Politics

Obamacare Repeal Tracker: Partial Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Fails in the Senate

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – What is happening with Obamacare now? The Senate is currently debating on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After ailing Republican health bills, Senate leadership got enough support to at least start debate on Tuesday. No one knows how this week will end, including those running repeal efforts. The only guarantee is that there will be stumbles. The Senate is looking to pass a health bill, allegedly by Friday, using reconciliation. This means the final bill needs to adhere to budget rules to pass with a simple majority. The Senate also needs to adhere to a strict schedule. Here are the next steps: CREDIT: Diana Ofosu/ThinkProgress Wednesday, July 26 at 4:30 pm: One ACA repeal-only bill fails. The Senate voted first on the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), with a Rand Paul amendment. The Paul amendment would ban federal funding of abortion. This failed. There is also no public...

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Trump Announces He’s Kicking Thousands of Transgender People Out of the Military

by Zack Ford – He made the announcement on Twitter. Without warning or explanation, President Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that he is unilaterally reversing the military’s plan to allow transgender service:   Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… 8:55 AM – 26 Jul 2017 Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump ….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….. 9:04 AM – 26 Jul 2017 Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump ….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you 9:08 AM – 26 Jul 2017 While the tweets are lacking for details, they suggest that thousands of transgender people already serving in the military will lose their jobs. Last June, the...

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ACLU Objects After Capitol Hill Police Tell Journalists to Delete Protest Photos

by Julia Conley – At least one journalist reported being forced to delete his photos of the scene. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded to reports on Tuesday evening from journalists on Capitol Hill, who alleged that Capitol Police were blocking reporters’ access as they tried to cover healthcare protests. Reporters from the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, the New York Post, and the Washington Post all tweeted from the Senate Gallery that reporters were being prevented from covering the protests. As nearly 100 demonstrators were arrested for protesting the vote to move to a debate on Trumpcare, which would cut health care coverage for up to 32 million Americans, police told reporters not to document the scene. Contrary to what the staffers reportedly suggested, there is no blanket law prohibiting the media from covering a “crime scene.” Journalists also wrote that Capitol Police demanded that photos of the protests and arrests be deleted. As the ACLU...

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Intelligence Intercepts Indicate Sessions Lied About Why He Didn’t Disclose Russia Contacts

by Zack Ford – He said it was about his role as a senator. New evidence suggests it wasn’t. According to U.S. intelligence interceptions detailed by a Washington Post report, when then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last year during the campaign, the two discussed various campaign-related matters and policy issues important to Moscow. That’s based on intercepted reports Kislyak delivered to his superiors back in Russia after each of the two conversations he had with Sessions, who now serves as President Trump’s attorney general. Though it’s of course possible that Kislyak may have mischaracterized or exaggerated what was discussed in the meetings, the U.S. officials who spoke to the Post said that the former ambassador had a reputation for accurately relaying details about his meetings with government officials. The new report also jibes with a report from someone who was in attendance at the Republican National Convention, where...

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On Fighting Inequality, Which Nations Do More than Pay Lip Service?

by Sam Pizzigati – Two global groups have joined to create a first-ever yardstick for holding our world’s top politicos accountable, nation by nation, for narrowing our grand divides. Two years ago, in 2015, just about all the nations in the world came together and agreed to make reducing inequality — the gap between rich and poor — a prime United Nations “sustainable development goal.” A noble gesture. But UN groups make noble gestures all the time. These gestures do sometimes translate into real progress. They more typically amount to blowing smoke — and obscuring how little progress governments may actually be making. How can we tell which nations are just blowing that smoke? People worldwide clearly need a yardstick that identifies those nations, a global measure that can help average citizens hold their governments accountable to all their noble rhetoric. On inequality, we now have that measure. Oxfam, the activist global charity,...

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Since Trump’s Election, Increased Attention to Politics – Especially Among Women

Most find it stressful to talk politics with those who differ on Trump. Following an election that had one of the largest gender gaps in history, women are more likely than men to say they are paying increased attention to politics. And while far more Democrats than Republicans say they have attended a political event, rally or protest since the election, Democratic women – especially younger women and those with postgraduate degrees – are among the most likely to have participated in such a political gathering. The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 27 to July 9 among 2,505 adults, finds that 52% of Americans say they are paying more attention to politics since Donald Trump’s election; 33% say they are paying about the same amount of attention, while 13% say they are paying less attention to politics. Nearly six-in-ten women (58%) say they are paying...

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The Senate Will Begin Debate on the Republican Health Care Bill

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – Republicans officially moved forward on repealing Obamacare. And the yeas have it. Amidst “kill the bill” and “shame” chants, the Senate voted on Tuesday to begin debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act, after mounting pressure from the president and Senate leadership. Republican leaders have not yet said which version of their health care bill they’ll pass before leaving for August recess, leaving millions of Americans unsure about their future health insurance. Several senators were undecided Tuesday morning on whether they would vote yes on the motion to proceed, a senate procedure to begin debate. After some arm-twisting at the senate luncheon, they voted in favor. The vote count: 50 Republicans voted “yes,” to begin debate on the Affordable Care Act. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were the only Republicans to vote no. Here’s a list of key senators who previously expressed hesitation...

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AARP is Onto Mitch McConnell’s Trumpcare Tricks, Won’t Let Republicans Play Dumb

by Joan McCarter – The AARP writes again to Congress, reiterating their steadfast opposition to every aspect of Obamacare repeal and Trumpcare replacement that might come to a floor vote next week, and they’re putting Republicans on notice that it’s not just how they’ll vote on an eventual bill—it’s whether they vote for the bill to come to the floor in the first place. Oh, and a reminder too that they represent an awful lot of people. Who vote. AARP, on behalf of our 38 million members, strongly opposes the repeal and delay amendment. AARP also remains steadfastly opposed to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation ACT (BCRA) due to the devastating impact the legislation would have on Americans 50 and older. We urge all Senators to vote NO on the Motion to Proceed, as well as reject the repeal and delay amendment and the BCRA. As our...

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U.S. Mum on Iran-Iraq Military Agreement

by D. Parvaz – What does the agreement mean, and how will it affect anything on the ground? Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Sunday that would see strengthened military cooperation aimed at fighting “terrorism and extremism,” a deal that probably won’t please President Donald Trump. Iranian state media reports that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) “includes expansion of cooperation and exchange of experiences on combating terrorism and extremism, security of borders, as well as educational, logistic, technical and military support.” There hasn’t been much response to the MoU in the United States so far. But given what we know, it’s doubtful that the deal with be met with high-fives. The Trump administration has ratcheted up tensions with Iran, recently accusing the Islamic Republic of violating “the spirit” of the nuclear agreement. The two countries have also butt heads over the civil war in Yemen, with the United States siding with the Saudi-led coalition that...

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Tillerson is Tired of Rattling Around the Halls of Empty State Department, Thinks ‘Rexit’

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump’s State Department deserves to be abbreviated to State Dept., because it is. From the moment he landed at the White House, Trump began showing diplomats the door. Whether he was convinced that understanding history, intentional law, and diplomatic skills were something that wouldn’t be needed in his regime of best-dealmakers-ever, or he was simply worried that everyone at State was contaminated with Hillary Clinton cooties, Trump emptied the department and never got around to filling slots that had previously been regarded as critical. That’s left official secretary of state and Friend of Russia Rex Tillerson with a lot of space to rattle around, and plenty of time to contemplate being back on his horse ranch (he’s the Texas-based CEO of an oil company, of course he has a horse ranch). And with White House communications turning over and Donald Trump running over the Justice Department, one of the things Rex...

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A New NAFTA Must Help, Not Hurt, Workers

by Leo Gerard – Promises were made. And workers believed candidate Donald Trump when he pledged to stop corporations from exporting American factories. Workers cast votes based on Trump swearing he would end the trade cheating that kills American jobs. This week, though, workers got bad news from Washington, D.C. President Trump proposed virtually eliminating funding for a Labor Department bureau that helps prevent U.S. workers from having to compete with forced and child labor overseas. In addition, the administration issued only vague objectives for renegotiating the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When NAFTA has cost at least 900,000 Americans their jobs, vague is unacceptable. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said his first rule in negotiations for a new NAFTA would be to “do no harm.” That’s not good enough. That’s the status quo, and promises were made. The first rule should be to “do substantial good.” Substantial good would start with...

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Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing

by Wim Laven – Assessments are a key tool in most fields. In some industries they are provided through do-well/do-better meetings, in others through critical feedback loops, and, in mine, through teacher evaluations and student report cards. In order to be effective assessments use rubrics to assess key data points, frequently against objective standards, on behavior, knowledge, and performance. Six months into his presidency Donald Trump has come up short on all counts. His all-or-nothing strategy may have done him well as a business leader, where profit was the bottom line, but he has shown no growth in taking on his new role. People will focus on his numbers: 991 tweets, 42 bills signed into law, 40 days out golfing, 1 news conference, and 0 pieces of major legislation. Some will highlight his 38.8 percent approval rating. His approval rating reflects the public’s lack of approval with what he is doing. But, while the...

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Engagement With North Korea Works

by Kerri Kennedy – With a little will, both sides can take small steps to ratchet down the pressure — and avoid a catastrophic war. Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are at an all-time high — and continue to escalate following North Korea’s test of a missile that can supposedly reach Alaska. It’s still possible to turn down the heat with small steps that could lead to more robust diplomacy later on. But this requires the political will to engage instead of trading threats. The Obama administration’s approach to North Korea was “strategic patience” — basically, waiting for things to get better. It was an undeniable failure. And while the Trump administration once signaled an interest in diplomatic engagement, since then their saber rattling has pushed us even closer to the brink of war. There’s another, better way forward. Observers have noted over several decades that when the U.S....

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Kushner Admits to Four Contacts With Russians that the White House Previously Denied

by Rebekah Entralgo – “I did not collude.” Ahead of his closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday morning, Jared Kushner released an 11-page opening statement attempting to exonerate himself, writing: “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government.” In his first public statements detailing his contacts with Russians during the Trump campaign and into the transition, Kushner describes himself as an overworked, non-politician who was unprepared for the spotlight placed on him. After Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, Kushner became what he describes as a “point of contact for foreign government officials,” taking on responsibilities he didn’t have while on the campaign. While the statement offers insight into 4 key meetings with Russian foreign nationals, many of the details contradict previous remarks from White House officials, including their initial, categorical claim that there was no contact between the Trump...

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Congressional Agreement on Russia Sanctions Bill Deals the Trump-Putin Alliance a Blow

by Kerry Eleveld – The efforts of Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin to help Russia get off scot-free after hacking the U.S. election have hit a snag: Congress. As challenged as the GOP-controlled Congress has proven to be, lawmakers appear to have brokered an agreement on a measure strengthening sanctions against Russia and preventing Trump from unilaterally lifting them. Oh, bother. What both Trump and Putin failed to appreciate was that being president in the U.S. isn’t exactly like being president in Russia—the U.S. Constitution actually provides safeguards and checks for a president who would gladly outsource our governance to a foreign entity, all to puff up his wounded ego. This was something that two men who are used to playing by their own rules—the ones they alone set—totally overlooked. Taken together, their complete alignment against the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russian hacked our election is now backfiring. The lockstep...

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Sessions Gets Ready to Come After Cannabis

by Conover Kennard – Because there’s totally nothing else better for the Trump administration to do, it’s about to crack down on marijuana users. Attorney General Jeff Sessions won’t find much support from voters on this as support to legalize marijuana has risen to an all time high. Sessions leads the amateur president’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety which is expected to release a report next week. Critics are concerned that the report will try to link weed to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences. And there is no link to violent crime and smoking weed. The Hill reports: Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27. “Task Force...

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Universal Health Care Would Save $17 Trillion

by David Akadjian – $32 trillion. You may have seen this number in corporate media coverage and Republican propaganda. It’s the estimated cost of universal health care over a 10-year period. It’s a big number—a big, scary number. So hacks like the editorial board at The Washington Post use it to scare people with titles like “Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag.” Not just high—astonishingly high. Of course what the editorial board of The Washington Post leaves out (though you think they’d know better) is any comparison to what we’re currently spending. Compared to what we’re currently spending, universal health care or single-payer health care would save us $17 trillion over 10 years. In order to demonstrate this, we just need a couple of numbers. The first number is how much we currently spend on health care per year. National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) This is a number called the National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE). NHE measures everything we...

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As Trump Decompensates, GOP Disintegrates

by Bob Burnett – Trump has moved beyond incompetency to the designation: “a danger to himself and others.” We’re sailing in uncharted presidential waters.  Donald Trump has moved beyond incompetency to the designation: “a danger to himself and others.”  One small solace, before Trump blows up the planet he’ll probably first destroy the Republican Party. Former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough recently wrote that Trump is “killing” the GOP and argued “the wreckage will break the Republican Party into pieces.” In the movie, Annie Hall, Woody Allen told an old joke: This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken.’ And the doctor says, ‘Well why don’t you turn him in?’ and the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’ The joke captures the essence of the GOP conundrum: most Washington-based Republicans know that Trump is crazy but they’re afraid to “turn him...

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Democrats Honing an Economic Battle Cry for 2018

by Sher Watts Spooner – As Democrats gear up for the midterm elections in 16 months, the party has been working on a new “core message” that they hope will align them with ordinary Americans. According to several reports, on July 24, Democrats in both the House and Senate will deliver a unified message of populism that they hope will carry them to electoral victory in 2018. In crafting a new message, several Democrats have said publicly that they’ve got to be more than the anti-Trump party. According to a story on Yahoo News quoting New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the No. 4 House Democrat: “I recognize that waiting for Trump to implode … will not work,” Crowley said. “What will work is Democrats having a message that appeals to the average American.” The details of the new legislative agenda, called “A Better Deal,” have yet to be released, but they reportedly will be...

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Congress Wants to Let Churches Play Partisan Politics and Keep Tax Exempt Status

by Ian Thompson – During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump publicly lamented the fact that religious groups could not endorse his candidacy without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. “I know people who want to endorse me, but they’re afraid to endorse anybody because they don’t want to get political,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “So essentially, they’ve taken a lot of the power away from the church.” Earlier this year, at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump vowed to “get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment.” The Johnson Amendment, which has been part of the U.S. tax code since 1954, prohibits all tax-exempt non-profit organizations — including churches and other houses of worship as well as all secular nonprofits — from engaging in partisan political activities, specifically endorsing or opposing political candidates. Six months into the Trump presidency, the Johnson Amendment remains on the books. However, last week the House Appropriations Committee, which is...

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