We don’t have one. Just like there’s no such thing as “alternative facts,” there’s no such thing as an alternative planet. That’s something presidential candidate Trump never seemed to understand (cough, Chinese hoax, cough) and President Trump doesn’t seem to either. Today, Trump signed executive actions to advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
President Obama put an end to the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015 because of its negative impact on the climate. The Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline over the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in December. Now, Trump wants to bring them both back.
These pipelines are bad for clean air, bad for safe drinking water, and bad for the communities living along their routes. Who aren’t they bad for? Wealthy oil and gas execs, their allies, and many of Trump’s cabinet nominees. Reminder: Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of Dakota Access Pipeline, are good friends with Trump and team: Trump held stock in the company (that he reportedly sold) and their CEO gave over $100,000 to his campaign. Rick Perry—Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Energy—was on their board for nearly two years. And ExxonMobil, whose CEO Rex Tillerson is Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State, is also seeing dollar signs today: the company has $277 billion worth of tar sands—some of the most expensive and dirtiest fuels on Earth—at the far end of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Freezing. Not talkin’ about temperatures. One of the executive orders President Trump signed yesterday was a freeze on federal hiring. This freeze hurts workers across the country not just in DC, and it especially hurts veterans who make up 31 percent of the federal workforce and benefit from the federal government having a strong hiring preference for veterans. Additionally, a hiring freeze will backlog Veteran Affairs’ disability claims, meaning it will take longer to process claims from veterans. Federal hiring freezes also cost more money, because contractors—who cost more than federal workers—are hired to make up for the rampant vacancies.
“Replacement.” Emphasis on the air quotes. Sens. Collins (R-ME) and Cassidy (R-LA) have put forward an Obamacare “replacement” plan. Like every other GOP replacement plan put forward in the last six years, this one has major flaws. The Collins/Cassidy plan would allow states to choose to continue current ACA requirements with reduced funding or opt for an alternative plan. Their plan also maintains some important ACA consumer protections like requiring insurers to cover dependents under 26, and banning lifetime limits, but there are huge holes that would gut coverage in states that choose an alternative plan. For example, insurers would once again be able to rescind coverage, would be able to charge older people as much as they want, and would be able to charge higher premiums for women than for men. See more examples. In addition, in states that want to keep the ACA’s protections in place, the federal government will cut the amount of funding that has helped lower and moderate income Americans afford their insurance.
Denied. That’s what a federal judge told Aetna and Humana yesterday. The health care giants have been trying to merge for some time but yesterday a judge ruled the deal would damage competition and raise prices. The federal court also found that Aetna withdrew from ACA exchanges not as a business decision, but in order to improve its merger position.
Undermined and Under Siege. An award-winning two-part documentary about Russian interference in the 2016 election, featuring Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Adam Schif (D-CA). Kidding, but CAP Action will be hosting two events this week on Russian involvement in the election and the need for a comprehensive investigation. The first featuring Senator Durbin today at 2:30 PM and the second with Rep. Shchiff tomorrow at 9:30 AM. Follow along at @CAPAction or watch the live stream here.
UNDER THE RADAR
#IMarchWithLinda. In an obvious and horrible attempt to delegitimize the huge success of the Women’s March on Washington, right-wing and anti-Muslim websites have started attacking Linda Sarsour, one of the March’s co-chairs and a prominent Muslim American activist. Tweet your support for her using #IMarchWithLinda.
Broken Record. At his first official meeting with congressional leadership yesterday, President Trump claimed (again) that he didn’t win the popular vote because “millions” of unauthorized immigrants voted illegally. That’s a flat-out “pants on fire” lie. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a 2.9 million margin, fair and square.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#CareNotChaos. The Trump Administration is on a reckless path toward repealing the Affordable Care Act. On top of the 32 million people who would lose health insurance and the 52 million Americans who could be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, 2.6 million workers would lose their jobs. Make your voice heard: Join SEIU for a national call-in day. Call 866-426-2631 and tell Congress: Show us your plan before taking away our health care.
#SwampCabinet. Join MoveOn for rallies across the country to stop Trump’s swamp cabinet. Get more information and find an event near you here.