×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
September 21, 2017

Senate Republicans are planning to vote next week on the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill, and they can only lose two Republican senators to squeak it through with the vice president's tie-breaking vote. One of the Republicans who says he's a yes on Graham-Cassidy, Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), came on Stephen Colbert's Late Show Wednesday night and explained his thinking. "Why not wait to know what you're voting on before you affect one-sixth of the American economy?" Colbert asked. "Let me say, I want a bipartisan solution," Flake replied. "Part of the problem with ObamaCare is that it was pushed through by one party, and we're going to have the same kind of problem if we just do this long-term," but right now, 200,000 Arizonans don't have viable insurance options.

Flake said he thinks health care is better managed at the state level, and that governors will do a better job than federal officials at enabling health care for less money. (The last GOP health-care bill in July was supported by just 6 percent of Arizona voters, according to one poll.) Colbert asked Flake if he thinks Republicans have the votes to pass it, and he said yes. "It's going to come down to the final few senators," he said. "I hope we can. Like I said, people in Arizona are hurting, and that's who I'm responding to. We've got to fix it in a bipartisan way going forward — obviously it is never good for one party to push something through on its own. In the meantime, we've got to make sure that everybody has insurance." Flake did not connect those two thoughts, exactly, but you can watch his full argument below. Peter Weber

1:29 p.m. ET

The first half of President Trump's two-part interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo aired Sunday and saw the president suggesting the difficulty he has had in repealing and replacing ObamaCare will somehow make major tax law revisions happen more smoothly.

"I do believe we have the votes for health care at the appropriate time," Trump said, "and I think we're going to have the votes for taxes, and I will say the fact that health care is so difficult, I think, makes the taxes easier." He did not explain why delays on health-care reform would make taxes easier other than to add that "Republicans want to get it done, and it's a tremendous tax cut." There is, at present, no completed tax reform bill.

Later in the conversation, in an exchange that came under scrutiny as soon as an advance transcript of the interview was available, Trump described himself as "representing rich people" in the tax reform process:

The second half of the interview will air Monday. In the meantime; you can read a full transcript here, check out The Week's selection of Trump's seven most noteworthy comments about his own social media habits; or watch today's segment below. Bonnie Kristian

1:01 p.m. ET
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Actor Tom Hanks weighed in Saturday night on President Trump's allegedly insensitive condolence call to the widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger earlier this month.

"I'm only knowing what I read in the newspapers and what have you, and it just seems like it's one of the biggest cock-ups on the planet Earth, if you ask me," Hanks said to CNN. "This is a tragedy of the utmost consequence, and it goes much longer beyond who's going to come out on top of the news story. I think it's very sad."

Hanks was in Washington, D.C., to be honored at the National Archives Foundation gala with the annual "Records of Achievement Award." In a speech at the event, he struck a more positive note. "As we continually move towards a more perfect union, [the U.S. Constitution] might be the only self-correcting, open-ended document anywhere on the planet Earth [that] keeps us going," Hanks said, "that keeps saying that we're going to learn how to do that one thing we've already sort of done. We're going to become better and better and better." Bonnie Kristian

12:35 p.m. ET
Toru Yamanaka/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a resounding victory in Sunday's snap election. His Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition is set to retain its two-thirds supermajority in Japan's lower house of parliament, and Abe is likely to secure a record-setting third term next fall.

With a fresh mandate from voters, Abe is expected to push for changes to Japan's "pacifist" constitution, in which Article 9, drafted by the United States government in the wake of World War II, prohibits the maintenance of armed forces. In practice, the clause has served as a mandate for a strictly defensive military; Abe wants to move toward a more interventionist pose.

"First, I want to deepen debate and have as many people as possible agree," Abe said of his plans. "We should put priority on that." Bonnie Kristian

12:10 p.m. ET
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty last week to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for his decision to leave his base in Afghanistan in 2009, said in an exclusive interview published in Britain's Sunday Times that coming home to the United States was as difficult as his years spent as a prisoner of war in Taliban hands.

"At least the Taliban were honest enough to say, 'I'm the guy who's gonna cut your throat,'" he said. "Here, it could be the guy I pass in the corridor who's going to sign the paper that sends me away for life."

Bergdahl's goal in leaving his base was to alert other officers of perceived mismanagement; instead he was kidnapped and held captive for five years until the Obama administration negotiated his release. His homecoming has been marked by vicious political controversy, including attacks from President Trump, who has suggested Bergdahl should be thrown from a plane without a parachute. Bonnie Kristian

11:32 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on CNN Sunday he is prepared to call a vote on the bipartisan health-care proposal negotiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) if President Trump is prepared to sign it.

The proposal has the support of all 48 Senate Democrats plus 12 Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on NBC Sunday. "This is a good compromise," Schumer argued. "It took months to work out. It has a majority."

The Murray-Alexander bill would appropriate funds for two years of the insurance subsidies Trump recently ended while loosening some ObamaCare rules, including allowing "insurance companies to sell less comprehensive plans to all customers, not just those under age 29 as is the case under current law."

Trump has sent mixed signals about the plan, calling it both "a good start" and "a short-term fix." Bonnie Kristian

10:25 a.m. ET

President Trump returned to familiar stomping grounds on Twitter Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. He claimed Facebook supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election and painted himself as a triumphant underdog:

Later Saturday, Trump turned to the record of his presidency so far, promising tax reform and health-care progress while boasting of mostly unspecified accomplishments on a litany of issues:

On Sunday, Trump reiterated his belief that journalists habitually "FABRICATE STORIES" about him and promoted an interview with himself airing that day. Bonnie Kristian

10:06 a.m. ET
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Fox News renewed host Bill O'Reilly's contract in January of 2016, promising him $25 million per year for four years, even after he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $32 million with the network's knowledge, The New York Times reported Saturday.

While Times reports from earlier this year revealed O'Reilly and Fox together paid around $13 million in the pundit's various harassment settlements, this larger agreement was previously unknown. The settlement was paid over a woman's allegations of "a nonconsensual sexual relationship" and other repeated harassment including the sending of unwanted pornography.

Fox fired O'Reilly in April of 2017. He denies all wrongdoing. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads