March 9, 2017 Last Updated 7:41 am

Trumpcare makes it out of House committee; Investor group bows out of Time Inc. bid process

Morning Brief: More controversy surrounding Michael Flynn as his firm admits it was lobbying for Turkey during the campaign, filing with the DOJ as a foreign agent

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, seemed to take forever to pass the Congress. Numerous hearings, months of debate, townhalls and other meetings took place to get input, protest the plan, and generally explain what it would do and not do. In the end, the Democratic leaders pushing the plan dropped one of its most important components, the public option, in order to get enough of their own members to vote for it. They didn’t need Republican votes, and they didn’t get them.

Now, however, the American Health Care Act is zipping through Congress, making its way out of the House Ways and Means Committee in the early morning Thursday. How is that possible and why is it happening?

The fact is that this new Trumpcare – or Ryancare, if you prefer – is not being pushed through as new legislation, but as a revision of the old ACA. This means that it won’t need 60 votes in the Senate to make it out of that chamber. Instead, it is being presented as a flexible piece of revisions that can be finalized in conference committee.

In other words, Ryan could have presented a package that said that the sky is orange and it would not have mattered. What matters is what comes out of the Senate, and that something does.

A lot of commentators think the bill will run into trouble at some point. I’m putting my money on something passing, and fairly quickly. The reason is that the plan is being designed to give the benefits up front, especially lower taxes on the wealthy, while delaying the pain until later. Once passed few will continue to worry about the legislation and new bills, including a new budget, take centerstage.

The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck:

Obamacare revision clears first hurdle in House committee early Thursday

A key committee in the House approved a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act before dawn Thursday morning after roughly 18 hours of debate, awarding the bill its first procedural victory even as opposition mounted from conservatives, Democrats and health-care industry groups.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 23 to 16 to advance the American Health Care Act shortly before 4:30 a.m. Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) called the move historic and praised President Trump, who has vowed to counter resistance to the bill with his own campaign-style effort.

The New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan:

Health Groups Denounce G.O.P. Bill as Its Backers Scramble

Influential groups representing hospitals and nurses came out on Wednesday against a Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, joining doctors and the retirees’ lobby to warn that it would lead to a rise in the uninsured.

In a letter to lawmakers, major hospital groups wrote, “As organizations that take care of every individual who walks through our doors, both due to our mission and our obligations under federal law, we are committed to ensuring health care coverage is available and affordable for all.”

The groups, including the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association of the United States and the Children’s Hospital Association, said they could not support the bill “as currently written.”

The hospitals and the American Nurses Association joined the American Medical Association and AARP, which rejected the bill on Tuesday.

The headlines on the new story regarding Michael Flynn are rather funny. No one wants to come right and say that something is not right, but the elements of the story are all there. Flynn’s firm lobbied for Turkey during the campaign, did not disclose it until the Department of Justice, now run by Jeff Sessions required it, and no one in the press really can figure out what is going on, but will no be working on it.

The story is like much of what concerns the new administration: lots of smoke, little fire, but reporters on the chase.

What few media outlets are admitting is that their early criticism of BuzzFeed for publishing the famous “dossier” is looking like a terrible misfire. Much of the content has now been confirmed, and none of it has so far been proved false.

The Associated Press, Stephen Braun and Chad Day:

Flynn Admits Lobbying May Have Helped Turkey

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was fired from his prominent White House job last month, has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before Election Day that may have aided the Turkish government.

Paperwork filed Tuesday with the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Unit said Flynn and his firm were voluntarily registering for lobbying from August through November that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” It was filed by a lawyer on behalf of the former U.S. Army lieutenant general and intelligence chief…

…Under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, U.S. citizens who lobby on behalf of foreign government or political entities must disclose their work to the Justice Department. Willfully failing to register is a felony, though the Justice Department rarely files criminal charges in such cases. It routinely works with lobbying firms to get back in compliance with the law by registering and disclosing their work.

A Turkish businessman who hired Flynn’s consulting firm told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the amended filings were made in response to pressure from Justice Department officials in recent weeks.

The Time Inc. soap opera continues, with the Post’s Keith Kelly saying that the investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. has dropped out of the running.

The group had offered $18 per share last year in an unsolicited bid, but all that did was push the stock up to that level almost immediate. This morning, with the stock at $18.75 a share, one would expect a winning bid well above $20 a share.

Time Inc.’s revenue, though not growing, would support such a bid. But if Meredith is the ultimate winner, they will be face with the prospect of winning the monthly magazines they have long coveted, while having to find a way to get rid of the weeklies.

An alternative solution might be to split the company in two, with the broadcast side free to merge with another broadcaster.

The other alternative is simply that the Time Inc. board says “thanks for everyone’s interest, we’re not selling.”

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Bronfman-led group bows out of Time Inc. bidding: sources

One of the two groups expected to submit bids for Time Inc. this week has dropped out, The Post has learned.

The group, led by billionaire investor Edgar Bronfman Jr., had kicked off the sales process when it submitted an unsolicited $18 a share bid for the iconic magazine publisher last fall. It was rejected…

…Three other companies had expressed interest in Time Inc., the publisher of some of the best-known magazines in the country, including its namesake weekly, Sports Illustrated, People and Fortune, Bloomberg News reported.

Time’s board is expected to review the bids. Final offers are due in two weeks, Bloomberg reported. It is not a certainty that the board will accept any offer.

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