Archive | April, 2017

Has Trump Kept His Campaign Promises?

By David A. Graham

As the 100-day mark of Donald Trump’s presidency approaches—April 29, but who’s counting, other than the White House?—a review of how well he’s kept his campaign promises shows an administration that’s struggling to enact an ambitious agenda.

Among Trump’s most central promises, his border wall is shaping up slowly, but there’s still no reason to believe Mexico will pay for it. His Muslim immigration ban is frozen in court, beset by constitutional problems. Obamacare repeal died but has rizen, zombie-like, and its future is unclear. Tax reform now seems like a remote possibility, though tax cuts are a real possibility.

The president offered a set of promises for his first 100 days, and though he tried to downplay it recently—“Somebody, yeah, somebody put out the concept of a hundred-day plan,” he told the Associated Press in mid-April—he has completed few of the items on that list. But what about a broader look at the major promises of the 2016 campaign?

It’s on immigration that Trump has made the most progress. He has not instituted all of the sweeping reforms he wanted yet, and the repeated court defeats for his Muslim immigration ban remain a glaring weakness, but he has managed to move toward a reset with a raft of executive orders. The coming trick will be to see if he can get the funding to build the wall and quickly expand the ranks of the Border Patrol and ICE.

In other areas, progress is slower. Trump has made little headway on economic matters, an area where presidents chronically overpromise and then discover the limits of their control. He withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership but not has begun renegotiation of NAFTA. Job growth is a mixed bag. Trump has advanced very few of his …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Ro Khanna Wants to Give Working-Class Households $1 Trillion

By Annie Lowrey

Ro Khanna has a $1 trillion plan to fatten Americans’ wallets.

The newly elected member of Congress, who represents Silicon Valley, has become a loud progressive voice on the Hill during his brief tenure there. The way he sees it, Democrats have failed by not offering families a radical plan to end wage stagnation and bring prosperity to the middle class once again. He is working on a bill he believes will do just that, by boosting the Earned Income Tax Credit to provide as much as $6,000 a year for individuals and $12,000 for families. (That would roughly double the maximum payout for families, and increase it tenfold for childless workers.) The plan is being heralded as a move towards a universal basic income in the United States, and Khanna hopes to pair it with efforts to move federal jobs out of Washington, expand universities and colleges, and encourage investment in depressed communities. Such a moonshot effort is not going anywhere soon, he concedes. But it would at the very least demonstrate to voters that Democrats had something new and bold to offer them.

We spoke about what Obama did wrong, what Trump has done right, whether tech companies like Facebook should be broken up, whether deficits matter, and how to help coal miners in Kentucky, along with his tax proposal. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Annie Lowrey: Let’s start with this trillion-dollar modest proposal.

Ro Khanna: There is this huge income disparity in my own district. It’s a district where rent in some places, like Sunnyvale, is $3,000 a month. If you’re not working at Apple, if you’re not working at Google, if you’re not at a tech startup… if you’re a teacher, if you’re a nurse, if you’re a firefighter, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Space: Trump’s Least Controversial Frontier

By Marina Koren

The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency have been no less rife with controversy and political infighting than his campaign. As the new administration settled into the White House, it unleashed a torrent of new policy plans and executive orders for the public to debate, producing a flood of stories competing for the public’s attention. But one area in particular seems to have flown under the radar, prompting no outrage and little parsing from Trump’s critics: the nation’s space policy.

This kind of policy is, of course, typically quite low on the priority list for a new president, especially when there are jobs to create, Cabinet positions to fill, health-care laws to repeal, tax codes to reform, allegations of Russian ties to avoid, and potholes to fix. Domestic and foreign affairs naturally get more attention than rocket launches, robotic missions to planets, and astronomical research, and Trump has yet to formally lay out his plan for the nation’s space goals. But according to several space-policy experts and historians, Trump has publicly discussed the country’s space program and exploration efforts more than other modern presidents have in their first stretches in office.

In the last few weeks, Trump has reminisced about the Apollo era, cheered a future Mars mission, and chatted with astronauts. He devoted a recent Saturday address to space telescopes, praising the achievements of Hubble and getting excited about the James Webb. He signed a NASA bill into law, a tiny legislative win in a long list of mostly unchecked boxes. On Monday, the beginning of a week that would see headlines about his tax-reform proposal, a trade dispute with Canada, his former adviser Michael Flynn’s involvement with Russian and Turkish governments, and a revealing interview in which …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Government Is Staying Open—For Now

By Russell Berman

President Trump isn’t getting a health-care vote to mark his 100th day in office, but he won’t be saddled with a government shutdown, either.

The House voted on Friday morning to extend federal funding for another week past a midnight deadline as negotiators try to reach an agreement on a large spending bill for the remainder of the fiscal year. The Senate is expected to sign off on the measure later on Friday.

Democrats had briefly threatened to hold up the stopgap measure if Republicans tried to jam through their stalled American Health Care Act. But GOP leaders still can’t find enough support among their members for the proposal, and their decision on Thursday night to again put off a vote defused—for now—the shutdown threat.

Negotiators have mostly agreed on the spending levels for the larger omnibus appropriations bill, but Senator Charles Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, said Friday they were still haggling over a few extraneous policy provisions that Republicans were insisting on including in the bill. “We still have a little bit of a ways to go, and we still have some poison-pill riders that they haven’t dropped yet,” he said. Democrats determined that enough progress had been made to okay the week-long extension.

A pair of reversals by Trump helped move the talks forward earlier in the week. First, the president backed off his demand that the spending bill include money to begin development of a southern border wall, which Democrats refused to support. Then the White House told Democratic leaders that contrary to an earlier Trump threat, the administration would continue making subsidy payments to health insurers as part of the Affordable Care Act, which are considered crucial to maintaining the stability of the individual market.

After passage of the stopgap bill on Friday, Congress now has until …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Facebook Data ‘Does Not Contradict’ Intelligence on Russia Meddling

By Adrienne LaFrance

Less than six months ago, Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that the social publishing platform he founded was being used to manipulate voters as “pretty crazy.”

But in a new report, Facebook now says it has data that “does not contradict” a key U.S. intelligence report that describes “information warfare” ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and carried out on Facebook and across the web.

“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” officials wrote in a declassified version of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence report in January. Guided by the Russian government’s “clear preference” for Donald Trump, the DNI report said, Moscow followed a strategy “that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’” Scholars have long theorized about the possibility of people manipulation public opinion on Facebook—Facebook itself carried out a mood experiment on its users—but U.S. intelligence officials call Moscow’s latest meddling “unprecedented.”

Facebook stopped just short of identifying Russia in its report, but also emphasized that it is “not in a position to make definitive attribution to the actors sponsoring this activity,” which it said represented only a small portion of the activity Facebook tracks on its platform.

Facebook acknowledged more broadly that it has a problem with what it calls “information operations,” government-run efforts to use Facebook to manipulate public opinion, distort domestic or foreign political sentiment, and influence the outcome of elections.

In many cases, such information operations are aimed at gaming Facebook’s algorithm, using tactics like the mass creation of fake accounts and the creation of groups populated by those accounts.

Fake accounts and misleading groups then carry out coordinated campaigns designed to amplify …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump's First 100 Days: Workers Get Pummeled, People Fight Back

As the contours of Donald Trump’s presidency over its first 100 days — and the priorities of the Republican-majority Congress — take shape, the economic impact on working families of this agenda is becoming clearer.

Trump ran for election on a hard nationalist, economically populist platform, wooing voters in depressed regions of the country, and in declining industries such as coal, by stressing economic protectionism, job creation, and massive infrastructure spending, and by promising to create a “beautiful” health care system for all Americans.

But as the rubber hits the road, the populist premise of his candidacy is morphing into a presidency that, many observers argue, redistributes opportunity away from those near the bottom of the economic, educational and social ladder.

“The industrial center of the country has been on a declining trend for 40 years,” says University of Texas at Austin professor of government James Galbraith. “The real premise of the Trump campaign was he was going to reverse this trend. But is he going to be able to? The answer is no. The reality is that a protectionist policy is not very credible to business.”

Neither the US House of Representatives nor the US Senate has shown any inclination to embrace either a quick move to protectionism or huge, publicly funded infrastructure plans of the kind that could re-industrialize economically devastated areas of the country. Meanwhile, the plans put forward to replace the Affordable Care Act would, by most accounts, curtail rather than increase access to the medical system for America’s poorest and sickest residents.

Once these elements of Trump’s agenda are stripped out, what’s left is a series of spending cuts, deregulatory measures — Trump’s initial nominee as US Labor Secretary, for example, was vociferous in his opposition to the minimum wage and overtime …read more

Via:: Truthout



Trump’s Presidential Status Anxiety

By McKay Coppins

As he approaches his hundredth day in office, Donald Trump appears to be suffering—once again—from an acute case of presidential status anxiety.

In public, of course, he has labored to play it cool, strenuously insisting (and insisting, and insisting) that he does not care about the “first hundred days” metric that historians and pundits have used to evaluate the success of new administrations since FDR. Trump has called this milestone “ridiculous” and “artificial”—a meaningless media fixation. And yet, the less-than-laudatory press reviews seem to have left him seething. For evidence, look no further than the president’s pathos-drenched Twitter feed, where he recently took to vent, “No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!”

This explains why we are now witnessing the White House in mad-scramble mode—frantically reaching for last-minute “accomplishments” to placate the president, and pad his record. The closer Trump gets to the hundred-day marker, it seems, the more erratically he flings major legislative initiatives at the wall in hopes that something will stick.

Last week, Trump abruptly pledged to unveil a “massive” tax-cut plan in the coming days—an announcement that reportedly surprised even his own staff. To meet their boss’s deadline, they rushed out a single-page document—bullet-pointed, double-spaced, 229 words long—that resembled a homework assignment hastily completed in the stall during a bathroom break. Skeptics scoffed, Democrats balked, and even White House officials have struggled to articulate their “plan.”

Meanwhile, with a government shutdown fast approaching, Trump threatened to blow up budget negotiations with an outlandish—and politically unviable—demand that the funding bill include money for a border wall. (He eventually had to back down.) And with just 48 hours left in his first hundred days, Trump embarked on …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Voting Rights on Trial on the Bayou

By Vann R. Newkirk II

Terrebonne Parish is probably what people envision when they think about rural Louisiana. It’s chock-full of the swamps, fan boats, gators, and cypress trees that translate to postcards and movie backdrops. People speak Cajun French in public, and shrimpers and fishermen still make their living across the bayous.

But peek through the curtains of Spanish moss, and you might get a look at some of the less idyllic throwbacks to history. While higher-profile cases in Texas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin dominate the news and the nation’s highest courts, the people of Terrebonne Parish are engaged in a similar struggle for voting rights, one that here stretches all the way back to the Voting Rights Act, and could have major implications as the entire country reckons with the meaning of that legislation today.

Through a modern lens, the 1965 passage of the VRA is often erroneously seen as a singular, decisive victory in the struggle for black suffrage. Reports from the time paint a different picture: of a long guerrilla war aimed at limiting the act’s enforcement and effectiveness that never quite ended. Some of the most brazen and sinister attempts by white voters to suppress black ballots came in small rural communities—just like those in Terrebonne Parish. While today courts chiefly focus on the gerrymandering and voter ID laws that are the most effective statewide attempts at minimizing minority votes, those localized movements relied more on methods that diluted the voting power of individual black neighborhoods and their residents’ ability to govern themselves.

Chief among these was the move to at-large voting, in which all of the members of a municipality or county vote for all of a governing body or judiciary. Under this system, a majority-white electorate would water down the impact of then-newly gained black votes. This contrasts with …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Greg Palast on the Hidden Purging of Millions of Voters

Who are the billionaire bandits responsible for turning democracy in the United States into a joke? In this new documentary, dogged sleuth Greg Palast investigates the GOP’s vote-purging and other dirty tricks that helped put Donald Trump in the White House. Click here to order The Best Democracy Money Can Buy on DVD by making a donation to Truthout today!

With all the discussion of the contentious 2016 election, the most shocking fact is often ignored: that millions of people had their votes stolen through malicious, means. The Republican Party is currently working to purge millions more voters leading up to the 2018 election.

To explain this major attack on our supposed democratic process, Abby Martin interviews investigative reporter Greg Palast, who has done the most extensive work uncovering this massive disenfranchisement campaign.

…read more

Via:: Truthout


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