Because It Won’t: All It Will Do Is Create Virtual Bread Lines
We discussed this proposal by the White House at some length yesterday. But mainstream media did not really pick up on the story until later. And still later, some of our friends started wondering in Tweets and comments whether Trump’s proposal might not be such a bad thing if it encourages healthier eating.
So we want to reiterate just a couple of things:
• This proposal adds a new layer of bureaucracy that creates a new degree of difficulty for food stamp recipients. Supermarket mark-ups are notoriously small. Even if the government’s getting a “good deal” buying goods wholesale, we doubt the coordination of delivery of boxes to more than 40-million people (or requiring them to figure out a way to come pick up boxes) could really be more cost-efficient than loading money electronically onto a card.
So why then would Trump (and his Budget Director Mick Mulvaney: he of the “Blue Apron” analogy) want to pursue this? Because there’s a dirty little secret involved: if it does end up saving the government money, it’ll be because a lot of people can’t or won’t or don’t pick up their boxes, and will end up just making do with 1/2 the cash on their card than they’re getting now.
Trump’s people know this.
Let’s say only 1 out of every 100 families don’t get their boxes (for whatever reason). Most people who receive food assistance are in families, averaging 4–5 people. Bingo! The government’s just cut that part of its food stamp program by 5%, without actually cutting anything. If it ends up being 5 out of every 100 families, it really helps fulfill Trump’s stated goal of cutting the food stamp program by about 25%.
• The people proposing this are hypocrites. And they need to be called out for their hypocrisy. They’re the same people who damned Obama for suggesting we use more energy-efficient light bulbs and who condemned the “nanny state” for denying cookies to kids in school, and large cups of sugary soft drinks to residents of New York City.
Also Trump keeps bragging about how much he’s deregulating everything. But we guess only when it comes to easing rules for corporations and his rich friends in real estate. Because with this, he’s adding regulations.
The White House Tweaks Its Version Of Events Surrounding The Departure Of Rob Porter, After The FBI Director Paints A Very Different Picture
The New York Times puts it very well: “White House Let Rob Porter Keep Job Even After Receiving Final F.B.I. Report“. Heck, Axios and CNN say Porter was being considered for a promotion at the time he was pushed out.
The White House had been arguing the former top Trump aide who’s accused of physically abusing his ex-wives, was still in the process of being vetted for his security clearance, which is why no one knew about it.
At a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray, without divulging any details related to what was revealed about Porter to the White House by the F.B.I., laid out a timeline (which the White House has not yet done): saying the Agency completed its background check on Porter last July. After that, the White House asked for a follow-up, which the F.B.I. Director said was completed last November. And then the file was closed in January.
Here’s Wray, being questioned by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden:
Back at the White House, Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is usually pretty off-the-cuff, read deliberately and directly from a statement when asked about the F.B.I. Director’s apparent contradiction of their version of events. She said while the F.B.I. version was indeed true, so was the White House’s. Because even when F.B.I.’s investigation was over, the White House’s own internal process was not. (And so it apparently wasn’t the F.B.I. they were talking about last week when they implied the F.B.I. had not finished its job).
Sanders continued to refer back to this same written statement throughout her media briefing, which indicates either 1) she was instructed not to stray from the words on the paper, or 2) the White House statement was carefully crafted and heavily lawyered, or both.
Here she is, you can judge for yourself:
We try so stay away from rumors and innuendo, which is why we have not reported much on this story, beyond the original set of facts and accusations of wife beating. Increasingly, however, it looks more and more like this was a coverup inside the White House. (Although the President has Tweeted in support of Porter, in this case it looks like Trump is in the clear). But as we said when the story initially broke, we do not see this episode ending without someone else quitting or getting fired.
Another Odd Tale From A Trump Associate
The New York Times reporting long-time Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen now claims he paid a porn star out of his own pocket. And in a suspiciously worded statement he further says “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction…and neither reimbursed me directly or indirectly”. Which of course slyly omits one other possibility, and leads us to question: what about Donald Trump himself?
Cohen refused to answer whether Trump knew about the payment, or if similar payments had been made to others.
electionlawblog’s Rick Hasen says this is all about Cohen trying to keep himself (and Trump) out of trouble for an excessive or unreported campaign expense. A complaint before the Federal Election Commission argues the money was in effect an indirect campaign contribution, since the campaign benefited from Stormy Daniels’ silence.
But in order to believe Cohen’s statement, you have to believe he was, in effect, doing pro bono work for Trump, to cover up something that never happened, and that ended up costing him $130,000 of his own money.
Trump Nominates 9 More Judges For Federal Courts
They include the former Attorney General of Hawaii, a Republican, to the 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals that’s been a thorn in the President’s side on immigration and other issues, and the current General Counsel to the Governor of Texas, to the 5th Circuit Court.
All of them are white. That means only 2% of Trump’s judicial appointments so far have been black or Hispanic, even outdoing Ronald Reagan in that regard. Meanwhile, nearly 20% of the judges named by George W. Bush, also a Conservative, were minorities.
And USA Today points out:
• The 5th Circuit Court Of Appeals, which covers Texas, will soon have no Hispanic judges. Nearly 40% of Texas residents are Hispanic.
• And The 7th Circuit Court Of Appeals already has no minority judges at all. It covers Illinois, also with about a 40% minority population.
Russia Will Try To Hack This Year’s Midterm Elections
That was the conclusion of the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. During the hearing, Maine Independent Senator Angus King asserted with Trump’s continued refusal to point the finger squarely at Russia, “we have no doctrine of deterrence”.
In reply, Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats admitted no single agency has been tasked with leading the charge against Russian hacking.
Trump Faces New Challenges In Syria
Bloomberg reports several hundred Russian mercenaries fighting in support of Syria’s President were killed by U.S. or U.S. backed troops. The Russian troops weren’t “regular army” and the Russian government says it had nothing to do with their attack last week on a U.S. backed rebel position. Defense Secretary Mattis calls it “puzzling”.
For a while, Russian and U.S. troops were both largely focused on eliminating ISIS. While the U.S. was aligned with Kurdish and other rebel forces in that effort, Russia was aligned with the Syrian government.
With that conflict largely over, new conflicts are emerging between those groups and allies.