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Political Happy Hour with Joshua Miller

Friday, March 24, 2017
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Here’s your emoji-that-I-imagine-represents-the-feelings-of-Paul-Ryan shot glass of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe at the Massachusetts State House.

ON THE WIRE →→→ WASHINGTON (AP) — After seven years of fervent promises to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” President Donald Trump and GOP congressional leaders buckled at a moment of truth Thursday, putting off a planned showdown vote in a stinging setback for the young administration.

THE WORD FROM MATT DRUDGE, the proprietor of the eponymous Drudge Report. He’s extraordinarily influential because his website is incredibly well read, and mainstream news organizations often use it as something of an assignment desk. Drudge tweets: “The swamp drains you.”

WHAT’S NEXT? via the Washington Post: “House Republicans planned to meet behind closed doors later Thursday to figure out their next steps. Leaders have told the rank and file to be available Friday in the event a vote can be scheduled then. ...”

VERY IMPORTANT MASS. STATE BUDGET STORY, via Matt Murphy of State House News Service: “The Baker administration has been quietly workshopping an alternative to deal with surging Medicaid costs that would scrap the governor’s controversial budget plan to levy a steep new assessment on some employers in favor of a more modest increase to an existing health care surcharge on many businesses.

The new approach, according to multiple business leaders and legislators, would apply more evenly across employers than the pending assessment proposal, but would generate less revenue that the $300 million the administration was counting on to balance its budget for next year. ...

The effort by Gov. Charlie Baker to go back to the drawing board reveals a desire by the governor to win broader consensus within the business community for a way to generate additional revenue for MassHealth that can be successfully sold to legislators. ...” Link via Worcester Telegram:

BOSTON NAME TO KNOW, via Kathleen McKiernan on “A former Boston Public Schools chief of staff will serve as the new headmaster of Boston Latin School and become the first minority leader in the school’s history.

Superintendent Tommy Chang announced today that Rachel Skerritt, a Dorchester native, BLS alum, and former chief of staff under former Superintendent Carol Johnson, as the school’s next headmaster. ...”

MORE, from Stephanie Ebbert in the Globe last year: “... Rachel Skerritt, a black Boston Latin graduate, called Boston Latin an ‘entryway to selective colleges for families who wouldn’t have another avenue.’

‘It certainly represented that for me and my family,’ she said. Skerritt later taught at the school, served as a trustee, and worked as chief of staff to the Boston public schools superintendent. Now a school principal in Washington, D.C., Skerritt can still name-check the Boston Latin alumnus who sponsored the program that first led her to visit the University of Pennsylvania, and the one who sponsored the financial prize that sent her to Penn. ...”

PHOTO THE MASS. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION IS LOOKING AT, via a tweet from US Rep Jim McGovern: “This is outrageous: Not a single woman in the room as @Mike_Pence and @HouseGOP propose removing maternity coverage in #Trumpcare.”

ONE WAY TO SPEND $200K, via the AP in Boston: “A diary kept by a young John F. Kennedy during his brief stint as a journalist after World War II is being auctioned. The 61-page diary was written in 1945 when a 28-year-old Kennedy was a correspondent for Hearst newspapers, rubbing shoulders with the powerful and traveling through a devastated Europe. The diary provides insights into Kennedy’s thoughts on world leaders of the era.

Boston-based RR Auction says it’s expected to fetch about $200,000 at auction April 26. ...”

LACKING EVIDENCE OF VOTER FRAUD, LEGISLATURES TARGET ITS SPECTER via Michael Wines of the New York Times: “... Nationwide, Republican state legislators are again sponsoring a sheaf of bills tightening requirements to register and to vote. And while they have traditionally argued that such laws are needed to police rampant voter fraud — a claim most experts call unfounded — some are now saying the perception of fraud, real or otherwise, is an equally serious problem, if not worse. ...

Among other states, New Hampshire is close to approving legislation to stiffen residency requirements for new voters, including a written warning that law enforcement officers may visit voters’ homes to verify residency. Mr. Trump was able to provide no documentation for a widely derided claim that Massachusetts residents were bused into New Hampshire to cast illegal ballots that contributed to his defeat there.

‘Nobody’s saying there’s evidence of widespread fraud,’ said Regina Birdsell, a Republican state senator and the bill’s sponsor. ‘But our voter laws are so broad you could drive a Mack truck through them.’ ...”

ELIZABETH WARREN WANTS SEC TO REVIEW ICAHN’S ROLE ADVISING TRUMP ON RULES, via Benjamin Bain and Zachary Mider of Bloomberg: “U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said the Securities and Exchange Commission should be vigilant in ensuring that billionaire investor Carl Icahn isn’t using his role as an adviser to the Trump administration to gain unfair trading advantages.

‘I do not understand how we can have someone who continues to trade in a market and is influencing regulatory policy simultaneously,’ the Massachusetts Democrat said Thursday at the Senate confirmation hearing for Jay Clayton, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the SEC. ‘I want to hear the chair of the SEC say he’s going to look into this and I hope put a stop to it.’

In December, then-President-elect Trump announced that he’d tapped Icahn as a special adviser on rules. Icahn’s ‘help on the strangling regulations that our country is faced with will be invaluable,’ Trump said at the time. The unusual nature of the special adviser role, Icahn’s extensive investment portfolio and some of the trades since his appointment have raised conflict of interest concerns. As Wall Street’s main regulator, the SEC plays a leading role investigating market violations such as insider trading. ...”

STRANGE MASS. GOP STATE COMMITTEE STORY, via Evan Lips of the NewBostonPost: “... The seeds for an off-cycle intra-party North Shore political drama have been sowed. ... The narrative includes friendly relationships gone sour, harassment allegations, and even a police report. ...”

POLS DO RIGHT, REIMBURSE STATE, from me on “Short story. 2014. Then-Attorney General Martha Coakley is running for governor. She hadn’t reimbursed Massachusetts for more than four years of travel to political events in a state vehicle. Globe writes about it. Yikes. Coakley campaign cuts the state a $10,820.09 check.

Say what will you will about our current crop of pols, they are trying not to make the same mistake. Public records show that Attorney General Maura Healey, Governor Charlie Baker, and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito have been dutifully paying the state back for mileage when state troopers drive them to political events. ...”

SOMETIMES YOU’RE THE TURKEY. SOMETIMES YOU’RE THE TRUCK, via the AP: “New Hampshire Fish and Game officials say a tractor-trailer driver suffered minor injuries after a 19-pound turkey crashed through his windshield on Interstate 93. Conservation officer Chris McKee says the adult turkey ended up in the cab of the trailer on Tuesday in Londonderry. The turkey had been trying to fly across the highway. McKee says the truck driver called for help. The turkey died of its injuries on the way to a rehabilitation center. ...”

I’m off tomorrow. My colleagues will be here in my stead. Back Monday.

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