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March 21, 2017

The public testimony of FBI Director James Comey in Monday's House Intelligence Committee hearings was "rather bad news" for President Trump, CNN's Jake Tapper said Monday afternoon, and he asked the two conservative members of his panel — former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Mary Katherine Ham — if there was any good news for Trump. Santorum said yes, kind of. "I think the good news is that Comey went out and announced there is an investigation," he said, so Trump and his Republican allies "can start putting pressure externally to get this thing moving" to its conclusion. Ham agreed and argued that the White House should be focusing on its actual good news, the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Tapper got some views from former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon and Bloomberg White House correspondent Margaret Talev, then turned to CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward. Russian President Vladimir Putin is "somebody who likes to meddle in elections and enjoys sowing chaos in the electoral process in liberal democracies throughout the world," he said, so isn't Putin just really "enjoying this, one way or another? The American political system is in disarray."

Ward half-agreed. "I think up to a certain point he was kind of enjoying it, he was enjoying the ambiguity of it, the possibility that he could have thrown the election in the most powerful, important, consequential country in the world — that certainly spoke to his ego," she said. "But what was noticeable today, while every single news channel pretty much in the world — and I'm talking globally, Sky News, BBC, Al Jazeera — one news channel that very noticeably did not take today's hearing was Russia Today, and I do think you are starting to see now the beginning of what we might call a 'conscious uncoupling' of the Kremlin and the Trump administration."

"Russia Today wasn't covering it this afternoon," Tapper said. "Also, when I looked up, Fox News wasn't covering it, they were covering the Gorsuch hearings."

"An interesting observation," Tapper said dryly, if slightly immodestly. Peter Weber

4:51 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Republicans unveiled their health-care proposal Thursday, the upper chamber's version of the GOP-backed American Health Care Act that passed the House early last month. The Senate bill, titled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017," allows states to apply for waivers to certain insurance regulations intended to protect the sick and the poor, proposes steep and lasting cuts to Medicaid, and rolls back taxes and subsidies levied under the Affordable Care Act.

Former President Barack Obama, of course, signed the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. ObamaCare into law just over seven years ago. On Thursday, he took to his Facebook page to offer his thoughts on the Senate's proposed replacement for his signature legislative achievement, slamming the bill's "fundamental meanness":

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health-care bill. It's a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. [...]

Simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family — this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation. [Barack Obama]

Senators are expected to vote on their bill next week. You can read Obama's entire statement here. Kimberly Alters

3:57 p.m. ET

An awkward linguistic loophole in a Republican bill in the New Hampshire state Senate would have, in theory, allowed pregnant women to legally get away with committing murder, Slate reports. Senate Bill 66 defined fetuses past 20 weeks old as "people" for cases of murder or manslaughter, such as when unborn babies are killed in reckless driving accidents. But in order to avoid convicting pregnant mothers of murder if they sought abortions, the bill included an unintentionally hilarious work-around:

The bill's original language stated that "any act committed by the pregnant woman" or a doctor acting in his professional capacity wouldn't apply in cases of second-degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. Unfortunately, "any act" implied, well, any act. The bill "allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences," Republican representative J.R. Hoell told the Concord Monitor. "Although that was never the intent, that is the clear reading of the language." *blooper sound effect* [Slate]

The bill initalliy passed both the state's House and Senate without lawmakers realizing the loophole, Slate adds. But unfortunately for anyone with Purge-esque visions of bloodthirty mothers-to-be, the House passed an amendment Thursday "to make sure pregnant women don't go around killing people." Read the full details of the case at Slate. Jeva Lange

3:37 p.m. ET
JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images

From the get-go, President Trump's so-called "Carrier deal" has not lived up to its expectations. In December, the then-president-elect promised to save 1,100 jobs at the air conditioner and furnace manufacturing plant that had been slated to go to Mexico in return for $7 million in state financial incentives.

In reality, only 730 union jobs were preserved. Fast-forward a few months, and now more than 600 employees at the Carrier plant are anticipating being laid off next month. "The jobs are still leaving," the president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, Robert James, told CNBC. "Nothing has stopped."

"To me this was just political, to make it a victory within Trump's campaign, in his eyes, that he did something great," added T.J. Bray, who has worked at Carrier for 15 years and whose seniority saved him from layoffs. "I'm very grateful that I get to keep my job, and many others, but I'm still disappointed that we're losing a lot."

In addition to the $7 million in incentives Carrier received for agreeing to employ at least 1,069 people at the plant for the next 10 years, the company vowed to invest $16 million into the Indiana-based facility. But "as for Trump's claim that the $16 million investment in the plant would add jobs, United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told CNBC in December that the money would go toward more automation in the factory and ultimately would result in fewer jobs," CNBC reports.

Indiana Economic Development Corp. president Elaine Bedel added that all of Trump's promises "really [haven't] changed anything."

"We have been doing this since 2005," she said. Jeva Lange

2:41 p.m. ET

As the Senate Republicans' ObamaCare replacement was sending ripples of alarm and anger through the Democratic ranks — and some of the GOP ones, too — conservative health-care wonk Avik Roy was reading. And reading. And reading.

After finishing the 142 pages of the "Better Care" act, Roy — who served as Mitt Romney's health-care policy adviser during his 2012 campaign — reached this conclusion:

Not all Republicans will be so pleased, though. Read nine ways the bill breaks with promises President Trump has made here at The Week. Jeva Lange

2:24 p.m. ET

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) took to the floor Thursday to passionately attack the Republican Senate's ObamaCare replacement, the "Better Care" act. "Senate Republicans wrung some extra dollars out of kicking people off tax credits that help them afford health insurance," Warren said. "They raked in extra cash by letting states drop even more protections and benefits, like maternity care or prescription drug coverage or mental health coverage."

"And then they got to the real piggy bank," Warren added. "Medicaid. And here, they just went wild."

Warren noted that 1 in 5 Americans is on Medicaid, and that the program serves 30 million children. "These cuts are blood money," she said. "People will die. Let's be very clear. Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives." Watch below. Jeva Lange

2:15 p.m. ET

Hours after Republican Senate leadership released a proposal for replacing ObamaCare, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) announced they would not support their party's bill.

"Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation," the senators wrote. They added, though, that "it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise made to Americans: to repeal ObamaCare and lower their health-care costs."

The GOP cannot lose the support of more than three senators for the bill to pass, as no Democrats or independents are expected to back the plan. A vote is expected next week. Jeva Lange

2:12 p.m. ET
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A 92-year-old from Washington state has finally graduated from her old high school. Mary Matsuda Gruenewald was an honors student at Vashon Island High School in 1942 when, like some 120,000 other Japanese-Americans during World War II, she was sent to an internment camp. Matsuda Gruenewald graduated from the camp's makeshift school and went on to become a nurse. But she always wanted her diploma from Vashon. When the school's principal heard her story recently, he invited her to walk in the class of 2017's commencement. "This eliminates all the heartaches," she says. Christina Colizza

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