TOWOIT #51

March 8, 2017… Day 48

Some of the women who planned the January 21 Women’s March were arrested at today’s march in New York. Linda Sarsour cut quite a figure in a red hijab.

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Later, after dark, Bust magazine goes live on Facebook, showing the release of the last of the arrested group of women. It’s dark and you see male police officers standing in uniform under bright lights on the concrete stoop of an unassuming precinct office. They are looking out at the women in the parking lot or street a few feet down from where they are standing. The women are in the dark, cheering and milling in the foreground, hard to distinguish their shapes and faces — you can just make out “no more wire hangers” on one sign.

There was so much discomfort–especially among women themselves!–about this day of action. I myself went to work and leaned in. Wore some red, but went home with a cold instead of hanging around downtown to rally with Kshama Sawant. I appreciated this piece from Foreign Policy:

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April Ryan wore red to the White House Press Briefing, and was in the frame when a white man asked a white man this:

Thank you, Sean. I had two quick questions. Are you aware of any women who are working at the White House who are participating in the strikes today? And more generally, what is the administration’s reaction to this protest–and do you think that skipping work is an effective way for women to demonstrate their power and significance?

Questions they asked Sean Spicer at the press briefing today:

  • Can I ask about the President’s state visit to the UK. Is there timing for that and what is your reaction to some members of parliament saying the President is not welcome? They actually used words like “racist” and “sexist.” Has that caused the President to reconsider?
  • Does the White House have a reaction of the Iranian vessels coming within a hundred and fifty yards of a Navy ship over the weekend? Aren’t they “on notice” and will you offer anything beyond a verbal reaction? And then I have a follow up question.
  • And then secondly, does he have any plans to revamp the H1B visa program by the April 1 deadline?
  • Thank you, Sean. I had two quick questions. Are you aware of any women who are working at the White House who are participating in the strikes today? And more generally, what is the administration’s reaction to this protest–and do you think that skipping work is an effective way for women to demonstrate their power and significance?
  • Thanks a lot, Sean. There seems to be this groundswell of conservative opposition to this health care bill that was offered up in the House of Representatives. You mentioned that the President will be meeting this evening with conservatives. What is his message to those individuals? Are they members of the Freedom Caucus? Will Senator Rand Paul be there? And what does the President plan to do to turn around that opposition that was quite apparent yesterday?
  • As a brand new federal employee, I’ms are you and your family are aware that the office of personnel management offers a very comprehensive health care program. You, anyone in this building, anyone on the hill–very generous–it’s state of the art. The individuals involved in the health care situation right now, the debate, no matter how it plays out, can they really have sympathy and empathy for individuals who may not benefit nearly as much when they negotiate these plans?
  • Well, I mean–you’re fine–you’re covered–
  • I appreciate your argument. Very well taken. However, I’m gonna compare a GS5 or GS9 to a Senator or a Secretary. The safety net on those individuals gives them a cushion. Do they really have that compassion or empathy with people who might be thrown off health care?
  • Sean we’ve confirmed there’s a criminal investigation into these alleged cyberleaks from the CIA on Wikileaks. What can the administration tell us about the situation, considering there’s another leak on the scale of Snowden?
  • Robin Shaheeni has been imprisoned in Iran since last October for collaborating with a hostile government, that government being the United States of America. He’s on a hunger strike, and his health is suffering. Is the President aware of the situation, and what is he going to do about it?
  • What is the President personally going to be doing to sell this healthcare bill?
  • Wil he go on the road to try to sell it?
  • On Wikileaks, two parts. Is the President outraged by this?
  • When it came to the campaign and Hillary Clinton, the President said “I love Wikileaks.” Does the President still feel that way today?
  • Sean, you said Congressman Cummings is meeting with President Trump today. In his solo Press conference, the President talked about Senator Schumer telling Elijah Cummings not to come. What happened to smooth this over? And what will the conversation be about–is it solely on prescription drugs?
  • So you don’t have any knowledge of what happened to smooth that over?
  • One member of the 49 in the CBC, right after that press conference the White House reached out to Cedric—-. Where is that meeting?
  • Yesterday there was a compare and contrast with visuals, show and tell. You compared how you’re going about it and how the Obama administration went about Obamacare. One difference they’ve made note of is that they had their bill scored by CBO. And you did not score this bill.
  • It was scored before they went to Congress.
  • But doesn’t cost matter, though, before you–
  • But you have no numbers–
  • Two questions on the wall, Sean. As you know, the bids for prototypes went out today. And I just was curious about the timing of that, how much pressure there was to get that going quickly. And then secondly, is there guidance from the White House about what kinds of vendors can build the wall, especially can international vendors build the wall?
  • Sean, it’s looking increasing likely that the Federal Reserve next week will hike interest rates. Two brief questions. One, how does the President feel about that? And secondly, does he have the full confidence in Janet Yellen, who he described during the campaign as “too political” to lead the Federal Reserve and set monetary policy?
  • Just to be clear, the no comment was on Mrs. Yellen or on this thoughts of a rate hike?

  • Sean, along with April’s  last question about the difference between this administration and the previous one and how to approach this issue, one thing that the Obama administration did do was get key stakeholders at the table — AARP, American Medical Association. Both of those organizations have come out today strongly opposed to this proposal. What’s your message, particularly with respect to the AARP?

  • Sean —

  • But so the AARP is specifically talking about patients in their 50s and 60s. The AARP describes this as an “age tax” that will disproportionately affect people who right now are low-income, are benefitting from subsidies under Obamacare and could stand — according to the AARP’s estimate — to take a hit of thousands of dollars in their premium payments this year when the subsidies go away and the tax credits go away. What’s your message to those people who voted for the President?

  • Is the President worried, though, that every major doctors group — the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians — have all come out and said they have serious concerns? For all the talk of doctors and patients and choice, the doctors groups are all so far unanimously coming and saying they’re not supportive of this. Is that concerning to the President?

  • Do you mind if I follow up on something else you said? You’ve talked about people having a card. You’ve got a card, but it’s a $2,000 deductible and there’s only 10 doctors in your town that will see you, let’s say. But that’s better than nothing if you get cancer or hit by a car. So maybe this makes access —

  • Right, but it is better than no insurance. So if this expands access to people and choice, but it reduces the number of people who actually have health insurance –

  • — so can it do both?

  • Anita. You actually — Anita.

  • Switching gears completely, the military have recently conducted some kind of exercise at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, and it was preparing for a migrant crisis. And there is a DHS migrant center there. And I wondered if the administration has considered, and what you all think about using that facility for immigrants. Has that come up?

  • Is there any consideration, though?

  • Okay, so are you all considering using the facility for immigrants?

  • And secondarily, the Louisville media is reporting that President Trump will be there on Saturday. Can you confirm that? And is this about healthcare? As you just said, he was going to make the rounds.

  • The CBO score is supposed to come out next week, and you just called into question their credibility.

  • It’s true.

  • Well, people base their votes on what they think is going to happen to the cost and the coverage — if they lose coverage.

  • Is there any analytic organization that you would accept a score from?

  • If not the CBO, is there some organization — so OMB is the —

  • — the track record? Is there any scoring organization that you think has a good track record?

  • And just one last thing. He mentioned deductibles before and how they’re going up under Obamacare. Are you promising people that their deductibles will come down under this plan?

  • Thank you, Sean. The premier argument by Democrats, notably former President Obama today, is that enactment of the act that was illustrated yesterday would lead to many people losing their healthcare. You certainly heard that from Democrats, but also several of the Republican governors who were here for the National Governors Association, including strong allies of the President — Governor Bentley of Alabama, Governor Hutchinson of Arkansas voiced the same concern. They did not want any plan that would lead to anyone losing their present healthcare. What does the administration say to what is the leading argument against a new plan? And then I have a follow-up question.My follow-up question is a follow-up question about the wall. During the recent Governors Association meeting, Governor Graco Ramirez, who is the Chairman of Mexico’s Association of Federated Governors, warned that continued discussion about the wall and the President’s talk of building it might very well lead to the election of Mr. Lopez Obrador as the President of Mexico, and he is considered the most anti-American, most hostile-to-America of any of the candidates. Are there any concerns that come up in the discussion of the wall, namely the impact on Mexican politics?

  • I want to follow up on what John was just — your answer was that if the healthcare bill could be made better, the President is interested in that. So could I just clarify, when he meets with the congressional conservatives this evening who have misgivings about the legislation, is he intending to talk to them about what they would like to change, and is he open to making those changes? Is that what he — is that the mode he’s in, rather than a sell mode? He’s in a listening mode?

  • And can I follow up and say — before the President meets with Chancellor Merkel next week, is it possible that we could see the President for a more general multi-question news conference? He’s been a little press-shy this week. And from North Korea to healthcare selling to CIA leaks, we’d love to talk to him. Could we see him for a news conference?

  • Would you ask him that? (Laughter.)

  • Sean, yesterday Secretary Price said that the bill that you guys have introduced, both the repeal and the replace, are starting points. And on Capitol Hill there was a lot of talk of the starting point being a nonstarter. So it seems like there’s negotiations that need to be made. Does the President have any non-negotiables in his bill that he will not take out, even at the request of conservatives?Sean, two topics here. First on healthcare, then I’ll have a follow-up on that. In the past, you and others have accused Democrats of rushing through the original healthcare law. Now, there are some Republicans, including today, who say this is simply moving too fast. Is the President willing to accept a delayed timeline if it pushes repeal and replace into later in the year?

  • But you said the timeline is being — maybe Easter break — after that —
  • Just one other question. I’m just curious about this meeting with Senator Cruz tonight. He has come out and expressed some skepticism on the bill as it stands now. Presumably that will be part of the topic of conversation, but as you mentioned, Heidi Cruz is coming too, and I’m wondering if the President has any plans to apologize to her for the insinuations he made on the campaign trail.
  • And then — I apologize, I have a second topic, which is, does the President believe the CIA has been compromised in any way?
  • What do you mean?
  • Sean, on North Korea, what is President Trump’s position toward North Korea, and what is his decision for the North Korean policy
  • North Korean policy.
  • No, policy.Policies.
  • You had called on me.Today was International Women’s Day. There’s a lot of concern about access to healthcare for women. Will the President commit to reaching out to female Democratic lawmakers as the next two phases of this healthcare bill continue? And additionally, what is the President’s stance on access to birth control for women across the country?
  • Sean, is the President the target of a counter-intelligence investigation?
  • So he doesn’t know whether he is the target of a probing?
  • Sorry, just want to make sure that I’m understanding you. Are you saying that there is a possibility he is the target of a counter-intelligence probe involving Russia? Because you just connected those two things.
  • The President said he was tapped.He said his wires were tapped.He said this as a fact.
  • So you’re saying he doesn’t know whether he was wiretapped
  • Well, he doesn’t know he’s the target of an investigation.That his wires were tapped.
  • Since you’re talking about whether things are true or not, let me ask you — following up on something yesterday, you seemed to acknowledge that the President was wrong when he tweeted that 122 prisoners released by the Obama administration from Gitmo had returned to the battlefield. In fact, it was mostly by the Bush administration. Will he retract, or even apologize for that, given that he also called it a “terrible decision” by the Obama administration, and given that that was incorrect? That there still has been no proof either of his tweets about widespread voter fraud or the wiretapping? Does the President have a credibility problem?
  • But he said the Obama administration.
  • Do you acknowledge that the tweet was wrong?
  • So can I just follow up on something else you said, Sean? A totally different topic, because you said that you’re in full — you’re in sell mode, completely in sell mode. And I wonder if the President sees this as a test of his ability to make a deal, something that he really talked about, something that voters responded to on the campaign trail. Is this essentially, does he feel, on him that this is him going to show the American people that he can get this deal done?
  • Sean, yesterday in the President’s meeting with the deputy whips he was talking about his tax cut plan. He said it’s going to be the biggest since Ronald Reagan, maybe even bigger. He said, “I know exactly what we’re looking at, most of us know exactly the plan.” So my first question is really easy. Tell us about the plan.
  • The tax cut plan.
  • Secondly, building on these jobs numbers today that look very positive, obviously there’s a lot of CEOs out there who are excited about the possibility of a tax cut plan, and yet the President has also expressed a lot of concern about the national debt. If you’re going to get a tax cut on the level of Ronald Reagan, a historic-sized tax cut, how are you going to do that, balance the needs for continued job growth with the concerns about the debt?
  • Exactly. Thank you so much. So the President is on the record saying that he supports some sort of legalization for many of the undocumented people in the country. And you know there’s a DREAMer that was caught in the raids in Seattle, Washington. We don’t know if he is going to be released or not. Does the President want to or plan to meet with DREAMers to talk about what’s on his mind about gathering ideas for some sort of legalization? And if so, when would that meeting occur?
  • No meeting in the works with DREAMers?
  • I’m sure you’re aware of reports that the President had ordered the Pentagon to step up the attacks on al Qaeda in Yemen. Does this mark a new strategy rather? And does the President delegate now to the Pentagon attacks on either ISIS or al Qaeda?
  • Israel’s defense minister said yesterday that U.S. officials had sent a direct warning to Prime Minister Netanyahu against annexing parts of the West Bank. I wanted to know if that was at the request of President Trump. And then also, if you could tell us where the White House is in terms of reaching a deal with Israel on what they consider permissible settlement construction.
  • Thank you. Ronica Cleary with Fox 5. I have a follow-up question to actually his asking about the thousands of women who have chosen to strike today, and you saying that it is a free country. But at Channel 5, we’ve reported quite a bit on the schools and the districts that are closing because so many women chose to strike today.So it is a free country, but what would be the President’s reaction to, if you will, what is more important; the students being at school today or the woman’s right to strike and kind of make a statement, if you will, on this day?

(at the end of his long-winded answer on women, he said he just wanted to clarify that there was no reason to think the President was the target of any investigation)

  • Specifically counterintelligence?
  • So you retract your previous —
  • (inaudible) leaks?
  • Are you aware of an investigation?

 

 

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