Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 46: Presidential Malpractice

The TrumpShaker Top Three
October 15, 2017 – National Feral Cat Day – Day 340 P.E


Day 340 P.E. – October 15, 2017

Pulling the Plug

This is the week that ObamaCare finally became TrumpCare. Ignoring the wishes of the American public and the U.S. Senate, Trump, through two actions, set out to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Trump acted under the guise that the Affordable Care Act was falling apart. However, as others have pointed out, if it’s failing, why do you need to sabotage it?

On Thursday, Trump signed an Executive Order to allow non-ACA compliant health plans called association plans. These plans are not new; in fact, 25 years ago the federal government issued a report that these types of plans lead to “regulatory confusion, enforcement problems, and, in some instances, fraud.” The American Academy of Actuaries (which if I’m remembering correctly topped last year’s Princeton Review rankings of party schools) notes two key risks with bringing back these plans. First, if healthier groups move to association plans, this would leave the less healthy and the self-employed behind in the ACA-compliant plans. This segregation of the ill will drive up their premiums. Second, the lack of regulation of these plans could leave consumers without protections and without clear avenues of redress.

After destabilizing the ACA with his Executive Order, Trump kicked a leg out from under it by declaring he will no longer reimburse health insurance companies to lower the copays and deductibles for low-income Americans. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Trump’s move to end reimbursements will increase premiums by 20%, increase the deficit by $194 billion, and lead to 1 million people losing insurance. I’ll give Trump credit, it’s tough to cut spending for a program yet still increase the deficit while making the lives of millions Americans worse, but he did it!

The repercussions of Trump’s actions are already being felt. Colorado announced premiums will now rise an extra 6% through plans in their marketplace and Oregon announced a 7.1% increase. Nineteen states are suing Trump for ending the payments, arguing his action is  “arbitrary and capricious.” Arbitrary and capricious? Hmmm, I think I just found the title for my novel on life in the Trump years.

With these actions, Trump and the Republicans have taken ownership of health care as a political issue — a development that some Republicans are not happy about. I’ll give Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) the last word tweet on this: “Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district. @potus promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite.”


Going Nuclear

Candidate Trump promised to “rip up” the deal reached by the Obama administration with Iran to halt Iran’s progress towards nuclear weapons. This week, President Trump at least made a tiny tear. Under the deal, Trump is required to certify that Iran is in compliance with its terms every 90 days. Despite no evidence of a material breach and contrary to the opinions and desires of other parties to the deal (Britain, Germany, and France), Trump declared Iran non-compliant. He has given Congress 60 days to renegotiate the deal or Trump claims he’ll end it.

Well, actually, Trump can’t end it. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, let it be known that, “The president of the United States has many powers [but] not this one.” Trump can pull the United States out of it, but cannot terminate the deal since there are several parties to it.

The repercussions of Trump pulling the United States out are significant. If the U.S. ends a deal it negotiated while the other party is still in compliance, there is no reason why another country should trust the word of the United States again. It will make it vastly more difficult to come up with a diplomatic solution to the situation in North Korea. It will also make any further diplomatic solutions to Iran going nuclear nearly impossible. Iran may withdraw from the deal itself, allowing it to move quickly towards a nuclear bomb.

That is why even Trump’s senior international and military advisors (Secretary of State Tillerson, Defense Secretary Mattis, and National Security Advisor McMaster) all believe the United States should remain in the agreement with Iran. So where did Trump get this big idea? According toThe Daily Beast, Trump sought the counsel of former UN ambassador/Iraq war cheerleader John Bolton and the anti-Cronkite – Sean Hannity.


Are You Ready for Some Anthem? 

Unable to let the wound he ripped open scab over, Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence to perform a political stunt at last week’s Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco Forty-Niners football game. The stunt captured the Trump presidency nicely: manufactured outrage, racist overtones, waste of public dollars, and incompetence. At the game, Pence waited for players to kneel during the national anthem, and then announced on Twitter that he was disgusted and left. Trump followed up that tweet by saying it was he, Trump, who had told Pence to leave the game. Press accompanying Pence were told to wait in their vehicles, rather than go into the game, because the Vice President may be leaving the game very early – so clearly this was planned. The estimated price tag for all of this – $250,000.

A very troubling part of all of Trump’s orchestrated outrage is that Trump’s voters are falling for it. In just one month, Trump voters changed from having a favorable view of the NFL (60% favorable vs 20% unfavorable) to holding the opposite (60% unfavorable vs. 30% favorable).


Quick TrumpShakes

Uncorked – Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) announced that he is not running for re-election in 2018 and he turned off the mind control chip that made him blindly support Trump for the past two years. He is now saying what we’re all thinking. In a candid interview with The New York Times, Corker said,  “The vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here . . . they understand the volatility that we are dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes from people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.” Corker also got into a Twitter fight with Trump, calling the White House an “adult day care center” and then later in the week saying that Trump’s policy statements “publicly castrate” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Chad Leaves U.S. Hanging – Yep, that’s a 2000 election joke. I’ve still got it! When Trump announced his latest “I can’t believe it’s not a Muslim ban!” he added Chad to the list of banned countries. No national security experts could understand it, since Chad has been a crucial ally of the United States in the fight against the terrorist organization, Boko Haram. Well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. In response to Trump adding Chad to the ban, it has now withdrawn its troops from the joint force fighting Boko Haram in Niger.

There’s an Amendment Before the Second? – This week in the Trump’s march towards authoritarianism:

  • Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that UNLV should “look into” a professor who criticized Trump.
  • Trump told reporters, “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it.”
  • After NBC broke stories critical of Trump, Trump tweeted, “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?”

In the Land of the Dumb, the Man with an IQ Above 50 is King – In response to reports that Secretary of State Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron”, Trump said he’d compare IQ test results with Tillerson and that he could “tell you who is going to win.”  I would definitely watch a very special “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” with those two. NBC News reported that Tillerson’s remarks about Trump being dumb as a rock came after Trump stunned national security leaders this summer by saying he really really really wanted a new bike with racing stripes for Christmas a tenfold increase in our nuclear arsenal.

Flava of Trump – This week, I witnessed the most shocking fight between two women over a sorry man since Hoopz bested New York for Flava Flav’s affection in Season 1 of Flava of Love. It all began when Ivana Trump said since she was Trump’s first wife, that she is the real first lady. Because our reality is now produced by Bunim/Murray, the actual First Lady of the United States of America issued a press statement in response to Ivana: “There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise.”

Texas Two-Step – Dancing with the Stars competitor and Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced a plan this week to do a little cha-cha on behalf of fossil fuels, recommending that utilities pay the full costs for coal and nuclear power plants, even if energy from those plants are no longer needed and the utility company would prefer to shut it down.

Heckuva Job, Trumpy – As fires raged across Northern California, Trump responded with cool indifference, not even mentioning the over 6,000 buildings destroyed, 100,000 people evacuated, and at least 38 dead. Amazingly, this was Trump’s best handling of a natural disaster this week. He ignored California, but continued to antagonize Puerto Rico.  For example, Trump let a waiver to the Jones Act expire. The Jones Act is a nearly 100 old law which requires shipments between U.S. ports to be carried by only U.S. boats. In practice, the Jones Act dramatically increases the costs for all items in Puerto Rico. Trump also asked Congress to provide disaster relief to Puerto Rico as a loan rather than direct aid to the already deeply in debt territory. He then wrapped up the week by letting Puerto Ricans, at least the only 15% of them that could hear him because they have power, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” We’ve had troops in Afghanistan since 2001, I think we can find a way to keep some stationed in the United States for a whole month.

Doesn’t Add Up – The Census Bureau very quietly postponed the Economic Census, which is conducted every five years, for at least six months. Don’t worry, I’m sure the Trump Administration will have some alternative facts to fill in the gaps.

Did I Do That? – President Urkel failed to implement new sanctions against Russia by the deadline.Urkel Trump reluctantly signed the sanctions into law in August.

An Ill Wind Blows – My hat’s off to the creative team behind this season of the Trump administration. Just when you think they’ve run out of insane things to do, the Trump cabinet surprises you. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flies a special flag over the Interior Department headquarters when he is in the building. When King Zinke leaves for the day, an underling takes the flag down.

This Week in Kakistrocracy – Even taking into account the fact that anyone who would want to work in this administration is insane, Trump’s latest nominees, one to lead the Council on Environmental Quality and the other to lead National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) are shocking.  For the Council on Environmental Quality, Trump chose former Texas environmental regulator, Kathleen White. White believes things like labeling carbon dioxide emissions as a pollutant is “absurd”, renewable energy is “unreliable and parasitic”, and global warming is “a dogma that has little to do with science.” Speaking of science, Trump broke precedent and selected a non-scientist to lead the NOAA.  Trump selected the CEO of Accuweather, Barry Meyers, to lead the agency responsible for weather forecasting and climate modeling. As Accuweather CEO, Meyers has pushed to limit the work of the NOAA, so it would not compete with his for-profit company. Looks like another federal agency could have a leader who wants to dramatically shrink its reach.


Featured Articles of the Week

Rembert Browne, high on my list of the most interesting young voices in print, tells us that“Colin Kaepernick Has a Job”.

Sarah Paulson shares her experiences with Harvey Weinstein and others like him in Hollywood in “The Men You Meet Making Movies”.

As Republicans get ready to push their tax plan through Congress, you should become familiar with its predecessor, the failed Kansas experiment.


Action Center

The fires in Northern California have left a wide path of destroyed homes and business as well as uprooted lives in their wake. To help the communities rebuild, please consider a donation to the Community Foundation Sonoma County’s Resilience Fund.

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