Czech newspaper: Steve King's name submitted for U.S. ambassador UPDATED: Different Steve King

UPDATE: Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg reported that the person recommended for the ambassadorship is a “Different Steve King, Trump aides tell me.” A source told Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson that the story may be about a Wisconsin Republican National Committeeman named Steve King. Iowa’s representative in Congress told Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg he’s not up for a State Department position.

SECOND UPDATE: My husband contacted one of the Hospodarske Noviny reporters to let him know their story was about the wrong Steve King. The journalist e-mailed back to say that they had their doubts, but their sources spoke of a Congressman Steve King. King’s office did not respond to their request for comment.

THIRD UPDATE: Hospodarsky Noviny has posted a corrected story.

Original post follows after the jump:

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Rod Blum, David Young lie to cover for reversal on health care bill

All three Iowa Republicans helped the American Health Care Act clear the U.S. House on May 4 with only one vote to spare. Representative Steve King (IA-04) has long called for repealing the 2010 health care reform law “root and branch” and came around to supporting the GOP replacement proposal in March. So nothing about his vote was surprising, aside from his awkward description of how former Representative Michele Bachmann’s “finger joined mine today to push my vote button to dismantle” Obamacare.

Unlike King, Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) made a big show of opposing the AHCA in March. Blum pledged to insist on lower costs for consumers and helping “people who need the help.” Young repeatedly promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions while making sure the bill wouldn’t bring back caps on health benefits.

Feigning concern about the legislative process, Blum said in March, “I believe Congress should slow down and discuss in an open and transparent manner” how to address the “unsustainably high cost of healthcare in America.” Similarly, Young warned, “The ACA [Affordable Care Act] was rushed through Congress and to President Obama’s desk which resulted in a failed law that does not work for everyone [….] It is a fundamental principle that repeal, reforms and fixes to healthcare are done in the right way, for the right reasons, and in the right amount of time it takes to ensure we avoid the mistakes of the past. We need to be thoughtful and deliberate and get this right […].”

Over the past week, Blum studiously avoided comment as GOP leaders sought ways to give members cover for caving. Young’s staff told hundreds of callers he was still against the bill, even as late as Wednesday morning. The same day, he signed on as co-sponsor of an amendment that “comes nowhere close to meeting Republican commitments to people with pre-existing conditions.”

Self-styled deficit hawk Blum and “affordable for every patient” Young proceeded to vote for the bill without waiting for a Congressional Budget Office score to tell them “how many people it covers or how much it would cost.” It wasn’t the first time Young reversed his position on a matter of principle to please his party leaders.

In their comments on the House vote, Young and Blum tried to take credit for imaginary improvements in the AHCA. Their claims can’t withstand scrutiny.

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Young and Loebsack yes, Blum and King no on keeping the government running

A federal government shutdown before October appears unlikely now that the U.S. House has approved a $1.1 trillion deal to fund the government through the current fiscal year. The roll call for the May 3 vote shows that Iowa’s Representatives David Young (IA-03) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 131 Republicans and 178 Democrats to support the funding measure. Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and Steve King (IA-04) voted against it. Cristina Marcos reported for The Hill,

Democrats claimed victory over what the spending bill lacked: funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall promised by President Trump, restrictions on federal grants for so-called “sanctuary cities” that shield immigrants from deportation and steep cuts to domestic programs proposed by the White House. […]

The legislation also includes an extension of health benefits for retired coal miners and $1.1 billion in disaster assistance. Funding for Planned Parenthood remains untouched.

Republicans, unable to otherwise advance many conservative policy priorities in the bill, touted the $15 billion increase for defense spending. That’s approximately half of the $30 billion in supplemental military spending requested by the Trump administration earlier this year.

It’s still a break from the Obama era, when Democrats insisted that any hike in defense spending had to be matched by an increase in non-defense programs.

Assuming the U.S. Senate passes the spending bill tomorrow, President Donald Trump can sign it before current funding expires on May 5. Trump seems to be itching for a government shutdown, but not just yet.

The other big news from the House is that Republican leaders now believe they have the votes to pass a health care reform bill on May 4. Young is among the high-profile flip-floppers on the American Health Care Act. In March, he opposed the bill, saying health care fixes must be “done in the right way, for the right reasons, and in the right amount of time it takes to ensure we avoid the mistakes of the past. We need to be thoughtful and deliberate and get this right to achieve accessible, affordable quality healthcare.” Over the past week, his staff have told hundreds of constituent callers (some as recently as today) that he opposed the bill.

But this afternoon, Young agreed to co-sponsor an amendment providing a pitiful extra $8 billion over five years–spread across an unknown number of states–to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Get this: the $8 billion would go to states that “apply for waivers allowing insurers to charge higher rates based on a person’s ‘health status’”–that is, states that let insurance companies gouge people with pre-existing conditions. Young has previously stated, “no one should be denied access to affordable healthcare because of a pre-existing condition.” He repeated that commitment in a recent meeting with Indivisible activists.

Aviva Aron-Dine of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained that “the $8 billion would restore less than 1 percent of the nearly $1 trillion the House bill cuts from programs that help people afford coverage.” Furthermore, “the House bill creates major problems for people with pre-existing conditions that the new funding doesn’t even purport to solve.”

Bleeding Heartland will have more to say on health care reform in a forthcoming post. For now, read Sarah Kliff on the absurdity of House Republicans voting for a bill that will affect millions of people and a huge portion of the U.S. economy, “without knowing how many people it covers or how much it would cost.” Nothing supports Young’s press release asserting that the new GOP proposal “will help make healthcare coverage less expensive than under current law […] and accessible for patients who need it most.”

Blum has not commented publicly on his plans, but Congress-watchers expect him to follow Young’s path, voting for a bill he claimed to oppose on principle six weeks ago.

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Young a no, Blum nowhere as House leaders shelve new health care vote

U.S. House Republican leaders called off plans to vote today on a new proposal to replace the 2010 health care reform law. Representative David Young (IA-03) was among at least 21 Republicans who had indicated they don’t support the MacArthur amendment to the American Health Care Act.

At this writing, Young has not released a statement, and his communications staff have not responded to my inquiries. His social media feeds are full of the usual photos of constituents or groups who stopped by his Washington office this week. But on Thursday, other staffers told various constituent callers (including me) that Young’s “position has not changed” since he came out against the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act in March. The Hill included him on their “whip count” of no votes, based on Young’s comments to Independent Journal Review reporter Haley Byrd: “Moderate GOP member David Young says he’s still a no on AHCA and tells me he *somehow* hasn’t read the MacArthur amendment yet. (Hmm. Okay.)”

Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) hasn’t commented publicly on the latest proposal, which was drafted to appease members of the House Freedom Caucus to which he belongs. I haven’t heard back from his communications staff, and numerous constituents who called his offices were told he has no position, either because nothing is on the House floor yet or because the bill is only in “draft” form. Notably, Blum didn’t wait for a floor vote to announce his opposition to the American Health Care Act last month. At that time, he said any health care reform bill needs “to drive down actual costs” and “help people who need the help.”

Groups including the AARP, the March of Dimes, American Hospital Association, and American Medical Association oppose the MacArthur amendment, under which states could decide not to force insurers to cover “essential health benefits.” The policy would also lead to much higher insurance premiums for older people and those with pre-existing conditions. The new Republican proposal envisions a return to state-based high-risk pools, which “failed consumers in the past.” Iowa was among 35 states that established high-risk pools before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. Karen Pollitz of the Kaiser Foundation explained the shortcomings well here.

I will update this post as needed if Blum or Young comment further on GOP health care reform alternatives. The third Iowa Republican in the U.S. House, Representative Steve King (IA-04), came around to supporting the American Health Care Act in March.

UPDATE: Iowans living in the first district continue to report being told that Blum’s staff told them he doesn’t have a position on the bill. Blum has taken a stand on countless other policies that never came up for a vote on the House floor. Just this week, he expressed support for President Trump’s “tax plan,” which is nothing like fleshed-out legislation.

I’ve added below a news release from State Representative Abby Finkenauer, who is likely to make her campaign against Blum official soon.

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Yes, Kim Weaver's undisclosed work as a psychic is newsworthy

An “anonymous package mailed with a Sheldon, IA, postmark” led to an exclusive report by the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble on Monday: Kim Weaver, a Democratic challenger to Representative Steve King in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district, “operated an array of psychic services websites” and “charged customers as much as $3.99 per minute for readings online and over the phone.”

In an interview, Weaver, 52, did not deny dabbling in psychic services, but described her activities as “life coaching” and said they never amounted to more than a “hobby.”

“I didn’t really actually do anything,” Weaver said. “It was all for entertainment purposes. Did I make a living from it? No, definitely not.”

On many social media threads yesterday, I saw Iowa Democrats complain about the Register hyping a “hit piece” planted by Republicans.

But even clickbait hit pieces have news value sometimes.

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