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Trump barrels ahead with plan to gut ‘Obamacare’

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Washington, Mar 12 (AFP) President Donald Trump has vowed to press ahead with a controversial plan, slowed by bickering within his Republican party, to repeal Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

“We are making great progress with healthcare. ObamaCare is imploding and will only get worse. Republicans coming together to get job done!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump, who spent part of Saturday meeting with senior aides at his golf club in Virginia, told reporters that he spent part of the day strategizing with his White House team on the health care overhaul.

The president has thrown his full weight behind a contested plan by House Republicans to replace Obamacare, battling to overcome resistance from the party’s right wing in hopes of meeting a key campaign pledge.

Yesterday, he dispatched his top lieutenant, Vice President Mike Pence, to the southern state of Kentucky to make a pitch for the beleaguered proposal.

“Here are the heart-breaking facts: today, Americans are paying 3,000 more a year on average for health insurance than the day Obamacare was signed into law,” Pence told a crowd in the city of Louisville.

“Last year alone, premiums spiked by 25 percent and millions of Americans have lost their health insurance plans and lost their doctors,” Pence said, touting the Republican reform plan, unveiled just this past Monday, as the solution.

“We’re going to give Americans more choices. We’ll expand health savings accounts,” Pence declared.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re actually also going to finally allow Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines — the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance.”

Obama’s signature health insurance reform bill was the crowning domestic achievement of his presidency.

But like much of the rest of his legacy, it has come under attack from Trump, who has made dismantling it one of his top goals.

Republicans’ market-driven plan to replace it, however, has been roundly criticized by some members of their own party — especially in the US Senate — and also has been met with consternation from conservative pundits.

“The Republican health plan would make America’s economic chasm worse. It would cut health subsidies that go to the poor while eliminating the net investment income tax, which benefits only the top one percent,” right-of-center political columnist David Brooks wrote in the New York Times this week.

Democrats were no less harsh in their assessment of the Republican health care reform plan.

PTI

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US, Russia diplomats discuss Helsinki meeting, ties

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Washington, July 23 (IANS) The US Department of State has said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss Helsinki meeting fruits and issues over bilateral and regional concerns.

According to a statement issued by State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Sunday, the phone conversation took place on Saturday when the two foreign ministers discussed a broad range of issues, “some of which were following up from the meeting between President Trump and President Putin” in Finland on July 16, Xinhua reported.

Among the topics discussed was the situation in Syria.

The two also discussed how to implement ideas on counterterrorism process coordination and the mutual goal of establishing business-to-business dialogue between private, non-governmentally controlled entities in the two countries, another deliverable of the Trump-Putin meeting.

Pompeo and Lavrov also discussed “the need for Russia to provide equal diplomatic access to the US, at a level that is fair and reciprocal”.

US White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Thursday that Putin will be invited to Washington in the autumn, and “those discussions are already underway”.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Friday in response that that his country is open to a new meeting between the two presidents.

Trump has been widely attacked after his meeting with Putin on July 16, due to his reconciliatory remarks that many saw as a sign to side with Moscow against US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 US elections.

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Philippines Rains: Over 700,000 affected, 5 dead

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Manila, July 22 : At least five people have died and more than 700,000 have been affected due to days of torrential rains that have lashed the Philippines and have caused dams and waterways in Northern and Central Luzon, as well as Metro Manila to overflow.

 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said it had received reports that a resident of Luisa Pelew died in a landslide while a resident of Negros Oriental Angelito Jipulan drowned, reports Xinhua news agency.

Police have also reported at least three more deaths, including a Negros Occidental resident who reportedly drowned, and two children from Antique province whose house was buried by a landslide.

The NDRRMC said the affected population of 158,509 families or 728,003 persons were from 585 villages in the National Capital Region (NCR) and several provinces in the Philippine.

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Exempt S. Korean vehicles from new tariffs: Seoul to Washington

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Seoul, July 22 :South Korea has asked the US to exempt its vehicles from the new 25 per cent tariffs Washington is planning to impose on imported vehicles and spare parts, officials said on Sunday.

South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon made the request to his US counterpart Steve Mnuchin in a meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Efe news agency reported.

According to an official statement by the finance ministry, Kim asked Mnuchin that South Korean vehicles be excluded from the new tariffs the White House is planning to impose on national security grounds.

The South Korean official reminded his US colleague of the positive impact the Asian country’s automobile industry has had on employment and investments in the US.

Currently, South Korean vehicles entering the US market are not subject to import tariffs under the free trade agreement signed by both countries in 2012.(IANS)

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