NEWS AND OPINION:
Consider health care heritage: Once there was the Healthcare Security Act of 1993, otherwise known as Hillarycare. It went bye-bye when Republicans took over the House and Senate a year later. Next came Obamacare — the 2,300-page Affordable Health Care Act that required a $200 million public relations campaign to get it rolling — this according to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the Department of Health and Human Services by Judicial Watch in 2011.
“Records prove the administration is using taxpayer dollars to manipulate public opinion. It also appears the Obama administration is trying to get a leg up in the re-election campaign by targeting key Obama constituencies with positive and misleading messages,” Tom Fitton, president of the watchdog group, said at the time.
Indignant tea party activists had their own take. “Obamacare is like a hospital gown,” one major group noted. “You think you’re covered but you’re not.”
Which brings us to the newly minted American Health Care Act, the Trump-era replacement for Obamacare. So far it has not required a multimillion-dollar PR campaign to get its point across.
“The American Health Care Act is conservative health care reform. It repeals Obamacare with all its mandates and spending, and replaces it with a truly affordable, patient-centered system. It is built on reforms conservatives have been pursuing for decades,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan noted in a straightforward statement that outlined specifics, including the repeal of Obamacare mandates, taxes and spending; the defunding of Planned Parenthood; and the creation of “a vibrant health insurance market,” which sounds intriguing.
Depending on their moods, the press and the Democratic Party portray this legislation as either evil, confused or hamstrung by Republican infighting. But wait. At least an actual bill was produced here. President Trump, Mr. Ryan, Health and Human Services Secretary Thomas Price and the many learned wonks who have worked on this project have produced a comprehensive product despite the din of critics and dismissive journalists. The bill is accompanied by clear explanations in plain English; the legislation itself is a mere 46 pages long. Argument has commenced, but at least the opposing sides have something to argue about. See for yourself at ReadtheBill.gop — and that’s that. For now.
FOR THE LEXICON
“Deep State.” Yes, the term is being bandied about in dozens of news accounts this week. Its meaning? Deep state has come to signify a population of former members of the Obama administration or entrenched federal employees who wield power from within the bureaucracy. The term is subject to interpretation among news organizations now exploring the hazardous implications for the Trump administration. Though its earliest use was applied to Middle East politics, popular usage among analysts has been going on for a while.
Books explore the topic, including “The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government” by Mike Lofgren, published in 2016, and “Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry” by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady, published in 2013.
CONFABULATING THOSE ‘SOURCES’
Put off by constant references to unnamed sources in major news stories? Consider this new Morning Consult poll: “Half of Americans think it is inappropriate for journalists to cite anonymous sources in their reporting, and many think reporters are simply making up those sources,” writes analyst Eli Yokley.
The survey reveals that 44 percent of Americans believe it is “likely that journalists and reporters make up anonymous sources for their stories”; 65 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree. Just over a third overall — 36 percent — say it’s not likely the press invents these sources; 19 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats agree.
Forbes reports that Confide, an app designed to confidentially leak information, is a vulnerable application indeed.
“White House staffers or anyone using the Confide app to leak secrets, whether President Trump‘s or otherwise, might want to tread carefully: professional hackers have found some serious weaknesses in the encrypted comms tool, potentially exposing reams of customer records. They could have allowed snoops to intercept messages or assume identities of users too,” writes Thomas Fox-Brewster, who covers crime for the news organization.
The researchers revealed this in a report Wednesday. Confide apparently has “fixed the issue, but concern about the safety of the tool remains,” Mr. Fox-Brewster noted.
“Many security experts, as well as congressmen Ted Lieu and Don Beyer, have recommended whistleblowers use other encrypted apps, such as Telegram, WhatsApp and Signal. The latter remains the number one choice for secure communications amongst cryptography experts and for the best-known leaker in the world, Edward Snowden,” the reporter added.
Both lawmakers are Democrats: Mr. Lieu represents California, and Mr. Beyer represents Virginia.
AND ABOUT THAT LADIES MARCH
And so reads a new Twitter hashtag from the Tempe Republican Women’s Club. The Arizona-based organization has this advice to organizers of Wednesday’s “A Day Without Woman” national strike: “Sorry girls, but women don’t have time for your march. We have businesses to run and work to do.”
The group offers this advice to women: “Go to work. Excel in your field. Improve your resume. Don’t damage your career for a misguided campaign. Invest some money. Open a savings account. Place a down payment on a house. Use your money to build a better life.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 71 percent of U.S. voters say efforts by President Trump and Republicans in Congress will likely reduce the total amount of immigrants to the U.S. in the next year.
• 64 percent say Mr. Trump and Republicans will likely repeal Obamacare in the next year.
• 62 percent say Mr. Trump and Republicans will likely replace Obamacare in the next year.
• 56 percent say Mr. Trump and Republicans will likely pass a comprehensive tax reform bill in the next year.
• 46 percent say Mr. Trump and Republicans will likely construct a U.S.-Mexico border wall in the next year.
Source: A Morning Consult/Politico poll of 1,992 U.S. voters conducted March 2-6.
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