Archive | March, 2017

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Not an April Fools’ Joke

By Candice Norwood

Today in 5 Lines

In a morning tweet, President Trump called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt,” after former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn reportedly offered to cooperate with the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees in exchange for immunity. Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, visited the White House to view the documents the administration says show evidence of possible surveillance by the Obama administration. Trump signed two executive orders aimed at cracking down on trade abuses, saying in a signing ceremony that “the theft of American prosperity will end.” A federal judge approved a deal for President Trump to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits over his now-defunct Trump University. The White House said it will disclose details about the finances of senior administration officials this evening.

Today on The Atlantic

  • ‘The Prince of Oversight’: Jason Chaffetz was the first congressional Republican to officially withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump, though he ultimately voted for him. McKay Coppins traces Chaffetz’s political career and explores the challenges the chairman of the House Oversight Committee faces as the man tasked with policing his own party.

  • Danger Zone: Christine Todd Whitman, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, argues that Trump’s cuts to the EPA would “pose a great danger to Americans’ lives” by reducing resources for programs that protect public health.

  • Reset Button: The Trump administration has experienced a number of untimely departures over the last two months. This week, the White House announced the exit of Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, stirring speculation about more shakeups in the future. (David A. Graham)

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy portal.


Hillary Clinton waves to students in the balcony …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Not an April Fools’ Joke” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Q of the Week: What Should Trump Do Next?

By Elaine Godfrey

Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare flopped last week, but President Trump is ready to move to the next item on his agenda: tax reform. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would like to see the Trump administration focus on now, and why. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful responses.

Andrew Vernon suggested Trump save his political capital:

The president should focus on things that will make America more competitive and the federal bureaucracies more efficient, e.g. tax reform, infrastructure, regulatory overhaul, etc., instead of wasting what little political capital he had (and taxpayer money) on walls, misguided immigration policies, Twitter rants, attacking the media and judiciary …

Will Taylor is hoping Trump can keep things in perspective, and instigate incremental change:

President Trump should continue to work on tax reform with the understanding that the legislation will take time to develop. The president may not be able to accomplish this legislation this year. In the interim, the president should identify smaller pieces of legislation around which he can build some bipartisan support and his credibility.

But Daniel Scherrer sees appointing and cooperating with an independent investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia as a much higher priority:

Either he should clear his name, or spare the nation a drawn-out ordeal by getting out. There are real and growing concerns that the president of the United States is an agent of the Russian secret police … This issue is beyond politics. Nothing is more important than this.

Read On »

…read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The White House Is Being Reset Even Before It Started

By David A. Graham

The “usually” framework has become a staple of coverage of Donald Trump. As in: Usually, you have to hire a full compliment of staffers before you start pushing them out and reshuffling. But normal patterns, as is well known, do not apply to this White House.

Consider this. The president has already had to fire his national security adviser. A deputy White House chief of staff has been shipped out, and there are rumors swirling around another. The chief of staff has been the subject of rumors more or less since he started unpacking his boxes in the West Wing. A top communications official has been fired. The press secretary is widely viewed as ineffectual and endangered. And while the West Wing is not as empty as it once was—for example, President Trump finally hired a communications director in mid-February—the vast majority of essential executive-branch positions are not only unfilled but have no nominee.

Let’s survey the damage in a little more detail. The first casualty was National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign on February 13, after it became clear that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn has since revealed he lobbied for Turkey before taking the job, and has opened discussions about seeking immunity with several investigations.

On March 25, reports indicated that Boris Epshteyn, who was a frequent surrogate for the Trump campaign and was in charge of coordinating TV surrogates for the Trump White House, was leaving that job. The circumstances of the departure are a little unclear—he had reportedly clashed with TV bookers, but …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Spending $1 Million to Get Rid of a Single Bureaucrat

By Conor Friedersdorf

Every so often, Californians get distracted from the physical beauty that surrounds us, remember that a state government is nominally under our control, notice a feature that galls us, and stage a populist revolt—for better or worse. Steep increases in property taxes led to Proposition 13. Anxiety over immigration prompted Proposition 187. Power outages and an increase in the vehicle license fee fueled the recall of Governor Gray Davis and the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And I reckon that the Golden State is about due for its next political earthquake.

Lest a shortage of farm labor cause a kale shortage that vaults Gwyneth Paltrow into the statehouse, I hope to trigger a tremor on a different fault line. I’d rather Californians unleashed their pent up seismic tension on the system that gave them the saga of Linda Katehi.

Do you recall the controversial UC Davis leader?

Last year, when she lost her chancellorship, I mocked her golden parachute, expressing a journalist’s fleeting outrage at how much taxpayer money her failure cost us.

But the weather was so nice and a new taco truck had just arrived in my neighborhood. I’d have totally forgotten my anger if the Sacramento Bee hadn’t published a coda to her saga last week. As it turns out, an extra million dollars of taxpayer money was spent––and so needlessly, so extravagantly, I can scarcely believe it. The UC System’s annual budget is $28.8 billion. Next to that, $1 million isn’t much. Then again, $1 million would cover the student loans of a lot of students. The people in my neighborhood’s tent city could all be housed for $1 million.

So I say this saga matters.

Before I tell you how that million was spent instead, let’s quickly review the vast sums, beyond the final million, that were already squandered during Linda …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Prince of Oversight

By McKay Coppins

When Donald Trump’s now-notorious Access Hollywood tape first leaked in October last year, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz reacted to the news the way he usually does—he got himself in front of a camera, and fast.

Within hours after the story broke, he was on the set of Salt Lake City’s Fox 13 News, declaring, “I’m out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president.” Chaffetz was the first Republican in Congress to officially withdraw his endorsement from Trump, and he milked the moment for all it was worth—going on for several minutes in the interview about Trump’s “abhorrent and offensive” language, about the “awful place” the nominee had put the country in, about how he could no longer look his teenage daughter in the eye while supporting this candidacy.

Two and a half weeks later, he announced he would vote for Trump after all.

The apparent reversal did not escape the attention—or derision—of the political press. (“Jason Chaffetz just set some sort of modern record for flip-floppery,” wrote one Washington Post blogger.) To the congressman’s detractors, the episode encapsulated all the worst traits Chaffetz is accused of: the shameless camera-mugging, the brazen partisanship, the wet-finger-in-the-air opportunism. Chaffetz, though, has no regrets.

“Look, I think I went through a lot of the gyrations that people in Utah and across the country [did],” he said in a recent interview. But in the end, he told me, the voters made the right decision. “I can’t imagine what the world would look like if Hillary Clinton were the president right now. I mean—” he paused and searched for a way to adequately express his disgust at the thought, before settling on a guttural gagging sound. “Blech.”

The truth, of course, is that a world where Clinton is …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How EPA Budget Cuts Could Affect Public Health

By Christine Todd Whitman

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, described the administration’s new spending proposal as a “hard-power budget,” and by design it echoes President Trump’s top campaign priorities—namely, national security. But to create additional funding for defense programs and immigration enforcement, the budget would cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent.

The EPA isn’t the only agency slated to suffer, but it is absorbing the largest blow. Faced with a cut of $2.6 billion, it would stand to lose approximately one-third of its total budget, cutting its resources to the lowest level in 40 years, adjusted for inflation. The cuts to the EPA are significantly greater than those suggested by congressional Republicans—who proposed a modest $291 million cut from former President Obama’s last budget request—and they’re achieved in part by eliminating 3,200 positions, one-fifth of the staff.

Beyond the raw numbers, the unprecedented budget cuts to the EPA would pose a great danger to Americans’ lives if enacted. Practically speaking, funding for climate-change research would be axed, public-health programs would be effectively defunded, state environmental programs would be closed, and regional projects would end. Make no mistake: Human health would be endangered.

There are a number of health risks inherent to the proposed budget cuts, thanks in part to Trump’s promises to leave only “a little bit” of federal regulations. For example, the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention runs a program that screens and tests endocrine disruptors, which are harmful chemicals that pose a threat to reproductive health and children’s growth and development. Under the Trump budget, funding for this program would be cut from $7.5 million to $445,000—rendering the program inoperable and ineffective. Trump also wants to significantly cut the federal radon program to the tune of 80 percent. Radon, a …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



‘I Don’t Think You Can Compromise on Civil Rights’

By David A. Graham

DURHAM, N.C.— Depending on your point of view, Thursday was either a red-letter day for North Carolina or a day that should leave the state’s leaders red-faced with shame.

Thursday afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper signed into law a bipartisan bill repealing H.B. 2, the “bathroom bill” that Republican lawmakers enacted one year ago. That law required that transgender people in public facilities use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate, forcing them to use facilities set aside for the opposite gender.

Cooper’s signature was the culmination of a year of campaigning, and the governor, a Democrat, owes his office in part to the law’s unpopularity. But in what he declared was a moment of victory, Cooper found himself defending the deal against furious attacks from progressive grassroots groups.

“I wish this were complete, total repeal and whenever I get a chance to do that, I’m going to do it,” Cooper said during a press conference at the governor’s mansion in Raleigh, where he announced his signature and tried to sell the bill. He blamed the Republican supermajority in both chambers of the legislature for blocking a better law. “Doesn’t do everything we want it to do. More to do. I’m going to keep fighting every single day for LGBT protections.”

The new law repeals H.B. 2 entirely, but it also places a moratorium on North Carolina cities passing any nondiscrimination ordinances (or other employment law rules) until 2020. Transgender North Carolinians will now be at license to use the bathroom of their choosing, but cities cannot enact their own rules barring any discrimination against transgender people, or indeed other members of …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Republican Majority in Congress Is an Illusion

By Russell Berman

Legislating is often described as more art than science, but it’s really just grade-school arithmetic: Bills either have the votes needed to pass, or they don’t.

Republicans have a president in the White House and a numerical majority in Congress—237 seats out of the 430 currently occupied in the House, and 52 out of 100 in the Senate. In theory, that’s enough to run the show. “Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government,” an ebullient House Speaker Paul Ryan declared to reporters the week after the November election.

He was using the word “unified” in a general sense. Republicans now had, in the presidency, the capstone to their decade-long crawl back to power in Washington. But as the last week has made abundantly clear, the idea of unification was wishful thinking, and mostly an illusion. As Ryan and Trump surveyed the results of the elections, they each seemed to see a much bigger victory than the GOP had actually won.

The president described his relatively narrow Electoral College margin—paired with a popular vote loss—as a “massive landslide.” And Ryan moved swiftly to enact a conservative agenda with Republican votes alone. He envisioned a GOP version of the Democrats’ legislative burst in 2009, when President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid teamed up to enact a major stimulus bill, the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street reform, and countless other more modest pieces of legislation in under two years.

But there was a big difference between the unified Democratic government of 2009-2010 and the Republican majorities of today: votes. The Democrats simply had many more of them. In the House, Obama’s party controlled at least 255 seats during most of the 111th Congress, and for a seven-month stretch in late 2009, Democrats had 60 votes in …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



With Nighttime Raids, Police Wage War on Black and Brown Families in New York

(Photo: Vhmh)

(Photo: Vhmh)

Large-scale raids on public housing in New York City have left families and communities of color throughout the city divided, displaced and devastated. Like the myth of the “super predator,” gang membership is used to justify massive state violence against young men of color. Now, families, activists and academics are uniting in order to fight back.

(Photo: Vhmh)(Photo: Vhmh)

Paula Clarke and her family found themselves crawling half-naked on the floor of her Bronx home at 4:51 am on April 27, 2016, after multiple heavily armed men broke through her front door and demanded that she tell them where her son was.

Helicopters could be heard hovering right about her home. The loud flashbang grenades that initially woke Clarke up even left marks on the back of the house.

“I thought we were at war or something,” she told Truthout. “Just being woken suddenly from your bed to all of this. It was like we were in a war zone.”

As her home was being violently invaded, Clarke, who is visually impaired, tried to figure out who these armed intruders were.

“You could hear them breaking through the front door. And the house was like shaking, literally shaking,” she recounted. “I didn’t even know that we were being attacked by our own government. I thought it was like maybe ISIS. Trust me, my mind was going crazy. I was terrified ’cause all of that [was] going on at the same time.”

Her daughter Brie, a nursing student who was scheduled to take a final exam that morning, was also abruptly awakened by the war zone right outside her room.

“My sister and I were sleeping in the bedroom, and …read more

Via:: Truthout



Why This Isn't the Time for a Public Option or Medicare for Some

(Photo: WerbeFabrik)

(Photo: WerbeFabrik)

This has been a tumultuous week for healthcare reform. First there was the pleasantly quick defeat of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon. Then, that evening, Senator Sanders spoke at a town hall in Vermont with Senator Pat Leahy and Representative Peter Welch where he announced that he would introduce a Medicare for All bill. Medicare for All and Bernie supporters lit up social media with their excitement over the announcement. This should have been great news, but it wasn’t exactly.

Over the weekend, more information was revealed in a series of interviews with Sen. Sanders. Sunday, he said on CNN that single payer legislation wouldn’t have the votes, so the first priority will be to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a public insurance, called a public option, and possibly lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 55.

There are a number of reasons why this isn’t the time for tinkering with the ACA. We have a healthcare crisis now and the means to solve it. The ACA is fundamentally flawed and cannot be tweaked into a universal program. And Sanders’ proposals are exactly the same ones used in 2008-10 to divide and weaken the movement for National Improved Medicare for All. We can’t be fooled into going down that path again.

The Current Crisis and Its Solution

Right now in the United States, almost 30 million people have no health insurance. On top of that, tens of millions of people who have health insurance can’t afford health care. When people experience a serious accident or illness, they face a stark choice: seek care and risk financial ruin or go without it and risk disability or death. Hundreds of thousands of families go bankrupt each …read more

Via:: Truthout


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