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In defeat, Clinton supporters despair, float conspiracies


NEW YORK — Dedicated Hillary Clinton supporters accepted final defeat Wednesday morning even as they struggled to accept that their candidate lost badly to GOP nominee Donald Trump.

No fewer than seven campaign volunteers and supporters declined the day after the election to speak with the Washington Examiner as they trickled out of the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel in New York City where they had gathered to witness the public surrender of their failed candidate.

Each supporter turned down requests for comment with the same basic response: I really don’t want to talk about it.

Those who did speak with the Examiner seemed resigned to the outcome of Nov. 8, though they also signaled they were open to the possibility of a rigged election.

“If it’s a rigged election, then good for [Trump]!” one Florida supporter said ruefully.

Another Clinton campaign volunteer, this one hailing from California, told the Examiner, “All this polling showed Clinton way ahead. So how do you explain that? The discrepancy here, particularly in a state like Pennsylvania?”

In the final days of the 2016 election, Clinton lead Trump in the Keystone State by 2 points, according to a RealClearPolitics polling average.

Trump went on to win Pennsylvania by 1.2 points.

The Californian Clinton supporter had a couple of suggestions for why the election outcome differed so greatly from what polling data showed.

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“I’m thinking back to the Russian hacking that Pennsylvania was vulnerable to because they have voting machines with no paper trail,” he told the Examiner. “And when you take a state like Pennsylvania, maybe there are not enough states across the country to explain, but in Pennsylvania, for example, you know — has there been some manipulation or is this really the way people voted? I find it perplexing.”

“It’s that unbelievable to me,” he added.

Clinton’s concession speech Wednesday morning, which was delivered before a gathering of aides, media and volunteers, included an apology to her campaign staff.

“This is painful, and it will be for a long time. I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the values we hold and the vision we have for this country,” she said. “I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too.”

Clinton also said she would respect the outcome of the election, and encouraged voters everywhere to do the same and give Trump a chance.

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“I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans,” she said. “Trump is going to be our next president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

Her speech came a few hours after she dispatched her campaign chairman, John Podesta, to her election night rally at the Javits Center in New York City to tell supporters to go to home, and to let them know that she would fight on until the last vote was counted.

“They’re still counting votes. Every vote should count,” Podesta said to cheers at around 2:00 am Eastern Time. “Several states are too close to call. So we’re not going to have anything more to say tonight.”

He then encouraged the Democratic nominee’s supporters to get some rest, and ended his brief remarks with a simple, “Good night!”

Minutes after Podesta left the Javitz Center, and as supporters continued to stream out into the brisk New York morning, Clinton privately conceded the election to Trump in phone call.

For the Clinton supporters who spent hours and days supporting her bid for the White House, and for those who wept Tuesday as they watched victory slip from them in real-time, news of their nominee’s surrender came either from CNN, NBC News or the GOP president himself.

Later that same morning, after she formally conceded the election to Trump in a tearful address delivered in the Wyndham New Yorker’s grand ballroom, Clinton met with members of her audience, shaking hands and smiling all the while.

Meanwhile, in the hotel’s main lobby, dozens of teary-eyed supporters waited for their beaten champion to emerge from the ballroom upstairs, hoping for one last chance to wish her well in person.

They waited, some wiping away tears, and conversed among themselves. The heavily armed security detail posted outside the hotel’s main entrance slowly thinned out until it was eventually just a few uniformed police officers.

A hotel employee then announced to the small, impromptu gathering of downcast Clinton supporters that the former secretary of state had already left the building through a back exit.

The small crowd in the Wyndham New Yorker lobby glumly dispersed, and it was business as usual once again in the Manhattan hotel.

Clinton went her way, and her supporters went theirs.

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Trump due in court before Oval Office


By Karen Freifeld and Anthony Lin

Within a few weeks of winning the White House, President-elect Donald Trump could face another group of U.S. citizens, a federal jury in California, courtesy of a lawsuit by former students of his now-defunct Trump University who claim they were defrauded by a series of real-estate seminars.

A hearing in federal court in San Diego is set for Thursday, and the trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 28, barring any delays or if Trump decides to settle the case.

While presidents enjoy immunity from lawsuits arising from their official duties, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that this shield does not extend to acts alleged to have taken place prior to taking office. The 1997 ruling came in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against President Bill Clinton by Paula Jones, which was settled before it went to trial.

Lawyers said they could think of no similar situation like the one now involving Trump.

“I’m certain there is nothing comparable to this,” said Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.

Lawyers for both Trump and the plaintiffs declined to comment on Wednesday.

Dershowitz said the Supreme Court also held that a case cannot be delayed just because the defendant is president, though judges are still free to grant reasonable delays to any party.

Miami trial consultant Sandy Marks, who is not involved in the case, said he thought Trump might ask the presiding judge, Gonzalo Curiel, to postpone the trial in an effort to settle the case before taking office.

“I think the judge would be foolhardy not to give him a short (delay),” said Marks, “which would give him a chance to resolve the case with all these people and put it behind him.”

Trump repeatedly claimed on the campaign trail that he would win the lawsuit, and he accused Curiel of being biased against him because of his campaign promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico. The judge was born in Indiana to Mexican parents.

At the hearing on Thursday, lawyers will argue pre-trial motions, including one by Trump to block potential jurors from hearing comments made or publicized during the campaign, such as those about the judge. Lawyers for the students have argued the comments could help jurors assess Trump’s credibility as a witness.

Trump is listed as defense witness in the case and could be called to testify by the plaintiffs as well. He was previously deposed by the students’ lawyers.

“JURY CONSULTANT’S NIGHTMARE”

Claims against Trump over the seminars date to 2010, with two class actions filed in federal court in San Diego and another case brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on behalf of students who claim they were misled into paying as much as $35,000 each to learn worthless real estate investing “secrets” from instructors “hand-picked” by Trump.

Trump has admitted he did not hand-pick instructors, but has argued the claim was marketing language not meant to be taken literally. He claims most students were happy with their courses.

If the trial goes forward, several legal experts said it would be hard to seat an impartial jury, since so many people already have strong opinions about the president-elect.

Parties often hire specialized jury consultants to pick jurors, but New York lawyer Robert Anello said they were not infallible. “If experienced pollsters can’t get it right,” he said, “how can a jury consultant who is not spending as much time studying the demographics?”

In an interview a day before the election, Jeffrey Goldman, a lawyer for Trump in the New York case, said the media’s “drumbeat of distortion” about Trump University would make it hard to find impartial jurors.

Several experts noted that jurors, who will answer a questionnaire in addition to being questioned by the lawyers and the judge, are generally taken at their word when they say they can be impartial. Boston jury consultant Edward Schwartz said he expects both sides to make an effort to vet jurors by their public social media postings.

Dershowitz noted that San Diego, though located in deep-blue California, is not as politically monolithic as, say, San Francisco. It has an ethnically diverse population and also has a large military presence.

“This is a jury consultant’s nightmare to pick in a case like this,” said Dershowitz. “It will be taught in jury consulting school.”

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Anthony Lin; Editing by Leslie Adler)



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Thousands flood streets to protest Trump in seven cities


Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in seven major U.S. cities on Wednesday night to denounce President-elect Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in seven major U.S. cities on Wednesday night to denounce President-elect Donald Trump. The protests were created by a number of groups, including college campus, socialist and other organizations.


Demonstrators in New York have shut down traffic by Fifth Avenue and East 57th Street, near the heavily policed Trump Tower. The group started at 14th Street and walked more than 40 blocks north to the billionaire’s residence and business headquarters.

In Chicago, an “emergency protest” lured thousands of people to the city’s Trump Tower. At one point, protesters filled all six lanes of North Michigan Avenue, disabling cars from passing through the streets.

Bostonians organized outside the Massachusetts Statehouse to chant “we will not be silenced.” Many in Boston and other cities toted signs, reading, “Not my president.”

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People in Washington, D.C., showed up at the White House and Trump’s newest luxury hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue to protest his victory.

Other protests in San Francisco; Seattle; Portland; Philadelphia; and Austin, Texas, have drawn thousands out to echo their concerns about Trump’s controversial rhetoric and views while campaigning.

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How the polls, including ours, missed Trump's victory


By Maurice Tamman and Guy Faulconbridge
| NEW YORK/LONDON

NEW YORK/LONDON Two days ago, pollsters and statisticians gave Hillary Clinton odds of between 75 and 99 percent of winning the U.S. presidential election. How did so many get it so wrong?

In hindsight, the polling consensus went astray in two major ways.

The media, including Reuters, pumped out two kinds of poll stories. Some were national surveys designed to estimate the entire country’s popular vote, but not the outcome in individual states, where the contest is actually decided. These polls actually got the big picture right: Clinton won more overall votes than President-elect Donald Trump – but not by as much as the polling averages predicted, and not where she needed to.

News organizations also produced a blizzard of stories meant to calculate the probability of victory for the two candidates. These calculations were predicated on polls of individual states. In hindsight, though, the stories seem to have overstated Clinton’s chances for a win by failing to see that a shift in voting patterns in some states could show up in other, similar states.

In part, this is because polling analysts got the central metaphor wrong.

U.S. presidents are chosen not by the national popular vote, but in the individual Electoral College contests in the 50 states and Washington D.C. In calculating probable outcomes, election predictors generally treated those 51 contests as completely separate events – as unrelated to one another as a series of 51 coin tosses.

But that’s not how elections work in the United States. Voting trends that appear in one state – such as a larger-than-expected Republican shift among rural voters – tend to show up in other states with similar demographic make-ups.

And that’s what happened Tuesday: The election models calculated the probabilities of a Clinton win that turned out to be high, because they viewed each state too much in isolation.

The Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project projected Clinton to win the popular vote 45 percent to 42 percent, and gave her a 90 percent probability of winning the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the election. In the end, Clinton won the popular vote by 47.7 percent to 47.5 percent, by the latest count, and Trump could win the Electoral College by as many as 303 votes to Clinton’s 233 when the tally is final.

The state races were not akin to a string of coin tosses but more like 51 rolls of a set of weighted dice. In many states, it turned out, the side of the dice representing white voters in suburban and rural counties carried a heavier weight, and the side representing urbanites a lighter one.

COMMON MISCALCULATIONS

The problem, said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos Public Affairs US, the polling partner of Reuters, came down to the models the pollsters used to predict who would vote – the so-called likely voters.

The models almost universally miscalculated how turnout was distributed among different demographic groups, Young said. And turnout was lower than expected, a result that generally favors Republican candidates.

In 2000, when Republican George W. Bush beat Democrat Al Gore, for example, the turnout was about 60 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Eight years later, turnout was 64 percent when Democratic nominee Barack Obama won his first presidential election against Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain.

This year, “whites with lower levels of education came out in greater relative numbers than younger, more-educated and minority voters,” Young said. “A point here or a point there can really change an election.”

Ultimately, missing that shift in the state polls tripped up the predictions. It also highlights how the otherwise empirical process of polling rests on a subjective foundation.

Each pollster must make a decision about turnout. Their decisions are informed by historical voting patterns. But the actual turnout in each state is unknowable before election day.

Among the questions pollsters grappled with this year: Will the electorate look like the won that gave Obama his 2008 victory – or George W. Bush in his 2000 victory? Would black turnout fall after the historically high turnout enjoyed by Obama, the nation’s first black president, and by how much?

“Key for me is turnout in explaining this year’s polling miss,” Young said. The Reuters/Ipsos model anticipated turnout for white men, for example, at around 67 percent, which appears to have been too low, and for black women at 61 percent, which was probably too high. Demographic breakdowns aren’t available yet.

Drew Linzer, a pollster and creator of the Daily Kos Elections forecasting model, which forecasts the Electoral College result by aggregating large numbers of state polls, said prediction models like his try to estimate the possibility of an unexpected turnout shift.

But ultimately, he said, the effectiveness of the models came down to the accuracy of the underlying state polls’ likely-voter models. Linzer’s model predicted a large win for Clinton in the Electoral College, 323 to 215. And because those polls missed the mark, it created an illusion of a near-certain Clinton win.

THE POPULAR VOTE

Beyond the calculations of the candidates’ odds of winning the Electoral College, there was a near constant stream so-called “horse race polls,” or tracker polls, that focused on the distribution of the national vote between the major candidates.

Here, too, pollsters — and the media that co-sponsored or covered the polls — stumbled, largely because the popular vote metric itself is of limited utility and cannot, of itself, predict the outcome of the Electoral College.

As of Wednesday morning, Clinton led the popular vote by slightly less than 1 percentage point. The McClatchy-Marist poll released on Nov. 3, for example, had Clinton up by one point – one of the most accurate calls of the popular vote. But even that headline number missed the point a bit, because she lost the election in the Electoral College.

A few polls correctly pegged Trump as the winner. The International Business Times/TIPP poll had Trump leading on Nov. 7. That poll put him ahead in the popular vote by two percentage points, which in the end overstated his share by about three points.

In one sense, most polls were relatively accurate: The Real Clear Politics average of polls, for example, had Clinton leading by about 3.3 points, little more than two points above the actual outcome. A polling error of two or three percentage points is not uncommon in modern politics.

Popular vote polls, however, also exaggerate the influence of massive states, such as New York and California, in the outcome of the election and mask trends that might be occurring outside those left-leaning states.

The Electoral College system reduces the influence of big states by distributing a disproportionate number of votes to smaller states. North Dakota, for example, has about a quarter of one percent of the U.S. population but double that proportion of Electoral College votes. Conversely, Californians make up 12 percent of the population but only 10 percent of the Electoral College votes.

Young said both pollsters and journalist described the results of the national polls and predictions with a false precision by presenting the result as near absolutes.

“The forecasting models, which assign probabilities or chances to candidates, are no better than the polls themselves,” he said. “If the polls are off, the forecasting models will be off, too.”

The Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project website did offer an interactive tool that allowed users to adjust the poll’s estimate of turnout and play pollster themselves.

It also included one fixed scenario that showed how Trump could win – with a higher-than-expected Republican turnout and a lower-than-forecast Democratic turnout. That scenario, as it happened, better reflected what actually happened Tuesday.

“We need to recognize that there can be a range of possibilities,” said Young. “The trick of course is how to communicate that with the larger public.”

(Edited by Michael Williams)



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Liberal group: 'Fight a conservative takeover of the courts'


The call to arms signals progressives' willingness to form a blockade against Trump as he looks to appoint judges and fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

A major progressive judicial advocacy group is urging its supporters to “fight a conservative takeover of the courts,” one day after a Republican wave election.

The Alliance for Justice warned about the future of federal courts under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump in a statement from the liberal group’s president.

“At this critical moment in history for our federal courts, it is essential that we fight with all the resources at our disposal against a takeover of our courts by the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-worker, anti-minority forces of the far right,” said Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice president, in a statement. “Rarely has there been a time when the fairness and impartiality of our courts have been more at stake. We and our allies at Alliance for Justice will oppose, with every ounce of our strength, an ultraconservative takeover of our nation’s courts.”

The call to arms signals progressives’ willingness to form a blockade against Trump as he looks to appoint judges and fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Whether liberal-leaning members of Congress echo the Alliance for Justice’s marching orders in coming days will reveal just how contentious the battle over the judiciary will become.

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Trump likely to reward loyalty with top appointments


By Steve Holland
| NEW YORK

NEW YORK President-elect Donald Trump’s early list of potential appointments to top positions appears to reward people who were loyal to him after a campaign in which many Republican Party leaders kept their distance.

Jeff Sessions, an Alabama senator who was one of Trump’s most fervent supporters in the U.S. Congress, is said to be under consideration for a prominent role, perhaps defense secretary, sources familiar with transition planning said on Wednesday.

Retired General Michael Flynn emerged as a possible pick for Trump’s national security adviser, the sources said.

Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, played a prominent role during the campaign, often serving as an introductory speaker at campaign rallies and has provided private counsel on foreign affairs.

“He has a calming influence on Trump,” said a source familiar with transition planning.

In addition, former House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee were also considered potential selections for secretary of state, the sources said. Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Both Corker and Gingrich had been under discussion as potential vice presidential picks for Trump, a position that eventually went to Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

These same sources said Republican National Committee Reince Priebus, who has emerged as a trusted adviser to the New York businessman, was being talked about as a potential White House chief of staff.

A Priebus deputy, RNC senior strategist Sean Spicer, was a possibility for White House press secretary.

Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who helped bring about a more disciplined approach to the candidate, was seen as potential White House senior adviser.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who endorsed Trump after dropping out of the 2016 Republican presidential nomination fight, was a possible education secretary.

Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for the United States at the United Nations, was a potential U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as was New York Republican Representative Peter King.

Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was in the mix for CIA director, the sources said.

Trump’s transition team set up a website (www.greatagain.gov/) and Twitter account (@transition2017), promising to keep the country posted on plans, Politico reported. Trump was a prolific user of Twitter during the campaign, sometimes using it to deliver pithy put-downs of his critics and rivals.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)



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Conway shatters glass ceiling as first woman to run a successful presidential campaign


Donald Trump’s intrepid 49-year-old campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, will go down in history as the first woman to ever manage a successful presidential campaign.

The veteran Republican pollster and mother of four became Trump’s campaign manager in late August, shortly after her predecessor, Paul Manafort, resigned from the post. Manafort had assumed the role of campaign manager following Trump’s firing of Corey Lewandowski, a New Hampshire native and GOP campaign operative who ran the operation through the primary.

From the moment she was placed at the helm of Trump’s campaign to the final 72 hours of the election, Conway seemed to possess an acute understanding of how to guide the blustery billionaire toward discipline and his eventual success.

Toward the end of the election, Conway told reporters that she never hesitated to air her frustrations when Trump would wander off message or land himself at the center of controversy after making some outlandish remark.

For example, she recalled telling Trump, “You and I are in a fight for the next 17 days,” following his speech in Gettysburg, Pa. last month when he vowed to sue every woman who accused him of sexual assault “after the election is over.” Conway told CNN the comment made Trump sound defeated and as though he expected to lose to Hillary Clinton.

“He was like, ‘OK, honey. Then we’ll win,'” she said.

Immediately after she took over the campaign, and again in the waning days of the election, Conway was credited with ensuring Trump remained exceptionally disciplined. She tethered him to a teleprompter, placed restrictions on his Twitter privileges and worked diligently to boost his appeal among women and minorities, while strengthening his existing appeal among blue collar workers and the white working class.

Conway also spent months defending her ideas and strategy against the contrasting suggestions by other senior staffers, namely Manafort (before his departure) and Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon. She prevailed more often than not.

Each time Trump faced intense media scrutiny for the various controversies he stirred, Conway would pop up on the major networks to defend the candidate against all odds. She downplayed his promise to jail Clinton if elected, stood by his decision to invite Bill Clinton’s accusers to the second presidential debate and spent the final weeks of the election talking up Trump’s chances of winning states where he trailed his Democratic opponent by double digits.

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Conway has kept quiet about her post-election plans, offering no indication about whether she plans to serve in Trump’s administration or what kind of role she would play if she does.

“12 hours after watching returns and a win unfold at Trump Tower, our team is taking in Hillary’s concession speech,” she tweeted Wednesday morning, adding the fitting hashtag, “#WeMadeHistory.”

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Vexation gives way to pragmatism as Wall Street girds for Trump


By David Henry and Olivia Oran
| NEW YORK

NEW YORK Wall Street power brokers may have rolled their eyes in private when ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Steven Mnuchin agreed to be Donald Trump’s national finance chairman, but now they are lining up to meet him.

Financial lobbyists and their bosses are hoping that Mnuchin and others Trump has enlisted as advisers will help convey their views and act as interpreters of the president-elect’s so far at times confusing messages.

“This is different from a lot of elections in the past where you could say, ‘If so-and-so wins, this will be good for that industry and bad for that one,'” said Scott Bok, chief executive of investment bank Greenhill & Co Inc.

“It’s not like Trump laid out a clear set of policies where you can say, ‘This is good for these types of companies and bad for those.'”

Bankers and their lobbyists are hoping their path to influence will become clearer in the coming weeks with Trump’s cabinet appointments.

“It is a matter now of getting to the people who are coming in and convincing them of the benefits of some moderate deregulation to foster economic growth,” said one industry executive, who declined to speak publicly about Trump.

During the presidential campaign, many people on Wall Street had supported his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton viewing her as a pragmatist and a stabilizing force.

Despite castigating hedge fund managers for “getting away with murder” on their taxes and making a vague pledge to strip big banks of their profitable trading arms, Trump has surrounded himself with financiers including Mnuchin and hedge fund firm bosses John Paulson and Anthony Scaramucci.

At the time some of their peers thought they were taking an opportunistic punt as they viewed Trump as unpredictable and populist and were vexed by his snipes at the industry.

Six months later, government-relations executives for big banks are scrambling to secure meetings with them as well as key staffers on Capitol Hill’s important financial committees, in hopes they can provide a sympathetic ear for the industry.

“That work begins immediately,” said one industry lobbyist who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Trump’s lack of political experience and his scattershot pronouncements have made him a wild card for big business, making private contacts with his inner circle especially critical.

On bank regulation, Trump has promised to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and implement a new, possibly tougher one, but offered few details on what it would look like.

SEC APPOINTMENTS

Although Trump’s outsider status helped him win, he has turned to some well-known Washington insiders when looking to fill vacancies at U.S. financial regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Former Republican SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins, who founded and heads the regulatory consulting firm Patomak Global Partners LLC, is leading the transition team for financial regulation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Come January, Trump is expected to designate SEC Republican Commissioner Michael Piwowar as acting chair. It is unclear if Trump will make the role permanent or later tap someone new.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White, an independent appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013, is expected to leave the agency when Obama’s term is over.

Mnuchin is seen as the likely pick for Treasury Secretary. He did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

KBW policy analyst Brian Gardner predicts Vice President-elect Mike Pence will have a major influence on who gets appointed to key roles, and will choose “orthodox Republicans” who are equally familiar as some others in Trump’s circle.

In an emailed statement, Scaramucci said Trump’s reputation for unpredictability was undeserved.

“While spending time with President-elect Trump during the campaign I got to know a very analytical and compassionate person,” Scaramucci, founder and a co-managing partner of investment firm SkyBridge Capital, said.

Several policy experts predicted Trump and the new Congress will water down some financial reform rules, such as the Durbin amendment that limits bank fees or the Volcker rule against proprietary trading. They uniformly expect diminished power, if not a gutting of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But the Trump administration may also propose regulations that are more problematic, such as extremely high capital requirements or a revival of the Depression-era Glass Steagall law that broke up big banks.

Mnuchin, however, was cited by many as a ray of hope.

Although he has not publicly expressed opinions on financial regulation or fiscal policy, bankers and lobbyists said they felt reassured by his experience on Wall Street.

“I can’t imagine that his goal would be to destroy Goldman Sachs,” said the industry executive, “which is better than some.”

(Additional reporting by Dan Freed, Suzanne Barlyn, John McCrank and Lawrence Delevingne in New York and Lisa Lambert, Patrick Rucker and Sarah N Lynch in Washington; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Carmel Crimmins)



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How Republicans might repeal and replace Obamacare


Republicans have already rehearsed how they’d repeal Obamacare, and they have a script for replacing it.

Now with President-elect Donald Trump as their ally in the White House, the question is whether they’ll get stage fright.

There’s broad consensus that simply ditching the Affordable Care Act and stripping up to 20 million Americans of their insurance would be a political disaster for Republicans, opening them up to damaging attacks from Democrats in 2018. So if GOP members of Congress follow through next year on their longstanding promises to repeal the healthcare law, they’ll face two basic options.

They could pass a budget reconciliation bill that gradually sunsets the law, preserving its subsidies and Medicaid expansion for a time while they agree on a replacement. They’ve already got a script for that approach, after passing a reconciliation bill last January which President Obama vetoed.

Or Congress could pass a replacement plan right away by coupling it with a repeal bill, although it’s questionable Republicans could find consensus in such a short timeframe.

“It becomes a political question of can you repeal the Affordable Care Act without something ready to go behind it,” said Lanhee Chen, a Stanford University professor and former advisor to Mitt Romney. “My instinct there is no you can’t, you need to have some kind of backstop for it.”

It’s too early to tell exactly what timeline Republicans will choose, as members collect themselves after Trump’s surprise victory on Wednesday. But two things are certain, according to Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee: the House will vote on a repeal bill and it will move forward with the replacement plan laid out by Speaker Paul Ryan last year.

“We are going to repeal the bill in the House, there’s no mistake about that,” Brady told the Washington Examiner. “And we’ll also move forward with the step-by-step solution we identified in ‘A Better Way.'”

Trump hasn’t explicitly backed the Ryan plan, but the proposal does contain some similarities with ideas Trump suggested during his campaign. Chief among them is enabling insurers to sell plans across state lines, which Republicans say is a step towards greater competition.

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The Ryan plan would also replace Obamacare’s subsidies with refundable tax credits and end its Medicaid expansion, gradually phasing down the extra federal funds to states. States could choose to receive their remaining Medicaid dollars either through block grants or per capita allotment.

It retains some of Obamacare’s most popular provisions, including the provision that lets dependents stay on their parents’ plan to age 26 and ensures people with preexisting conditions get coverage.

If Republicans work off the Ryan proposal, but agree they want a smooth coverage transition for people with Obamacare coverage, they have to spell out in more detail exactly how they would achieve that goal. And reaching consensus on all of it will be a challenge. All the major committee leaders back the Ryan plan, but they’d have to get most of the rank-and-file in line too.

Brady said he and other leaders will sit down with the Trump transition team in the coming weeks to map out a strategy.

“To be determined,” Brady responded, when asked about their approach. “We will huddle with the Trump administration about their priorities on Obamacare and timetable.”

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Jay Faison said he is turning his focus to the Trump team to help it figure out where it stands on clean energy.

11/10/16 12:01 AM

If Trump is interested in rolling back or changing the healthcare law on his own, there are a number of things he may be able to do without help from Congress.

He could refuse to provide cost-sharing subsidies to insurers, which is the subject of a House lawsuit against the Obama administration. He could also try to prevent insurers from getting payments for their marketplace losses through two programs known as reinsurance and risk corridors. And he could provide states with more flexibility for how they conduct their Medicaid expansion programs.

In contrast, it will be a lot harder for hundreds of members of Congress to agree on approaches to health reform. Besides just agreeing on a replacement plan’s provisions, Republicans will also have to agree on how to pay for the refundable tax credits that would ensure poor people can afford to get coverage, a tricky question the Ryan plan doesn’t address. And the pots of money are limited, experts say.

One funding mechanism could come through capping the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage. Savings could also be achieved by block-granting Medicaid and repealing the healthcare law’s spending on subsidies and Medicaid expansion, as the Ryan plan proposes.

But for now, Republicans are just beginning their discussions over how to approach Obamacare, the law they’ve tried to repeal for six years. It’s a situation they’ve never yet been in, as Obama has refused to terminate any of his law’s signature provisions.

Chris Jacobs, a former GOP healthcare staffer and founder of Juniper Research Group, said “nobody knows” exactly what’s going to happen in January.

“I’ve gotten people on the Hill emailing me saying ‘what do we do now,'” Jacobs said. “People were saying Democrats didn’t have a plan to deal with a Trump administration. Neither do Republicans.”

Abortion foes dream big with Trump White House victory

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At the top of pro-life groups’ to-do list is defunding Planned Parenthood.

11/09/16 11:00 PM



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Tough reality check for Trump's pledge of better heartland jobs, wages


CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Donald Trump’s promise to revive small town America faces a tough challenge in an economy that for decades has been wired to direct income and opportunities towards urban hubs and the better educated.

Little in the president-elect’s so far sketchy economic plans indicates the trend can be reversed any time soon, according to interviews with experts on income inequality and as recent occupational trends.

The manufacturing jobs Trump pledges to bring back have disappeared as much because of automation as the trade deals he has promised to rewrite, and that process will only continue. A promised infrastructure revamp would boost middle wage jobs but for only as long as the programs last, economists point out.

During President Barack Obama’s eight years in office incomes for the best off continued to diverge, despite nearly 10 million new jobs and recent strength in those paying middle-tier wages.

On a pre-tax basis, the share of income to the top fifth of households increased from 50.4 percent to 51.4 percent between 2008 and 2015 at the expense of all the others, according to census estimates. (Graphic:tmsnrt.rs/2elimH2)

Without the sort of tax and redistribution policies Republicans have traditionally opposed, Trump may struggle to make good on his promise to help those left behind in the global economy, economists who study inequality trends say.

“We have 30 to 40 years to catch up on…Lots of money has gone to the top and to change that is going to be a long and slow process,” said David Madland, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Trump campaigned promising to shake up a Washington establishment he argued was responsible for destroying middle class jobs with bad trade deals. The message hit home across rural America and mid-sized cities, where voters felt they missed out on the fruits of the seven-year economic recovery that big cities may have enjoyed.

Charlotte has been growing fast as a financial hub that attracts college educated talent from around the country, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did better there than Obama did in 2012, handily beating Trump by 137,000 votes.

But in the state’s textile and furniture belt just northwest from here, Trump’s promise of economic renewal and anxieties of a shrinking white majority more than offset Clinton’s urban victory, giving him 76 out of 100 North Carolina’s counties.

The Catawaba County region, one of the nation’s hardest-hit by cheap imports from China, now has a more diverse economy and even the furniture industry has begun adding jobs. But many still live in poverty and rely on disability and social services for support.

“The trade argument was as prominent as any. That is certainly the bet that the Trump campaign has made,” said

John Dinan, a political scientist at Wake Forest University.

TAKING OUT OBAMACARE

Trump has not highlighted income inequality the way Clinton did, but to help low-wage industries such as textiles or offer a “new deal” for blacks, he would need to tackle the income gap.

Recent data show how hard it may be if Trump relies on economic growth alone: Despite a record jump in household income and a continued surge in middle wage jobs nationally, the effect on income inequality was “statistically insignificant” according to census estimates.

Under Obama, after tax income for the bottom fifth of households did increase by about 18 percent, or $2,200, according to a recent Council of Economic Advisers study.

But that was made possible by higher taxes on the wealthy, more benefits for the poor and, in large part, by an estimated $1,900 gain from health coverage extended under the Affordable Care Act. Trump has vowed to roll Obamacare back.

Instead, Trump has proposed to strike better trade deals and offered a familiar Republican recipe – tax cuts for businesses meant to spur investment and jobs. He has been ambiguous about a possible increase in the federal minimum wage typically opposed by Republicans, but advocated by many economists as a way to help the disenfranchised workers Trump focused on in his campaign.

Economists say that even if economic growth accelerates under Trump, it may not do much to counter the downward pressures on wages and middle income jobs from automation, technology and other longstanding trends.

Brookings Institution senior fellow Isabel V. Sawhill said researchers on inequality agree on one point: it is hard to move the needle.

“Even when you distribute all of the dividends from growth in a progressive fashion you don’t change things very much,” Sawhill said. “You shift things at the margin.”

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by David Chance and Tomasz Janowski)



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