As a chaotic vote to condemn Donald Trump's racist comments against four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen of color moved successfully through the House during today's BradCast, we tried --- even if we didn't always succeed --- to focus as much or more on the effects of his Administration's dangerous policies, more than his obnoxious, hateful words as our eternally embarrassing President of the United States. [Audio link to full show is posted below article.]
On Monday morning, as we discussed on yesterday's program, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, with a stroke of his pen, took Administrative action to effectively rewrite decades of immigration law and case precedent to bar virtually all asylum claims made on the U.S. southern border. The radical action is now being challenged by the ACLU and, according to many immigration experts, is likely to be found unlawful by the federal courts.
Then, on Monday night, after we got off air yesterday, the Administration enacted another radical measure without notice. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services declared a new regulation would immediately take effect to ban medical services providers who receive Title X funding from referring patients to other doctors for abortions. Federal funds are already banned for use in most actual abortions themselves, but now what critics describe as a "gag rule" will be in place to keep medical professionals from even referring their patients.
Title X, signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon after bipartisan support in Congress, allocates some $260 million each year to family planning services for four million low income women. The funds are granted to states across the country and to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
Under the new regulations, as our guest today, Politico healthcare reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN detailed after the rule was first proposed earlier this year, "clinics offering abortions would need to construct physically separate entrances, hire separate staff and maintain separate medical records for its abortion and non-abortion providers --- a requirement reproductive care groups argue is so costly that some, or even perhaps many, sites would be forced to close."
At the top of today's show, news broke that, in the wake of the Administration's new regulations and other rightwing assaults on the Constitutionally-protect right to abortion, Planned Parenthood's recently appointed new President, Leana Wen, has been forced out of her post. The group had previously suggested they would need to forgo federal Title X funding if the rule was formally enacted, as have several states across the country who, like Planned Parenthood are suing to block the regulation.
Nonetheless, even before any of those lawsuits have been tried, the new rule has been placed into immediate effect by HHS, resulting in "mass confusion and chaos" for states and medical care providers alike today, according to Ollstein. "Now, any clinic that makes abortion referrals for patients who request one will have their funding cut," she tells me. "Lots of clinics across the country, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a large portion of the Title X population, said that they can't comply with that. It's against their ethics as doctors to not be able to make a referral that a patient requests. So they said 'We're going to exit this program. We're going to try to rely on our own funding as long as we can. We're going to hope the courts stop this rule, and we're going to try to keep our doors open and serve this low-income population.'" But, as Ollstein notes, "that could be a struggle."
She also explains how the Right is able to justify this blatant intrusion of the federal government between a patient and her doctor, given their years of decrying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the premise that the landmark healthcare law would do just that. Ollstein also goes on to warn that the federal case currently moving through the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down Obamacare entirely as unconstitutional, is now a very real threat to the law's future --- which even Republicans in Congress are now beginning to panic about.
Also on today's program, we follow the House Democrats move today to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump for his racist "go back" to your countries tweets over the weekend, directed towards Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, all of whom are American citizens. Three were born in the U.S. and one, Omar, came here as a child refugee to escape civil war in Somalia. Also today, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced his intention to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Trump once again tonight after the vote on resolution to condemn Trump. He vows to force a floor vote on the Articles within two legislative days.
By show's end, the racism resolution had been passed by Congress with the votes of all Democrats, four Republicans and newly independent former Republican Justin Amash, after what is being reported as a "bitterly partisan brawl" and "one of the most polarizing exchanges" ever on the House floor. The measure comes after both Trump's racist tweets telling the women to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" on Sunday, and his doubled-down assertion on Monday that their criticism of his Presidency and policies demonstrates they "hate America".
In fact, as Philip Bump cleverly highlights in a "Who said it?" test at Washington Post, Trump's own comments about the U.S. during the Obama Administration are far more demonstrative of hating America than anything ever known to have been publicly uttered by the four women he continued to attack on Twitter today. We're happy to associate ourselves with Stephen Colbert's response to all of this from Monday night.
Finally, as if all of that isn't chaotic and ugly enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New Orleans dodged catastrophe (for now) from Hurricane Barry over the weekend; the U.S. sees its wettest 12-month period on record (again); and the weekend blackout in NYC reveals (also, again) the fragility of this nation's vulnerable infrastructure...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)