The Resistance Now: activists say ‘hell no’ to Republican healthcare bill

Progressives sprung into action with dozens protesting outside the Senate majority leaders office, while Democrats took stock after Ossoffs loss

So about that healthcare bill…

Dozens of people were arrested after protesting outside Senate majority leader Mitch McConnells office on Thursday including some in wheelchairs as Republicans unveiled Republicans unveiled Trumpcare 2.0 (or are we on 3.0 now?).

Activists from disability rights organization Adapt gathered outside McConnells office to demonstrate against the bill, which would dramatically cut Medicaid and strip funding from Planned Parenthood, to name just two measures.

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A protester is led away by police on Thursday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Progressive organizations sprung into action to try to defeat it.

Our Revolution set up a page on its website urging people to take action to stop AHCA [the Senate bill is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act but many of the principles are the same as the AHCA House bill] and prevent millions from losing their healthcare.

The organization has provided a number which will connect people to their Senators office, and has also provided some talking points.

AHCA would leave 23 million Americans without healthcare.

The bill would allow insurance companies to discriminate against patients and deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

A majority of voters strongly oppose repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).

Americans want to expand healthcare, not gut it. In fact, two-thirds of Americans support Medicare for all.

Indivisible has its own page too, where people can submit amendments to their senator. This is about applying your constituent power directly to the process, Indivisibles website says. They also have an extensive list of reading material and a script people can use when talking to their representatives.

Ossoff: doomed from the start?

Thats what a number of progressives told the Guardian, after the 30-year-old lost to Republican Karen Handel in Tuesdays special election.

Jon Ossoff ran on a centrist, Clinton-esque platform that focussed on rather beige, uncontroversial issues like government waste. There was no talk of universal healthcare and little of welfare issues. He ran in what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, and lost by only five points, but Ossoff was basically the opposite of the kind of populist candidate the left believes is the way forward.

Hes not in favour of single-payer healthcare, hes not outspoken on campaign finance reform, said Moumita Ahmed, founder of Millennials for Revolution. Why would I as a Republican vote for someone who isnt a Republican, but still has the same values as a Republican?

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Ossoff plus balloons. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Winnie Wong, from People for Bernie, said Ossoffs run the election was the most expensive House race in history, by the way was a massive failure of Democratic party leadership.

He didnt have a core progressive message and that ultimately is why he lost. The Democratic party could spend $100m and he would still lose. Because he didnt stand for anything.

but there is hope for a Brand New Congress

Thats the name of a group that selects, trains, supports and promotes progressives who want to run for Congress.

Brand New Congress (BNC), formed in April 2016, currently has 14 candidates who have announced their 2018 mid-term campaigns, including several who are running against incumbent Democrats.

We essentially provide full service campaign service, BNCs Corbin Trent told the Guardian this week. Brand New Congress manages press request, helps with events and ballot access, does opposition research on incumbents, and can even help with speechwriting.

Brand New Congress has organized a weekend canvassing kick off for its candidates (who are from across America) on Sunday. Each of the candidates all of whom are running on progressive platforms are holding events to boost their campaigns.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against incumbent Democrat Joseph Crowley in New Yorks 14th congressional district, organized for the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016.

We have the capacity and opportunity to be ambitious in legislation, Ocasio-Cortez told the Guardian. Because the world is changing in ways weve never seen before.

What were reading

  • Were in the midst of an all-hands-on-deck emergency, writes Rebecca Solnit, in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didnt previously think they were activists. Solnit says there are extraordinary things happening in this moment, in an uplifting survey of the activist land.
  • Progressives should try to speak conservative to score victories, historian and LGBTQ strategist Nathaniel Frank writes in the LA Times. He says the successes of the LGBTQ movement came when activists learned to speak the language of those they most needed to enlist rather than those who already agreed with them.

Ron Swanson reimagined as Berniecrat progressive

Parks
Parks and Recreations Ron Swanson … an eerie doppelganger for a Democratic candidate whos making headlines. Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Randy Bryce, known as @IronStache on Twitter, sprung to fame this week when he announced his challenge to Republican house speaker Paul Ryan. In his favour? An evocative campaign advert, a leftwing message, and the mustache, denim and workboots of an all-American.

That masculine, blue-collar image prompted one Twitter user to suggest Bryce was genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen songs, while several people compared the Democrat to the Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Just not a libertarian.

Randy
Randy Bryce is running for Paul Ryans seat in Congress. Photograph: YouTube

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/23/resistance-now-newsletter-healthcare-jon-ossoff

Donald Trump says he doesn’t want a ‘poor person’ in cabinet roles

President tells crowd during Iowa tour that economic adviser and commerce secretary had to give up a lot to work for him

Donald Trump has said he doesnt want a poor person to hold economic roles in his administration as he used an Iowa rally to defend his decision to appoint the wealthy to his cabinet.

The US president told a crowd on Wednesday night: Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No its true. And Wilburs [commerce secretary Wilbur Ross] a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: Because thats the kind of thinking we want.

The president explained that Ross and his economic adviser Gary Cohn had to give up a lot to take these jobs and that Cohn in particular, a former president of Goldman Sachs, went from massive pay days to peanuts.

Trump added: And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just dont want a poor person. Does that make sense?

He made the comments as he toured the state with agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue and Ross partly to celebrate a Republican congressional victory in Georgia being seen as an early referendum on his presidency.

Trump touched down Wednesday evening in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and headed to a local community college and then to a campaign rally where he reveled in Karen Handels victory.

Were 5-0 in special elections, said Trump in front of a boisterous crowd that packed a downtown arena. The truth is, people love us … they havent figured it out yet.

Supporters
Supporters at a Donald Trump in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

He also applauded Republican Ralph Norman, who notched a slimmer-than-expected win in a special election to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney, and mocked Handels challenger, Jon Ossoff, saying the Democrats spent $30m on this kid who forgot to live in the district.

Trump, no stranger to victory laps, turned his visit to a battleground state he captured in November into a celebration of his resilience despite the cloud of investigations that has enveloped his administration and sent his poll numbers tumbling.

With the appearance in Cedar Rapids, he will have held five rallies in the first five months in office.

The event underscores Trumps comfort in a campaign setting. He laughed off the occasional heckler, repeated riffs from last year and appeared far more at ease when going after Democrats in front of adoring crowds than trying to push through his own legislative agenda from the confines of the White House.

Trumps aides are making a renewed push to get the president out of Washington. The capital is consumed with the investigation into Russian meddling in last years election and Trumps firing of his FBI director, James Comey.

Iowa, with its large share of independent voters, could be a proving ground for whether Trump can count on the support of voters beyond his base. Unaffiliated voters, or no party voters as they are known in Iowa, make up 36% of the electorate, compared with 33% who registered as Republican and 31% registered as Democrat.

Self-identified independents in Iowa voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 13 percentage points last year, according to exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks. That margin helped Trump take the state by nearly nine points after Barack Obama won it the previous two elections.

Trump held a Des Moines rally in December as part of his transition-era thank you tour of states he had won, but has not been back to Iowa since.

At the rally, he touted his administrations efforts to roll back regulations, mused about putting solar panels on a Mexican border wall, derided wind power for killing birds in a state that uses a lot of it and revealed that he urged the Senate to create a health care plan with heart. Add some money to it!

He avoided any discussion of the scandals surrounding his presidency, other than one brief reference to the witch hunt, his term for the inquiries into his campaigns ties to Russia.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/22/donald-trump-says-he-doesnt-want-a-poor-person-in-cabinet-roles

Officers who killed Seattle woman in her home had mental health crisis training

Questions raised over why two police officers, who knew Charleena Lyles had mental health issues, used deadly force within minutes of arriving

Two Seattle police officers who shot and killed a pregnant woman inside her apartment had been trained to deal with people showing signs of mental illness or other behavior crises.

Officials also say the officers had at least one less-lethal way to handle the woman who they knew had a previous volatile encounter with law enforcement and had been having mental health issues.

Still, within minutes of arriving Sunday to take a burglary report, the officers drew their guns and shot 30-year-old Charleena Lyles with three of her four children inside her apartment.

Authorities say Lyles confronted the officers with two kitchen knives less than two weeks after she had threatened officers with long metal shears when they responded to a domestic disturbance at her home.

Family members say they want to know what happened Sunday and why police did not use a non-lethal option when they knew Lyles had been struggling with her mental health.

Police and the mayor say the shooting will be investigated.

The killing occurred as Seattle police are under federal oversight following a 2011 investigation that found officers were too quick to use force.

All Seattle officers now receive training on how to better handle those with mental illness or abusing drugs. One of the officers who shot Lyles had been certified as a crisis intervention specialist.

Detective Patrick Michaud said Seattle officers are required to carry a less-lethal option to subdue suspects and have a choice between a Taser, baton or pepper spray.

He said the officers who killed Lyles did not have a Taser and he was unsure which option they had at the time.

Near the beginning of a roughly four-minute police audio recording of the incident and before they reached the apartment, the officers discussed an officer safety caution about the address involving the previous law enforcement interaction.

The officers talked about the woman previously having large metal shears, trying to prevent officers from leaving her apartment and making weird statements about her and her daughter turning into wolves.

Seattle municipal court records show that Lyles was arrested 5 June and booked into King County jail. She pleaded not guilty to two counts of harassment and obstructing a police officer.

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A girl walks past a memorial outside the apartment where Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by police on Monday. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

She was released from jail on 14 June on the condition that she check-in twice a week with a case manager and possess no weapons.

The audio recording and transcripts released by police indicates that the officers had spent about two minutes calmly speaking with Lyles before the situation escalated.

The transcript shows one officer yelling get back! repeatedly and Lyles saying Get ready, (expletive).

An officer said we need help and reported a woman with two knives. He urged his partner to use a stun gun but that officer responded: I dont have a Taser.

Sue Rahr, a former sheriff who heads the state Criminal Justice Training Commission, noted that circumstances determine whether officers are able to use non-lethal force or resolve a situation without force.

Officers may be able to take their time to persuade a suspect whos standing in the middle of an intersection with no one nearby to drop a knife, but that might be different in cramped quarters or with children nearby, she said.

If the officer has time, space and cover, they have more options than using deadly force, but thats not necessarily going to be the case, Rahr said.

James Bible, an attorney representing relatives of Lyles, said Tuesday that the officers knew she was vulnerable when they went to her apartment.

When we call police for help, we expect protection, we expect safety, Bible said. It was their responsibility to protect her and they didnt.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/20/seattle-police-shooting-charleena-lyles-mental-health

Georgia special election: Republican Karen Handel beats Jon Ossoff in runoff

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warnings helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts

In Georgia the resistance was stopped by the rain on Tuesday when Jon Ossoff, long the best hope of Democrats to win a special election in the Trump administration, suffered a narrow loss to Republican Karen Handel in the Sixth Congressional District.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Handel had 52.4% and Ossoff had 47.6%

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warnings helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts and on the hopes of progressives to thwart Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Combined with an energized Republican base that kept Ossoff from accumulating a significant lead among early voters, it doomed the hopes of the anti-Trump activists who made the first time Democratic candidate a minor political celebrity.

The runoff came after a first round of voting in April where Ossoff won just over 48% of the vote and Handel finished second in a splintered Republican field with just under 20% of the vote. However, Ossoff struggled to match that total as Handel consolidated the Republican vote in a traditionally conservative district in the northern suburbs of Atlanta andended up falling a percentage point short of his much hyped performance in the first round of voting.

Trump took to Twitter to hail the result as a personal victory Thank you @FoxNews Huge win for President Trump and GOP in Georgia Congressional Special Election.

The seat had been vacated by Tom Price when the former congressman joined Trumps cabinet to become secretary of health and human services and previously held by Republican stalwarts like Senator Johnny Isakson and former speaker Newt Gingrich. Although Price won by 23% in 2016, Donald Trump only narrowly won this wealthy, well-educated district by just over 1%.

Trumps narrow win sparked optimism among Democrats that the district, where nearly 60% of residents have a college degree, could flip as part of the political realignment around the presidents upset victory in 2016. Roughly $50m ended up being spent by both parties and allied groups in the race as it became the most expensive congressional campaign in the history of the United States.

However, while Democrats had motivated their base and won over skeptical Republicans, the conservative slant of district proved too much even for the nearly unprecedented resources that Democrats invested in the race, even flying in volunteers for last minute doorknocking as local television stations had been saturated by 30-second advertisements.

Although the race had been cast a referendum on Trump an opinion the President seemed to endorse after the result had been reported both candidates awkwardly danced around his looming presence on the campaign trail. At Handels campaign events, Trumps name went unmentioned by the candidate and introductory speakers. Instead, there was constant refrain of attack on Ossoff for his ties to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and praise for previous holders of the seat like Price and Gingrich. Ossoff was regularly bashed for the amount of money he raised out of state and for having San Francisco values.

Handel, who suggested in the first televised debate of the campaign that Trump should use Twitter less often, told the Guardian in an interview on Monday that she didnt pay attention to the presidents use of social media. She said I am focused on my campaign, I have precious little time to be on Twitter. Several hours later, her campaign sent out a fundraising email signed by the former secretary of state with the subject line did you see what Trump just tweeted? after the President used his ubiquitous social media account to tout her campaign.

Ossoff has also been measured in his attacks on Trump in a traditionally Republican district albeit one that the president barely won in 2016. Instead, the lanky and measured political neophyte focused on banal and politically non-controversial issues like government waste and turning Atlanta into the Silicon Valley of the South and let the progressive anti-Trump enthusiasm of the Democratic base carry him.

Instead, he has focused on Handels stint as Georgia secretary of state as well as her brief stint with the Susan Komen Race For The Cure, a charity which combats breast cancer, where she led an effort to cut off the organizations funding for Planned Parenthood. The decision sparked a major controversy and funding was eventually restored and Handel had to resign from the non-profit.

In an interview with the Guardian, Ossoff slammed his opponent. Secretary Handels record as secretary of state is extremely weak perhaps because she was too busy preparing her next run for higher office to do her job. She quit her job early to run for higher office, as so many career politicians do. Her last significant private sector experience, her performance also lacked.

The issue of civility and the growing toxic nature of American political culture became an issue late in the race in the aftermath of the shooting of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Handel pointed to social media and journalism as reasons for the decline of civility in American society in an interview with the Guardian. Journalism is not journalism any more, said Handel. Ossoff stuck to broader themes, telling the Guardian, this is a deep rooted problem in American politics right now which is going to take work and bipartisan commitment to trying to heal wounds and focus on substance instead of fear mongering and slander.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/21/georgia-special-election-republican-karen-handel-beats-jon-ossoff-in-runoff

Carrie Fisher died from sleep apnea and other factors, coroner says

Officials could not conclusively determine what caused the actors death in December

Carrie Fisher died from sleep apnea and a combination of other factors, but it was not possible to conclusively determine what caused her death, coroners officials have said.

Among the factors that contributed to Fishers death was buildup of fatty tissue in the walls of her arteries, the Los Angeles County coroners office said in a news release late on Friday. The release states that the Star Wars actor showed signs of having taken multiple drugs, but investigators could not determine whether they contributed to her death in December.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for additional details about whether a full autopsy report and toxicology results were available.

Fisher, 60, suffered a medical emergency on an international flight on 23 December. Her mother, longtime movie star Debbie Reynolds, died the following day.

Fishers brother, Todd Fisher, said he was not surprised by the results. He added that his family did not want a coroners investigation of his sisters death. Were not enlightened. Theres nothing about this that is enlightening, he said.

I would tell you, from my perspective that theres certainly no news that Carrie did drugs, Todd Fisher said. He noted that his sister wrote about her drug use frequently, and that many of the drugs she took were prescribed by doctors to try to treat her mental health conditions.

Fisher long battled drug addiction and mental illness. She said she smoked pot at 13, used LSD by 21 and was diagnosed as bipolar at 24. She was treated with electroshock therapy and medication.

I am not shocked that part of her health was affected by drugs, Todd Fisher said.

He said his sisters heart condition was probably worsened by her smoking habit, as well as the medications she took. If you want to know what killed her, its all of it, he said.

Todd Fisher said it was difficult to blame doctors who treated his sister because they were trying to help her.

They were doing their best to cure a mental disorder. Can you really blame them? Todd Fisher said. Without her drugs, maybe she would have left long ago.

Carrie Fisher made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit Shampoo. She also appeared in Austin Powers, The Blues Brothers, Charlies Angels, Hannah and Her Sisters, Scream 3 and When Harry Met Sally …

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/jun/17/carrie-fisher-died-from-sleep-apnea-and-other-factors-coroner-says

Portland man accused of fatal train stabbing has outburst in court

Jeremy Joseph Christian, accused of killing two men as they shielded a woman from his anti-Muslim tirade, shouted: You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!

The man accused of fatally stabbing two men in Portland, Oregon, when they tried to shield young women from his anti-Muslim tirade, made repeated outbursts in court on Tuesday, including shouting: You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was in Multnomah County courtroom Tuesday afternoon for his first court appearance on two counts of felony aggravated murder and other charges for the Friday attack.

Authorities say Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab. Three men on the train intervened before police say Christian attacked them, killing two and wounding one.

As Christian walked into the courtroom he yelled out: Free speech or die, Portland! You got no safe place. This is America. Get out if you dont like free speech!

Standing behind glass partitions in the defendants area, he continued: Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom. Death to Antifa! You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism! You hear me? Die.

As he finished his statement, a crowd of about 30 anti-fascist protesters who were watching a livestream on their phones, could be heard yelling outside the courtroom doors.

On Friday, authorities say, Jeremy Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab, on a light-rail train. Police say when three other men on the train, including surviving victim Micah Fletcher, intervened, Christian attacked them. The other two men, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, were killed.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/30/portland-stabbing-anti-muslim-jeremy-joseph-christian-court

The US healthcare system is at a dramatic fork in the road | Adam Gaffney

The Congressional Budget Office has given the revised American Health Care Act a dismal score. Will we let this terrible plan define our healthcare future?

The US healthcare system and with it the health and welfare of millions is poised on the edge of a knife. Though the fetid dysfunction and entanglements of the Trump presidency dominate the airwaves, this is an issue that will have life and death consequences for countless Americans.

The Congressional Budget Offices (CBO) dismal scoring of the revised American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Wednesday made clear just how dire Americas healthcare prospects are under Trumps administration. But while the healthcare debate is often framed as a choice between Obamacare and the new Republican plan, there are actually three healthcare visions in competition today. These can be labelled healthcare past, healthcare present, and healthcare future.

Let us begin with healthcare past, for the dark past is precisely where Republicans are striving to take us with the AHCA. The bill narrowly passed by the House on 4 May is less a piece of healthcare reform than a dump truck sent barreling at high speed into the foundation of the healthcare safety net.

Wednesdays CBO score reflects the modifications made to the AHCA to pacify the hard-right Freedom Caucus, changes that allowed states to obtain waivers that would relieve health insurers of the requirement that they cover the full spectrum of essential healthcare benefits, or permit them to charge higher premiums to those guilty of the misdemeanor of sickness, all purportedly for the goal of lowering premiums.

In fairness, the CBO report did find that these waivers would bring down premiums for non-group plans. This, however, was not the result of some mysterious market magic, but simply because, as the CBO noted, covered benefits would be skimpier, while sicker and older people would be pushed out of the market.

In some states that obtained waivers, over time, less healthy individuals would be unable to purchase comprehensive coverage with premiums close to those under current law and might not be able to purchase coverage at all. Moreover, out-of-pocket costs would rise for many, for instance whenever people needed to use services that were no longer covered say mental health or maternity care.

Much else, however, stayed the same from the previous reports. Like the last AHCA, this one would cut more than $800bn in Medicaid spending over a decade, dollars it would pass into the bank accounts of the rich in the form of tax cuts, booting about 14 million individuals out of the program in the process. And overall, the new AHCA would eventually strip insurance from 23 million people, as compared to the previous estimate of 24 million.

Its worth noting here that Trumps budget released Tuesday proposed additional Medicaid cuts in addition of those of the AHCA, which amounted to a gargantuan $1.3tn over a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The tax plan and budget best characterized as a battle plan for no-holds-barred top-down class warfare drawn up by apparently innumerate xenophobes would in effect transform the healthcare and food aid of the poor into bricks for a US-Mexico border wall, guns for an already swollen military, and more than anything a big fat payout to Trumps bloated billionaire and millionaire cronies.

What becomes of this violent agenda now depends on Congress and on the grassroots pressure that can be brought to bear upon its members.

But assuming the AHCA dies a much-deserved death quite possible given the headwinds it faces in the Senate we will still have to contend with healthcare present.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released 2016 results from the National Health Interview Survey, giving us a fresh glimpse of where things stand today. And on the one hand, the news seemed good: the number of uninsured people fell from 48.6 to 28.6 million between 2010 and 2016.

On the other hand, it revealed utter stagnation: an identical number were uninsured in 2016 as compared with 2015, with about a quarter of those with low incomes uninsured last year (among non-elderly adults). It also suggested that the value of insurance is declining, with high-deductible health plans rapidly becoming the rule and not the exception: for the privately insured under age 65, 39.4% had a high-deductible in 2016, up from 25.3% in 2010.

Healthcare present, therefore, is an unstable status quo: an improvement from healthcare past, no doubt, but millions remain uninsured and out-of-pocket health costs continue to squeeze the insured.

Which takes us to the third vision, that of healthcare future. As it happens, another recent development provided a brief glimmer of hope for that vision. As the Hill reported, the Democratic congressman John Conyers held a press conference yesterday (Physicians for a National Health Program, in which I am active, participated) to announce that his universal healthcare bill the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act had achieved 111 co-sponsors, amounting to a majority of the House Democratic Caucus and the most in the bills history.

This bill like other single-payer proposals is the precise antithesis of Paul Ryans AHCA. Rather than extract coverage from millions to provide tax breaks for the rich, it would use progressive taxation to provide first-dollar health coverage to all.

Which of these three visions will win out is uncertain, but the outcome of the contest will have a lasting impact on the country. We can only hope that the thuggish, rapacious vision championed by Trump and his administration does not prevail.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/25/us-healthcare-system-fork-road

Trump’s budget: major slashes to social programs but $1.6bn for the wall

Millions of people stand to lose Medicaid access, alongside cuts to welfare and food stamps, under a proposed budget that still has numerous hurdles to jump

Donald Trump will embrace hardline right-wing economics on Tuesday with a budget that proposes swingeing cuts to social safety net programmes while allocating $1.6bn to a border wall.

Millions of people would lose access to Medicaid, the government insurance programme for the poorest and many disabled Americans. Food stamps for people on low incomes would be cut over the next 10 years under the White House plan and the families of undocumented workers would be frozen out of key tax breaks.

We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programmes or the number of people on those programmes, budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters. Were going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programmes to get back in charge of their own lives. Were not going to measure our success by how much money we spend but by how many people we actually help.

The Trump blueprint is unlikely to become law because it will face opposition from both moderate Republicans and Democrats worried about its social impact and from fiscal conservatives who fear it will increase the deficit.

Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, condemned the proposed cuts to Medicaid. This would pull the rug out from so many Americans who need help: those suffering from opioid and heroin addiction, people in nursing homes and their families who care for them, the elderly, the disabled, and children, he said on the Senate floor.
Medicaid helps not only the poor but increasingly the middle class, as well as 1.75m veterans, Schumer added. Heres what candidate Trump said when he campaigned: Im not going to cut social security like every other Republican and Im not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid. He promised he would help take care of those suffering from opioid addiction. If it cuts Medicaid, hes breaking that promise right in half.

Economic experts were also quick to dismiss Mulvaneys claims that Trumps tax plans and budget would boost economic growth to 3%, balancing the federal budget within a decade.

Although Trump is an unconventional president, the budget shares much with the conservative orthodoxy of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It is entitled A New Foundation for American Greatness and Mulvaney said if he had a subtitle it would be, The taxpayer first budget.

Budget
Budget director Mick Mulvaney. We need everybody to pull in the same direction. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Cuts to Medicaid over the next decade exceed even the more than the $800bn reductions contained in a health bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

The president also aims to slash welfare by $274bn over a decade, including $193bn on food stamps, driving millions of people off the programme. This would be several times bigger than cuts attempted by House Republicans in the past. The number of people claiming food stamps spiked to 47m people at the height of the 2007-08 recession and had not come down as expected, still totalling 44m people, Mulvaney said, despite near full employment in the US.

Some $72bn over 10 years would come from social securitys disability insurance programme, including $50bn in savings which would be achieved by helping recipients get off the programme and find a job.

Mulvaney continued: If youre on food stamps and youre able bodied, we need you to go to work. If youre on disability insurance and youre not supposed to be, if youre not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work.

He added: Theres a dignity to work and theres a necessity to work to help the country and succeed and we need everybody to pull in the same direction.

The Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit would be limited to those who are authorised to work in the US. They would be required to show proof of a social security number a move that would have a negative impact on children who are US citizens but whose parents are undocumented.

I could ask you for your money I think, in good faith and good conscience, and say, Look, I need to take some of your money and give it to this family, who deserves the Child Tax Credit, but I cant do it to give the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is designed to help folks who work, to give it somebody whos in the country and working illegally. Its just not fair. Its not right when you look at it through the perspective of the people paying the taxes.

Trump would also reduce federal employee pensions and farm subsidies while keeping campaign pledges to leave core Medicare and social security benefits for the elderly untouched.

He also promised a groundbreaking proposal to provide six weeks of paid family leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, championed by Trumps daughter, Ivanka, and costing $25bn over 10 years.

Mulvaney confirmed that the budget plan defunds Planned Parenthood, on the premise that the American Health Care Act will become law, and winds down the support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which feeds the money to outlets such as the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

The blueprint also shaves 31.4% off funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and 29.1% off that for the state department and other international programmes.

The cuts to domestic spending would be redirected to the US military, law enforcement and supporting veterans. It allocates $2.6bn to border security, including $1.6bn for the bricks and mortar construction of a wall on the Mexican border, with the remaining $1m allotted to technology and infrastructure.

But the plan a wish list to fund the Trump agenda faces numerous hurdles. The healthcare bill is likely to undergo significant changes in the Senate while a rewrite of the tax code only has a broad outline so far. It also makes assumptions about growth.

People
People protest the Trump administrations bid to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Photograph: David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images

Mulvaney said Trumps package of spending cuts and tax breaks would boost the USs economys growth rate to 3% over the next decade, a considerable increase from the 1.9% forecast under current policy by the Congressional Budget Office.

The director, due to testify to the House and Senate this week, said: I think what Trumponomics is and what this budget is a part of is an effort to get to sustained 3% economic growth in this country again. I think its sad that the previous administration was willing to admit that we couldnt get better than 1.9% growth over the next 10 years … That assumes a pessimism about America, about the economy, about its people, about its culture that were simply refusing to accept. We believe that we can get to 3% growth.

But economists were skeptical of the claim. Gus Faucher, PNC Financial Services chief economist said US productivity growth had averaged 1.75% over the last 45 years and that the period between the late 1990s and early 2000s when growth topped 3% was the exception. Its asking a lot to expect the exception not the rule, said Faucher.

Marc Goldwein, head of policy at non-partisan thinktank Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the budgets numbers did not add up. He said Mulvaneys promise of returning to the 3% growth rates were unrealistic at best.

We are not bringing the 90s back, he said. Three percent was normal then because the baby boomers were in their prime and we had a tech boom. Now baby boomers are aging out of the workforce and the tech booms impact has fizzled, Trumps budget would likely add decimal points not percentage points to US growth, he said.

This is like pretending you have won the lottery when all you have is a handful of scratch cards, he said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/22/donald-trump-budget-proposal-2018-social-care-border-wall

Trump’s alleged boast to Russians could wreck the trust of America’s allies

The vital intelligence-sharing alliances could see permanent damage if it proves true that Trump shared highly classified information at a recent meeting

Donald Trumps Oval Office boasting to the Russians, if confirmed, could wreak its deepest and most enduring damage on vital intelligence-sharing by US allies.

A similar erosion of trust in the presidents loyalties and competence appeared to have accelerated among Trumps political allies in Washington. As the White House fought back hard against the Washington Post report, which was confirmed on Tuesday night by several other US news organisations, it was unclear how far his support from the Republican establishment essential to his survival as president had been weakened.

In the world of intelligence-sharing among nations, however, any semblance of doubt can be corrosive and irrevocable. Even before this latest indiscretion, there had been rumblings of concern from the CIAs partner agencies abroad, uneasy about the Trump campaigns seemingly cosy relation with Moscow, reports of possible collusion in the 2016 election campaign, and Trumps own disdain for the US intelligence community. He frequently appeared to give more credence to conspiracy sites and the Kremlin that the intelligence briefings he received before taking office.

During the transition, many allies voiced concern Trump team might share intel with Moscow. Todays news will compound that concern, Colin Kahl, a senior official in the Obama administrations national security council (NSC), said in a tweet.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/15/donald-trump-russia-classified-information-impact-allies

Bernie Sanders: Trump was right, Australian healthcare is better

Sanders also says Senate should use Australian system as model while crafting an alternative to Republicans replacement for Obamacare

Bernie Sanders has declared President Donald Trump was right to say Australia has better healthcare than the US.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, said the US Senate should use the Australian system as a model while crafting an alternative to the Republican healthcare legislation that Trump endorses.

President Trump is right. The Australian healthcare system provides healthcare to all of its people at a fraction of the cost than we do, Sanders commented on Twitter.

The tweet was accompanied by a short video that set out the virtues of Australias universal healthcare system, saying it guarantees better service to all Australians at about half the cost of US healthcare. The video also notes that Australians can expect to live longer than Americans on average.

Sanderss tweet came two days after Trump told the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Trumbull in New York: You have better healthcare than we do.

The presidents comment raised eyebrows, coming just after the US House of Representatives had approved a Trump-backed bill that would overturn much of former President Barack Obamas signature healthcare law and move the US system further away from universal coverage.

The White House later said Trump was simply being nice to an ally and did not think the United States should adopt Australias healthcare approach.

The healthcare legislation that Trump endorses would pare back insurance protections for the sick and, according to nonpartisan congressional researchers, would lead to 24 million more Americans being without health coverage by 2026.
But the bills approval in the House on Thursday sent the legislation to the Senate, where it has little support.

We will take this pathetic healthcare bill, throw it in the garbage can and do something that will work for ordinary Americans instead, Sanders said in a second tweet on Saturday.

A Vermont independent, Sanders has become more influential in the Senate since 2016, when he took his long-shot presidential bid and turned it into a political movement against inequality.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/07/bernie-sanders-trump-was-right-australian-healthcare-is-better