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Charlie Sykes on Health Care, Trump's First 100 Days and Sheriff David Clarke

Mitch Teich
Charlie Sykes in the Lake Effect studio.

The passage of a new health care reform package by the House of Representatives came a few days after the end to a tumultuous first 100 days for President Donald Trump. Nevertheless the legislative victory for Republicans made headlines. But that's just one of many headlines circulating through the U.S. and Wisconsin this past week, which we dissect with Milwaukee-area news analyst Charlie Sykes. 

Sykes is well-known on Wisconsin's airwaves, but more recently he's been working with national news organizations like MSNBC. He also had a 14-week stint as one of the hosts of Indivisible, a program from NPR affiliate WNYC, which aired on stations throughout the country and analyzed President Trump's first 100 days in office.

Sykes now joins Lake Effect for a series of conversations on U.S. and Wisconsin politics. Below are some selected quotes from Sykes' conversation:

The Trump Administration's First 100 Days in Office

"It's hard to declare that you have had a successful 100 days, when you have not passed a single piece of legislation, when many of your signature pieces of legislation have not even - not just not been passed, but were not even introduced, and had not even been written. And the failure of health care was certainly a mark against that first 100 days' success for the Trump Administration."

President Trump's Executive Orders

"Many of them, quite frankly, were more for show than actually for effect."

Appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch

"It's hard to overstate the importance of the Supreme Court nomination. There were a lot of voters who voted for Trump solely... to get a conservative on the Supreme Court. And with that done, they're pretty much willing to drop the mic and say, 'Okay, whatever else happens, at least that is a win.'" 

Passage of American Health Care Act (AHCA) in House of Representatives

"These are fiscal conservatives who passed a major piece of legislation without knowing how much it will cost, without knowing what the implications are... pushing it through less than 24-hours after the text of the bill was released, without a CBO score, with virtually every national health care organization saying that this is going to have a lot of unintended consequences."

"There are a lot of ways to describe the process, but the word 'conservative' wouldn't apply."

"This is a profoundly unpopular piece of legislation. Remember: before the first failure, this had only a 17% approval rating. And then they made it more conservative by watering down the protections for pre-existing conditions, which is the most popular aspect... So you've taken a bill that was radioactive politically, you made it more radioactive, but now you've pushed it over into the Senate."

Implication of the ACHA Vote on Future Elections

"A lot of Republicans in districts that were won by Hillary Clinton, swing districts, have now voted for a piece of legislation that may never go anywhere, but they're already on record. They cast the vote, they're doing the spiking of the football, they had the beer celebration afterwards, and that is dangerous." 

"I'm trying to think about what it would be like to be a fiscally conservative Republican congressman that cast a vote for something that affects 1/6 of the U.S. economy, without knowing what the Congressional Budget Office Score will be. That will come back to haunt them." 

"This is obviously going to be a central issue in the... 2018 campaign, but if we've learned one thing in American politics, it's that everything is unpredictable."

"This is the problem: I don't know that Democrats have figured out how to run... in this particular environment. You know, who is the leader of the Democratic Party right now? I'm not sure." 

Previous Wheel Taxes Allowed Everywhere in Wisconsin Except Milwaukee County

"Why you throw in the curve ball of Milwaukee, except that this would be the one thing that would unite Republicans... If you can stick it to Milwaukee County, we could all be in on that one. That would the kumbaya moment, I think, for Republicans." 

Figuring out Wisconsin's Transportation Budget

"Governor Scott Walker has drawn a line in the sand. This is one of his defining issues: he will not support a tax increase. He made it clear he would not support an increase in the gas tax, he made it very clear he would not support an increase in vehicle registration fee... On the other hand, you have the legislative Republicans who say, 'Look, we have all these expenses, we have all this backlog. We need to fix the revenue problem,' and they have been motoring ahead on all of that."

"If we would just step back from the political wars for a moment, I think we could have an interesting discussion. Unfortunately, that kind of substantive, interesting discussion generally does not take place in the midst of the budget season." 

Inmate Deaths at Milwaukee County Jail

"This is a serious issue... I talk to people around the country about this issue, and this is one of the things they know about Milwaukee: 'You people have people dying in your jail. What do people in Milwaukee think about that? How does this happen? Does the Sheriff take a break from Fox News and come back to do his day job occasionally?'"

"That county audit is going to be very, very interesting. I hope they get to the bottom of it, and then at some point somebody needs to be held accountable and in Milwaukee that's got to be Sheriff Clark."