“In 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law”

Developments on Day 53 of the Trump Administration:

CBO: 24 Million to Lose Healthcare Under GOP Plan

The Congressional Budget Office projects that 14 million people will lose coverage by next year under the GOP replacment for ObamaCare.

By 2026, the total of uninsured will reach 52 million, compared to 28 million now.

Read full CBO report

The CBO said $337 billion would be taken off federal deficits; however, this will be partly offset by $157 billion in tax windfalls for the wealthiest Americans, according to another study.

Average premiums for people buying insurance on their own will be 15 to 20% higher in 2018 and 2019. They will decrease relative to ObamaCare after that, reaching about 10% lower by 2026, but the savings will be accompanied by higher out-of-pocket expenses.

The number of uninsured will quickly rise from people choosing not to buy insurance after tax penalties for those without coverage are repealed. In later years, more will be uninsured because of changes in Medicaid, the health program for the poor and disabled. as some states discontinue their expansion of eligibility” amid capping of federal expenditure.

The study indicated that younger people will gain financially, the elderly will be worse off as insurers are free to charge more. The poor and those in rural areas will also be hit.

The Trump Administration tried a pre-emptive strike to discredit the CBO report. Press Spokesman Sean Spicer said last week, “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,” and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mullaney declared on Sunday that the CBO could not assess a large piece of legislation (see Monday’s TrumpWatch).

Health and Human Secretary Tom Price immediately responded on Monday, “We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out.” He insisted that the report was incomplete because it did not take into account other regulatory steps and legislation.

But the Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, “The CBO score shows just how empty the president’s promises, that everyone will be covered and costs will go down, have been. This should be a looming stop sign for the Republicans’ repeal effort.”

TOP PHOTO: GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan introduces the Republican replacement for ObamaCare

Administration Seeks 50%+ Cut in UN Funding

State Department staff are instructed to seek cuts of more than 50% in US funding for UN programs, according to three sources.

The reductions are among a proposed reduction of up to 37% in the budgets of the State Department, the Agency for International Development, and other foreign assistance programs. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is asking for the cuts to be spread over three years, rather than being implemented in full this year.

The US spends about $10 billion a year on UN programs.

On March 9 in New York, US diplomats warned UN members in a closed-door meeting to “expect a big financial constraint” on American spending, said one European diplomat.

The cuts would fall heaviest on peacekeeping, UNICEF, and the UN Development Programme.

Administration Seeking to Remove Rules Avoiding Civilian Casualties in US Military Ops

The Administration explores how to dismantle or bypass Obama-era constraints intended to prevent civilian deaths from airstrikes, drone attacks, and commando raids.

“Officials familiar with internal deliberations” said Donald Trump has granted a Pentagon request to declare parts of three provinces of Yemen to be an “area of active hostilities” where looser battlefield rules apply. That led to a Special Operations raid in Yemen in late January, in which dozens of civilians and a US commando were killed, and the largest-ever series of US on Yemeni territory.

Barack Obama greatly expanded the use of drone and jet strikes, over those of the George W. Bush Administration, in areas from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia to Libya. The civilian-protection rules were imposed in May 2013 amid criticism of civilian casualties.

Trump is expected to endorse a Pentagon proposal to designate parts of Somalia, as well as Yemen, as an “area of active hostilities” for 180 days.

The White House is using the temporary suspension of the limits as a test run for a wider reversal or relaxation of Obama-era rules, said the officials.

A letter signed by 37 former officials in the US national-security establishment urged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to maintain the Obama approach, saying that “even small numbers of unintentional civilian deaths or injuries — whether or not legally permitted — can cause significant strategic setbacks”, increasing violence from extremist groups or prompting partners and allies to reduce collaboration with the United States.

Justice Department Asks for More Time to Back Trump’s “Obama Wiretap” Claims

The Justice Department asks for more time to produce evidence to back Donald Trump’s claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016.

The House Intelligence Committee had set a Monday deadline for the proof.

The Justice Department said in a statement:

This afternoon, the Department of Justice placed calls to representatives of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to ask for additional time to review the request in compliance with the governing legal authorities and to determine what if any responsive documents may exist.

Conway Walks Back “Spying Through Microwaves” Claim

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway walks back her claim that microwave ovens can be used to spy on people.

In an interview on Sunday, Conway tried to press the case that President Obama carried out surveillance of Donald Trump, apparently garbling WikiLeaks documents on CIA methods:

There are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately. There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.

On Monday, she stepped back from the statement: “I’m not Inspector Gadget. I don’t believe people used microwaves to spy on the Trump campaign.”

Trump Envoy Meets Israel’s Netanyahu

Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A statement said the two men reaffirmed commitment to a “sustainable” peace between Israel and Palestine through talks and improvement of living conditions under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

It vaguely referred to the problematic issue of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, with discussion “in the hope of coming up with a formula that will lead to the goal of peace and security”.

During his visit to Washington last month, Netanyahu agreed with the Trump Administration on a mechanism, led by Greenblatt and Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, to develop guidelines over the settlements.

Greenblatt will meet Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.