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Weekly News Round-Up – Week of March 24 “The Free Market”

Guest blog by Lauren Ghazikhanian
For healthcare- I argue no, and for a very simple reason: people are not produce. Think about how you buy food. You probably spend about the same amount on food week in and week out. You eat the same general stuff. You can only consume so much food. Sometimes, you may splurge and have more expensive food. Sometimes you may cut back and eat top ramen for a few days. When you go shopping or to a restaurant, the price of food is clearly displayed so you know how much you are spending before you get to the cash register. You can compare prices and choose where to shop or eat. If a food isn’t selling well or isn’t profitable, businesses can stop selling it.This week we heard a lot about the free market and allowing it to work. First, from the Freedom Caucus and their opposition to a health care law that didn’t go far enough to remove such burdensome regulations like ensuring insurance companies cannot drop people for reaching lifetime caps or due to preexisting conditions. Then, Trump declared the free market the winner when he signed an executive order to undo Obama’s regulations on coal. But does the free market have the solution to these two areas?

Healthcare doesn’t follow this model. You may go years without consuming any healthcare only to suddenly need a lot of it. You cannot accurately budget for healthcare, because unlike a nice dinner, you never know when you may get sick. When you do consume healthcare, there is no shopping around. You do not get to choose what hospital the ambulance takes you to, you don’t get a menu of prices you can select for. Even if you have time to plan- getting prices can be impossible. I was unable to get a straight answer as to how much Aria’s birth would cost from the hospital or the insurance company and did not have this final figure until a month after the fact. And finally, if an insurance company decides that an illness or treatment is too costly to cover, if they stop supporting it- people may die. Huge difference from being bummed out that Costco is no longer selling teriyaki fried rice. (Seriously Costco, bring it back!)

Additionally, when lives are at risk, it seems incredible inhumane to treat people like produce. Is it ethical for insurance companies to dictate who lives and dies based on how expensive their care is; or to decide what medications are researched based on income potential instead of need? When people forfeit cancer treatment because they cannot afford it- we have a problem. When rare illnesses go without research because there aren’t enough potential patients to pay for the research- we have a problem. When solutions exist but are not profitable and are not used- we have a problem. These problems just cannot be solved by a free market where success is gauged by profits.

As for coal. Here, I argue the free market spoke… and it spoke against coal. Coal and natural gas are in direct competition. Natural gas, with its abundance, affordability and cleaner properties has won. Additionally, renewables employee more Americans than fossil fuels, and the cost of energy from renewables continues to become more and more competitive. Even industry experts will agree- regulation didn’t kill coal, the free market did.

Administration:
1.Trump moves to completely wipe out Obama’s climate change legacy. The good news is that society and industry have embraced sustainability and may keep moving towards a greener society, with or without the administration. (4)
2. Michael Flynn has agreed to testify against the Administration on Russia in exchange for immunity. (19)
3. Trump fixes his aim on the Freedom Caucus, calling for them to be voted out of office with Democrats in 2018. (8) After falling out of favor with this group, he admits he’ll probably have to work with Dems to enact tax reform. (9)
4. Trump’s first draft of his NAFTA replacement is not sitting well with lawmakers and does not follow through with many of Trump’s campaign promises. (22)
5. Family update: Ivanka Trump raised ethics questions when given an office in the White House, now he is becoming an unpaid federal employee to try and satisfy concerns. (24) Kushner will testify to Senate Committee about his meetings with Russian officials and the the head of a Russian state-owned bank that U.S. companies cannot do business with under sanctions. (25) Additionally, Trump both accosted Kushner for skiing while the Healthcare bill failed (26) and appointed Kushner to a new position to find business solutions to government problems. (27) Eric Trump slips and admits he’ll be giving his dad business reports regularly. This goes against Trump’s claims that he would be totally blind to how the business is being run.

Congress:
1. The House is still committed to “repeal and replace” of Obamacare after Trump said he’s moving on to other priorities. (1)
2. Nunes: first, he backs down from his claims that Trump was monitored (10) Then, he cancels the House hearings on Russian interference. (11) New revelations reveal that two White House officials fed Nunes reports that he should have presented to the committee, proving he was colluding with the people he was supposed to be investigating. (12) After all of this, and many calls that Nunes steps down, McCain says Nunes needs to decide if he’s either head of the House Intelligence Committee or a Trump surrogate and urges for a select committee to take over the investigation. (7)
3. (Good news) The House passed a bill requiring federal buildings offer lactation rooms. (5)
4. (Opinion) The Affordable Care Act took a toll on Democrats after it was passed… but this former conservative think tank staffer thinks that ultimately- the call to undo the law will hurt Republicans more. (6)
5. Congress, in their push to undo all of the rules the Obama administration made towards the end of their term, votes to overturn internet privacy regulation. Now all our internet history can be sold to the highest bidder. You can thank Senator Flake for introducing this in the Senate. (13)
6. Pence provides tie-breaking vote on Senate bill to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursement for services. (14)

State/Other:
1. FBI Director Comey tried to reveal Russian tampering back in the summer of 2016. The Obama Administration didn’t let him because they worried it would look like they were trying to sabotage Trump. (20)
2. Fact check: renewables employee more Americans than oil, gas and coal combined. The gap is also growing with renewables adding more employees year over year than fossil fuels. (2)
3. U.S. airstrikes in Iraq may have killed more than 200 civilians. This would make it the largest casualty of non-combatives at the hands of American forces since the first Iraq war. (3)
4. A bill that would require life-saving measures be rendered to fetuses that survive abortions passes both houses in Arizona and sits on Ducey’s desk. If signed into laws, children with severe, fatal conditions risk dying without ever knowing a loving touch, and parents will lose a wanted child without ever seeing them alive. It is cruel and a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. (15)
5. Arizona’s legislature continues its attack on citizen initiatives, trying to strip us from our rights to propose our own laws. (16)
6. Vouchers- hailed as a solution to raise up impoverished children through school choice- unsurprisingly benefit more affluent students disproportionately. These vouchers are projected to cost Arizona $49 million this year and equates to a subsidy to the wealthy while reducing funding for public schools. (17)
7. This is somehow STILL not getting any coverage. Arizona lawmakers approved three bills this week that have to do with the calling of a Congressional Convention of the States (Article 5). I worry by the time media starts paying attention, it will be too late to stop the rewriting of our Constitution by far-right factions.
8. Marco Rubio reveals that his campaign was also targeted by Russian hackers and disinformation campaigns, showing that Russia favored Trump before the convention. (23)

Sources:
1. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-obamacare-republicans-idUSKBN16Z23K
2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-solar-power-employs-more-people-more-oil-coal-gas-combined-donald-trump-green-energy-fossil-fuels-a7541971.html
3. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/centcom-investigates-whether-u-s-airstrikes-killed-200-civilians-mosul-n738481
4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-moves-decisively-to-wipe-out-obamas-climate-change-record/2017/03/27/411043d4-132c-11e7-9e4f-09aa75d3ec57_story.html?utm_term=.47033892e83f
5. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/07/house-passes-bill-requiring-federal-buildings-provide-lactation-spaces-nursing-moms/98869676/
6. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/the-republican-waterloo/520833/
7. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/azdc/2017/03/24/john-mccain-select-committee-russian-interference-election-donald-trump/99559516/
8. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/us/politics/freedom-caucus-donald-trump.html?_r=0
9. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-taxes-idUSKBN16X0MM
10. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nunes-backs-down-assertion-trump-was-monitored-n738151
11. https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-03-24/house-intelligence-chairman-hearing-tuesday-canceled-paul-manafort-agrees-to-testify
12. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/us/politics/devin-nunes-intelligence-reports.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0
13. http://www.npr.org/2017/03/28/521831393/congress-overturns-internet-privacy-regulation
14. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-abortion-idUSKBN1712NY
15. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/legislature/2017/03/29/arizona-legislature-approves-controversial-abortion-bill/99795414/
16. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/legislature/2017/03/28/arizona-citizen-initiatives-senate-panel-approves-more-limits/99719116/
17. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/03/30/arizona-taxpayer-funded-vouchers-benefiting-students-more-affluent-areas/99707518/
18. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/03/30/arizona-taxpayer-funded-vouchers-benefiting-students-more-affluent-areas/99707518/
19. https://www.wsj.com/articles/mike-flynn-offers-to-testify-in-exchange-for-immunity-1490912959?mod=e2tw
20. http://www.newsweek.com/fbi-director-james-comey-russian-tampering-election-576417
21. https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-nafta-blueprint-raises-concerns-in-canada-and-mexico-1490911670
22. https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-nafta-blueprint-raises-concerns-in-canada-and-mexico-1490911670
23. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/us/politics/marco-rubio-russian-cyberattacks.html?ref=politics
24. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/us/politics/ivanka-trump-federal-employee-white-house.html
25. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/us/politics/senate-jared-kushner-russia.html
26. http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/24/politics/jared-kushner-aspen-ski-trip-obamacare/
27. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-taps-kushner-to-lead-a-swat-team-to-fix-government-with-business-ideas/2017/03/26/9714a8b6-1254-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html?utm_term=.e0a8d53e6f32
28. https://secure.politico.com/story/2017/03/eric-trump-sharing-business-updates-father-236464

 

Guest blog by Lauren Ghazikhanian

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