Monday, June 26, 2017

Washington Post -- Trump seeks sharp cuts to housing aid, except for program that brings him millions

It is clear that President Trump’s policy initiatives are meant to do two things: gut as many of former President Barack Obama’s policy initiatives as he can and to enhance his business empire’s bottom line.

One example of Trump’s policy initiatives that exploits his position as President to financially benefit himself and represents his continuing conflicts of interest problem is investigated by the Washington Post’s Shawn Boburg.

Here are a few paragraphs from his report:

“President Trump’s budget calls for sharply reducing funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness — with a notable exception: It leaves intact a type of federal housing subsidy that is paid directly to private landlords.

“One of those landlords is Trump himself, who earns millions of dollars each year as a part-owner of Starrett City, the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex. Trump’s 4 percent stake in the Brooklyn complex earned him at least $5 million between January of last year and April 15, according to his recent financial disclosure.

“Trump’s business empire intersects with government in countless ways, from taxation to permitting to the issuing of patents, but the housing subsidy is one of the clearest examples of the conflicts experts have predicted. While there is no indication that Trump himself was involved in the decision, it is nonetheless a stark illustration of how his financial interests can directly rise or fall on the policies of his administration.

"The federal government has paid the partnership that owns Starrett City more than $490 million in rent subsidies since May 2013, according to figures provided by a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nearly $38 million of that has come since Trump took office in January.

“That subsidy generates steady income for Trump and his siblings, each of whom inherited an interest in the property when their father died. Although it represents a small portion of his overall wealth, it is one of the few examples of money the president derives directly from the federal government he oversees.”

Trump seeks sharp cuts to housing aid, except for program that brings him millions

By Shawn Boburg

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dean Heller Becomes the Fifth GOP Senator to Oppose Health Care Bill

From Robert Reich:

We need to keep up the pressure. Several key Republican Senators have balked at McConnell's bill to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act.

Senator Dean Heller of Nevada -- who will likely face a tough reelection next year -- said he couldn't support the bill. Deep cuts to Medicaid could jeopardize health care for 600,000 Nevadans

Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski are also on the fence. They're rightfully concerned about a provision to defund Planned Parenthood.

Two others -- Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia -- could go either way.

Meanwhile, four conservative senators led by Rand Paul oppose the bill because it's still not extreme enough for them.

McConnell can only afford to lose only 2 Republican senators.

We can still stop this travesty. Call your senators, organize, resist. Lives are literally on the line.

The Capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121.

Dean Heller Becomes the Fifth GOP Senator to Oppose Health Care Bill

By Leigh Ann Caldwell

CNN Money -- Boeing factory where Trump delivered jobs speech to lay off 200 workers (VIDEO)

This week Boeing announced plans to cut 200 jobs at the factory in South Carolina where Trump rolled out his economic agenda. Robert Reich’s Inequality Media video explains why Trumponomics is pure fantasy.

The real way to make the American workforce more competitive is to invest more in the education and skills of Americans.

Boeing factory where Trump delivered jobs speech to lay off 200 workers

By Jackie Wattles, Chris Isidore and Jon Ostrower

CNN -- Trump: Obama 'did nothing' about Russia election meddling

President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of not taking action against Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election, suggesting that they were trying to help Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it,” Trump said. “But nobody wants to talk about that.” Questioning Obama’s inaction, Trump said, “Obama didn’t do enough to address the situation.”

Robert Reich reacts:

Accusations are mounting that instead of protecting America from Putin's future cyber-attacks on our elections -- such as occurred last fall when Putin helped Trump get elected -- Trump is doing everything he can to obstruct such defenses.

But to deflect such criticism, Trump is now attacking Obama for failing to defend America against Putin’s 2016 cyber-attack that helped Trump get elected.

"Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it," Trump said in an interview yesterday. “If he had the information, why didn't he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don't read that. It's quite sad."

Last night, Trump tweeted: “Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?”

This is hypocritical nonsense.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that after the CIA concluded Putin had been directly involved, the Obama administration debated options for deterring or punishing Russia -- and issued several warnings to Moscow about its activities, including one delivered by Obama to Putin in September. But Obama didn't want to push Putin too hard or go public for fear of appearing to side with Hillary Clinton in the election.

Trump can't hide the fact he got elected with the direct help of Vladimir Putin -- the man he has continuously courted and complimented. And he refuses to take action to prevent Putin from helping Trump again. That's the real scandal.

Trump: Obama 'did nothing' about Russia election meddling

By Eugene Scott

Washington Post -- Which Republican senators will walk the plank for this terrible health-care bill?

Robert Reich’s comment:

Make no mistake: The Senate’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act is not a healthcare bill. It’s a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, paid for by a dramatic reduction in healthcare funding for approximately 23 million poor, disabled, and working middle class Americans. America’s wealthiest taxpayers (earning more than $200,000 a year, $250,000 for couples) would get a tax cut totaling $346 billion over 10 years.

If enacted, it would be one of the largest single transfers of wealth to the rich from the middle class and poor in American history, at a time when the rich already have a higher percentage of the nation’s wealth and income than in over a century.

Mitch McConnell – the Senate leader who refused to hold hearings on Obama’s Supreme Court pick and then pushed Neil Gorsuch through by changing the Senate rules on Supreme Court confirmations -- has scheduled no hearings on this bill. He has shut out not only his own Republican colleagues but also major hospitals, physician groups, consumer advocates and organizations representing millions of patients with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.

The core of the bill is a huge reduction in Medicaid – America’s healthcare program for the poor -- even beyond the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Reducing the federal government’s share of Medicaid is not reform, by any sane person’s definition. It is an enormous cost shift to the states – many of whom will not make up the difference. Among the programs sure to be cut are state responses to the opioid addiction crisis, of which more than 40 percent of the cost has been covered by Medicaid.

If this shameful bill is enacted, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump -- as well as every Republican senator who signs on --will bear the burden of tens of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided were they not so determined to make rich Americans even richer.

“Groups representing pediatricians, cancer specialists, heart doctors and family physicians all agree: Both the House and the Senate offerings for fixing health care in the U.S. would make things worse, not better.

“Within hours of its release, groups representing medical professionals were denouncing the Senate version, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act or BCRA.

“ ‘The Senate draft health care bill is literally heartless,’ American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said.” -- NBC News

Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell in his memoir, “The Long Game,” writes how he overcame polio as a child with the help of polio treatment center set up by President Roosevelt. Now McConnell wants to take away government assistance from children who may be suffering from similar conditions. -- NPR

Which Republican senators will walk the plank for this terrible health-care bill?

By Jennifer Rubin

Thursday, June 22, 2017

BBC -- Phoenix flights cancelled because it's too hot for planes

“The weather forecast for the US city suggests temperatures could reach 120F (49C) on Tuesday.

“That is higher than the operating temperature of some planes.

“American Airlines announced it was cancelling dozens of flights scheduled to take off from Sky Harbor airport during the hottest part of the day.”

Senator Bernie Sanders writes:

In Phoenix, Arizona, yesterday, more than 40 flights have been cancelled — because it is too hot for the planes to fly. That is insane. But that is the reality of what we are seeing with our climate now. Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have occurred in the 21st century. Climate change is real and is caused by human activity. This planet and its people are in trouble. Unless we get our act together, we will see in years to come more record temperatures, more droughts, more floods and more extreme weather disturbances. If we do nothing to address climate change, the planet will heat up five to ten degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. This isn’t just a problem for the future – the impacts of climate change are apparent here and now.

Phoenix flights cancelled because it's too hot for planes

Robert Reich: The Real Reason Republicans want to Pull the Plug on Obamacare (VIDEO)

“A draft copy of the secret Republican Senate bill that would overhaul Obamacare is expected to be released online at 11 a.m. ET Thursday, less than two hours after many GOP senators get to see if for the first time.

“Even some of the senators who were reportedly part of a group tasked with writing it, including Mike Lee of Utah, had not seen its details.”

GOP health bill due for Thursday morning release; here's a sneak peek By Dan Mangan

Robert Reich in this video presents the real reason why they keep pushing for repeal.

NPR -- U.S. Elections Systems Vulnerable, Lawmakers Told In Dueling Hearings

“If two nearly simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election revealed anything, it's that U.S. officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it.”

Robert Reich points out some highlights:

1. Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee: "In 2016 the Russian government, at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple. Now, the key question for the President and Congress is: What are we going to do to protect the American people and their democracy from this kind of thing in the future?"

2. Witnesses before the Senate Intelligence Committee, from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, told lawmakers they expect the Russian cyber-threat against the U.S. to evolve into a larger threat in future elections. "I believe the Russians absolutely will continue to try to conduct influence operations in the U.S., which will include cyber operations," said Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.

3. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who has inspected state elections systems, said “our highly computerized election infrastructure is vulnerable to sabotage, and even to cyberattacks that could change votes," and warned "these realities risk making our election results more difficult for the American people to trust. I know America's voting machines are vulnerable because my colleagues and I have hacked them."

4. Halderman and other experts urged states to replace "obsolete" paperless machines with optical-scan machines that count paper ballots; audit election results by examining paper ballots to "provide high assurance" that the election results are correct; and apply tougher cybersecurity safeguards to voting equipment and elections management.

But what are Trump and the White House doing about all this? Either ignoring Russia’s cyber-attack, denying it, or seeming to cover it up.

The president has a sworn duty to protect the United States and the Constitution. We have been attacked, folks. Trump is failing in his most fundamental responsibility.

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary 
Jeh Johnson arrives to testify before the House Intelligence
Committee on Wednesday.

U.S. Elections Systems Vulnerable, Lawmakers Told In Dueling Hearings

By Brian Naylor

Bernie Sanders: Mr. President, I have some bad news for you (VIDEO)

Details of the Senate’s “draft” health care bill, which Republicans were set to unveil Thursday after weeks of secretive negotiations, have finally leaked—and from the sound of things, Mitch McConnell and his cohorts have written a morally appalling piece of legislation that many conservatives will nonetheless find deeply underwhelming. -- Slate

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Mr. President, I have some bad news for you. This pathetic health care bill is not getting through the Senate. We will throw this in the garbage and start from zero.

Top comments:

Kathleen Decker I hope so but I have lost all faith in our country. This is not my country, not where I grew up. I don't recognize it. And public servants....politicians....are not serving us any more. This administration is abhorent.
8 hrs

Michael Rabbe Stop wasting time and just have “Medicare for All.” Everything else is just a colossal waste of time and taxpayers' money. But, of course, the Idiot-in-Chief would veto it, so we're still screwed.
LikeShow more reactions
8 hrs

Robyn Annala Why aren't we just asking Canada, for example, how THEY are making a universal healthcare system work? Why do we think we have to reinvent the wheel, when so many countries are already making this work?
8 hrs

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Hill -- GOP hits the gas on ObamaCare repeal

Mitch McConnell has promised Senate Republicans they’ll receive draft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act Thursday, with a floor vote next week.

McConnell will first bring to the floor the House-passed American Health Care Act (which the Congressional Budget Office has found would eliminate health care for 23 million Americans), and then offer the Senate version as an amendment. The CBO will by then have estimated how many millions of people will lose coverage under the Senate version.

McConnell wants to move fast – getting a majority vote before the public has had a chance to learn what’s in the Senate version. It’s his only hope for passage.

Shame on him. Shame on anyone who wants to take health care away from the poor and sick, in order to give a tax cut to the rich.


John OReilly Republicans are doing exactly what they are paid to do, by their donors. Give them huge tax breaks at the expense of the middle class and poor. McConnell was calling them the "job creators" for years when in fact they don't create anything but more wealth for themselves by owning the Republican Congress. The Republican actions takes huge balls because their health care bill is nothing more than a tax cut for the top 1%. Actual health care means nothing to Republicans, they have great government health care which we pay for. Once again Trump has lied and failed to deliver on his promise of "great health care" for all. Total disgrace.

Mitch Saifert I'm a Canadian so maybe I don't understand completely..... everything the GOP and Trump has done this far is to a) reverse as anything Obama did.... because it was Obama.....and b) ensure the rich and Trump business are well taken care of.....yet every special election a Republicans win... This healthcare business cannot be legal? I'll stay on my side of the border thank you

By Alexander Bolton