Weekly News Wrap-Up 6/16 “Shut Out”
Many bills are written in secret. However, many bills are also completely not on anyone’s radar. If a few senators get together and write a bill to close a tax loophole on alpaca farmers, you don’t have every news network and 87 other senators breathing down your neck demanding to know what you are doing and how it impacts their alpaca farming constituents.
A quick google search tells me there are 3,500 alpaca farms in America, and that alpacas produce 5-10 pounds of soft fleece every year. There are 321,000,000 Americans and all of use utilize the healthcare system. Therefore, secretly developing a law that will drastically change the 6th largest industry in America while removing access to care for many millions people, is kind of a big deal.
It is especially a big deal when you look back at the Affordable Care Act. The ACA was developed over many months through many public hearings, with the input of countless interest groups, and ample time for debate. The Republicans in the House and Senate complained that the ACA shut them out. While Democrats accepted 160 Republican amendments to the ACA, Republicans thus far have not just shut out Democrats, they shut out many from their own party, making other Republicans upset with the process. Keep that in mind as Trump continues to call Democrats obstructionists who don’t want to be a part of the process.
The “Health Care Reconciliation Act” doesn’t just shut out Democrats, it shuts out millions of Americans from coverage. It reduces access to Medicaid, reduces subsidies to both insurance companies and low-income Americans, and removes the employer mandate, meaning those who work for larger companies are no longer guaranteed health insurance. More information on the bill in the Congress section.
- Trump waited until right after the release of the Senate healthcare bill to reveal that he has no tapes of his conversations with James Comey, something I believe everyone expected. But why lie? His threats about tapes could be seen as obstruction of justice or intimidation. Additionally, his timing was shameless. (1)
- HUD is making deep cuts to housing assistance programs… except for one that makes Trump millions of dollars a year. HUD is not cutting a program that pays landlords directly, including Trump. (2)
- Evangelical Jerry Farlwell Jr. will lead a taskforce force to cut university regulation, including rules around the investigation of campus sexual harassment. (3)
- For the second time in a week, the White House barred any video or audio recording at its press conference. The press conferences are also becoming less frequent and fewer media are being invited. (9) Sean Spicer is also stepping away from his role as press secretary, but not replacement has been named. Spicer was not fired. (11)
- After the Administration deleting the web page on HIV Policy from the White House website, moving meetings from the White House to another building, and advocating for legislation that would drastically cut coverage to HIV patients, 6 members of the president’s HIV/AIDS advisory council have quit. The six members who quit penned a letter saying that they got a clear message that the President does not care about public health. (12)
- A Syrian plane was shot down by a US F18 sparking Russia to shut down communications channels between the US to ensure that planes do not collide. Russia also said that any coalition planes past the Euphrates River will be shot down. (19) The Trump Administration is eager to expand the conflict in Syria. Aides are trying to get the US to be on the offence in Syria, but Defense Secretary James Mattis is not on board. (20) This morning, Russia launched missiles on ISIS forces, informing other coalition nations of their moves but not the US.
- The Education Department is scaling back investigations into racial inequality having claimed that the investigations “bogged the agency down.” (21)
- More and more Trump administration officials are securing private counsel as the investigations continue. Jeff Sessions is the most recent person to seek a lawyer. (27)
- The Senate Health Care Bill includes the word reconciliation in it. Aside from being a budget reconciliation, it will also need to be reconciled with the House Bill. Here is how these two bills compare to one another and to the Affordable Care Act. (4)
- Republicans have long complained that the ACA made insurance too expensive and too unobtainable. However, the Senate plan will cut off subsidies meant to make insurance more affordable and remove the individual mandate, which is guaranteed to take healthy people out of the market. There is a lot of talk about a death spiral now, but in two years, it could be much worse. (6)
- An analysis of the House AHCA suggests that if it becomes law, it can put the country into a recession, removing as many as a million jobs and $148 billion in business output. It will drastically shrink the healthcare industry, which is the 6th largest in the nation. (10)
- Prior to the health care bill being made public, Democrats held the floor to protest the bill being kept a secret and demanded it be shared. (16)
- While the Senate healthcare bill will drastically cut Medicaid, it will also amount to a trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthy and insurance companies. (22)
- Police arrested 45 disability advocates protesting in front of Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday. Many in wheelchairs were handcuffed and hauled off. (23)
- Representative Gianforte of Montana, who assaulted a reporter just a day before a special election and still won has been found guilty. He has to pay a fine, do community service and take an anger management class, but no jail time. (24)
- Republican Karen Handel won the Georgia 6 Special Election against Jon Ossoff in the most expensive race in House history. Trump was quick to tweet that the Make America Great Again team was winning, but it is important to point out that Republican wins in the district have narrowed substantially. In some recent years Republicans have run unopposed, and Tom Price won by 22 points just 7 months ago. Handel won by 5 points. (26)
- The Senate passed a bill to limit Trump’s ability to reduce sanctions on Russia. Now the White House is asking the House to water down the bill before they pass it. (28)
- Tax cuts do not lead to economic growth. This is the finding of 65 years of analysis of economic growth vs tax rates. (5)
- The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that people who lie during the naturalization process cannot be deported simply because of their lie. The administration tried to argue that even marking down that you didn’t commit any crime if you drove 5 miles over the speed limit and were not caught was lying. The Supreme Court obviously did not agree. This should be good news for Trump as Milania lied on her application and worked in the states while under a tourist visa illegally. (7)
- Former Assistant Attorney General and an Obama administration official, January Contreras has announced her bid for Arizona Attorney General for the 2018 election. (13)
- An area the size of Texas is melting in Antarctica. (14) Louisiana is losing a third of an inch of coastline every year to sea level rise. (15) Tell me again how climate change isn’t happening.
- Guns are not making our kids safer! Guns are a top killer for children in this country, and a leading cause of death for African American teenaged boys. Every year 1,300 kids are killed by guns in America. These deaths include accidental shootings, suicides and murders. (17)
- McDonald’s raised their wages and saw more profits as a result. Less turnover and better customer experiences, among other changes, helped lead McDonalds to its first quarter of growth in two years. (18)
- The Supreme Court will hear a case on political gerrymandering case after decades of not hearing such cases because there was no clear standard in which to determine the political nature of gerrymandered districts. Now, those trying to change Wisconsin’s maps have a method for doing so, and the court will consider the case. (25)
- Russian hackers altered at least one voter roll and stole private data. This new information shows just how far Russia went in 2016. Also this week we learned that the DNC was offered help by the Department of Homeland Security after their servers were hacked. The DNC said they were already getting help from the FBI. (29)
- Obama penned a letter in response to the Republican healthcare bill. There he warned that the bill will do lawmakers harm in re-election and called out the massive redistribution of wealth. (30)