quinta-feira, 29 de dezembro de 2016
The US could be vastly different a year from now. Here's how
The US could be vastly different a year from now. Here's how
If Donald Trump and his cabinet picks have their way, our country could be quite changed at this time next year
Scott Lemieux, Miranda Yaver, Jessica Valenti, Nikhil Goyal and Oliver Milman
Thursday 29 December 2016 05.00 GMT
Every administration tries to reshape American policy to reflect its ideals. But the discrepancy between outgoing president Barack Obama and president-elect Donald Trump is especially stark.
From health insurance access to abortion rights, Trump and his cabinet nominees proffer the opposite of the progressive stance that has defined the last eight years in this country.
And with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, it’s possible that our new chief executive could make real headway rolling back Obama’s agenda. Next year at this time, America could look very different different than it does today. Here are some issues that could be in the crosshairs.
US supreme court
A year from now, the US supreme court will probably look like … it has since Samuel Alito replaced Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006. Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat will be filled by a justice very comparable to Scalia, and on most politically important issues Anthony Kennedy will be the swing vote. This means a court that is generally conservative but liberal on a few key issues.
This is a tragic missed opportunity for the Democratic party, who lost its chance to have a Democratic-majority court for the first time since early in the Nixon administration. But Donald Trump will not immediately be able to transform the court upon taking office.
Still, with three justices who are approaching or have already passed their 80th birthday, the possibility of a second Trump appointment is very real right now. And since the oldest justices on the court are the liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer and the moderate conservative Kennedy, a second Trump nomination would be mean a major lurch to the right that would just start with the destruction of Roe v Wade. Electing Trump might mean a holding pattern for the supreme court, or it may mean a majority dedicated to rolling back civil rights and liberties entrenched on the bench for decades.
While Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell declared that his party would begin its repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on day one, the extent to which we will soon see departures from the status quo of healthcare access may hinge upon Republicans’ concerns about electoral punishment in the 2018 midterm elections.
While Donald Trump expressed some interest in protecting against loss of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, this would not be feasible absent the far-less-popular insurance mandate, which broadened the risk pool. The Urban Institute recently projected that with the Republican “repeal and delay” of the ACA, 29.8 million Americans would lose health insurance (disproportionately those without a college education), in addition to inducing market chaos that would produce conditions worse than prior to the ACA’s passage.
While health and human services nominee Tom Price and House speaker Paul Ryan make no secret of their desire to repeal the ACA, the electoral consequences could potentially constrain their decision-making, even if the health consequences do not.
Otherwise, it is likely that millions will struggle to obtain coverage, with the ACA market eliminated and with the restored ability to raise premiums for those with pre-existing conditions.
There is no overstating how dangerous a time the next year will be for reproductive rights. Already national anti-choice organizations are gearing up for a fight to overturn Roe v Wade – a real possibility – and state legislators are starting to pass the most egregious policies with an aim towards making abortions impossible to obtain.
A year from now, we could be witnessing the beginning of the end of legal abortion in this country and a rise in the already-high number of illegal abortions. It will be a public health crisis.
It’s also important to remember that the people who are going to be most impacted by any abortion rights rollbacks will be the most vulnerable: women of color, immigrant women, young women and poor women. These women are already suffering because of anti-choice policies and will undoubtedly be in even more danger a year from now. That’s why people who care about reproductive rights are going to need to start supporting small, local organizations now, before the worst happens.
By this time next year, the US public education may look very different. With Betsy DeVos almost certain to be confirmed by the Senate as the next secretary of education, fundamental planks of public education could begin to be dismantled.
The 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act curtailed the powers of the education secretary, but DeVos could tap into billions of Title I funding to bankroll a vouchers scheme, aggressively use the bully pulpit and craft devastating legislation that would likely pass the Republican-controlled Congress.
This is frightening, but there are inklings of a growing and more organized resistance movement led by students, teachers and parents. Thousands of students in Boston, Portland, Maryland, New York City, the Bay Area and others have staged walkouts in protest of Trump’s election with Boston students, in particular, condemning DeVos’s nomination and her privatization agenda.
I also expect the parent-led “opt out of standardized testing” movement to continue to pick up steam. A few states, too, may jettison these tests in favor of performance-based assessments, and launch more innovative, child-centered schools and programs that offer radically different, experiential and engaging learning experiences for young people.
Our mission in 2017 is to show the public that yes, while our oppressive, curiosity-crushing public education system requires a sweeping overhaul, it must be protected from the whims of the billionaire class.
Donald Trump’s energy plans are nothing if not bold – an “America first” strategy to bolster domestic oil and coal production while still supporting the growing natural gas sector. The president-elect donned a miner’s helmet on the campaign trail to tell supporters that the decades-long decline of coal could be reversed, that the jobs will be coming back.
Trump’s prescribed solution is to tear up environmental regulations, open up public land for drilling and cut funding for climate change and clean energy programs. Scott Pruitt, his chosen Environmental Protection Agency administrator, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, expected to be nominated as secretary of the interior, are both staunch supporters of the fossil fuel industry and will facilitate this. Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, has been nominated to lead the department of energy, an agency he has previously wanted to shut down. Perry, an advocate for oil and gas drilling, has close ties to large fossil fuel firms.
But this agenda will do little to alter neither the market forces that have undermined coal nor the low global price for oil. Republicans remain keen to pare back the regulations, but the result may well be courtroom fights with environmental groups and growing public concern over air and water pollution, rather than new jobs.
Trump is likely to gut federal clean energy funding although tax breaks for wind and solar were extended last year, and it’s unlikely that Congress will want to reverse this. The president-elect has said he wants to approve the controversial Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines, which could be done relatively quickly, and offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic could be back on the agenda.
Without huge federal subsidies coal mines will continue to shut down, however, even if the Clean Power Plan is killed off. Renewable energy may steadily advance under Trump, albeit at a slower rate and certainly not quickly enough to help stave off the worst consequences of climate change.