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Friday, August 18, 2017

Cedric Richmond on Steve Bannon's departure from the White House

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 5:16 PM

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. - CREATIVE COMMONS/MICHAEL VADON
  • Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus, issued this statement today on the departure of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon (who was, according to President Donald Trump's administration, not fired):
"Firing Steve Bannon is not enough because the issue of him working in the White House has never only been about him. It's also been about the racist and discriminatory policies he's helped draft and implement which hurt African Americans and other communities or color. So yes, Bannon needs to go — as do other white supremacists working in this Administration — but the policies need to go too."
Bannon immediately returned to working for Breitbart News, according to the website, where he will serve as executive chairman.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Editorial: Paging Dr. Cassidy — move on from health care repeal

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 1:46 PM

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy takes questions about health care at a town hall forum in Metairie earlier this year. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy takes questions about health care at a town hall forum in Metairie earlier this year.

Congressional Republicans began trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) literally the day after it was passed in 2010. The GOP-controlled House has voted to repeal it many times in a series of completely symbolic exercises that tossed red meat to their supporters without actually accomplishing anything. Now, with the GOP in control of both houses of Congress and the White House, it’s abundantly clear that Beltway Republicans have no idea how to follow through on their promise of “repeal and replace” — even though they’ve had seven years to figure it out.

“We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will,” said Arizona Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor, shortly before three attempts at repeal failed in late July. “All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.”

McCain is correct. During the last seven years, the ACA has continued to rise in public opinion polls. Even its detractors praise some of its provisions, including coverage for pre-existing conditions and letting young people stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. A Gallup poll conducted in April found 55 percent of Americans now approve of the ACA, while only 30 percent want a complete repeal.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Y@ Speak: folksy

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 7:28 PM

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy out "folks" himself, several times, during the health care debate, and Tom Benson tries this new human invention called — how do you say — beer (?). Here's this week's Twitter dump:

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Louisiana senators support failed attempt to repeal ACA: what's next

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM

  • Bill Cassidy.

Louisiana Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Neely Kennedy supported the Senate's latest attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act, including a late-night vote on a so-called "skinny" repeal, amid Republicans' failed efforts to dismantle the health care plan.

In its latest vote held early Friday morning (on the week of the 52nd anniversary of the passage of Medicaid), the Senate failed to pass a "skinny" repeal measure that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would increase the number of uninsured people in the U.S. by 15 million in 2018. Premiums for people buying their own insurance would likely rise by 20 percent.

The "skinny" repeal plan — an eight-page bill dubbed the Health Care Freedom Act, unveiled just hours before senators voted on it — would strike the individual mandate from the ACA, roll back requirements for employers to offer insurance to employees, cut funding to Planned Parenthood and increase funding to community health centers, and cut funds to numerous public health programs earmarked by the ACA.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cassidy and Kennedy join Senate in vote to debate repeal of ACA

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 5:25 PM

Demonstrators marched against cuts to the Affordable Care Act in New Orleans earlier this year. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • Demonstrators marched against cuts to the Affordable Care Act in New Orleans earlier this year.

Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie vote in the U.S. Senate July 25 to begin debate over some form of repeal of the Affordable Care Act, though senators still haven't revealed which version it will ultimately consider. Senators will debate this week and consider a long list of amendments, following a byzantine drafting process that has kept voters in the dark.

Also voting "yes" were Louisiana Sens. John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, who until today had not publicly committed to a position on any repeal or replace measure, other than his proposed version with Sen. Lindsey Graham. Cassidy — who called today's vote a "first step" — applauded the move in a statement sent after today's Senate vote.

“Nothing changes until the first step is taken," he said in a statement. "There will be many others. But we must replace Obamacare with something which fulfils President Trump’s campaign pledges to maintain coverage, protect those with preexisting conditions, and lower premiums without mandates. Power needs to be returned to the patients and states."

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Alabama Senate candidate uses audio of Scalise shooting in campaign ad

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 2:42 PM

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks.
  • U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks.

Audio from last month's shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and three others at a baseball field in Virginia is being used in a campaign ad by a U.S. Representative from Alabama  who hopes to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican running in a Senate special election to replace Sessions, debuted the ad featuring the sound of gunshots and the information that "Mo Brooks gives his belt as a tourniquet to help the wounded." It closes with a gripe about the "liberal media" asking Brooks questions about gun control after the tragedy, and reiterates Brooks' support of the Second Amendment.

Brett Horton, Scalise's chief of staff, tweeted that the audio "makes my stomach turn," while an unnamed spokesperson for Scalise told NBC News, “I guess some people have their own ideas about what’s appropriate."

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Editorial: Once again, demagogues taking pot shots at New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 4:01 PM


U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy was in New Orleans this week — not for a town hall or public constituents’ meeting, which he has yet to hold in the state’s largest city since he took office six months ago. No, he was here to talk with WWL-TV about the city’s crime problem, which he once again said could turn New Orleans into “the next Detroit.”

Kennedy previously used the “Detroit” slur in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the confirmation of FBI Director Christopher Wray. In that hearing, Kennedy also claimed hyperbolically that the Crescent City was becoming “the murder and armed robbery capital of the Western Hemisphere.”

Since Kennedy has been scarce around these parts after moving to Washington D.C., we thought we’d remind him of a few things.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Edwards joins bipartisan group of governors saying Senate should reject repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 4:12 PM

President Donald Trump said today, "Let Obamacare fail; it'll be a lot easier." - CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • President Donald Trump said today, "Let Obamacare fail; it'll be a lot easier."

The Senate health care replacement for the Affordable Care Act may have collapsed (though Congressional GOP leaders and President Donald Trump have expressed support for "just repeal" rather than "repeal and replace"), but a bipartisan group of governors — including Gov. John Bel Edwards — has issued a statement calling for the repeal's rejection.

"The Senate should immediately reject efforts to 'repeal' the current system and replace sometime later," the statement reads. "This could leave millions of Americans without coverage. The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets."

Since Edwards implemented the federal Medicaid expansion in Louisiana one year ago, more than 400,000 Louisianans have gotten health care. The repeal would leave them in limbo. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was set to reveal its analysis of the bill yesterday, but did not do so.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Landrieu fires back at Sen. John Neely Kennedy's criticism of New Orleans' crime rate

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 3:55 PM

U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy.
  • U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has lately been critical of New Orleans’ crime rate and Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s crimefighting strategy, giving an interview to Fox 8 News and writing a guest column for NOLA.com on the subject. "Crime is stealing the soul of New Orleans," Kennedy wrote. "It's choking the life and livelihood out of it. I used to live in New Orleans, and now I'm a little scared to go for a walk there. Our mayor seems preoccupied with other things and other ambitions,” Among the remedies Kennedy has suggested is implementation of a "stop-question-frisk" policy for the New Orleans Police Department.
Today Landrieu fired back, citing what he saw as the city's accomplishments since he's been in office. "Murder and violent crime rates are down over 60 percent from their historic peak in the 1990s," he said in a statement. "I have been to too many funerals and consoled too many mothers at crime scenes, for a career politician like John Kennedy to pander from the peanut gallery, especially when he can actually do something to help."

(Both Kennedy and Landrieu have been involved in Louisiana politics since the late 1980s.)

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Health care reform: First, do no harm

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 9:05 AM

On health care reform, Sen. Bill Cassidy, a physician, appears genuinely torn between his conscience and his political party. - PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • On health care reform, Sen. Bill Cassidy, a physician, appears genuinely torn between his conscience and his political party.

Louisiana’s Republican U.S. Sens. John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy soon must decide how they want to be remembered by future generations: as partisan hacks who put their party ahead of their constituents, or as courageous independents who sought to end America’s bitter political divide.

That’s what’s at stake when the two men vote on the GOP’s latest health care reform bill. Ultimately, the decision both men must make is whose interests they serve — their constituents or those who pour money into their campaign war chests.

In most instances, that’s an easy call: They follow the money, because voters don’t pay attention to most bills. That’s not the case with health care reform, which dominates all political discussion. The fight to establish and preserve universal coverage has become the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century, dividing us along lines of race, economic class and party.

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