Don’t get lost in the Noise. Were we really surprised that Corey Lewandowski proved himself to be a thuggish jackass when testifying before Congress? Did we really expect Trump to show decorum when commenting on journalist Cokie Roberts’s death?
Here’s the Signal:
On the environment, the administration followed through on its long-standing threat to roll back the nearly half-century-old Clean Air Act waiver that allows California to set tougher emissions and fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles. This staggering environmental coup came two days before a climate strike in which students around the world—some, in cities such as New York and San Diego, with the support of their school districts; others, in spite of their opposition—will be ditching school to protest inaction in the face of the climate emergency.
Staying with California, Trump is seeking to capitalize on the state’s appalling housing and homelessness crisis, not by proposing sensible assistance to tackle the situation but instead by demonizing the homeless and floating unconstitutional plans to forcibly round up tens of thousands of people from Los Angeles’s Skid Row and elsewhere and place them in federal “facilities.” Think the worst kind of Dickensian workhouse, layered with 21st-century security technology, and that’s probably about where Trump’s head is on the issue.
Of course, an administration that has slashed public housing funds and that threatens to evict over 100,000 members of mixed-status families from public housing isn’t seriously interested in helping the homeless. Rather, it’s seeking to score cheap political points and normalize extralegal responses to complex social problems.
On the health care front, Tennessee unveiled plans to block-grant Medicaid, which, if the state receives federal waivers, would be the largest assault on the program in its history. It would signal the unraveling of decades of efforts to expand health care access for low-income Americans. Trump doesn’t want states going their own way on the environment, but when it comes to Medicaid, the Trump team supports state waivers. Call it one rule for GOP-controlled states, and another for everyone else.
And while we’re on the subject of medical care, the administration further showed its solidarity with a rogues’ gallery of dictators and religious extremists by sending out a letter to governments around the world this week promoting an alliance of ultraconservative regimes to push back at the United Nations against global public health programs on sexual and reproductive rights that, they believe, encourage abortion and otherwise undermine the traditional family. Trump will not be attending the UN’s health care summit; he will instead host a meeting on the “Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom.”
We’re in the realm of The Handmaid’s Tale, where global public health and family planning policies are shaped by the likes of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman.
And we haven’t even talked about Trump’s bullying of the Federal Reserve, or the possibility of war with Iran, or whistle-blower reports on Trump’s promises to foreign leaders… but there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss these in the coming weeks.
Keep up the good fight, readers. We shall prevail.