House readies new push on immigration - Manafort registers as foreign agent - Spokesman for Trump legal team took millions from charitable donations - Clickbait


A STRUGGLING BILL NEEDS A SUPER SALESMAN 
It is dismissive and lazy for critics of the current administration to say that President Trump is not implementing his agenda.                         

As enhanced immigration enforcement continues apace, regulations remain in retreat and conservative judicial appointees are stacking up, Democrats delude themselves to say that Trump has been stymied. 

"The resistance," in this way, is a bust. 

Unless serious charges emerge from the special counsel's investigation into Trump's 2016 campaign, there is a strong chance that Democrats will have little to show for a level of obstructionism that surpasses even the enormous obduracy of Republicans under the previous president. 

But, by the same token, it would be a mistake for Republicans to think that they and their president were on the right track. 

At issue right now is legislation to address the impending collapse of ObamaCare in many states' individual insurance markets. Coverage for millions of Americans is on the line as insurers understandably recoil from potential losses and massive uncertainty. 

This is, in many ways, a make-or-break proposition for the GOP as the ruling party in Washington. Yes, Republicans have more crucial tests to face with the approach of steep fiscal cliffs in September, but dealing with ObamaCare looks now like a pass/fail test. 

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to try to impress upon the president and the rest of his party, the window for a Republican-only answer for dealing with what could be a calamity for many millions of voters, including those in electoral battle grounds, is closing fast. 

The idea of slapping together a long-term, large-scale set of sweeping conservative reforms is pretty much out the window, and has been for a couple of months. There is a conservative case to be made for the Senate legislation on the grounds that it is a more restrained approach to patching the existing law than Democrats would demand if Republicans miss their opportunity to make the fix under Senate budget rules that allow passage with just 51 votes. 

It may not be "repeal and replace," but that does not mean it's not important. Just because you've run out of time to cook a seven course feast doesn't mean you don't care what kind of sandwich you have for dinner. 

The president and his team are spatting with the NYT over a report from that publication that says Trump is not deeply engaged in the process of passing the legislation that may determine the fate of his party next year. And, lo, cometh the cry from thine Twitter machine "FAKE NEWS." 

On Tuesday, one of Trump's press secretaries even gave over much of one of the administration's rare press briefings to decry media bias and even get into a heated argument with a reporter from America's best-known nudie magazine. 

Last week, the president held a campaign rally in Iowa where he reprised his greatest hits, including long rifts against reporters and his critics. 

We will take the president at his word that he is deeply engaged and in command of the details as it relates to the ObamaCare patch now foundering in the Senate. But if that's so, why are he and his people keeping it such a secret? 

If Trump is holding rallies, why isn't he holding them to sell the proposed law? If his communications team wants to be stingy with reporters, why isn't there an intense focus on this legislation on the rare occasions they do engage? 

Complaining about press bias is getting to be a pretty stale cracker. There is serious work to be done for this White House and the votes held in the Senate over the next few weeks are of enormous importance to the rest of Trump's agenda and, more importantly, the well-being of the voters who elected him. 

One of the reasons that independents are turning their backs on Trump after bearing with the president for a few months is that little seems to be getting accomplished. 

That may be a somewhat unfair supposition influenced by negative press coverage, but if Trump and his party bungle a long-foreseen, much discussed crisis in health insurance, no one could blame a voter for being persuaded that this is a gang that can't shoot straight. 

Trump says Senate GOP 'very close' to agreement, okay if it fails - The Hill: "President Trump said Tuesday afternoon that Senate Republicans are getting 'very close' to passing their embattled plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but added that if it fails, 'that's OK.' 'I think the Senate bill is going to be great,' Trump said during a photo-op ahead of a meeting with nearly every Republican senator at the White House."


Democrats' 'resistance' calls for a July 4 recess push to kill GOP's bill - WaPo: "In the 'Senate swamp,' a well-kept lawn across from the Capitol, hundreds of activists from Planned Parenthood, AFSCME and smaller progressive groups were hooting and cheering their latest mini-victory. The 'People's Filibuster,' scheduled to last all week, had triumphed in its first few minutes."


McConnell's reputation as a master tactician takes a hit - NYT: "When Republicans from states that had expanded their Medicaid programs quickly found themselves at odds with more conservative members who wanted a large rollback of Medicaid, Mr. McConnell did little to allay those worries."

Poll: 17 percent of Americans approve health care bill - NPR: "Just 17 percent of those surveyed say they approve of the Senate's health care plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Fifty-five percent say they disapprove, while about a quarter said they hadn't heard enough about the proposal to have an opinion on it."

 

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"'If we fail,' Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Republicans who resisted the GOP healthcare bill, 'we're going to be negotiating with Chuck Schumer.' It was almost Trumpian in both its take-it-or-leave-it tone and as a stark declaration from a party leader of independence from the party. But it also raised a question: negotiating what, exactly? … If repealing Obamacare is the aim of the Republican healthcare effort, what possible common ground could McConnell have with Schumer?" – Timothy Carney writing for Wash Ex.

"Critics will disagree and quickly point out that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the BCRA would reduce the number of insured people by 22 million over 10 years. But a closer look at those numbers reveals that this is in large part about the flaws of the ACA. In 2018, the BCRA makes no changes to Obamacare other than to stabilize the Obamacare markets and eliminate the individual mandate. Result? Fifteen million Americans immediately flee the individual, employer and Medicaid markets and choose to be uninsured." – Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, for WaPo.


THE RULEBOOK: HEART AND SOUL 
"This strong propensity of the human heart would find powerful auxiliaries in the objects of State regulation." – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 17

TIME OUT: HARD TO SWALLOW
Have you heard the one about how World War I got started because of a young man's appetite for an early lunch? On the 103rd anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, a shooting that set off the most terrible war in human history, we point you back to Mike Dash's superb debunking of a persistent historical myth. Smithsonian: "Yet it might never have happened–we're now told– had Gavrilo Princip not got hungry for a sandwich. … It's an account that, while respectful of the significance of Franz Ferdinand's death, hooks pupils' attention by stressing a tiny, awe-inspiring detail: that if Princip had not stopped to eat a sandwich where he did, he would never have been in the right place to spot his target. No sandwich, no shooting. No shooting, no war.
 … And by portraying the assassination of Franz Ferdinand as a piece of outrageous coincidence, the story of Gavrilo Princip's sandwich makes it seem far less important to think deeply about the killer and his companions, and about their motives and determination."

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.


SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -18.4 points
Change from one week ago: +0.6 points

WHITE HOUSE READIES NEW PUSH ON IMMIGRATION 

Fox News: "The agency in charge of U.S. border security plans to start building prototypes for President Trump's proposed wall with Mexico later this summer. Ronald Vitiello, Customs and Border Protection's acting deputy commissioner, said Tuesday that four to eight companies will get contracts for prototypes in San Diego that could be models for the roughly 2,000-mile border. Companies will have 30 days to complete the models. Vitiello says it's impractical to build a wall on about 130 miles of border where there are already natural barriers, like lakes or canyons. Trump's budget proposal for 2018 includes $1.6 billion for 74 miles of wall in Texas' Rio Grande Valley and San Diego. There are currently 654 miles of fencing. … Construction has not begun and there has been resistance from Congress. The White House insists that the plan is on track."

MANAFORT REGISTERS AS FOREIGN AGENT
AP: "President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for political consulting work he did for a Ukrainian political party, acknowledging that he coached party members on how to interact with U.S. government officials. Manafort says in a Justice Department filing Tuesday that his firm, DMP International, received more than $17 million from the Party of Regions, the former pro-Russian ruling party in Ukraine, for consulting work from 2012 through 2014. Manafort is the second member of the Trump campaign to register as a foreign agent. In March, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn registered with the Justice Department for work his consulting firm performed for a Turkish businessman that he said could have aided the Turkish government. Both registrations came after the work had been completed."

House Intel committee interviewed Podesta - Wash Times: "The House Intelligence Committee interviewed Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign chairman John Podesta behind closed doors on Tuesday as part of lawmakers investigation into Russian meddling in the election. Mr. Podesta, who was targeted by Russian operatives as part of the cyber campaign launched during the election season, spoke briefly with reporters afterward. 'The president and the entire administration were dealing with an unprecedented incidence of the weaponization of the fruits of Russian cyber activity, and I think they were trying to make the best judgments they could on behalf to the American people,' Mr. Podesta told reporters after he was asked about the Obama administration's response to the Russian hacking."

Roger Stone set to testify next month in House Russia probe - Politico: "Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone is set to appear July 24 before the House Intelligence Committee, which is examining contacts between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign, according to Stone's attorney. The hearing will be closed, said Stone's lawyer, Robert Buschel. He said his client had asked for a public hearing on Capitol Hill to address his communications last year with Moscow-linked hackers and WikiLeaks, which published personal emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. 'We tried really hard,' Buschel said, adding that he was told by the GOP-led House panel, 'They're done with public.'"

Spokesman for Trump legal team took millions from charitable donations - WaPo: "President Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow was on his weekday radio show this month, defending the president vociferously, when he took a pause to highlight a charity that has brought Sekulow and his family millions of dollars. … The segment illustrates how Sekulow, the most visible member of the legal team defending Trump in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is poised to capitalize on his new role. Before Trump hired him, Sekulow had built a powerful charity empire, leading a team of [American Center for Law and Justice] attorneys who jump into high-profile court battles over such hot-button conservative issues as religious liberties and abortion. The ACLJ promotes its work zealously, noting that its representation is free of charge and dependent on the donations of supporters."

PLAY-BY-PLAY 
Elizabeth Warren tries to win back Trump voters in home state - WSJ

Three weeks after winning a House seat, California Rep.-elect still hasn't taken officeLAT

House Democrat's campaign arm taps Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos for "Heartland Engagement" Roll Call


AUDIBLE: TINKER'S DAAAAMMM… 
"Tinkering isn't going to work, from my perspective. There would have to be a major overhaul of the bill … to win my support." –Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talking to Politico.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
"Damn the torpedoes! The Battle of Mobile Bay. Have you ever visited Fort Morgan in sunny southern AL? Great look of the landscape and a historically ballsy move. Love the reference, Tom Petty not so much." – Jack Whiteman, St. Louis

[Ed. note: Fort Morgan is wonderful! Mobile is all together great, too. As a St. Louisan, you no doubt know the delights of the "Redneck Riviera," just as I did when my father took me as a wee pundit on a tour of Mobile and points east. I have been back since and have loved it every time. As for Tom Petty, give the guy a chance! While much of his work has tended toward fluff in his 50s and 60s, it has been very pleasant stuff, and musically quite sound compared to much of what else is out there. The 1979 album you referenced, though, is a great one. The first three tracks "Refugee," "Here Comes My Girl" and "Even The Losers" are all poppy, yes, but wonderful for a drive on a day with the windows all rolled down. The older I get the less judgmental I have become about bands and performers who have sought commercial success. I had my epiphany while listening to "Midnight Special" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I had long turned up my nose at the band's bubblegum take on roots rock, but realized I was simply depriving myself of the enjoyment of some great tracks that were quite fun. The snob is always the real victim of snobbery.]    

"Don't hurt the seniors as many are on fixed income and they WILL cast votes next election. Do more to reduce drug costs, limit insurance co profits." – Steve MayRochester, Minn.

[Ed. note: One of the reasons Donald Trump was so successful in the Republican primaries was exactly because of what you just described – senior citizens are among the most reliable voters and Trump's policy palette was a perfect match for many in that demographic, especially on programs like social security and Medicare. After decades of pushing that rock up a steep hill Republicans have essentially dropped the subject. One of the political liabilities of the current proposed cuts to ObamaCare, though, is that regulations that held down premiums for older beneficiaries particularly those just shy of Medicare eligibility would hit the Republican base, hard. One suspects that by the time the legislation is finished this key constituency for Trump will be further heard from.] 

Share your color commentary: Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

CLICKBAIT
KOMO: "Lt. Travis Adams with Mason County [Wash.] Sheriff's Office said Tuesday the strange incident started as a man was walking along Highway 3 north of Allyn dragging a dead raccoon behind him with a rope. The man had earlier found the raccoon, which had been hit by a car, and wanted to use it as bait for some type of crab pot. He didn't want to smell its pungent stench, so he was dragging it about 15 feet behind him. Some people driving by in a white SUV saw the man and thought he was dragging a dead dog behind him. This upset them, so they pulled over and angrily confronted the man. …then one of them pulled out a gun and opened fire at the man with the dead raccoon. The man was struck twice in the leg. … Detectives are still looking for the person suspected of opening fire. … The victim who was shot is expected to recover. No arrests have been made yet."


AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
"This is not a failure of communication as in 'Cool Hand Luke.' This is a failure of expectations. The country does not want to see the entitlements that were handed out by Obamacare retracted.  That's the issue. It's not communication. It's not the lack of coordination between the House and Senate.  It's the fact that Medicare was inflated." –Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier."

 


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