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Vox Sentences: Vive l'investigation

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Shockingly, Republicans aren't relishing the prospect of voting 24 million people off health insurance.

This doesn't look good

Tom Price Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
  • Support for the House GOP's American Health Care Act is crumbling fast in the wake of Monday's scathing score from the Congressional Budget Office.
  • Republicans in the Senate — who were never all that in love with the bill — are explicitly saying "We expect to do better" than the House did (that's from Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)). In other words, a bill that was written to pass through the Senate's reconciliation process is not, in fact, going to be passed by the US Senate. [Politico / Kyle Cheney, Burgess Everett, and Rachael Bade]
  • Even the House is looking wobbly. There are two problems: The conservative Freedom Caucus is still mad that the AHCA keeps too much of Obamacare, and an emerging group of moderates — call 'em the "Coverage Caucus," suggests Vox's Andrew Prokop — are worried that the AHCA will leave too many people uninsured. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The CBO's estimate that the bill would leave 24 million more people without health insurance by 2026 (compared with current law) was totally predictable. An internal White House estimate forecast a 26-million-person coverage loss. (White House press secretary Sean Spicer insists this report was an attempt to predict the CBO score, not an analysis of the actual bill; that means that the WH had to see the CBO score coming, and should maybe not be taken as gospel truth because Sean Spicer.) [Politico / Paul Demko]
  • The bottom line is this: Many Republicans, including not only moderates in Congress but also President Trump, ran on the promise that "fixing" Obamacare meant better, cheaper insurance. This bill very much does not provide that. [NBC News / Benjy Sarlin]
  • After all, the purpose of "choice" in conservative plans for health care reform was to ensure a free and competitive market, and it turns out you can't simultaneously ensure free market competition and legally guarantee that every individual consumer gets what she wants. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • On the populist right, the answer is clear: Ditch the conservative free market stuff. Newsmax's Chris Ruddy — a close friend of Trump's — wants the GOP to propose something that looks more similar to Bernie Sanders's "Medicare for all" than it does to the AHCA. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • And a phone conversation Paul Ryan had with House Republicans in October, in which he said he would "never defend" Trump, was published by Breitbart on Monday night — in an article that all but explicitly appeals to Trump's vanity. It's hard not to conclude that Breitbart is trying to save Trump from a health care bill he still enthusiastically supports. [Breitbart / Matthew Boyle]

So all 3 top candidates for French president are being investigated now

Francois Fillon Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images
  • François Fillon, conservative French presidential candidate and onetime frontrunner, is under formal investigation for misusing public funds by hiring family members to collect salaries for jobs they did not actually do. [BBC]
  • The investigation had been ongoing for months, but hadn't individually and personally fingered Fillon until Tuesday — shortly after reports emerged that his daughter had testified that she funneled her fake salary back into her parents' account. [ / Saim Saeed]
  • Fillon has previously said that he'd drop out of the race if he were formally investigated. But the question is really why he hasn't dropped out before now. France may have a tradition of alternating power between the left and center right — in other words, it may have been Fillon's "turn" — but that's not the sort of thing you can count on. [The Economist / Charlemagne]
  • Fillon's disgrace is an opportunity for new center-left frontrunner — or at least, "presumed to beat Marine Le Pen in the runoff"-runner — Emmanuel Macron. Macron might even manage to garner the endorsement of former Prime Minister Manuel Valls (who is withholding the endorsement from his own Socialist Party's candidate). [Bloomberg / Helene Fouquet]
  • BUT WAIT! Macron is reportedly also under investigation! The government is investigating an allegation that the economy ministry under Macron displayed favoritism toward particular companies in its event at the 2016 CES electronics fair in Vegas. [AFP]
  • The investigation doesn't appear to be centered on Macron, or nearly as bad as Fillon's "Penelopegate." But for a candidate whose support is notably soft — more than half of his supporters, six weeks before the election, say they might change their minds — it can't be welcome news. [Washington Post / Ishaan Tharoor]

Baptism by fired?

Russell Moore Theology147
  • Russell Moore is the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission — which is officially the "public engagement arm" of the Southern Baptist Convention, and less charitably called its "lobbying arm." Pro-Trump evangelicals are trying to push him out. [Washington Post / Sarah Pulliam Bailey]
  • At least one prominent SBC member is withholding funds from a collaborative mission account in protest of Moore's opposition to Trump. Over 100 more are threatening to do the same.
  • A meeting between Moore and SBC executive committee head Frank Page on Monday didn't end with Page asking for Moore's resignation (something he'd said he was prepared to do). But the convention is still "investigating" what can be done to pacify the withholding churches — and "fire Moore" might end up being the answer. [National Review / David French]
  • The ERLC got its start, in the 1990s, as a standard conservative culture war shop. But when head Richard Land was pushed out in 2012 (in part due to comments defending George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin), Moore attempted to steer the organization in a new direction — one that reflected the less partisan, more self-critical aims of a younger generation of evangelicals. [New Yorker / Kelefa Sanneh]
  • Moore had no problem using religious language to criticize, or even shame, fellow conservatives — this essay, written on the Confederate flag in the days after the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, isn't an unrepresentative sample. [Russell Moore]
  • As you might imagine, this came to a head during the election. Moore (who had long warned against hero-worshiping politicians) was vocally opposed to Donald Trump; many members of his convention, and many of its leaders, came around to enthusiastically support Trump against Hillary Clinton. [The Atlantic / Emma Green]
  • Moore's critics, including some of the original leaders involved in the ERLC, argue that Moore overstepped a line by attacking Trump as an individual so consistently — and, furthermore, that the job of the ERLC is to reflect the stance of convention members, not to try to correct them. [Rev. William Farrell]
  • (Of course, not all convention members support Trump — and black congregations, who've long had a tense relationship with the white leadership of the convention, are deeply worried about the prospect of Trump critics getting purged.) [SBC Voices / Dwight McKissic]
  • Moore's defenders, meanwhile, argue that this is all secondary because ERLC isn't just another interest group — its job as a church body must be to hold politicians and its own members to a higher moral standard. [National Review / David French]


  • Fake news doesn't just change what we believe now. It can warp our memories. [Nature / Laura Spinney]
  • What it's like to watch Get Out with your partner when you're in an interracial relationship. [NY Mag / Anna Silman]
  • First, Politico posted an article headlined, "Will Trump bungle first big snow threat like Obama did?" Forty-five minutes later, Donald Trump demanded that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser come to the White House. [Washington Post / Aaron Davis]
  • Pat McCrory, who as North Carolina's governor signed its infamous bathroom bill, is now complaining that he's getting discriminated against for his anti-trans views. [News & Observer / Colin Campbell]
  • From 1969 until the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the underground group Jane provided 11,000 abortions to women in the US. Its founders tell the story in this oral history. [Harper's / Madeleine Schwartz]


  • "She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party." [Robert Kelly to WSJ / Alastair Gale]
  • "Early hip-hop crews ransacked used-record bins, taking samples from old LPs without regard to genre or origin. For them, everything was compatible — context didn’t matter, because context was too hard to come by. In the Internet age, this is how almost everybody listens to music, minus the dust." [New Yorker / Amanda Petrusich]
  • "You don’t want to be a denialist and say, ‘Oh, that’s not a tiger, why should I believe that’s a tiger?’ because you could get eaten." [Lee McIntyre to The Atlantic / Julie Beck]
  • "Even as we moderns spend enormous amounts of our conscious energy making evaluations about who is sophisticated and who is simple, who is well-bred and who is arriviste, and who is smart and who is dumb, these are entirely irrelevant to the only question that ends up mattering: who is decent and who is cruel." [The Baffler / Rick Perlstein]
  • "A few years ago, numerous D.C. buses and Metro stations were suddenly festooned with an awareness campaign for a decades-past war crime in Azerbaijan, the Khojaly Massacre. … According to a public-relations staffer whose firm turned down the work, the campaign actually had a primary target audience of one: the wife of a top official in Azerbaijan’s government, who frequently came to D.C. for shopping trips." [The Atlantic / Molly Ball]

Watch this: How a dictionary writer defines English

Kory Stamper works for Merriam-Webster. So how does a dictionary writer define the language? Vox's Phil Edwards found out in this episode of Vox Almanac. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]