Axios AM

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May 05, 2017

Good Friday morning, and happy Cinco de Mayo!

1 big thing: "A fog lifted"

West Wing officials had been sweating the health-care vote more than they let on. A White House source texted Axios' Jonathan Swan last night: "Needed that win. It was like a fog lifted."

  • Many on Trump's staff knew that the first bill was a dog, even though they had to sell it publicly. The way history is being written internally is that Healthcare 1.0 was outsourced to Speaker Ryan and HHS Secretary Tom Price, which is now seen at highest levels as a major mistake. For 2.0, letting Vice President Pence play quiet broker with the House factions worked much better. (More on Pence's role here.)
  • Reality check: Yesterday's Rose Garden celebration (a rare gesture when a bill has passed one chamber, and is probably months from the president's desk) could become Trump's "Mission Accomplished" if the bill bogs down in the Senate, or on its return trip to the House.
  • Sound smart: House leaders knew the fragile vote could unravel if they delayed. But now members have rushed into voting for a measure that has zero chance of becoming law in its current, controversial form. And they did it for Trump, who could wind up costing some of them their seats. (See item 4, below.)

What's next: The Senate will radically rewrite the House bill, which will take at least a month, and maybe two. But Mitch McConnell will allow the wheels to turn. A top aide says: "He wants to get it done."

2. ​Disneyland v Trumpland?

Disney CEO Bob Iger is being pelted with entreaties to run for president in 2020, and is clearly intrigued by the idea, according to industry sources. Iger has discussed the feasibility with friends but has made no formal moves.

"He's hearing quite a bit of: You should run — you'd be a great president," said one Hollywood insider. "He's hearing that quite a bit from prominent fundraisers and Democratic insiders."

  • A ringleader? Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former Disney Studios chairman, is said to be among those encouraging a run. The Hollywood Reporter said in March that "Iger has told friends he is considering their nudges." The rumor in Hollywood is that Katzenberg was a key leak of the story.
  • Why he might do it: Trump's triumph has resulted in lots of businesspeople, from Oprah to Starbucks' Howard Schultz, being mentioned as possible candidates. Trump's win showed you don't need experience in government or a military record. So suddenly, lots of CEOs think they should be hired. Iger led an iconic company on a huge growth spurt and has long toyed with the idea of running.
  • Why he might not do it: Iger is committed to his Disney job through July 2019, which wouldn't leave lots of time to get a campaign going.
  • FYI: Willow Bay, his wife, in March was named dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

3. Trump 101

Maggie Haberman, in an online chat with the N.Y. Times' new Australia bureau chief, Damien Cave:

  • "I would strongly recommend people read Tom Wolfe's 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' to better understand this president."
  • "The president speaks to Murdoch now almost every day."
  • "Sometimes after a tough story that [Trump] doesn't like his aides will send angry emails. Sometimes they won't send anything at all — they will just go complain publicly. And other times he will stop talking for a while or his press aides will stop talking to you."
  • "There is no paper that captures Trump's imagination more than The New York Times, except possibly The New York Post. But The Times to him represents Manhattan elites whose approval he has wanted for decades."

4. More Rs now at risk in midterms

A key Republican strategist tells me that the health-care vote gives Dems a better (though still not good) chance of retaking the House in 2018.

  • The reason: After the Senate vote, the House members "will have difficulty passing a repeal/replace bill, but will have voted for a bill that Dems can claim would be terrible for real people's health care and costs."

SIREN: The Cook Political Report today will shift its 2018 forecast for 20 House districts, all in favor of Ds!

David Wasserman (@redistrict), House Editor of The Cook Political Report (@CookPolitical), gives Axios AM readers a sneak peek at his analysis:

  • "Not only did dozens of Republicans in marginal districts just hitch their names to an unpopular piece of legislation, Democrats just received their best candidate recruitment tool yet."
  • Sentence of the day: "Democrats aren't so much recruiting candidates as they are overwhelmed by a deluge of eager newcomers, including doctors and veterans in traditionally red seats who have no political record for the GOP to attack — almost a mirror image of 2010."
  • "Of the 23 Republicans sitting in districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, 14 voted for ... repeal and replace."

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, warning moderate Rs: "You have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark."

5. What it does

Quick points from a Wall Street Journal front-page analysis, "A Bet on More Winners Than Losers," by Stephanie Armour:

"The House Republican health bill is driven by one big idea: Insurers and markets, rather than government, should be empowered to find ways to provide health insurance ... at affordable prices."

  • "The bill ... creates a mechanism to free insurers to sell a wider variety of products — including less-comprehensive plans now barred by law—and to price them in new ways, potentially raising premiums for older and sicker Americans.
  • "The bill ends the requirement that individuals carry insurance or pay a penalty, substituting a price increase for those who choose to go without coverage and buy it later. It gives states more freedom to experiment with their Medicaid programs.
  • "Republicans are betting that these changes will engender competition, draw healthier people into the insurance pool and cut premium prices overall. Democrats ... said many participants and providers in the health system will face higher costs and be worse off."

President Trump, appearing last night with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (via pool report by Tara Palmeri): "So when you compare something to Obamacare, Obamacare is no longer living. And we have something that's going to be, I think, one of the best anywhere in the world."

6. 2016 polling post-mortem

The takeaway: WashPost's Dan Balz, on a report yesterday by the American Association for Public Opinion Research: "National surveys were generally accurate in projecting the popular vote but state polls had 'a historically bad year' in forecasting the results in the electoral college."

  • "The AAPOR team also found flaws among those organizations that produce poll aggregates and projections of results and pointed to these predictions as one reason so many people were surprised."

From the report: "State-level polls ... clearly under-estimated Trump's support in the Upper Midwest. Polls showed Hillary Clinton leading, if narrowly, in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin."

Reasons polls under-estimated support for Trump:

  • "Real change in vote preference during the final week or so."
  • "Adjusting for over-representation of college graduates was critical, but many polls did not do it."
  • "Some Trump voters who participated in pre-election polls did not reveal themselves as Trump voters until after the election, and they outnumbered late-revealing Clinton voters."

7. Amazing stat du jour

N.Y. Times' "About New York" column by Jim Dwyer, "Libraries Are Fining Children Who Can't Afford to Be Without Books":

"Just as adults discover they cannot renew their driving licenses if they have too many unpaid tickets, children discover that they lose library privileges if they rack up more than $15 in late fees. The library is the Department of Motor Vehicles on training wheels.

"A recent tally found that library cards were blocked for more than 225,000 young people in the city. That means around one in five city children with library cards cannot use them."

8. Covering tomorrow

Economist cover, "Regulating the internet giants: The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data — The data economy demands a new approach to antitrust rules":

  • "These titans — Alphabet (Google's parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft — look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging."
  • "Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up ... This newspaper has argued against such drastic action in the past. Size alone is not a crime."
  • "But there is cause for concern. ... Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the 'data economy."
  • Prescription 1: "[A]ntitrust authorities ... now need to take into account the extent of firms' data assets when assessing the impact of deals."
  • Prescription 2: "[L]oosen the grip that providers of online services have over data and give more control to those who supply them."

9. Tracking power

Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign's Digital Director, is joining the board at Data Trust, the conservative voter file and data management company that has an exclusive data-sharing agreement with the RNC to provide foundational data for right-leaning campaigns and groups. Axios' Sara Fischer

Carl Woog, a Pentagon and National Security Council official under President Obama, started this week at Facebook, where he'll lead policy communications for WhatsApp, which has 1.2 billion users.

10. 1 fun thing

The inside story of the engagement of "Morning" Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, by Emily Jane Fox on Vanity Fair's "The Hive":

[S]omething shifted about a year and a half ago. "Everyone talks about how there was always something there," Brzezinski told me. "Over the past year and a half, I realized I had to face these feelings and that it was time to stop putting them in a box. ... It was something I couldn't deny anymore." ...

"The trip to the Hotel du Cap in Antibes was ostensibly for Brzezinski's 50th birthday, which was on May 2 ... On the final evening of their trip, the couple ascended the hotel's palatial walkway from the pool and restaurant to its mansion overlooking the Mediterranean. They were en route to the Bellini bar ... when Scarborough paused and stopped Brzezinski. ...

Scarborough then plopped down on one knee with an oval-shaped diamond ring set in platinum that he'd been hiding in his suitcase for days and asked her to marry him.

I asked them if they would consider [an offer by Trump to officiate, made back in January]. "The White House that I grew up in was an amazing place. If it weren't Trump, it might be something to think about," Brzezinski said. "The mental picture is just fascinating, but the reality is just . . . no. No, no, no, no, no."