David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Trump's apocalyptic inaugural address was pure Steve Bannon, and a White House official now confirms that it was written by Bannon and Stephen Miller. In another of those weird recent attempts to draw historic parallels between Trump and Andrew Jackson, Bannon is quoted as saying, “I don’t think we’ve had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House. It’s got a deep, deep root of patriotism.”

But if you read Jackson's first inaugural address, it is full of the modesty, humility, self-deprecation and traditional appeals to our better nature that are historically associated with presidential inaugural addresses. There is nothing in it on par with Trump's "American carnage."

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In one of his first official acts as President, Donald Trump issued an executive order taking his first swing at Obamacare. The order, signed in the Oval Office this evening, directs the federal government "to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the Affordable Care Act. But beyond its general emphasis on easing the burden and giving the states more flexibility, it doesn't offer specific guidance or direction.

The full text of the executive order:

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If you're comfortably ensconced in a health insurance plan through your job and don't think the Obamacare repeal and replace debate will directly affect you, give a close look at the plan that HHS nominee Tom Price has been pushing for years to dismantle the employer-based health insurance system. It would end employer-based insurance as we know it, but it barely came up in Price's first round of Senate hearings yesterday. Super important. Worth a read.

Our piece on how NOT NORMAL Trump's presser was today is excellent, and you should read it! But if you're going to read just one thing today, make it the speech this afternoon by the director of the Office of Government Ethics. It's well worth your time for a deeper understanding of the norms Trump is violating by refusing to divest, by failing to engage with the OGE and by not holding himself to the standards of his predecessors – or of his own appointees. Go read it!

TPM's Tierney Sneed is covering the confirmation hearing of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be attorney general. You can watch the hearing live and follow Tierney's coverage from the hearing room here.

Five GOP senators have broken ranks and are now pushing to delay Obamacare repeal by more than month to allow more time to come up with a replacement plan.

A potentially very important development this evening on the Obamacare repeal front, as TPM's Lauren Fox reports. HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a key figure in internal GOP wrangling over repeal and eventual (if ever?) replacement, told reporters on the Hill that Obamacare repeal should come after a replacement is in place and "available" to consumers.

At the same time and in a similar vein, Alexander's fellow Tennesseean, Bob Corker, was expressing his frustration that repeal as planned would wipe out the tax revenue to pay for an Obamacare replacement.

Just to emphasize the point: these comments, especially Alexander's, are very much at odds with the McConnell-Ryan plan for immediate repeal.

In what may be an important shift, the overall impression that Republicans on the Hill are giving today is that they're beginning to grapple at long last with some of the myriad political and policy downsides of Obamacare repeal. It's still early, and we need more evidence of a real shift before we draw any firm conclusions. But this reporting from Lauren Fox suggests that one of the immediate consequences of growing GOP wariness may be a push from some members to ensure that some sort of replacement plan is passed at the same time as repeal.

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What stands as perhaps the most brazen element of the lame-duck North Carolina legislature's last-minute effort to weaken the office of the governor before Democrat Roy Cooper is sworn in involves what we traditionally think of as patronage positions.

This really is something to behold.

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