Progressive Breakfast for November 17

Morning Message

Trump's HHS Pick Alex Azar Is the Worst Pharma Bro of All

Nominating Alexander Azar for Health and Human Services Secretary is worse than asking a fox to guard the henhouse. It’s like pinning a sheriff’s badge on Billy the Kid. For all his polish and small-town charm, when it comes to pharmaceutical predation, the mild-mannered Azar puts blowhard “pharma bros” like Martin Shkreli to shame. And unless we stop his nomination, this unrepentant fox will be handed the keys to our nation's health.

GOP Tax Plan Universally Disliked, But Still May Pass

Everybody hates the Trump tax plan. NYT: “G.O.P. tax ‘reform,’ especially the Senate version, which would raise taxes on most individuals, especially in the middle and working classes, and add around 13 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured, all to pay for big cuts in corporate taxes. The general public strongly disapproves — by a 2-1 majority, according to Quinnipiac, although the majority would be even bigger if people really understood what’s going on. But surely at least C.E.O.s like the plan, right? Actually, not so much. A few days ago Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, met with a group of top executives. They were asked to raise their hands if lower taxes would lead them to raise capital expenditures; only a handful did. ‘Why aren’t the other hands up?’ asked Cohn, plaintively. The answer is that C.E.O.s, living in the real world of business, not the imaginary world of right-wing ideologues, know that tax rates aren’t that important a factor in investment decisions. So they realize that even a huge tax cut wouldn’t lead to much more spending. And with that realization, the rationale for this tax plan, such as it is, falls apart, leaving nothing but a scheme to make the rich — especially those who rake in investment income rather than working for a living — richer at everyone else’s expense.”

Keystone Pipeline Leaks 210,000 Gallons Of Oil In South Dakota

Keystone Pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. CNN: “A total of 210,000 gallons of oil leaked Thursday from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota, the pipeline’s operator, TransCanada, said. Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and officials are investigating the cause of the leak, which occurred about 3 miles southeast of the town of Amherst, said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This is the largest Keystone oil spill to date in South Dakota, Walsh said. The leak comes just days before Nebraska officials announce a decision on whether the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, a sister project, can move forward. In April 2016, there was a 400-barrel release — or 16,800 gallons — with the majority of the oil cleanup completed in two months, Walsh said.”

Millions Of Children May Lose Health Insurance

CHIP expiration threatens vulnerable children. NBC: “CHIP has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inception in 1997, but this year, legislators let the deadline for reauthorizing it pass as they bickered over other health care issues, primarily the latest Republican-led push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act… While Americans are split over how to handle Obamacare, three-quarters of the public want CHIP renewed, according to the September Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. If Congress doesn’t renew CHIP soon, the consequences could be far-reaching. The program provides health insurance for children and pregnant mothers in families that don’t qualify for Medicaid, yet can’t afford private insurance.”

DHS Official For Community Outreach Resigns Over Racist Comments

DHS official for faith, , community outreach resigns after past racial comments revealed. CBSNews: “The Department of Homeland Security’s center for outreach to faith and community groups has resigned after it came to light that he had said black people turned cities into ‘slums’ and Islam’s only contribution to society was ‘oil and dead bodies,’ CBS News has learned. Rev. Jamie Johnson was appointed in April by then-DHS Secretary John Kelly to the Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. A statement sent to CBS News from DHS confirms Johnson’s resignation.”

Moore Stays In Alabama Senate Race

The Roy Moore debacle in Alabama is a showcase of the GOP’s playbook to rig elections. Alternet: “The strange saga of Roy Moore’s senatorial bid in Alabama has made one thing clear: Nobody should doubt that the GOP is the modern political party most eager to rig election results—even when the target is a fellow Republican. Recent days have seen the best minds in the current generation of Republican strategists contorting election rules in every imaginable way to try to stop Moore from becoming Alabama’s junior U.S. senator next month… Perhaps the best exchange was captured on ElectionLawBlog.org, where scholar and blog founder Rick Hasen recounted his to-and-fro tweets with conservative media personality Hugh Hewitt, who, ‘at first… suggested canceling the election altogether, and letting [Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, who lost a primary to Moore] just complete the term.’That was a wonderful addition to Republican voter suppression canon: don’t hold an election at all.”