The CBO predicts Trump's move to end ObamaCare subsidies will hike premiums, uninsured rate, deficits
On Thursday night, the Trump administration formally decided to end cost-sharing subsidies that the Health and Human Services Department has been paying insurers to lower premiums for millions of lower-income customers purchasing insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) praised the move as an affirmation that "the power of the purse belongs to Congress, not the executive branch" — House Republicans had sued to stop the payments, and the White House had been appealing a court ruling agreeing the subsidies were illegal.
Other lawmakers from both parties, aides to President Trump, HHS officials, and medical and insurance groups had urged Trump to continue authorizing the subsidies, so as not to sabotage the health-insurance markets and cause premiums to soar.
Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district. @potus promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) October 13, 2017
In August, the Congressional Budget Office reached that same conclusion. In order for customers to qualify for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), they have to sign up for "silver" plans, and the CBO projected that "gross premiums (that is, before premium tax credits are accounted for) for silver plans offered through the marketplaces would, on average, rise by about 20 percent in 2018 relative to the amount in CBO's March 2016 baseline and rise slightly more in later years." The number of uninsured would rise by about 1 million in 2018, though it would drop again as people purchased lower-cost plans, and because customers would be shielded from the premium hikes by larger federal subsidies, the federal deficit would rise by $194 billion over the next 10 years.
Earlier Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding lower-cost, sparser-coverage insurance options, and "until the White House's announcement late Thursday, the executive order represented Trump's biggest step to date to reverse the health-care policies of the Obama administration," The Washington Post says. You can read the entire CBO analysis here. Peter Weber
A North Korean official announced Monday that Pyongyang has no interest in diplomacy with the United States until it develops an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach "all the way to the East Coast of the mainland U.S.," CNN reports.
"Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States," the official said.
Trump has gone back and forth on whether talking with North Korea is any sort of "answer." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on the contrary, told Fox News that diplomacy will continue "until the first bomb drops." Jeva Lange
President Trump claimed Monday that former presidents, including Barack Obama, did not call the families of fallen soldiers, sparking quick and furious outcry on social media. "The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed," Trump said. He added, "The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it."
Trump on soldiers killed in Niger: "President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls ... I call when it's appropriate." pic.twitter.com/sgj5iEuDhz
— Axios (@axios) October 16, 2017
Alyssa Mastromonaco, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations under Obama, tweeted: "That's a f---ing lie. To say President Obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA — he's a deranged animal."
What a gross, slanderous thing for Trump to say that other presidents didn't call the families of dead soldiers.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) October 16, 2017
Only Monday, but I'd be surprised if Trump utters a more despicable lie this week than saying Obama didnt call families of slain US troops
— Tom Kutsch (@tomkutsch) October 16, 2017
NBC News' Peter Alexander challenged Trump on the remarks. "Earlier you claimed President Obama never called the families of fallen soldiers," Alexander said. "How can you make that claim?"
"I don't know if he did," Trump answered. "I was told that he didn't often [call]. And a lot of presidents don't, they write letters." Trump also admitted he had not called the families of the U.S. soldiers killed in Niger 12 days ago. Jeva Lange
Trump just said President Obama didn't call fallen soldiers' families — now he said he doesn't know. https://t.co/7niEZdPMNc
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) October 16, 2017
A prominent Maltese journalist known for cracking corruption scandals involving her country's highest officials was killed by a car bomb near her home in Bidnija, Malta, on Monday, The Guardian reports. Four months ago, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, linked Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the Panama Papers scandal. Muscat and his wife "denied claims that they had used secret offshore bank accounts to hide payments from Azerbaijan's ruling family," the BBC writes.
Caruana Galizia's investigative work has been hailed abroad, with Politico calling her "a one-woman WikiLeaks" and listing her as one of the 28 people "making and shaking Europe." In her last post, published hours before her death, Caruana Galizia wrote: "There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate."
On Monday, Muscat condemned Caruana Galizia's murder: "I will not rest until I see justice done in this case," he said. "Our country deserves justice." Jeva Lange
A federal judge refused Monday to toss out any of the charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in the ongoing corruption trial stemming from his alleged use of office to secure business deals for a friend in exchange for gifts, CBS News reports. Menendez allegedly did government favors for Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen for years in return for lavish presents, including a luxury suite in Paris, flights on a private plane, and thousands of dollars in donations.
Menendez's team argued unsuccessfully that a 2016 Supreme Court decision narrowing the definition of bribery should allow for Menendez's case to be tossed. "None of what Menendez did qualified as quid pro quo corruption under the revised test, his lawyers said, because Menendez never agreed to perform any specific act when he received specific favors from Melgen," NBC News writes.
Menendez's defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, also said prosecutors were trying to turn gift-giving that had been common over a 25-year friendship into something it was not: "These two men refer to each other as brothers," Lowell said.
"We are living in a real world of reality and common sense," concluded U.S. District Judge William Walls. "The jury will decide whose version of what happened or didn't happen is more likely than not." Jeva Lange
President Trump made it clear Monday that the Affordable Care Act is absolutely, positively, no-buts-about-it dead. "ObamaCare is finished," Trump said. "It's dead, it's gone. It's no longer — you shouldn't even mention it."
— ABC News (@ABC) October 16, 2017
"There is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore," Trump added Monday for good measure. Jeva Lange
London was transformed into a post-apocalyptic landscape out of Blade Runner 2049 on Monday as former hurricane Ophelia pulled smoke and red Sahara dust over southern England and Wales:
— Dominic Lipinski (@domlipinski) October 16, 2017
— Paul (@Paul_Pierce4708) October 16, 2017
— Jonathan Bunn (@JonJBunn) October 16, 2017
— BBC Weather (@bbcweather) October 16, 2017
— Andrew James Brown (@caute) October 16, 2017
— Anna (@mausszi) October 16, 2017
Residents of Ireland's southern coast — where 110-mph winds have knocked out power and torn off roofs — expressed frustration with their neighbor's photos. "People in England — we will read your tweets about the 'eerie calm' and 'odd reddish light' after we find the roofs of our houses," one user tweeted. At least three people have been killed in the storm, The Times reports. Jeva Lange
The White House released its analysis of the GOP tax reform plan Monday, touting corporate cuts that administration officials estimate would eventually increase the average household income by $4,000 per year. President Trump has signaled a willingness to be flexible on the terms of the final tax legislation, although he's been firm on cutting corporate taxes to 20 percent, down from 35 percent, The Hill reports.
"More assets like machines let workers produce more, and when workers can produce more, businesses can afford to pay their workers more," explained White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Kevin Hassett.
Democrats have pushed back on the report, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claiming the CEA used "fake math" to reach its conclusions. "This deliberate manipulation of numbers and facts could lead to messing up the good economy the president inherited from President Obama and hurting the middle class," Schumer argued.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has weighed in to say that "overall benefits of lower corporate taxes tilt heavily toward those with higher incomes," Reuters reports. "It said middle-income taxpayers would receive less than 10 percent of the benefit of a corporate rate cut while the top 20 percent would receive about 70 percent. The top 1 percent would see about one-third of the benefits and the top 0.1 percent would get about one-fifth, the center has said."