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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Trump Report Card-Cabinet Actions Midway Through First Year

Trump Report Card-Midpoint Year 1

Donald Trump has been POTUS for half of his first year and this article reviews what his cabinet has accomplished and the direct impacts on you. President Trump’s opinions and omissions do create harmful consequences as this report card illustrates.

What’s at Stake
Cabinet Member
Your Health
The Secretary of Health and Human Services controls the following agencies: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Food and Drug Administration, administers the Affordable Care Act, and grants more money for medical research than any other agency in the world.
Tom Price, Republican from Georgia, He is an orthopedic surgeon, and represents one of the healthcare sectors with expensive medical devices and lucrative profit margins for health systems. Resentful of the 3% medical device tax his industry pays to fund the Affordable Care Act for low-income Americans.
Wants to get rid of Obama Care and replace it with another insurance based payment system. Questions the value of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid innovation through Demonstration Projects. He wants to reduce the footprint of government policymaking in healthcare. Though he wants consumers to shoulder more responsibility for their health care, he questions the value of performance assessment as a component of government funding and oversight by government agencies. CMS’s Accountable Care Organization program has been successful and 31% of 2015 participants received bonuses. There are 400 healthcare systems participating in this program.
Would he impinge on medical research by eliminating stem cell research as his predecessor George Bush did?
🔻Price has used HHS money to discredit the Affordable Care Act. It is unclear what will be done to support the open enrollment period which starts in 2 months. 🔻Trump may try to strangle the act by refusing to pay the financial subsidies to insurers who participate in the exchanges, thus causing them to drop out. This ploy would produce a result sought by many Republicans-to kill the ACA. Millions could still end up without healthcare and no public option. 🔻Other death knells may include cutting some of the funding provisions for the act, such as the 3% medical device tax. 🔻The agency may also stop enforcing proof of medical insurance requirements with the IRS, thus gutting revenue from fines for companies and individuals who do not comply.[1] 🔻The proposed federal budget seeks a 20% cut for Health and Human Services, which will hurt medical research and is yet to be approved, but is next on the docket.  🔻
And finally, another legislative rollback-loosening the requirement that religious organizations offer birth control under their medical insurance.[2]
Your Air and Water
The Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for air & water quality, extracts fines from offenders, and litigates as required for compliance with federal and state laws.
Scott Pruitt, Republican, former Attorney General and former senator from Oklahoma, Secretary of Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA was created by the Nixon Administration and is responsible for improvements in air and water quality throughout the nation. Pruitt wants to gut the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts signed by the Obama Administration. Has pledged to dismantle the EPA and is in the back pocket of the oil and gas industry. He has been vociferous in his lawsuits against government regulations. Doesn’t think global warming is an issue. Wants to get out of the Paris Climate Change Accords, which were signed by 95 countries.

🔻U.S. dropped out of the Paris Accords, a nonbinding commitment to cut greenhouse gases, the greatest contributor to global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps. Obama Administration Clean Air Act forces power plants, especially coal powered ones, to reduce particulate emissions. The act established standards for emissions but allows flexibility for states to administer. 🔻The Trump administration has provided a 90-day stay on implementation of the Clean Air mandate. Tough luck for the asthmatics. The OMB’s budget will detail financial impacts of this act and Department of Interior revenues.[3] 🔻The Keystone Pipeline is back to transport earth scorching arboreal forest decimating Canadian tar sand oil to the U.S. for exportation. 🔻Congress also approved exportation of U.S. oil reserves because we are producing more than we need, whereas in normal market economics, production would decline when there is a market surplus. This is a subsidy for the oil industry.
Your Children’s Education Department of Education sets national standards for education (No Left Behind and Common Core), provides funding, and enforcement of standards
Betsy DeVos, former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, is from the Amway family of billionaires and has never attended a public school, nor have her children. She attended Calvin College, a private liberal arts college.   She is the sister of infamous military defense contractor, Eric Prince, founder of private mercenary group, Blackwater.

Wants to deconstruct the agency and give more responsibilities to states, counties, and individual districts to set curriculum. She is a huge supporter of charter schools, which are funded with public funds but operate like private schools. She advocates a school voucher system where the government would essentially provide support for private schools. In Michigan, 80% of the schools are run by private companies. She is does not believe in recognizing homosexuality.
🔻Budget includes a 13% reduction in education funding.[4] 🔻This includes reducing college loans for low-income students under federal loan programs. 🔻Other actions include reducing Title IX enforcement of sanctions for campus sexual assaults. 🔻Relaxing federal standards to comply with Every Student Succeeds Act, for which 12 states have already submitted plans.[5]
🔺Surprisingly she appeared to waffle on the lavatory restriction for transgender folks, crossing AG Sessions.
She still needs to learn to spell.

Your Money
The Department of the Treasury, oversees revenue collection through the IRS, and sets standards for currency and financial management for the nation
Steve Mnunchin, former Goldman Saks executive and Hollywood film financier, is a Wall Street banker insider, who graduated from Yale.
Wants to loosen the Dodd-Frank  reserve standards for banks, created to prevent another financial meltdown due to hedge funders and bad bank decisions. The landmark Dodd-Frank Act, stewarded by Senator Elisabeth Warren,  created liquidity standards for banks to prevent the financial collapse of the nation and the world. If the U.S. government hadn’t bailed out AIG Insurance, General Motors, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and a host of banks the depression would have been much more severe. (, 2016)
Trump and Mnunchin cannot agree on the budget. 🔻He has identified methods to ease banking regulations without Congressional approval, including bank solvency stress tests, passed after the 2007 banking collapse.🔻 And most grievously, reducing the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been successful in reducing predatory behavior by lenders.[6] Funding for this agency is not subject to Congressional approval-Trump wants to change this. CFPB has created lending standards for banks to verify income before providing mortgages. Enforcment-27 million Americans have received settlements from banks because of its actions.[7]
Your Liberty
The Attorney General of the United States, oversees the administration of federal laws, court system, and the enforcement of anti-trust and civil rights laws.

Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, is a former Republican Senator from Alabama, and former Attorney General of Alabama. He was rejected by the Reagan Administration for a federal judicial appointment because of racist views.
Has a reputation of being anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-gay (LBGTQ). One of the most conservative members of Congress often at odds with his own party. Is a supporter of the stop and frisk ethos.  Widely considered to have racist views.
Sessions has been neutered by Trump and the investigation into the Russian election coupe. 🔻The ill-conceived Muslim travel ban is subject to lawsuits. 🔻He has instigated the war on drugs, wants to remove judicial discretionary sentencing, and imprison more people. Think Opioid abusers in jail not in treatment.🔻 Also revived a federal law allowing government to seize property for those suspected of crimes.🔻 He dumped the National Committee for Forensic Science, which aims to improve crime solving techniques and accuracy.[8]
Your National Parks
The Secretary of the Interior oversees the vaunted National Parks system, national forests, and all public lands, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Ryan Zinke is a Republican freshman senator from Whitefish, Montana who is a former navy SEAL commander.
One of his most alarming views is he considers climate change to be unsettled. We don’t know anything about his governance perspectives. He has friends in the coal and fossil fuel industries, which is why the freshman senator with no regulatory experience was made a cabinet member. Montana has many tribal lands, including the Flathead Indian Reservation, near Whitefish.
🔻Reduced the fees coal companies pay to strip coal from our federal lands.[9]🔻Overturned Obama Administration ruling which stopped coal companies from mining on federal lands.[10] Coal is no longer an economical source of power, especially if the gov. makes them pay fair market rate for leases. Coal is one of the greatest contributors to particulates in air pollution. Much of the coal being gouged out of the earth now goes to China, the largest polluter in the world. 🔻Next up-looking to limit the rules which restrict the greenhouse methane gas production from oil and gas sites on federal lands. In other words, it is back to raping and pillaging public lands as usual.
Your World
The Secretary of State is 4th in line to the presidency and is chief negotiator of foreign policy on behalf of the nation, also responsible for coordination and security of diplomatic posts.
Rex Tillerson, former chief executive of Exxon, has lucrative financial interests in countries which are considered enemies, including Russia.
Tillerson has a fifteen-year relationship with Putin, czar of Russia and advocates loosening of economic sanctions. Unlike other Trump nominees, he favors climate change action, including the carbon cap taxes on emissions. He also favors supporting the 2015 Paris Accords for Climate Change Action. He probably would favor the Keystone Pipeline completion.
The far-flung oil and gas interests of Exon and his personal wealth may be impacted by actions of the federal government. With the Mueller subpoenas, no one is safe from the Russian scandal. It appears Trump does not listen to the Secretary of State, preferring to decide foreign policy with those whom were not subject to Congressional approval, the informal Whitehouse advisers and of course, his children. Tillerson is a micromanager focusing on reorganizing the State Department.
The Secretary of Transportation
oversees highway safety and road construction projects.
Elaine Chao is the former head of the Department of Labor and married to Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell. In other words, the ultimate insider.
One of Trump’s centerpiece platforms is the rebuilding of America, so Chao will be responsible for contract letting, management, and other infrastructure requirements.
Chao has not accomplished anything of note because the federal budget is not yet approved nor is an infrastructure bill. She is waiting in the wings.
Keeping the Lights On
The Secretary of Energy has oversight of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, also sets policy on utilization of resources to develop and maintain the nation’s energy grid.
Rick Perry, is the former Texas Governor, failed presidential candidate, and middling Dancing with the Stars Contestant. Of note, he was once a Democrat.
The only qualification Mr. Perry has for energy expertise, is his support of wind power in his home state. He has no scientific background and has suggested the Department of Energy could be eliminated.
Perry is on the National Security Committee but he does not appear to have done anything to enhance our security. He did slam the Paris Accords. Important to note, two nuclear power projects were shut down in July in South Carolina because they were not financially viable given other less costly energy alternatives. A list of other nuclear power projects which have been cancelled is included in the footnotes. [11] [12] [13]

Women’s March✅ Science March✅ Defeating the repeal of the Affordable Care Act✅ It is heartening to see the massive efforts of citizens who are thwarting the Trump Administration regularly.  Hopefully this article will provide some ideas on other policy issues which require attention and action.  Trump has proven himself to be the nightmare we all feared, a global disrupter who does more harm than good. A thriving democracy is an essential component of liberty and I am heartened by the participation of millennials in many of the efforts to resist the Trump Administration’s selfish initiatives. For more information on efforts to curb disastrous environmental policies, read  Geoff Dembicki's, "Are We Screwed-How A New Generation Is Fighting To Survive Climate Change," Bloomsbury Press.  And this is the healthpolicymaven signing off and encouraging you to share this article with all who value their democracy.

Roberta Winter is a freelance journalist who publishes under the trademark healthpolicymaven, which has been in continuous use since 2007. She is a public policy and healthcare book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, a technical writer, and author. Her consumer guidebook to the U.S. healthcare system was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2013.

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