Tag Archives | atlantic

The Real Reasons Why the Government Shut Down

By Russell Berman

When the government shuts down, the politicians pipe up.

No sooner had a midnight deadline passed without congressional action on a must-pass spending bill than lawmakers launched their time-honored competition over who gets the blame for their collective failure. The Senate floor became a staging ground for dueling speeches early Saturday morning, and lawmakers of both partiesas well as the White House and political-activist groupsflooded the inboxes of reporters with prewritten statements castigating one side or the other.

Led by President Trump, Republicans accused Senate Democrats of holding hostage the entire government and health insurance for millions of children over their demands for an immigration bill. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators,” the White House said in a statement issued moments before the clock struck midnight. In a series of Saturday-morning tweets, Trump said Democrats had given him “a nice present” for the first anniversary of his inauguration. The White House vowed that no immigration talks would occur while the government is closed, and administration officials sought to minimize public anger by allowing agencies to use leftover funds and by keeping national parks and public lands partially accessible during the shutdown—in effect, by not shutting down the government as fully as the Obama administration did in 2013.

Democrats in turn blamed Republicans and Trump for a basic failure to govern, noting that this shutdown is the first in history to occur when a single party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. And they blamed Trump for repeatedly backing out of agreements that would have resolved the dispute.

The last shutdown in 2013 was a fairly straightforward ideological fight: Under pressure from conservatives, Republicans refused to fund the government for 16 days in an ultimately futile bid to deny money for the Affordable Care Act. …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

What Happens to Astronauts During a Government Shutdown?

By Marina Koren

As the wheels of the U.S. government ground to a halt Friday at midnight, thousands of federal employees prepared to face days or weeks without work or pay until their offices reopened.

Some employees will continue working through the government shutdown, however, including the three with the longest commute: NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Joseph Acaba, and Scott Tingle. Despite the political tussle that closed most of the government on Saturday, the American part of the International Space Station remains open for business. Mission control staff, considered “essential” personnel, will keep working, too, to support the astronauts.

Phew. And, well, obviously! After all, NASA can’t exactly press pause on the work of keeping humans alive in microgravity 200 miles above Earth, even if Congress missed the deadline for the government running out of money.

“To protect the life of the crew as well as the assets themselves, we would continue to support planned operations of the ISS during any funding hiatus,” states a NASA plan, published in November, that outlines protocols for a potential government shutdown.

In addition to the ISS, NASA will continue with “space launch hardware activities, which are necessary to prevent harm to life or property.” This could mean continuing work on the James Webb Space Telescope, which has undergone months of testing at Johnson Space Center in Houston in preparation for its launch in spring 2019.  Satellite missions that are in orbit and operating will keep humming along, while the work on satellite missions that haven’t launched yet would be suspended.  

As for staff on the ground, NASA headquarters advises the directors of its various centers around the country on who should keep working and who should stay home. Employees in both categories are furloughed, made to wait for their pay until after Congress approves funding …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

The Ghost of Chae Chan Ping

By Garrett Epps

I haven’t been able to find out when or where Chae Chan Ping died. American history records that this Chinese laborer was expelled from the United States—despite a written promise from the U.S. government that he would not be—on September 1, 1889. After that, he vanished. But his ghost haunts American immigration law, and the U.S. Supreme Court, more than 125 years later.

As Michael Kagan of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Law pointed out in a recent article in the Nevada Law Journal Forum, Chae’s ghost most recently reappeared with the advent of President Trump’s travel ban.

In fact, Chae Chan Ping is now a ghost within a ghost, since the ban itself has taken on a kind of spectral quality, the Flying Dutchman of constitutional law—withdrawn once, rewritten twice, enjoined three times by lower courts, at least temporarily revived in December by the Supreme Court; it remains in the strange legal bardo between life and death. The Supreme Court has allowed it to go into effect before it hears the final appeals; on Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to review the Ninth Circuit’s latest decision striking down the third iteration of the ban. (As of this writing, the Fourth Circuit has not rendered its ruling in the companion case.)

Chae Chan Ping’s name doesn’t appear in either the government’s petition for review or the state of Hawaii’s reply, but his ghost haunts the pleadings.

His ghost can be heard, also, in Trump’s recent suggestion that the United States should bar immigration from African countries and Haiti in order to substitute immigrants from Norway, or when government lawyers argue that the constitutional rules against decisions based on race, national origin, and even religious discrimination simply do not apply to immigration matters, and that courts may not meddle in immigration …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

‘He’s Chosen This Movement as His Own’

By Elaine Godfrey

Throughout Donald Trump’s first full year as president, his approval rating has plummeted. He’s offended and alarmed some Americans with his controversial tweets and remarks on race and immigration. Others have been dismayed by his response to the Russia investigation. He’s even lost a chunk of support within his own base.

But Trump’s performance has at least one group collectively beaming: the pro-life community.

“He’s gotten a lot right this year,” said Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life rally, in an interview earlier this week. “He has a lot to be proud of in his first year in pro-life policy.”

The March for Life, which started in 1973 as a response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion in all 50 states, is an annual gathering in Washington, D.C., of pro-life leaders and organizations from around the country. On Friday, thousands descended on the National Mall for the event, where for the first time ever a sitting U.S. president made an appearance, albeit virtually. Trump addressed the crowd in a live broadcast from the Rose Garden, his image emanating from a jumbotron at the front of the rally.

“That this is the first time a sitting president is going to be addressing the march in such a way is really exciting,” said Mallory Quigley, the communications director for the Susan B. Anthony List, before the march. According to The Washington Post, two of Trump’s Republican predecessors addressed the rally by phone call. “I think it’s a testament to how far we’ve come in 45 years,” added Quigley, whose organization supports anti-abortion politicians.

The crowd at Friday’s event was loud and animated. Hundreds of student clubs and church groups stomped through the wet grass in herds, holding signs that read “Help Her Be Brave” …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Threat Level Midnight

By Lena Felton

Today in 5 Lines

Hours before the government is set to shut down, senators scrambled to reach a deal to keep the government funded. President Trump met with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, saying on Twitter that he had an “excellent preliminary meeting in Oval with” the Democratic senator. The Senate is expected to vote on a short-term spending bill tonight. Trump addressed activists gathered at the National Mall for the annual March for Life rally via video feed, saying that his administration will always defend “the right to life.” The Supreme Court agreed to decide the legality of Trump’s latest travel ban.


Today on The Atlantic

  • ‘Truth Has Been Under Assault’: Following a fiery floor speech in which he defended the press, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake spoke with McKay Coppins about the importance of fact-based journalism, and how the president’s rhetoric inspires dictators and authoritarians.

  • Pro-life, Pro-science: Pro-life advocates are using science to their advantage now more than ever. Here’s why. (Emma Green)

  • Not-so-Affordable Care: A new study reveals that health-care costs have been contributing to income inequality in the United States, even under the Affordable Care Act. (Vann R. Newkirk II)

  • Radio Atlantic: In the United States, 2017 saw emptied malls, shuttered department stores, and once-iconic brands falling into bankruptcy. Yet retail spending continues to grow, in strange new directions that could have significant effects. What will shopping look like in the future? How will these changes reverberate throughout the country? Atlantic editor Gillian White joins our hosts to discuss. If you listen to Radio Atlantic, we value your feedback. Please help us out by answering a quick survey. It should only take a few minutes. Just to go www.theatlantic.com/podcastsurvey.

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


Snapshot

President …read more

Via:: <a href=http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AtlanticPoliticsChannel/~3/mm2R4oAlHjI/ class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Threat Level Midnight” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic

      

0

A Government Shutdown Is Near

By Russell Berman

Congress is on the verge of shutting down the federal government on the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration.

Hours before a midnight deadline, negotiations between the president and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer had failed to yield a breakthrough in an impasse over immigration. The Senate was sitting on a House-passed bill to keep the government open for nearly another month and give the two parties more time to work out a long-term budget agreement and a deal to protect nearly 700,000 young immigrants at risk for deportation beginning in early March. But Democrats and a handful of Republicans were prepared to block that bill and send the government into a shutdown.

Early in the afternoon, Trump called Schumer to the White House for a 90-minute meeting to resolve the impasse. But it was inconclusive. “We had a long and detailed meeting,” Schumer told reporters upon returning to the Capitol. “We discussed all of the major outstanding issues, we made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue.”

Trump put a more positive spin on the talks in a tweet posted shortly after 5 p.m. ET. Still, he announced no agreement.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Democrats had been opposed to a four-week extension passed by the House, however, and by late in the afternoon, the only hope for a last-minute deal appeared to be one that would keep the government open for another few days—but not a full month—to force Democrats, Republicans, and the White House to come together on a broader agreement. Democrats …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

Is Money-Laundering the Real Trump Kompromat?

By David A. Graham

So far, the release of transcripts of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson’s interviews with the House Intelligence and Senate Judiciary committees have provided rich detail to obsessives but few major headlines for the average reader. The interviews give some more clarity on how Fusion came to investigate Donald Trump, who was paying the company, and how it gathered information, but they offer much help in assessing the Trump dossier.

Perhaps the most interesting thread is Simpson’s suggestion that the Trump Organization could have been used by Russians to launder money—an arrangement that would have both allowed Kremlin-linked figures to scrub cash and would have created possible blackmail material over the now-president, since the Russian government would be aware that a crime had been committed.

“I’ve felt all along in the Russia investigation that the most important issues were those that had the potential of exerting a continuing influence over the administration and over U.S. policy,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told me Friday. “And if the Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization, the Russians would know it, the president would know it, and that could be very powerful leverage.”

In the interviews, Simpson is cagey about some of his business practices, and professes ignorance about the sources used by Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who assembled the reports in the dossier. (Since lying to the committee would be a crime, it’s reasonable to assume his testimony is not deliberately false.) What’s most interesting is all the threads Simpsons mentions about possible Trump connections he’d reviewed with various Russians, with mobsters, and with others. For the most part, they’re just allegations: If Simpson has proof, it’s not disclosed in the transcripts. More often, they seem like tantalizing possibilities worth exploring …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

The American Health-Care System Increases Income Inequality

By Vann R. Newkirk II

For most people, a single doctor’s visit can be a financial obstacle course.

Many patients throughout the year pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in premiums, most often through workplace contributions. Then, at the doctor’s office, they are faced with a deductible, and they may need to pay coinsurance or make a copayment. If they have prescriptions, they’ll likely fork over cash for those, too.

And that’s just for basic primary care for one person. Repeat that process for an entire family; add in any labs, referrals, specialists, emergency-room visits, and surgeries; and the result for even healthy families is dozens and dozens of payments, and often thousands of dollars. This series of expenditures before, during, and after care is euphemistically called having “skin in the game.” But the reality is, the American insurance system is designed to make health care financially unpleasant, often to the point where patients forego necessary care.

A new study in the forthcoming March issue of the American Journal of Public Health sheds light on just how all that “skin in the game” affects the material conditions of patients. The research—by Andrea Christopher at the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler at the City University of New York at Hunter College, and Danny McCormick at Harvard Medical School—indicates that household spending on health care is a significant contributor to income inequality in the United States. It also indicates that medical expenses push millions of Americans below the federal poverty line, including 7 million people who make more than 150 percent of the poverty level. Four million of those Americans are pushed into the ranks of extreme poverty.

That health-care costs in the country are expensive—often, prohibitively so—is well known. As Vox’s Sarah Kliff notes, the first reason why …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

‘It’s Our Responsibility to Put More Guardrails Around the President’

By McKay Coppins

Jeff Flake seems intent on finishing his Senate career without any friends left in Washington.

Ever since announcing his impending retirement last year with a blistering speech that called out President Trump’s “reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior,” the generally genial Arizona Republican has repeatedly made himself a target of condemnation on both sides of the aisle. His decision to endorse Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama Special Election enraged conservatives who viewed it as a brazen partisan betrayal. His vote for the GOP tax bill, meanwhile, convinced Democrats that he was all talk and no action.

Flake took fire from both sides this week when he took to the Senate floor to denounce Trump’s vilification of the free press and his “sustained attack on the truth.” The speech—delivered hours before the president unveiled his “Fake News Awards”—drew heat from Republicans for its invocation of Joseph Stalin, and derision from Democrats, who accused him of performative moral preening without any substance behind it.

I met with Flake in his Capitol Hill office the day after his speech, and talked to him about what he hoped it would accomplish. He told me he understood why some Republicans would bristle at his Stalin reference, and said he wasn’t comparing the two men’s sins. “Do I think Trump is a dictator? No, he isn’t,” Flake said. But “if the president were to want to go that direction,” he added, it would be crucial that America’s key institutions—like Congress and the press—remain strong. He also told me that some of his most meaningful opposition to Trump’s agenda has taken place behind the scenes.

“I do think that it’s our responsibility to put more guardrails around the president,” he said. “That’s part of what drove this speech.”

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


McKay Coppins: What made you want …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0

The Pro-Life Movement Embraces Science

By Emma Green

The first time Ashley McGuire had a baby, she and her husband had to wait 20 weeks to learn its sex. By her third, they found out at 10 weeks with a blood test. Technology has defined her pregnancies, she told me, from the apps that track weekly development to the ultrasounds that show the growing child. “My generation has grown up under an entirely different world of science and technology than the Roe generation,” she said. “We’re in a culture that is science-obsessed.”

Activists like McGuire believe it makes perfect sense to be pro-science and pro-life. While she opposes abortion on moral grounds, she believes studies of fetal development, improved medical techniques, and other advances anchor the movement’s arguments in scientific fact. “The pro-life message has been, for the last 40-something years, that the fetus … is a life, and it is a human life worthy of all the rights the rest of us have,” she said. “That’s been more of an abstract concept until the last decade or so.” But, she added, “when you’re seeing a baby sucking its thumb at 18 weeks, smiling, clapping,” it becomes “harder to square the idea that that 20-week-old, that unborn baby or fetus, is discardable.”

Scientific progress is remaking the debate around abortion. When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade, the case that led the way to legal abortion, it pegged most fetuses’ chance of viable life outside the womb at 28 weeks; after that point, it ruled, states could reasonably restrict women’s access to the procedure. Now, with new medical techniques, doctors are debating whether that threshold should be closer to 22 weeks. Like McGuire, today’s prospective moms and dads can learn more about their baby earlier into a pregnancy than their parents or grandparents. And like McGuire, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

0