The (Stock) Price Is Right – Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price continues to be nagged by reports that he used his position in Congress to help his stock portfolio. ProPublica reported that on the same day he purchased $90,000 in stock in six pharmaceutical companies, then Congressman Price made a call to a senior U.S. official to argue against a proposed rule that would have hurt the bottom line of those six companies.
GOP in the Machine –President George “Internets” Bush and Alaskan Senator Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens long ago established the level of comprehension in the Republican party of the internet. A lack of understanding has not stopped them from impacting your ability to watch deeply disturbing ice cream commercials in private. Republicans voted this week to allow your Internet Service Provider (e.g., Comcast) to sell your browsing information. It’s now on Trump’s desk. Rumors are that the Republicans and Trump will be taking on Net Neutrality next. They would like to undermine the FCC’s current approach, which requires that all data be treated equally on the internet. That is, Comcast can’t provide one speed for (or even block) ice cream videos and a faster speed for their own content. Net Neutrality is critical to the egalitarian nature of the internet. Free Press has a quick “Net Neutrality 101” to prepare you for the fight.
Gorsuchbustsers – With the somewhat surprising declaration of Democratic Senator Claire McCaskillof Missouri that she will support a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the Dems now stand just 5 Senators short of being able to hold a filibuster. If they do, Trump then can either pull Gorsuch or more likely, the Republicans can change Senate rules to allow Gorsuch’s approval by a simple majority. The vote should happen this week. For those of you in California who complain that you don’t have anything to do since all your reps are anti-Trump, Senator Dianne whether Feinstein has yet to declare she’ll support a filibuster. So now who you gonna call?
Are We in Kansas Anymore? Kansas has been under particularly harsh Republican rule as Governor Sam Brownback has been using the state as an experiment to see if eliminating regulations and slashing taxes would create a real Emerald City. Spoiler Alert: It was an economic twister. He destroyed the state’s economy AND public services. In response, voters have elected more sane representatives. Things have changed so much, that Republican and Democrat state reps actually came together to finally approve Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion into the state. This would mean 180,000 Kansans would get health insurance and at a cost to the state of Kansas of only 10 cents on the dollar. It’s rare that a politician has the opportunity to bring so much relief to so many. So naturally, Brownback vetoed it. This week, we’ll see if Kansas can find the 3 additional votes in the House and 2 additional votes in the Senate it needs to override the veto.
My Dinner with Mike (as long as I’m not a woman) – This week we were reminded that Vice President Mike Pence never eats dinner alone with a woman other than his wife and won’t attend events with alcohol without her either. This is a problematic for a host of reasons – it denies women agency, limits access for women to those in power, and provides very troubling insight into how irresistible and uncontrollable Mike Pence thinks he is.
Holding Out for a Hero – With access to women’s health care at stake and the vote 50-49, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), recovering from two back surgeries, made his way to the Senate floor for the first time since February 17 – the orchestra music swells – to cast the tying vote – crescendo – to allow state and local governments to pull Title X funding (contraception, fertility, pregnancy care, and cervical cancer screenings) to organizations that also perform abortions, i.e., to take funding from Planned Parenthood. With a tie vote, the man who has 0 years of experience relating to any woman besides his wife, Mike Pence, cast the deciding vote. Of note, is that two of the five GOP female senators, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), voted against their party’s repeal of this Obama administration rule.
Trump Lies for the Queer Guy – During his nomination speech, Trump said he “will do everything in [his] power to protect our LGBTQ citizens” and as recently as January 30 said he would enforce President Obama’s executive order to protect the LGBTQ community from workplace discrimination. This week, Trump decided “nah.” Last Monday, he signed an executive order to get rid of the requirement that companies prove they are in compliance with Obama’s order to not discriminate. So companies are still required to not discriminate, but in order to get a federal contract you don’t need to prove that you haven’t been discriminating. Basically, the federal government is saying don’t break the law, but we won’t check if you do. After 2020, this issue may be moot, since the Census Bureau also announced this week that they will not include a question on sexual orientation or gender identity on the census. If you don’t count LGBTQ citizens, they don’t exist, and therefore can’t be discriminated against. Trump does it again, problem solved!
Like Uber But for Kindergarten – Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos compared parent choice in education to using Uber instead of a taxi. Such a spot-on analogy; it’s such a relief to have a leader who finally understands my desire to put my child in the hands of an unsupervised, unregulated, and inexperienced stranger.
Can We Sue for Being a Fraud President? – Trump officially settled the lawsuit against Burns Trump University for $25 Million because the “education” it provided was worthless. Fraud is nothing new for a sitting president, we all remember when George Washington said, “I cannot tell a lie, I cut that cherry tree down with my mind and for just 4 easy payments of 5 Continental dollars each, I’ll show you how.”