Jan 23, 2017

Decoding the Obamacare executive order

A few notes on what else is in the executive order:

  • Key phrase: "provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs."
  • Experts are interpreting that as a nod to giving states more Medicaid waivers, and possibly encouraging the "Section 1332" waivers in Obamacare, which are supposed to allow the states to come up with different ways to achieve the law's goals.
  • From Stanford's Lanhee Chen, Mitt Romney's former policy director and a member of the Axios board of outside experts: "It is quite broad and sweeping in its potential scope. It has the potential to be game-changing with respect to enforcement of the mandates, as well as state innovation in Medicaid.
  • What's next, according to Chen: "The big question is how far the administration will take it, and whether they are willing to use some of the same broad interpretations of executive authority that the Obama administration did, albeit for very different ends."
  • A former Senate Democratic aide who helped write Obamacare — Harvard's John McDonough, another member of the Axios board of experts — isn't convinced the order means much: "It seems in this instance as though Trump is shooting with rubber bullets."

Go deeper

George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."