The Note: The dispute over the CBO health care report snowballs

The CBO released its analysis of the GOP health care plan yesterday.

ByABC News
March 14, 2017, 8:06 AM

— -- Trump's first 100 days with ABC’s RICK KLEIN and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE

Day No. 54

The big story: House Speaker Paul Ryan said he is “pretty encouraged” by the Congressional Budget Office report’s on the health care overhaul. That leaves the Wisconsin Republican, well, lonely. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said, on behalf of the Trump administration, “We disagree strenuously with the report.” With a semi-snow day in Washington to let the numbers sink in and the fallout spread, debate over whether the CBO offers good or bad news only hints at the disconnect in GOP circles. There are tensions everywhere – between what Ryan has long planned, what tea partiers and outside conservative groups have yearned for, and, critically, what President Trump promised. The president’s pledge to “take care of everybody” and bring “insurance for everyone”? We’re looking at 14 million fewer Americans with health care in the short term. By 2026, per the CBO, about 52 million people are estimated not to have insurance, vs. 28 million if Obamacare stays intact. The items Ryan and company feel validated on – “market stability,” cutting deficits, and lower premiums for some – only come about because so many people are out of the insurance market. The suspiciously timed leak of audio where Ryan said he was cutting ties with Trump in the campaign – “I’m not going to try to defend him. I’m going to focus on Congress” – reveals words that take on new meaning now, where Ryan looks likely to ride alone.

The sleeper story: In the odd story of president-on-president accusations, a clarifying moment from White House press secretary Sean Spicer about the actual views of President Trump: “He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally.” Then came some more news – in the form of a rare White House walk-back of Trump’s own tweeted remarks: “The president used the word ‘wiretapped’ in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities,” Spicer said. To quote one of the tweets in question: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” It doesn’t take Inspector Gadget to figure out where this is most likely headed: toward the president being able to say he was right all along, when he appears to have been wrong and-or intentionally misleading from the start. The parsing makes congressional oversight – which Trump, of course, has called for, apparently to help bail himself out – more urgent.

The shiny story: Maybe the new reality show can replace “The Bachelor”: Where will the president’s salary go? Spicer said Monday that the president’s “intention” is to donate his salary to charity at the end of the year, and said he would be looking to the White House press corps to decide where his $400,000 should go. Well, start with this: Trump long promised not to take a salary at all as president, which is different than donating to charity. “If I’m elected president, I’m accepting no salary, OK?” Trump said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. “I’m not going to take the salary. I’m not taking it,” he told “60 Minutes” as president-elect. As for deciding for him on charities, this is not a game that would most likely end well for the press. And as if the president needs reminding, quite a few reporters spent very many hours trying to verify just the donations he claimed to have made over a period of decades. One way to verify his money goes where he says it will? The president could release his tax returns.

TLDR: The CBO report released Monday shows that by 2026 about 52 million people are estimated not to have insurance and those numbers are driving some enormous push back on both sides of the aisle.

Photo of the day: Donald Trump holds his first Cabinet meeting at the White House Monday. He did note the four nominees who have yet to be confirmed, saying, “We have four empty seats, which is a terrible thing." Here's an image of the group gathered:

PHOTO: U.S. President Donald J. Trump (3-R) holds a meeting with members of his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room, on March 13, 2017, in Washington.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump (3-R) holds a meeting with members of his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room, on March 13, 2017, in Washington.


--Trump was talking about general surveillance in wiretapping claims, Spicer says: White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that President Donald Trump was not talking literally or specifically when he accused President Barack Obama of "wiretapping" his campaign. The controversy comes from Trump's unsubstantiated claims about being under surveillance by the Obama administration, which the president posted in a series of tweets more than a week ago, ABC's MEGHAN KENEALLY reports. "There's been substantial discussion in several reports," Spicer said, referencing "surveillance that occurred."

--CBO: 14 million more uninsured next year under GOP plan: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that some 14 million more people will be uninsured next year if the Republican proposal, the American Health Care Act, is enacted. That number is expected to jump to 24 million more by 2026, compared with the current law, the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature legislation, for a total of 52 million uninsured that year, according to the CBO. One of the biggest differences between the proposed health care plan and the ACA is that there would be no penalty for people who do not have health insurance. ABC's MEGHAN KENEALLY, JUSTIN FISHEL and BENJAMIN SIEGEL have more:

Speed read with ABC’s ADAM KELSEY

5 Takeaways from the CBO health care report. One of the first effects identified by the report is a large increase in the number of uninsured Americans under the AHCA as opposed to the current law. The CBO report also shows that the AHCA will "decrease federal deficits by $337 billion" over a 10-year period from 2017-2026 and allows increased premium costs for the elderly, especially low-income. ABC's ADAM KELSEY explains some of the key takeaways from the report:

DOJ asks for more time on inquiry into Trump wiretapping allegations. The Department of Justice has failed to meet the House Intelligence Committee's deadline to turn over any alleged evidence of wiretapping of President Donald Trump during the campaign. On Friday, House Intelligence Committee Chairs Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had formally requested that the Justice Department turn over any documentary evidence, including applications, orders or warrants, by Monday, assuming such information exists. According to a DOJ spokeswoman, the DOJ placed calls to Nunes and Schiff this afternoon, asking for "additional time to review the request," reports ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI.

Trump plans to donate salary, despite pledge not to take one. President Donald Trump has been drawing a salary -- despite pledging not to during the campaign and after the election -- but plans to donate the money to charity, according to press secretary Sean Spicer. With almost two months of service as president of the United States under his belt, Donald Trump has earned over $50,000 in salary. Spicer says that money will be given away by the end of 2017. Spicer said that the president's "intention right now is to donate his salary at the end of the year," note ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN and ADAM KELSEY.

Who's tweeting?

@glubold: Trump gave the CIA secret authority to do drone strikes again, reversing Obama. #bywithandthru me and @shaneharris

@ron_fournier: Give this a try in real life: Lie to somebody important, get caught, then walk it back with air quotes. Doesn't work

@BraddJaffy: Breitbart posts audio of Paul Ryan Oct conf call: “I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future”

@FoxNews: .@BretBaier: "Mr. Speaker, if you're encouraged by this CBO report, what's a CBO report you're discouraged by?" @SpeakerRyan explains. #AHCA

@brianklaas: The CBO is *the* trusted expert; it is led by a Republican. Price helped pick the director. And Trump used CBO stats 13x to attack Obama.

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