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LABOR, ECONOMY & THE CLIMATE

After GOP Healthcare Embarrassment, Bannon-Style “Administrative Deconstruction” of Obamacare is Coming

Democrats spent little time on Wednesday gloating about Republicans’ recent Obamacare repeal failure and instead blasted the Trump administration for planned cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services. One Democratic legislator after another teed off on Department Secretary Tom Price, in an appropriations subcommittee hearing. They accused him of planning to wreck Obamacare through executive inaction and austerity measures. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Price was carrying out a strategy articulated by Steve Bannon, the ex-Breitbart editor and White House aide. “I see… Keep Reading

E.P.A. Chief Signals Death of Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Agreement

An Obama-era regulation seeking to reduce carbon pollution and slow global temperature increases is next on the chopping block for the Trump administration. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt told ABC News over the weekend that the President will sign an executive order Tuesday to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. The order will “address the past administration’s effort to kill jobs across this country through the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt said. He added that the move is “about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach… Keep Reading

Obama Admin. Regulator Warns “Massive” Derivatives Market Fraud Is Flying Under the Radar

A former top financial regulator who served under President Obama has warned that there is “a massive amount of misconduct” that goes unpunished in derivatives markets. Ex-Commodity Futures Trading Commission enforcement chief Aitan Goelman told Reuters on Friday that the body lacks the means to ferret out malfeasance, in the era of computerized trading. “We could do a lot more manipulation cases. We have all these new enforcement tools and this vastly expanded jurisdiction and data,” Goelman said. “But you have to be acutely conscious… Keep Reading

Wall Street Can Hire Firm Tied to Trump SEC Chair to Lessen Chance of Getting Punished

President Trump’s pick to be the United States’ top stock market regulator has been described as a “fox guarding the henhouse.” But the predator analogy might not be appropriate because he would be napping for much of the time, according to ethics rules and his job history. SEC Chair-nominee Jay Clayton would have to recuse himself from a wide range of cases involving heavy-hitters in the financial industry, he admitted on Thursday, before the Senate Banking Committee. As a partner at a well-heeled law firm, Clayton… Keep Reading

Pro-Gorsuch Dark Money Raises Doubts About Judicial Independence

A Democratic lawmaker expressed concerns on Tuesday about a well-funded advocacy campaign compromising the independence of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) noted that conservative donors are anonymously spending $10 million on lobbying for Gorsuch’s appointment. He said the initiative raises questions about Gorsuch needing to recuse himself from future cases, should his nomination pass the Senate. Those queries, however, cannot currently be answered, with the money having been given anonymously. When asked by Whitehouse about the source of the funding, Gorsuch… Keep Reading

Trump the Slasher Releases 2018 Budget: Climate Change, Job Assistance, the Arts Take Backseat to War and the Wall

Fifteen major government departments would see their funding cut, and 19 agencies would be completely eliminated under the proposed budget released by the White House on Thursday. The preliminary document calls for massive spending reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department, the Agricultural Department, and the Labor Department. All would see more than a fifth of their budget go up in smoke. The cutbacks finance significant spending increases at three departments: Defense (up 9 percent), Homeland Security (up 7 percent), and Veterans’ Affairs… Keep Reading

Congress Approves of Drug Test Measure that “Vilifies Unemployed Workers”

Congress has voted to jettison Labor Department regulations that limit who can be drug-tested before collecting unemployment benefits from state governments. The Senate on Tuesday passed a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, disapproving of the rule in a 51-48 party line vote. Lawmakers in the House had already advanced the measure, and it now only needs the signature of President Trump before the Obama-era framework is fully scrapped. “It isn’t some fringe or mean-spirited notion that there’s a connection between the use of illegal… Keep Reading

Watchdog Calls for Conflict-of-Interest Probe Into Trump Advisor

A Washington-based non-profit organization is calling on the White House counsel to determine if one of Trump’s assistants broke laws on self-dealing. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint on Tuesday, alleging that Christopher Liddell–a presidential aide and the Director of Strategic Initiatives–blended governmental duties with his own private interests. In a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn, the liberal watchdog group laid out its case against Liddell, and suggested the matter be turned over to the Justice Department for a criminal… Keep Reading

Trump Budget Puts 12 Million People at Risk of Losing Housing

Twelve million Americans could find themselves less secure in their housing situation, if President Trump’s budget is approved by Congress. Proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) could see 8 million people lose public housing, while an additional 4 million could see rental subsidies disappear, according to a report published Sunday by The Washington Post. The newspaper, which obtained the information in a “preliminary budget document,” said that overall outlined cuts to HUD would see the agency’s budget erode by $6… Keep Reading

Pruitt Flings Open E.P.A. Doors to Anti-Science Conservative Ideologues

Donald Trump’s top environmental regulator said Thursday that he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is the main factor changing the planet’s climate. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt told CNBC that the cause for ongoing warming is still undetermined, when asked if the carbon emissions made up the “primary contributor” to ongoing planetary changes. “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree… Keep Reading

A Few More Obama Rule Repeals Now Await President Trump’s Signature

More legislation rolling back late Obama-era rules headed to President Trump’s desk this week, after they were approved by the Senate. Regulations that would have forced federal contractors to disclose wage and labor law violations going back three years now face the chopping block. So, too, do rules on land-planning that Republicans say would crowd-out the input of local and state governments. A resolution of disapproval on the contractor disclosure rule passed the Senate on Monday, while a similar procedure on the land regulation advanced… Keep Reading

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