Latest StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 7/17/2018
E.g., 7/17/2018
Image: President Trump Signs Executive Order To Promote Healthcare Choice

Trump admin's ACA sabotage campaign takes another regressive step

07/11/18 09:20AM

Donald Trump and his team have  taken  several  steps to undermine the Affordable Care Act, and American consumers are already feeling the consequences of those actions in the form of costlier coverage.

Last week, the campaign took another alarming step when the administration halted payments to insurers under the ACA's risk-adjustment program. This week, as the New York Times  reported, Team Trump went a little further.

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it was slashing grants to nonprofit organizations that help people obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the latest step in an escalating attack on the law that threatens to destabilize its insurance markets. [...]

The administration is not only cutting grants to navigators, but fundamentally changing their mission. They will, for the first time, help people enroll in health insurance plans that do not comply with the consumer protection standards and other requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

The idea behind the navigator program is pretty straightforward: the Affordable Care Act funds in-person assistance for consumers who need a hand purchasing health insurance. The point, obviously, is to help people navigate a system that can be complicated, especially for those buying coverage for the first time, so officials extend grants to organizations to meet the public need.

The Trump administration, lacking in subtlety, has targeted the program, cutting its investment from $63 million to $36 million last year, and from $36 million to $10 million this year.

The fact that navigators will be encouraged to direct consumers toward worse coverage plans only adds insult to injury.

read more

Image: President Donald Trump arrives at the White House

Trump's line on hiring foreign workers gets a little more awkward

07/11/18 08:40AM

To hear Donald Trump tell it, curtailing illegal immigration to the United States isn't enough. The president has also argued that the country has to cut legal immigration because foreign workers are taking American jobs and undermining domestic wage growth.

It's awfully difficult to take this rhetoric seriously when one of Trump's high-profile businesses keeps hiring more foreign workers. The Washington Post updated its previous reporting on this last night:

President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club has asked permission to hire 78 foreign workers to serve as cooks, waiters and housekeepers during this winter's social season in Palm Beach, Fla., according to Labor Department data.

The club -- a for-profit business, which also serves as Trump's weekend home and "Winter White House" -- submitted applications to hire 21 cooks, 40 waiters and 17 housekeepers from overseas. After working from October to May, the workers would return home.

Initially, Trump's business applied to hire 40 foreign workers, but that total has gradually increased over the last week, and it's now slightly higher than last year's request.

BuzzFeed added, "The workers are being sought under the controversial H-2 visa program, which permits US employers to hire guest workers under temporary visas if no qualified US workers want the jobs."

And that's where the story gets a little tricky.

read more


At NATO summit, Trump comes out swinging (at a U.S. ally)

07/11/18 08:00AM

As Donald Trump departed yesterday for this week's NATO summit in Brussels, the president devoted a fair amount of time to complaining about the international alliance in ways that didn't make a lot of sense. Trump, while characterizing NATO as some kind of protection racket, insisted that many of our allies are "delinquent" in their defense payments and should "reimburse" the United States.

Making matters worse, as the gathering started to get underway today, the American leader came out swinging -- at America's friends. NBC News reported:

Speaking even before the NATO summit began here, and amid domestic political turmoil for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said it is not fair to American taxpayers that Germany buys oil and gas from Russia while enjoying the umbrella of defense provided by U.S. dollars.

"Germany is a captive of Russia," he said, pointing out that the country pays "billions and billions of dollars" to Russia for energy.... "Germany is totally controlled by Russia."

At a breakfast with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, Trump went on to say that "many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money," adding, "They're delinquent, as far as I'm concerned."

A few months into the Republican's presidency, Trump sat down for an interview with the Associated Press, which touched on his earlier criticisms of NATO. He referenced an exchange he had during the campaign with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, in which then-candidate Trump expressed deep concerns about the security alliance despite "not knowing much about NATO."

In other words, according to Trump, he spoke with great conviction about a key area of U.S. foreign policy, despite the fact that -- by his own admission -- he had no idea what he was talking about.

The trouble is, the American president still doesn't know what he's talking about.

read more

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 7.10.18

07/10/18 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Afghanistan: "A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed at least 12 people, including several children, on Tuesday, in an attack in the eastern city of Jalalabad claimed by Islamic State militants."

* Also in Afghanistan: "The U.S. soldier killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan on Saturday was deployed in support of a new U.S. Army adviser brigade dispatched as part of the Trump administration's strategy for the war, U.S. military officials said."

* Family separations: "A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Trump administration to abide by an order to reunite dozens of children with their parents by the end of the day, turning down a Department of Justice request for more time."

* In related news: "A federal judge has turned down President Donald Trump's request to alter a decades-old legal settlement to allow long-term detention of children who entered the U.S. illegally with their parents."

* Thailand: "After 17 long nights trapped in a dark and damp cave, four remaining boys and their soccer coach were freed one-by-one by divers in Thailand on Tuesday."

* Among other things, the prosecutor in question reportedly talked about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) getting shot: "A California prosecutor will be placed on administrative leave as his office investigates offensive comments made on his social media accounts, the county district attorney announced on Monday."

read more

Image: President Trump and Prime Minister Abe Press Conference at White House

Despite criminal scandal, Michael Flynn joins consulting firm

07/10/18 04:11PM

Michael Flynn is a rather unique figure in American public life. After the retired Army lieutenant general spent much of 2016 as a partisan attack dog, calling for Hillary Clinton's incarceration, Donald Trump chose Flynn to serve as his White House national security adviser.

That didn't work out especially well. Flynn had secret conversations with Russian officials, lied to the FBI about the chats, and according to Team Trump, lied to the White House, too. Flynn was forced to resign in disgrace, and soon after, he pleaded guilty to a felony. The former presidential aide is currently awaiting sentencing.

Flynn also, incidentally, was forced to acknowledge that he worked as an unregistered foreign agent during his time as an adviser to Trump's presidential campaign, among his other controversial activities.

Common sense suggests someone in this situation, finding themselves discredited and humiliated, would simply disappear from public life. But in contemporary American politics, that's apparently not how things work anymore: the Wall Street Journal  reports today that Flynn "has joined a global lobbying and investment advisory firm." [Update: see below]

As he awaits sentencing for lying to federal investigators, he is going into business with Washington lobbyist Nick Muzin and his New York partner Joey Allaham with a new firm called Stonington Global LLC, they told The Wall Street Journal. [...]

Stonington Global will provide consulting and lobbying services for U.S. and foreign clients, Messrs. Muzin and Allaham said in a statement. The firm also will "help private investors and sovereign-wealth funds develop and execute investment strategies."

In other words, people with money, unconcerned with Flynn having lied to the FBI, will voluntarily pay this firm for guidance and investment advice.

The former Trump aide and his partners will be joined by Michael Flynn Jr., who is perhaps best known for peddling ridiculous conspiracy theories online.

read more

Image: President Trump Departs White House For G7 Summit In Canada

Ahead of NATO summit, Trump again lashes out at American allies

07/10/18 12:44PM

On the eve of the latest NATO summit, European Council President Donald Tusk urged Donald Trump to recognize "who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem."

The Associated Press report on this added that the former Polish prime minister, who chairs summits of EU leaders and will take part in the NATO meeting, went on to say, "Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have all that many."

Trump doesn't appear to be listening.

President Donald Trump criticized NATO on Tuesday in a pair of tweets ahead of his seven-day European trip this week, accusing U.S. allies of exploiting America on defense spending.

"Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting - NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!" the president wrote in a tweet, adding in a later tweet, "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!"

I realize fact-checking these little tantrums probably does little good, but the president still doesn't understand, among other things, that a trade deficit does not mean we're "losing" money.

As for the idea that NATO members' defense spending is unfair to American taxpayers, that would only make sense if Trump wanted to decrease defense spending in the United States. He doesn't.

But factual details aside, the American president went on to speak briefly with reporters on the White House's South Lawn this morning, where he commented on his upcoming travel plans. "I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin," Trump said. "Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?"

I'll assume that was a rhetorical question.

read more

Tuesday's Campaign Round-Up, 7.10.18

07/10/18 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* Ahead of Mississippi's "jungle" Senate primary in November, Chris McDaniel (R) has parted ways with Rick Tyler, a veteran GOP strategist, over Tyler's criticisms of Donald Trump. "Senator McDaniel is a loyal and longtime supporter of President Trump, and is wholeheartedly committed to his Make America Great Again agenda," the campaign said. "Tyler, in his role as an MSNBC political analyst, has been and continues to be an outspoken critic of the president."

* According to a new analysis from the Cook Political Report's David Wasserman, Democrats remain "slight favorites" to reclaim the House majority this fall.

* With one week remaining ahead of Alabama's primary runoffs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is giving Rep. Martha Roby (R) a boost with a new television ad on her behalf. Roby will face former Rep. Bobby Bright a week from today.

* Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) hasn't officially said whether he'll seek a second term next year, but if he does, he'll likely face state Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), who launched his campaign yesterday. If his last name sounds familiar, Andy Beshear is former Gov. Steve Beshear's son.

* Rep. Tim Ryan's (D-Ohio) last effort to derail Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the House Democratic leader wasn't successful, but the Ohioan is reportedly gearing up to try again.

read more