☕️ Good Saturday morning.
⚡Breaking ... Trump tweets: "Secretary of the Interior @RyanZinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year ... The Trump Administration will be announcing the new Secretary of the Interior next week."
- Be smart: Axios expert Amy Harder says Zinke's departure will mean smoother processes and less ethical controversy.
1 big thing: Affordable Care Act may be headed back to Supreme Court
Be smart: This really could end with the Affordable Care Act being wiped out.
- There’s no guarantee that a more conservative Supreme Court won’t just let the law die.
What's new: The Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature achievement, may be headed back to the Supreme Court after a conservative federal judge in Texas struck down the individual mandate as unconstitutional last evening.
- A White House statement said: "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place."
- "The ruling was over a lawsuit filed this year by a group of Republican governors and state attorneys general," per the N.Y. Times.
- U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance "can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power."
Axios managing editor David Nather, who co-wrote a book about the ACA debate and has narrated every milestone, makes us smarter, faster:
- This was an amazingly broad ruling. The judge didn't just strike down everything that's related to the individual mandate. He struck down everything, period.
- That includes the parts that everyone likes, like the expansion of Medicaid, young adults staying on their parents' plans — and, of course, coverage of pre-existing conditions.
- Nothing happens right away. The ruling will be appealed, there's no injunction to shut down the law right now, and the Trump administration is making it clear the law stays in place for now.
Why it matters: You should take this ruling seriously. It's getting a lot of criticism from legal experts, including ACA critics, and it could be overturned — but it won't definitely be overturned. This really could end with the ACA being wiped out.
- The ACA has already survived two near-death experiences with the Supreme Court — over the mandate in 2012 and subsidies in 2015.
- But that was before the Kavanaugh Court. If this ruling gets that far, the justices could say the ruling went too far and overturn it.
- But there’s no guarantee that a more conservative court won’t just let the law die.
Political fallout: This could be a nightmare for Republicans in suburbs and swing states.
- The midterms proved that the ACA has gotten more popular since the GOP started trying to repeal it — especially the protections for pre-existing conditions.
- If the law goes away, that goes with it. This is not the fight Republicans want to have.
2. "Acting! Brilliant! Thank you"
President Trump had a meeting scheduled Monday with a possible candidate for White House chief of staff. Guess that guy ain't getting it.
You can tell so much about West Wing dynamics by the way Trump announced Mick Mulvaney — already wearing two hats as White House budget director and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — as his acting chief of staff:
- Trump blurted out his decision with a 5:18 p.m. Friday tweet, amid coverage of how few top people wanted the job. (On CNN, the job was compared to hosting the Oscars. Trump tweeted: "For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff.")
- Trump announced Mulvaney as "Acting" chief of staff, a puzzling wrinkle which prolongs the instability that a new chief of staff presumably would be tasked with vanquishing.
White House insiders expect Mulvaney to get the permanent gig.
- But Trump keeps control and doesn't fully empower his guy, reminding Mulvaney who the real chief of staff is: No funny business like General John Kelly tried to pull, restricting enablers' access to POTUS.
- This is exactly why some other candidates didn't take the job or didn't get the job: They would have insisted on changes Trump doesn't want to make.
- A senior administration official who spoke to reporters at the White House said: "There’s no time limit." Asked why Mulvaney was named "acting," the official said: "Because that’s what the president wants."
- A White House statement last night said: "Mick Mulvaney will not resign from the Office Of Management and Budget, but will spend all of his time devoted to his role as the acting Chief Of Staff for the President. Russ Vought will handle day to day operations and run OMB."
After all the drama around the pick, numerous Trump allies — inside and out — told me they think the pick is a pretty good idea and has as good a chance of working as anything.
- Mulvaney, 51 (bi0) is a former congressman from South Carolina who has the toughness, Hill connections and political skills Trump will need amid a re-election race, a hostile House and impeachment/Mueller drama.
- Their personal chemistry is great — a key criterion for Trump. Mulvaney is one of the very few administration officials who golfs with Trump. "And Mick is actually a good golfer," said one insider. "Trump respects that."
The WashPost has the sentence of the day: "Mulvaney has an easy rapport with Trump, often taking large charts and colorful graphics into the Oval Office to explain fiscal policy, administration officials said."
Above, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney discusses a possible government shutdown 11 months ago.
- Shutdown watch: Deadline Friday night to avoid partial federal government shutdown. The House is taking an extended five-day weekend, returning Wednesday night. Senate returns Monday. Ball is in Trump's court. (AP)
3. Stat du jour: Record Latino clout in D.C.
"A record 43 Latinos elected to Congress are set to take the oath of office in January, including the youngest woman ever elected, two Latinas from Texas, the first Latino to represent Ohio and a woman born in Ecuador," AP's Luis Alonso Lugo reports.
- "A few are ascending to leadership roles, demonstrating the growing clout of the 57 million Latinos who live in the United States."
- "New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan will move into the fourth-highest position in Democratic leadership, becoming the highest-ranking Latino in the history of the House."
- "In the Senate, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will become the first Latina ever in charge of the Democratic Party's campaign arm for Senate races."
"Francisco Pedraza, a political scientist at University of California, Riverside, attributed the largest Latino representation ever to a larger turnout propelled by rhetoric from President Trump about immigrants."
- "Latinos are the nation's largest minority and constitute 18 percent of the total population, yet their political impact is diluted due to their low electoral turnout."
4. The week in 3 images
5. The super-big picture: Technology has over-saturated us
For millennia, technology had little big-picture impact, Axios future editor Steve LeVine writes:
- Look at the straight line in the chart — that includes every major invention since the year 1 AD, including the printing press.
- Then James Watt triggered the Industrial Revolution by reinventing the steam engine, and before you knew it we all owned iPhones.
The big picture: It's all come too fast. We are saturated with life-rattling new technologies, yet more is on its way — artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robots and greater use of cyber weapons.
- They are changing our lives in ways both good and otherwise.
- The way we use technology is making us more distracted and divided — and allowing bad players to create chaos and tear apart our open societies.
These dizzying creations may not be boosting the economy at nearly the same scale as prior big inventions.
- In "The Rise and Fall of American Growth," published in 2016, Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon argued that most of our genuinely impactful inventions were already with us by around 1970. That includes electricity, the airplane, air conditioning and the TV.
- Inventions since then, while impressive, simply are not of the same scale in terms of elevating overall productivity, Gordon said.
Go deeper with Steve's special report on the world in upheaval.
6. 1 fun thing
The future of dining could include surge pricing ... "Online reservation systems will soon allow diners to finish their meal and leave without whipping out a credit card," by paying in advance based on dynamic pricing, Bloomberg reports:
Nick Kokonas, co-owner of culinary reservation system Tock, said that rather than create culinary gimmicks with artificially inflated prices to make ends meet, restaurants should introduce “surge pricing” like that offered by Uber and Lyft.
- Meals would rise and fall in price based on the demand in the reservation system.