From Beohner’s Lips to God’s Ears


This morning brings the report that exiled Speaker John Boehner has well and truly spilled the beans. The repeal and replacement is “not going to happen.”

Boehner, who resigned in 2015 amid unrest among conservatives, said at an Orlando health care conference that the idea that a repeal-and-replace plan would blitz through Congress is just “happy talk.”

Instead, he said changes to former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement would likely be relatively modest.

“[Congressional Republicans are] going to fix Obamacare – I shouldn’t call it repeal-and-replace, because it’s not going to happen,” he said. …

On Thursday, Boehner said the talk in November about lightning-fast passage of a new health care framework was wildly optimistic.

“I started laughing,” he said. “Republicans never ever agree on health care.”

“Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act … that’s going to be there,” Boehner concluded.

Aardvark hopes he is right. But, ladies and germs, let’s war game this out.

Pretty clearly, Trump’s best move would be to make minor changes to Obamacare, spin it as repeal and replace with new Trumpcare, and declare victory. But a segment of the Republicans in Congress will not go along with any such proposal. That means that in order to accomplish the benign flim-flam, you are going to need a lot of Democrats. But to write the legislation, put together the coalition, and then bring the thing off, you need someone with flexible ideology and lots of political savvy.

Who is this person? Surely not Paul Ryan, who has dedicated his life to the advancement of Ayn Rand’s agenda. Probably not Mitch McConnell. Probably not Tom Price, who lacks the ideological inclination to keep the Obamacare framework. Not Donald Trump, who cannot find his ass with both hands. Not anyone presently around Donald Trump.

What does this mean going into the 2018 elections? No repeal and replace. Nothing that can be spun as repeal and replace. Lots of people angry that Republicans reneged on a major campaign promise. Lots of people scared shitless that they will lose their health care. Every problem in the health care system now blamed on Republicans, not Democrats.

Trump will find a way to claim that somehow this is all the Democrats’ fault. But that dog is not going to hunt.


A New URL for Aardvark

From now on, you can reach us at

Yes, yes, I know. Dot com isn’t really correct, because we are not a business. But it’s easier to remember than the alternatives.

And, not to worry, the old URL,, will still work. It redirects to the new URL.

To celebrate Aardvark’s rebirth, Hans has helpfully supplied this depiction of the young Aardvark.


Required: A Checkup from the Neck Up

A friend has called Aardvark’s attention to A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior, wherein a physician suggests that Trump’s behavior may well result from long term untreated syphilis—and that Trump had damn well better see his favorite physician for what Kinky Friedman calls a checkup from the neck up.

Well, this explanation is probably true. Many people are saying it. There is lots of talk about it on the internet. Anyone who doubts it is obviously an enemy of the American people.

Anyway, whether it’s syphilis or something else, there surely is something rotten in Denmark.

And by the way, if Kinky Friedman has somehow escaped your radar screen, please rectify the oversight as soon as possible. I suggest you read all his novels.


Fooling Fewer of the People, Less of the Time


In a poll conducted in November, after the election, 56 percent of respondents told Quinnipiac that they believed Trump to be a “good leader”; 38 percent said they were of the opposite opinion. That means a fair number of Hillary voters bought the Trumpster’s act, and accepted his claim to be a brilliant businessman who knows how to manage effectively.

By January the 56 percent figure was down to 49 percent. Earlier in February it was 47 percent. Now it’s down to 42 percent—which means that a nontrivial portion of those who voted for Trump in November have now grasped that he is not a “good leader.”

The fans are slowly getting up and leaving the clown show.

This info from Josh Barro, Trump has a problem: Americans increasingly think he’s incompetent.

In Trump’s ‘Apprentice’-style hiring is upending Washington Politico enlarges on the incompetence of Trump’s hiring decisions:

Trump can plan to pick one person one minute and change his mind the next. He can think of a name and immediately tell advisers he wants that person for a particular job. There is no discernible rhyme or reason or formal vetting process to many of his hires, allies and aides say, with no formal questionnaires or protocols — and several Cabinet appointees’ confirmation struggles brought the downsides of such an approach into stark relief. He cares, above all, about appearance, loyalty and strength — a word he often uses. …

“It can be very random,” one person who has been heavily involved in a number of the searches said. “You can mention a name, and he will want to hire the person. Or he can veto someone, and you’re not really sure why.”

The descent into madness continues.

Goldman Sachs Has an Epiphany


Goldman Has Grim Prognosis for Tax Reform Amid Obamacare Debate

 Investors counting on major U.S. tax reform in 2017 are going to be disappointed, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The problem is that lawmakers and Donald Trump’s administration are going to be so caught up figuring out how to repeal Obamacare that coming up with a new corporate tax system will get pushed to the side, economists at the bank led by Alec Phillips wrote in a note Wednesday.

“This process is likely to take longer than expected, which is likely to delay the upcoming debate over tax reform,” they said. “The difficulty the Republican majority is having addressing a key political priority suggests that lawmakers might ultimately need to scale back their ambitions in other areas as well, such as tax reform.” …

A delay to tax reform has been cited as a risk by other banks as well, which have warned it could spell trouble for a stock market that has priced in Trump’s pledges for a “phenomenal tax plan,” as well as scaled-back regulation and a boost in fiscal spending. Goldman itself says that the prospects of tax cuts have played a huge role in the 10 percent rally the S&P 500 Index has seen since Nov. 8, but that the risks are continuing to rise.

Aardvark is fond of the term “priced in”—it’s something that we savvy financial types might say. But it appears that, while the market priced in big tax decreases, it didn’t price in the Republican’s inability to make coherent policy. It didn’t price in White House’s inability to find its ass with both hands. It didn’t price in the objection of the great unwashed to having their health care yanked away.

Jonathan Chait nicely explains the policy dilemmas, but ends of predicting that Ryan and company will just replicate the Bush 2001 tax cuts. Jennifer Rubin predicts abject failure.

Trump and arrogant lawmakers can swear up and down that protesters in their districts are paid phonies. What they cannot ignore are the legions of small businesses, importers, retailers and consumers who will surely conclude that they’ll be worse off than they are now with the border adjustment tax. It is the sort of issue (tax cuts for the rich! price hikes at Walmart!) that can set off a wave election.

Ryan might persist with the border tax adjustment gimmick, but it likely will mean the end of his tax reform effort. That would be some economic karma if a non-conservative, distortional tax grab knocked the legs out from under a GOP that has decided to discard its fiscally responsible free-market positions.

Aardvark confidently predicts a continuing clusterfuck.

They Can’t Find their Ass with Both Hands


Fight Erupts in Trump Administration Over Transgender Students’ Rights

 WASHINGTON — A fight over an order that would rescind protections for transgender students in public schools has erupted inside the Trump administration, pitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions against the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.

Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions. The draft order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.

Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, these Republicans said, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along. The Justice Department declined to comment on Wednesday.

Though an official order from the administration was expected to be released as early as Wednesday, Mr. Sessions and Ms. DeVos were still disputing the final language.

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Today, Aardvark welcomes new readers from Iceland. Velkomnir, lesendur. A great fan of Icelandic mysteries, Aardvark years to visit your country. Dr. Aardvark, not so much.