A new-old health care fight; Bill Gates and vaccines; Trump and ‘the blacks’

On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Taking on health care

As Congress struggles to repeal, replace, rejigger the Affordable Care Act, or whatever it’s doing, California Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ricardo Lara and Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, intend to introduce a bill Friday to provide government-backed, single-payer health care.

Details to come, but expect a big fight.

Many Democrats question how to pay for universal health care, and fear undermining progress made by Covered California, this state’s version of Obamacare. Voters have rejected past single-payer proposals. But Lara and Atkins have shown an ability to get bills through. The California Nurses Association is all-in, and the nurses’ favorite gubernatorial candidate, Gavin Newsom, supports the concept.

Our take


Good, bad and fake news on vaccines: Immunization has saved millions in the Third World, Bill Gates announces. So why do Robert De Niro and Robert Kennedy Jr. stoke the anti-vax movement here?

It’s time to take California’s water future out of the past. The Oroville Dam crisis was about infrastructure. The scare this week stemmed from rickety spillways, not dam management. But if other aspects seemed familiar, it may be because it again highlighted the gap between modern science and the antique flood-control manuals governing major dams in California.


Dan Walters: California’s Democratic politicians have been on a rant for the last month over Donald Trump and other Republicans in Washington, but Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon says it’s time to turn the Capitol’s attention to California’s problems. His Senate counterpart, Kevin de León, however, sees more outrage to be decried.

Bill Whalen: If California’s governor wants to protect Medi-Cal, he should sit down with fellow House Leader Kevin McCarthy. If Jerry Brown wants to score big on infrastructure money, then lead a governors’ march on Washington and seek face time with President Donald Trump.


Raymond C. Hitchcock: For Wilton Rancheria, the resort and casino project means we can address the hardships our members face – in education, housing, health care and other areas. For the city of Elk Grove and the Sacramento region, it means jobs and economic growth, and more and better public services for years to come.

Aubrey Bettencourt: Whether it’s broken water pipes in Los Angeles or the emergency spillway in Oroville, the state has been aware of challenges facing the water infrastructure for 50 years. But our choices to address them have been limited by politics.

Take a number: 46 percent and 29 percent

The first number is how many strongly disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing so far; the second is how many strongly approve. It’s no surprise that deeply divided Americans either love or hate Trump, but the nonpartisan Pew Research Center says the deep polarization is still striking.

Digging deeper into the numbers, Trump’s highest disapproval numbers are among women with college degrees (67 percent) and African Americans (63 percent). His best approval numbers are white evangelicals (65 percent) and men 50 and older (42 percent). Foon Rhee @foonrhee

Their take

Orange County Register: Congress is right to repeal the Social Security Administration’s new regulation that requires the agency to give the FBI the records of some people who are receiving disability payments due to mental illness, in order to prevent those people from buying firearms. We disagree.

San Francisco Chronicle: Some 7 million Californians may lose a chance to build an IRA-style retirement nest egg if the Republican-majority Congress bows to Wall Street’s objections to the promising pension idea. We agree.

Lexington Herald-Leader: Rand Paul, who gained a U.S. Senate seat from Kentucky as a tea party candidate running on the Republican ticket, has now officially and fully joined his adopted party.

The Kansas City Star: Some members of the Missouri General Assembly want to make it harder for consumers to sue and collect damages if they’ve been hurt by defective products. There’s evidence that the legislation is actually designed to protect the interests of a major campaign donor, not the interests of the public.

Takes on Trump

Chicago Tribune: President Donald Trump has said virtually nothing about Afghanistan. That has to change: With the Taliban’s annual spring offensive just weeks away, the clock is ticking on the Trump administration to devise and explain its blueprint for dealing with Afghanistan.

Miami Herald: After his initial choice for U.S. secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, crashed and burned, President Trump on Thursday has come up with an unexpected – and most welcome – replacement: former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta. Trump got this nomination right.

San Jose Mercury News: President Trump’s choice to head the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, is a former Verizon attorney. So it comes as no surprise that he wants to do away with net neutrality.

San Diego Union Tribune: The surprising way Donald Trump and the IRS have made Obamacare worse.

National Review: The questions facing the Trump administration are still just questions, but they warrant sober, fair-minded examination. This is not a job for the media and its anonymous sources; it’s a job for Congress.

Syndicates’ take

Charles Krauthammer: As Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser, it was perfectly reasonable for Michael Flynn to be talking to foreign actors in preparation for assuming office within the month. Where’s the harm?

Andres Oppenheimer: Latin America has remained fairly quiet during President Donald Trump’s confrontation with Mexico so far, but that could change very soon. Countries in the region are planning several top-level meetings where they could agree to support Mexico, confront Trump’s isolationist policies and perhaps improve ties with China.

Dana Milbank: Not yet four weeks into the new administration, Washington has already revived a favorite parlor game based on Howard Baker’s famous question in the Nixon era. “What did President Trump know, and when did he know it?”

Eugene Robinson: Donald Trump’s administration faces two acute, interlocking crises: serious questions about his campaign’s contacts with official and unofficial representatives of the Russian government; and appalling levels of dysfunction in the White House.

Michael Gerson: President Donald Trump appears utterly shocked that he does not hold the copyright on counterpunching. And the intelligence community is particularly good at it.

Gail Collins: From the start, the Trump administration was a dark combination of mean and inept. But it was, on occasion, at least sort of mesmerizing. But now things are so dire, people are feeling sympathy for Kellyanne Conway.


“Pension critics cannot argue first that the reforms save no money, then that agencies went on a hiring spree due to the large cuts in pensions taking effect after the reforms.” – Dave Low, Sacramento

Take an appointment

Donald Trump, in a combative, chaotic news conference in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, declared that he is the “least racist person you’ve ever seen.” Then the president went on to prove it by parroting the old racist stereotype about all black people knowing each other.

It started when April D. Ryan, a black journalist with American Urban Radio Networks, asked Trump about his about his plan to “do a lot of work on the inner cities” where black people are “living in hell.” Would he get input on his plan from the Congressional Black Caucus?

“Well, I would. I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?” Trump asked Ryan. “Do you want to set up the meeting?”

“No, no, no,” she replied, “I’m just a reporter.”

Nevertheless, Trump persisted: “Are they friends of yours? No, go ahead. Set up the meeting.”

No wonder “the blacks” don’t love Trump. – Erika D. Smith, @Erika_D_Smith

Tweet of the day

“Hi, @realDonaldTrump. We’re the CBC. We sent you a letter on January 19, but you never wrote us back. Sad!” — @OfficialCBC, the Congressional Black Caucus