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Daily Reads: Trump Takes a Chainsaw to Obamacare; White Nationalists in Charlottesville Face Lawsuits

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Trump Takes a Chainsaw to Obamacare

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Full-bore Obamacare sabotage” –> That’s how Jonathan Chait describes the one-two punch Donald Trump delivered to Obamacare on Thursday. First, he issued an executive order that would undermine the ACA’s insurance regulations, and then last night the White House announced that it would stop making cost-sharing payments to insurers that allow them to cut out-of-pocket costs for low-income households.

Vox’s Dylan Scott explains what’s in the executive order.

University of Michigan health law professor Nicholas Bagley calls the decision to halt the cost-sharing payments “a financial bath, and for no good reason other than sheer political cussedness.” The insurers have to continue offering the cost reductions, and according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, they “might react to the end of subsidy payments by exiting the ACA marketplaces. If insurers choose to remain in the marketplaces, they would need to raise premiums to offset the loss of the payments.” Silver plans would see average hikes of 19 percent, but the burden will be worse in the red states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Ironically, the decision will also drive up government spending by $2.3 billion, and that doesn’t count the costs of the lawsuits that this move is certain to draw.

The Congressional Budget Office’s estimates are a bit worse than Kaiser’s…

And this may well trigger a government shutdown in a couple of months…

One catastrophe after another –> Over a dozen wildfires remain uncontained in Northern California. According to CNN, at least 31 people have died in the blazes, with hundreds more missing. Almost 3,000 buildings have been destroyed as the fires consumed more than 191,000 acres of land. Resources are strained, and the 8,000 firefighters who have been battling the fires for days are “exhausted.”

At The New Republic, Emily Atkin writes that “millions of residents,” including those who live far from the actual scene, “are inhaling deadly pollution from the devastating wildfires.” One expert said that air quality readings in the Bar Area were similar to what “they measure in Beijing” on its “worst days.”

Priya Krishnakumar and Joe Fox write for the Los Angeles Times that “it’s just the beginning of California’s fall fire season,” and explain the environmental factors that “could prove to [make it] one of the most destructive yet.”

Sadly related –> Will Bunch writes at The Philadelphia Inquirer that “this week’s devastation is a kind of perfect storm of what climate scientists have been predicting for years. In Trump’s Washington, that made it the right time to announce its schemes to make it easier to burn fossil fuels — especially coal, the dirtiest fuel in that deadly arsenal — which have been the No. 1 source of the greenhouse-gas pollution that is warming our Earth.”

Corruption –> “Congressional ethics investigators have concluded there is ‘substantial reason to believe’ Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) engaged in insider trading and either took or requested official actions to benefit a company in which he’s the largest shareholder,” reports Nicole Guadiano for USA Today.

Meanwhile, Matt Friedman reports for Politico that the corruption case against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) may be unraveling as “prosecutors were unable to produce a smoking gun demonstrating that New Jersey’s senior senator explicitly promised to do something” in exchange for gifts and campaign cash. The trial reconvenes on Monday.

The swamp –> Donald Trump nominated Barry Myers, “a businessman who has supported the privatization of weather data[,] to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees the National Weather Service,” writes Sabrina Shankman at Inside Climate News. Myers is the CEO of AccuWeather, and his pick “has raised concerns among some that installing a nonscientist with a vested interest in privatizing government data could result in the hobbling of an agency that provides a critical function in weather forecasting, oceanography and climate science.”

Systemic –> Isa Hackett, an executive producer on Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, has come forward with allegations that she was sexually harassed by Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios. The company announced that it has suspended Price pending the outcome of an investigation. Note that Kim Masters’ story in The Hollywood Reporter contains adult language.

Before that story broke, The Atlantic’s Alex Wagner wondered whether the revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s abuses “may also put a nail in the coffin of the old boys’ network.”

And at HuffPost, Yashar Ali and Lydia Polgreen detail “how top NBC executives quashed the bombshell Harvey Weinstein story.”

Lawsuits –> Organizers of the Aug. 12 white supremacist rally that left three people dead in Charlottesville are alleged to be planning additional violence in the city and now they’re facing two new lawsuits. At the link, Reuters’ Ian Simpson offers details of the suit filed on Wednesday by 11 people who were injured at the rally.

And Newsweek’ Michael Edison Hayden reports on the complaint filed by the city itself on Thursday. 

In tangentially related news, The Intercept’s Alex Emmons reports that shortly before the riots, Charlottesville police arrested one of their most vocal critics on dubious charges — and he happened to be a civil rights lawyer who was running for district attorney as a judicial reformer at the time.

Polarization –> “The NFL is now among the nation’s most divisive brands, behind Trump Hotels and a handful of media companies,” reports Kevin Quealy for The New York Times. This is almost entirely a result of Trump voters rapidly souring on the league…

Slavery –> Derek Hawkins reports for The Washington Post that “a white restaurant manager accused of enslaving and abusing a mentally disabled black man has been indicted by a federal grand jury in South Carolina on a charge of forced labor.”

Challenger –> With reports that California Senate leader Kevin de León may challenge veteran California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Harold Meyerson writes at The American Prospect that while Di-Fi may be “a fixture of California politics,” she also “personifies the Golden State’s past — not its present or future.” Meyerson argues that de León is the right person for the job.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced this morning that she will not be leaving the Senate in order to jump into Maine’s gubernatorial race. The announcement was a blow to Democrats’ hopes of making gains in the Senate. David Sharpe has more details at the Associated Press.

Speaking of next year’s midterm elections, Amie Parnes reports for The Hill that Democratic National Committee (DNC) chief Tom Perez is drawing criticism from party bigwigs and outside funders.

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Theresa Riley.

 


 

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