Trumpcare (aka The American Healthcare Act)

Recently Donald Trump and the House Republicans released their new plan for healthcare in America which involves repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. When the bill, “The American Healthcare Act,” was originally announced many people, including Republicans, said that it would not have a chance of passing. After it was announced the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the AARP all came out against it. Though it gained a lot of criticism on both sides, there is the chance that it does pass. Because of this I will go through it and explain some of the implications of the bill.

One of the major changes, which was also expected is that it gets rid of Obamacare’s insurance tax credits which are based on many factors such as income and replaces it with a flat tax based on age. The annual tax credit would be that someone under 30 years old would get $2,000 and someone over the age of 60 would get $4,000. At first glance that makes sense considering the older you get the more likely you are to require medical attention. But when compared to Obamacare, you can see the major change being made. For example, if you were a 60 year-old living in Oklahoma who makes $50,000 a year ,under the Affordable Care Act you would be given $13,350 in tax credits. Under the American Healthcare Act you would only receive $4,000. This is over two thirds less than the Affordable Care Act. Flat rates like this overwhelmingly hurt low income families.

Another major aspect of this bill is the damage that it does to Medicaid which is in place to help people who otherwise would not be insured, get coverage. The American Healthcare Act would cut around 370 billion dollars in federal funding of Medicaid over the next 10 years. The plan pushes those bills onto state governments when states like Pennsylvania already have trouble balancing their budget. This would cause millions of low-income Americans to effectively lose their healthcare coverage. When you take both the tax credit and Medicaid cuts into account, it is estimated that between 6-15 million Americans will lose coverage.

This is obviously very troubling for many Americans. Worth noting is that one of the voter bases that will be effected the most is Trump’s own supporters. Those that would receive $5000+ less in tax credits under the new plan voted for President Trump by a margin of 59 to 36 percent. Of the 39 states that use the federal Affordable Care Act marketplace, the 10 states whose residents would lose the most financial aid happened to also give all their electoral votes to Trump. This is very troubling and you would think would cause many to change their minds about how they should have supported but many people have no clue what is occurring and a recent poll found that only 3% of Trump voters regret their vote. I would be interested to see how much this changes if the new proposal were to be implemented.

With all the negative consequences of this bill I think it is worth noting who exactly would benefit. Those within the top 1% in regards to income level will see a tax cut of around $33,000 and those within the top 0.1% would see a tax cut of around $197,000.

Just let that sink in.

This bill would overwhelmingly hurt older Americans as well as millions of low-income Americans. It has not passed yet due to the holding out of about 3 dozen conservatives who comprise the House Freedom Caucus. The freedom caucus is holding out but not because of the millions Americans that would be harmed by this but instead because they don’t believe that it goes far enough. They believe that the new plan does not cut premiums enough. The House Freedom Caucus would like to see what the Affordable Care Act referred to as “essential health benefits” cut. These benefits are required by law for insurance companies to have within their plans. These benefits include emergency-room visits, hospital stays, mental health, maternity, preventive care and prescription drugs. The House Freedom Caucus believes that these benefits are attributing to the high premium costs and is calling for their removal because not every person may utilize these benefits. It is a concern that these essential benefits might be taken out of the American Healthcare Act in an attempt to whip enough votes to pass the legislation.

This bill will hurt millions of Americans and is not in the best interests of this country but still has the potential to be a reality and leave millions uncovered.

Sources:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/14/many-trump-voters-to-pay-lots-more-for-health-insurance-under-trumpcare.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/03/22/how-many-trump-voters-really-regret-their-votes/?utm_term=.5d54ac48668c

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/03/22/what-the-freedom-caucus-wants-in-the-gop-health-bill-and-why-they-arent-getting-it/?utm_term=.450ccf04d5f2

Post-Deliberation Reflection

The deliberation I attended discussed how the government should approach cannabis in this country. I thought that the group did a very good job at moderating the discussion and getting everyone to participate. They began by giving a summary of what marijuana is. I thought that this was kind of unnecessary. I would have instead recommended discussing the history of it and why it became illegal. Other than that, I thought the introduction group did a pretty good job.

The first approach they discussed was decriminalization. This policy proposition basically brings marijuana possession down to the same level as a traffic ticket. This policy is currently in place in municipalities such as the State College Borough and even larger cities such as Philadelphia. There are many advantages that I believe this policy brings. The first major positive aspect of this that was discussed is that if you are caught with marijuana, it would not be put on your criminal record. Similar to a traffic ticket, you would be forced to pay a fine to the municipality and that would be it. This is very beneficial to people who may have been caught with marijuana in their youth and need to get a criminal background check for a job. Another beneficial aspect discussed was the money that would be saved in court proceedings if it was decriminalized. Typically, people have to be seen by a judge which can be very costly on the taxpayers of that municipality. Decriminalization is often seen as a stepping stone to further legalization but many criticize it for being a temporary solution.

The second approach discussed was legalization for medicinal purposes. There is no debate that marijuana has medicinal benefits. For this reason, it was a general consensus in the room that it should be legalized for at least medicinal benefits. The only opposing views seemed to come from a religious/moral argument which, in my opinion, does not have enough ground to justify people not getting the medical help they need. The major lobbying organizations against its medicinal legalization are funded primarily by pharmaceutical companies that fear that legalization will take away from their profits. Many prescription drugs can be replaced by cannabis which has far less side effects. In my opinion medicinal legalization should already be legalized nationwide. The fact that legislators are holding back their constituents from getting beneficial medicine is rather saddening.

The last approach discussed was full legalization for recreational purposes. Some states currently have this in place. Most notable is the state of Colorado which was the first to legalize completely for recreational purposes. Since legalization the state has seen a vast surplus in their budget which has helped their school system in addition to various other government programs. This seemed to be the approach that a majority of the students at the deliberation favored. The consensus we came to was that it is only a matter of time until this happens due to the change in perception of cannabis seen nationwide.

Trump’s Immigration Crackdown

This week I will be looking into Trump’s executive orders regarding immigration enforcement on the Mexico/US border and within the United States. Throughout the campaign, Trump called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants here in the country and for increased border security including the infamous “wall.” These executive orders are his way of fulfilling his campaign promises, which many immigrants feared. His administration just released a memo to heads of various governmental agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), outlining how the implementation of the executive order should be handled. I will go through and outline the major aspects of the order.

Under this new order most undocumented immigrants are now be considering priorities for deportation. Under the Obama administration, undocumented immigrants who did not commit crimes were at a very low risk of being deported. Under the new administration, all undocumented immigrants are at extreme risk. Trump is reviving a program that allows for a database of undocumented immigrants that are checked into local jails, regardless of the crime. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can then ask local police to turn over any immigrants that they want deported. This program failed due to cities refusing to hand over immigrants who commit minor offenses. Now that there are various initiatives to defund “Sanctuary Cities” on the federal and various state levels, many cities are being forced to cooperate with immigration officials. The Trump administration is also reviving a program that allows for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to deputize local law enforcement agents to enforce immigration laws through actions such as immigration “task forces” that conduct raids. The idea of this is to create a system where local law enforcement can apprehend immigrants, and then Immigration and Customs Enforcement can deport them. Though Trump puts emphasis upon undocumented immigrants that commit a crime, what many forget is that immigrants often use fake social security numbers to pay taxes and many drive without licenses due to their lack of citizenship. Pretty much its impossible to be undocumented and not commit some crime.

Another aspect of this is that the United States will be allowed to enforce a policy of “deport first and ask questions later.” Our current deportation system can allow for years between apprehension and deportation due to the massive backlog seen within immigration courts. Trump’s solution is to send people back “to the territory from which they came” while their cases are pending in immigration court. The major flaw within this is that many immigrants may attempt to re-enter the United States as they did the first time. Typically those who break the law once, don’t mind doing it again. Trump has asked the Department of Human Services and Department of Homeland Security to increase its ability to hear deportation cases over videoconference. This would be the primary means of court proceedings if the person were to be prematurely sent back to their country of origin. What Trump is forgetting is that the Mexican government may not be completely open to the US sending back all these people especially since a large amount may not even be Mexican. Many South and Central Americans use Mexico as a way into the United States which means that there is now increased pressure for Mexico to strengthen their southern border. In the past most advancements made to Mexico’s border have been due to the support of the United States.

A population that commonly is forgotten when discussing unauthorized immigration are the many people that are going to the United States in pursuit of asylum. It is a violation of international law for countries to return people to places where they are unsafe. Nearly half of all undocumented immigrants that were apprehended while crossing the border were either unaccompanied minors or families. Many of the cases are of people from Central American countries that were seeking asylum from the violence occurring in their home country. When seeking asylum to avoid deportation, the immigrant must have a “credible fear” of persecution. The new administration is making this harder to prove by giving orders to agents that they must get all relevant information regarding the immigrant in order to establish credible fear. Many of these documents may not be in the possession of the immigrant when they first arrive.

For me nothing is as bad as what this all means for immigrant families. The Trump administration is allowing for unaccompanied undocumented children to be “safely repatriated” to their home countries. In addition, the order establishes that once a child is reunited with their family they are no longer seen as unaccompanied and the family may be placed in deportation proceedings. The order also establishes that if someone were to pay smugglers to ensure their child gets across safe, they would be considered accomplices to human trafficking and would get treated as such under the law.

These executive orders are going to have significant negative impacts upon the Latinx community within the United States, which happens to be the fastest growing demographic.

 

Sources:

http://www.vox.com/2017/2/21/14659652/memos-deportation-detention-asylum

https://www.buzzfeed.com/talalansari/immigration-memos?utm_term=.bamV14Qe6#.fbxylg4jR

Trump’s Travel Ban

What I will be discussing this week is the executive order Donald Trump signed on January 27th. The order was immediately labeled as Trump’s attempt at the “Muslim Ban” he promised numerous times throughout the campaign. I will be walking through major parts of the executive order describing and providing some outside perspective on them.

The purpose given for the executive order cites the events that took place on September 11, 2001. The order refers to the poor visa issuance process that occurred in 2001 which resulted in 19 foreign nationals being admitted into the country with ill intentions. The order does reference that the visa issuance process was reviewed and amended after the attacks but says that the measures taken were not enough. Though the executive order references the foreign nationals that were allowed into the country that committed the attacks on September 11, the executive order ‘does not include any countries from which radicalized Muslims have actually killed Americans in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001″(NPR).

Section 3 is titled the Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern. Within this section Trump states that immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” Because of this he suspended entry of any persons from the specified countries into the United States for 90 days (with exceptions for any foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations and G1,G2,G3, and G4 visas). After the order was signed people who had traveled with valid visas were detained in airports all over the country. This prompted many protest calling for their release. A judge from Brooklyn, N.Y., Judge Ann Donnelly, issued a temporary restraining order barring the deportation of people citing that they would face “irreparable harm.” The order then moves on to describe the process of deciding what other countries should be added to the list of countries that pose a high risk, depending on their cooperation with our country’s requests going forward. The order also establishes that visas can be distributed to those in the banned countries on a case by case basis.

Section 4 is titled Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs. This basically just outlines that there needs to be increased vetting when allowing people entry to the country for fear that they may have terroristic intentions. Section 5 is titled the Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017 and calls for “additional procedures to be taken to ensure that those who are approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.” As the process currently stands refugees go through a process that can take up to two years. They are first screened by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. After that those who are selected for possible entry to the United States are vetted by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBIs Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of State, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security. After that their biometric information is checked, they proceed to do private interviews with officials from the Department of Human Services.

Also within this section it is said the refugees who cite religious persecution as their reason for leaving (when their religion is a minority within the country they are residing) will be given priority. Though this does not clearly state it, it is evident that this is Trump’s attempt at prioritizing Christians, as he said he would in an interview with the Christian broadcast network. The next part of the section suspends indefinitely the entrance of any refugees from Syria. He also goes on to say that entry of more than 50,000 refugees this year would be detrimental to the interests of the United States which is about 60,000 less than the amount that the Obama administration said it would take in within 2017.

Though the executive order goes on to add a few other things those are the key points I found particularly worth noting. Soon after the executive order was released it was immediately criticized by not only the public but some federal judges around the country who felt that it could potentially be deemed unconstitutional. I am interested to see how this develops within the Judiciary Branch over the next couple weeks.

 

 

Works Cited
Farrington, Dana. “Trump’s Executive Order On Immigration, Annotated.” NPR. NPR, 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.
Montanaro, Domenico. “FACT CHECK: Trump’s Tweets On Christians, ISIS And Vetting Miss The Bigger Picture.” NPR. NPR, 29 Jan. 2017. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.

Trump’s First Week

It is no surprise that this election has not been the most traditional one. Throughout the entire election Trump made various campaign promises that would hurt various marginalized communities as well as the country as a whole. A large majority of his promises surrounded the topic of immigration. His promises included deporting undocumented immigrants that live in this country, building a wall between the United States and Mexico, punishing any municipality that labels itself as “Sanctuary” and banning all Muslims from entering the country. Many other of his promises were also glossed over in his transition into the White House. His claims to “drain the swamp”, has brought nothing new to the table. It’s almost as if this once prohibited system of favored positions after the campaign is coming back into the presidency, and these moves have not been swinging in the favor of President Trump. His quite lackluster pick for Head of Education brought a lot of controversy in the media, due mostly to the fact that Davos is so disconnected from the majority of Americans today. Her remarks in her audit remind us that there is something that needs to be done when there are people being selected for key cabinet positions by Mr. Trump. A number of his selections, including the infamous Rick Perry, have really brought his idea to “drain the swamp” to a jarring stop. During the election, these policy stances were very divisive and caused many immigrant communities to fear his election for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, their fears, and the fears of many Americans, have become a reality.

In his first week of office he has already made advancements in many of his promises. In regards to deportation he has called for a newly expanded force to locate and deport undocumented citizens. He has also revived programs that would allow the federal government to use local and state law enforcement to locate and detain anyone undocumented with intent to deport them. This is a very scary thought for the 11 million citizens who are currently undocumented citizens within the United States. Many of these immigrants have lived most of their lives within the country and have nothing to even go back to in Mexico.

In addition to his deportation efforts he also has made progress towards his infamous “wall.” Throughout his election he preached that he would get a large wall constructed across the entire United States and Mexico while making Mexico pay the bill. Many of his followers believed this though they were in for a surprise when the Mexican president said he would in no way fund the wall. The Mexican president even cancelled a meeting with President Trump after finding out about Trump’s orders to begin construction. Now the funding for the wall will come from the pockets of American taxpayers.

Trump has also made an effort to punish those localities who assist undocumented immigrants by providing them “Sanctuary.” He made this announcement days before heading to Philadelphia which is one of the largest sanctuary cities in the country and happens to be where I am from. Trump has ordered that the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to block any federal grants from any city that declares itself as a “sanctuary city.”

Another one of Trump’s major commitments was a proposed ban on Muslims entering the country. Though he did scale back on his original intentions to block Muslims completely he is in the process of banning Syrian refugees indefinitely from entering the country while also baring all refugees from the rest of the world for at least 120 days. This news is very saddening for refugees all over the world that are left with very little options of places to go to escape the turmoil in their country.


Another one of his controversial opinions has come with his views with regards to climate change, and more specifically, the 2 major pipelines that he has signed off on. The majority of the evidence against these pipelines is completely warranted, as the U.S’s dependency on oil has been recently on the decline. Another major point to counteract these pipelines is the employment numbers that they bring in. An estimated 50 permanent jobs will come from the Keystone Pipeline, which will span a whopping 875 miles. Another major point to make about this pipeline is the origin of which the oil comes from. The Canadian Tar Sands is where this pipeline will draw its oil from, and a number of environmentalists have warned against doing such things. It’s increased emissions of greenhouse gases is just one of the faults that this pipeline has.

If this week is indication as to what a Trump presidency will look like for the next 4 years then it is looking like a long 4 years in the wrong direction.

 

Sources:

Carroll, Lauren. “3 Key Keystone XL Questions Answered.” PolitiFact. Tampa Bay Times, 9 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

Desjardins, Lisa. “The 10 Executive Actions Trump Has Signed (so Far).” PBS. PBS, 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

Diamond, Jeremy. “Trump Orders Construction of Border Wall, Boosts Deportation Force.” CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

Ford, Matt. “Here’s What Trump’s Latest Executive Orders Do.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.