High court decision to hear travel ban case scores win for Trump

JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn back now to the Supreme Court's decision to take up the Trump administration's travel ban and the ongoing fight over the health care replacement bill.

For all that, it's time for politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Stu Rothenberg, senior editor at Inside Elections.

And welcome to both of you.

So, Tam, I'm going to start with you on the Supreme Court ruling on the travel ban. It is a limited victory for the president. They did allow a reinstatement of a part of it. How much of a victory is it?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR Well, it's a victory.

And the president hasn't had a lot of victories on this travel ban. It's been blocked in various courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. He was 0-2 in the appeals courts before getting to the Supreme Court. Now at least he will be heard in the Supreme Court. Now, it is not the 9-0 victory that the president declared.

There's not a decision yet. There's only a decision to hear the case.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see it, Stu?

STUART ROTHENBERG, Inside Elections: Yes, similarly.

I guess everything is a win or loss, so it's a win for the president. I don't see it having dramatic political implications, frankly. I think the lines have been drawn. You're either for the ban or against the ban.

To some extent, the final decision has been kicked down the road, the can has been kicked down the road a bit. So, I think it's a win for the president. But compared to health care, foreign policy, jobs, the economy, I just don't see it as a decisive issue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, so speaking of health care, we know the debate in the Senate goes on. We heard Lisa Desjardins, Julie Rovner talking with John Yang earlier talking about where the state of play is.

Today, Tam, the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with — and saying almost as many — 22 million more Americans would be hurt by this plan, would lose coverage, which is almost as many as the House plan. Now, you have just heard there's some reaction to that from the White House.

TAMARA KEITH: Right.

The White House is reacting much the way that it reacted the last time the Congressional Budget Office came out with one of these blockbuster reports saying millions of people would lose coverage. And they're saying is that the CBO hasn't always been accurate and estimating health care, so, all right, everyone, just look in the other direction, please ignore that.

And the other point that the statement makes is that the president said he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and this bill does it, and, therefore, that's what they want.

Now, there are some in the Senate who actually say the bill doesn't repeal Obamacare, it's more of a modification of the preexisting structure, and that is one of the objections. There are many out there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Stu, what is the political state of play? What are the pressures on these Republicans as they try to decide what to do about this?

STUART ROTHENBERG: Well, I think they're in a very difficult position, a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, they want to accomplish something. They have a mandate from conservatives, Republicans, Trump backers to do something. On the other hand, they're concerned about opinion back home and they're concerned about the coverage.

I got a release from Mitch — you got a release from the White House. I saw a release from Mitch McConnell right before I came on.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I'm glad we are all well-covered here.

STUART ROTHENBERG: And he said: "The Senate will soon take action on the bill that the Congressional Budget Office just confirmed will reduce the growth in premiums under Obamacare, reduce taxes on the middle class, and reduce the deficit."

Premiums, taxes, deficit. What McConnell didn't talk about was health care, quality of coverage.

TAMARA KEITH: Or out-of-pocket expenses, which this CBO report says could be massive.

STUART ROTHENBERG: And voters care about these things. They care a lot about these things.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Stu, again, as you — you follow these, the political pressures on these members of the Senate as they think about — the ones who are you for reelection.

STUART ROTHENBERG: Judy, I was looking at some numbers, and it's really stunning.

What's the one group, two groups that are supposed to benefit most from this health care bill? Younger voters and healthier people, right, because they have been subsidizing older people and people who aren't as healthy. And what group is most opposed to the American Health Care Act and most critical of Donald Trump? Eighteen-to-34-year-olds, younger voters, the kind of voters that should like this.

So, I think it's a real problem for Republicans.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will certainly see what happens.

There's so much to ask about.

Tam, the president has been tweeting a lot over the weekend, continuing to today, about the reports that the Obama administration had information about Russian hacking, interference in last year's presidential election and didn't do a lot about it until after the election. The president's going after former President Obama, saying he's the one to blame, he's the one who obstructed.

Where does this get the president? How successful a strategy is this?

TAMARA KEITH: The president's position on Russian hacking and metaling in the election is wildly confusing, because, previously, he had said it was a hoax that was invented by the Democrats just to explain their loss in the election.

Now I guess he's OK with the hoax, as long as it's President — former President Obama's fault. And President Trump does have a remarkable ability to make everything President Obama's fault, one way or another.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Stu, the president has — this has been the monkey on the president's back for months and months and months. He doesn't like to talk about it, but it seems as if this particular report that came out a couple days ago in The Washington Post, he seized on that.

STUART ROTHENBERG: I think you're right.

He's looking for some explanation to prove that he was right and Obama is wrong, it's all Obama's fault. Look, I think President Obama did — one thing that Donald Trump says is correct is that President Obama did assume that Hillary Clinton was going to win the election and that he could not take on this issue publicly.

But can you imagine what Donald Trump would have said if, a few weeks before election, Barack Obama got on television and said it's all about the Russians taking over our elections? Trump would have said, it's rigged, the election is rigged.

TAMARA KEITH: He already was saying it was rigged. And that may have influenced how the Obama administration reacted. That's what they're saying.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, privately, that's what the Obama folks are saying.

Just very quickly, something that we kind of overlooked in all the other news last week, and the was the announcement by the Supreme Court that they're going to take up, Stu, a redistricting case that affects the census, that is going to have a big effect on how our politics potentially…

STUART ROTHENBERG: This is huge, or, as some people, say, "yuge," because this goes to the very heart of how districts are drawn, who draws the districts.

And that goes to the very heart of who gets elected and which party benefits from how the districts are drawn. So, this is a thing to absolutely keep an eye on. The court has been very reticent to get involved on the issues of is this a political question or not?

But by taking the case, I guess they're going to address it at least.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The backdrop is that the way redistricting gerrymandering has been happening, Tam, quickly, it has benefited the Republicans, and this is a chance to look at that.

TAMARA KEITH: Well, and redistricting that has made seats safe is influencing things like this very health care debate, because members of Congress are more worried, particularly Republican members of Congress are more worried about primaries from the right than they are about a general election fight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that one's in the fall. So is the big travel ban argument. We're going to have a lot to look forward to.

But, in the meantime, we have got so much to cover right now.

Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, thank you both, Politics Monday.

TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome.

STUART ROTHENBERG: Thanks, Judy.

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