Sam Knight

Sam Knight has 653 articles published.

First Trump Budget to Take Aim at Non-Retiree Social Safety Net

The first Trump administration budget proposal will leave Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched, but other major federal programs face deep cuts. When asked about reductions to the two major retirement programs, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday: “Don’t expect to see that as part of this budget.” The administration, however, will be aiming to push for significant reductions in other unspecified “social safety net programs,” according to a report published the same day by The New York Times.  Full details have… Keep Reading

April Treasury Report Gives Trump Way Out of China Campaign Promise

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday that the Trump administration will wait until April before deciding if China should be considered a currency manipulator. A decision over the move, which would pave the way for tariffs on Chinese imports, will come in a biannual report on foreign exchange markets, Mnuchin told Bloomberg. The report could give President Trump an off-ramp to walk back one of his first campaign promises. Early during the Republican Primary, Trump said he would declare China a currency manipulator on his… Keep Reading

Racist Evidence, Incompetent Lawyers Lead to Supreme Court Death Sentence Stay

The Supreme Court on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to put on hold a death sentence that had been upheld twice in lower federal circuits. Duane Buck was granted the temporary reprieve after six justices decided an appellate court had not properly adjudicated his claims of having an incompetent lawyer. The Sixth Amendment guarantees “the Assistance of Counsel for…defense.” Buck had been sentenced to death in Texas, after his own attorneys said he was more likely to re-offend on the account of his race. Buck is black. “No… Keep Reading

Homeownership Rate Lowest Since L.B.J. Era, Years After Subprime Meltdown

Data released this month by the Census Bureau show that homeownership is increasingly unavailable to Americans, years after the Great Recession. The rate of homeowners in the US fell in 2016 to 63.4 percent from 63.7 percent, marking the lowest it has been since 1967. Prospective buyers, meanwhile, got no relief from the market last year, with the vacancy rate down and the median asking price up at to $167,700–the highest it has been since the post-2008 housing price recovery began in 2011. Though the… Keep Reading

Senate Confirms Austerity Champion Congressman as Influential White House Staffer

The Senate approved of President Trump’s chief budget and policy aide on Thursday, in a 51-49 vote. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) was the lone Republican to reject Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), on the grounds that the Tea Party Congressman has extended his frequent calls for fiscal austerity to the defense budget. Mulvaney is now set to lead the Office of Management and Budget, an influential wonky arm of the White House through which draft “major rules” receive edits before publication. The agency is also tasked with… Keep Reading

Lowball Estimate: U.S. on Hook for $447 Billion in Environmental Damages

The chief federal watchdog warned on Wednesday that the United States government’s environmental liabilities have grown by hundreds of billions of dollars over the past two decades. In a biannual report about “high risk” problems facing federal agencies, the Government Accountability Office said that taxpayers were on the hook last year for $447 billion in environmental cleanup costs—up from $217 billion in 1997. The doubling roughly mirrors the rate of economic growth over the same time frame, but GAO warned that federal environmental liabilities might… Keep Reading

First of Many “CRA” Love Letters to Corporate America Signed into Law by Trump

The first of many deregulatory measures rapidly pushed by Congressional Republicans under the Trump administration was signed into law on Tuesday. President Trump gave the green light to a resolution disapproving of Dodd-Frank disclosure rules. The regulations had required publicly-traded companies extracting natural resources to divulge payments made to foreign governments. The proposal was one of dozens that have originated in the House of Representatives since January under the Congressional Review Act (CRA)–an arcane law, passed in 1996, allowing the legislative branch to nullify recently passed executive… Keep Reading

Aetna-Humana Merger, at Heart of Election Year Obamacare Scandal, Dies After Court Ruling

A proposed $34 billion merger between health insurance giants Aetna and Humana has fallen apart, after a federal judge ruled last month that it violated antitrust laws. Aetna announced on Tuesday that the two companies would not be appealing the ruling. District Judge John Bates had found that integration of the two firms would illegally stifle competition in the market for Medicare Advantage. The CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, said that “the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing” the merger, by appealing Bates’… Keep Reading

Energy Dept.: Fracked Oil to Account for 60 Percent of U.S. Crude Output Over Next 23 Years

The majority of crude oil produced in the US over the next few decades will come from fracked wells, according to a research arm of the Energy Department. “Tight oil” from the lower 48 states is projected to account for some 60 percent of total oil production between last year and 2040, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday. The agency said that fracking oil production is expected to ramp up to 6 million barrels per day, well into next decade. Output will then… Keep Reading

General John W. Nicholson, Jr., USA

Reverse Deja-Vu: Pentagon Accuses Russia of Undermining U.S. Military in Afghanistan

The United States and Russia are on the precipice of a proxy conflict in Afghanistan, three decades after the Soviet military was defeated in the country, by CIA-backed militants. The commander of US Forces in Afghanistan referenced intelligence outlining possible Russian support for the Taliban, when appearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gen. John Nicholson, however, said he couldn’t openly discuss reports of Moscow giving the Taliban “money, materiel or fighters,” when asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). “There is some classified reporting… Keep Reading

Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Label Could Come Next Week, Despite Career Officials’ Objections

The Trump administration on Monday was on the verge of naming the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), but held off in the face of concerns from within the US government. President Trump and the White House strongly back the proposal, according to The New York Times, but “career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council” are delaying the designation. “Former officials said that they had been told the order would be signed on Monday, but that it had now been… Keep Reading

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