ATTN GOP: “YOU BREAK IT, YOU OWN IT.” The Daily 202 applies “the Pottery Barn rule” to the news last night that the President will end CSR payments, but don’t forget: Republicans have been sabotaging the health insurance market for months. They’ve sowed uncertainty over cost-sharing payments, causing premiums to rise in a “vast majority” of states; ended bipartisan talks to lower costs in favor of partisan legislation; pulled out of open enrollment events in states; and Trump personally involved himself in efforts to undermine the law. Yesterday’s actions not only wreak havoc on the country’s health insurance system, but send a clear signal to voters that the GOP isn’t serious about keeping promises to cut costs and are doing the opposite for political reasons. In sum:

  1. Trump signed an Executive Order that “would increase costs for older, sicker customers who need the larger benefits that Obamacare policies provide. Removing healthier, cheaper customers from the Obamacare ‘risk pool’ would make insurance companies raise rates to finance benefits for sicker, costlier ones.”
  2. Trump decided to immediately cut off CSR payments, which have allowed around 7 million low-income Americans to afford coverage. The mere threat of this decision had already caused insurers to raise their rates for next year.

MCCONNELL BECOMES REPUBLICANS’ ENEMY NO. 1. The Republican base is angry at a Congress that has been incapable of delivering on the pie-in-the-sky promises they’ve made for the last decade, and are demanding that candidates choose sides between Mitch McConnell and the “anti-establishment” forces that have already taken down one Republican incumbent. As the AP reports, McConnell seems to be drawing the short straw: “Republicans know who to blame for inaction in Washington — Senate Republicans. The White House, hard-right conservatives and House GOP lawmakers all directed their ire at the Senate GOP this week.” Aside from throwing the GOP into further turmoil, it’s roiling already-nasty primaries:

AXIOS: “BANNON’S PLANS FOR A GOP CIVIL WAR.” As further proof that Republicans are squaring blame for their inability to govern on their own party, Bannon pledged this week that he will back primary challengers to almost every Republican Senator who runs for reelection next year, and a Bannon/Trump aligned group, Great America Alliance, has already endorsed anti-establishment candidates in Montana (Matt Rosendale), West Virginia (Patrick Morrisey), and Tennessee (Marsha Blackburn).

Bloomberg: Bannon Plans to Back Challengers to Most GOP Senators Running in 2018.

  • “Steve Bannon plans to back primary challengers to almost every Republican senator who runs for re-election next year in an effort to depose Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and streamline Senate voting procedures, three people familiar with his plans said.”
  • “Bannon plans to support as many as 15 Republican Senate candidates in 2018, including several challengers to incumbents, the people said. He’ll support only candidates who agree to two conditions: They will vote against McConnell as majority leader, and they will vote to end senators’ ability to block legislation by filibustering.”
  • “Bannon looks to knock off some of McConnell’s most reliable supporters in the Senate. They include Nevada’s Dean Heller, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer, Wyoming’s John Barrasso, and Utah’s Orrin Hatch, should he seek re-election. Bannon is working with Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary company Blackwater, who is eyeing a run against Barrasso, the people said… In Arizona, Bannon also plans to back former state Senator Kelli Ward in a primary challenge to U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who wrote a book critical of Trump.”
  • “Bannon has been holding a series of meetings with donors, potential candidates and grassroots strategists to plan for the midterms, with the next scheduled for Oct. 18 in New York. Some have been attended by hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who donated $37.1 million to campaigns, super PACs and parties in the last three election cycles, and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer.”
  • “Health Care Anger: The anger directed at McConnell stems from his handling of his caucus, including members not facing voters in 2018… The move is another sign of the growing discontent amid GOP donors with McConnell’s failure to secure enough votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
  • “At a September campaign rally in Alabama for Moore, Bannon signaled his intention to take on the Republican establishment. ‘Mitch McConnell and this permanent political class is the most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in this country,’ he said. He promised a ‘day of reckoning.’”

WV – Metro News: Jenkins and Morrisey “Take Shots at Each Other” Over Fundraising.

  • The race to take on Manchin has remained heated, as the Jenkins and Morrisey campaigns took shots at each other over their respective fundraising.”
  • “‘Frankly, we expected a 20-year Washington lobbyist like Morrisey to top $1 million this quarter, but even that wouldn’t be enough to hide his record as a 20-year D.C. lobbyist for liberal special interests,’ stated Andy Sere, who is a spokesman for the Jenkins campaign.”
  • “Morrisey’s campaign knocked Jenkins for not raising as much during the fundraising period: […] ‘Liberal Evan Jenkins and his campaign are in a tailspin… No other so-called tier-one candidate in the country performed as poorly in their fundraising last quarter.’”

OH – Ultra-conservative groups want Mitch McConnell out as Senate leader, and so does one Ohio U.S. Senate candidate.

  • “Calls for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to quit grew louder Wednesday when a chorus of ultra-conservative and tea party groups joined the cause.”
  • “USA Today said this is shaping up as the Republican Party’s ‘most serious political rupture in years,’ but Ohio U.S. Senate candidate Mike Gibbons, a longshot in the 2018 Republican primary, said he agrees McConnell should go.”
  • “Gibbons, a Cleveland investment banker with no experience as an elected official but heavy involvement as a donor, said he agrees that McConnell should step down and leave office. But so should Mandel, Gibbons’ campaign spokesman said.”
  • “The campaign of Josh Mandel, the frontrunning Republican in the Ohio race, did not respond to two emails and a phone message asking whether McConnell should step aside. Mandel, who is currently the Ohio state treasurer, has courted support from some of the very firebrands who hope to upset the GOP’s status quo and pass much of Trump’s agenda.”
  • “Mandel will likely face pressure to choose sides, considering his affiliation with FreedomWorks, which wants McConnell to leave. In April, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Mandel was ‘one of nine candidates who have forged a fundraising agreement with FreedomWorks PAC, the political arm of a D.C.-based group affiliated with the tea party movement.’”

Tammy Baldwin raised $2.4 million and has $5.3 million COH.
Sherrod Brown raised more than $2.6 million and has $8.3 million COH.
Bob Casey raised $2.2 million and has more than $7 million COH.
Joe Donnelly raised $1.3 million and has $4.6 million COH, with 84 percent of contributions coming in at $50 or less.
Heidi Heitkamp raised $1 million and has $3.8 million COH, continuing her “streak of outraising any North Dakota U.S. Senate candidate.” Contributions to her campaign came from 4,000 individuals.
Tim Kaine raised $1.8 million and has $8.4 million COH, receiving nearly 11,700 separate donations.
Joe Manchin raised $900,000 and has $4.1 million COH, outraising his two Republicans opponents combined.
Claire McCaskill raised $2.9 million and has $7.1 COH, and counts more than 90,000 donors to date.
Debbie Stabenow raised $1.7 million and $6.9 million COH.
Kyrsten Sinema raised more than $1 million in her first quarter as a candidate and has more than $4.1 million COH.
Jon Tester raised $1.2 million and has $5.4 million COH.
Elizabeth Warren raised just under $3 million and has an impressive $12.8 million COH. 

MCCONNELL PICK ENTERS #MOSEN PRIMARY, “WON’T BE A CAKEWALK.” After months of misleading Missourians about his campaign for Senate, “establishment pick” Josh Hawley officially entered the Missouri Senate Republican primary. He may have hoped for a smoother campaign rollout, but the coverage surrounding Hawley’s entrance explored the tough road ahead as he confronts a crowded primary, with one opponent warning that the race “won’t be a cakewalk.”

MO – Springfield News-Leader: GOP Senate primary won’t be a cakewalk, Republican competitors tell Josh Hawley.

  • “High-profile Missouri Republicans were pleased when Attorney General Josh Hawley confirmed his Senate run, but two GOP competitors aren’t ready to back down.”
  • “Hawley first must secure his party’s primary nomination. In statements issued Tuesday, two other Republican Senate candidates bashed the youthful, first-term state attorney general for seeking higher office so swiftly and painted Hawley as a lackey of the GOP establishment.”
  • “Austin Petersen, who ran for president as a Libertarian last year, referenced Hawley’s ‘Ladders’ campaign advertisement from the 2016 election and accused him of ‘playing politics.’”
  • “‘Unfortunately, he’s now going back on that promise,’ Petersen said in a statement. ‘He’s proving himself to be the worst kind of career politician, one that tells everyone what they want to hear and stands for nothing.’”
  • “‘(Hawley is) telling Mitch McConnell and Republicans in Washington that he’ll be a rubber stamp for their establishment agenda, while at the same time pledging loyalty to Steve Bannon and Breitbart’s takeover of the party,’ Petersen continued. ‘All the while, he’s using Missouri voters as stepping stones to advance his political career. If it looks like a career politician, talks like a career politician, and acts like a career politician, it’s probably a career politician — and we definitely have enough of that in Washington.’”

#MOOREFORHIMSELF. The Washington Post dropped a bombshell investigation piece on how Judge Roy Moore has collected more than a million dollars from the charity he set up. Here’s what Doug Jones had to say: 

“Once again, we see that Roy Moore has put his own interests ahead of the people of Alabama. This time, Moore misled the public and charitable donors by arranging a secret deal where he pocketed more than $1 million from his charity for part-time work. Despite denying that he was taking a “regular salary,” Moore secretly arranged for payments to himself of $180,000 per year and is still owed extensive back pay. It’s just more proof that Alabamians can’t trust Moore to look out for anyone except himself and will not look out for the people of Alabama in the U.S. Senate.”

Washington Post: Undisclosed deal guaranteed Roy Moore $180,000 a year for part-time work at charity.
“Former Alabama judge Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, once said publicly that he did not take a ‘regular salary’ from the small charity he founded to promote Christian values because he did not want to be a financial burden. But privately, Moore had arranged to receive a salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work at the Foundation for Moral Law, internal charity documents show. He collected more than $1 million as president from 2007 to 2012, compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings most of those years.”

Alabama Public Radio: Roy Moore Criticized Over Payments from Charity Roy Moore’s salary from foundation draws scrutiny
Montgomery Advertiser: Report: Nonprofit underreported compensation for Roy Moore

SCOTT’S HURRICANE SCANDALS CONTINUE TO ESCALATE. This week, Floridians learned that an audit from Florida’s Division of Emergency Management – completed long before the 2017 hurricane season began – warned that the state’s hurricane response system was “ill-prepared” for a disaster and that he awarded a secret emergency contract to a hurricane-debris removal firm charging taxpayers exorbitant rates, breaking his promise “to stand on the side of taxpayers and consumers, not on the side of somebody who wants to make extra money after a disaster.” These reports come on the heels of additional stories about Scott’s scandals surrounding the disaster, including his decision to appoint a political crony to lead the Department of Emergency Management. From the DSCC on the latest revelations:
“This report is the latest demonstration of how Scott’s self-serving politics are hurting Floridians, and how the scandals surrounding his response to this terrible disaster are continuing to escalate. His secret contract is costing taxpayers up to 10 times more than they should be paying, breaking his promise to hold these costs down. At every turn, Scott is proving why Floridians cannot trust him to look out for anyone but himself.”   

FAGG READIES FOR #MTSEN FACING ETHICAL QUESITONS. This week now-former Judge Russell Fagg vacated the bench – leaving behind 1,100 active cases without a replacement in place – as he prepares to run for the U.S. Senate in Montana. But Fagg’s decision to remain on the bench while he engaged in campaign activities has raised ethical questions, prompting the Billings Gazette editor to ask: “If we cannot trust what he says while he’s in a job that has a strict canon of ethics and rules, what is going to make Fagg more trustworthy when and if he moves from the bench to the U.S. Senate? Be a judge or be a senatorial candidate. But I am not sure you can be both, your honor.” 

**Bonus listen: Senator Brown stops by the Pod Save America tour in Cleveland**

AL – HuffPost: Doug Jones Releases First TV Ad In Alabama Senate Race
IN – WFYI: Donnelly Co-sponsors Bipartisan Legislation Targeting Opioid Crisis
OH – WHIZ: Senator Sherrod Brown met with local leaders
(MORE) OH – WYTV: Sen. Sherrod Brown visits MCCTC for National Manufacturing Day
MO – Vox: Sen. Claire McCaskill on the opioid epidemic: pharma “ought to begin looking over their shoulder”
(MORE) MO – KRCU: McCaskill offers Medicare option for middle-aged people at 46th town hall
MT – KULR: Military veterans honored by U.S. Senator Jon Tester
ND – KFYR: Sen. Heitkamp hosts tax reform listening session 

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