David Parkins/The Globe and Mail.
David Parkins/The Globe and Mail.
Charlotte, North Carolina is a ‘gateway city’ for immigrants, who prop up its construction, health and food industries – not to mention its tax base. If all undocumented workers were to be deported, as the Trump administration is threatening, the consequences could be dire.
President Trump released a partial outline of his 2018 budget on Thursday, proposing billions of dollars in spending cuts to most government agencies to pay for large increases in military and homeland security spending, resulting in a 1.2 percent cut in discretionary spending over all. (Source: New York Times)
The tough choices he promised would eliminate longstanding staples of American life.
Gone would be federal financing for public television, the arts and humanities. Federal support for long-distance Amtrak train service would be eliminated. Washington would get out of the business of helping clean up the Chesapeake Bay or the Great Lakes.
While he may not care about East Coast elites upset about ending financing for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, some of the agencies and programs that would be “zeroed out” are institutions in parts of the country that Mr. Trump won last November.
Among the agencies to be cut off, for instance, would be the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state agency founded in 1965 to promote economic development and infrastructure in some of the poorest parts of the United States.
Mr. Trump and his aides argue that many of these programs have long since passed their usefulness or would be better off run and paid for at the state or local level. While he talked about the ravaged inner cities in his Inaugural Address, Mr. Trump would eliminate $3 billion in funding for the Community Development Block Grant program that helps provide affordable housing. The president argued in his budget that “the program is not well targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.”
Instead of spreading the cost of affordable housing across all of the United States Trump passes the buck to state and local levels, making areas needing affordable housing the most raise taxes and fees to provide affordable housing.
Nice going Mr. Trump. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. You’re certainly making America Great Again. For the wealthy.
|Agency||2017 baseline||2018 proposal||Change||. Pct change|
|Environmental Protection Agency||$8.2||$5.7||–$2.6||–31%|
|State and other development programs||38.0||27.1||–10.9||–29%|
|Health and Human Services||77.7||65.1||–12.6||–16%|
|Housing and Urban Development||36.0||31.7||–4.3||–12%|
The proposal would also eliminate funding for nearly 20 smaller independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation, which finances legal aid groups.
The blueprint does not include tax proposals or other revenue ideas, and outlines only proposals for discretionary spending, which is money appropriated annually by Congress. Discretionary spending makes up less than one-third of all federal spending. It does not include interest payments on the federal debt or so-called mandatory spending on large programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Read the more detailed and complete article on the New York Times.
Effects on Health Insurance Coverage
To estimate the budgetary effects, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) projected how the legislation would change the number of people who obtain federally subsidized health insurance through Medicaid, the nongroup market, and the employment-based market, as well as many other factors.
CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026.
The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment—because some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped.
In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.
Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.
Effects on Premiums
The legislation would tend to increase average premiums in the nongroup market prior to 2020 and lower average premiums thereafter, relative to projections under current law. In 2018 and 2019, according to CBO and JCT’s estimates, average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher than under current law, mainly because the individual mandate penalties would be eliminated, inducing fewer comparatively healthy people to sign up.
Starting in 2020, the increase in average premiums from repealing the individual mandate penalties would be more than offset by the combination of several factors that would decrease those premiums: grants to states from the Patient and State Stability Fund (which CBO and JCT expect to largely be used by states to limit the costs to insurers of enrollees with very high claims); the elimination of the requirement for insurers to offer plans covering certain percentages of the cost of covered benefits; and a younger mix of enrollees.
By 2026, average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market under the legislation would be roughly 10 percent lower than under current law, CBO and JCT estimate.
Although average premiums would increase prior to 2020 and decrease starting in 2020, CBO and JCT estimate that changes in premiums relative to those under current law would differ significantly for people of different ages because of a change in age-rating rules.
Under the legislation, insurers would be allowed to generally charge five times more for older enrollees than younger ones rather than three times more as under current law, substantially reducing premiums for young adults and substantially raising premiums for older people.
Helping the richest
For many lower-income people, the new tax credits under the legislation would tend to be smaller than the premium tax credits under current law. Conversely, the tax credits under the legislation would tend to be larger than current-law premium tax credits for many people with higher income.
Read the complete CBO report in PDF…. americanhealthcareact_CBO
Bernie Sanders has launched a withering attack on Donald Trump, accusing him of being a pathological liar who is driving America towards authoritarianism.
In an interview with the Guardian, the independent senator from Vermont, who waged a spirited campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, gave a bleak appraisal of the new White House and its intentions.
He warned that Trump’s most contentious outbursts against the media, judiciary and other pillars of American public life amounted to a conscious assault on democracy.
“Trump lies all of the time and I think that is not an accident, there is a reason for that. He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy.”
Bernie Sanders on the resistance movement in Trump’s America – video
Sanders’ warning comes 50 days into the Trump presidency at a time when the country is still reeling from the shock elevation of a real estate businessman and reality TV star to the world’s most powerful office. In that brief period, the new incumbent of the White House has launched attacks on former president Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy; on visitors from majority-Muslim countries, refugees and undocumented immigrants; and on trade agreements and environmental protection programs.
Speaking to the Guardian in his Senate office in Washington DC, Sanders said that he was concerned about what he called Trump’s “reactionary economic program of tax breaks to billionaires and devastating cuts to programs that impact the middle class”. But he reserved his most excoriating language for what he believes are the president’s authoritarian tendencies.
He charged Trump with devising a conscious strategy of lies denigrating key public institutions, from the mainstream media to judges and even the electoral process itself, so that he could present himself as the sole savior of the nation. The aim was to put out the message that “the only person in America who stands for the American people, the only person in America who is telling the truth, the only person in America who gets it right is the president of the United States, Donald Trump”.
Trump’s fragile relationship with the truth has been one of the distinguishing features of his fledgling administration. He astonished observers by calling a judge who issued a legal ruling blocking his travel ban a “so-called judge”, accused Obama without producing any evidence of wiretapping Trump Tower, and claimed falsely that up to 5 million votes had been cast illegally in the November election.
Read the complete article in The Guardian newspaper web site.
American Health Care Act would shrink government role in healthcare and could leave more people without insurance despite Trump administration promises.
Called the American Health Care Act, the bill would eliminate the individual mandate, which required Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine; cut the number of people insured under Medicaid; and allow insurance companies to charge the elderly up to five times more than the young.
The bill would require insurers to cover so-called pre-existing conditions, but would allow them to add a 30% surcharge to premiums if people go without insurance for too long.
“The American Health Care Act is a plan to drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance,” said House speaker Paul Ryan. “It protects young adults, patients with pre-existing conditions, and provides a stable transition so that no one has the rug pulled out from under them.
“Working together, this unified Republican government will deliver relief and peace of mind to the millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare. This will proceed through a transparent process of regular order in full view of the public.”
But several Republican senators remained skeptical. Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate. Assuming all Democrats hold firm in opposition to the Republican bill, three defections would be enough to deny Obamacare repeal a majority.
The legislation has not been fully scored by the congressional budget office and debate in the House will proceed without members having a clear accounting of the mechanics of implementing it. Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who has proposed his own Obamacare alternative, expressed skepticism about the lack of this information.
“What I would say is I would want to know the score, what is the coverage, what is the cost absolutely,” said the Louisiana Republican. He added that proceeding without this policy detail “seems problematic”. Cassidy added: “I am trying to be diplomatic.”
Other issues in the Senate for the House bill include the proposal to roll back the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Four Republicans senators, Rob Portman of Ohio, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska wrote publicly that they could not support the draft bill’s current provisions to eliminate the expansion of a program that provides healthcare to the working poor.
Read the complete article on The Guardian web site.
On Saturday morning, without presenting evidence, tweets by Donald Trump accused former president Barack Obama of illegal wiretapping.
On Saturday, the president launched a series of tweets that began at 5.35am. In one he wrote: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
He followed up with a string of tweets in the next half-hour that claimed Obama had defied a court rejection to tap his office, and invited a “good lawyer” to make a case against the alleged process.
The president then compared the alleged surveillance of his communications to Watergate – the scandal in which a 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters led to revelation of crime and cover-up at the highest level of government and, ultimately, the resignation of Richard Nixon.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump tweeted. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, tweeted back at Trump: “No president can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”
No evidence was provided to substantiate the president’s claims that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, and it was not clear on what information Trump was basing his allegations.
A US official told the Guardian there was “no evidence to support that claim” of Obama ordering Trump to be wiretapped.
Just before last November’s election, the British former MP and novelist Louise Mensch reported that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) court had granted a warrant to enable the FBI to conduct surveillance of “US persons” in an investigation of possible contacts between Russian banks and the Trump Organization.
These two tweets follow days and weeks of news articles questioning ties between Trump and his associates and Russia, the resignation of General Flynn for lying about his connections with Russian and Jeff Sessions recusing himself due to lying about his meetings with Russians.
It would not be legal for a sitting president to unilaterally order surveillance; a federal court would have to approve the surveillance. Trump seems to acknowledge this in an oblique way, with an allusion to the report that the Fisa court at first turned down an initial request for a warrant.
Though Trump claimed he “just found out” about reported surveillance, he is privy to intelligence briefings in which officials would have informed him about such operations. Both Obama and Trump received these briefings during the transition, for instance, reportedly, about an unsubstantiated dossier regarding links between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
One has to ask oneself why Trump would invoke the possibility of wiretaps of Trump Tower at this time.
By suggesting wiretaps of Trump Tower isn’t Trump implying wiretaps are the source of leaks about Russia? Isn’t Trump then also tacitly admitting Trump and his associates did indeed have multiple contacts with Russians and that those contacts were included in the alleged wiretaps of Trump Tower?
Some newspaper reports suggest Trump is tweeting about wiretaps in order to turn attention away from investigations into Trump White House and Trump organization. This may be true. It may also be true Trump’s tweet inadvertently told the truth about Russia and Trump.