Archive | April, 2017

The Quantified Presidency

By Elaine Godfrey

First, it was crowd size. Then, it was health-care bill size. On Tuesday, the Trump administration continued its habit of conflating quantity with quality by releasing a list detailing President Donald Trump’s “historic accomplishments” from his first 100 days in office, a milestone he will officially reach on Saturday. The list boasts of the number of Trump’s Congressional Review Act resolutions, his executive actions, and laws he’s signed since his inauguration.

A few of these figures appear to be wrong. But what matters more is that the administration is bothering to count them in the first place.

Tuesday’s press release predicts that Trump will have signed 30 executive orders by his 100th day in office, a feat the administration says is greater than that of any other president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom it credits with signing only nine executive orders. Roosevelt actually signed 99 executive orders by June 12th, his 100th day in office.

On Twitter, historian Peter Schulman offered a plausible theory for how the press release might have gotten it wrong: Perhaps it was citing the numbers from the American Presidency Project, which appears to list only the most consequential executive orders from past presidents. Schulman also pointed out that while the press release is correct in saying that President Truman signed 25 executive orders within the first 100 days of his 1949 inauguration, Truman’s first 100 days actually took place after he took over for Roosevelt in 1945. In that year, Truman signed more than twice that many executive orders.

Accuracy aside, it’s revealing that the Trump administration is boasting about the number of executive orders and laws the president has signed, rather than highlighting the impact of those laws. The release says, correctly, that Trump has signed 28 laws in his first …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Why Is Trump Risking a Trade War With Canada?

By David A. Graham

Donald Trump is not the first U.S. president to tangle with Canada over lumber. In fact, the first U.S. president to do so was the first U.S. president. George Washington’s administration saw a dispute over ownership of valuable forests on the border between New Brunswick and present-day Maine.

So despite Trump’s recent tough talk about the trade relationship with America’s neighbor to the north, his announcement Tuesday morning of new tariffs on Canadian lumber is actually consistent with what U.S. policy has been for decades. Where Trump differs from previous presidents, though, is in very publicly sounding off about a longstanding disagreement. In so doing he has also, apparently, found a new target for his trade-related ire, even as he softens his stances toward previous targets like China and Mexico.

“We’re going to be putting a 20 percent tax on softwood lumber coming in—tariff on softwood coming into the United States from Canada,” Trump said Tuesday morning. Actually, the Commerce Department is levying tariffs on a range of Canadian lumber companies, with the average coming to around 20 percent.

It’s not just wood that’s at issue. Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted:


He’d previously complained about the dairy issue during an appearance in Wisconsin. Also Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross issued a statement attacking Canada:

It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations. Last Monday, it became apparent that Canada intends to effectively cut off the last dairy products being exported from the United States. Today, in a different matter, the Department of Commerce determined a need to impose countervailing duties of roughly one billion dollars on Canadian softwood …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How Democrats Learned to Love Trump’s Negotiating Style

By Michelle Cottle

Mock Donald Trump’s legislative ignorance if you will, but for a brief, shining stretch during the past week, he managed to bring about a rare Washington phenomenon: House and Senate Democrats saying nice things about their GOP
counterparts. Publicly. With straight faces. That the president accomplished this entirely by accident makes the feat no less remarkable.

It has been like a scene straight out of a No Labels kumbaya, centrist fantasy: As Congress hammers out a deal to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year, Democrats have been lauding Republicans for handling negotiations in a thoughtful, productive, bipartisan manner.

“Appropriators are all about getting something done,” a senior Democratic House aide noted approvingly of the process. And with the April 28 deadline looming, he told me, members of both teams “had been chugging along, making progress, doing a really good job of getting past some riders.”

But then, say Democrats, chaos erupted. Up popped President Trump, demanding billions for his border wall, threatening sanctuary cities, clamoring for a quickie health care vote, and generally screwing things up by sticking his big orange nose into delicate Hill business.

“Before, the parties were negotiating quite well until Donald Trump and the White House threw a monkey wrench into it,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “If the president stepped out of it, we could get a budget done by Friday.”

Call co-host Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, proffered a similar take: “I know appropriators try very hard to work in a bipartisan way, and that was the path that we were on until the president intervened.”

Thanks to Trump’s ham-fisted meddling, charge Democrats, the budget talks have gone from civilized and low-key to, as the House aide put it, utterly “whackadoo.”

<p …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



A Tax Plan That Befits the ‘King of Debt’

By Russell Berman

“I am the king of debt,” Donald Trump famously boasted during last year’s campaign. On Wednesday, the president is going to set about proving it—but perhaps not in the way he originally meant.

All indications are that the tax plan the White House is slated to unveil will include what Trump has described as a “massive” cut in the rate that corporations and many small businesses pay to the government. But it will omit the more politically painful choices that Republicans would need to make to offset the corresponding loss of revenue, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed tax on imports or the elimination of popular deductions for charitable giving and homeowners. The result is a tax plan that, like the ones Trump offered as a candidate, could add trillions of dollars to the national debt. You can call them tax cuts, but they aren’t tax reform.

In pursuing the cuts-only approach favored by supply-side economic conservatives, Trump is forgoing—at least for the moment—the more ambitious overhaul of both the corporate and individual tax code that Republicans like Ryan have been pursuing for years. That would take months, if not years, more to complete, and the president plainly does not want to wait. He caught both Republican lawmakers and, reportedly, his own staff off-guard by announcing that the White House would unveil some sort of tax plan this week, ahead of the 100-day marker of his presidency. What Trump will actually release might be little more than a sheet of paper with some broad principles, much less a detailed legislative proposal. It’s the Cliffs Notes version of a tax plan, which will make for a clean headline and is simpler to explain to voters than a proposal with the inherent winners and losers that a broader reform …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



What Trump Still Doesn’t Understand About the Holocaust

By Peter Beinart

Given his administration’s bizarre rhetorical struggles when it comes to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, the bar for Donald Trump’s speech on Tuesday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum was low. All he really had to do was show he understands that anti-Semitism is bad, and that the Holocaust happened mostly to Jews. He did that, and more. At times, his speech was genuinely moving. It was also disturbing in a very instructive way.

The Holocaust is both a defining event in the modern history of the Jewish people and a defining event in the modern history of inhumanity. It has profound particular significance to Jews and profound universal significance to anyone concerned with the marriage of war, bigotry, state power and human indifference. In the quarter century since the United States decided to memorialize the Holocaust with a museum on the National Mall, the presidents who have spoken about it have walked a line between these particular and its universal elements.

In 2012, for instance, Barack Obama talked about “Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec” but he also mentioned Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Libya and Uganda. He pledged to “realize a future where no African child is stolen from their family and no girl is raped and no boy is turned into a child soldier” and he announced the “first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide.” In 2016, he warned that, “anti-Semitism is on the rise,” that “Jews [are] leaving major European cities” and that “Jewish centers are targeted from Mumbai to Overland Park, Kansas.” But he also said honoring the Holocaust’s memory requires people “to make common cause with the outsider, the minority, whether that minority is Christian or Jew, whether it is Hindu or Muslim, or a …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Brace for Government Shutdown as Republicans Face Impossible Tasks

House Speaker Paul Ryan at a news conference following a House Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, April, 26, 2017. With the deadline to avert a government shutdown looming, lawmakers are negotiating a spending bill that would supply no money for a border wall but would increase funding for the military and other border security measures. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

House Speaker Paul Ryan at a news conference following a House Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, April, 26, 2017. With the deadline to avert a government shutdown looming, lawmakers are negotiating a spending bill that would supply no money for a border wall but would increase funding for the military and other border security measures. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

Can President Donald J. Trump and the Republicans actually govern? As we near the 100th day mark the answer has been a loud “no.” So far. This week the Congress and the president will once again try for wins to fund the government, repeal the Affordable Care Act, extra money for Defense, and to construct a wall on the southern border. A nearly impossible order.

The House of Representatives does not have a governing coalition. There remains, essentially, three parties: Republicans, Democrats, and the Freedom Caucus. Two of these three groups must work together in order to pass any legislation. And to complicate the politics even more, many of the Republican members are already worried about their own re-election, so they might not support their own party’s leaders. Especially if that deal is sanctioned by the Freedom Caucus.

Yet Speaker Paul Ryan told his caucus Saturday that funding the government is the priority. The president was equally optimistic. “I think we’re in good shape,” President Trump said.

There are two budgets at issue. First there is the one proposed by the White House, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” That budget would not begin until October and would result in a dramatic restructuring of the federal government. Many members of Congress have said there is no chance this budget will be …read more

Via:: Truthout



Monuments to White Supremacy Are Finally Falling in New Orleans

A statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee sits atop a large  monument at the center of Lee Circle in the Central Business District of New  Orleans, Louisiana. The monument is one of four being removed after years of  protest by racial justice activists. (Photo: Mike Ludwig)

A statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee sits atop a large monument at the center of Lee Circle in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana. The monument is one of four being removed after years of protest by racial justice activists. (Photo: Mike Ludwig)

New Orleans — On May 7, 1954, thousands of Black activists, students and teachers in New Orleans boycotted “McDonough Day,” an annual dedication to an early patron of the city’s public schools. Every year, white students would line up to pay their respects to a statue of the 19th century philanthropist John McDonough while Black students waited to participate in a second ceremony afterward, sometimes waiting hours in the hot southern sun.

In 1954, more than 30,000 Black students refused to show up to McDonough Day, marking one of the first major protests of the civil rights movement. Less than two weeks later, the Supreme Court declared segregation in schools to be unconstitutional, overturning Plessey vs. Ferguson, the famous “separate but equal” case that stemmed from Homer Plessey’s act of civil disobedience in New Orleans 60 years earlier.

Malcolm Suber is a longtime activist in New Orleans and a spokesman for Take ‘Em Down NOLA, a racial justice group that is pushing the city to remove symbols of white supremacy from public spaces. He says the McDonough Day Boycott marked the birth of a movement that has continued for decades, and that movement is celebrating this week as New Orleans begins the process of removing four monuments dedicated to heroes of Confederate efforts to uphold white supremacy.

“It’s big victory for our movement … the Black community has been protesting these white supremacy monuments viscerally since 1954,” Suber told Truthout.

The city took down …read more

Via:: Truthout



Coal Miners' Futures in Renewable Energy

Workers instal solar panelsin upstate New York, April 7, 2016. (Photo: Stephen Yang / The Solutions Project)

Most experts agree, despite Trump’s promises, that coal-mining jobs are not coming back. But this month Berkeley Energy Group announced plans to put coal miners back to work by building the largest solar project in Appalachia on top of a closed mountaintop strip mine near the town of Pikeville.

Workers instal solar panelsin upstate New York, April 7, 2016. (Photo: Stephen Yang / The Solutions Project)

Zero, zip, zilch. That’s how many ads we run on this site. Help keep it that way: Make a tax-deductible donation to support the free and independent journalism at Truthout.

If President Trump wants to earn a rare legislative victory and take political credit for reviving hard-hit regions of rural America, he should take a close look at how one Kentucky coal company is creating jobs.

Berkeley Energy Group this month announced plans to put coal miners back to work by building the largest solar project in Appalachia on top of a closed mountaintop strip mine near the town of Pikeville. The Eastern Kentucky coal company is partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund, which has helped develop 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy, to bring jobs and clean energy to the region.

Mining employment in the area has plummeted from more than 14,000 jobs in 2008 to fewer than 4,000 today, owing to mine automation, competition from natural gas, and environmental controls on dirty coal emissions.

Even if Trump’s administration and Congress roll back clean air and water rules, most experts agree that coal-mining jobs are not coming back, particularly in Appalachia where production costs are relatively high.

But there is vast potential for the region to reclaim its ravaged landscapes for use in generating solar energy, if federal policy continues to offer incentives. <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" …read more

Via:: Truthout



A Federal Judge Blocked Trump’s ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Executive Order

By Matt Ford

A federal district court in California on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing part of a January executive order to defund “sanctuary cities,” ruling that the directive likely exceeded federal law and unfairly targeted those jurisdictions.

“Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration-enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves,” federal judge William Orrick wrote.

The preliminary injunction blocks the federal government from enforcing Section 9(a) of the executive order nationwide while legal proceedings continue. That section authorized the attorney general to “take appropriate enforcement action” against “sanctuary jurisdictions” that “willfully refuse to comply” with Section 1373, a provision in federal immigration law that bars local jurisdictions from refusing to provide immigration-status information to federal agents.

Orrick determined, however, that Section 9(a)’s broad language, coupled with the new restrictions, likely went beyond what was authorized by federal law. “The order’s attempt to place new conditions on federal funds is an improper attempt to wield Congress’s exclusive spending power and is a violation of the Constitution’s separation-of-powers principles,” he concluded.

Tuesday’s judicial rebuke is also a blow to President Trump’s defense of his administration as it nears the 100-day mark on Saturday. With no major legislative accomplishments to offer the public, the White House has instead pointed to the flurry of executive orders signed by Trump as evidence of his success. This particular order, signed by Trump five days after taking office on January 20, aimed to fulfill his campaign pledges to crack down on illegal immigration and those sanctuary cities, a catch-all term for jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration agencies.

Santa Clara County and the city of San Francisco sued the Trump administration soon thereafter, alleging that the order went beyond what Section 1373 authorized. The jurisdictions also argued …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Wall They or Won’t They?

By Candice Norwood

Today in 5 Lines

President Trump insisted that the border wall “will get built,” despite backing down on demands to fund the project in this week’s spending bill. A federal judge in San Francisco blocked a portion of Trump’s January executive order on immigration aimed at cutting federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities.” The leaders of the House Oversight Committee said Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may have violated federal law by not properly disclosing payments from Russian organizations. Overnight, Arkansas executed two death-row inmates, Jack Harold Jones and Marcel Wayne Williams, making it the first state to execute two inmates back-to-back since 2000. Ivanka Trump discussed women’s entrepreneurship at a summit in Berlin during her first trip abroad as an official representative of the United States.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Breitbart’s Fight Continues: After a months-long battle for permanent congressional press credentials, the right-wing publication’s request has been “tabled.” The primary roadblock: questions concerning the organization’s independence from Donald Trump’s associates. (Rosie Gray)

  • Missing George W.: In the Trump era, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats have increasingly expressed nostalgia for George W. Bush. Their sentiments mirror how Republicans talked about Bill Clinton eight years ago when Barack Obama took office. (David A. Graham)

  • Calling His Bluff: On Monday, President Trump said he would be willing to delay funding the U.S-Mexico border wall in order to avoid a government shutdown. As Russell Berman notes, this is the second time that Trump has backtracked during high-stakes congressional negotiations.

Follow stories throughout the day with our ) and Candice Norwood (@cjnorwoodwrites)

…read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Wall They or Won’t They?” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic


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