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Vox Sentences: Repeal and…uh…

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Cracks appear in the plan to repeal Obamacare; Mexico picked a bad time to stop subsidizing gas; clear your schedule for next Thursday — you've got some C-SPAN to watch.


Repeal was supposed to be the easy part

Pro-Obamacare protesters Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Moveon.org
  • Republicans in both chambers are laying the groundwork to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But actually repealing it — much less figuring out what to replace it with? That might take longer than anticipated. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • As Vox's Sarah Kliff explains, Republicans are gravitating toward a "repeal and delay" strategy: passing a law that repeals the ACA, and setting a deadline for that repeal to actually go into effect in the future (to give the GOP time to come up with a plan). [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • This allows the first part (repeal) to happen as soon as possible. And thanks to Senate Republicans passing a budget resolution that allows a repeal law to pass with only 50 votes — there are 52 Senate Republicans — it's possible to pass repeal this year ... unless three or more Senate Republicans defect. [NYT / Robert Pear]
  • The thing is that they might do just that. Rand Paul, for example, has come out against "repeal and delay" because he thinks it would tank the insurance market and necessitate a government bailout. [Politico / Madeline Conway]
  • (Paul tried to get the House Freedom Caucus as worried about this as he is, but it appears they're less interested in fiscal conservatism than in stopping "Obamacare.") [Washington Post / David Weigel]
  • Meanwhile, moderate Republican senators might be alienated by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's pledge to defund Planned Parenthood in any repeal bill. [NBC News / Leign Ann Caldwell]
  • While Republicans are suddenly divided on health care, Democrats are united — and energized — in defending the signature policy of the outgoing administration. [Vox / Jeff Stein]

And President Obama himself is trying to make "Obamacare" as politically hard to repeal as possible — by, for example, conducting a live interview tomorrow with Vox's Sarah Kliff and Ezra Klein, as well as people covered under the law. [Vox / Sarah Kliff and Ezra Klein]


Bad times in Mexico

Mexico’s incoming finance minister, Miguel Osorio Chong Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images
  • Protests across Mexico have led to hundreds of arrests and the death of at least one police officer, as citizens express anger with the rising cost of living — and the falling power of currency. [AFP]
  • The proximate cause for the protests is a rise in the price of gas, which went up 20 percent on January 1 — when a law went into effect ending government gas subsidies. [Reuters / Alexandra Alper and Lizbeth Diaz]
  • The problem is that this price hike coincided with a fall in the value of the peso — which has struggled since Donald Trump's election, and hit a new low versus the dollar this week. [NPR / Carrie Kuhn]
  • The peso (which has been bailed out by Mexico's central bank) is in an odd situation right now. It's not losing value because the fundamentals of the Mexican economy are weak — it's losing value because investors are using it as a way to speculate on the effects of a Trump presidency. [MarketWatch / Anora Mahmudova]
  • Trump's tendency to use Twitter to threaten car companies with plants in Mexico, for example, both presages an ugly fight over NAFTA (renegotiation of which would likely be bad for Mexico down the road) and hurts Mexico now via peso speculation. [FT / Peter Campbell]
  • (The irony for the Trump administration, of course, is that Mexico's economic strength over the past several years slowed Mexican immigration to the US to basically zero — so tanking the Mexican economy would almost certainly result in more Mexicans coming north.) [WSJ / Miriam Jordan]
  • Mexico isn't the only country worried about the incoming president. But it arguably has the most to lose — and is already trying to game out how it will negotiate. [Reuters / Dave Graham]
  • For one thing, it brought back the disgraced ex-finance minister responsible for organizing Trump's visit to Mexico during the campaign to serve as foreign minister — i.e., the point man in dealing with Trump. [Washington Post / Jason Partlow]

A six-ring confirmation circus

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
  • The Senate is gearing up to consider President-elect Trump's top nominees, and Democrats have set their priority: They're going to target ... oh, well, eight of them, actually. [Washington Post / Ed O’Keefe]
  • It's hard to focus on that many different things at once — especially when six different Trump appointees (three of whom are Democratic "priorities") have hearings on Thursday, January 11. Oh, and Trump is also (supposedly) having his first press conference since the election that day. [Media Matters / Matt Gertz]

Democrats' most surprising target is attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. Traditionally, the Senate has been deferential to fellow senators — but Sessions's record on race and civil rights (which led NAACP leaders to hold a sit-in in several of his Alabama offices this week) is apparently enough to turn Senate Democrats against him. [Vox / German Lopez]

  • (Sessions's defenders have begun to argue that Sessions was actually a champion of civil rights. This is really not a very good argument in favor of Jeff Sessions.) [The Atlantic / Adam Serwer]
  • Other Trump nominees are being targeted for their business holdings. Democrats want an ethics inquiry to look into HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price's investments in the health care sector — to see if he might have benefited from his own legislation as a member of the House. [US News / Kimberly Leonard]
  • And Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson is under scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans alike for his coziness with Russia — though, it seems, not enough scrutiny to prevent Tillerson from getting the 50 votes needed for confirmation. [Washington Post / Josh Rogin]
  • Ironically, the easiest nomination for Democrats to sink — recently retired Gen. James Mattis, who'd have to get a special waiver to be appointed Secretary of Defense — isn't one of the eight nominees Democrats are opposing. They like him too darn much. [Politico / Austin Wright and Jeremy Herb]

Miscellaneous

  • Megyn Kelly is a racial demagogue. Why do even liberals give her favorable coverage? [Slate / Jamelle Bouie]
  • Most programming languages are designed to allow coders to express ideas clearly, elegantly, and succinctly. Brainfuck is not most programming languages. [The Outline / Daniel Oberhaus]
  • Venezuela's new vice president in charge of anti-crime measures is an accused drug dealer. [AP / Hannah Dreier]
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve is cutting its $1,500-value sign-up bonus in half, starting on January 12. Here's why that's causing general panic. [Bloomberg Businessweek / Sam Grobart]
  • In 2015, three-quarters of all noise complaints about Reagan National Airport in DC came from one dude, an Italian astronaut named Roberto Vittori. [The Outline / Owen Phillips]

Verbatim

  • "In my first trip to Rio I was attacked by children with pointed sticks. In my second I found myself caught in a gunfight between drug lords." [Bloomberg / Tyler Cowen]
  • "Millennial Dan Nainan would’ve had to have been a 6-year-old with a speeding ticket." [Daily Beast / Ben Collins]
  • "Joanna Feldman, twenty-two. Misquoted E. E. Cummings in her rib-cage tattoo." [New Yorker / Bess Kalb]
  • "Part of the rejection we saw in this election was this elitism within the Democratic Party about people who do certain jobs. I can't just have that blanket statement saying, 'Yes, if you're a lobbyist and even if you're a good Democrat, you can't contribute to get Democrats elected.'" [Jaime Harrison to Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • "Kornbluth was raised by Jewish Communists in New York City, and once, after a woman died at the Guest House and no more-senior volunteer was on hand to take charge, I watched him — adrenalized, uneasy, perspiring — fumble around on his iPhone for something to say over the body before they wheeled it away, then mangle the pronunciation of Thich Nhat Hanh." [NYT Mag / Jon Mooallem]

Watch this: Why rappers love Grey Poupon

Charting the rise of hip-hop's favorite condiment. [YouTube / Estelle Caswell]