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News Friday, Jul 21 2017

Editorial Roundup: RIP Trumpcare (For Now)

Jul 21, 2017

Well, Trump’s Made In America week went off without a hitch and just in time to celebrate a productive first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Just kidding.

The irony of a President and First Daughter whose entire product lines are made in other countries touting American manufacturing – while simultaneously announcing plans to hire more foreign workers – was not lost on editorial boards across the country. Editorial boards further rejoiced this week as the Senate version of Trumpcare failed to come to a vote. Thus the Republicans’ latest attempt to rip insurance away from millions of Americans is stalled, again. Domestic catastrophes aside, the steady drip of the Russia scandal also continued to consume the White House and the editorial pages. We learned the identities of all participants in Donald Trump Jr.’s now-infamous meeting to get information from the Russian government, the President threatened to fire the special counsel, and he met with Putin a second time and talked “about adoption.” Here is a sampling of what Americans read in their local newspapers this week all across the country:


Chicago Daily Herald: We need answers on Trump and Russia

All of us should be concerned.

That includes Republicans. We need suburban GOP representatives including Randy Hultgren and Peter Roskam to demonstrate their allegiance to country first.

We don’t know what involvement the Trump campaign may or may not have had with Russian meddlers.

But we do know this is not a witch hunt. It is national security.

We all need to take a stand on behalf of our country and demand answers.

Wichita Eagle: Trump Jr. meeting another slow leak in presidency

Trump defended his son, as you’d expect. “He’s a good boy (at 39).” Simply doing opposition research. Most people in Junior’s shoes would’ve taken that meeting.

Except it wasn’t opposition research. That’s when your campaign has go-getters who follow paper trails and old media reports to deliver potentially damaging information about a rival candidate. It’s not checking your inbox for an e-mail from someone with ties to a foreign adversary.

Besides that, only a fool – or extremely naïve campaign official – takes a meeting with a representative of an adversarial foreign government. The smart thing, as noted by Trump’s new nominee to head to the FBI, is to call the FBI and let the feds investigate.

Newark Star-Ledger: Trump loves golf. It buys him loyalty, amnesia

So you are likely to hear more about Trump’s appreciation of women’s golf this weekend, and less about his appreciation for affordable health care, freedom of reproductive choice, pay equity, and workplace equality.

You are likely to see women like Lexi Thompson and Brittany Lang in fierce competition for a $5 million tournament purse, and forget about women such as Jill Harth and Summer Zervos, just two of many who sued Trump for sexual assault.

You are likely to witness a jubilant athlete match Trump’s beaming visage as he hands over the championship trophy, and none of the abject fear felt by Kristin Anderson and Jessica Leeds, just two of the many whom Trump groped without consequences.

Chicago Sun-Times:  Find the ‘heart,’ President Trump, to protect Dreamers

Here’s another reason DACA should continue in the absence of immigration reform by Congress: Dreamers’ ability to work legally results in higher wages and larger contributions in taxes. The Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, estimates that repealing the program would result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.

“A repeal or rollback of DACA would harm the economy and cost the U.S. government a significant amount of lost tax revenue,” the institute said in a report earlier this year.

Trump needs to get the attorneys general — and the nationalists who are urging them to squash DACA — to see that getting rid of the program is bad for America.

Des Moines Register: Trump’s infrastructure plan isn’t a plan at all

During the 2016 campaign, Trump’s promise to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure appealed to both conservatives and liberals who believe government agencies have a duty to maintain and improve the roads, airports, parks, bridges and public buildings that citizens have entrusted to their care.

Unfortunately, Trump backed away from this promise immediately after the election, two months before taking office. He didn’t have much choice, of course. The “Make America Great Again” crowd wants new infrastructure but also views taxes as government confiscation of their personal wealth. They want to see government spending shrink.

Trump and every member of Congress knows this, which is why no one in the White House or the Capitol — two pieces of infrastructure that are beautifully maintained, by the way — has the courage or political will to back legislation that would require the spending of $1 trillion in additional taxpayer money.


Decatur Daily: Senate should be a check on Trump

The Founding Fathers carefully created a system of government in which the three branches serve as checks and balances on each other. As James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 51, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Because each branch of government will seek maximum power for itself, the Founding Fathers concluded, tyranny would result unless the other branches had the constitutional power to prevent it.

To this end, Congress has significant power to limit an overly ambitious executive branch. It has the power to override vetoes, the power to oversee and investigate executive actions, to impeach the president and to allocate tax revenue for executive activities. The Senate has the power to confirm or reject presidential nominees and to confirm or reject treaties.

The next senator from Alabama should not be obsessed with proving his loyalty to Trump. Rather, he should tout his independence from an executive branch that sometimes gets it right, but sometimes needs to be checked by a Senate that takes its constitutional obligations seriously.

Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: Trump Jr. meeting is not fake news

The excuse Trump Jr. was simply doing “opposition” research by engaging a representative of a foreign government with supposed information gathered from its espionage agency is beyond the pale.

And then there’s the matter of a possible violation of campaign finance law that prohibits “a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a federal, state, or local election.”

This is not fake news. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller has a full plate on his hands and it’s growing ever larger.


Baltimore Sun: Trump Jr.’s meeting, ‘That’s politics’? Hardly

But a presidency based on the willing suspension of disbelief can only go so far. We have moved beyond questions about whether Trump advisers lied about contacts with Russians to whether they actually broke a law prohibiting campaigns from soliciting anything of value from a foreign national, much less a purported representative of a semi-hostile foreign government. The Trump administration’s shifting explanations about what happened provide no confidence that we’ve heard the last of this. President Trump may believe he can tweet his own reality into existence, and his core supporters may go along with it. But the rest of us aren’t fooled.

Eastern Arizona Courier: Focus has to stay on the unfake ‘fake’ news

We find it baffling how, given the connections so many in the Trump campaign have with Russia, and the consensus of every American intelligence agency that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, that there are some people who still believe the White House’s assertion that there is no “there” there.

So here we are, with Donald Trump Jr. releasing a series of e-mails that show the campaign met with a Russian attorney in order to obtain information the Russians had on Hillary Clinton that would damage her in the 2016 run for the presidency and ensure Donald Trump Sr. is elected.

And despite the purpose of the meeting being right there in black and white, Trump, Trump Jr. and the White House all maintain there was nothing about the meeting that ties the campaign to Russia’s interference in our election.

Chicago Sun-Times: America cannot build pride upon lies

The United States faces a similar moral test with respect to President Donald Trump’s 60-day freeze on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and his 120-day freeze on the admission of all refugees. Trump’s many comments on the ban — he clearly wants to turn away Muslims — give the lie to his claim that his sole concern is national security. If so, the president could upgrade vetting procedures immediately and the matter would be moot, rather than hold off until the Supreme Court rules on the ban later this year.

The reality is that Trump, true to form, is playing on our fears and encouraging our worst instincts.

As a nation, we may not be ready to admit that. Six in ten voters, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released this month, support the president’s travel ban.

But our children and grandchildren, looking back, will know better.

Topeka Capital-Journal: Attacking voting rights at every level

Three months ago, the Kansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued an exhaustive critique of the SAFE Act, describing it as inefficient and inconsistent, possibly unconstitutional and discriminatory, and roundly detrimental to voter participation. This has been Kobach’s legacy in Kansas, and he wants to impose a similar system on the rest of the country. Is it any wonder that voting rights advocates are suspicious of Kobach’s new role as the vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity?

Kobach portrays his critics as cynical manipulators who are trying to hide the truth: “The fact that just studying the issue of voter fraud has tapped such a raw nerve among these organizations like the ACLU tells you that they really, really don’t want a presidential commission finding out what there is to see.” In reality, they really, really don’t want a presidential commission led by people who have a long record of trying to strip voting rights from American citizens.

Springfield Republican: Latest travel ban ruling makes sense for families, nation

“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” Watson wrote in his decision. “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.”

One can easily imagine that there are a great many people – Republicans and Democrats and independents alike – who’d wholeheartedly agree. One can easily imagine that grandma and grandpa and their grandchildren would agree.

Watson’s ruling makes good sense. It’s a victory for those who believe, as we do, that the administration’s travel ban is not only needless, but is also anti-American.


South Florida Sun-Sentinel: GOP, Trump fail to trash Obama legacy

Make no mistake, if Trumpcare passed, it would have hurt people. The CBO estimated 22 million more people would have eventually lost or be forced to go without health coverage.

As far as Obamacare failing, it was a Republican myth simply not backed up by facts.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act should be tweaked, hopefully in a bipartisan way. People need more choices, as many health care providers left the marketplace.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Yet another GOP health care bill bites the dust. Good

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation later reported the 2015 bill would have cost 32 million Americans their insurance coverage by 2026 and raised premiums in the nongroup insurance market by 50 percent. The BCRA would have cost 22 million people their coverage and raised premiums by 25 percent, so repeal-and-replace-later is considerably worse.

Health insurance is complicated because every part of it affects every other part. The ACA began addressing that, and while it’s not perfect, Americans got used to something better. Trump clearly doesn’t understand the issue, and having seen him break one campaign promise after another, there’s no reason to bet on “something terrific” down the road.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: On health care, Republicans should work with Democrats

As Margot Sanger-Katz pointed out in The New York Times on Tuesday, the Trump administration can still undermine the law if it chooses to. It could stop paying subsidies for very low-income Americans, for example, something that is seen as important for the health of the exchanges, or it might stop enforcing the law’s individual mandate. Both actions “will tend to raise prices, discourage insurer participation and make Obamacare shakier than it would be otherwise,” Sanger-Katz noted.

If Trump, McConnell and Ryan really want a solution, they should quit negotiating only with themselves and broaden the debate to include Democrats. They should start over, use the regular committee process and craft a bipartisan bill to repair the Affordable Care Act with a focus on trying to slow rising health care costs.

Newark Star-Ledger: Trumpcare failed, so now he owns Obamacare. Don’t sabotage it

That would be the smart thing to do, instead of trying to undermine this law. Trump and fellow Republicans need to realize that with their colossal failure at repeal, they now own the Affordable Care Act. It polls better than Trump, McConnell, or any of their alternatives.

It’s the law of the land, and they can’t keep on throwing up their hands and blaming the past president. Democrats have made it very clear that they’re willing to collaborate on improving this program. Trump can either work to repair it, or further reaffirm his own floundering leadership.

The Columbian: Fight for Voting Rights

Instead, the commission’s vice chairman is Kris Kobach, secretary of state in Kansas and longtime advocate of measures that critics say are aimed at voter suppression. In September, a federal appeals court blocked a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration; in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in a 7-2 decision. Following his losing streak against the U.S. Constitution, Kobach sent an email the day following Trump’s election that said, “I have … already started regarding amendments to the NVRA,” indicating a desire to overturn aspects of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

Kobach’s crusade against the voter registration act marks him as the wrong person to galvanize public confidence, suggesting that his goal is to limit voter access rather than weed out illegal voters. As Justin Leavitt, an elections expert at Loyola Law School, told The Washington Post: “I think the email is wholly unsurprising. I won’t be shocked as more proof emerges that the cake is already baked.”

Chicago Sun-Times: The exhausting job of telling Donald Trump to behave

The result, for this White House, has been a carnival of transgressions. The Trump family cheerfully collects valuable trademark protections from foreign governments, and Trump promotes his properties through constant visits. Foreign governments pay to use Trump properties. A Cabinet official encourages the public to see a movie he produced. A White House adviser publicly hawks merchandise sold by the president’s daughter.

Los Angeles Times: Trump should show some political courage and endorse immigration protection for Dreamers

The best solution here is a comprehensive immigration overhaul that would include a reprieve for the Dreamers, but it’s quixotic to think that this White House, and this Congress, would ever agree on humane reforms. The closest we came was the 2013 “Gang of Eight” Senate bill that, while imperfect, offered a bipartisan blueprint for dealing with immigrants who are in the country illegally, among other improvements in the law. That measure died in the House when Republican Speaker John A. Boehner refused to let it come to a vote.

South Jersey Times: Trump’s N.J. fundraisers need change of venue

Before Trump took office, he was warned to sell off those assets most likely to create conflict-of-interest allegations. But he steadfastly refused, making the situation a particular problem in New Jersey, where Trump owns a second golf club in Pine Hill, and where up to five GOP members of Congress will seek re-election next year.

If Trump refuses to sell his New Jersey properties, he should vow to make them strictly off-limits to income-producing political or government events. It would not be surprising, though, if it took a D.C.-type lawsuit here to enforce such a commitment.

York Dispatch: Bad examples from DOJ

Talk about a day late and a dollar short.

The Department of Justice finally got around last week to responding to a Freedom of Information request regarding a security form filled out by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Coming 24 hours after a judge’s deadline, the release consisted of a single page that contradicts the attorney general’s known actions.

Is there no one in this administration who can give a straight answer?


Springfield Republican: More Trump-Russia details keep intriguing tale alive

The latest news of an eighth person at the meeting – a translator who has been suspected of having once been a Soviet spy – makes the tale perhaps even a bit more twisted. If this keeps up, maybe we’ll soon enough learn that Russian President Vladimir Putin participated via video conference.

Trump Jr. has said that what matters about the meeting is that it provided no useful information.

Nonsense. What matters about the meeting is what then-candidate Donald Trump Sr.’s namesake thought it was about. He’d been promised information that would damage the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, thereby boosting his father’s electoral chances. This information, he’d been told when setting up the gathering, was part of the Russian government’s efforts to aid Trump’s candidacy.

Copper Era: Do as I say, not as I do

Still, making American hiring not just a nationwide policy but a priority is something we fully support.

It surely would be nice if the president did, too.

The overwhelming majority of products carrying the Trump name are manufactured overseas, including those carrying the name of first daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump.

In what is becoming typical fashion, the White House brushed off the idea that the president’s family should “hire American,” instead saying the true story is that the rich need tax relief right away.

Kansas City Star: Kris Kobach begins work on Trump election panel in search of mythical voter fraud

The commission’s vice chairman and de facto leader is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose quixotic search for virtually nonexistent voter fraud has alternately frustrated and amused Kansans for years.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced Kobach at the start of Wednesday’s session, calling him a man “whose long service has established him as a national leader on election integrity.”

If that’s a reflection of the commission’s potential judgment, its findings will justifiably gather dust on a long-forgotten shelf.

In his opening remarks, Kobach repeatedly referred to the possibility of voter fraud in Kansas and the United States. He suggested a need to purge duplicate registrants across the country without offering evidence of widespread double-voting.

Kokomo Tribune: ‘Let it fail’ not a plan

“We’re not going to own it,” Trump said at The White House on Tuesday of the health care issue. “I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

This is a short-sighted, malicious statement for a public official to make. Why would you actively root against this? Republicans have had seven years to come up with a plan, and apparently all they’ve come up with is the word “no.” And that was only when they knew the head of the executive branch would veto any repeal of Obamacare. Now they have control of all three branches of government and they can’t decide what to do. They’re the proverbial dog that caught the car.

Raleigh News & Observer: Ethics chief sounds the alarm in the age of Trump

The White House dismisses Shaub as self-interested, though it offers no proof of that. Trump clearly believes he can get away with anything and simply doesn’t care about even putting up a front of obeying ethics rules. The compounded problem with that is that the president has to set an example for all others in government. If he doesn’t, what’s to prevent a lower-level bureaucrat from ignoring the rules on the grounds that the person in the White House doesn’t care about them?

Baltimore Sun: Westeros on the Potomac

And then there’s the current occupant of the White House who may not swing a sword or command dragons but seems to have adopted an approach to ethics well suited for the fantasy world. It is nothing for such a person to spend his weekends at his private golf courses or resorts, promoting events there and enriching his business. Nor does it seem to strike anyone in the Trump administration as improper that foreign governments are booking events at his D.C. hotel in an obvious attempt to curry favor. It’s become such an established pattern with President Donald Trump, who has spent 21 of his first 26 weekends in office at his properties, that it’s easy to forget what a break from tradition such behavior represents.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Block Grants crucial to local communities

The dollar figures for the annual grants are not huge locally: For example, Manatee and Sarasota counties each receive about $1.6 million; the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton each get around $400,000. (In the $4 trillion federal budget, the grants total $3 billion nationwide.)

But the impacts of eliminating the grants would be significant in our region, especially so because local governments have appropriately directed them toward low-income residents and communities

Sarasota County and the city of Sarasota, for instance, currently use their grants to provide housing to homeless people and loans to low-income homeowners to fix their houses and to hire social-service workers in depressed communities. Manatee County has put the grants to similar uses and subsidized infrastructure in low-income neighborhoods. Bradenton spends part of its funds on demolishing substandard buildings and providing support for Meals on Wheels, which helps feed poor senior citizens.


Fort Wayne News-Sentinel: Requiring work for Medicaid is a bad idea

The Trump administration has made work requirements a hallmark of its Medicaid policy proposals, and now Indiana wants on that policy bandwagon. Under the proposal submitted May 25 to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 Medicaid program would include a work requirement for able-bodied adults without dependent children.

It’s a bad idea.

Newark Star-Ledger: Mueller will surmount Trump’s threats. Our democracy demands it.

Clearly the investigation has escalated to a point that makes him very uncomfortable, and Mueller’s reputation for tenacity has the emperor feeling a chill.

Trump could always avoid the daily drama and show the country there is nothing to hide, of course – turning over his tax returns and ordering cooperation from his staff would be a good place to start.

But being Trump, he will likely rely on more intimidation and legal obstruction. Against an intrepid opponent like Mueller, neither is likely to work. The president’s toes, as the old saying goes, just lost contact with the bottom of the pool.

Newsday: President Trump dare not try to fire special counsel Mueller

Despite Trump’s denials that there was any collusion with Russia by his campaign or family, there is enough evidence to warrant a wide-ranging review. And that can’t be done without exploring the reasons why Russia might have wanted to help Trump. Would our rival now be advantaged in its relations because the president was beholden to Russian interests, either because of loans or because of shady real estate transactions? If that’s where the evidence leads, Mueller must follow.

Trump might never understand how his enormous power is restrained by the Constitution. But he should be smart enough to know that stopping Mueller would end that power altogether.

Newark Star-Ledger: At least one thing about Trump is ‘Made in America’

The President “has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer has said. And the defense from the Trump White House on all this during “Made in America” week is that, hey – everyone is doing it.

But ask yourself: Do any approach this level of hypocrisy? That much about Trump, at least, is American-made.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: DREAMers belong here, should be protected

Congress could permanently protect the DREAMers from deportation, or Trump himself could do it. But the present immigration crackdown — and the conservative desire to get rid of much of Obama’s work — is a good indication Washington isn’t going to do much to protect these young people.

If the DREAMers are in danger of losing their protected status, the United States could wind up being a big loser, too.

Remember, these are innocent youngsters who didn’t break immigration laws, even if their parents did.


Baltimore Sun: What Putin means when he says ‘adoption’

The ostensible reason was the death of an adopted Russian child in Arizona in 2008, but it was really retaliation for sanctions that punish some of his close associates — currently, 44 of the wealthy, well connected few who make up his power center.

So when President Trump says he’s talking to President Putin about adoption, don’t be fooled. This isn’t about the welfare of Russian children. It’s about lifting sanctions on flagrant abusers of human rights.

Published: Jul 21, 2017

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