Eugene Robinson Live (July 18)

Eugene Robinson
Jul 18, 2017

Chat with Post columnist Eugene Robinson about his latest columns and political news today at 1 p.m.

Read Eugene's latest: This country deserves much better than Trump

Hi, everybody. Well, the GOP "repeal and replace" effort on health care is looking quite unhealthy. Actually, it's looking dead. The latest fallback plan -- vote to repeal now, worry about replacing later -- appears to have no chance since three GOP senators now say they will vote against even taking it up. According to AP, President Trump just said that Republicans should "just let Obamacare die" and that "I'm not going to own it." But of course he already owns it, because, you know, he's president. Maybe none of his courtiers has the guts to tell him how this whole being-president thing works. Let's get started.

I feel when we look back at the Trump presidency, we will see a wasted opportunity. He came in very much a non-ideologue, who could have really united the country with things like infrastructure and the healthcare idea he campaigned on. But instead, he chose to antagonize Democrats and took a very hard turn right. Not too mention his own insecurities.

There was an opportunity for a president who came into office having taken the policy positions Trump took. But there is no opportunity for Trump, because the problem is more than "insecurities." He is unfit to be president. And at his age, I don't believe he's going to change.

As thrilled (and not surprised) that the awful thing called a health bill failed, what was truly frightening to me was that Senators Moran and Lee would vote no because it did not go far enough to eviscerate the health insurance complex. I guess I shouldn't be shocked but I am. The idea that tossing 32 million people off insurance and essentially taking the oil out of the health insurance engine and thereby seizing that engine was something that they wanted to accomplish. On purpose. With enthusiasm. What rock were these people born under?

They believe, essentially, that health care should be left to the marketplace and that the government should play little or no role. I don't doubt that they sincerely hold this view, but it's crazy. There is a reason why every other industrialized country has universal health care. So should we.

I'm really trying not to be sarcastic here. I really want to know. Trump the candidate promised that, with his business background, he would make good deals for America such as bringing jobs back and keeping jobs here and ensuring we have a health care system through which everyone is covered, no one loses coverage and everyone pays less than under Obamacare. As president it appears to me that he has taken a hands-off approach to governing and has not involved himself in the details. He also promised he would be so busy working that he would rarely leave the White House. That doesn't appear to be true either. Am I missing something?

You're not missing a thing. So go ahead, be sarcastic.

What happens next? Scrap it, refuse to fund subsidies, start over, repeal only vote?

Hopefully, a deep breath. Then what should happen is that McConnell invites Schumer to lunch and they agree to work on improvements to the ACA. 

I'm a middle class retired guy. My friends, both Reps & Dems, aren't interested in building walls, Muslim banning, or even foreign policy. We are interested in lowering our taxes. Why has the Democratic Party conceded tax cuts to the Reps. The Dems should propose a bold middle class tax cut, thus forcing the Reps to lose this as an issue or to find themselves arguing against a middle class tax cut. This is an issue that isn't just targeting a particular group such as free tuition, but targets almost all Americans. A large tax cut as proposed doesn't even have to come to fruition. The proposal alone will give the working middle class something to rally around. Let's not concede "taxes" as a Republican issue & help the perception that lowering taxes is exclusive to only Republicans.

You're right that "Democrats want to cut taxes for the middle class, Republicans want to cut taxes for the rich" is better than any talking points the Democrats have put out there so far. In my opinion, the bigger middle-class issue is stagnant incomes. Tell people how you are going to solve that, and they'll pay attention.

Love this line from a friend-of-a-friend's Facebook post: "Poor Ann Coulter. Delta took a seat that was rightfully yours and gave it to someone else. Imagine how that felt to Merrick Garland."

No way I can improve on that line!

Sure we defeated a re-write of the ACA for now - and that's great. But will people be out on the front lines to raise the debt ceiling. Failure to get this done will spell disaster - in so many ways. Agree?

The administration and the speaker of the House both want to raise the debt ceiling. That should be enough. The question, obviously, is whether Republicans can get it together to do anything, even something this basic and important. But I don't know if public mobilization will help. For example, it doesn't get the OMB director and the treasury secretary on the same page. (At present, they are not.)

Now that the GOP health care bill seems doomed, what happens to party discipline? Do the renegades get punished, or are there too many of them? Part of me thinks that this is a watershed moment, and part thinks that the power brokers will just move on to their next, er, triumph.

With just a 52-48 majority in the Senate, and with an ideological spectrum ranging from Susan Collins on one end and Mike Lee on the other, I don't see how Republicans are going to do anything big without going bipartisan. The White House has indicated it might try to punish those who don't get in line, but threats -- such as, perhaps, funding a primary opponent against Jeff Flake -- will only make other senators angry. The Senate has always been more about persuasion than discipline.

Folks, if you don't see what is right in front of your face you are deluding yourself. Every single policy Trump advocates serves Russian interests. Weakening NATO and the EU, reopening Russian spy-nest compounds, lifting sanctions, pro-Russia GOP platform on Putin's invasion of the Ukraine, Putin-friend Tillerson as Secretary of State, purging state department of Russia experts, Russians in the oval office receiving high level intelligence, encouraging Americans to make the media the enemy, fight against each other, etc. And Trump "the fighter" hasn't issued a single word of condemnation against Putin, who indisputably attacked our democracy. Oh, and where are those tax returns? Wonder what they would show about Russian money flowing into the Trump organization (as his son has already admitted). America, you've been conned by the greatest con man of our generation.

There's a very tough editorial in today's Wall Street Journal -- not exactly a liberal rag -- imploring the White House to come totally clean about contacts with Russians, past and present. The fact that the president and his inner circle refuse to do so makes me wonder what they're still hiding.

Wonder why Dems didn't say, loudly, persistently, en masse : we're going to introduce a bill that would give us and our GOP counterparts in Congress the same health care that they are trying to foist on the American people. Force the issue every single day. Make the media ask that question of Republicans. Just seems like they cannot communicate and polls reflect that a majority of Americans don't think they stand for anything other than obstruction right now.

Obviously, Democrats need to get better at messaging if they hope to make gains in 2018. As for being obstructionists, well, some things need to be obstructed.

I've been seeing CNN and MSNBC anchors let Trump surrogates get away with dubious statements. I know folks like Cooper, Todd, Blitz, etc, are not ignorant, who what is it? Are they really that afraid to call out the surrogates (Jeffery Lord comes immediately to mind, and then recently there's Sekulow) for lying, are they unprepared for the interview, or are they just simply trying to increase ratings by letting the surrogates spout unchallenged nonsense?

Nonsense should always be challenged, and most anchors try to do so. 

do you expect to expand Medicare/aid in their states, in reaction to the terrible Senate health bill ? Do you think we might reach a tipping point that will make Republican voters support the ACA?

The ACA has been rising in popularity as voters consider the alternative. Republican governors may try to lead their party to sanity. I don't know if they will succeed.

Does the failure of the GOP health bill increase the odds that at some point Congress will seriously consider single payer? Or will the U.S. continue to be a backwaterv where the desires of funders override the common good?

I hope there are at least some Democratic candidates who run for the House in 2018 advocating "Medicare for all" or some other form of universal care. I think they might do well.

I thought the CEO model was to delegate, delegate, delegate, while he schmoozes for PR.

The president doesn't seem to know how the legislative process works, much less understand the details of policy issues. So a hands-on approach might not be an improvement.

What do you figure is going on inside the West Wing today? Recriminations between the Bannon/Miller/Conway side and the others? Who do you foresee winning this struggle for Trump's heart and mind (such as they may be)?

It's probably pretty ugly at 1600 Pennsylvania today. Given the administration's record so far, I think Bannon is "winning." He wants Trump to be a wrecking ball, and that's pretty much what he has been.

Good afternoon Mr. Robinson. First of all, do you think the Republicans will let Obamacare fail?

I think the question is whether they will continue to actively sabotage the ACA or not. McConnell is right about one thing: Health care is now the Republicans' problem. Whatever goes wrong, the party in power gets blamed. 

Hi do see any democrats willing to work the republicans ?

Yes, to make the ACA work better. No, if the goal is to strip coverage from 22 million people and cut $772 billion from Medicaid. 

Do you think Trumps plan for reelection is just to continue to pander to the base then drive the election into the dirt by mucking it up, saying everything is Fake News etc. I can't figure out why he has no interest in bringing in moderates and independents except for that.

Right now, his entire political strategy is based on keeping his base. I assume he feels that his base, plus Republicans who don't want a Democrat making Supreme Court nominations, might be enough to win reelection. That may well be wrong -- I hope it's wrong -- but it's not crazy. 

In "letting obamacare die", do you think that the Trump/Republican focus will become actually undermining health care to make sure it fails?

That has been the focus all along. The miracle is that the ACA works as well as it does, given all the GOP efforts to strangle it.

Does the GOP even have a line they won't cross on the Russia investigation? What could be proven that Trump and his team did with Russia that would make the GOP put country over party and move to impeach?

I have no idea. I have to believe there's a line, but where? Maybe the question isn't what Trump says or does, but how his approval rating with the Republican base holds up. If it takes a nosedive, I believe a lot of GOP officials will suddenly rediscover their sense of outrage.

I am 52 years old and consider myself center-right, and really am not too interested in getting taxes lowered... there are several items that take priority over just blindly cutting my taxes. Compared to the rest of the world, my taxes are pretty low. This is what has gotten the GOP into trouble... converting a generalized sense of less government is good into cut-taxes-at-any-cost mentality.

Today's GOP is not center-right, it's far-right. Radically so. The party has ideas about "small government" that are totally unworkable in 21st-Century America. 

"GOP health-care effort suffers another setback, as three Republican senators come out against McConnell's repeal-only idea." So what's Plan E...?

Pour a stiff drink.

And that's it for today, folks. Our time is up. Thanks for participating, as always, and I'll see you again next week!

In This Chat
Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson is an Associate Editor and twice-weekly columnist for The Washington Post. His column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. In a 25-year career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award-winning Style section. In 2005, he started writing a column for the Op-Ed page. He is the author of "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race" (1999) and "Last Dance in Havana" (2004). Robinson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and has received numerous journalism awards.
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