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IRS Moves To Empower “Dark Money” Donations

IRS drops “dark money” rule, will no longer require disclosure of donors to political nonprofits. Salon: “The IRS has just made it easier for politically powerful nonprofits to conceal who donates to them. President Donald Trump has just removed an old IRS rule that required specific types of nonprofit organizations to disclose the identities of their large donors. As The New York Times reported, ‘the change, which has been long sought by conservatives and Republicans in Congress, will affect labor unions, social clubs and, most notably, many political groups like the National Rifle Association and the Koch network’s Americans for Prosperity, which collect what is known as ‘dark money.'”

Trump Loyalists Purge, Marginalize VA Staff

Trump loyalists at VA shuffling, purging employees before new secretary takes over. WaPo: “Ahead of Robert Wilkie’s likely confirmation to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump loyalists at the agency are taking aggressive steps to purge or reassign staff members perceived to be disloyal to President Trump and his agenda for veterans, according to multiple people familiar with the moves. The transfers include more than a dozen career civil servants who have been moved from the leadership suite at VA headquarters and reassigned to lower-visibility roles. The employees served agency leaders, some dating back more than two decades, in crucial support roles that help a new secretary. None said they were given reasons for their reassignments. The moves are being carried out by a small cadre of political appointees led by Acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke who have consolidated power in the four months since they helped oust Secretary David Shulkin. The reshuffling marks a new stage in a long estrangement between civil servants and Trump loyalists at VA, where staff upheaval and sinking morale threaten to derail service to one of the president’s key constituencies.”

House Grills Trump’s Candidate To Helm CFPB

WH touts CFPB nominee’s management experience. Democrats link it to major controversies. LA Times: “Kathy Kraninger, the president’s choice to be the nation’s top consumer financial watchdog, lacks any apparent consumer-protection, regulatory or industry experience — but Republicans say that all is offset by her management and budgetary skills. Democrats aren’t impressed. They contend that the nominee for director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should think twice about touting those skills at her Senate confirmation hearing Thursday because they’re linked to two of the Trump administration’s biggest controversies. As associate director for general government at the White House Office of Management and Budget, Kraninger oversaw the budgets of agencies that developed and implemented the child-separation policy at the border and the federal government’s bungled response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. President Trump’s decision last month to tap Kraninger to head the CFPB came as a surprise to consumer advocates and people in the financial industry. She was a little-known White House aide whose background has been largely in Homeland Security, and critics of the choice immediately pointed to her lack of experience for a job as one of the nation’s top financial regulators.”

EPA Rolls Back Coal Ash Restrictions

Trump’s EPA rolls back Obama-era coal ash regulations>. NBC: “Environmental groups say drinking water could be affected by new Trump administration rules on coal waste. A court challenge was being weighed. The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it is relaxing rules for the disposal of spent coal used to fuel hundreds of power plants nationwide. But environmental groups say the rollback of coal ash storage regulations established by the Obama administration in 2015 could affect drinking water near dozens of sites. Dalal Aboulhosn, Sierra Club’s deputy legislative director for land and water, said legal action was being considered. ‘We are poring through the rule change see what our next steps might be,’ she said. The coal industry petitioned the Trump administration for the roll back, announced by Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler — a former lobbyist for the coal industry.”

Trump’s ACA “Alternative” Is Useless

Trump promised them better, cheaper health care. It’s not happening. Politico: “President Donald Trump handed an influential business advocacy group what should have been a historic lobbying victory when he recently rolled out new rules encouraging small businesses to band together to offer health insurance. Trump, who’s touted the expansion of so-called association health plans as a key plank in his strategy to tear down Obamacare, even announced the rules at the 75th anniversary party of the National Federation of Independent Business last month, claiming the group’s members will save ‘massive amounts of money’ and have better care if they join forces to offer coverage to workers. But the NFIB, which vigorously promoted association health plans for two decades, now says it won’t set one up, describing the new Trump rules as unworkable. And the NFIB isn’t the only one: Several of the nationwide trade groups that cheered Trump’s new insurance rules told POLITICO they’re still trying to figure out how to take advantage of them and whether the effort is even worth it. That could signal there’s minimal early interest in an initiative the administration says will help lower health care costs — and one that Trump himself has prematurely hailed as a wild success. Trump falsely claimed during rallies in recent weeks that “millions” are signing up, though the new health plans can’t be sold until Sept. 1. Behind the scenes, the NFIB had already been souring on the idea before Trump’s announcement, concluding that establishing an association health plan would be too complex and not worth the effort. The NFIB, which offered only a vague endorsement of the Trump effort last month, now says it’s abandoned any idea of setting up a national plan for its hundreds of thousands of members.”

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