<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usThu, 25 May 2017 01:41:42 -0700Thu, 25 May 2017 01:41:42 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Poverty Is 'State of Mind': Ben Carson]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 00:29:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/631548198-Ben-Carson-Senate-Hearing-Housing.jpg

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is facing criticism after calling poverty a "state of mind," NBC News reported.

Carson spoke to SiriusXM Radio host Armstrong Williams in an interview that aired Wednesday. When Carson was asked what can be done to reduce the number of people living in poverty, he credited his own success story to his headstrong mother.

But then Carson delved deeper, saying, "I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind." He added that people, no matter what they have, need to have "the right mindset."

Carson spoke frequently about his rise from abject poverty and his approach to social progress while running for president during the 2016 primary.



Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Failing to Track Foreign Cash at His Hotels]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 10:25:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/603142230-trump-international-hotel-DC.jpg

Just before taking office, President Donald Trump promised to donate all profits earned from foreign governments back to the U.S. Treasury.

But MSNBC has learned the Trump Organization is not tracking all possible payments it receives from foreign governments, according to new admissions by Trump representatives. By failing to track foreign payments it receives, the company will be hard-pressed to meet Trump's pledge to donate foreign profits and could even increase its legal exposure, NBC News reported.

The Trump Organization does not "attempt to identify individual travelers who have not specifically identified themselves as being a representative of a foreign government entity," according to a new company pamphlet. The policy suggests that it is up to foreign governments, not Trump hotels, to determine whether they self-report their business.

That policy matches what several sources told MSNBC — Trump Organization employees are not soliciting information about whether reservations or business is from a foreign government.

A Trump representative said that "the pertinent accounting rules" are well understood in the hospitality industry. But experts told MSNBC that there is no standard accounting system to track profits from foreign dignitaries.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Families Fear Fallout From Health Care Changes]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 19:35:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Alba_Somoza.jpg

Peter Hodge’s two daughters fight cystic fibrosis daily, their medications, doctor visits and hospitalizations costing about $1 million in health care benefits a year. Should the Republican-controlled Senate upend insurance similarly to what the House of Representatives has already approved, their lives could be jeopardized, he said.

Hodge worries that his older daughter could end up on a newly defined Medicaid, with spending and other limits determined by the states. His younger daughter could face lifetime caps on the amount his insurance plan would pay for her treatment.

"People with cystic fibrosis and their families are terrified, absolutely terrified," said Hodge, who works in technology in South Florida.


Congressional attempts to revamp the health care system have been overshadowed by the drama centered on the White House: the Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey and the appointment of a former FBI director, Robert Mueller, as a special counsel. But even as some political analysts say Trump's problems threaten the GOP legislative agenda, senators have begun discussing health care.

And as they do, people across the country are trying to make sense of what Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare will mean for them and those with pre-existing conditions are particularly anxious.

The House-approved American Health Care Act dismantles many of Obamacare's provisions, which has resulted in an additional 20 million people receiving insurance. It allows insurers to reinstate caps on lifetime coverage, loosens protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, rolls back state expansions of Medicaid and slashes more than $800 billion from the joint state-federal program over 10 years as it moves from an open-ended federal guarantee to one that gives states control over how to spend a set amount. The Medicaid cuts would affect about 10 million people, according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.


Trump's $4.1 trillion budget proposal for 2018, released on Tuesday, includes $600 billion in decreases to Medicaid, apparently on top of the House cuts. Medicaid provides health care not only to the poor, but also to elderly and disabled Americans, who account for 60 percent of the cost.


The House vote was taken before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analyzed the effects of the revised legislation. Its report on an earlier version found it would shrink the federal budget deficit significantly but leave 24 more million Americans without insurance in 2026. The new analysis, released on May 24, projects 23 million without insurance over the next decade and says the federal deficit would be reduced by $119 billion, down slightly from $150 billion. 

Republicans have been pledging to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act since it was signed by former President Obama in 2010. Some have philosophical disagreements over what role government should play in health care, others want to repeal taxes it imposed on the wealthy or argue that too many insurers are pulling out of the marketplaces. Trump has repeatedly insisted Obamacare is collapsing, a characterization disputed by his critics.

Negotiations in the U.S. Senate, which is expected to make major changes in the House bill, will begin in full now with the release of the new Congressional Budget Office report. Some senators are trying to work across party lines, but conservatives remain committed to more radical changes, and a group of Republicans picked by the party leadership has been meeting in private, with no plans for public committee hearings.

"Your morning reminder that under the cloud cover of the FBI story, 13 GOP Senators are still secretly writing a bill to destroy the ACA," Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted on May 15 as news organizations focused on Comey’s firing.

In an interview on May 24 with Reuters, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to provide a timetable for a draft of a health-care bill and said he did not know how Republicans would get the 50 votes needed for passage. 

"But that's the goal," he said.

The changes already approved by the House would be devastating to twin sisters Anastasia and Alba Somoza of New York City, particularly any decreases in Medicaid, according their mother, Mary Somoza. 

The twins, now 33, were born prematurely with cerebral palsy, and though unable sit up on their own, Alba Somoza works as an artist who teaches children in New York City and Anastasia Somoza as an advocate for others with disabilities. She also spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Conventional last summer, when she said she feared Trump’s election. 

Everything they have accomplished could be at risk, Mary Somoza said.

"They will require from-womb-to-tomb assistance," she said. "And I'm not always going to be around to provide it."

In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that the lifetime cost to care for a person with cerebral palsy at $1 million. Both women need extensive assistance from aides to live as independently as they do, and Alba Somoza, who cannot speak, communicates through a $10,000 computer that must be updated every five years. However progressive New York is as a state, it cannot cover the costs that the federal government does, Mary Somoza said.

"They both do extraordinary things and all of that would come to a halt if anything happened to their Medicaid coverage," she said.

United Cerebral Palsy, which advocates for independent lives for those with cerebral palsy, fought the House bill, calling it potentially devastating to anyone who relies on Medicaid for health coverage and longterm services.

"We are hopeful that as the Senate deliberates, more information about the projected impact of the House bill will become known and that the Senate will not pass a bill that would bring harm to our community," it said in a statement.


It is among the major health organizations that have take positions against the House bill, including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Even the chief medical officer of Medicaid, Dr. Andrey Ostrovsky, tweeted his opposition in March.

"Despite political messaging from others at HHS, I align with the experts from @aafp @AmerAcadPeds @AmerMedicalAssn in opposition to #AHCA," he tweeted.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released on May 11, 56 percent of American voters disapprove of the plan passed narrowly at the beginning of the month by House Republicans under Speaker Paul Ryan.

Norma Brockman, the director of a pre-school in New York City, has already had one of her knees and a hip replaced, but needs the same operation for her other hip.

Brockman is insured through her job, plus she bought supplemental coverage, but fears that what had cost her $500 would no longer be covered and be more than she could afford, she said. The cost of a hip replacement in New York City can be as high as $69,654, according to a 2015 report done by Blue Cross, Blue Shield. 

"I will be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life if this happens," she said.

The changes approved by the House would allow states to waive the requirement that insurers not penalize people with pre-existing conditions, provided they have had a lapse in coverage. High-risk insurance pools would be available but critics say they are often under-funded. Six million Americans with pre-existing conditions could face significant premium increases, according to an analysis done by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"We cannot afford to let people die," Brockman said. "We cannot afford to let people be sick. I don't understand how they look us in the eye and say, 'Oh you have choice.' If you can't afford it, you just don't have it."

Delilah Talbot, a mother from Kearny, New Jersey, was covered by a corporate insurance plan when she was diagnosed with what was thought a very early stage of breast cancer. But various rounds of testing revealed that the then 32-year-old actually had advanced breast cancer that had already moved into her lymph nodes and one of her hips. Talbot's treatment — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — was covered by her plan and whenever her insurance company balked, her doctor was able to petition successfully, she said.

"I had a very experienced oncologist who understood the nature of breast cancer at a young age," she said. "As he calls it, it's a vicious monster and it really doesn't let up."

She went into remission for two-and-a-half years. Early last year her cancer returned, this time as lesions in her spine. For six months she was able to keep the tumors from spreading through medication but by December she was in too much pain, and now her chemotherapy is so debilitating, she is often not able to leave her home. She is fighting for her life for her son, she said, who lives with his father.

"Everything that I do is for him," she said. "Every bit of work that I did, every penny that I earned was to provide a life for him."

This time, she is insured through Obamacare, with premium costs of just under $600 a month, which she offsets with a $300 credit. She is eligible for Medicare, but out-of-pocket costs would be higher. Were the Republican changes to take effect, she would not be able to get insurance she could afford and the treatments she needs, she said.

"I believe people creating these policies have no absolutely idea how it affects your life from A to Z — not just from the point of your health and your physical health and how you have to treat that but your mental health and your finances and trying to recover from that and possibly having to file for bankruptcy," she said. 

Hodge's daughters, now 24 and 16, are insured through his employer but he is apprehensive about lifetime caps, which he said his daughters' drugs alone could exhaust in a year or two. Equally worrying to him are the cuts to Medicaid, through which half of children with cystic fibrosis and a third of adults receive care.

Hodge's eldest daughter will turn 26 in two years and will no longer be eligible for coverage under his insurance. If she is assigned a high-risk pool, there is little likelihood that she will be able to get affordable, adequate treatments, he said. Or if she finds herself on Medicaid, she will be at risk if her treatments are restricted.

"The American Health Care Act is woefully inadequate for people with cystic fibrosis," said Mary Dwight, senior vice president for policy and patient assistance programs at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "To be clear, the legislation does not protect people with pre-existing conditions. In fact, it undermines vital safeguards against being charged more for insurance based on health status."

Currently, Hodge's daughters receive care at centers that offer multidisciplinary teams, an approach that has been successful for people with cystic fibrosis. It helps to keep them out of hospitals and emergency rooms, where they can be exposed to bacterial infections that will do further damage to their lungs, he said. Kalydeco, a drug that both daughters take, and which has allowed his elder daughter to live and work in Washington, D.C., costs more than $300,000 a year. Copay programs could be in jeopardy, he said.

"There is absolute potential in there for the protections that we have for existing conditions to go away," he said. "As much as Paul Ryan wants to stand up and say that isn't the case, he should read his own bill."



Photo Credit: Gerardo Somoza
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<![CDATA[Trump Team Stands by Budget’s $2 Trillion Math Error]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 10:07:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mickmulvaneyfeuerherd.jpg

President Donald Trump's newly unveiled budget contains a massive accounting error that uses the same money twice for two different purposes, NBC News reported. 

Based on its supersized projections of 3 percent GDP, the president's budget forecasts about $2 trillion in extra federal revenue growth over the next 10 years, which it then uses to pay for Trump's "biggest tax cut in history." 

But then it also uses that very same $2 trillion to balance the budget. 

Experts say the numbers just don’t add up. 

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers wrote on his blog, "It appears to be the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them."

But White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Tuesday he stands by the numbers. 

"I'm aware of the criticisms and would simply come back and say there's other places where we were probably overly conservative in our accounting," he said. "We stand by the numbers."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump’s Budget Breaks These 7 Campaign Promises]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 16:58:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17075720853888-wall.jpg

The White House took pains to insist that the 2018 budget blueprint is keeping campaign promises, NBC News reported.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that the president is making good on his vow to save government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. 

However, the budget outlines deep cuts to many aspects of the American safety net that suggest Mulvaney made a false assessment of the blueprint.

NBC News found seven campaign promises that the preliminary budget would break to Trump voters and supporters.


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<![CDATA[Trump to Retain Private Attorney in Russia Probes]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 18:34:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/trump-rose-garden.jpg

President Donald Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as his private attorney on matters related to the Russia investigation, sources told NBC News.

Kasowitz has represented Trump a number of times in the past and has a long relationship with the president, Business Insider reported.

He is a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York and has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of fraud at Trump University, The Washington Post reported.

He also has represented the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New York Jets.

Meanwhile, former Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat, joined Kasowitz' law firm in 2013 — and Lieberman is under consideration by Trump to replace Comey as FBI director.



Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Senate Committee to Subpoena 2 of Flynn's Businesses]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 14:02:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/flynnfeuerherdIV.jpg

The Senate intelligence committee says it will subpoena two of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's businesses.

The committee has already subpoenaed Flynn for documents regarding his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Flynn has refused to hand over that information.

The committee also sent a letter to Flynn's attorney Tuesday questioning the legal basis of Flynn's decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right over a request for documents rather than testimony.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr says senators will wait for Flynn's response to Tuesday's requests before they decide the next course of action, including the possibility of a contempt of Congress citation. 

The committee is investigating Russia's campaign meddling and possible ties to President Donald Trump's associates.




Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Did Melania Dodge Trump’s Hand Again?]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 12:24:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/another+melania+hand+swat.jpg

The swat heard 'round the world appears to have a sequel. 

A day after Melania Trump appeared to rebuff the president's hand as the couple walked down the red carpet on the tarmac at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, the first lady appears to have done it again (watch it above).

This time, it was in Rome. The president and his wife had just landed in Italy Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's planned visit with Pope Francis. They waved to those who arrived to greet them and Donald Trump reached for Melania Trump's hand as the couple prepared to walk down the stairs from Air Force One.

For the second time in 24 hours, the first lady appears to brush off her husband's hand, effortlessly reaching to brush a stray hair from her eye as she starts to walk down the stairs by herself. It wasn't clear if Melania Trump saw the gesture. The president, not seeming flustered by the move, places a hand on her back to support her. 

A CNN digital editor tweeted a GIF of the Rome hand "swat" captioned, "When in Rome," shortly after 12:30 p.m. It was retweeted more than 60 times and liked more than 70 times in about 20 minutes. 

The video of the rebuff in Israel, posted to Twitter by user @raggapegs, has garnered more than 11,000 retweets and 17,000 favorites since it was posted around 6:15 a.m. Monday. In that video, the couple strolls along as hundreds watch when the first lady, donning a crisp white skirt and jacket, seems to flick away the president's hand as he tried to grip hers in his own. 

Some speculated Donald Trump only reached for his wife's hand after he noticed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding hands with his wife as the two couples walked down the red carpet together. Others suggested Donald Trump simply withdrew his hand before his wife could take it. 

A later photo of the Trumps departing Israel for the Vatican showed the first couple holding hands. 

The White House and representatives for Melania Trump haven't commented on the matter.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Brennan: 'Sufficient Basis' for Russia-Trump Campaign Probe]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 11:22:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17143547439723.jpg

Former CIA chief John Brennan testifies before members of the House Intelligence Committee on May 23, 2017. Brennan says that he left his position without clear conclusions about collusion but with "unresolved questions" about the nature of Russian contact with Trump campaign officials.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Coats Won't Comment on Trump Collusion Report]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 09:15:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/US-Worldwide-Threats-2-CR-149555543017000001.jpg

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 23, 2017, Dan Coats, the nation's director of national intelligence, said he wouldn't comment on a news report that President Donald Trump asked him to publicly deny any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

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<![CDATA[Trump Asked Intel Officials to Push Back on Russia Probe]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 18:29:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/rogers-461191572.jpg

President Trump asked two top U.S. intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between the Russian government and his campaign team, a former senior intelligence official confirmed to NBC News.

According to the official, Trump asked both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers both deemed the requests to be inappropriate and did not comply, according to officials cited by The Washington Post, which first reported on the president's request.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. The NSA did not respond to a request for comment.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[DOJ Narrows Possible Sanctions for Sanctuary Cities]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 14:08:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AGjeffsessions_1200x675.jpg

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that local governments refusing to cooperate in deporting convicted criminals risk losing their Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security grant money, NBC News reported.

Sessions issued a memo in response to an executive order issued by President Trump in late January directing the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to ensure that sanctuary cities will not be eligible to receive federal funds.

A federal judge last month issued a nationwide injunction on enforcing that part of the executive order after San Francisco said it could lose all its federal grant money.

But in his memo, Sessions said the order "will be applied solely to federal grants administered by the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security, and not to other sources of federal funding." 



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Netanyahu, Trump Speak in Israel About Regional Stability]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 13:26:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TrumpNetanyahu_16465883_1-149548261825500001.jpg

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the international nuclear deal with Iran and Middle Eastern stability at a joint press conference in Israel on May 22, 2017.

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<![CDATA[Melania Trump Appears to Slap Away Husband's Hand]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 12:59:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/Screen+Shot+2017-05-22+at+1.08.26+PM.png

Melania Trump appeared to slap away her husband's outstretched hand during events staged to welcome President Donald Trump to Israel. The Trumps were welcomed on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv at the start of a two-day visit.

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<![CDATA[Unwelcome Selfie, Melania Hand Slap: Trump Arrives in Israel]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 10:20:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/trump-selfie.jpg

The red carpet moments on the tarmac kept coming.

President Donald Trump had a bumpy landing in Israel on Monday with a series of apparent faux pas, from the first lady slapping away his hand to a lawmaker whipping out a cell phone to take a selfie with him.

Trump arrived in Tel Aviv for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories and as he tried to take his wife’s hand on a red carpet on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion International Airport, the first lady appeared to push it back. It was unclear what prompted the videotaped moment. 

Oren Hazan, a politician in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Likud party did take his hand in what The Associated Press described as a characteristically aggressive handshake, then took out his a cell phone for a selfie. Netanyahu tried to swat Hazan’s arm away, unsuccessfully, and Likud politicians later said that not only was Hazan not invited to the ceremony but that he had caused “a great embarrassment” to the prime minister.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett used the welcome ceremony to press Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump, who had promised during the campaign to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but has since backed away from the pledge, told Bennett, “That’s a good one,” according to the AP.

Boarding the Marine One helicopter for Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was caught on microphone commiserating about media coverage.

“The majority of people in Israel, unlike the media, they love us, so we tell them how you are great, and they love you,” she said, the Washington Post reported.

“We have something very much in common,” Trump replied.

“Very much in common,” said Sara Netanyahu, who has come under media attention as the subject of official investigation over her spending on the couple’s private home.

Trump soon found himself defending an Oval Office meeting on May 10 when he disclosed classified information about an Islamic State threat to the Russian former minister and ambassador to the United States. The information came from Israel, according to officials.

“I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” he said.

But he never was accused of naming Israel, just of revealing enough details that could lead others to that realization.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Trump's Israel Visit: 5 Key Issues]]> Sun, 21 May 2017 23:54:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-635655088.jpg

President Donald Trump's two-day visit to Israel began Monday morning and there are five key issues that are expected to be the focus of his time in the country, NBC News reported.

The most recent issue to come up is the security relationship between Israel and the U.S. It was reported that the intelligence Trump discussed with Russian officials came from Israel. Though an Israeli official said the relationship is unchanged, many wonder if Trump's discussion will affect it.

Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, a holy site in Jerusalem. However, his administration has given conflicting statements about whether the wall is located in Israel.

Also looming over the visit is the issues of moving the U.S. embassy, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and building a new coalition of the U.S., Israel and Sunni Arab leaders.



Photo Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images, File]]>