5 things for December 4: Tax overhaul, Trump's tweets, CVS and Aetna
Posted December 4, 2017 5:53 a.m. EST
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Now that the Senate has passed its tax reform bill, it has to merge it with the House's version before a final bill can be sent to President Trump's desk. The Republicans are definitely motivated to get this done, since they don't have any other major legislative accomplishments this year. But there are significant differences that need to be ironed out, such as when the tax cuts for individuals expire. They're permanent in the House version but expire in 2025 in the Senate version. Also the Senate version has more tax brackets, eliminates Obamacare's individual mandate and leaves untouched the mortgage interest deduction, unlike the House version.
After Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia probe, President Trump stayed quiet on the matter -- for about a day. Then the President went on an epic weekend Twitter tirade. On Saturday morning, Trump sent out a tweet that raised questions as to whether he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he fired him in February. Trump's personal lawyer tried to tamp down that ruckus by saying he had authored that tweet.
But Trump wasn't finished. He then went after the Justice Department, the FBI and Hillary Clinton (of course). He said the FBI was in "tatters" under the leadership of former director James Comey and poked Justice for not being harsher with Clinton during the investigation into her emails.
Is war with North Korea inevitable? It sure as heck has felt like it lately. Over the weekend, national security adviser HR McMaster said the North is "the greatest immediate threat to the United States" and the potential for war with the nuclear nation is "increasing every day." The regime of Kim Jong Un sounds even more grim than usual, saying that President Trump is "begging for nuclear war." The North's comments come ahead of a joint US-South Korean military drill that starts today.
The Trump administration wants to go its own way when it comes to migration. The US told the UN it'll no longer take part in a global compact on migration. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said such a UN compact would undermine US sovereignty and the right for it to enforce its immigration laws and secure its borders. The US has been a part of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants since it was formed last year. The declaration wants to ensure the rights of migrants, help them resettle and provide them with access to education and jobs.
CVS and Aetna
If CVS' purchase of Aetna goes through, health care in America could change significantly. CVS Health, the drugstore and prescription drug insurer, wants to buy health insurer Aetna for $69 billion. It would be the largest health insurance deal in history. Pharmacies like CVS and health care providers like Aetna are looking for ways to make it cheaper and easier for their clients to access medication and care. But this isn't a done deal. It'll have to be OK'd by antitrust regulators, who've been skeptical of similar mergers.