This Past Week in Politics

James Cantu

October 18th, 2017

U.S. President Donald J. Trump Ron Sachs/Pool/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS

Ever since Donald Trump has been elected to office, it seems that the political world has been chaos. Questions like, “Should the wealthy get tax cuts? Are women autonomous beings? What benefit is there for the US to help those suffering a humanitarian crisis? Will Trump launch us into WWIII?”  continue to run through people’s heads.

The chaos has been intensified by the barrage of natural disasters, both nationwide and globally. With so much going on, it is understandably difficult at times to keep up.

Luckily for you, I’ll be recapping three major news incidents, explaining how they apply to us, why you should care, and what you can do about them.

President Trump’s (inane, insensitive) comments on Puerto Rico.

On October 12, President Trump, in a series of tweets, stated , “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. Forever!”

First of all, the whole purpose of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to provide aid to local and state governments for both immediate and long term relief.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, over 8,000 FEMA employees were deployed as part of their post-disaster relief efforts.

Twelve years later, FEMA is still there, albeit not as large in numbers as they were in 2005, but their agency is still present, and their assistance is still needed.

So no, President Trump, FEMA can stay in Puerto Rico for as long as needed. In fact, a FEMA official stated that there is “no hard deadline” on their response and recovery efforts.

“While no recovery lasts forever, our focus is the response and we will continue to support the response,” the official said, “There’s no indication of any immediate change until the situation is stabilized on the ground.”

Second, by threatening to withdraw FEMA from Puerto Rico, President Trump is blatantly choosing to let people suffer.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens that do not have a reliable source of water, food, or power. U.S. citizens that are drinking possibly contaminated water. The federal government is only distributing 200,000 meals per day to feed over 2 million people. 80 percent of Puerto Ricans do not have power.

It seems President Trump is unable to humanize people other than himself.  He ignores the fact that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, making it his responsibility to help send aid. President Trump is disregarding Puerto Ricans as human beings, as people, who are suffering in  an escalating humanitarian crisis.

So often we negate the suffering of others based on divisions we have made ourselves. Puerto Ricans are citizens, yes, but they are also people who deserve compassion–especially in times of need.

Sometimes compassion takes sacrifices, and if that means President Trump takes less trips to the golf course, and uses that money to further give aid, then so be it.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Puerto Rico sure won’t be rebuilt in a few weeks, contrary to what Mr. President assumes.

For those who wish to help those affected by Hurricane Maria, PBS has a list of resources for those who wish to donate or volunteer.

TrumpCare– an oxymoron?

After many failed attempts of replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump released an executive order on October 12 which rewrites key components of the ACA.

President Trump’s executive bill is a step back in progress and exploits the most vulnerable in society: the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Here’s why:

The main gist of the order is to allow insurers to offer cheaper, less comprehensive insurance packages than what was required under the ACA.

According to CNBC, the order results in, “Removing healthier, cheaper customers from the Obamacare “risk pool” would make insurance companies raise rates to finance benefits for sicker, costlier ones.”

Health insurance companies can now operate across state lines, but still adhere to each state’s regulations. This runs the risk of increasing the wealth insurance company’s monopoly power, as they are the only ones with enough resources to operate across state lines, and thus drive up costs.

Insurers are not obligated to offer the ACA’s 10 essential benefits, which include, but are not limited to: preventive care, maternity care, mental health treatment, and prescription drugs.

Insurance plans won’t be regulated, so people with pre-existing conditions can be charged more or even denied coverage.

The earliest the executive order would take effect would be in late 2018. In the meantime, the only way to “stop” an executive order is for Congress to pass a law that nullifies what was issued. It is up to the constituents to contact their representatives to demand a fair and comprehensive healthcare plan.

Iran’s Nuclear Situation

On Friday, President Trump disa vowed the Iran nuclear agreement, as he does not view Iran to be in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, which is also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The 2015 deal was a compromise between the permanent five members of the UN Security Council and Iran in which Iran agreed to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb in exchange for certain trade sanctions to be lifted. The deal allows for some nuclear development in the future, but is forbidden to acquire any new nuclear arms.

So what does President Trump’s disavowal of JCPOA mean?

President Trump lays out his plan to curb the Iranian nuclear threat by preventing its acquisition of nuclear weapons or weapons that, “threaten its neighbors, global trade, and freedom of navigation,” President Trump said. “ The execution of our strategy begins with the long-overdue step of imposing tough sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates.”

The far reaching implications of Trump’s plan are still uncertain as it has just recently been unveiled. Although the threat of military escalation is possible, it takes an educated and proactive constituency to view and/or support  the president’s current and future actions as helpful or harmful, regarding the already tense nuclear situation.

Opinions Editor

James Cantu

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