Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Something to Know - 31 January


компромисс: (translation from Russian = The Compromise)

1 part Putin Tang

1 part Doofus Donny

4 parts Hidden Go-Pro

6 parts Leaking Ladies

Mix thoroughly and chill for several months

Hold over Doofus Head

Today's column is from the New York Times and David Brooks.   Mr.  Brooks ties together much of what is in the other leading news stories and on Morning Joe.

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST

The Republican Fausts
David Brooks JAN. 31, 2017

Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don't particularly admire him as a man, they don't trust him as an administrator, they don't agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he'll sign their legislation and they certainly don't want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media.

Their position was at least comprehensible: How many times in a lifetime does your party control all levers of power? When that happens you're willing to tolerate a little Trumpian circus behavior in order to get things done.

But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it's this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they've struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.

In the first place, the Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration. Trump insulted both parties equally in his Inaugural Address. The Bannonites are utterly crushing the Republican regulars when it comes to actual policy making.

The administration has swung sharply antitrade. Trump's economic instincts are corporatist, not free market. If Barack Obama tried to lead from behind, Trump's foreign policy involves actively running away from global engagement. Outspoken critics of Paul Ryan are being given White House jobs, and at the same time, if Reince Priebus has a pulse it is not externally evident.

Second, even if Trump's ideology were not noxious, his incompetence is a threat to all around him. To say that it is amateur hour at the White House is to slander amateurs. The recent executive orders were drafted and signed without any normal agency review or even semicoherent legal advice, filled with elemental errors that any nursery school student would have caught.

It seems that the Trump administration is less a government than a small clique of bloggers and tweeters who are incommunicado with the people who actually help them get things done. Things will get really hairy when the world's problems are incoming.

Third, it's becoming increasingly clear that the aroma of bigotry infuses the whole operation, and anybody who aligns too closely will end up sharing in the stench.

The administration could have simply tightened up the refugee review process and capped the refugee intake at 50,000, but instead went out of its way to insult Islam. The administration could have simply tightened up immigration procedures, but Trump went out of his way to pick a fight with all of Mexico.

Other Republicans have gone far out of their way to make sure the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam or on Arabs, but Trump has gone out of his way to ensure the opposite. The racial club is always there.

Fourth, it is hard to think of any administration in recent memory, on any level, whose identity is so tainted by cruelty. The Trump administration is often harsh and never kind. It is quick to inflict suffering on the 8-year-old Syrian girl who's been bombed and strafed and lost her dad. Its deportation vows mean that in the years ahead, the TV screens will be filled with weeping families being pulled apart.

None of these traits will improve with time. As former Bush administration official Eliot Cohen wrote in The Atlantic, "Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment."

The danger signs are there in profusion. Sooner or later, the Republican Fausts will face a binary choice. As they did under Nixon, Republican leaders will have to either oppose Trump and risk his tweets, or sidle along with him and live with his stain.

Trump exceeded expectations with his cabinet picks, but his first 10 days in office have made clear this is not a normal administration. It is a problem that demands a response. It is a callous, bumbling group that demands either personal loyalty or the ax.

Already one sees John McCain and Lindsey Graham forming a bit of a Republican opposition. The other honorable senators will have to choose: Collins, Alexander, Portman, Corker, Cotton, Sasse and so on and so on.

With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times. But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature. And so sooner or later all will have to choose what side they are on, and live forever after with the choice.


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 

H. L. Mencken

Andy Borowitz

By Andy Borowitz   10:51 A.M.
Justice Department, EPA Announce $15 Billion Settlement In VW Emissions Fraud


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald Trump fired the acting Attorney General, Sally Q. Yates, after learning that she had downloaded a copy of the United States Constitution to her computer, Trump told reporters on Monday night.

According to the Trump Administration's code of ethics, established by Steve Bannon, a counselor to the President, "possessing, reading, or referring to the United States Constitution" is a violation that is punishable by termination.

Suspecting that Yates was in breach of that rule, Bannon seized Yates's computer at the Justice Department and discovered that she had secretly downloaded a complete copy of the 1789 document.

"Sally Yates was hatching a covert plot to require my actions to be in accordance with the Constitution," Trump said. "We caught her red-handed."

Trump said he hoped Yates's firing would send Justice Department staffers the message that "if you are caught flagrantly obeying the Constitution, you will be out of here."

"The American people deserve an Attorney General who will come to work every day ready to flout the Constitution, and in Jeff Sessions, they will have one," he said.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 

H. L. Mencken

Monday, January 30, 2017

Andy Borowitz

By Andy Borowitz   08:15 A.M.
Senate Legislators Address The Press After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Calling it a "medical mystery of the first order," scientists are baffled by the ability of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to stand upright without the benefit of spines.

Doctors at the University of Minnesota Medical School, who have been studying the skeletal structures of both Republicans for months, believe that their ability to stand, walk, and even break into a brisk trot when confronted by reporters' questions is "virtually inexplicable."

"The fact that they can do these things without the aid of spines makes McConnell and Ryan anomalies in the animal kingdom," said Dr. Davis Logsdon. "According to everything medical science teaches us, their bodies should be collapsing to the ground in two heaps."

As the Minnesota scientists have struggled to solve the medical conundrum presented by the two invertebrate leaders, one theory that has gained traction is what Logsdon calls "the startled-deer hypothesis."

"Just as a deer freezes in the headlights of a car and briefly appears statue-like, we believe that Ryan and McConnell's bodies may retain their rigid structure out of terror alone," he said. "In other words, fear is performing the function that a spine performs in other people."

Calling it "just a theory," Logsdon said that the anatomies of McConnell and Ryan require further study, and that there was growing public support for both men to be dissected.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 

H. L. Mencken

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Something to Know - 25 January

Weather Report - A fountain of effluvium has been spotted on radar.   This phenomenon was in the forecast, but now it is being tracked as it bubbles out from Pennsylvania Avenue.  Experts have been researching the behavioral pattern of data points collected so far, and it resembles the same Shock And Awe (The General Tommy Franks Syndrome) in the last decade.   So, residents are encouraged to shelter in place as the Thin Skinned Tangerine Tornado passes by - as it will pass.   Bring your pets inside, and plan your days accordingly:

Help us, GOP. You're our only hope.
President Donald Trump celebrates after his speech during the presidential inauguration. (Saul Loeb/Associated Press)
By Garrison Keillor January 24 at 5:22 PM
Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.

On Jan. 20, 2017, President Trump took the oath of office, pledging in his inaugural address to embark on a strategy of "America first." 

What we know so far is that the man is who he is. There is no larger, finer man inside him trying to get out. Everyone who is paying attention knows this. Flags flying at the Capitol, the U.S. Marine Band, gray eminences in black coats, and He Who Is Smarter Than Those With Intelligence delivers 16 minutes of hooey and horse hockey about corrupt politicians betraying the people, and American carnage, and patriotism healing our division, though the division is mainly about Himself and though love of country does not necessarily make people stupid.

There might as well have been a 14-year-old boy at the lectern saying that he is in possession of the Golden Goblet that will drive the Gimlets from Fredonia and preserve the Sacred Marmite of Lord Numbskull and his Nimrods.

The next day he motored out to the CIA and stood before the memorial wall honoring heroes who gave their lives in anonymity and he bitched about his newspaper coverage. The next day he boasted that his inauguration's TV ratings were higher than those in 2013. The day after that, he told the congressional leadership that he lost the popular vote because millions of illegal votes were cast, which everyone in the room knew was a bald-faced lie, except perhaps Himself. The man is clueless, tightly locked inside his own small bubble. A sizable minority of Americans, longing for greatness or wanting to smack down an ambitious woman and to show those people in the hellhole coastal cities what the real America is all about, has elected him. To him, this minority is a mass movement such as the world has never seen. God have mercy.

"American carnage," my Aunt Sally: The correct term is "American capitalism." Jobs are lost to automation, innovation, obsolescence, the moving finger of fate. The carriage industry was devastated by the automobile, and the men who made surreys and broughams and hansoms had to learn something new; the Pullman porter union was hit hard by the advent of air travel, and the porters sent their sons to college; the newspaper business was hit hard by Craigslist. Too bad for us. I know gifted men who were successful graphic designers until computers came along and younger people with computer skills took their place and those gifted men had to do something else. T-shirts are made in Asian countries because Americans don't want to pay $20 for one. Coal yields to natural gas as renewable energy marches forward. Who doesn't get this? The idea that the government is obligated to create a good living for you is one the Republican Party has fought since Adam was in the third grade. It's the party of personal responsibility. But there he is, promising to make the bluebirds sing. As if.

Everyone knows that the man is a fabulator, oblivious, trapped in his own terrible needs. Republican, Democrat, libertarian, socialist, white supremacist or sebaceous cyst — everyone knows it. It is up to Republicans to save the country from this man. They elected him, and it is their duty to tie a rope around his ankle. They formed a solid bloc against President Obama and held their ranks, and now, for revenge, they will go after health insurance subsidies for people of limited means, which is one of the cruelest things they can possibly do. Dishwashers and cleaning ladies need heart surgery, too — hospital emergency rooms already see streams of sick people, uninsured, poor or unable to deal with the paperwork, coming in for ordinary care, and when upward of 30 million are left high and dry, people will suffer horribly. "Nobody is going to be dying on the streets," Trump said. No, they're going to die at home in their bedrooms.

The question is: How cynical are we willing to be and for how long? How long will Senate Republicans wait until a few of them stand up to the man? Greatness is in the eye of the beholder. American self-respect is what is at stake here, ladies and gentlemen. The only good things to come out of that inauguration were the marches all over the country the day after, millions of people taking to the streets of their own free will, most of them women, packed in tight, lots of pink hats, lots of signage, earnest, vulgar, witty, a few brilliant ("Take your broken heart and make it art"), and all of it rather civil and good-humored. That's the great America I grew up in. It's still here.

Read more about this topic:


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken

Something to Know - 17 January

As the inauguration of the 45th president approaches, we see the next occupant as one who is arriving with diminishing approval, and who is challenging whatever disturbs him along the way, with no sense of maturity on his agenda.   His reckless behavior where he lashed out at Congressman John Lewis is an example of where Trump ignores his own character snubs on Obama, but displays his total ignorance of who John Lewis is, where he came from, and what he represents.   This, and other issues, is what is stand to bring Trump to ruin:

(there are some excellent video and graphics in this article from today's Washington Post.   To be seen, you need to refer to the below indicated link)

Where was Donald Trump when John Lewis was fighting for civil rights? Let's compare.

President-Elect Donald Trump and Rep. John Lewis. (LEFT: Jabin Botsford/The Post RIGHT: Matt McClain/The Post)

By Petula Dvorak Columnist January 16 at 1:31 PM - Washington Post

We shouldn't be surprised anymore.

There's apparently no depth too low for Donald Trump to sink in his unpresidented attacks on anyone who challenges him. And Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) certainly did that, citing Russian interference in the election and questioning the legitimacy of Trump's presidency.

Even so, the president-elect's Twitter tirade against Lewis at the beginning of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is still mind-boggling and a national embarrassment.

Trump called Lewis, who risked his life to defy segregation, who has been arrested 40 times for his unrelenting activism, who helped get voting rights for millions of Americans, who kept fighting even after his skull was fractured, "All talk, talk, talk — no action."

We can start in 1960, when Trump was 14 and Lewis was 20. They both clearly showed their leadership potential early.

At New York Military Academy in Cornwall, N.Y., Donald Trump won a "neatness and order medal."

That same year, John Lewis became one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, defying laws that prohibited blacks and whites from sitting next to each other on public transportation.

Three years later in 1963, man-of-action Trump led his private school's white-gloved drill team in the Columbus Day parade in New York. But he was also removed from that drill team command, classmates said, because he hazed younger students.

That same year, Lewis helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and spoke alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1965, Trump got his second Vietnam draft deferment as a Fordham University student.

In 1965, on a day that became known as Bloody Sunday, Lewis helped lead 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. When the marchers stopped to pray, they were tear-gassed and beaten by troopers. Lewis's skull was fractured.

In 1973, Trump's actions got him sued by the Department of Justice. He was managing his dad's properties and wouldn't rent apartments to African Americans. The Trumps eventually settled the lawsuit without any admission of wrongdoing.

That same year, John Lewis was running the Voter Education Project, which pushed to register minority voters across the country.

Trump owned the '80s, right? His actions that decade?

In 1981, Trump bought a 14-story building facing New York City's Central Park and began a campaign to drive out the rent-stabilized tenants so he could begin gutting and renovating the building. According to lawsuits, Trump cut heat and water to the remaining tenants.

In 1981, John Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council.

In 1987, Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal," became a bestseller. Action? He didn't even write it; talk about talk talk talk. And his ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, now regrets the picture he painted of Trump in that book.

In 1987, Lewis was elected to Congress.

I don't think Trump knows enough about America or American history to have deliberately targeted one of our country's civil rights heroes in his tweet storm.

You can see that in his messages: "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested)." Much of Lewis's district is affluent. But Trump demonstrated again that he equates black people with crime.

So there was hope last week when it was announced that he was going to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Martin Luther King Day. It looked as though he may have been willing to fill in some of the gaps in the American story he's been missing, including the part Lewis played in the triumphs of the civil rights movement.

But then Trump canceled the visit. Turns out it was all talk, talk, talk.

Twitter: @petulad


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken

Something to Know - 29 January

The "Talking Heads" (ABC, NBC,&NBC) ran their weekly shows this morning.   Seems as though the White House spared us another visitation by Cruella the Conway and shuffled out the Spice Guy to shovel the effluvium.   Even Rancid Preebliss got in a word or two.   Things are chaotic and scary, just like the Thin-Skinned Tangerine had planned.  After all, he is big cheese now, and wants people to respect his power.  To that end, today's column is supplied by the magnificent Seattle News Bureau, and gets to the core of what we should be working on:


Infinite Coincidence Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.  
Donald Trump is going to snap very soon, and here is how I know

Posted on January 22, 2017 by Richard Willmsen

I believe that rather than smashing our own glass houses to pieces in the act of destroying Donald Trump's Presidency, we need to be aware of our own inner Trump, to reflect on our own tendencies to think and behave in catastrophically immature, venal and insecure ways. I therefore offer up this short account of my own personal emotional development, and then explain why I think it helps explain why Trump is heading for a breakdown very, very soon.

I used to suffer from a quite disabling insecurity, particularly when it came to things like being creative and forming relationships with other people. I got better, partly by virtue of living in and studying Portugal, learning about its people's tendency to swing between moments of self-aggrandisement and self-abnegation, from 'we are great' to 'we are nothing'. I also learnt about my own habit of projecting my own feelings onto others, both people and countries. The work of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa showed me that we're all characters on a stage acting out different roles, and that that is okay. I identified strongly with the philosopher Eduardo Lourenço's diagnosis that Portuguese people tend to suffer from taking on too many identities, and I took enormous inspiration, consolation and guidance from his insights that Portugal is 'marvelously imperfect', 'no worse and no better than anyone else', and that progress comes from accepting one's limitations.

Living in China taught me to accept the existence of other perceptions of my own identity, even if I feel embarrassed about it, particularly in terms of my national identity. Everyone has one and I can't let the fact of my British or Englishness inhibit me unduly. Writing about my misunderstandings of Chinese society and about my role there helped me accept that I, like everyone else, have an ego, and also that I can use writing as a vehicle for making connections between things and to help find people who've noticed the same things, who share my perspective. Spending time with a Lacanian psychoanalyst in London helped me develop confidence in my own voice while also teaching me about the foibles of my tendency to overthink. I got better (although not necessarily good) at identifying and cultivating friendships with other people. I met the woman who later became my wife, who loves me for who I am rather than who I pretend to be. Through my job I became better at listening to people and more accepting of others and myself. I learnt that honest self-reflection is a more effective medium for personal development than alcohol is. Through acquiring other languages I discovered that learning is one of the things I most enjoy and value about being alive.

I still screw up, as we all do, but I accept that doing so is part of life, and when I do or get something wrong I try to apologise without fear or recrimination. I know that I'm not mad in any meaningful sense. I accept that I have some ability to write entertainingly and insightfully, and I have less fear than I did before of saying what I want to say. I have a wonderful editor in my wife and I accept that I sometimes miss things and perhaps expose some parts of myself to criticism and ridicule. I know that what I write doesn't and doesn't have to please everyone. I accept that everyone is fallible, and that it takes hard work to produce writing of quality. Sometimes I don't put in enough hard work, and that's my fault. I try hard not to depend emotionally on the responses or lack of responses to what I write. In a nutshell, I've matured, to the point where I can now face the prospect of becoming a father, something which, say, 15 years ago was (so to speak) inconceivable.

All this means that I understand something of the fragility of Donald Trump's ego. Having struggled to maintain friendships in the past, I can see how Trump can get to a point where he has, according to a piece in Newsweek based on several months spent around him, no close friends. As I've acknowledged before, it's essential for us to have the humility to recognise that we don't have the ability to diagnose Trump at a distance. But that there's something of the manchild about him is inescapable.

These first two days of his 'Presidency' saw paranoid and recriminatory tweets, a speech to the CIA in which he ranted bitterly about media reports of his coronation, and his press spokesperson being sent out to deliver another paranoid self-pitying rant. People are mercilessly taking the piss out of the piss-poor attendance at his pitiable inauguration, and Trump appears to be following every single one of them on Twitter. It's clear to me that whatever means he's used to survive up until this point aren't going to work in his new role. There's simply too much scrutiny and ridicule, and it's going too deep. He's too much of a shallow narcissist to ignore it. Trump is going to learn the wisdom of Jacques Lacan: "the madman is not only a beggar who thinks he is a king, but also a king who thinks he is a king". Whatever monster he has buried in his mind is going to rise up to bite off huge chunks of him from within.

Trump is famously hostile to the notion of learning: no-one has anything to teach him. He was born rich, and that means he's a genius and that everyone must respect him. He appears to have no ability for self-reflection. The mirrors he has in his mansion may be framed in gold, but he's never been able to bring himself to look into them for more than a few seconds. Instead he's surrounded himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear, who repeat back to him his inner mantra: you're the richest, the best, the greatest writer, builder, statesman, etc etc etc. But it's his inner voices that are the problem, the ones that tell him that he's nothing, a failure, that everyone sees him as a joke. The ones that (presumably) sound a lot like his father.

His tweets in particular reveal that at some level he knows that his self-aggrandising self-image is hollow and brittle. So he lashes out, including physically. And it's getting worse. People are laughing louder. He's now put himself in a position where the entire world knows that he is venal, insecure, stupid and deluded.

He's become in two days the paranoid and deluded ruler of so many novels by Latin American and African writers. Usually this point is reached after several decades of rule and the imposition of terror and a cult of personality. He's the kind of leader that the U.S. has imposed on so many other countries; there is an element of chickens coming home to roost. He obviously took enormous consolation from his media image, the idea that he was 'America's CEO'. He believed this and seems to have internalised it, but is also taunted by a nagging awareness that it was little more than a joke, a stupid slogan to sell a TV show. His supporters may not know that, but some will learn. He's already starting to turn some of them against him. As he attacks their standard of living and doesn't have the political skills necessary to calm their anger, they will see through him to the delusion, insecurity and vanity within. He'll have no more defences and will be unable to hide from the stark fact that his flatterers don't respect him. Putin in particular is evil but not stupid. He knows that Trump is an absolute moron. And he can't control that smirk of his.

Lacan said that what matters in psychoanalysis is not so much what the client says, but what falls out of his pockets while speaking. Trump appears to have absolutely no idea what he has in his pockets, and now everyone on the planet is picking up things, inspecting them and telling him what they are. They are teaching him things about himself that he cannot bear to learn. He also knows that he is President in name only, and that's not enough to sustain his ego.

He will snap very, very soon.

Our job is to increase the tension.


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken

Something to Know - 28 January

This column from today's NY Times lays the basic arguments out on the table about the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) and the predicament that the Republicans are in as they try to craft (repeal and replace) it with TrumpCare).   It's worth reading if you want to see what the arguments are all about and the dangerous path that the GeeOpie has created for itself:



House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, center, listening to President Trump's inaugural address last week.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans, meeting behind closed doors this week in Philadelphia, expressed grave concerns about dismantling the Affordable Care Act on the urgent timetable demanded by President Trump, fretting that, among other things, they could wreck insurance markets and be saddled with a politically disastrous "Trumpcare."
An audio recording of a session at their annual retreat, obtained by The New York Times, shows Republicans in disarray, far from agreement on health policy, and still searching for something to replace former President Barack Obama's health care law. While their leaders called for swift action to rescue consumers from the Affordable Care Act, some backbench Republicans worried about potential pitfalls.
"We had better be sure that we are prepared to live with the market being created," said Representative Tom McClintock of California, because "that's going to be called Trumpcare."
He added, "Republicans will own it lock, stock and barrel, and we'll be judged on that."
When Democrats were writing the Affordable Care Act seven years ago, their primary goal was to provide health insurance to more people, an ambition that the Obama administration went to great lengths to fulfill as it enrolled millions of people in Medicaid or private health plans.
Now, as Republicans try to devise a replacement for the law, they have set a nearly impossible standard for themselves: They have promised that none of the 20 million people who gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act will lose it if the law is repealed, even as they lift its mandates and penalties, pull back the tax increases that pay for it and pledge to enact a new program that will be cheaper for taxpayers and consumers.
Continue reading the main story

In their private session, the recording of which was first reported on by The Washington Post, Republicans revealed that they understood the predicament they had largely created for themselves.


Keep or Replace Obamacare? It Might Be Up to the States

How a partial replacement plan compares with the existing law.

"I recognize that we can't keep Obama's promises," Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey said. "They were wrong to begin with, and the system can't be sustained." He worried aloud about the possibility that some people could lose insurance as the law is unwound.
"We're telling those people that we're not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast, we are, in fact, going to pull the rug out from under them," Mr. MacArthur said. After giving states the choice to expand Medicaid under the law, he said, reversing that expansion too quickly would run the risk of pulling a "bait and switch with the states."
The lawmakers' concerns contrasted with the confidence that Republican leaders and President Trump have expressed as they rush to replace Mr. Obama's signature domestic achievement, also known as Obamacare. Congress this month approved a budget blueprint that clears the way for quick action to repeal major provisions of the law, and Mr. Trump has said Congress should repeal and replace the law at the same time, putting pressure on lawmakers to agree on an alternative.
That budget measure created an aspirational deadline to draft repeal legislation by Jan. 27, a day that came and went.
Privately, Republicans made clear they understand the risks they are running. At their session this week, they voiced concern that their efforts to undo the law could have harmful consequences, such as inadvertently destabilizing insurance markets — a concern shared by Democrats and insurers.
Under Senate rules, the Senate could vote to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act using fast-track procedures that neutralize the threat of a Democratic filibuster. "We can repeal parts of it," Mr. McClintock said, "and the parts that remain, I'm concerned, could make the market even more dysfunctional."


From right, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California and Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana during an opening prayer at a Republican policy retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Republican leaders tried to reassure anxious backbenchers, making the same points in private as they have in public.
"We don't own Obamacare," said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, adding: "We are the rescue party. We campaigned to provide relief and help repair the damage."
Republican leaders have predicted that Democrats will come to the table to help draft a replacement once it becomes clear that the health law will be repealed. But some rank-and-file members were not so sure.
Representative John Katko of New York wondered what Republicans would do "if we can't get anything out of the Democrats."
Another New York Republican, Representative John J. Faso, warned colleagues they were playing with fire if they cut off funds for Planned Parenthood clinics, as Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said Republicans intend to do.
"Health insurance is going to be tough enough for us to deal with, without allowing millions of people on social media to come to Planned Parenthood's defense," Mr. Faso said. He wanted to know from the administration that "we're not going to have a tweet from the president" saying "we should protect Planned Parenthood."
"We're making a grave mistake including this Planned Parenthood provision in a health care bill," he said.
For many Republicans, coverage and cost are still the most important issues. Estimates of the number of people who will gain or lose coverage will affect the outlook for any proposal to dismantle and replace the 2010 law. If the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan scorekeeper on Capitol Hill, concludes that a significant number of people could lose coverage under a Republican plan, opposition from lawmakers — including Republicans — could jeopardize passage.
Before Mr. Trump stepped into the debate with his call for "insurance for everybody," Republicans were choosing their words with utmost caution: Their goal in replacing the health law was to guarantee "universal access," they said, not necessarily universal coverage.
"We will give everyone access to affordable health care coverage," Mr. Ryan said in early December when asked if Republicans had a plan to cover everyone.
But that discipline has broken down as lawmakers hear from constituents terrified of losing insurance and as Mr. Trump weighs in.
"No one who has coverage because of Obamacare today will lose that coverage," Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, said on Jan. 10.

Got a confidential news tip?

The New York Times would like to hear from readers who want to share messages and materials with our journalists.

A spokeswoman for Ms. McMorris Rodgers later tried to clarify what she had said. The congresswoman "didn't deliver her remarks exactly as prepared," the spokeswoman said. In the prepared remarks, Ms. McMorris Rodgers included an important qualification: "No one who has coverage because of Obamacare today will lose that coverage the day it's repealed" — in the transition to a new market-oriented health care system.
But Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, has made a sweeping commitment just like the one by Ms. McMorris Rodgers. After meeting with governors on Jan. 19, Mr. Cornyn was asked about concerns that people who benefited from the expansion of Medicaid might lose that coverage with a repeal.
"We're all concerned, but it ain't going to happen," Mr. Cornyn said. He amplified the point, adding: "Nobody's going to lose coverage. Obviously, people covered today will continue to be covered. And the hope is we'll expand access. Right now 30 million people are not covered under Obamacare."
A spokesman for Mr. Cornyn said he "meant no one will lose access to coverage."
Chris Jacobs, a health policy analyst who used to work for Republicans in Congress, said Republicans and Mr. Trump were at risk of overpromising, just as Mr. Obama did.
"Conservatives should not remain fixated on the number of people with health insurance when designing an Obamacare alternative," Mr. Jacobs said. "We will never win the battle with liberals if you measure success in terms of how many people have health insurance cards. We don't want to spend as much as liberals, and we don't believe in coercing people to buy insurance."
Democrats remember how Republicans hounded Mr. Obama for breaking his promise that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." Democrats say they will hold congressional Republicans and the Trump administration accountable in the same way.
Increasing the number of people with insurance was a lodestar for the Obama administration. It spent tens of millions of dollars advertising the benefits of the law. It extended deadlines to give people more time to sign up. It allowed many people to sign up outside the regular annual enrollment period and played down the significance of big premium increases, saying consumers could get subsidies to defray the costs.

Republicans say they can get the same results for less money and without a statutory mandate that most Americans have insurance. But without that requirement, budget analysts say, it will be difficult for Republicans to achieve coverage gains as large as those achieved under the Affordable Care Act.
"It's easier for the Congressional Budget Office to estimate significant coverage effects if there is a federal requirement" for people to have insurance, said Douglas W. Elmendorf, who was the budget office director from 2009 to 2015. "It would be very hard to maintain the levels of insurance coverage we have now without the penalties and subsidies."


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken


Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. 
H. L. Mencken