Articles on this Page
- 06/25/17--13:54: _Why Republicans are...
- 06/25/17--14:00: _Torture alleged in ...
- 06/25/17--15:26: _Untangling politics...
- 06/26/17--13:19: _Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpa...
- 06/26/17--13:26: _White House does no...
- 06/26/17--13:26: _Here is Warren Buff...
- 06/26/17--14:03: _In defense, Trump s...
- 06/26/17--14:08: _CBO: 22 million peo...
- 06/26/17--14:50: _House ethics panel ...
- 06/26/17--15:16: _Armed Services pane...
- 06/26/17--15:20: _High court decision...
- 06/26/17--15:25: _America should stan...
- 06/26/17--15:29: _Feds looking into B...
- 06/26/17--15:30: _Comic artists draw ...
- 06/26/17--15:35: _Conservatives are t...
- 06/26/17--15:40: _CBO score estimatin...
- 06/26/17--15:45: _News Wrap: U.K.’s T...
- 06/26/17--15:50: _Trump’s travel ban,...
- 06/27/17--06:25: _Supreme Court rulin...
- 06/27/17--06:47: _Pentagon says it de...
- 06/25/17--13:54: Why Republicans are struggling mightily to overhaul tax code
- 06/25/17--14:00: Torture alleged in U.S. search for al-Qaida in Yemen
- 06/25/17--15:26: Untangling politics of health care, Russian interference
- 06/26/17--13:26: White House does not plan Ramadan event
- 06/26/17--13:26: Here is Warren Buffett’s first tax return, filed at age 14
- 06/26/17--14:03: In defense, Trump seeks to redefine meaning of obstruction
- 06/26/17--14:50: House ethics panel launches inquiry of two Dems, plus aide
- 06/26/17--15:16: Armed Services panel chairman seeks $696 billion DOD budget
- 06/26/17--15:20: High court decision to hear travel ban case scores win for Trump
- 06/26/17--15:25: America should stand for more than just wealth, says Warren Buffett
- 06/26/17--15:29: Feds looking into Bernie Sanders, wife over real estate deal
- 06/26/17--15:30: Comic artists draw out stories from resettled Syrian refugees
- 06/26/17--15:45: News Wrap: U.K.’s Theresa May strikes deal to bolster party
WASHINGTON (AP) — Why are Republicans struggling mightily to reach a consensus on how to overhaul the nation’s tax system?
The GOP is supposed to be really good at cutting taxes. President George W. Bush cut taxes. So did President Ronald Reagan, though he also raised them.
Why is President Donald Trump, who has promised the largest tax cut ever, having so much trouble accomplishing one of his main initiatives?
Some questions and answers about why tax overhaul is hard and why Republicans have been unable to reach a consensus.
What’s the holdup?
After weeks of private negotiations, the White House and congressional Republicans still don’t agree on exactly what they want to accomplish.
House Republican leaders are firm that they want to completely overhaul the tax system for businesses and individuals. They want to make the tax law simpler and more efficient, and they want the changes to endure beyond the next decade.
They want to cut tax rates, but they don’t want the changes to add to the federal government’s long-term debt. That means Congress would have to eliminate a lot of exemptions, deductions and credits, and probably come up with a new source of revenue.
The White House is all about tax cuts. Administration officials have talked about simplifying the tax system and getting rid of deductions, but have offered few specifics.
Why not just cut taxes?
A growing number of Republicans say they would rather cut taxes than tackle the difficult task of overhauling the tax system. House Speaker Paul Ryan vehemently opposes this approach.
Republicans are working to pass a tax plan under a procedure that requires only a simple majority in the Senate, preventing Democrats from blocking it. But to use this procedure, the package cannot add to the government’s long-term debt.
That means simple tax cuts would have to be temporary, like the ones passed under Bush.
“Every expert agrees that temporary reforms will only have a negligible impact on wages and economic growth,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “Businesses need to have confidence that we will not pull the rug out from under them.”
Why is Ryan pushing for a tax on imports?
Ryan is pushing a plan that would increase taxes on imports and cut taxes on exports. It’s called a border adjustment tax.
One reason Ryan likes it is because it would raise enough revenue – about $1 trillion over the next decade – to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent without adding to the government’s debt.
The tax would provide strong incentives for U.S.-based companies to keep their operations in the United States and perhaps persuade companies to move overseas operations to the U.S.
The tax, however, has no support in the Senate because senators fear it would increase the cost of consumer goods.
How would Ryan’s tax work?
The border adjustment tax is a cash-flow tax in which corporations could deduct business expenses immediately instead of depreciating them over time. But interest on debt would no longer be deductible, though current debt would be grandfathered.
A U.S. company that makes a product and sells it domestically would pay a 20 percent tax on the profit. A U.S. company that makes a product and exports it would pay no taxes on the proceeds from the sale.
Both of these companies could deduct the cost of making their products as a business expense.
The tax is often described as a tax on imports because companies that import goods would also pay the tax, but they could not deduct the cost of imported goods as a business expense.
For example, if a U.S. retailer imports a product from China for $5 and sells it for $10, the retailer would have to pay tax on the entire $10.
If a U.S. retailer buys a domestically-produced good for $5 and sells it for $10, the retailer would only pay tax on the $5 profit.
Retailers that rely on imports hate the proposed tax. U.S. exporters love it.
Why not just cut loopholes?
A popular idea on Capitol Hill is to cut tax rates for everyone – individuals and corporations – and make up the lost revenue by eliminating special-interest loopholes.
The numbers, however, don’t add up.
On the corporate side, if Congress eliminated just about every tax break enjoyed by corporations, it would raise only enough revenue to lower the corporate tax rate to 28.5 percent, according to an analysis by Scott Greenberg, a senior analyst at the conservative Tax Foundation.
Ryan wants to lower the tax rate to 20 percent; Trump wants to lower it to 15 percent.
Greenberg modeled the effects of eliminating 54 different tax breaks enjoyed by corporations, including the widely used domestic production credit and the popular credit for research and development.
“If lawmakers are interested in paying for a large corporate rate cut solely by ‘closing corporate loopholes’ or ‘repealing special preferences,’ then they will be greatly disappointed,” Greenberg wrote.
The post Why Republicans are struggling mightily to overhaul tax code appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The U.S. military said Thursday it carried out an air-strike in Yemen that killed the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The attack is a reminder of the ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations there in coordination with the government of Yemen and allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
At the same time, an “Associated Press” investigation has found hundreds of men captured in the hunt for al-Qaeda militants in Yemen have been detained in Yemeni and UAE-run prisons, where there are allegations of human rights abuses and torture.
“A.P.” reporter Maggie Michael wrote the story and she joins me now via Skype from Cairo.
So, Maggie, tell us. What’s happening in these prisons?
MAGGIE MICHAEL, ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTER: The prisons are set up inside different places like villas, military camps, ports, airports, and depending on which the location of the prison, the conditions are different.
So, in the city of Mukalla, for example, there’s a big detention center set up inside Riyan Airport where prisoners are held inside shipping containers. People are blindfolded most of the time. They have access to toilets for like three minutes a day.
There is torture every day, at night, from 11:00 p.m. where military officers and Yemeni soldiers, they enter the cells and they start flogging and beating detainees, and then they start to select a small number of them and drag them outside the cells for more torture, also included sexual assaults, according to detainees.
SREENIVASAN: You described something in here that looks straight out of a medieval story. A grill, what is this?
MICHAEL: Soldiers tie detainees and spit and spun them quickly and fastly until they vomit at the very end. This is what they described to me. And what I was told also that day, the number of people tortures like selected, like they select small number of them. So, they become like a model for the rest of the prisoners. So, whenever the time for interrogations come, the people they have already seen what’s happened to their colleagues — I mean, to the inmates, so they start to just give whatever confessions they are ordered to give.
SREENIVASAN: And who profits from these confessions? What’s the relationship to the U.S. in all of this?
MICHAEL: This is for the Emiratis and for the U.S., a source of information. And at least in one instance, in Riyan, witnesses said that U.S. interrogators would enter the interrogation room at least for three, four hours a day, four times a week. And they ask questions through the Emirati officers to get information. This kind of information will be used later in the raids and airstrikes was carried out over the past months in a prison in Yemen.
SREENIVASAN: What is the Defense Department, what is the U.S. government’s response to your story?
MICHAEL: U.S. officials acknowledged that they had interrogators sent to Yemeni prisons. However, they said that they received reports of torture and they looked into it and they found nothing. And this is the kind of response that the families were really upset to hear because they wanted to hear the U.S. government saying, we’re going to look into this, we’re going to investigate and we’re going to figure out what’s happening.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Maggie Michael of the “Associated Press”, joining us via Skype from Cairo tonight — thanks so much.
MICHAEL: No problem. Thank you.
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HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more analysis of the health care debate, “NewsHour Weekend” special correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins us from Santa Barbara, California.
Jeff, here we are, a sixth of the U.S. economy depends on healthcare and we have a piece of legislation that could be decided by maybe two, three votes, it’s coming down to this?
JEFF GREEENFIELD, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it’s remarkable. You know, in the old days, big social legislation like Social Security and Medicare used to pass by overwhelming margins. But for the last 25 years, we’ve seen this down to the wire kind of situation. Clinton got his tax bill through with a one or two-vote margin. President George W. Bush got his prescription drug plan through the House with one vote to spare. Obama’s stimulus and his healthcare bill needed 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. That’s exactly what’s he got.
So, that’s what has happened and that reflects I think, in part, political polarization. But there’s also something to remember, all those bills passed because members of the president’s party in Congress are very reluctant to see the president fail.
SREENIVASAN: This idea of party versus country and what you should put first, how does it play out in this vote?
GREENFIELD: I think you can see it dramatically with Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who is the most endangered Republican senator next year in the midterms. With the prodding of the Republican governor, he has said he’s no on this bill because of Medicaid. So, what’s happening, a pro-Trump PAC is going to launch a seven-figure media buy against him. And what happens now is for him and for the other Republicans who expressed reluctance. What it comes down to is Mitch McConnell looking for ways to pacify them with concessions at the last minute and the problem, of course, is that any time you concede to the moderates, the conservatives don’t like it and vice versa.
SREENIVASAN: All right. From politics to policy, when you look into the meat of it, whether it’s the House version or the Senate version, you have these huge constituencies that are going to be hurt by it — the poor, the elderly. Who wins going forward or is this just a calculation of figuring out the bare minimum to get it over the line?
GREENFIELD: Look, I think what you — every independent analysis says this is big distribution away from middle class and the poor toward the affluent, who got hit in the Obama plan because their taxes were increased to pay for the subsidies.
But two things to remember: first, the tax cuts kick in immediately. The bites with Medicaid expansion later and reduced subsidies and higher premiums, they don’t begin to kick in until after the 2018 midterms. I think that’s a very critical point.
The second thing I’d say is that for a lot of Republican base, repealing Obamacare, whatever that means, has become the be all and the end all. It’s like Vince Lombardi once said, winning this and everything, it’s the only thing. Anything they can call Obama repeal, they want, because not to do it betrays the central promise they made to the Republican base.
SREENIVASAN: Shifting gears a little bit, the president back on Twitter. In a couple of tweets, he seems to acknowledge the Russian interference in the context of blaming the Obama administration for not doing anything about it, which is a different tactic than what the White House and the administration and President Trump has been pushing with the past few months.
GREENFIELD: So, for months, Donald Trump was saying there is nothing to the story of hacking. Maybe it’s the Chinese. Maybe it’s some guy in his parents’ basement. Now, he seems to be he’s saying, of course, there was hacking, and the reason the Obama administration didn’t talk about it much was to help Hillary by not talking about it.
That makes no sense. Had they exposed Russian effort to push the electorate away from Hillary, that would have helped her politically. And one of the reasons they didn’t do it, according to the intelligence chiefs that served Obama was, had they raised that issue, they would have been accused of politicizing the story in an effort to help Hillary Clinton.
I think it’s an illustration also, more broadly, of how Trump uses social media, to convince his millions of followers that his version of reality is right and, by definition, anyone pushing back against that story is a product of fake news. And I think that’s just become a kind of running theme of this administration. There’s no reason to think it’s going to stop.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Jeff Greenfield joining us from California — thanks so much.
GREENFIELD: Thank you.
The post Untangling politics of health care, Russian interference appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
PHOENIX — Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s criminal trial opened Monday over his defiance of the courts in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants, marking the most aggressive effort to hold the former lawman of metro Phoenix accountable for tactics that critics say racially profiled Latinos.
In opening arguments, prosecutors cited news releases from Arpaio’s office and his comments in TV interviews bragging about immigration enforcement to prove their point that he should be found guilty of misdemeanor contempt of court.
“He thought he could get away with it,” prosecutor Victor Salgado said. “He never thought this day would come.”
Arpaio’s defense lawyer vigorously disputed that a person with nearly 60 years in law enforcement would violate a court order, putting the blame on a former attorney who gave bad legal advice.
The eight-day trial in federal court in Phoenix comes after the 85-year-old spent nine of his 24 years in office doing the sort of local immigration enforcement that President Donald Trump has advocated.
To build his highly touted deportation force, Trump is reviving a long-standing program that deputizes local officers to enforce federal immigration law.
Arpaio’s lawyers say the former sheriff is charged with a crime for cooperating with U.S. immigration officials, which the Trump administration now encourages.
Arpaio’s legal troubles played a major role in voters turning him out of office in November after a campaign in which he appeared alongside Trump at several rallies in Arizona.
Now, Trump is in office and Arpaio is on trial.
If convicted, Arpaio could face up to six months in jail, though lawyers who have followed his case doubt that a man of his age would be put behind bars.
The former six-term sheriff of metro Phoenix has acknowledged defying a judge’s 2011 order in a racial profiling lawsuit by prolonging the patrols for months. But he insists it was not intentional. To win a conviction, prosecutors must prove he violated the order on purpose.
Unlike other local police leaders who left immigration enforcement to U.S. authorities, Arpaio made hundreds of arrests in traffic patrols that sought out immigrants and business raids in which his officers targeted immigrants who used fraudulent IDs to get jobs.
His immigration powers were eventually stripped away by the courts and federal government, culminating with a judge ruling in 2013 that Arpaio’s officers racially profiled Latinos.
Arpaio’s defense centers around what his attorneys said were weaknesses in the court order that failed to acknowledge times when deputies would detain immigrants and later hand them over to federal authorities.
“He followed the law as the law exists,” said Dennis Wilenchik, Arpaio’s lead attorney.
Prosecutors are seeking to use Arpaio’s own words against him in their case.
The sheriff’s office issued a news release a week after the judge told it to stop the patrols saying it would continue to enforce immigration laws. Arpaio also gave a March 2012 TV interview in which he said his office was still detaining immigrants who were in the country illegally.
The retired lawman lost a request to prohibit prosecutors from mentioning comments he made about immigration during his last three campaigns.
He also lost a last-ditch effort to let a jury instead of a judge decide whether he is guilty, with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejecting the request.
It’s not known whether Arpaio will testify in his defense.
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WASHINGTON — Breaking with recent White House tradition, President Donald Trump has opted not to host an event marking Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.
Past presidents have welcomed Muslim Americans for a traditional iftar, a meal that follows daily fasting from dawn to sunset. Ramadan ends with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which was celebrated Sunday in most Muslim countries.
Trump issued a statement Saturday, saying that he and wife Melania “send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr.” The White House said there were no plans for an event. Asked Monday why Trump was not hosting an event, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he did not know.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also declined to hold an iftar, in departure from the practice of previous secretaries, although Tillerson did release a written statement marking the occasion.
The decision was a shift from recent administrations. Last year, President Barack Obama hosted a reception commemorating the holy month after it ended. In his remarks, he said that discriminating against Muslim Americans “feeds the lie” that the West is at war with their religion.
Trump, who has initiated a crackdown on illegal immigration, has called for a temporary ban on people entering the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries. The Supreme Court is allowing the administration to go forward with a limited version of its ban and will hear full arguments on the case in October.
The president casts the travel ban as critical to deterring possible terrorist attacks in the United States. Opponents say it targets Muslims in violation of federal law and the Constitution.
OMAHA, Neb. — As a television producer, I’ve learned to expect surprises on field shoots. Last week, billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett arrived early for his PBS NewsHour interview with Judy Woodruff. As he was getting his face powdered and his hair combed, he pulled out some papers.
He’d brought along a copy of his very first tax return from 1944. Back then, young Warren Buffett was a recently transplanted 14-year-old living in Washington, DC. His family had moved to the nation’s capitol from Nebraska after his father, Howard Buffett, was elected to Congress in 1942. Howard Buffett went on to serve four non-consecutive terms in office, representing the district that included Omaha. And during that time, Warren Buffett earned money on a paper route in his Northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood.
You might wonder why a 14-year-old would have to file a federal income tax return. Well, Buffett made more than $500, and IRS rules at the time required that a return must be filed by every citizen of the United States, including a minor, who had earned a gross income of $500 or more. Buffett’s income in 1944 was $592.50 and he paid a $7 tax. Translated to 2017 figures, using an inflation calculator, that’s $8,221.18 in income and $97.13 owed in taxes.
Buffett told us that along his route were six senators and one Supreme Court justice. He delivered the Washington Post and the now defunct Washington Times-Herald, both morning and afternoon editions. All of this was meticulously noted in an addendum attached to his 1944 tax return. He also noted two expenses; watch repair at a cost of $10 and miscellaneous bicycle costs adding up to $35.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unleashed a series of tweets Monday in which he tried to place the blame for Russian meddling in U.S. politics and deflect charges of obstruction and collusion onto former President Barack Obama.
Trump wrote that Obama did “NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling” because he expected Hillary Clinton to win. Trump added that Obama “didn’t ‘choke,’ he colluded or obstructed.”
Trump, who has a long history of deflecting criticism from himself to others, seemed to be trying to redefine what it means to collude or obstruct as he pushed back against an investigation into whether Trump’s own team colluded with Russian officials during the campaign and transition.
Trump appeared to be referencing a Washington Post story about the Obama administration’s handling of Russia’s attempts to influence voters in which some officials questioned whether the president had done enough to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Obama ordered a review of Russia’s actions and imposed new sanctions after the election.
As president, Trump has frequently disparaged the Russia probe as a “witch hunt” promoted by Democrats. Monday’s tweets appeared aimed at delegitimizing some of the allegations frequently hurled at him by his political opponents.
He tweeted that after months of reviewing Russia “under a magnifying glass, they have zero ‘tapes’ of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!”
During his presidential campaign, Trump frequently sought to muddy some of the criticism raised by his opponents. When rival Clinton argued he was unfit to hold office, Trump pointed to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign assertions that Clinton lacked judgment. When Trump faced scrutiny over his vulgar comments in a 2005 video, he sought to revive allegations of sexual impropriety against former President Bill Clinton.
Wayne Fields, a Washington University professor who has studied political rhetoric, said Trump appeared to be co-opting terms like collusion and obstruction as part of a larger strategy to “invalidate” some of the arguments made against him.
“You take words and you do everything you can to make them meaningless. You take any kind of precision out of public discourse so it can’t be used against you,” Fields said.
Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who has written about public corruption, said Trump appeared to be taking the term “obstruction,” which means impeding an investigation, and applying it to a decision by his predecessor not to pursue an investigation as vigorously as possible.
“Inaction is not an obstruction, but of course it has some potency as a political attack,” Henning said.
Asked about the comments, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters there were “some serious questions” about what the Obama administration “did or did not do in terms of acting” after evidence of Russian meddling surfaced during the campaign.
“Obviously I don’t have all the understanding of what they knew or when they knew it, but there does seem to be a bit of hypocrisy in terms of what they didn’t clearly do if they truly believe all of this was happening,” Spicer said. He insisted, “If they did know all this, then they clearly do know that there wasn’t a collusion.”
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The Senate Republican health care bill would cause an estimated 22 million people to lose their health insurance and lower the federal deficit by $321 billion over the next decade, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Senate Republicans carved out their most significant savings in health care spending with $772 billion in cuts to Medicaid, the federal health care program for people in low-income households. Another $408 billion would be slashed in subsidies for individual health insurance plans over the next decade.
The budget office, an independent, non-political entity, paired with the bicameral congressional tax committee to analyze the Senate Republican health care plan. The bill was released last Thursday and GOP leaders are pushing for a final vote this week.
The CBO report reinforced a recent pattern in budget office scores for Republican-backed health care plans aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The office said the most recent version of the House bill, which was passed in May, would leave 23 million more people without health insurance by 2026 — 50 million people overall. If the Affordable Care Act remained in place, 28 million people would have no health insurance, the CBO report found. Under the Senate plan, a total of 49 million people would be uninsured within that time frame.
In March the CBO estimated that 24 million people would lose insurance by 2026 under the House’s first health care bill, which was never brought to a vote after House GOP leaders failed to drum up enough support for the measure. The budget office said the plan would have slashed $337 billion in federal dollars by 2026, mostly from reductions in Medicaid and insurance subsidies.
Two months later, on May 24,the office released its analysis of the House’s updated health care bill, which passed narrowly on a party-line 217-213 vote. The CBO found that revisions in the bill lowered federal deficits by $119 billion and left a projected 51 million people uninsured, or 23 million more by 2026 than would be uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.
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The House Ethics committee said Monday it is investigating complaints against two veteran Democratic lawmakers and the top aide to a third Democrat.
Reps. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and John Conyers of Michigan, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, are under investigation, the ethics panel said.
The panel also is investigating Michael Collins, chief of staff to Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
The independent Office of Congressional Ethics recommended the investigations, although the exact nature of the allegations is not clear.
The ethics panel said in a statement that the inquiries do not in themselves reflect any judgment of wrongdoing.
Joe Shoemaker, a spokesman for Lujan, said the ethics inquiry was “the result of a frivolous complaint, filed by a highly partisan outside group” about activities during a sit-in last year by Democrats urging House votes on gun control.
The complaint “is without merit,” Shoemaker said. “Congressman Luján is committed to abiding by House rules, is confident he has done so in this case and looks forward to a timely resolution by the Ethics Committee.”
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a conservative-leaning watchdog group, filed a complaint last year that Lujan and other Democrats violated ethics rules by using the House chamber to raise money for campaign purposes. Specifically, the group Lujan and others sent campaign emails featuring photos of themselves during the June 2016 sit-in.
The House ethics manual says House buildings, rooms and offices may not be used for campaign or political activities.
The same watchdog group also complained that Collins improperly served in dual roles, in Lewis’s Washington office and as treasurer for his 2016 re-election campaign.
Ethics rules bar senior House staff from serving in any fiduciary role for a political organization, and specifically cite campaign treasurer as a prohibited position for such staffers.
A spokeswoman for Conyers said his office has “worked diligently at all times to comply with the rules, is cooperating with the Ethics Committee and is confident that this matter can be swiftly resolved.”
The ethics panel says it will announce further steps in all three cases by Aug. 9.
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WASHINGTON — Declaring the U.S. military in dire need of rebuilding, an influential House committee chairman pressed his case Monday for $696 billion defense budget in 2018 — more military spending than at any point during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, who heads the Armed Services Committee, argued the sharp increase is badly needed to address shortcomings that have driven the combat readiness of the armed forces to a level Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has described as shocking.
“Today, we have too many planes that cannot fly, too many ships that cannot sail, too many soldiers who cannot deploy, while too many threats are gathering,” Thornberry said.
His blueprint is $28.5 billion above the $603 billion that President Donald Trump requested for core Pentagon operations along with just under $65 billion for warfighting missions. Thornberry said his plan address key areas such as aviation, ground forces and missile defense that Trump “neglected” in the budget proposal he submitted to Congress last month.
Thornberry’s blueprint, which will be considered by the Armed Services Committee Wednesday, would supply $2.5 billion more than the nearly $10 billion Trump sought for missile defense programs. Thornberry said last week that he was “astonished” by shortfall in Trump’s request, citing the potential threat the U.S. faces of a missile strike by North Korea or Iran.
The chairman’s plan also would buy 87 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 17 more than Trump asked for, as well as four additional V-22 tiltrotor aircraft and eight F/A-18 jet fighters. He also wants to acquire additional ships for the Navy. The Army would get more upgraded Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
Thornberry has been at odds with fellow Republicans over how much the Pentagon should get in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. He told reporters last week he wanted a 2018 defense budget of $705 billion. But he shaved $8.5 billion from his plan amid discussions with leaders of the House Budget and Appropriations committees over defense spending levels.
Conservatives who dominate the Budget Committee agreed last week on a budget outline that promises $20 billion less than Thornberry envisioned for the core military budget that pays for weapons, training and troop salaries.
Thornberry told reporters last week that he would be willing to accept a lower overall budget number, but only if he’s assured the Pentagon will no longer be hamstrung by a herky-jerky budgeting process that leaves the armed services unsure of how much they’ll get each year and when the money will arrive. His plan released Monday doesn’t say what assurances, if any, Thornberry received.
Squarely in the sights of Thornberry and other defense hawks on Capitol Hill is a 2011 law that strictly limits defense spending. If the budget caps mandated by the Budget Control Act are breached, automatic spending reductions known as sequestration are triggered. They’ve been pushing for the law to be repealed, but that won’t happen without help from Democrats who want limits on domestic spending erased.
Thornberry criticized Trump’s maiden Pentagon budget as inadequate, but he refused to blame the president for the shortcomings. The defense budget sent to Congress last month was essentially what former President Barack Obama would have proposed, he said.
“There wasn’t anybody at DOD to write a Trump budget request,” according to Thornberry. “I have no doubt that our president wants to repair and rebuild our military.”
Yet the Trump administration is almost entirely responsible for the skeleton crew at the Pentagon. There are dozens of top-level jobs that require Senate confirmation before they can be filled, but Trump, in office since late January, has nominated just 20 so far. Six have been confirmed, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, while a dozen or so others await approval, according to figures maintained by the Senate.
Thornberry’s blueprint recommends an increase of 10,000 active duty troops for the Army, which would bring the service to 486,000 full-time troops.
The plan also provides a 2.4 percent pay raise for service members, which is slightly higher than the wage hike the Pentagon had proposed. Mattis defended the lower amount during a committee hearing earlier this month, telling lawmakers that the salaries of U.S. service members are competitive with the private sector.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn back now to the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Trump administration’s travel ban and the ongoing fight over the health care replacement bill.
For all that, it’s time for politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Stu Rothenberg, senior editor at Inside Elections.
And welcome to both of you.
So, Tam, I’m going to start with you on the Supreme Court ruling on the travel ban. It is a limited victory for the president. They did allow a reinstatement of a part of it. How much of a victory is it?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR Well, it’s a victory.
And the president hasn’t had a lot of victories on this travel ban. It’s been blocked in various courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. He was 0-2 in the appeals courts before getting to the Supreme Court. Now at least he will be heard in the Supreme Court. Now, it is not the 9-0 victory that the president declared.
There’s not a decision yet. There’s only a decision to hear the case.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see it, Stu?
STUART ROTHENBERG, Inside Elections: Yes, similarly.
I guess everything is a win or loss, so it’s a win for the president. I don’t see it having dramatic political implications, frankly. I think the lines have been drawn. You’re either for the ban or against the ban.
To some extent, the final decision has been kicked down the road, the can has been kicked down the road a bit. So, I think it’s a win for the president. But compared to health care, foreign policy, jobs, the economy, I just don’t see it as a decisive issue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, so speaking of health care, we know the debate in the Senate goes on. We heard Lisa Desjardins, Julie Rovner talking with John Yang earlier talking about where the state of play is.
Today, Tam, the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with — and saying almost as many — 22 million more Americans would be hurt by this plan, would lose coverage, which is almost as many as the House plan. Now, you have just heard there’s some reaction to that from the White House.
TAMARA KEITH: Right.
The White House is reacting much the way that it reacted the last time the Congressional Budget Office came out with one of these blockbuster reports saying millions of people would lose coverage. And they’re saying is that the CBO hasn’t always been accurate and estimating health care, so, all right, everyone, just look in the other direction, please ignore that.
And the other point that the statement makes is that the president said he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and this bill does it, and, therefore, that’s what they want.
Now, there are some in the Senate who actually say the bill doesn’t repeal Obamacare, it’s more of a modification of the preexisting structure, and that is one of the objections. There are many out there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stu, what is the political state of play? What are the pressures on these Republicans as they try to decide what to do about this?
STUART ROTHENBERG: Well, I think they’re in a very difficult position, a rock and a hard place.
On one hand, they want to accomplish something. They have a mandate from conservatives, Republicans, Trump backers to do something. On the other hand, they’re concerned about opinion back home and they’re concerned about the coverage.
I got a release from Mitch — you got a release from the White House. I saw a release from Mitch McConnell right before I came on.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m glad we are all well-covered here.
STUART ROTHENBERG: And he said: “The Senate will soon take action on the bill that the Congressional Budget Office just confirmed will reduce the growth in premiums under Obamacare, reduce taxes on the middle class, and reduce the deficit.”
Premiums, taxes, deficit. What McConnell didn’t talk about was health care, quality of coverage.
TAMARA KEITH: Or out-of-pocket expenses, which this CBO report says could be massive.
STUART ROTHENBERG: And voters care about these things. They care a lot about these things.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Stu, again, as you — you follow these, the political pressures on these members of the Senate as they think about — the ones who are you for reelection.
STUART ROTHENBERG: Judy, I was looking at some numbers, and it’s really stunning.
What’s the one group, two groups that are supposed to benefit most from this health care bill? Younger voters and healthier people, right, because they have been subsidizing older people and people who aren’t as healthy. And what group is most opposed to the American Health Care Act and most critical of Donald Trump? Eighteen-to-34-year-olds, younger voters, the kind of voters that should like this.
So, I think it’s a real problem for Republicans.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will certainly see what happens.
There’s so much to ask about.
Tam, the president has been tweeting a lot over the weekend, continuing to today, about the reports that the Obama administration had information about Russian hacking, interference in last year’s presidential election and didn’t do a lot about it until after the election. The president’s going after former President Obama, saying he’s the one to blame, he’s the one who obstructed.
Where does this get the president? How successful a strategy is this?
TAMARA KEITH: The president’s position on Russian hacking and metaling in the election is wildly confusing, because, previously, he had said it was a hoax that was invented by the Democrats just to explain their loss in the election.
Now I guess he’s OK with the hoax, as long as it’s President — former President Obama’s fault. And President Trump does have a remarkable ability to make everything President Obama’s fault, one way or another.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stu, the president has — this has been the monkey on the president’s back for months and months and months. He doesn’t like to talk about it, but it seems as if this particular report that came out a couple days ago in The Washington Post, he seized on that.
STUART ROTHENBERG: I think you’re right.
He’s looking for some explanation to prove that he was right and Obama is wrong, it’s all Obama’s fault. Look, I think President Obama did — one thing that Donald Trump says is correct is that President Obama did assume that Hillary Clinton was going to win the election and that he could not take on this issue publicly.
But can you imagine what Donald Trump would have said if, a few weeks before election, Barack Obama got on television and said it’s all about the Russians taking over our elections? Trump would have said, it’s rigged, the election is rigged.
TAMARA KEITH: He already was saying it was rigged. And that may have influenced how the Obama administration reacted. That’s what they’re saying.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, privately, that’s what the Obama folks are saying.
Just very quickly, something that we kind of overlooked in all the other news last week, and the was the announcement by the Supreme Court that they’re going to take up, Stu, a redistricting case that affects the census, that is going to have a big effect on how our politics potentially…
STUART ROTHENBERG: This is huge, or, as some people, say, “yuge,” because this goes to the very heart of how districts are drawn, who draws the districts.
And that goes to the very heart of who gets elected and which party benefits from how the districts are drawn. So, this is a thing to absolutely keep an eye on. The court has been very reticent to get involved on the issues of is this a political question or not?
But by taking the case, I guess they’re going to address it at least.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The backdrop is that the way redistricting gerrymandering has been happening, Tam, quickly, it has benefited the Republicans, and this is a chance to look at that.
TAMARA KEITH: Well, and redistricting that has made seats safe is influencing things like this very health care debate, because members of Congress are more worried, particularly Republican members of Congress are more worried about primaries from the right than they are about a general election fight.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that one’s in the fall. So is the big travel ban argument. We’re going to have a lot to look forward to.
But, in the meantime, we have got so much to cover right now.
Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, thank you both, Politics Monday.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
STUART ROTHENBERG: Thanks, Judy.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, to part one of my interview with Warren Buffett.
He’s one of the shrewdest and most successful investors in the world, earning the nickname the Oracle of Omaha.
I traveled to Nebraska last week for this wide-ranging conversation.
And a note: Buffett is CBO of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns BNSF Railway, one of the funders of the NewsHour.
He’s number two on Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest people, worth more than $75 billion. Warren Buffett is an investing rock star to his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, who gather in Omaha every year. One share is trading today at $251,000.
Two years ago, the legendary firm celebrated its record of investment over a half-century, a portfolio that includes Kraft Heinz, Geico, Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola and, among others, the Nebraska Furniture Mart. It’s the largest furniture store in North America.
Buffet bought it in 1983 from Rose Blumkin, a Russian immigrant who built it from nothing.
WARREN BUFFETT, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway: There’s nothing like it. And we’re the 58th market in the United States, and this was the largest home furnishing store in the country, until we built two more.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why was she so successful? What was the secret?
WARREN BUFFETT: She would say — she had a thing in her office, which you probably couldn’t read, but it says she had two things, sell cheap and tell the truth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We talked on the showroom floor surrounded by sofas, lamps and coffee tables. The state of the economy was our first topic.
The stock market’s booming. Unemployment rate is, what, is as low as it’s been in 15, 16 years. But we’re still not seeing the growth that people would like to see. What’s going on?
WARREN BUFFETT: The economy is doing well, but all Americans aren’t doing well. But we have got $57,000 or $58,000 of GDP per person. That is a lot of stuff.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet the growth, the rate of growth is, what, 2 percent.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes, 2 percent.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump is saying we’re going to get it up a lot higher than that. Is that doable?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, it may be occasionally it happens. But, no, I don’t think probably on average we will have that kind of growth.
But 2 percent does wonders for you, Judy. If you take 2 percent, we have a half-a-percent population growth, and we have a little immigration, but 2 percent in one generation will add $19,000 of GDP per person, family of four, $76,000 in one generation.
So, your children and your children’s children and all that, they will live far, far, far better than we live with 2 percent growth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me then ask you a little bit about the employment picture, because it is, as you said, low unemployment. People — a lot of people have jobs.
At the same time, we’re told the labor participation rate is lower than what the experts like it to be.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: More people are leaving jobs than are joining. Are we seeing some kind of shift?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, we always see shifts in employment.
If you think about it, if you go back to 1800, it took 80 percent of the labor force to produce enough food for the country. Now it takes less than 3 percent. Well, the truth is that market systems move people around.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You also see, though, some experts saying that not enough — there aren’t enough workers out there who know — who have the skills to do all the jobs that are needed.
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, there’s always a mismatch.
I mean, you know, as the economy evolves, it reallocates resources. Now, the real problem, in my view, is — this has been — the prosperity has been unbelievable for the extremely rich people.
If you go to 1982, when Forbes put on their first 400 list, those people had $93 billion. They now they have $2.4 trillion, 25 for one. That is — this has been a prosperity that’s been disproportionately rewarding to the people on top.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are we stuck forever with some measure inequality?
WARREN BUFFETT: No, we generally have translated greater output in the few hours of work per week over the last century. And that’s a good trend of the future.
But we do have to have a system that, as output of goods and services keeps increasing per capita, that it takes care of the people who are willing to work and really are not getting by very well with a family on a 40-hour week.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You come across as optimistic about the future of this country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I think you wrote to your shareholders last year it’s been a mistake to bet against the United States for the last 240 years.
Has the U.S. standing, though, in the world been — has it been changed, has it been harmed in any way, given what’s been going on for the last six or eight months?
WARREN BUFFETT: We do not have quite the percentage of the world’s GDP that we had 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, but we’re still the leader. The question is whether we can be the moral leader, as well as the economic leader.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what do you think?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, I think that’s a podium that we should have. We will be the economic leader, and we should be the moral leader. We should stand for more than the fact that we’re the wealthiest country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And do you think we are right now?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, sometimes, we are and sometimes we aren’t.
WARREN BUFFETT: I didn’t think what happened on the Paris agreement was a good idea.
We have to live with the rest of the world. And it’s a mistake, in my view. Trade has generally developed in this country. We actually export 12 or 13 percent of our GDP. It was only 5 percent in 1970. But it benefits us. It benefits the rest of the world.
It doesn’t benefit the steelworker maybe in Ohio. And that’s the problem that has to be addressed, because when you have something that’s good for society, but terribly harmful for given individuals, we have got to make sure those individuals are taken care of.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about a couple questions about markets, investing.
I mean, nobody knows markets better than you do. I think you said earlier this year that you weren’t worried that the market was in a bubble, because interest rates were staying low. As you know, the Federal Reserve is starting to raise them. Do you still feel the market is not in a bubble?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, anything can happen in markets.
I bought my first stock in 1942, in the summer of ’42. I was 11 years old. And so 75 years have gone by. And I have never known what the market’s going to do the next day. And that’s not my game.
My game is to decide whether I’m in the right economy, which America’s definitely been ever since that time. The Dow has gone from 100 to 21,000 during that time. And no matter what the headlines say, or terrible things are happening — we were losing the war in the Pacific when I first bought stocks.
So, America’s going to do fine over time. America business is going to do fine over time. Occasionally, we go off the tracks with bubbles like — and a lot of human error and that sort of thing. But it will never permanently derail us.
And I don’t try and guess when to get in and out of the market. I have owned stocks consistently since 1942. I owned the — I was buying stocks the day before the election. I was buying the same stocks the day after election. And if Hillary had been elected, it would have been the same thing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Does President Trump deserve credit for what is going on right now in the market?
WARREN BUFFETT: I — the stock market has been going up basically since March of 2009. That’s when it hit the bottom, very early in March. It’s been going up more or less ever since then.
But if I ever get elected president, I will never claim credit for anything the market does, because I don’t want to be blamed when it goes the other direction.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Your investment decisions over time have been remarkably right much of the time, most of the time.
Today, as people look at you and look at the decisions that you have made, what mainly should people take a look at?
WARREN BUFFETT: They should be willing to bet on America. They shouldn’t listen to a lot of jabbering about what the market’s going to do tomorrow or next week or next month, because nobody knows.
They should just keep buying and buying and buying a little bit of America as they go along. And 30 or 40 years from now, they will have a lot of money.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Berkshire Hathaway has made a huge investment in Wells Fargo.
WARREN BUFFETT: True.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you — it came up at your recent shareholders meeting that Wells Fargo had problems. They engaged in some …
WARREN BUFFETT: Plenty of problems.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Plenty of problems. They engaged in some fake accounts, in millions of fake accounts. The leadership of the company was replaced.
WARREN BUFFETT: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The critics are saying, yes, you called them out, but Berkshire Hathaway still owns a big chunk of Wells Fargo.
WARREN BUFFETT: Sure. Sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And they’re saying, is there a double standard?
WARREN BUFFETT: It was a terrible mistake. They incentivized bad behavior.
Incentives work, but they work — you incentivize good behavior or bad behavior. And then the problem, big problem is — and sometimes will you — you can design an incentive system that is incentivizing the wrong things. You have got to end it, and end it fast and decisive. So, that’s where they made the big mistake.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there a clear line in your mind when behavior becomes just so unacceptable that you don’t want to have anything to do with that company?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, it’s a very interesting question.
I wouldn’t want to manufacture cigarettes. But if I owned — we do own Costco. Do they sell them? Yes. So I don’t have a problem owning stock in that. But I just wouldn’t want to — I wouldn’t want to do it myself.
I basically think, if anything is sufficiently antisocial, society should do something about it. But that’s a separate question. But — and I don’t think there’s any company that I have seen that’s 100 percent pure.
In terms of what I will call them out for, I will call individuals out, but generally I would not apply that to the corporation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Something that affects all businesses is the cost of health care in this country.
WARREN BUFFETT: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you have been vocal about that.
You have argued that, right now, in effect, that the cost of paying for health care can affect a company even more than taxes.
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, it does, I mean, in terms of our competitiveness in the world.
Health care in 1960 was 5 percent of GDP. And there’s only 100 cents in the dollar. So, it’s gone from 5 cents — 5 percent to 17 percent. And it keeps going up. Corporate taxes have gone down from 4 percent to 2 percent.
So, corporate taxes are way less of a factor in American competitiveness than — I’m talking about overall business — than medical costs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And as we sit here today in Omaha, the Republicans in Congress are madly trying to figure out what to do to replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have a firm idea in your mind of what ought to be done about Obamacare? Everybody acknowledges there have been some problems with it.
WARREN BUFFETT: I think that’s way outside of my circle of competence.
But I would say this. You can’t have that 5 go to 17 and move on to 20 and 22 or 24 percent, because there are only 100 cents in a dollar. And health care is gobbling up well over $3 trillion a year. It’s just about the same as federal — the federal budget is getting up there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are we now at the point where the country does need to think about some sort of single-payer system in some form or another?
WARREN BUFFETT: With my limited knowledge, I think that probably is the best system, because it is a system — we are such a rich country. In a sense, we can afford to do it.
But in almost every field of American business, it pays to bring down costs. There’s an awful lot of people involved in the medical — the whole — just the way the ecosystem works, that there is no incentive to bring down costs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it sounds like you’re saying, with a single-payer system, it would be easier to figure out a way to get those costs down.
WARREN BUFFETT: It would be more effective, I think.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And tune in tomorrow night for the second part of my conversation with Warren Buffett. We will look then more at his own taxes and his views on tax reform and philanthropy.
Online, you can view Buffett’s very first tax return, filed when he just 14 years old for money he earned delivering newspapers in his then Northwest Washington, D.C., neighborhood. That’s at pbs.org/newshour.
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MONTPELIER, Vt. — A spokesman for the wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says she has hired a lawyer as federal investigators examine a real estate deal involving a Vermont college she once ran.
Family spokesman Jeff Weaver managed Sanders’ 2016 Democratic presidential campaign and tells The Associated Press that Jane O’Meara Sanders has retained an attorney to look out for her interests.
The news website VTDigger.com first reported federal investigators are taking a closer look at $10 million in financing she assembled for the now-defunct Burlington College.
Last week, Bernie Sanders called the probe “nonsense” in an interview with WCAX-TV and suggested it was politically motivated.
The complaint against Jane Sanders was filed by Brady Toensing, who was the Vermont campaign chairman for Donald Trump during his run for president as a Republican.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: a unique look at the victims of war in Syria.
In 2015, Canada began that country’s largest refugee resettlement program since the Vietnam War. Over the last year-and-a-half, 45,000 Syrian refugees have made Canada their home, more than double those admitted in the U.S.
Now a group of comic book artists are documenting refugee stories through their art.
Special correspondent Stefan Labbe and producer Lauren Kaljur have the story.
STEFAN LABBE: In 2011, Mohammed Alsaleh joined the wave of anti-government protesters sweeping across Syria.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH, Syrian Immigrant: It was the first time in my life where I hear my voice saying the word freedom in public. It was the first time in Syrian history where a picture of our dictator is being torn in public. And I was taking that shot. That was one of the most amazing days of my life.
STEFAN LABBE: That footage would prove his undoing, as the government began to crack down on protesters.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: Now they are attacking us.
STEFAN LABBE: Now a refugee in Canada, Mohammed finally has the chance to tell his story, with the help of a nonprofit graphic arts collective.
JONATHON DALTON, Comic Book Artist: Cloudscape finds people who have come to Canada as refugees and matches them with comic book artists.
STEFAN LABBE: Jonathon Dalton is an established comic artist. He usually draws stories about fantasy and historical fiction.
But this time, Mohammed’s life is on the page, a story that begins with revolution.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: I was studying medicine at Homs University during the Arab Spring. The first time I was arrested was for filming pro-democracy protests. So, protesters would have a flag with three stars.
JONATHON DALTON: Three stars, OK. I wasn’t paying close enough attention.
STEFAN LABBE: With funding from the government, the comic book artists will work closely with refugees to create a massive one-page comic.
JONATHON DALTON: This is your story, so I want you to have as much control over how it’s told as possible.
STEFAN LABBE: When they’re finished, the refugees’ story will be displayed in bus shelters all over Vancouver, Canada.
JONATHON DALTON: By drawing people as cartoons, I think you can engage the reader to see themselves in the story.
STEFAN LABBE: But it’s about more than putting yourself in a refugee’s shoes. For Mohammed, comics have the power to animate a humanitarian crisis many have grown numb to.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: When you try your best to share a story about the worst crisis after World War II, sometimes, you feel that language is not actually capable of doing that.
JONATHON DALTON: I think that’s what I drew.
STEFAN LABBE: After shooting the protest footage, Mohammed had no idea his future would take a dark turn.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: I tried my best to say out of trouble, but …
STEFAN LABBE: Assad’s security forces stormed Mohammed’s classroom as he was writing an exam. He was charged with terrorism for documenting the uprising.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: Those pictures that I was able to upload were all over the news, all over the world.
STEFAN LABBE: Mohammed was blindfolded and shuttled off to one of the regime’s many detention centers. Over the next 150 days, the guards would deprive him of food and sleep, chain him from the ceiling and beat him inside of a tire.
And when he wasn’t being tortured, he was crammed into small rooms with dozens of other prisoners.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: I survived, yes. They managed to change me. They managed to terrorize me.
STEFAN LABBE: Mohammed was released from prison when his brother bribed a judge.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: When I got my freedom back, all I wanted to do was see my family. I also wanted to say goodbye. I needed to get as far away as I could.
STEFAN LABBE: He jumped into a taxi and fled to Lebanon.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: When you’re on survival mode, like where you’re not whole, it was because of that, that I decided to leave Syria. It was because of that I decided that I’m not going to risk being detained and tortured again.
STEFAN LABBE: He would soon be chosen as one of the first 200 Syrian refugees to be granted asylum in Canada.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: When I arrived in Vancouver, I had only the clothes on my back.
STEFAN LABBE: Three years on, he’s built a life for himself here. Now Mohammed helps other refugees newly arrived in the city, people like Osama, who just arrived from Syria with his wife and four kids.
Today, Mohammed is helping them start over. He signs them up for health insurance, helps them open a bank account, and teaches them how to withdraw money from an ATM.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: Withdraw.
STEFAN LABBE: But with the cartoon project, he wants to reach beyond the refugee community.
MOHAMMED ALSALEH: I think it’s very important to, you know, share my story, other immigrants to share their stories as well, in order to demonstrate we have this beautiful place because we welcome others, because we are the positive example in a — in a very bad world.
STEFAN LABBE: With his family scattered across Turkey and Germany, and anti-immigrant movements on the size, Mohammed is focused on one thing, reuniting his family here in Canada.
For PBS NewsHour, I’m Stefan Labbe in Vancouver.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: As we have heard, a number of patient groups and major players in the health care industry have opposed the Senate bill. Every major hospital group has criticized it. They say they are especially worried about deep reductions in Medicaid spending for the poor and those with disabilities, changes that include new limits like spending caps or block grants that would eventually cut the number of people on Medicaid.
Hospitals say they will end up paying the difference by treating the uninsured.
While I was in Colorado for the Aspen Spotlight Health Festival last week, I spoke with Kenneth Davis. He’s president and CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System, which includes seven hospitals and more than 140 ambulatory centers and practices in New York.
Dr. Ken Davis, thank you very much for talking with us.
You were quoted recently as commenting on the House version of the Republican overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. You said it would have a fairly devastating effect on the country.
Is that the way you feel about the Senate version too?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS, President and CEO, Mount Sinai Health System: Absolutely.
I think, if anything, there are aspects of the Senate bill that can be even more problematic. Particularly, the glide path to per capita or block grants is going to produce a lower reimbursement for the states than was even in the House bill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the effect on hospitals?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: Well, there are a number of things that impact hospitals.
All of them collectively, particularly for hospitals that have a reasonable number of Medicaid patients, are pretty difficult. There are substantial cuts. For instance, the public hospitals — the Health and Hospital Corporation in New York City, they can’t possibly sustain these cuts to the Medicaid budget.
Other hospitals that have a large number of Medicaid patients have a very tiny margin. That margin evaporates with this bill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And is that — even with tweaking, you’re saying there’s literally no way around?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: Well, fundamentally, this bill is about decreasing Medicaid and decreasing what states receive for Medicaid and decreasing, in the House case, those who have the extended benefits or the eligibility that they previously didn’t have.
The bill isn’t that much around tweaks to Obamacare. It’s a little bit. It’s a bit to tweak the exchanges, but the money’s coming from Medicaid. And unless they take a completely different approach to Medicaid, I don’t see that tweaks are going to help.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, there are observers of the health care system who look at all this, and they say hospitals are a big part of the problem. They’re consolidating. There are mergers. Doctors are cutting deal with hospitals. Everybody’s making more money. Hospitals are charging more.
What could hospitals do that they aren’t doing now to get some of these costs down?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: Well, let’s remember all hospitals are not alike.
In many cases, geography is destiny in hospitals. So if you’re in a system like ours, in which the vast majority of our payments are either Medicaid or Medicare, that’s fixed. And the size of our hospital system isn’t going to change how much Medicaid reimbursement or Medicare reimbursement we get.
Additionally, as some systems have increased in size, they have done so in order that they can move away from fee-for-service medicine to what’s called value. To do that, to be a system that can take risk and value, you have to be large enough so that patients don’t escape your network. And that’s part of the thing that is driving consolidation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is enough being done, you think, to be mindful of costs?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: Well, the margins in many hospitals are so small that, if you are not fixated on costs, you are bankrupt.
And in New York state, we have seen 30-plus hospitals go bankrupt in recent years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So the lesson is?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: The lesson is, we are focused on expenses. We have to be fixated on expenses. But what we really need to do — and we were trying to do this previously — and hopefully we can continue to do this — is ask, how can we deliver health care in a different, more efficient, cost-efficient way?
The system is failing us. The macroeconomics of health care are such that the government can’t afford it, the states can’t afford it, the employers can’t afford it, and the employees can’t afford it. What we have got to ask is, what’s wrong with the system and how do we change it so that it’s more efficient for everybody?
JUDY WOODRUFF: You brought up Medicaid. You were saying how much of this legislation is around Medicaid.
There are many who say that the Medicaid expansion that was part of the Affordable Care Act originally, which I know you were strongly for, the critics say this was simply throwing money at an inefficient program, poor-quality care, people on Medicaid don’t get the same level of care that others do.
And they point to studies showing that, even with the expansion of Medicaid, that that care is not getting much better. How do you respond?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: Well, those studies or study doesn’t take a very long perspective.
You can’t see the difference in things like mortality for quite some time. If you’re lowering people’s hemoglobin A1c or better controlling their blood pressure, it can take sometimes years before you see an extension of a lifespan in those patients.
But what we did find, what was reported was an improvement in mental health. And it seems like people have forgotten that. The largest provider of payment for addiction services is Medicaid. Twenty percent of all Medicaid recipients, at the very least, have mental health problems.
To take that out of the equation is very, very destructive. And to think that we’re not having a positive influence — because the only thing we really directly affect and that we can measure short-term is improvement in mental health — is a little demeaning to our psychiatrists.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me go back to the mega-question about our whole — our health care system.
What conservatives are arguing, among other things, is that when you have health care, rising costs of health care driving at least a sixth of the economy, that something’s really out of whack, that the whole system is too expensive, too out of control. Government participating in it is helping to drive up those costs.
Do they have a point?
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: Not really.
We lose money on every Medicaid patient who walks through our door, whether it’s inpatient or outpatient. That’s the cost of health care. If they were truly interested in the question of why is our system so expensive, this would be a bill about how we move away from fee-for-service medicine, in which physicians and hospitals get paid for everything they do, and moving more toward value and risk, in which patients, providers are all aligned, such that everyone wants you to stay well and out of the hospital.
We would have more incentives for readmission penalties. We would have incentives for shorter stay. We would have more incentives to bring care to a less expensive place, like the ambulatory setting. But those issues aren’t being addressed in this bill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And your point is conservatives may make that argument, but they’re not promoting…
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: If they are truly interested in changing the cost structure, making it more efficient and less expensive, they have got to deal with reforms that actually affect those metrics. And these don’t.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Ken Davis, we thank you very much.
DR. KENNETH DAVIS: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: It was a big day in the fight over health care reform in the United States and the Senate’s push to replace Obamacare.
John Yang digs in to the details.
JOHN YANG: Late today, the Congressional Budget Office issued its analysis of the Senate health care bill. It found that, by 2026, 22 million more Americans would be uninsured than under current law. It would also reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion over that period.
Now, that estimate of uninsured Americans is slightly lower than the CBO projection for the House version, which passed in May. But a rising tide of opposition is adding to the difficult dynamics of trying to pass the Senate bill this week.
Joining me now to break all this down, Julie Rovner. She’s the chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health Care News. And our own Lisa Desjardins.
Lisa, Julie, thanks for joining us.
Julie, let me start with you.
Drill down a little bit for us in that number of uninsured. And also what did it say about the effect on premiums?
JULIE ROVNER, Kaiser Health News: Well, basically, what the CBO said is that even though the Senate bill is different in many, many ways from the House bill, they end up in roughly the same place in terms of number of people who would be uninsured.
Basically, both of the bills would double the percentage of people without insurance compared to the Affordable Care Act. One of the sort of remarkable things that it found is that it would do it for different reasons and in different ways.
For example, the Senate bill would peg its help with people paying premiums to a less valuable plan, a plan that would pay fewer of people’s medical expenses. And what they found is that for a lot of low-income people, even if they get help paying the premium, they wouldn’t buy insurance because they wouldn’t have any help using their insurance.
The deductibles and the other cost-sharing would just be too high.
JOHN YANG: Lisa, you were just on a conference call with the CBO. What did you learn?
LISA DESJARDINS: I think that is the standout point here.
We know who these uninsured people would be. The 22 million that you just spoke about, John, those are mostly low-income Americans and some on the edge of middle class. We’re talking about $30,000 in income for an individual. So, that’s not poverty. That’s twice the level of poverty.
The CBO found here that some of those groups, people making under $30,000 a year, would go from about 10 do 15 percent uninsured, maybe 20 percent, to maybe 40 percent of the people making $30,000 or less would be uninsured under this plan. So, that’s a big hit to that one group.
JOHN YANG: And, Lisa, of course, you’re usually up on Capitol Hill for us. What does this report do to the calculus of trying to get 50 votes by the end of this week to pass this bill in the Senate?
LISA DESJARDINS: Today started, and it was already very tough math.
In fact, many of my sources all day were saying they were not sure how Senate Leader McConnell could do it. This makes it even more difficult. We have had reaction in just the last hour. Rand Paul has now said that he’s going to vote not just against the bill, but to even the idea of bringing it up.
That’s a procedural vote that we expect maybe Wednesday called motion to proceed. If they can’t get 51 votes for even starting this debate on that bill, it’s a very bad sign. We’re seeing “makes me concerned” comments from Senator Cassidy of Louisiana. John McCain said this is obviously not good news.
Across the board, this is definitely not helping Republicans. It’s not clear how this gets across the finish line.
JOHN YANG: And, of course, the 51st vote would likely be the vice president, who would break a tie.
Julie, it wasn’t just the CBO that came out today, but there were — so there was other bad news for this Senate bill today.
JULIE ROVNER: Well, there was also a plethora of interest groups. Most of the health care industry has actually come out and said they really don’t — they don’t like the way this — the direction this bill was going.
Some of them vehemently oppose it. Some, including like the National Governors Association — this is the bipartisan group which is barely agrees on anything — at least came out and said we don’t think it should be done this fast.
The National Association of Medicaid Directors, the people who would be involved in actually implementing the change to this bill, came out with a very, very strong statement saying that no amount of flexibility can make up for the dollar amount of cuts to the Medicaid program in this bill.
According to the CBO, it’s 26 percent over 10 years.
JOHN YANG: And, Julie, the Senate made a change to this bill today. What did they do and why did they do it?
JULIE ROVNER: That’s right.
The Senate — the original Senate draft that we saw last week required insurers to continue to sell to people who have preexisting health conditions, but there was nothing in it to encourage or urge healthy people to actually buy insurance.
So they put in today or at least what the CBO scored what they call a six-month lockout. So, if you had any kind of break in coverage of more than 60 days in the previous 12 months, you would have to wait six months before you could get coverage under this new bill.
JOHN YANG: So, Lisa, you say we need 50 votes in the Senate. They have got five already saying they’re against it. You have got a lot on the fence. Who should we be watching? Who will tell us in the next 48 hours whether or not this is going to pass?
LISA DESJARDINS: Right now, almost every Republican senator is key.
But the one I’m watching the most closely is Senator Shelley Capito of West Virginia. Think about her state. Mr. Trump, President Trump, won that state by 42 points. If he cannot get a bill across the finish line in a state with that much support, there’s a real problem.
She has serious health problems in that state, among them, the opioid epidemic. She wants more money in this bill for that. We will see if she gets it. But that might not be enough. She has a huge Medicaid population. She’s not the only one, John.
I really ran a lot of the statistics here. Think about this. Almost half of the Republicans in the Senate have states where 20 percent of their whole population is on Medicaid. That’s something they’re taking very seriously with this bill.
JOHN YANG: Julie, are we likely to see more changes in this bill as they try to get to that 50-vote mark?
JULIE ROVNER: Oh, absolutely.
One thing that the CBO — I guess one piece of good news for the Republican in the Senate is that the Senate bill would save considerably more money than the House bill. So, in theory, they have money to play with. We would expect more money to be devoting towards helping the opioid epidemic. They could make more changes.
The problem, the difficulty is that any change that moves towards the more moderate numbers will harden the opposition, the more conservative, and any change that make the conservatives happy will harden the opposition of the moderates. So, question, they only have two votes to spare.
Finding 50 votes, not an easy thing.
JOHN YANG: Well, it will be a drama all week as we get toward Friday and the self-imposed deadline.
Julie Rovner, Lisa Desjardins, thank you very much.
JULIE ROVNER: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: The Supreme Court also announced that it will decide a case pitting gay rights against religion. At issue is whether a Denver baker acted legally when he refused to sell a same-sex couple a wedding cake. He cited his religious beliefs.
In another case, the justices ruled 7-2 that a church-run school in Missouri may seek taxpayer-funded grants for a new playground.
President Trump has again accused former President Obama of failing to stop Russian interference in the 2016 election. On Twitter today, he charged: “The reason that President Obama did nothing is that he expected Hillary Clinton would win. He didn’t choke. He colluded or obstructed.”
Mr. Trump insisted investigators have no evidence that his campaign aides colluded with Russia.
British Prime Minister Theresa May struck a deal with a Northern Ireland party today to bolster her minority government. May’s Conservatives lost their majority in this month’s election. Now they have agreed to provide some $1.3 billion in extra funding to Northern Ireland. That’s in return for the Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 votes in Parliament.
British officials now say that 75 high-rise buildings tested for fire safety, have failed. The testing began after London’s Grenfell Tower fire. The siding on that building may have fueled the blaze. The other buildings tested so far are all over the country. It is not clear how long it will take to fix the problem.
In China: Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo has been released from prison to a hospital after being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer. Liu has been a leading dissident for decades. In 2009, he was sentenced to 11 years on a charge of inciting subversion. But his lawyer says that today’s release means little.
MO SHAOPING, Human Rights Lawyer (through interpreter): In principle, he will not be allowed to see guests, or visitors, because of the special nature of his case. Under medical parole, a person is still serving a term while being treated in a medical facility, even if it’s outside of prison. Liu Xiaobo’s case is special. I don’t think the authorities will allow him to have visitors.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his efforts demanding greater political freedoms and an end to one-party rule in China.
Back in this country, the family of Philando Castile has reached a $3 million settlement over his fatal shooting by a Minnesota police officer. Castile, a black man, was killed during a traffic stop last year. The officer was acquitted this month of manslaughter before being fired by the city of St. Anthony.
Takata Corporation has filed for bankruptcy protection over faulty air bag inflators linked to at least 16 deaths worldwide. The company faces tens of billions of dollars in costs and liabilities stemming from recalls and lawsuits. The filings today in the U.S. and Japan clear the way for a rival company to take over most of Takata’s assets.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 14 points to close at 21409. The Nasdaq fell 18, and the S&P 500 added a fraction.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: This final day of the Supreme Court term has revived a controversial item on President Trump’s agenda: his travel ban. The justices announced that they will hear arguments this fall on the constitutionality of the ban.
In the meantime, they reinstated a limited version of the order, affecting travelers from six mostly-Muslim countries. Mr. Trump lauded the Supreme Court’s action today as — quote — “a clear victory for our national security,” adding: “It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective.”
We explore the legal and practical implications now with our regular Supreme Court watcher Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal and Alan Gomez. He covers immigration for USA Today.
Welcome to you both.
Marcia, let’s start with you.
Let’s take this one at a time. We have got two things that the court was asked to look at by the Trump administration, first to grant review on hearing the arguments on the executive order.
MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Right, Judy.
The legal challenges to the executive order focused on basically two provisions, the 90-day travel ban from six predominantly Muslim countries and the 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee assistance program. The government asks the Supreme Court to review two federal appellate court rulings that struck down the executive order, one, and they ruled separately, claiming that the order violated the Establishment Clause of the constitution because it was religious discrimination.
And a second ground was that the executive order exceeded the president’s authority under federal immigration law, a provision, in particular, that prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality. The Supreme Court said it would hear arguments on the merits of those two appellate court rulings in October.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meantime and, separately, the justices were also asked by the Trump administration to lift the injunctions that had been imposed on the travel ban. What did they say about that?
MARCIA COYLE: Right.
OK, those two federal appellate courts had approved injunctions blocking the travel ban and the suspension of the refugee program. The Supreme Court said that the bans would be lifted only — would be applied only against foreign nationals who had no bona fide relationship with an individual or an entity in the United States.
And the court went on to explain that in terms of a bona fide relationship, it should be a familial relationship with an individual or, when it comes to an entity, a formal documented relationship, for example, a student has been accepted at a university in the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, they were imposing a — there had to be some connection already with the United States.
MARCIA COYLE: Exactly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For these individuals.
Three justices disagreed with this partial listing. What did they say?
MARCIA COYLE: Justice Thomas wrote for the dissenters and was joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch.
Justice Thomas explained — he was most in disagreement about the partial lifting of the injunctions against the executive order. He said it was unworkable, that it was going to create a flood gate of litigation as the government, as government officials tried to determine what is a bona fide relationship with an individual or an entity?
Those three justices would have kept — would have allowed the ban and the executive order to go into full effect.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Alan Gomez, let me turn to you.
You report, as we said, on immigration, travel issues. What is the immediate effect of this ruling today?
ALAN GOMEZ, USA Today: The immediate effect is that this travel ban or what’s left of it can go into effect as early as Thursday.
But it’s important to note that, once it does into effect, this is going to look very different from what we saw back in January, when President Trump first signed his first travel ban on January 27. If you remember, at the time, everybody from these countries was blocked from entering the country, so people were stranded at U.S. airports or blocked from getting onto their U.S.-bound flights overseas.
But things have changed dramatically since then. His revised travel ban allows for green card holders to travel, allows for people who hold visas to travel. And now what the Supreme Court has ordered, this establishing this bona fide relationship that Marcia was explaining a second ago, that’s where we’re going to start trying to figure out — that’s where the government is going to start trying to figure out who can come in and who cannot.
And so there’s a lot of gray area and we do expect to see some litigation about this, because it’s — it’s one thing if you have a relative in the U.S. who is trying to claim you. That person can come in. If you have a job offer from a U.S. employer, that person can come in.
But what if you’re just businessperson coming over here to have a couple of meetings on a short-term visa? Is that a bona fide relationship? If you’re a tourist who already has hotel reservations and plane reservations, is that a bona fide relationship?
That’s what we’re going to start seeing in those first couple days when the ban finally goes into effect.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s my question. Just how clear are these guidelines that the justices set down? Do we assume immigration officials are scrambling today to put this in black and white to figure it out?
ALAN GOMEZ: There are a lot of attorneys within the Department of Justice and Homeland Security and the State Department and a lot of immigration advocacy attorneys who are just diving into whatever case law, whatever precedents they can find to figure out what exactly this bona fide relationship is.
The justices provided a few examples that we have cited already, if you have a job offer, if you have been admitted to a U.S. university and if you have a direct relative. But beyond that, it’s pretty much wide open now. So we’re trying to figure out what that means.
To give some context here, in 2016, about 108,000 people came to the United States legally from these six countries. From a quick accounting of that, the majority of them will still be allowed to enter the country under the guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court, because most of those were refugees, had no direct ties that we’re talking about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
ALAN GOMEZ: But once we get into some of that other visa categories that the relationship is a little bit more tenuous, that is what has to play out in the next few weeks, to see what government determines to be a bona fide relationship and whether the courts agree with them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Very final quick question, Alan. The travel ban that was issued by the president last March was intended to be temporary while the government figured out vetting procedures.
They said it was going to take 90 days. Where does that stand?
ALAN GOMEZ: Well, that review finally started last week.
In a separate ruling, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sort of separated that vetting review from this legal case that we’re going through right now and said that the administration can start conducting that review.
In short, what they’re trying to do is gauge what kind of information we get from foreign governments to screen people coming into the country. So they just started doing that last Monday. And so, right, the clock starts now. They have — they’re going to review it for 20 days, submit a list to the president. Then those governments will have 50 days to get off the list.
And at the conclusion of that vetting review, then the president can decide whether he wants to impose more or fewer travel restrictions against different countries around the country — or world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.
Alan Gomez, USA Today, Marcia Coyle, thank you both.
MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Judy.
ALAN GOMEZ: Thank you.
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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s decision to partially reinstate President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban has left the effort to keep some foreigners out of the United States in a murky middle ground, with unanswered questions and possibly more litigation ahead.
The justices ruled Monday in an unsigned opinion they would hold a full hearing on the case in October. In the meantime, the administration can bar travelers from six majority-Muslim countries from the U.S. if they don’t have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with someone or some entity in the country.
It’s unclear what will ultimately constitute a “bona fide relationship,” though the ruling suggested that an American job, school enrollment or a close relative could meet that threshold. Equally unclear is how many foreigners will be affected from the six countries: Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.
The ruling was seen as at least a partial victory for Trump in the biggest court case of his presidency. Trump claims the temporary ban is needed to prevent terrorist attacks. Opponents reject that and argue it’s a backdoor way to bar Muslims from entering the United States, as Trump promised in his campaign.
The early indications are that the administration will use the decision to take a tough line on travelers from those countries. A senior U.S. official familiar with the situation said the Trump administration has plans in place to relaunch the stalled ban and tourists will be among those kept out.
Under these plans, largely orchestrated by White House adviser Stephen Miller, tourists from those countries and any academics, lecturers or others invited to speak or make presentations in the U.S. will be barred. Those groups are regarded as unable to show a substantial and pre-existing tie to a person or institution in the United States.
President Trump’s revised travel ban will be tested this fall at the Supreme Court. On the final day of their term, the justices reinstated a limited version of the order, affecting travelers from six majority-Muslim countries. Judy Woodruff discusses the implications of the court’s decision with Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal and Alan Gomez of USA Today.
The official who described the plans was not authorized to discuss them publicly by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
But some immigration lawyers and advocates said relatively few people would fall under the ban because these travelers tend to have sufficient relationships with people or institutions in the United States.
Jamal Abdi, policy director for the National Iranian American Council, said most Iranians who visit the United States have relatives here or are coming to work or study. He said his group has no idea how the administration plans to judge family relationships and a hard line could mean a significant number of Iranians will be kept out the country for the time being.
It could also mean more lawsuits if advocates for immigrants believe the administration is going beyond the Supreme Court’s guidelines in barring visitors to the United States.
Like the fate of would-be tourists and scholars, the immediate future for refugees is murky.
In its opinion, the court partially reinstated Trump’s temporary prohibition on refugees from any country, using criteria similar to that used in the travel ban. The effect on refugees could be greater because they are less likely to have family, school or business relationships in the United States.
Lavinia Limon, CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, said she was dismayed by the ruling, but insisted that her agency has “an existing relationship with incoming refugees, certified and arranged through the Department of State.”
“Travel plans are in process, beds have been made and staff around the country plan to meet new Americans at the airports today, tomorrow and in the coming weeks and months,” Limon said.
Trump’s initial travel ban caused panic and chaos at airports around the world in late January as it took effect immediately after being signed. Refugees, legal U.S. residents and visa holders were turned back at airports or barred from boarding U.S.-bound planes. A federal court blocked it about a week later.
There may be less confusion as the ban is partially reinstated. The administration has revised its travel ban to exclude legal residents and visa holders. Also, the government said last week the ban would go into effect 72 hours after the Supreme Court ruling — which would be Thursday morning in Washington.
Associated Press reporters Ted Bridis and Mark Sherman contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Tuesday said it detected “active preparations” by Syria for a chemical weapons attack, giving weight to a White House statement hours earlier that the Syrian government would “pay a heavy price” if it carried out such an attack.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said the U.S. had seen “activity” at Shayrat airfield that “indicated active preparations for chemical weapons use.” That is the same base from which the Syria air force launched an attack in April that the U.S. and others said used lethal chemicals to kill civilians. Syria denied the charge.
President Bashar Assad’s government and Russia dismissed the White House allegation that Damascus was preparing a new chemical weapons attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “such threats to Syria’s legitimate leaders are unacceptable.” Russia is Assad’s key backer and sided with him when he denied responsibility for a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people in Idlib province on April 4.
The U.S. responded to that attack by hitting the airfield with dozens of cruise missiles.
A Monday evening statement by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S. had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”
Spicer said the activities were similar to preparations taken before the attack in April, but provided no evidence or further explanation.
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Josh Lederman, Lolita C. Baldor, Vivian Salama and Matthew Lee contributed to this report.
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