Map: Who loses if Trump cuts off health insurer payments - Axios
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Map: Who loses if Trump cuts off health insurer payments

We could get a decision from Trump today on whether the administration will keep paying insurers for their cost-sharing reduction subsidies to low-income people. A few things to keep in mind if he stops the payments:

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Map: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

  • Insurers have to keep providing the subsidies anyway — they just won't be reimbursed. That's why they'd respond by raising premiums for next year by as much as another 20%.
  • In Iowa, Medica — the last ACA insurer standing — says it would raise its premiums another 12% to 20% for next year if the payments end, per the Des Moines Register.
  • About 5.9 million people get the subsidies — about 57% of everyone who's enrolled in ACA private insurance coverage, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • They're heavily concentrated in red states, and especially in the south, as you can see from this map by our visuals editor, Lazaro Gamio. (We ran this map back in April, and now that the payments are under threat again, we thought it was time for an encore.)
  • The move would end up costing the federal government more money, rather than saving money, because the ACA tax credits would adjust to cover the higher premiums. The Kaiser Family Foundation predicts a net increase of $2.3 billion in federal costs next year.
  • But anyone who doesn't qualify for the tax credits would have to eat the extra costs.
  • The White House will point out, correctly, that Congress didn't fund the payments and that it could end the uncertainty at any time by doing so.
  • Now that the repeal bill — which would have funded the payments for two years — has collapsed, most Republicans won't want to provide the funding on its own. But some are reluctantly acknowledging they may have no choice. "I think we're going to have to do that," Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch told Reuters.
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Travis Kalanick hits back at Benchmark in Uber lawsuit reply

Sam Jayne / Axios

Former Uber CEO on Thursday filed his reply to a fraud lawsuit brought against him last week by venture capital firm Benchmark, which was designed to get him removed from the embattled company's board of directors. Here are the highlights, per a filing in Delaware Chancery Court:

Urgency: Benchmark has asked for a preliminary injunction that would effectively kick Kalanick off the company's board and out of its CEO search process. Kalanick argues that the dispute should be settled by an arbiter but, if it must be dealt with in court, then there is no need for a preliminary injunction because the current board is managing the business just fine: "There is no uncertainty regarding the validity of actions approved by a majority of the board. Nor is there any other independent, impending source of potential harm to the company or its stockholders."

Under duress: Kalanick alleges that Benchmark took advantage of him while he was in mourning for his mother, who was killed in a tragic boating accident that also seriously injured his father. "It executed its plan at the most shameful of times: immediately after Kalanick experienced a horrible personal tragedy."

Deal dispute: Benchmark has argued that Kalanick agreed upon resignation to give up three unfilled board seats that he controlled, but later refused to codify such changes. Kalanick contends that he had agreed that the seats would remain, with him receiving one and the entire board approving the two other directors. Either way, however, Kalanick seems to believe the agreement he signed the night of his resignation is invalid as it was not co-signed by any other party to the company's voting agreement, nor did he receive any consideration for giving up sole appointment power over those seats.

Prove it: Kalanick says that Benchmark's fraud claims rely heavily upon "information and belief," rather than explicitly detailing fraudulent statements.

Below is the full reply:

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Alt-social network raises $1 million amid Silicon Valley crackdown

Twitter

Gab, a so-called "free-speech social network" that's been rejected on app stores, has raised $1 million in crowdsourced funds amid a Silicon Valley crackdown on white nationalist content and accounts. The platform announced its fundraising milestone with a tweet that slammed "Silicon Valley elitist trash." The site claims to be politically neutral, but was started by a pro-Trump Silicon Valley executive, according to Venture Beat. Its avatar is a green frog that resembles the frog "Pepe" that is a symbol of the alt-right movement.

Why it matters: The alt-right movement in the U.S. has been leveraging social media to organize. Large fundraising efforts for the platform shows that the movement's momentum hasn't slowed down, despite efforts to stamp it out.

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5 presumed Barcelona terrorists shot dead to stop second attack

Police officers stand next to the van involved on an attack in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 (Manu Fernandez / AP)

Spanish police said Friday (local time) that five people presumed to be terrorists involved with the Barcelona attack have been shot dead in Cambrils, south of the Catalan capital, in an effort to prevent a second attempted attack, per the BBC.

Go deeper: Read more about the Barcelona attack here.

This post has been updated to reflect that the fifth suspect who was shot, and initially reported injured, has died.

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McConnell supports Flake hours after Trump calls him "toxic"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has his "full support" ahead of his reelection bid next year, according to an official McConnell Twitter account:

  • Timing: Earlier today, Trump tweeted, "Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!"
  • Context: Flake opposed Trump during his presidential campaign and in his recent book, "The Conscience of a Conservative," Flake sharply criticized Trump and condemned his party for enabling Trump's rise to the presidency.
  • Why it matters: McConnell, who was reportedly livid with the way the president handled the violence in Charlottesville, has been engaged in an ongoing feud with Trump following the president's series of tweets criticizing the Majority Leader's performance. McConnell's latest statement in support of Flake only adds fuel to the fire.
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White House calls it quits on Infrastructure Council

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The White House called it quits Thursday on a council that was expected to advise President Trump on how to best improve U.S. infrastructure, acknowledging that participation in the council could subject members to intense criticism given the controversy surrounding Trump's handling of the Charlottesville, Virginia attacks, per the WSJ.

  • Why it matters: It's Infrastructure Week. And it suggests the Charlottesville fallout is having larger implications.
  • The announcement: "The President's Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, will not move forward," a White House official said Thursday.
  • Timing: The move comes just one day after Trump abruptly shut down his two key groups of outside business advisers.
  • Bad optics: Canceling an infrastructure council the same week that the White House is supposed to be pushing its infrastructure agenda is only intensifying what has already been a tough week for the administration.

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Sen. Corker calls for "radical changes" at the White House

Erik Schelzig / AP

Sen. Bob Corker, who has been restrained in his criticism of President Trump, let loose while speaking to local media in Tennessee. Per the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

  • "We're at a point where there needs to be radical changes at the White House — it has to happen."
  • "The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful."
  • "We should hope that he aspires, that he does some self reflection, and that he does what is necessary to demonstrate stability, to demonstrate competence and demonstrate he understands the character of our nation..."
  • "Helping to inspire divisions because it generates support from your base is not a formula for causing our nation to advance..."
Why it's different: Republican members of Congress have criticized Trump plenty of times before — but rarely in such sweeping, biting terms.
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AT&T reportedly in advanced talks with DOJ for Time Warner deal

Alan Diaz / AP

Justice Department officials are in discussions with AT&T about potential merger conditions, the WSJ reports, a positive sign for its $85 million bid for Time Warner.

Conditions: Despite Trump's early criticism of the tie-up, antitrust experts have anticipated the DoJ would approve the deal — with conditions — since the companies do not directly compete. Still, content providers have raised concerns with the DoJ that the deal will allow AT&T to favor its own programming over others and would consolidate media power. As Bloomberg reported last month, a possible condition would be pledging not to give its own programming an unfair advantage over rivals.

Data: The WSJ also reports that DoJ officials have asked about making AT&T's large amounts of customer data available to competitors at a reasonable price. This data is a major asset as telecom providers try to get a bigger piece of the online advertising market.

Top job still vacant: DoJ's review of the merger has continued despite the fact that the top antitrust enforcer post remains unfilled. Trump's pick for the job, Makan Delrahim, is still waiting on Senate confirmation. His confirmation is not necessary for staff to come to a conclusion on the deal, antitrust experts say.

AT&T has said it expects the deal to close by the end of the year.

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Trump again pushes debunked claim on WWI-era general

President Trump tweeted a fictional claim about WWI-era General John Pershing Thursday afternoon, telling his followers to "study it." This is one of several times Trump has cited the debunked claim about Pershing.

The fictional story he's referring to: Pershing, around the time of the Philippine-American War, killed 49 Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs' blood, and spared the 50th person so that he would take the last bullet to his people and tell them what happened.

Why? Trump has referenced this story repeatedly at rallies both during his campaign and his presidency as a way to give credence to his claim that the U.S. should "go much further" than waterboarding suspected terrorists.

Timing: The tweet came hours after a terrorist attack in Barcelona left at least 13 people dead and more than 50 injured.

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Cleveland Clinic pulls gala from Mar-a-Lago

Evan Vucci / AP

Cleveland Clinic is pulling its 2018 Florida fundraising gala from Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's Palm Beach club, according to the Plain Dealer. Cleveland Clinic's CEO, Toby Cosgrove, was a member of Trump's Strategic and Policy Council, which made the decision to disband minutes before Trump dissolved both of his business advisory councils with a tweet.

The statement: "After careful consideration, Cleveland Clinic has decided that it will not hold a Florida fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago in 2018 ... We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years."

Why it matters: It's another rejection for Trump from the business community following his controversial remarks on Charlottesville. Go deeper with Mike Allen's list of who else Trump has alienated.

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Journalist on other end of Bannon interview: "I was stunned"

Robert Kuttner, co-editor of left-wing publication American Prospect (Peter Stevenson / The Washington Post)

Robert Kuttner, co-editor of left-wing publication American Prospect, opened up Thursday to The Washington Post about his unexpected interview with Steve Bannon Tuesday, saying he "was stunned."

  • "He was astonishingly dismissive of his boss' view of saber rattling... and he was quite cavalier in saying things that were quite at odds with the presumed administration line."
  • "The most astonishing thing of all... [is that Bannon first claimed the interview] was a misunderstanding, [saying] 'I didn't realize this was on the record', now he's saying [he] did this deliberately to help the president out by diverting attention from all the stuff that's going on in the aftermath of Charlottesville."
  • "I think you can attribute this to hubris in the sense that, if you're so full of yourself, your judgment starts faltering... this was like a stream of consciousness."

Go deeper: Axios' Jonathan Swan on the Bannon surprise