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March 13, 2017
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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday released its cost estimate for the American Health Care Act, the Republican proposal to replace ObamaCare. The CBO's report says that the GOP plan would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion by 2026, with the most savings coming from "reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the elimination of the Affordable Care Act's subsidies for non-group health insurance."

In that same time, however, the AHCA would result in 24 million more Americans going uninsured; by 2026, the CBO estimates that 52 million people would lack insurance under the GOP plan, compared to 28 million who would go uninsured under ObamaCare. Overall, the CBO estimates millions would progressively lose insurance under the AHCA:

CNN's Jeremy Diamond noted that premiums would go on a bit of a roller coaster ride under the American Health Care Act, increasing by as much as 20 percent before 2020 before eventually dropping to 10 percent lower than under ObamaCare by 2026. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent pointed out the CBO's projection that AHCA rules would allow insurers to charge five times more for older enrollees than younger ones, "substantially reducing premiums for young adults and substantially raising premiums for older people."

NBC News' Benjy Sarlin called the report "basically apocalyptic" for the GOP. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn had said the CBO should focus on health-care affordability rather than the number of insured. President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have vowed to push the bill through, with Ryan tweeting shortly after the CBO's release that the "report confirms it: [The] American Health Care Act will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care." Read the CBO's full report here. Kimberly Alters

11:49 a.m. ET
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The GOP plans to raise the lowest individual tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent while dropping the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, Axios reports, based on conversations with five senior Republicans.

The White House intends to sell the plan as a "tax cut" for the middle class by doubling the standard deduction, which will leave many people paying no taxes: "The standard deduction would almost double to $12,000 for a single filer and $24,000 for married couples, meaning Trump can accurately argue that many more low-income earners would pay no tax under his plan," Axios writes. The seven tax brackets would be collapsed down to three.

"We have a tax plan that is totally finalized," Trump boasted Sunday. "I think it'll be terrific. I think it's going to go through." While Trump will introduce the proposal in Indiana on Wednesday, he is expected to leave details intentionally vague so congressional tax-writing committees have the flexibility to negotiate and maneuver. Read the full scoop at Axios. Jeva Lange

11:18 a.m. ET
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A federal appeals court has overturned the 2015 corruption charges of former New York state Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R), 67, and his son, Adam Skelos, 33, due to the Supreme Court shrinking the scope of what constitutes as corruption last year, The New York Times reports.

According to the case laid out by prosecutors in 2015, the elder Skelos used his position to direct consulting payments to his son, ultimately amounting to roughly $300,000. Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison in May 2016, and Adam was sentenced to more than six years.

Since the Skeloses' conviction, though, the Supreme Court "made it harder to prosecute public officials for corruption" when they overturned the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in June 2016, The New York Times writes. "We identify charging error in light of McDonnell v. United States, which was decided after this case was tried," determined a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan. "Because we cannot conclude that the charging error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we are obliged to vacate the convictions."

The United States attorney's office is expected to retry the Skeloses. Jeva Lange

10:17 a.m. ET
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Americans' views on President Trump's tax reform proposals are split along predictably partisan lines, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll reports Tuesday, albeit with some noteworthy details.

A mere 7 percent of Democrats back Trump's plan compared to 60 percent of Republicans — a strong majority, but not an indicator of enthusiasm as dramatic as Democrats' distaste — and 29 percent of independents. In aggregate, just 28 percent of Americans support the plan. Another 44 percent oppose it, while 28 percent told pollsters they have no opinion, perhaps due to ongoing uncertainty as to what, exactly, the plan will change.

One point on which Americans can agree, however, is that middle and lower income earners deserve a tax break. Tax cuts for businesses receive greater support (45 percent) than those for the wealthy (33 percent), and corporate tax cuts are viewed most favorably, another survey published Monday noted, if they are cast as an opportunity for economic growth. Most of the Post/ABC poll respondents (51 percent) believe Trump's plan will cut income taxes for the rich, while a third say it will favor the middle class or treat both groups equally. Bonnie Kristian

10:11 a.m. ET
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The Department of Homeland Security has announced its intention to expand the sort of information it collects on immigrants, with "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results" subject to be added to immigration files as soon as Oct. 18, BuzzFeed News reports. The new policy would apply to both green card holders and naturalized citizens.

The changes "will not only allow DHS to collect information about an immigrant's Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, but it also mentions all 'search results,'" Gizmodo writes. "It's not immediately clear if that means the agency will have access to things such as Google search histories nor is it clear how that would be obtained."

An additional consequence of the new policy is that everyone who interacts with immigrants on social media would also presumably be subject to having those conservations under surveillance, Gizmodo reports. What's more, social media surveillance has historically not proven to be a promising mode of vetting: "In cases of benefit denial, the denial was based on information found outside of social media," presidential transition documents by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services report.

The Brennan Center's co-director of liberty and national security, Faiza Patel, raised another concern to BuzzFeed News: "The question is, do we really want the government monitoring political views?" Patel said. "Social media may not be able to predict violence but it can certainly tell you a lot about a person's political and religious views." Read the full report at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange

9:57 a.m. ET
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By the time you read to the end of this post, another person in America will have been arrested on charges of marijuana possession. In fact, on average, U.S. law enforcement arrest one person for pot possession every single minute of every single day.

In 2016, that pace amounted to about 587,700 arrests for marijuana possession nationwide, The Washington Post reported Tuesday based on aggregate crime data released by the FBI Monday. That figure is larger than the combined total of arrests for all crimes the FBI places in the violent crimes category, including murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, some cases of arson, and aggravated assault.

That comparison becomes all the more remarkable in light of the fact that polling shows about six in 10 Americans support legalizing recreational pot use, and public opinion has been steadily trending toward legalization for years. That support rate is 71 percent among millennials, now the largest generation in the United States, and even a majority of Republican millennials (63 percent) support legalization. Bonnie Kristian

9:32 a.m. ET
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When President Trump issued a new travel ban on Sunday, he dropped Sudan from his old ban and added three new countries: Venezuela, North Korea, and Chad. Of those three, only Chad has a (barely) Muslim majority, and all three are odd picks. The ban mostly targets government officials in Venezuela, and North Korea doesn't let its citizens leave — making it hard to argue that either ban makes America safer from terrorists, Trump's rationale. And Africa experts are baffled as to why Trump included Chad, a Central African nation with a close military partnership with the U.S. and France and a strong track record of combating Islamic militants.

Chad seems puzzled, too, and upset. On Monday, Chad said it is "baffled" and "astonished" to be included in the ban, and it "invites President Donald Trump to reconsider this decision, which severely tarnishes the image of Chad, and the strong relationship between the two countries, particularly in the fight against terrorism." Trump's proclamation said that "Chad does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information and fails to satisfy at least one key risk criterion," but Africa experts said they doubt Chad is worse than its neighbors, especially Sudan, which is still on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"It makes no sense whatsoever. In fact I wonder if there wasn't some sort of mistake made," John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told BuzzFeed News. "It's an insult. What really gets to me is the apparent sheer stupidity of it." Brandon Kendhammer, a West Africa expert at Ohio University, said he bets "the ambassadors and AFRICOM are losing their minds right now." The decision is "totally nuts," he added. "This morning we were all like, 'What the hell is going on?'" "This makes no sense at all, even from a Trumpian standpoint," Reed Brody, a Human Rights Watch lawyer who has worked extensively in Chad, tells The New York Times.

Several analysts suggested that the lack of State Department and Pentagon experts may have contributed to the counterproductive decision. Trump hasn't even nominated 80 key State Department appointees, including the assistant secretary for African affairs, and the Pentagon is only 15 key positions confirmed out of 54. Peter Weber

9:30 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Mike Stewart

Equifax has ousted CEO Richard Smith following the credit reporting agency's announcement earlier this month of a massive security breach, The Associated Press reports. Equifax's response to the breach, which affects an estimated 44 percent of the U.S. population, has been heavily criticized.

Additionally, the Justice Department has opened an investigation into whether or not three Equifax executives who sold $1.8 million in stock just days after the breach broke insider trading laws. Smith served as CEO since 2005; Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. will serve as interim CEO. Jeva Lange

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