Tag Archives: politics

Something So Wrong: December 2017

  • On December 6, Trump declared that the United States would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also announced that the U.S. would move its embassy to Jerusalem. The announcement reversed decades of U.S. foreign policy and threatens progress toward a two-state solution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Israelis and Palestinians have both claimed Jerusalem their capital, and previous U.S. policy has been that the status of Jerusalem should be decided by negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians as part of a larger two-state solution to the conflict. In response to Trump’s announcement, on December 21, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly (128 to 9) to approve a non-binding resolution calling on all nations to refrain from locating their embassies in Jerusalem.
  • On December 22, Trump signed a tax cut bill crafted by Republicans and passed in Congress on a party line vote. “It’s going to be a tremendous thing for the American people,” Trump declared. The provisions that benefit individuals, including lowering the tax rates and doubling the standard deduction, will expire in 2025, while provisions that benefit corporations, including a reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, are permanent. The legislation also eliminated the individual mandate to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act—an action the president characterized as a “repeal of Obamacare.” He said, “We have essentially repealed Obamacare, and we will come up with something that will be much better.” The bill also opens 1.5 million acres of the Alaska National Wildlife refuge to oil drilling. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the tax bill would add $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit by 2027.

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Some other stuff for later,

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Something So Wrong: November 2017

  • Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, sued the agency multiple times when he was the attorney general of Oklahoma. He has denied that the release of carbon dioxide from human activity is the main driver of climate change. He has said that the EPA should not regulate carbon dioxide emissions unless specifically directed by Congress, despite a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Under Pruitt’s direction, the EPA has removed references and resources related to climate change from its website. On November 3, the US Global Climate Research Program issued its Climate Science Special Report, which found that “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” and that “there is no convincing alternative explanation.” The report addressed global climate changes in response to human activities, including “changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.”
  • In September, Trump nominated Brett Talley to be a United States District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama. Talley has practiced law for three years and has never tried a case. The American Bar Association unanimously rated Talley as Not Qualified to be a federal judge. The ABA rating system includes three categories: Well Qualified, Qualified, or Not Qualified. Talley is the fourth Trump federal court nominee to be rated as Not Qualified. Trump’s previous Not Qualified nominees are Charles Goodwin, Steven Grasz and Holly Teeter. On November 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved both Talley and Teeter, despite the Not Qualified ratings. Talley is married to the Ann Donaldson, who is chief of staff to White House counsel Donald McGahn. Talley failed to disclose this possible conflict of interest to the Judiciary Committee.
  • On November 13, Trump nominated Alex Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services to replace Tom Price who stepped down from that office in September after reports that he spent over $1 million improperly for travel expenses. From 2007 to 2017, Azar worked as an executive for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly.
  • On November 21, Ajit Pai, Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, proposed repeal of regulations that ensure equal access to the Internet. Repeal of the regulations would allow giant Internet service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, to charge users more to see certain content and restrict access to some websites. Pai’s proposal undermines the “net neutrality” policy under which the large broadband and telecom companies would be regulated as utilities.
  • On November 24, Trump named his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to be the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to replace retiring director Richard Cordray. Cordray had named his chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy director. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, that established the CFPB, specified that the Deputy Director would become the acting director until a new director has been nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Trump relied on his authority under an earlier law, the 1998 Presidential Vacancies Reform Act, in naming Mulvaney to the position. Mulvaney has criticized the CFPB as a “sick joke.” When he was a Republican congressman from South Carolina, Mulvaney co-sponsored legislation to shut down the CFPB.
  • On November 27, Trump used his Twitter account to post videos from a British extreme nationalist group falsely portraying Muslims committing acts of violence. Press secretary Sarah Sanders later defended the president’s action saying that, even if the videos falsely attributed violence to Muslims, “the threat is real” and needs to be addressed. Sanders justified the president’s tweet as an expression of “the need for national security and military spending.” Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke applauded Trump’s tweets, himself tweeting “thank God for Trump! That’s why we love him!”

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Some other stuff for later,

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