It’s hard to believe that the President of the United States telling millions of citizens in Puerto Rico they don’t deserve the same commitment to rebuilding as people in Texas and Florida didn’t produce the biggest L of the week. (Props to lickspittles like Energy Secretary Rick Perry and PA Congressman Scott Perry for defending the looming abandonment by calling Puerto Rico a country instead of part of the United States, though.)
It’s hard to believe that discovering that the catalyst for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling the president a “fucking moron” – a July meeting where the president contravened decades of nuclear diplomacy by expressing a desire to increase the US stockpile by a factor of 10 – that wasn’t the biggest L, either.
It’s hard to believe that the president’s decision – again going against prevailing wisdom, advisers and US allies – to decertify the landmark nuclear deal with Iran also wasn’t the biggest L of the week.
No, the best of the worst this week unquestionably belongs to the blitzkrieg on health care. How else to describe the rapid-fire onslaught against the policies and infrastructure designed to keep Americans healthy and alive?
An executive order on Thursday to loosen rules on groups of businesses issuing health care plans that would circumvent Obamacare regulations and potentially destabilize health care marketplaces by removing healthy subscribers and today’s news that the administration is ordering the immediate cessation of subsidy payments to insurers to help millions of low-income Americans afford coverage, combined with the abject failure of Congress last week to provide funding to ensure that 9 million American children would continue to be covered under CHIP, is an impressive hat trick of hate. How else to describe this modern-day Pequod’s course to gut the white whale of affordable health care, to kill off that which could prevent people dying – without having anything to replace what’s being eliminated?
As per usual with this administration, there are further machinations that get short shrift thanks to shinier objects. Women’s health took a hit as well, thanks to a mansplained rollback allowing employers to refuse to cover contraception for female employees. And in a blow to everyone who enjoys breathing and drinking anything non-toxic, the EPA announced it was repealing yet another signature achievement of the Obama administration, the Clean Power Plan. No replacement legislation to protect air quality and waterways – and the health of the hundreds of millions of Americans dependent on these natural resources – has been proposed.
Helen Gym: The Philadelphia City Councilwoman struck a blow for common sense and pragmatism when she publicly supported the establishment of safe injection sites for heroin and other opioid users in the city. Her stance got the ball rolling: injection sites were a major topic in City Hall this week.
Terminally ill patients: Thanks to a “Right to Try” bill signed into law this week by Gov. Wolf, they will be able to seek and apply to use treatments that have not yet been approved by the FDA.
Madeleine Dean, Dom Costa and Pat Browne: PA Reps. Dean and Costa, and PA Sen. Browne, drafted legislation in their respective chambers to ban the sales of bump stocks – like those used in the Las Vegas mass shooting – for semi-automatic firearms in the state.
Pedro Cortés: Pennsylvania’s longest-serving secretary of state abruptly resigned on Wednesday. While no reason was provided either by him or the governor’s office, his departure was no doubt due in large part to revelations that the state’s motor voter law had illegally allowed hundreds of legal non-resident citizens to register to vote in the state.
Jack Whelan: The Delaware County DA used office funds to plant dozens of billboards and other ads prominently featuring his name and likeness ahead of a judicial primary in which he ran as both a Democrat and a Republican. Critics slammed the move as an attempt to use public funds to fuel his own campaign.
Philip Ahr: The president of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners turned himself in to authorities to face multiple counts of child pornography charges.