Trump’s Election Anniversary Report Card

Trump’s Election Anniversary Report Card

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, pundits and historians will judge his job performance so far. That’s what they do. But some of the president’s grades are obvious, especially for those who care about keeping the environment and our children healthy, keeping our people safe from weather disasters, living in a time when the nation is at peace, and salvaging America’s reputation overseas.

On the bright side, Trump deserves an excellent grade for his entertainment value. He has been a godsend for impressionists, comedians and wig makers.

He has been a blessing for the legal profession, too. He has inspired so much litigation that it may be boosting our GDP. In addition to the battery of lawyers on both sides of the Russia investigation, legions of attorneys are benefitting from the lawsuits filed to challenge the Trump Administration’s actions. As of August, Trump had been sued in federal courts 134 times over topics ranging from sanctuary cities to transgender soldiers.

Trump had been sued in federal courts 134 times over topics ranging from sanctuary cities to transgender soldiers.

It is when we get to his policies, behaviors, ethics and judgments that Trump’s grades plunge into “F” territory. For example, his stated reason for dismissing climate change (he says it’s a Chinese plot) is obviously absurd, but that’s his story and he’s sticking to it, even while unimaginable and unprecedented hurricanes, floods and fires are taking lives and property. The impacts of climate change are not only overwhelming entire regions of the United States, they are quickly overwhelming the federal government’s ability to respond to and help communities recover from these horrific events.

Next, it seems important that we learn as much as possible about the environment, our influence on its health and its influence on ours. But the Administration is dismissing federal scientists and science programs whose work cannot be replaced by states. Its decisions seem based on fiat and bias rather than good policy or even common sense. In one recent case, Trump’s Department of Interior ordered a halt to a half-completed study by the respected National Academies of Science on the health impacts of surface coal mining in West Virginia.

Trump fails miserably on core curricula like maintaining the dignity of the presidency or our ability to trust what a president says. He is chronically careless with facts to the extent that he might be suspected of trying to mislead us. His constant complaints that the media are putting out “fake facts” and “false news” obviously are meant to discredit those who point out that it’s the President who engages in fake facts and false news. He uses hyperbole to promise the biggest and the best, while raising expectations beyond what Congress can accomplish and blaming it for the failures. He uses innuendo to start tantalizing rumors to distract public attention or to impugn without facts the integrity of his critics.

Trump also deserves an “F” on his policies. He has


Finally Something Economists Can Agree On: Trump’s Debt Talk Made Zero Sense

Finally Something Economists Can Agree On: Trump’s Debt Talk Made Zero Sense

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump may still be divisive to most Americans, but his recent explanation about how an increasing stock market decreases the national debt appears to have unified both Republican and Democratic economists.

“The thing he said last night was just mind-achingly wrong,” said Jared Bernstein, once the top economic adviser to former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden. “Literally to the point where it was making my head hurt. I had to shut it off, and it made me feel better.”

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Sen. John McCain’s economic adviser during the senator’s 2008 presidential run, agreed. “There’s no relationship,” he said. “So that’s pretty clear.”

The cause of Bernstein’s headache: Trump’s interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, in which he claimed that the increased value of stocks somehow reduced the accumulated national debt – apparently on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

“As you know, the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market,” Trump told his friend and informal adviser. “So you could say in one sense, we’re really increasing values. And maybe in a sense, we’re reducing debt.”

The two values, though, have nothing to do with each other. The national debt is the accumulated amount owed by the nation because the government over the years has spent more than it has received in tax revenues. The value of all the stocks of all the publicly traded companies is owned by their various shareholders, not the government.

An increase in the latter cannot decrease the former unless Trump plans to confiscate the aggregated increase in stock value since his election and use it to pay down the debt.

The White House on Thursday said Trump was speaking more broadly. “The president was simply making the point that we’ve seen enormous growth in the stock market since his election,” a White House official said on condition of anonymity. “That means more money in the pocket of everyday citizens, and more circulating in our economy as a whole.”

Trump’s explanation to Hannity also neglected to mention that former President Obama took office in the middle of a major financial crisis, whereas Trump took over following seven years of stable growth.

It was not, however, the first time Trump has shown signs of not understanding the functioning of the debt.

In June, during a visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said he was unhappy with a trade agreement with South Korea because that country’s exports to the United States are worth more than its imports. “We cannot allow that to continue,” Trump said. “This is really a statement that I make about all trade: For many, many years the United States has suffered through massive trade deficits. That’s why we have $20 trillion in debt.”

Holtz-Eakin, who at one time served as director of the Congressional Budget Office, said there actually is a relationship


Americans Are Willing To Pay A Carbon Tax, But Trump Won’t Even Consider It

Americans Are Willing To Pay A Carbon Tax, But Trump Won’t Even Consider It

Amid the United States’ fraught debate over climate change, one policy solution stands out as uniquely popular. It has support from environmentalists, economists , Republicans and even Exxon Mobil Corp. , the historic bankroller of the movement to seed doubt over global warming.

It’s the same approach taken to  alcohol, tobacco, sugar and other things deemed too dangerous to leave unchecked but too widely used to ban ― namely, put a tax on carbon emissions.

Now, a new poll shows that a majority of registered voters support taxing fossil fuel to help reduce global warming. Even more strikingly, the average American is willing to pay nearly 15 percent more for energy each year to help support a carbon tax, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

“Americans, they’re not in love with coal and natural gas, and they tend to think of them as very dirty and very polluting,” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and a co-author of the study, told HuffPost. “But they’re not naive. They don’t think ― and pardon the pun ― that it’s like flipping a light switch and we’re all on solar power.”

The survey participants ― a group of 1,226 American adults, ages 18 and older, surveyed last year between Nov. 18 and Dec. 1 ― were asked: “If a tax on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to help reduce global warming were to cost your household $X more each year in higher energy bills, would you support or oppose it?” Participants were then given a choice of different amounts of money.

The average American said they would be willing to spend $177 per year, which comes out to about 14.4 percent more on energy when compared to current electricity rates in each state, the researchers found. That alone would raise about $22.3 billion, not including a carbon tax added to other goods and services in the economy. 

The White House has repeatedly said it would not pursue a carbon tax as part of the broad tax overhaul proposed earlier this year. President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism that climate change is a serious problem. He has also claimed, without evidence, that the overwhelming majority of scientists who say greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and industrialized farming are to blame for climate change are, in fact, perpetuating a “hoax.” Trump’s administration has aggressively rolled back policies to curb emissions.

Americans Are Willing To Pay A Carbon Tax, But Trump Won’t Even Consider It

On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed repealing the Clean Power Plan, a sweeping set of rules to limit emissions from power plants and incentivize investment in renewable energy. He billed the announcement as an end to the “war on coal” ― that is, environmental policies Republicans have long blamed for hurting the coal industry, even though coal’s decline has been primarily driven by competition with natural gas.  

But roughly 66 percent of registered voters support a revenue-neutral carbon tax. That includes 81 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and


State Bar Recommends Suspension Of Orange County Prosecutor For Withholding Evidence

State Bar Recommends Suspension Of Orange County Prosecutor For Withholding Evidence

The State Bar of California has recommended that a prosecutor from the beleaguered Orange County District Attorney’s Office be suspended for at least a year after finding that she willfully withheld evidence from a defendant during a child abuse case.

In a ruling filed this week, state bar Judge Yvette Roland recommended that veteran OCDA prosecutor Deputy District Attorney Sandra Lee Nassar be placed on a three-year probation with at least the first year including a suspension from practicing law.

“A prosecutor’s failure to timely turn over exculpatory and impeachment evidence is extremely serious misconduct,” Judge Roland wrote in an opinion published this week. “Even when facing difficult situations, such as the protection of witnesses, prosecutors must operate within the confines of the law.”

OCDA did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The accusations of misconduct stem from a 2011 child abuse case that Nassar was prosecuting. Nassar accused Carmen Iacullo, the boyfriend of Orange County resident Lori Pincus, of abusing the woman’s 5-year-old son. Pincus also faced charges of child abuse and of acting as an accessory to child abuse.

While Iacullo and the boy’s mother were held in a local county jail in 2011, Nassar requested a “mail cover” to track correspondence between the pair, enabling staff to intercept the mail, copy it, and provide it to Nassar for review before it was sent to its intended recipient. 

By 2012, the boy’s mother pleaded guilty to both charges against her and agreed to testify against Iacullo. Later in 2013, Nassar was transferred into a new unit, as part of her office’s regular rotation of assignments, and the prosecution for the case was taken over by another OCDA prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Duke.

Duke found that the mail cover had amassed more than 1,000 pages of correspondence. Concerned at the sizable collection of documents, she asked Nassar if the pages had been turned over to the defense ― prosecutors are obligated to turn over any evidence that could be favorable to a defendant ― and Nassar responded, “Why would I?” according to the ruling.

Failing to turn over the mail cover materials seemed odd to Duke, the ruling states, so she discussed it with her supervisor who confirmed to Duke that the materials should have been turned over to Iacullo’s defense team.

The letters contained critical details about the case. One letter, the boy’s mother writes to Iacullo that she knew he “didn’t do what they’re saying” because he wasn’t home during the time of the abuse, but that “they accused me of lying to protect you.” 

Duke would go on to hand the materials over to the defense and also cancelled the mail cover. 

During a 2013 hearing, Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals, asked Nassar why she never turned over the documents. Nassar said “it relates to trial strategy,” arguing she wasn’t required to turn over Pincus’ letters with exculpatory information to Iacullo’s defense because it was already in Iacullo’s possession. 

Goethals would ultimately recuse her from the case. 


The Poultry Lobby Wants Trump To Let Them Speed Up Processing Lines

The Poultry Lobby Wants Trump To Let Them Speed Up Processing Lines

America’s poultry workers better get ready to work faster.

A previously abandoned and controversial plan to speed up processing lines inside chicken plants has found new life under the Trump administration. The industry has formally asked that the White House lift the limits capping how quickly birds can move down plant lines, which would allow meatpacking companies to process more chickens.

But worker rights and food safety groups say the plan would also make a difficult job even harder, endangering vulnerable workers and weakening the food inspection process. Eleven such organizations plan to visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture next week ― accompanied by poultry workers ― demanding that it reject the industry’s proposal.

The Poultry Lobby Wants Trump To Let Them Speed Up Processing Lines

In most poultry facilities, line speeds are currently capped at 140 birds per minute to allow adequate time to inspect them for signs of contamination. The industry has proposed that the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service get rid of the limits altogether for facilities that choose to take part in a new inspection program aimed at cutting down on salmonella and other foodborne dangers.

Opponents of a speedup claim the current rates are already too fast and that any increase would be accompanied by a rise in carpal tunnel syndrome and other painful injuries common to the low-wage meatpacking workforce.

Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents 70,000 poultry workers around the country, sent a letter Wednesday to the USDA calling the industry effort “troubling.”

“Poultry workers hold some of the most dangerous and difficult jobs in America,” Perrone said. “The implications of this rule change are striking.”

It isn’t clear when the USDA would make a decision on the request, and a USDA spokeswoman declined to comment. The agency is now run by Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor whose nomination enjoyed wide support from agricultural and poultry companies. (He is not related to the Perdue family famous for its supermarket chickens.)

A spokesman for the National Chicken Council, an industry lobby, said its petition to the USDA speaks for itself. The petition argues that allowing a speedup would have no impact on food safety and that the industry’s falling occupational injury rate should allay concerns about the effects on workers. Granting the speedup, the council argued, would be right in line with Trump’s deregulatory agenda.

“These cost saving actions are consistent with the regulatory reform initiatives recently put in place by the President, and waivers are consistent with the Administration’s emphasis on reducing regulatory burdens on the industry,” the petition reads.

The chicken industry has fought for years to raise the cap on line speeds, just as worker and consumer groups have fought to beat back those efforts . The Obama administration proposed then later pulled a speedup plan after an outcry from worker and consumer groups as well as Democrats in Congress. That rule would have raised the cap from 140 birds per minute to 170, a speed that was allowed only at plants that took


These Volunteer Nurses In Puerto Rico Fear FEMA Is Failing

These Volunteer Nurses In Puerto Rico Fear FEMA Is Failing

WASHINGTON ― Water is rationed. Scabies is spreading. Grocery stores are lined with empty shelves, if they’re open at all. People are fainting as they wait in lines for hours in sweltering heat, because they have to check into a FEMA hub to get small amounts of food and supplies being guarded by armed officers. That’s if they can even make it to FEMA.

This is the jarring reality that greeted registered nurses Alicia Schwartz and Misty Richards when they arrived in Puerto Rico. They didn’t know each other before last week, when they flew into San Juan from New York and Oregon, respectively, to volunteer to help with the humanitarian crisis on the island ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Now they spend every night together, camped out in a vacated baseball stadium locker room with other volunteers trying to aid 3.4 million fellow Americans in their moment of need.

FEMA and military personnel have been leading relief efforts, but from the looks of it, something isn’t working. It’s been more than three weeks since the hurricane hit, and 36 percent of people still don’t have drinking water, according to a government website updated daily. About 84 percent still don’t have power.

And that’s if you think the data are accurate. In a phone interview, Schwartz and Richards laughed as HuffPost read aloud statistics from the government site. They say it’s way worse.

“That’s lies,” said Schwartz, 54. “First of all, we don’t even know if the water is drinkable. Where is FEMA collecting this information? This is not what we’re seeing.”

Schwartz said she’s met people who haven’t had much access to drinking water for weeks, so they keep filling up containers from rivers or mountain streams. But that water isn’t clean and can cause bacterial diseases, including leptospirosis, which is spread by animal urine. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Wednesday that at least 10 people have suspected cases of leptospirosis , and four deaths may be tied to it.

“Who tells them that they cannot drink this water?” asked Schwartz. “We had to stop people on the side of the road to Utuado, one of the places where water rushes by, and stop people from getting water there and teach them how to disinfect water.”

These Volunteer Nurses In Puerto Rico Fear FEMA Is Failing

Richards, 47, said the idea that 86 percent of grocery stores are open, another statistic on the government website, seems off. In the towns she’s visited all over the island, most markets are closed or in dire conditions. She and Schwartz have spent time in about 20 towns so far, including Humacao, Fajardo, Utuado, Rio Grande and the outskirts of San Juan.

“There are long lines and empty shelves. I have met tons of people with pictures of empty shelves,” Richards said. “There is no meat to be had. Very limited amounts of dairy. That’s even in San Juan, where people are better off in an urban area.”

Neither of the nurses claims to have a full understanding of FEMA’s operations. They’ve been on


Trump To Cut Off Billions In Key Obamacare Payments To Insurers

Trump To Cut Off Billions In Key Obamacare Payments To Insurers

President Donald Trump plans to halt payments to health insurance companies serving the poorest customers on the Obamacare exchanges, the White House announced Thursday.

Trump has threatened to withhold these funds, valued at $7 billion this year, since shortly after his election victory last November. The threats alone have roiled the health insurance market, and if he follows through, it promises to be significantly disruptive. Trump will make an announcement Friday, according to Politico, which  first reported  the news.

In Trump’s mind, dealing damage to the Obamacare market is a means to achieve leverage he believes will force congressional Democrats to cooperate with replacing the Affordable Care Act , the law President Barack Obama signed in 2010 that has brought the number of uninsured Americans to a historic low .

Trump has been undermining the law and its programs since he took office in January, and he has ramped up his efforts in recent weeks in the aftermath of his failure to get the Affordable Care Act repealed by Congress . Earlier Thursday, Trump  signed an executive order  directing federal agencies to change regulations to allow insurers to sell policies that exclude people with pre-existing conditions and have skimpier benefits than insurance governed by the Affordable Care Act.

The mere possibility that Trump would refuse to pay money owed to health insurance companies created additional instability in market. Insurers are raising premiums for next year even more than they would have as they try to protect themselves against financial losses if the federal government reneges on its obligations .

The open-enrollment period on health insurance exchanges, such as and Covered California , begins Nov. 1, less than three weeks from now.

The payments Trump plans to end are related to so-called cost-sharing reductions offered to insurance exchange enrollees who earn up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $30,150 for a single person. These subsidies serve to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for low-income people by shrinking their deductibles, co-payments and the like.

Almost 6 million people , or 57 percent of  Obamacare  enrollees, qualified for these subsidies when they enrolled this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies are required to reduce this cost-sharing. The federal government is supposed to reimburse them for the cost, and it has since exchange plans went live in January 2014.

Trump will change that soon. He has the authority to do so because of a lawsuit then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) brought against Obama in 2014. House Republicans claimed Obama illegally made these payments without an explicit congressional appropriation of the funding.

A federal judge sided with House Republicans last year but allowed Obama to continue paying back insurers while the case went through the appeals process.

But when Trump succeeded Obama as president, his administration became the defendant in the case, raising doubt about how Trump and House Republicans would proceed. The parties in the lawsuit have obtained several delays in


GOP Senator Has One Stinging Question For Conservatives Who Support Trump

GOP Senator Has One Stinging Question For Conservatives Who Support Trump
GOP Senator Has One Stinging Question For Conservatives Who Support Trump | HuffPost...

Kellyanne Conway's Tweet About Trump 'Empowering Women' Didn't Go Down Well

Kellyanne Conway's Tweet About Trump 'Empowering Women' Didn't Go Down Well

The White House counselor tweeted that


The Reddest State In The Nation Isn't That Interested In The GOP's Moral Agenda

The Reddest State In The Nation Isn't That Interested In The GOP's Moral Agenda

GILLETTE, Wyo. ― Marlayna Walker is a lifelong Christian. She thinks abortion should be banned. She doesn’t support gay couples adopting children. And she doesn’t like the idea of transgender people using public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

But ask Walker, a 30-year-old mother of three, if she wishes her state’s laws were more restrictive on those issues ― some of which were recently debated in the Wyoming Legislature ― and she’ll tell you absolutely not.

“I definitely don’t care about passing laws to prevent gays from adopting,” she said, bouncing her 18-month-old son, Zeke, in her arms outside a local bank in this northeastern Wyoming coal town. “I don’t want my legislature to do that. These are just my beliefs.”

The Reddest State In The Nation Isn't That Interested In The GOP's Moral Agenda

About 40 miles away in the tiny town of Wright, Lori Sanders is wiping down a counter at Hank’s Roadside Bar and Grill, a hot spot for local miners when they get off work. She’ll tell you people don’t care much for politics here; it’s more of a party scene, with late nights of Jägermeister shots and customers fumbling for quarters at 2 a.m. to try to fish sex toys out of the claw machine in the back.

Sanders, who has tended bar here for years, says her favorite part of the job is just seeing how accepting everyone is of each other. It may not be the most diverse area; it’s an overwhelmingly white, working-class community. But anyone is welcome, she said, and that’s part of what being a Wyomingite means.

HuffPost is hitting the road this fall to interview people about their hopes, dreams, fears ― and what it means to be American today.

“We don’t put anybody to the side because of who they are,” said Sanders, 43. “I know so many gays and I know so many different religions and stuff, that if they was to walk in here right now, I would hug every one of ’em.”

Judging by the numbers, Wyoming is the most conservative state in the country. Every statewide elected official is Republican, as are 78 of the 90 state legislators. President Donald Trump won all but one county last year, and the 68.2 percent of the vote he received here was the highest in the nation. More Wyoming residents self-identify as “conservative” than in any other state, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this year, outnumbering self-identified “liberals” by 35 percentage points.

Yet, there is a confounding aspect to the way conservatism expresses itself in the Cowboy State: Some of the most hot-button social issues haven’t caught on.

The Reddest State In The Nation Isn't That Interested In The GOP's Moral Agenda

In the last legislative session, a proposed “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people never made it to the floor. Gov. Matt Mead (R) vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry guns into state and local government meetings, saying its effects were murky. While Wyoming lacks easy access to abortion facilities as it is ― the only clinics are in the town of Jackson ― legislation aimed at further restricting

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