How Obamacare open enrollment will go without Obama in the White House
Obamacare enrollment without Obama, the lobbying frenzy around tax reform, the President's huge Fed chair choice and two big hearings on the Hill: it's all in our "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse at tomorrow's headlines today.Posted — Updated
1) Obamacare enrollment in the Trump era
It's open enrollment season, including the first sign-up period for the Affordable Care Act -- or Obamacare -- without President Obama in the White House.
That raises a number of big questions -- including whether the GOP administration will conduct outreach and other steps considered critical to raising awareness about the enrollment period and its requirements -- despite the President's open opposition to the law.
Just Saturday, for example, the President tweeted this:
"As usual, the ObamaCare premiums will be up (the Dems own it), but we will Repeal & Replace and have great Healthcare soon after Tax Cuts!"
Perry Bacon of FiveThirtyEight ticked through the questions for the administration, and the domino effect on states where there is political support for the health care law. Officials believe they might need to step up their efforts because of the cooler views of the Trump administration.
Bacon called it, "Obamacare enrollment without Obama," and said the White House is the first reaction you'll want to watch.
"Do they try to encourage people? Do they not encourage people, or something in between that? And secondly, we'll see states like California and New York, states that are very liberal, how will they handle this?
"Will they ramp up Obamacare enrollment on their own to make up the fact that the feds don't do it?"
2) In the tax lobbying frenzy, one fight has particular urgency
The GOP tax reform plan is already a job creator -- for lobbyists trying to influence the legislation.
And as a multimillion-dollar lobbying frenzy kicks into gear in Washington, some fights are viewed as more time-sensitive than others.
Take the so-called "millionaires tax."
Speaker Paul Ryan is open to the idea, which would add a fourth rate to the tax plan. President Trump, too, has suggested he would accept such a change.
The politics are obvious: Adding a new millionaires tax would be a GOP buffer against Democratic complaints that the GOP talks a lot about the middle class but is trying to deliver a giant gift to the wealthy.
But a host of conservative forces -- from the Wall Street Journal editorial page to business and conservative groups -- call the new tax punitive and bad policy, and they are now racing the clock trying to make their case.
Yes, in theory it will be weeks if not months as the tax debate winds through Congress. But when it comes to the millionaires tax, the opponents are convinced their most critical test is the next 72 hours.
The official House proposal is being drafted in secretive meetings this weekend, with the unveiling planned for Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. Those who oppose the millionaires tax view this behind-the-scenes period as their best hope.
If the new tax is not in the bill, they believe it will be hard to get enough Republican votes to add it later.
More importantly, if the legislation released Wednesday does include a new millionaires tax, those who oppose it believe it will be near impossible -- given the politics -- to find the votes to strip it out once the debate becomes public and changes require votes that can and will be used in future campaigns.
3) Tech companies in hot seat on Capitol Hill -- and nervous about potential regulation
Big technology firms face public questioning on Capitol Hill in the week ahead, and their performance is critical as lawmakers debate whether new regulations are needed because of Russia's use of social media to influence the 2016 election.
Facebook, Twitter and Google loathe the idea of more government regulation. They also, however, do not have a track record of transparency, so how they explain what happened -- and what new steps they plan in the future -- will be a giant factor in the debate in Congress.
Julie Pace of The Associated Press detailed the stakes for Big Tech:
"Representatives from these companies are going to be appearing before lawmakers and they're going to be grilled on two fronts that are related: one, how Russia tried to use these these platforms to influence the presidential election and two, the questions about the overall lack of transparency that these platforms have for their advertising for some of their users.
"You've seen Facebook and Twitter try to get ahead of these hearings by announcing some new steps," Pace said.
4) Congress turns to an overdue debate on presidential war powers, with Niger ambush as backdrop
The Trump administration is sending two key members of its national security team to Capitol Hill this week to take part in a long overdue conversation. Is it time for Congress to pass a new Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) -- laying out the goals, and restrictions, for US military personnel operating in dicey areas around the world?
The question has added intensity in the wake of the Niger ambush that left four US servicemen dead, as more and more lawmakers not only want answers about what happened but also argue it is irresponsible that Congress has not voted on an AUMF since shortly after the 9/11 attacks 16 years ago.
With Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson due to testify this week, Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post discussed the mood in Congress.
"Congress has not been pleased with how quickly they were read into what happened [on Niger]," Demirjian said. "There were concerns about the Pentagon changing its counterterrorism strategy to expand the rules of engagement. That may kick some lawmakers into higher gear in terms of trying to regulate what the administration is going to do in its military engagement."
5) Trump leans toward a new face at the Fed -- which would buck a trend and end a history-making moment
President Trump promises to name his pick to be chairman of the Federal Reserve this week, and just the use of the term "chairman" speaks volumes.
Janet Yellen is the current chairwoman, and among three finalists interviewed by President Trump. The President, though, is said by sources close to the process to be strongly inclined to nominate Jerome Powell to the post.
Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg shared reporting on how not reappointing Yellen to a new term would not only end a bipartisan tradition -- but also end an historic tenure. "A White House official told me he realizes how consequential this is. This is one of the most important decisions of his first year. Janet Yellen, of course, is the current Federal Reserve chairwoman. She was the first woman appointed to that job," Jacobs said.
"This is a really important to women in the financial world, to have her there, breaking the glass ceiling. It doesn't look like he's leaning toward her, which would break three decades of tradition. Usually presidents will keep the Fed chair that they inherit when they become president."
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