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Vox Sentences: The midnight ride of Obamacare repeal

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What the Senate actually did last night on Obamacare; the end of "wet foot, dry foot" Cuba policy.

Midnight Repealer

Bernie Sanders and Senate Democrats Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images
  • Around 1:30 am Thursday, Senate Republicans voted 51-48 to approve a budget resolution that sets the stage for repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • The House needs to vote on the resolution the Senate just passed — and the Senate still needs to vote to formally repeal the law. The budget resolution just set spending targets for the government, and instructed that the targets could be met by repealing the ACA. But passing this resolution set up Senate Republicans to avoid a filibuster when they do vote on repeal itself — meaning they can pass it with 50 votes. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • You will notice this is just the "repeal" part of "repeal and replace." Republicans have shown a renewed interest in coming up with the "replace" part — they just haven't settled on a single plan yet. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • Politically, the GOP doesn't have much wiggle room. The resolution passed 51-48 — with Republican Rand Paul (R-KY) joining Democrats against the resolution, which he sees as fiscally irresponsible. [Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • Democrats, meanwhile, are leaning in. Even Bernie Sanders, who hasn't traditionally identified as a Democrat in the Senate, is learning to love the party. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • While Democrats couldn't sink the resolution, they did force Republicans to vote to defeat several amendments that would have kept the "popular parts" of the ACA, like the ban on denying coverage based on preexisting conditions. [NYT / Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear]
  • One of those amendments, however, didn't go as planned, as about a dozen Democrats joined with Republicans to vote down an amendment relaxing restrictions on prescription drug importation from Canada — in a vote split that makes less sense the longer you look at it. [Jezebel / Ellie Shechet]

Wet foot, no foot

Cuban Embassy in DC Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • The Obama administration is ending the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allowed Cubans who arrived on US soil to stay legally — closing a loophole that's existed in one form or another since the 1960s. [AP]
  • Special treatment for Cubans was a Cold War policy, and it's been difficult (politically as well as policy-wise) to sustain in the post–Cold War world — not to mention as the US and Cuba have reestablished diplomatic relations. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • For one thing, the original basis for the policy — that Cuban immigrants were political dissidents fleeing Castro — just isn't true of the current wave of immigrants, who are economic migrants perfectly happy to return to Cuba when they can. [The Atlantic / Anya Landau French]
  • That's put anti-Castro Cuban Americans in the strange position of opposing an ostensibly anti-Castro policy, because it's helping people who weren't anti-Castro enough. [Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen]
  • Meanwhile, thousands of Cubans are avoiding the risk of getting caught with "wet feet" (off US soil) by the Coast Guard by traveling through Central America instead — which is not the point of the policy. [Deutsche Welle]
  • Even supporters of a more generous immigration policy resented the Cuban loophole, since Cuban immigrants weren't any different from other immigrants in any other respect, but got to stay legally while other immigrants got deported. [NYT / Ann Louise Bardach]
  • The only reason to reinstate "wet foot, dry foot," in other words, would be to troll the Cuban government, which really didn't like it. Fortunately, the US's Cuba-hawk president-elect isn't the sort of person who makes decisions based on a desire to punish his enemies or anything, so we're good.

Trump market

George Soros Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images
  • George Soros lost $1 billion in the stock market in recent months for a surprising reason: He bet that the election of an unpredictable populist to the US presidency would hurt the stock market, and he bet very, very wrong. [WSJ / Gregory Zuckerman and Juliet Chung]
  • The market has undergone a "Trump rally." And it's not just because Wall Streeters quickly convinced themselves that Trump would be a typical Republican as far as tax cuts and deregulation were concerned. [Politico Magazine / William D. Cohan]
  • The stocks that have risen most have been those that would benefit from more short-term government spending — like the infrastructure package that the market is assuming Trump will get Congress to pass (with, perhaps, more confidence than is merited). [NYT / Paul J. Lim]
  • Then there are the stocks that have benefited from association with Trump. One Trump-friendly member of Congress has been overheard bragging about making "millionaires" out of friends back home by giving them stock tips. [Mike DeBonis via Twitter]
  • Trump giveth, but Trump also taketh away: When he devoted a precious few minutes of his press conference Wednesday to criticizing high drug prizes, the pharmaceutical industry lost $24.6B in the span of 20 minutes. [Fortune / Lucinda Shen]
  • If this volatility is giving you market vertigo, you might want to check out a tool that alerts you when Trump tweets about your stock, so you can try to sell before everyone else does. [TechCrunch / John Mannes]
  • Or you can just put your money in gold — the easiest way to signal that you think tough times are ahead, and the decision, apparently, that a lot of investors are coming to as Trump actually nears the White House. [MarketWatch / John DeCambre]


  • Silvio Berlusconi's media empire got more than a billion more euros' worth of profit due to him serving as prime minister. How much do you want to bet Trump can earn? [Slate / Ray Fisman]
  • The case that Democrats should nominate a celebrity in 2020. [New Republic / Jeet Heer]
  • If your gaming company isn't diverse, you might not notice that your motion-capture game doesn't pick up the movements of black people. [Kotaku / Andy Trowers]
  • Microsoft comment moderators are suing the company on the grounds that repeated exposure to child porn, videos of murders, etc. resulted in PTSD. [McClatchy / Greg Hadley]
  • If you were at the Comedy Cellar on Wednesday night, you'd have seen Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari, and Dave Chapelle, one after the other, just popping in. [Gothamist / Jen Chung]


Watch this: How the inventor of Mario designs a game

Shigeru Miyamoto's design philosophy, explained. [YouTube / Christophe Haubursin and Joe Posner]

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