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Daily Archives: September 4th, 2017


• Sam Becker

• September 04, 2017

President Donald Trump has created logistical headaches at the taxpayers’ expense. Under normal circumstances, Americans would assume a Republican president would usher in an era of fiscal responsibility. Of budget slashing. Of belt tightening and more efficient government programs. But these are not normal circumstances, and Donald Trump is not a typical Republican president. Although changes are coming and some people are going to benefit, taxpayer money has been flowing rather freely on Capitol Hill since the election.
A report from The Washington Post outlines that the taxpayers are fronting a lot of money to pay for the Trumps and their “elaborate” lifestyles. Trump and his family have a complicated web of business interests, investments, and properties. And life in and around the Oval Office is quite different from what they’re used to.
The resulting “logistical nightmare,” as the Post calls it, comes at the expense of the taxpayers. That means you, the American people, are paying for Trump’s trips to Florida. And you’re paying for the security of Trump Tower in New York in addition to many other things. You might not like it, but there’s little you can do about it — at this point, at least, with Republicans in Congress unlikely to tell Trump to cool it on the expenditures. Just how is Trump and the rest of his family burning through your tax dollars? Here are 10 ways that we know of — so far.

1. Securing Trump Tower

One of the most obvious and expensive ways in which taxpayers are getting nailed concerns Trump Tower in Manhattan. The first lady and Trump’s son Barron are living there, and that requires round-the-clock security and Secret Service protection. That amounts to roughly $500,000 per day in expenses — all paid for by the American people. The people of New York City are also fronting the bill for an extra 200 police officers.
2. Weekends at Mar a Lago

You might have heard that Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort, has the unofficial moniker of “White House South.” Trump likes it and has been spending his weekends there at the beginning of his presidency. But it’s not cheap. With just three visits, he’s burned through more than $10 million in taxpayer money. It’s unclear as to whether Trump plans to continue his weekly journeys. But what’s important is it’s mighty expensive.
3. Golf
Trump likes to golf. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a great way to get some exercise and escape the pressures of the office. Former President Barack Obama liked to golf, too, as did George W. Bush. Obama was also criticized for it — and quite often. Now Trump has been golfing on the taxpayers’ dime, even if it’s with foreign dignitaries. It’s important to give our leaders a break, but if you’re going to criticize one president for hitting the links, you’ve got to get them all.
4. Attacking businesses

The Trumps have had several public spats with big companies, and it’s not only troublesome in terms of ethics violations. Trump, while drawing a salary from the taxpayers (along with others, such as Kellyanne Conway), has gone after Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, as well as many media companies. So far, there’s a list of more than 60 companies Trump has targeted on Twitter, all as the American people pay him as president.
5. Re-election events

The president likes to get out among his fans. He’s already held a big rally in Florida. And with the 2020 race set to heat up sooner than we all would like, Trump will get to be back on the campaign trail in full force. He was able to bill his own businesses more than $8 million during 2016. Given that he’s the sitting president this go-around, taxpayers will be fronting some of that money for security and transportation.
6. Promoting the Trump brand abroad

One particularly maddening way in which the Trumps seem to be profiting off of the presidency is by paying for members of the family to fly around the world to promote the Trump brand. Case in point: Eric Trump recently took a trip to Uruguay to look over the family’s business interests. That single trip, which, by law, required Secret Service protection, cost taxpayers almost $100,000.
7. Trump’s D.C. hotel

The Trumps recently opened a fancy new hotel in Washington, D.C., a location they lease from the government. This has been tagged as a big conflict of interest, with a report from a Republican senator’s office showing Trump was granted $40 million in tax credits. It doesn’t look like anyone’s going to press for changes on this front.
8. Rallies

We brought up re-election expenses, but most of that stuff is down the road. That hasn’t stopped Trump from holding a big rally in Florida, only a few weeks into his tenure. That rally, and any future rally, comes with a hefty price tag. And like it or not, you’re fronting the money to put them on — or at least for elements within them. Security, transportation, and other costs add up quickly.
9. Questionable appointments

“Questionable appointments” aren’t really an expense. But the American people expect competent, qualified people to fill Cabinet and senior staff positions. So far, Trump has given those jobs to some questionable people — all of whom will be getting paid by the taxpayers. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is one example, with many wondering about his qualifications. The same goes for Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Scott Pruitt, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Rex Tillerson, and more.
10. Renting office space (from the Trumps)
The Pentagon might need to lease space in Trump Tower for when the president spends time in New York. We’ve already discussed expenses related to keeping Trump Tower as “White House North.” But it appears the Pentagon might actually need to lease space for when the president spends time there. That could cost as much as $1.5 million per year — money paid to the Trumps.

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This is another effort to move American citizens farther away from medical care, this includes die hard Trump supporters who only see the TOTUS fulfilling campaign promises even if they and their families are harmed by it. MA.

Jeffrey Young,HuffPost 12 hours ago

 

President Donald Trump’s administration has taken more steps to undermine the Obamacare marketplaces it’s responsible for managing.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday that it’s making drastic cuts in spending on advertising for the 2018 open enrollment period on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, as well as significant cutbacks in funding for local organizations that help consumers navigate the buying process.
Weakening the two most important tools the federal government has to promote enrollment on the state-based exchanges ― 39 of which are run wholly or mainly by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ― is the latest signal that the Trump administration isn’t committed to serving exchange customers and bolstering the marketplaces during the first open enrollment it will oversee from start to finish.
Less awareness of the open enrollment period running from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, combined with less help from community organizations, which have assisted more than 9 million enrollees with sign-ups since the autumn of 2013, will likely result in fewer people being covered by health insurance obtained via the federally operated exchanges accessed on HealthCare.gov.
In addition, these moves could worsen the financial state of the exchanges, as sicker and costlier consumers are more likely to seek out coverage than healthier people, who may be unaware that the sign-up season is taking place.
Trump himself repeatedly has said he wants to let or make the health insurance exchanges collapse, and his administration has taken a number of actions to destabilize them. That’s above and beyond his advocacy for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal.
Chief among the destabilizing steps has been Trump threatening to withhold billions owed to health insurance companies serving poor enrollees, which has contributed to large rate hikes for next year. The Department of Health and Human Services also has used its websites and social media channels to criticize the Affordable Care Act at taxpayer expense.
And the administration previously canceled other outreach and education programs President Barack Obama’s administration created to help get out the word about coverage options and provide in-person assistance to people seeking help signing up. The current administration also cut the open enrollment period for next year to half its length from last year, giving customers less time to weigh their options.
Trump previewed Thursday’s actions at the beginning of his presidency. He took office at the end of the sign-up campaign for this year, and his new administration promptly halted rounds of advertising for which the Obama administration had already paid, which contributed to national enrollment on the exchanges falling from 2016 levels.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services unveiled two new policies Thursday.
First, the promotional budget for the upcoming sign-up campaign is being cut from $100 million to $10 million. Moreover, a bulletin the agency released indicates that the ad campaign will include no television or radio, and be limited to digital media, email and text messages
Second, organizations with federal contracts to help consumers shop for coverage ― known as “navigators” ― will get far less money. Navigator organizations received $62.5 million from the federal government last year, but will get just $36.8 million this year, a 39 percent cut, according to a fact sheet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Navigator organizations will receive funding for 2018 based on what percentage of their enrollment targets for 2017 they achieved. So an entity that signed up 70 percent of their target last year will get 70 percent of the amount they expected for this year. These organizations were not told in previous years that their performance would be used to set future funding, and the cuts made public Thursday will force them to scale back their plans for the pending sign-up campaign.
The health insurance industry’s main lobbying group highlighted the importance of the initiatives subject to the administration’s cuts.
“Effective education ensures that consumers understand their coverage options and encourages broader participation of healthy individuals. Marketing, outreach, and education are critical to ensure that all consumers are aware of the upcoming open enrollment period, understand new timelines, and enroll by the deadline,” Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, wrote in an email to HuffPost.
The Department of Health and Human Services offered information about its new policies under embargo to reporters and via a teleconference Thursday. HuffPost was not informed of the announcement in advance nor invited to participate in the call, as other news outlets were.
The Affordable Care Act’s exchanges and the law’s expansion of Medicaid drove the uninsured rate down to a historic low. Just 8.8 percent of Americans lacked health insurance during the first quarter of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. As of March 31, 9.1 million people had private health insurance from an exchange, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Jonathan Cohn contributed reporting.

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Apparently it is OK to disassociate the Law Enforcement Agencies from the communities they serve and live in. Mr. Sessions is as anti American as any enemies of the U.S. MA.

Alan Pyke

Aug 29, 2017, 8:53 am
Attorney General Jeff Sessions struck a new blow in his war against police reform on Monday, announcing that President Donald Trump will rescind an executive order from his predecessor restricting local cops’ access to hardware designed for war zones.
The long-predicted move puts grenade launchers and bayonets back on small-town police department shopping lists. It also guts accountability measures for a much longer list of defensive equipment and  military tools which had remained available to police  under President Barack Obama’s reforms.

But the most striking thing in a speech riddled with falsehoods was Sessions’ presentation of the thinking behind the administration’s move — dismissing police reform efforts as harmful to public safety.
“These restrictions that had been imposed went too far,” the attorney general said before the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Nashville. “We will not put superficial concerns over public safety.”
Sessions was speaking to a receptive audience. Tennessee’s Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security, David Purkey, opened by characterizing police as soldiers in a war for decency.
“You, my young friends, stand in the gap for this country. This country offers inspiration, and intimidation. We offer intimidation through our military,” Purkey quoted Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis as having told soldiers in the field. “When I look out on this crowd,” Purkey went on, broadening the warzone sermon to include the police audience in Tennessee, “I see a group of men and women who stand in the gap for this country.”
Sessions later characterized the new Trump order as part of its broader rejection of civilian complaints about police.
“We will always seek to affirm the critical role of police officers in our society, and we will never participate in anything that will give comfort to radicals who promote agendas that preach hostility rather than respect for police,” he said.

The rise of these so-called “radicals” and the spread of distrust for police from minority communities to a wider band of the American public is directly connected to the kinds of abuses of force that Sessions ignored in his remarks. While a new wave of public attention to individual police killings of unarmed black and brown people in recent years helped galvanize reform efforts, the drive for change draws on a long-running conversation about systematic rights violations by police.
Obama’s order came out of a deliberative process informed by input from police, civic leaders, private researchers, and Pentagon officials. Its new controls on military materiel were modest, flexible, and grounded in decades of police violence and unnecessary death.

Pentagon tried to give $1.2 million in guns and bombs to a fake police department
The military is so eager to put war machines in cops’ hands that it doesn’t bother making sure they’re, you know, actually cops.
Protests and violence in Ferguson, Missouri following the police killing of Michael Brown provided the immediate motivation for Obama’s reforms. The heavily armored police response in St. Louis County provided striking visuals of cops as an occupying military force — the tip of a counter-insurgency spear, not a shield that protects and serves.
But mass-protest crowd control is almost a more appropriate use of such heavy equipment  than has been typical over the 25-year history of the “1033” program modified by Monday’s order. When a police agency obtains a new tool or stands up a new unit, its mere existence creates an imperative: Leadership must find some reason to use the new toys, send out the new tactical team. As paramilitary-style police thinking, tactics, and equipment found their way into even the smallest towns in America, where situations that actually require armored vehicles are rare, the imperative to justify equipment and personnel bred monstrous outcomes.
Sessions repeatedly depicted the now-canceled restrictions on Pentagon equipment dispersals to police as a cosmetic move born of a misguided focus on perceptions over reality. In his telling, concern about militarized policing inside U.S. borders is feckless posturing that endangers police and harms public safety.
Sessions was roasting a straw man. The actual argument is that police should act from a sense of unity with those they serve rather than from the mindset of an occupying military force. The claim Sessions sidestepped is that the cop-as-conquistador mentality actually brings more violence into communities, not less.

So-called “dynamic entry” police raids – the type of GI Joe police activity encouraged throughout the War on Drugs and enabled by Pentagon equipment  – are deadly and prone to error. More than 120 civilians and dozens of police officers have died in such raids since the 1990s, including 94 such deaths from 2010 to 2016 alone. These numbers are almost certainly low, as statistics about police violence always are thanks to lax recordkeeping.
Raids that don’t go deadly can still inflict gore on innocents. When Georgia police burst into a family home before dawn in 2014, 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh was sleeping in his playpen. An officer chucked a flash bang grenade in with him, tearing a massive hole in the toddler’s chest. The child survived, and the officer was acquitted on federal charges after state officials declined to prosecute any of the police involved in the raid.
When officers are trained to think like soldiers on foreign soil, they  learn to regard the “natives” around them with constant suspicion. That disposition makes investigators sloppy, eager to have their gut belief that something fishy is going on confirmed by any means possible. It only takes one cunning jailhouse snitch, familiar with the rewards of giving an officer the basis for a warrant he wants, to get a SWAT team  dispatched to a sleepy family home.

Florida sheriff cuts tough-guy video with masked SWAT team
Guilty people aren’t the only ones who should fear nighttime raids.
Sessions never mentioned actual paramilitary tactics like these drug raids in his speech. Instead, he pretended that the Obama restrictions had kept life-saving gear like bulletproof vests and helmets out of police officer hands. That is a lie.
Only five categories of equipment were flat-out prohibited from the police recycling system: grenade launchers, bayonets, high-caliber ammunition, track-driven armored vehicles, and certain types of camouflage.
All other materiel covered by the 1033 redistribution program – including the safety gear Sessions cited in Monday’s remarks – remained accessible to local cops as “controlled equipment.” Departments were required to provide specific justifications for their requests, to establish training and use protocols for the gear, and to more closely track how officers actually use controlled equipment.
“These guidelines were created after Ferguson to ensure that police departments had a guardian, not warrior, mentality. Our communities are not the same as armed combatants in a war zone,” Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights head Vanita Gupta said in a statement. The rules would have meant greater scrutiny for the kinds of reckless assaults on civilian homes that lead to flash bangs in baby cribs and needless firefights between startled, sleeping homeowners and the black-clad invaders they do not realize are police. They would not have sent first responders into harm’s way in flip-flops and Jimmy Buffett tee-shirts as Sessions insinuated.

Still, the FOP convention crowd ate it up.
The most prominent U.S. leaders are not just walking back policies that curb law enforcement’s institutional instinct toward dominance and hard power. They are actively decrying police critics as radical cop-haters, diminishing their nuanced observations about the incentive structures in our criminal justice system into simplistic notions of good and evil.
The remilitarization of American policing — seen in both Sessions’ speech on Monday and in Trump’s blithe endorsement of police brutality in July —  is sold by the administration as simply deferring to what police say they need.
Yet the portrayal of Trump as an open ear and blank check for cops doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. When police’s experience in the field leads them to conclusions opposite to Trump’s own preferences, he is happy to ignore them. Cops across the country have made clear that the administration’s push to deputize them into immigration enforcement work does grave harm to public safety in communities where people fear deportation. They reject Trump’s desire to enlist them into his crackdown on undocumented immigrants, specifically because it makes people less likely to call 911 or cooperate with investigators.
If the administration were serious about promoting public safety, it would listen to the people who disagree with them about where safety comes from and what role police play in ensuring it.

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