Washington wants the president to be a lame duck by way of manufactured controversy

Washington is on fire

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Get ready for another major dust-up over the Trump administration’s attempts to replace Obamacare this week as the Congressional Budget Office releases numbers that are likely to make some eyes bulge. Meanwhile, this big, dumb controversy involving Trump, Russia and the FBI certainly isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Unfortunately for Trump supporters, it’s looking like Washington wants the president to be a lame duck by way of manufactured controversy.

The fate of President Donald Trump’s Obamacare repeal plan will be a little clearer by Wednesday after the Congressional Budget Office reveals the replacement plan’s “score” before it heads to the Senate for consideration.

The bill was rushed through the House so quickly earlier this month with several changes that the legislation passed the House without receiving a final CBO analysis, which is key to informing lawmakers and U.S. voters of the expected final cost of the law change.

Already facing a steep uphill battle in the Senate, the CBO’s analysis will give lawmakers in the Senate a clearer view of what sort of changes they may want to make to the legislation.

In the Senate, lawmakers will face a challenge of pleasing conservatives worried that the Trump repeal plan isn’t actually the full repeal that was promised by the administration and Democrats concerned that the new plan, while still a lite version of Obamacare, would cut healthcare benefits for a large number of Americans.

As reported by CNN Money:

[T]he House is waiting until it receives the new score to send the bill to the Senate to make sure it conforms to Congressional rules — in particular, that the legislation meets its savings target of $2 billion over 10 years.

The most recent agency review of the House bill found that it would reduce federal deficits by $150 billion between 2017 and 2026. (An earlier CBO score found that the legislation would reduce deficits by $337 billion, but lawmakers then changed several tax and Medicaid provisions that eliminated some of the savings.)

The most damning finding of the initial CBO report was that 24 million more people would be uninsured in 2026 under the GOP bill than under Obamacare. An estimated 52 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million if Obamacare remained in place.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is set to continue having to play defense this week over continuing controversy concern alleged ties between the president and his team and Russia.

The New York Times on Friday published a story claiming that Trump suggested to top Russian officials that his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey would improve the relationship between the two nations during a meeting in the Oval Office earlier this month.

More on that: Trump to Russians: Comey was a nut job

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is set to speak with Comey about the issue for the first time during a meeting Monday.

During a Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanoupolis, Chaffetz said he isn’t convinced the NY Times story is true. But the lawmaker added that if any investigation turns up evidence of Russian misconduct during the election, Trump must respond.

“I hope it’s not true. I don’t know if that was said or not said. I would like the president to beat them over the head with the fact that if they did, the Russians, did interfere in any way, shape, or form, how wrong that is and how outraged America is on both sides of the aisle,” he said. 

The lawmaker added that Americans won’t know for sure what to believe until the Justice Department concludes its investigation into the matter.

“We have to step back and let the investigators and the FBI and others do their job,” Chaffetz said. “We’re not in a position to go individual by individual and do these type of interviews. We have to let those professionals in the Department of Justice do that.”

Political conversations Sunday also weighed heavily on whether the Trump administration is changing its tune with regard to Saudi Arabia as Trump conducted his first international trip since taking office in the country this weekend. 

Trump, who criticized the Saudi human rights record heavily during the campaign, was criticized by some observers for focusing on arms and investment deals during the trip.

Fox  News Sunday political analyst Juan Williams said of the trip: “I’m taken aback because you can see we are emphasizing deals and not diplomacy, not only president Obama but president George W. Bush made deals with the Saudis and it was just part of the deals, that’s what you’re doing and so when you talk about president trump emphasizing jobs and deals, it comes at some cost to us because the lack of human rights attention, the lack of understanding that the Saudis are implicated in anything from 9/11 to support for the Wahabis, radical Islam to the Madrasus that preach hate of Israel, Jews, hatred of the Shiite…”

Joining the same program, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) praised the president… which is probably not a great sign for anyone who voted for Trump over concerns about Hillary Clinton’s close ties to the House of Saud.

I think the trip so far has been excellent. I think the Sunni world, particularly or traditional friends there are encouraged. Because of the restrained if not estranged relations between the previous administration and so, I think it is successful. I think it is important. There is no doubt that if we are going to impede the Iranian continued efforts to exert a significant strength in the region that this is an important step forward.”

The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum, meanwhile, excoriated the Trump visit to Saudi Arabia as “bizarre and un-American.” And she asks a few pretty good questions…

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