A new analysis out late Friday from the US Senate Parliamentarian suggests that a number of provisions in the GOP's scheme to repeal and replace ObamaCare may not pass muster under Senate rules for passage under 'budget reconciliation' with just a 51 vote majority. Instead, 60 votes may be needed, in which case, the scheme may be in even more trouble than it already appears. Or, Senate Republicans could simply try to kill the legislative filibuster instead. Either way, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a vote to proceed on Tuesday, even though it remains unclear exactly what Senators will be voting on.
At the same time, Democrats are unveiling their own scheme ("A Better Deal") to try and win back voters in 2018. Comments over the weekend from Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggest that the passionate advocacy from progressives for a "Medicare-for-all" style system (single payer) or, at least a public option for health care insurance, may finally be moving the party establishment.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues publicly attacking his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions and talking about Presidential pardon powers for some reason. But some of those powers, contrary to conventional wisdom, may not be as absolute as he and others have argued, including the power to pardon himself. We're joined by author and Constitutional law expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior Editor of ThinkProgress Justice, to discuss legal assessments from the Nixon era though the Clinton era through now, in regards the power of the Presidential pardon, and the dangers that power could present for Donald Trump himself if he chooses to exercise it for some of his close aides and family members.
Among the man related questions and "myths" discussed: What dangers lurk for the President from those he may pardon? Can the President really pardon himself? Can a sitting President be criminally indicted?
But, of course, much remains unknown when it comes to the various extraordinary ways we are discussing the power of the Presidential pardon, of late, because the US Supreme Court has not rung in on most of it. That's because, as Millhiser notes, "most Presidents don't commit federal offenses when they're in office."
"Here's what this really comes down to: Everyone has assumed that the President would be capable of shame. I'm dead serious about that. Why did Nixon resign? He resigned because he was capable of shame," Millhiser argues. "Everyone assumes that if the President somehow was not capable of shame, then the Congress would be capable of shaming him. When you go back and you read James Madison or Alexander Hamilton, they did not understand the inevitability of political parties," Millhiser argues. "So the Constitution was written on this assumption that you've got all these ambitious people in Congress…and so if you've got a rogue President, they'll all band together to throw that President out because it's good for their careers. They did not understand that, in 2017, we would have the kind of extraordinary partisanship we have right now, where you have a President who is incapable of shame, and you have Congress controlled by the President's party, which is unwilling to do anything to undermine its party's President. Our Constitution is not fit for this set of circumstances."
Finally today, in related matters, the public is much more in favor of impeachment now than they were at the start of the Watergate scandal, four years and six months into Richard Nixon's term as President. And, speaking of public interests, it appears the GOP attempt to undermine ObamaCare has resulted in many more Americans believing the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health care coverage for all.
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