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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Greenfield, MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 26,155

Journal Archives

Trump has yet to signal his approach to Obamacare birth-control mandate

By Paige Winfield Cunningham April 25 at 4:40 PM

President Trump had promised religious groups that he would reverse the Obama administration’s requirement that employers provide birth control to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.

But his Justice Department indicated Monday that it’s not yet giving up a fight with religious schools and nonprofits that are suing over the contraception mandate.

The department has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit for an additional 60 days to negotiate with East Texas Baptist University and several other religious groups objecting to a requirement to which they are morally opposed.

The request doesn’t necessarily mean that Justice plans to continue defending the mandate; the agency could be buying extra time as the new administration figures out its next move. A department spokeswoman said Tuesday that she had no comment on the request to the 5th Circuit.


Trump picks retired Marine general to lead Secret Service

By Mark Berman April 25 at 4:30 PM

The White House announced Tuesday that Randolph D. “Tex” Alles, a senior customs official and retired Marine Corps general, would take over the U.S. Secret Service, becoming the agency's 25th director.

Alles spent 35 years in the Marines before retiring in 2011, according to the White House. He comes to the Secret Service after serving in several roles with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, most recently being appointed acting deputy commissioner on Jan. 20, the day President Trump took office. Alles has also led the Air and Marine Operations division of the customs agency, which has more than 1,000 agents, according to the agency's website.



The Trump administrations magical thinking on taxes would bust the budget - WaPo Editorial Board

By Editorial Board April 25 at 7:34 PM

PRESIDENT TRUMP is set to reveal the outlines of a tax reform plan Wednesday. The country will be improved if Mr. Trump leads the way toward lower rates, fewer loopholes and a simpler code. Where the plan could go dangerously astray is if the administration bases it on wishful thinking — specifically, that tax-cutting will pay for itself.

Specifics have been sketchy in the run-up to Wednesday’s announcement, in part because administration officials appear to be of different minds. But a few details emerged early in the week. The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Trump wants to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and the top tax rate on so-called pass-through companies from 39.6 percent also to 15 percent. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, slashing the corporate rate by such a large amount would reduce revenue by $2.4 trillion over a decade, which is half of everything the government will spend in fiscal 2017. Cutting the tax on pass-throughs, meanwhile, would boost tax avoidance by encouraging people to take wages in the form of lower-taxed pass-through income.

There are several honest ways out of the resulting budget hole: end or limit tax breaks such as the mortgage-interest deduction; raise the rates of other taxes; cut spending; or some combination. The dishonest way is to pretend the hole is shallower than the experts predict it will be — or even that the hole does not exist. That was the approach Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared to be taking last Thursday. “The plan will pay for itself with growth,” Mr. Mnuchin said, claiming that the Trump economic program could goose the economy so much that the government would recoup nearly $2 trillion over 10 years. He may be preparing some limits on deductions, but not nearly enough.

This is magical thinking. Of course cutting taxes or increasing federal spending affects the economy, but experience shows that tax cuts are almost never self-financing. If the Trump administration used optimistic economic growth assumptions to justify a deficit-enhancing tax cut, “I would start drinking earlier every day,” leading GOP economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin told The Post’s Damian Paletta and Max Ehrenfreund.


Dealmaker in Chief? More like the Backdown President.

By Kathleen Parker Opinion writer April 25 at 7:37 PM

As Donald Trump approaches the 100-day marker of his first year in office, he has defined himself not as the Dealmaker in Chief but as the Backdown President.

What a deliciously strange irony that until Monday night he set the stage for a government shutdown over, of all things, his campaign centerpiece — The Wall.

Strange because Trump, who now calls the faux deadline “ridiculous,” promised so much by his 100th day. Delicious because everything Trump does is scrumptious, especially eating chocolate cake while launching real missiles.

And it was always clear to perennial observers of Washington’s sausage factory that the new president’s ambitions exceeded the pace and will of the nation’s political class. Today’s Republican Party may control the executive and legislative branches, but its members are hardly trilling in harmony, thanks to the too-rare interference of mental clarity.


Apparently repealing Obamacare could violate international law

By Dana Milbank Opinion writer April 25 at 7:38 PM

We’ve already seen that repealing Obamacare is politically perilous. Now there’s a new complication: It may also violate international law.

The United Nations has contacted the Trump administration as part of an investigation into whether repealing the Affordable Care Act without an adequate substitute for the millions who would lose health coverage would be a violation of several international conventions that bind the United States. It turns out that the notion that “health care is a right” is more than just a Democratic talking point.

A confidential, five-page “urgent appeal” from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva, sent to the Trump administration, cautions that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could put the United States at odds with its international obligations. The Feb. 2 memo, which I obtained Tuesday, was sent to the State Department and expresses “serious concern” about the prospective loss of health coverage for almost 30 million people, which could violate “the right to social security of the people in the United States.”

The letter urges that “all necessary interim measures be taken to prevent the alleged violations” and asks that, if the “allegations” proved correct, there be “adequate measure to prevent their occurrence as well as to guarantee the accountability of any person responsible.”


Julian Assange: The CIA director is waging war on truth-tellers like WikiLeaks

By Julian Assange April 25 at 7:39 PM

Julian Assange is editor of WikiLeaks.

Mike Pompeo, in his first speech as director of the CIA, chose to declare war on free speech rather than on the United States’ actual adversaries. He went after WikiLeaks, where I serve as editor, as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” In Pompeo’s worldview, telling the truth about the administration can be a crime — as Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly underscored when he described my arrest as a “priority.” News organizations reported that federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring charges against members of WikiLeaks, possibly including conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act.

All this speech to stifle speech comes in reaction to the first publication in the start of WikiLeaks’ “Vault 7” series. Vault 7 has begun publishing evidence of remarkable CIA incompetence and other shortcomings. This includes the agency’s creation, at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars, of an entire arsenal of cyber viruses and hacking programs — over which it promptly lost control and then tried to cover up the loss. These publications also revealed the CIA’s efforts to infect the public’s ubiquitous consumer products and automobiles with computer viruses.

When the director of the CIA, an unelected public servant, publicly demonizes a publisher such as WikiLeaks as a “fraud,” “coward” and “enemy,” it puts all journalists on notice, or should. Pompeo’s next talking point, unsupported by fact, that WikiLeaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” is a dagger aimed at Americans’ constitutional right to receive honest information about their government. This accusation mirrors attempts throughout history by bureaucrats seeking, and failing, to criminalize speech that reveals their own failings.

President Theodore Roosevelt understood the danger of giving in to those “foolish or traitorous persons who endeavor to make it a crime to tell the truth about the Administration when the Administration is guilty of incompetence or other shortcomings.” Such “endeavor is itself a crime against the nation,” Roosevelt wrote. President Trump and his officials should heed that advice.


Trump's Defining Trait. It's his insecurity. Why that should frighten us all.

By Jamelle Bouie

Each president brings with him more than just his agenda to Washington. He also brings personal qualities, those traits of character that shape and define his time in office as much as any event or policy. For Barack Obama, that quality was a confidence—or, critics might say, aloofness—exemplified by the nickname “No Drama Obama.” For George W. Bush, it was a resolve that crossed into stubborn rigidity. For Bill Clinton, a malleability that sometimes—or even often—skirted principle.

Donald Trump has just three months in office, but even now, we can see what he brings to the White House. Not the strength or mastery he works to project with every public appearance, but its opposite: insecurity. As president, Trump is profoundly insecure: insecure about his electoral victory, insecure about his public standing, and insecure about his progress as chief executive.

President Trump’s smothering insecurity is evident in his recent interview with the Associated Press. Throughout the long and meandering exchange, Trump repeatedly turns from questions of policy and program to the obsessions and insecurities that seem to consume his attention. When asked, for example, if he’ll reject a bill to fund the government if it doesn’t include funding for a border wall, Trump pivots from the issue at hand to a discussion of the Electoral College. “You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College,” said Trump, later adding that “the Electoral College is very difficult for a Republican to win.”

This focus on the Electoral College—and how difficult it’s supposed to be for Republican presidential candidates—is a regular tic for Trump. “You know, look, the Democrats had a tremendous opportunity because the Electoral College, as I said, is so skewed to them,” said Trump in response to questions about his White House team. “The Electoral College is so skewed in favor of a Democrat that it’s very, very hard.”


Trump's Sanctuary Cities Order Blocked by Federal Judge

Source: Bloomberg

by Kartikay Mehrotra
April 25, 2017, 4:07 PM EDT April 25, 2017, 4:22 PM EDT

A San Francisco judge barred enforcement of President Donald Trumps executive order withholding funds from so-called sanctuary cities that fail to comply with federal immigration demands by shielding undocumented immigrants.

San Francisco and its Silicon Valley neighbor, Santa Clara County, on Tuesday both won preliminary injunctions blocking the Jan. 25 edict by Trump who declared that sanctuary jurisdictions cause immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic." The city and county argued the presidents order violated the Constitution and threatened to deprive them of funding for local programs.

The federal government may ask the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn the ruling.

A victory for the city and county could reinforce similar policies in some of the nations largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Its another blow to Trumps call to tighten U.S. borders and crack down on those living in the U.S. illegally. Hes already lost multiple bids to impose a travel ban against citizens of six mostly Muslim countries.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-25/trump-s-sanctuary-cities-order-blocked-by-federal-judge?cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_content=business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

AG Sessions said, "Imagine! A federal judge in a state bordered by the Pacific Ocean had the nerve to block the President's order"

Shep Smith: It looks like the White House is trying to 'cover up' the 'unprecedented' Flynn scandal


Spicer: 'No, No, No, No,' Nobody Said That Trump's Border Wall Will Be Delayed

Source: Talking Points Memo

By ESME CRIBB Published APRIL 25, 2017, 3:22 PM EDT

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday fervently denied that funding and the beginning of construction on President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the United States’ border with Mexico will be delayed.

“Yesterday, President Trump reportedly said that he’s going to delay pushing the wall through. Can you just clarify what the status is?” Associated Press reporter Vivian Salama asked Spicer at his daily briefing.

“I think he tweeted about this earlier,” Spicer replied. “His priorities have not changed. There will be a wall built.” Spicer said that there is “plenty of planning that can be done” in the current fiscal year.

“Our priorities are clear going into FY17, the remainder of budgeting for that, and we’ll continue to ask for more in FY18,” he said, referring to fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sean-spicer-no-trump-wall-delay

Sean Spicer flummoxes reporters by claiming White House not responsible for hiring Michael Flynn

25 APR 2017 AT 15:22 ET

Whhite House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday insisted to reporters that it did not have a responsibility to provide document used in the hiring of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn because they were filled out in the days before President Donald Trump took office.

At Tuesday’s press briefing, Spicer was peppered with questions about why the White House refused to provide documents related to an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Spicer told reporters that the documents were filled out “during the Obama administration” and “those are not documents that the White House would ever possess.”

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