Matt Shuham

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously associate editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Monday that Senate Republican leadership was trying to “jam this thing through,” referring to the bill to repeal Obamacare and impose deep cuts to Medicaid.

Johnson, who does not think the bill is conservative enough, reiterated his opposition to Republican leadership’s plan to vote on it this week in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, saying: “You don’t have to do it this week. I just completely disagree with you on that.”

Still, Johnson told Hewitt: “When I’m forced to vote a bill, I’ll take a look at that bill, and I’ll have to make the determination: Does this put us in a better place tomorrow than we are today? And that will be my guiding principle.”

“I have not said I’m ‘no.’ I’m just not ‘yes’ yet,” he said.

“I don’t know about a motion to proceed” with a vote, he hedged later. “It depends on what information I get before that vote’s taken, Hugh. Right now I’ve got no information. I have very limited information. This does not make an accountant very happy.”

During the discussion, Johnson was harshly critical of Republican leadership’s handling of the legislative process.

“What has transpired in the Senate so far, and I’d say in the House, are the design of bills void of information,” he said at one point, adding later: “I’ve been behind the scenes. I’ve listened to people argue the points completely absent of any information.”

He also criticized the bill’s treatment of premium costs, which would likely get worse than they are currently under Obamacare.

“It is a gaping admission that we’re not looking at the premiums,” Johnson said. “And yes, we know what causes premiums to increase. Obviously, the bill-writers in the House and Senate aren’t acknowledging it. They don’t have the courage to address the fact that guaranteed issue collapses markets.”

“Guaranteed issue” prevents insurers from refusing coverage based on health status. Obamacare used a mandate to compel most people to purchase insurance, to avoid insurance companies taking on too many high-cost customers as a result of guaranteed issue without also taking on healthier people. Senate Republicans’ bill drops that mandate.

However, a revised version of Senate Republicans’ bill published after Johnson’s interview with Hewitt Monday adds a continuous coverage requirement in order to incentivize individuals to stay insured: individuals with a break in coverage longer than two months in the previous year, under the revised bill, would face a six-month waiting period when they attempt to purchase insurance again.

Listen to Johnson’s full interview with Hewitt here.

This post has been updated.

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The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, on Monday released an analysis of the effects of Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill on health care premiums.

In short: They’ll go up, and especially so for older people.

The above chart tracks the increase in premium price for “silver plan” insurance coverage for a hypothetical 60-year-old with income at 350 percent of the poverty line in 2020.

The below chart tracks the decrease in premium tax credits for the the same hypothetical individual, except now the individual has an income slightly above 350 percent of the poverty line, so that they would not receive any federal tax credit to purchase insurance on the individual market.

CBPP took into account the Senate Republican bill’s cuts to tax credits for individuals purchasing insurance; the bill’s re-arrangement of the tax credit schedule, which would disfavor older people; the bill’s elimination of tax credits for individuals between 350 and 400 percent of the poverty line; and the bill’s stipulation that insurers would now be allowed to charge older people up to five times more than young people, as opposed to three times more under Obamacare. The bill would also eliminate Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, insurer subsidies to help low-income individuals afford care.

Read CBPP’s full report here.

This post has been updated.

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President Donald Trump asked former President Obama for an apology on Monday, accusing him of doing “nothing” in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election and asserting there was no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. Trump also said Obama “colluded or obstructed,” though it was unclear what specifically the charge was in reference to.

Trump echoed the criticisms he made Friday and Saturday, which appeared to be in response to a lengthy Washington Post report on Friday detailing the decision-making process behind Obama’s response to Russian meddling.

Trump’s reference to Obama choking seemed to be in reference to one unnamed Post source, “a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia,” who said: “It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend … I feel like we sort of choked.”

The Trump administration has appeared wary of antagonizing Russia. Trump himself frequently called the Russian election interference story a hoax, and raised the possibility that other state or non-state actors could have stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, despite the assertions of the intelligence community.

The intelligence community formally accused Russia of interfering in the election in October. In December, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and their families and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds, in addition to instituting new sanctions. In January, a declassified intelligence community report asserted that “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

However, according to the Post’s reporting, the administration was wary of appearing as though they were interfering in the election in order to favor Hillary Clinton; Trump at that point spoke frequently of a “rigged” election.

Months before the first formal accusation against Russia, Trump asked the country during a press conference: “I will tell you this, Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and others were resistant to announcing Russian intentions publicly, the Post reported.

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President Donald Trump acknowledged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and criticized the Obama administration for not doing more to respond to it on Friday night and again Saturday afternoon.

The comments seemed to be in reference to a lengthy Washington Post report Friday on the decision-making process behind the Obama administration’s response to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump has repeatedly hedged on whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election, frequently dismissing the story entirely and saying Democrats were using it as an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential race.

The U.S. intelligence community on Oct. 7 accused Russia of hacking into the email systems of “US political organizations,” but did not say the effort was made to aide Donald Trump or hurt Hillary Clinton. A declassified intelligence community report released Jan. 6 asserted: “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

In December, the Obama administration closed two Russian diplomatic compounds and expelled 35 Russian diplomats, in addition to imposing limited new sanctions.

Among other things, the Post reported Friday that the Obama administration had received in intelligence in August 2016 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered a campaign to hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016, and to help Donald Trump’s.

“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” one unnamed former senior Obama administration official “involved in White House deliberations on Russia” told the Post, referring to the Obama administration’s response to the hacking campaign. “I feel like we sort of choked.”

While Trump wondered on Twitter Saturday if the Obama administration had not done more to counter Russia because “[t]hey didn’t want to hurt Hillary,” according to the Post, Obama’s concerns may have been the opposite: The administration was hesitant to appear as though they were intervening in the election on Clinton’s behalf, and against Trump, the Post reported.

By then, Trump already spoke frequently of a “rigged” election.

Asked Wednesday why it took “the administration so long to make a public statement that a foreign adversary was trying to influence the American election,” former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified: “One of the candidates, as you’ll recall, was predicting that the election was going to be rigged in some way. And so we were concerned that by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the election process itself.”

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Hillary Clinton criticized Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare on Friday, calling the GOP “the death party.”

Clinton was responding to estimates from the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal advocacy group, that 18,100 to 27,700 additional Americans would die in 2026 as a result of Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill.

Several Senate Republicans wrote the repeal bill in secret over several weeks, releasing it Thursday ahead of a potential vote as early as this coming Thursday.

The bill proposes deep cuts to Medicaid and offers tax credits to individuals purchasing insurance on the individual market that are less generous than Obamacare’s subsidies.

Though the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has not released an estimate of the impacts of Senate Republicans’ bill — it said Thursday that it aims to have an estimate out “early next week” — CAP used data from the CBO’s analysis of House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill and other data, including that recorded during Massachusetts’ health care reform effort.

“Death panels” is a reference to the frequently-debunked Republican attack against the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010 that the law would allow government bureaucrats to determine care for elderly and sick people.

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Friday said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had accused supporters of Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill of murder.

Hatch, who is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, was responding to a tweet in which Sanders claimed “Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law.”

The debate over charged political rhetoric became especially tense on June 14, when a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

After hearing that the alleged shooter volunteered for his presidential campaign, Sanders took to the Senate floor to denounce violence, saying he was “sickened” by the shooting, and adding: “Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through non-violent action, and anything else runs counter to our most deeply-held American values.”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in May that 23 million fewer people would have insurance by 2026 under the House Obamacare repeal bill, versus the status quo.

The CBO said Thursday that they would aim to have an estimate of Senate Republicans’ proposal out by “early next week.”

A 2009 study conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance estimated that lack of health insurance caused 44,789 excess deaths per year, and that working-age Americans without health insurance were significantly more likely to die than those with health insurance.

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President Donald Trump on Saturday defended Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal by arguing against the law it seeks to roll back.

Trump’s reference to “keep your doctor, keep your plan” appeared to be in reference to former President Barack Obama’s claim in support of the Affordable Care Act that Americans who liked their health insurance plans could keep them. Politifact notably named that claim its “Lie of the Year” in 2013.

But while it’s true that health care costs are rising, there’s little evidence that Senate Republicans’ bill, which was negotiated in secret for weeks and could see a vote as early as Thursday, would do anything to stop that rise. In fact, it would likely increase consumers’ out-of-pocket costs.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that they aimed to have an estimate on the impacts of the Senate proposal “early next week.”

Trump has consistently made dramatic promises about health care — including that he would sign into law a bill to provide “insurance for everybody” and that he would not sign off on cuts to programs like Medicaid — that Republican legislators have not achieved in their Obamacare repeal effort.

On Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was “very supportive of the current bill,” referring to the Senate Republicans’ bill, and that “he’s committed to making sure that no one who currently is in the Medicaid program is affected in any way, which is reflected in the Senate bill and he’s pleased with that.”

However, Senate Republicans’ bill would make deep cuts to Medicaid, rolling back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and transforming federal Medicaid payments to the states into per capita reimbursements, the rates of rich would get smaller and smaller through 2025, or block grants.

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer said comments about President Donald Trump’s assassination were “troubling,” hours after the White House hosted a former adviser to Trump’s campaign who called for Hillary Clinton to be shot for treason.

“I think it’s troubling,” Spicer said in a press briefing Friday, in response to a question about a production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in which a Trumpian Caesar is assassinated.

“Whether it’s that or Johnny Depp’s comments or — I mean, we’ve seen this, and frankly as far as I’m concerned, I know that the President and the First Lady weighed in on Kathy Griffin’s comments,” he continued. “I don’t know that he’s aware about the play in particular that’s going on there but it is frankly, in my belief, a little troubling, the lack of outrage that we’ve seen in some of these instances where people have said what they’ve said with respect to the President and the actions that should be taken.”

Two hours earlier, as Trump signed a law promoting accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs, New Hampshire State Rep. Al Baldasaro “was sitting in one of the first two rows in the audience” in the East Room, according to a White House pool report. Baldasaro advised the Trump campaign on veterans issues and served as a delegate for then-candidate Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Baldasaro also called for Hillary Clinton to be shot for treason during the presidential campaign, prompting him to come under Secret Service scrutiny in July. Still, Trump gave Baldasaro a shout-out during a campaign rally in New Hampshire in August, and in October, Trump answered a question from Baldasaro during a campaign event.

Asked later in the press briefing how he could condemn Depp and Griffin the same day the White House invited Baldasaro to an event, Spicer seemed unable to recall the one-time Trump adviser.

“Obviously, as I mentioned, I make it very clear, I condemn all acts of violence,” Spicer said. “I don’t believe that any — and the President has said this as well — that anybody who goes out and tries to highlight those kind of actions should not be welcome. I’m not aware of the comments he made but again, I’ll say it right now. I don’t think that we should be resorting to that kind of language with respect to anybody in our country.”

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday insisted that Senate’s freshly unveiled Obamacare repeal bill would not affect anyone currently enrolled in Medicaid and said that President Donald Trump was “very supportive” of the legislation.

“I think that the President’s very supportive of the Senate bill,” Spicer said at a press briefing Friday. “There’s a lot of ideas in there. He’s talked about having heart and he likes a lot of the reforms that have been in there. He’s committed to making sure that no one who currently is in the Medicaid program is affected in any way, which is reflected in the Senate bill and he’s pleased with that. So I think he’s very pleased with that bill.”

Trump pledged frequently on the 2016 campaign trail that he would not make cuts to Medicaid. Senate Republicans’ bill would make dramatic cuts to Medicaid, however, deeper than those in the House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill. It would roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and limit the federal government’s Medicaid payments to the states to per capita reimbursements, the rates of which would then be gradually lowered through 2025.

Asked later in the briefing if Trump was “comfortable with the changes to the Medicaid program in the Senate bill,” Spicer doubled down.

“I think right now he’s very supportive of the current bill,” Spicer responded. He later reiterated Trump’s support for the Senate bill multiple times.

On Thursday, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had referenced Trump’s comments that the Senate bill was a “negotiation” and said that “I don’t believe that the President has specifically weighed in that it’s right to cut Medicaid.”

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The White House on Friday called on actor Johnny Depp’s colleagues in Hollywood to condemn his comment that “maybe it’s time” someone assassinated President Donald Trump.

“President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and it’s sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead,” an unnamed White House official told Variety in a statement Friday. “I hope that some of Mr. Depp’s colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a Democrat elected official.”

During a speech Thursday night at the Glastonbury Festival, as the BBC first reported, Depp asked “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”

“Now, I want to clarify, I’m not an actor. I lie for a living,” he said. “However, It’s been a while, and maybe it’s time.”

Depp joined a roiling debate over the relationship between depictions of violence and viable threats made against political figures. Actress and comedian Kathy Griffin faced an uproar over a photoshoot showing her holding a mock bloodied head made to look like Trump’s. She later apologized. And conservative provocateurs twice interrupted the Public Theater’s productions of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” blaming it for promoting violence against Republicans due to its portrayal of Caesar as Trump-like character.

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