One More Time to Cause Some Pain – The Republicans lost the battle over an ACA repeal two weeks ago, but they seem hell bent on winning the war to take away health care from millions. The latest from the front lines:
- The Trump administration eliminated the mandate that health care plans must include contraception coverage. New rules would allow employers to stop offering contraception coverage if they have a “moral objection.” Apparently after emerging from a time machine from the 50’s, the Trump administration justified this decision because birth control promotes “risky sexual behavior.”
- The current Senate Republican proposed budget cuts Medicaid by $1 trillion and Medicare by $473 billion.
- Trump personally told Health and Human Services to deny a request by Iowa to fix its ACA insurance markets.
- The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers 9 million children, has still not been renewed by Congress, despite expiring on September 30.
- Lastly, Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA under President Obama, summarizes here the larger Republican plan to completely gut health care through funding cuts, executive orders, and sabotage.
Raised on Promises – Staunch pro-life advocate Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) decided not to take his elected position to term, resigning after getting caught texting his mistress that she should get an abortion. Some are calling him a hypocrite, but he is consistent in being against giving a woman a choice. Murphy’s growing controversy didn’t stop him from voting for a House bill this past week that would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks.
Don’t Do Me Like That – At the United Nations, the U.S. voted against a resolution that condemned the use of the death penalty for “specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations.” The resolution passed 27-13. Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice condemned the Trump administration’s actions.
Don’t Come Around Here No More – Attorney General and escaped Keebler Elf Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has been busy baking a whole batch of legal actions in which the secret ingredient is lovediscrimination. Sessions kicked off the week by rescinding an Obama-era policy that concluded that transgender employees are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On Wednesday, reports surfaced that the Department of Justice is investigating affirmative action in admissions for Harvard University. No details of the investigation were provided, but Sessions is probably not investigating why legacy applicants are three times more likely to be admitted to Harvard. After putting the possibility of increased discrimination based on gender and race in motion, Sessions went for the cycle on Friday, opening the door to sexual orientation and religious discrimination as well. He issued a guidance memo that states, among other things, that “religious organizations” (a yet to be defined term) can make hiring decisions based on religious beliefs. In practice, this may mean allowing employers to not hire gay employees or fire a woman if she becomes pregnant outside of marriage.
Learning to Fly – The Trump administration continued spreading its wings across the globe in the most expensive way possible. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao is the most recent Trump administration member of the mile-high cost club. The Washington Post found that Chao used government planes at a cost of at least $5,000/hour on seven occasions. Further investigation into Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s travel habits found that he spent over $800,000 of taxpayer dollars on seven flights on military planes. For example, he spent $43,725.50 on a day trip to Miami. Commercial flights were available for $688 round trip. Next week, I look forward to reading that Melania uses the Blue Angels to take Barron to school.
Breakdown – Despite running a campaign based on a combination of email and wall-based security, team Trump continues to have trouble following even the most basic security protocols. In response to criticism that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were using personal email for official White House business, Javanka said, “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!” and moved their emails to a server owned by the Trump Organization – the Trump family private business that is supposed to be firewalled from the Trump presidency, not storing White House emails. Also, Chief of Staff John Kelly is experiencing technical difficulties. Someone from
the Buy More Nerd Herd White House tech support found that Kelly’s personal cell phone, that he continued to use after joining the administration, had beencompromised for several months.
Wildflowers – As the effects of warming and rising oceans make themselves known from Houston to San Juan, the Trump administration decided the best response is to scrap all of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which reduces greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. Apparently, not willing to wait years for the repeal of the Clean Power Plan to destroy the environment, Trump is working to kill off animals today. The administration very quietly withdrew 42 pending regulatory actions to protect endangered species.
Running Down a Dream – When Trump declared an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he allowed anyone whose status ended before March 5, 2018 to apply for a two-year extension by this past Thursday. The federal government did not directly inform any of the DACA recipients of this deadline though, despite having the contact information for everyone in DACA. 23% of those eligible, 36,000 people, missed the deadline. The latest efforts in Congress to protect DACA recipients involveRepublicans demanding funding for Trump’s wall in exchange for mercy. It looks like the most vulnerable in our society may end up paying for that wall.
Rebel Without a Clue – Stephanie Rule of NBC News reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron.” Unfortunately, Tillerson didn’t say that to Trump’s face, but to others during an argument at the Pentagon. No word from Stephanie if she has a list of the other 200 million Americans who have called Trump the same thing.
Free Fallin’ – This week in “signs of our slipping from a democracy to an autocracy” – Sign #1: Trump called for a Senate investigation of NBC News for reporting negative (but objectively true) news about him being a moron. Sign #2: FEMA removed statistics from its website that showed only about half of the population of Puerto Rico had drinking water and about 5% had electricity. However, FEMA left up all positive statistics, such as an increasing number of federal workers on the island and that 30 miles of roadway are now cleared. After an uproar, FEMA restored the data on its website.
The Waiting is the Hardest Part – Trump summoned reporters to White House because he wanted them to take photos of him dining with military leaders. During the photo shoot, Trump said ominously, “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm. Could be the calm, the calm before the storm.” Reporters responded by asking Trump, and I’m summarizing here, “WTF?” Trump then said, “You’ll find out.” The transcript ends there, but I think he then tapped his fingers together and said, “Excellent.”