Winners and Losers for the week ending July 6
Like too many other weeks since we were conscripted into the upside down, there was an embarrassment of opprobria oozing from Washington – even with a day off to celebrate Independence Day.
Scott Pruitt’s long-delayed ouster from his position as head of the Environmental Protection Agency? In any other reality, this would have been above-the-fold news for days, if not weeks. Seriously: Just look at this list of investigations currently in motion against him – and no, his forced departure, complete with warm presidential tweet of thanks, will not end the extant inquiries nor prevent future ones. It’s not hard to see why President Donald Trump was so loath to pull the trigger, despite having an equally execrable replacement in Andrew Wheeler waiting in the wings: no other appointee has taken their mandate to undermine their agency more seriously than Pruitt.
But then, how to ignore Ajit Pai? The head of the Federal Communications Commission continues to do his best Mr. Lumbergh impression on Americans’ ability to access the internet, this time by raising the cost of broadband access for Native Americans by taking away a $25-per-month subsidy that made getting online more affordable for rural populations that are disproportionately reliant on broadband.
Let’s also consider Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She’s the face behind the administration’s latest salvo in killing the Affordable Care Act: withholding $10.4 billion in payments under the ACA’s “risk adjustment” program. How damaging is this move to the viability of the ACA? The Washington Post quotes Scott Serota, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, as saying: “Without a quick resolution . . . this action will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small business owners. . . . It will undermine Americans’ access to affordable coverage, particularly for those who need medical care the most.”
But as has too often been the case for the past 534 days or so, the worst news broke over the weekend. The US delegation to the World Health Assembly threatened, bullied and intimidated the other nations present in an attempt to block a resolution – on breastfeeding.
Despite decades of research – including by the federal government – that has proven breastfeeding to be the best form of nutrition for babies, American representatives once again showed just how in thrall to corporate interests – in this instance, infant formula manufacturers – the administration really is by trying to block language in the resolution that would encourage countries to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding.”
It is hard to overstate how reprehensible it is for public servants to not just act as corporate lickspittles, but to actively work to make it less effective and more expensive for poorer nations to feed their babies in the name of private-sector market share.
The race to the bottom continues.
Philadelphia: And props to the FBI as well for keeping the Cradle of Liberty from being victimized by a terror attack during the July 4 holiday.
Sharif Street: Philadelphia’s freshman state senator has garnered increasing attention for his commitment to criminal justice reform, particularly a bill he introduced to end life sentences without parole for some inmates.
Elizabeth Fiedler: the Democratic candidate for the state House’s 184th District continues to draw notice for her upset primary win and her support from the Democratic Socialists of America.
Scott Wallace: The hits keep coming – or, to be more precise, keep landing on the Democratic candidate for the PA-1 congressional seat. Wallace’s bid to unseat GOP incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick, already unsteadied by a steady drumbeat of oppo research, culminated with a damning Cook Political Report update on the race that moved it from Tossup to Lean Republican, complete with questioning whether the Democrats would have been better served if Wallace’s primary opponent, Rachel Reddick, had prevailed.
Philadelphia: What kind of city – let alone one of the most history-filled in the country – allows its own history museum to close to the public due to lack of funding? Now we know the answer.
Gov. Tom Wolf: After declaring he would use the state’s new school funding formula when sending out education money, the governor almost immediately backtracked. He hedged that he would not support any immediate shift in the way those monies are distributed, disappointing fair funding advocates, school districts, parents and students across the commonwealth.