Poll: Voters oppose straight Obamacare repeal

Burt Boice joins with other protesters against Republican senators who have not spoken up against Affordable Care Act repeal and demand universal, affordable, quality healthcare on July 24 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Burt Boice joins with other protesters against Republican senators who have not spoken up against Affordable Care Act repeal and demand universal, affordable, quality healthcare on July 24 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Half of voters, 50 percent, oppose repealing the 2010 health care law without replacing it, the poll shows.

Just 36 percent of voters support repealing Obamacare without a replacement, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted on the eve of planned votes in the Senate to move forward on overhauling the health care system.

Half of voters, 50 percent, oppose repealing the 2010 health care law without replacing it, the poll shows.

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The survey suggests congressional Republicans are squeezed between a base that wants Obamacare repealed, and a broader electorate that is — at best — skeptical of the GOP’s plans for health care.

Republican voters are more open to repealing Obamacare without a replacement, a vote conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have sought — a majority of GOP voters, 58 percent, support repealing Obamacare without a replacement. But just 21 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents support straight repeal.

Senate GOP leaders earlier this month pulled their repeal-and-replace bill after it became clear they lacked the votes to pass it. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning for a vote Tuesday to open debate on health care — a maneuver that could result in a series of votes on repealing Obamacare both with and without a replacement. McConnell’s effort, while still in doubt, gained steam Monday night when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he would return to Washington following a recent diagnosis of brain cancer.

Given three options, just 31 percent of poll respondents want Republicans to continue their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, 18 percent want them to move on to other things and a 41-percent plurality want them to work to improve the existing health care system under Obamacare.

But among Republican voters, 57 percent want Congress to continue trying to repeal and replace the health care law, while 13 percent want Congress to move on and 22 percent want them to work to improve Obamacare. Only 9 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents want Republicans in Congress to keep trying to repeal Obamacare.

“Only 13 percent of Republican voters support Congress abandoning health care and moving on to other issues,” said Morning Consult Co-founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. “Additionally, a majority of Republicans support a straight Obamacare repeal bill. If GOP leaders walk away with nothing, a significant portion of the base will be disappointed.”

If Tuesday’s vote to open debate fails — or if Senate leaders are unable to garner a majority on any health proposal — Trump has suggested letting parts of the existing health care law “fail.”

“As I’ve always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan,” Trump tweeted last week when Senate Republicans admitted they were short of the votes needed to pass a replacement bill.

But voters don’t want Trump and the GOP to let the existing insurance market falter if Obamacare remains law. Fifty-nine percent of voters want Congress to make any changes necessary to the Affordable Care Act to ensure it does not fail, while only 25 percent want Republicans to let the markets fail. Even Republicans are divided: 43 percent want Congress to fix Obamacare, while 42 percent want it to let it fail.

Moreover, voters also oppose discontinuing federal funding for the law — even if it ensures Obamacare’s future existence. Fifty-four percent of voters want Trump and the GOP to continue to fund Obamacare, even if that means it remains the law. Only 27 percent want Republicans to defund the law, even if it negatively impacts health insurance markets in the short term.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted July 20-24. The poll surveyed 3,981 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.

More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents — Toplines: //politi.co/2vXcsoH | Crosstabs: //politi.co/2tW3nuI

//www.politico.com

Democratic groups: Delay FBI director vote until Trump promises to keep special counsel

 Christopher Wray is pictured here.

The groups signing the letter take no issue with Wray, but argue “under these circumstances, confirming the president’s hand-picked FBI Director—regardless of that nominee’s individual merits—would plunge a new director into an unfair and untenable position.” | Andrew Harnik/AP

The groups want the White House to protect the FBI director and his agency from ‘political interference.’

An alliance of Democratic groups is calling on Senate leadership to hold off on confirming Christopher Wray as FBI director until President Donald Trump promises not to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley and Judiciary Ranking Member Diane Feinstein, the groups argue that this is a crucial moment for the Senate to assert the importance of an independent judiciary—accentuated by the president’s ongoing public humiliation campaign against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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“The president’s comments demeaning the attorney general over his recusal in this matter, as well as his extraordinary reference to him as ‘beleaguered,’ raise deep concerns that the president may be considering a series of personnel changes seeking to terminate the investigation,” states the open letter sent Tuesday, signed by American Oversight, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, Common Cause, Daily Kos, MoveOn.org, Protect Democracy, Public Citizen, Revolving Door Project and UltraViolet.

The groups want the White House to take “concrete steps to insulate the director and the law enforcement agency he will lead from improper political interference.”

To the surprise of many who expected a trench fight over filling the job left open by Trump’s firing of James Comey for pursuing the investigation into potential Russia ties, Wray has been sailing toward confirmation. He was approved unanimously by committee last week, and is expected to receive many Democratic votes when the confirmation goes to the full Senate.

The groups signing the letter take no issue with Wray, but argue “under these circumstances, confirming the president’s hand-picked FBI Director—regardless of that nominee’s individual merits—would plunge a new director into an unfair and untenable position, where the stated expectations of the president directly conflict with the director’s independent law enforcement responsibilities.”

The letter calls for a public commitment from the White House to clarify its “contacts” policy to prevent interference with independent agencies, for Trump to commit to abiding by that policy, and for the president to publicly pledge not to fire Mueller or interfere in his investigation.

Republican senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.) both spoke out on Tuesday against Trump’s attacks on Sessions, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said any firings would be the president’s “prerogative.”

//www.politico.com

Rosenstein stays loyal to Trump in NAACP speech

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is pictured. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Rosenstein used his six-minute address to pay homage to Trump by citing one of his most polarizing speeches: the inaugural address where he railed against “carnage” in the streets of America. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The deputy attorney general ignores Trump’s slams of Sessions.

BALTIMORE — As President Donald Trump continued to excoriate Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday, Sessions’ deputy demonstrated his loyalty to Trump by taking the administration’s message to a very tough crowd: a National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons annual convention.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke just hours after Trump tweeted out his latest attack on Sessions, faulting the attorney general for “a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes…& Intel leakers!”

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Rosenstein used his six-minute address to pay homage to Trump by citing one of his most polarizing speeches: the inaugural address where he railed against “carnage” in the streets of America.

“In President Trump’s inaugural address, he said that Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands,” Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein got a tepid reaction from the group, with organizers exhorting the crowd to give him more applause both as he took the stage and as he wrapped up.

The chilly reaction was driven by the NAACP’s opposition to many of the Trump Administration’s criminal justice policies, including an effort to ramp up drug sentences by invoking mandatory minimums in more cases.

“Our goal is not to fill prisons. Our goal is to save lives,” Rosenstein said, as his comments were interrupted by a smattering of applause.

Rosenstein spoke proudly of his record during 12 years as the U.S. Attorney in Maryland, cracking down on gang members responsible for violence in Baltimore.

In his speech, Rosenstein said nothing about Trump’s extraordinary public taunting of Sessions, whom Trump labeled as “beleaguered” in a tweet Monday. However, the deputy attorney general did draw attention to Sessions’ anti-crime efforts.

Rosenstein announced that a crime reduction task force set up by Sessions will deliver a preliminary report this week. “We need to have the courage to get serious about crime,…We are developing new programs and strategies to work better with communities,” the deputy AG said. “The attorney general and I share your goals. Let’s work together.”

While Sessions regularly warns against demeaning police and he says little about the dangers posed by police abuses, Rosenstein took a slightly different tack Tuesday, citing his work prosecuting corrupt police.

“Cases like that are extremely important but those corrupt officers do not represent all police. Most offices are honorable people … We need them to be role models. They have a special responsibility to follow the rules. At the same time, citizens have an obligation to show respect for the police. Building a good relationship is a two-way street,” Rosenstein said.

Some in the crowd expressed puzzlement at the ongoing drama between Trump and Sessions

“Why doesn’t he just fire him?” Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) asked as he spoke with a POLITICO reporter on the way into Tuesday’s session. “If he’s lost confidence in him, he could just say so and he would resign … At some point, you ought to get the hint and resign.”

Scott said he’s curious whether the House and Senate will go into recess in August and allow Trump the chance to install a new attorney general via a recess appointment that would not require Senate confirmation.

In recent years, the Senate has attempted to avert such moves by meeting briefly every few days during recess periods. However, Scott said it would be embarrassing if Republicans decided they need to rein in their own president.

“It would be insulting to suggest they need the protection of the president of their own party,” Scott said. “It would say a lot if they refused to recess.”

Rosenstein is the only senior Trump administration official who addressed the group. Trump turned down an invitation to speak.

“My understanding is that the invitation has been declined for this year, but certainly the invitation for dialogue with that group would happily take place, and we would certainly like to be able to continue to do that,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week.

After Rosenstein left the stage, some speakers responded forcefully to his speech.

“Stop talking to us about the mythology of black crime,” Rev. William Barber II said as many in the audience stood and cheered. “If you’re going to talk to us about black crime, talk to use about the Wall Street criminals that never get charged.”

Many of the speakers addressing the convention Tuesday railed against the Trump administration and its efforts to repeal Obamacare.

“Stop texting lies. Stop telling lies. Stop turning people against each other with lies,” said Barber, a leader of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. “Until you stop, we can’t move.”

“It gets dark sometime, but let nothing break our spirit,” Rev. Jesse Jackson told the group. “Stand up. March up. We will outlast Trump and we will outlast this dark night.”

//www.politico.com

Graham rips Trump tweet attacking Sessions

Sen. Lindsey Graham is pictured here.

Graham also called Sessions “one of the most decent people I’ve ever met in my political life.”
| J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday offered a staunch defense of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and suggested President Donald Trump’s latest comments on Twitter threatened to undermine the rule of law.

The South Carolina Republican said it was “highly inappropriate” for Trump to tweet Tuesday that Sessions should prosecute Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.

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“Prosecutorial decisions should be based on applying facts to the law without hint of political motivation,” Graham said in a statement. “To do otherwise is to run away from the long-standing American tradition of separating the law from politics regardless of party.”

Graham also called Sessions “one of the most decent people I’ve ever met in my political life.”

Graham’s defense of the former Alabama senator comes amid Trump’s humiliating criticism of his attorney general, whom he is reportedly considering firing.

Trump on Tuesday said on Twitter, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!”

The president also told The New York Times last week he would not have nominated Sessions for attorney general if he had known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said Tuesday he was not sure how Sessions could continue as attorney general “with this public vote of no confidence” from the president.

“I don’t know how the president will inspire loyalty from his staff with public statements like the one he made on Jeff Sessions,” Durbin added.

Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

//www.politico.com