Headlines: July 9, 2019
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The Affordable Care Act is once more facing an existential crisis with an Appeals Court hearing arguments on Tuesday in a case against it. The appeal is against a ruling made by a federal judge in Texas who struck down the entire law potentially jeopardizing private insurance health coverage for millions of Americans. President Obama’s signature health reform law has been the subject of continuous Republican Party attacks for more than a decade now. The original case, filed by a number of GOP state Governors and Attorneys General could end up at the US Supreme Court ahead of the 2020 elections. The New York Times explained that, “A question at the heart of the case is whether the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty remained constitutional after Congress eliminated the penalty as part of the tax overhaul that Mr. Trump signed in 2017.” In other health care related news, a federal judge ruled on Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services cannot require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list prices of their drugs in television ads. The ruling was a blow to the Trump Administration which has attempted to demonstrate sympathy for the high cost of healthcare that Americans are burdened by.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report on Monday projecting that the Treasury Department will hit the federal debt limit in about two months. This means that Congress will run out of money to pay federal bills unless it raises the debt ceiling. The same think tank in May had projected hitting the debt ceiling by October or November, but because of a dramatic drop in tax revenues, the government does not have enough income. President Donald Trump and his Republican Party’s signature tax reform law passed in late 2017 slashed tax rates for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Meanwhile a new poll by Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has found that while Americans are contented with their personal finances, their retirement outlook is precarious. According to AP, the economic insecurity is particularly hard on, “young adults, racial minorities and the poor.” Earlier this week the Congressional Budget Office released a report finding that an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would raise wages for 27 million Americans and lift 1.3 million out of poverty. The report also claims that it would mean 1.3 million jobs lost.
In the latest on the Trump Administration’s battle over the 2020 Census continues with Attorney General William Barr says that a legal pathway exists to include a question of citizenship. Barr did not give any details about exactly what legal path exists to get the citizenship question. Critics have slammed Republicans for attempting to scare immigrants and undercount them in the Census. Meanwhile, Jewish activists with the group Never Again have expanded their actions against detention centers holding immigrants, this time surrounding an office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Monday in Chicago.
The California State legislature passed a critical bill on police brutality on Monday. After more than a year through the legislative process, both state houses passed AB 392, a bill that will demand stricter standards for police use of deadly force. According to the Sacramento Bee, the bill will, “elevate California’s deadly force law from when officers think it’s ‘reasonable’ to only when ‘necessary.'” Additionally, “AB 392 allows officers to employ lethal force ‘based on the totality of the circumstances,’ but it defines ‘necessary’ as when officers or the public face an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.” Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill, which would be the strictest in the nation on police use of force.
Environmental organizations are ridiculing President Trump’s Monday afternoon speech lauding “America’s Environmental Leadership.” The 45th president has been more hostile to environmental regulations than perhaps any other president in recent history but pollsters working on the President’s 2020 reelection campaign apparently realized that voters like a President who protects their air, water, and climate. So Trump attempted to play along. Meanwhile, nearly half of all state governors signed a pledge on Tuesday joining California in opposing Trump’s plan to relax gas mileage standards.
A day after Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell bowed out of the Democratic Party race for the Presidential nomination, billionaire Tom Steyer decided to throw his hat into the ring. Steyer’s candidacy was surprising given that he had initially announced he would not run. In other election-related news, a former Marine named Amy McGrath announced on Tuesday that she was mounting a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in vying for the Democratic nomination for his Senate seat. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer actively recruited McGrath to run. McConnell’s reelection campaign released an attack ad against her with lightening speed. And, billionaire and two-time third-party Presidential candidate Ross Perot has died. He was 89.
President Trump’s fragile ego appears to have suffered a great blow as he spent a second day slamming the UK’s Ambassador to the US after his critical words over Trump were revealed. In a series of tweets he called Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch “wacky,” “a very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool.” He also took the opportunity to bash outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May for her handling of Brexit. He tweeted, “The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister.” However British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is vying to succeed May denounced Trump’s attacks as “disrespectful and wrong.” Hunt said on Twitter, “allies need to treat each other with respect,” and “if I become PM our Ambassador stays.”
In other international news, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced that the China Extradition bill that provoked millions of protesters on the streets is “dead.” The BBC explained that, “she is committing herself to allowing the bill to remain in limbo until the current legislative session ends – and then it will die by default.” Activists demanding that the bill be formally withdrawn, remain on the streets.