Show Notes for June 27, 2017

  • Donald Trump’s presidency has had a “major impact on how the world sees the United States”, a large new study says.
  • The survey, by the Pew Research Center, interviewed more than 40,000 people in 37 countries this year.
  • It concluded that the US president and his policies “are broadly unpopular around the globe”.
  • The survey shows only two of the 37 countries have a better opinion of Mr Trump than they had of his predecessor Barack Obama: Israel and Russia.
  • But the report indicates many feel their country’s relationship with the US will not change over the coming years.
  • The key findings from the survey, carried out between 16 February and 8 May, include:
  • People have less faith in Trump than Obama
  • People were surveyed at the end of Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency, and after the start of Mr Trump’s term – they were asked if they had faith that the president would do the right thing for world affairs.
  • Mr Trump wasted little time in making his mark on world affairs – making clear he expected Nato countries to pay their fair share and encouraging Gulf countries to isolate Qatar in recent weeks.
  • His presidency has shaken up old allies to the extent that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, after she met Mr Trump, that she felt Europe could no longer “completely depend” on its old ally.
  • In fact, it is among the traditional US allies that the confidence has dropped the most, according to the survey – while 86% of Germans had faith in Mr Obama, for example, only 11% do so in Mr Trump.
  • In his five months in office, the US president has, however, reached out to important friends – visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries early on.
  • His focus on the relationship with Israel, for one, has paid off – though his preferred status among Israelis is also reflective of Mr Obama’s unpopularity there.
  • India, whose prime minister Narendra Modi met Mr Trump on Monday, is one of the countries that looks on the US president most favourably – 40% of respondents had confidence in him compared with 58% for Mr Obama.
  • Most countries see Trump in an unfavourable light
  • Responders were asked if they viewed Mr Trump in seven particular ways.
  • “Across all the characteristics tested, positive and negative, President Trump is most likely to be described as arrogant,” the Pew report says.
  • In 26 of the 37 countries, more than half of respondents consider Mr Trump dangerous.
  • those who say they are left-leaning are far more likely to consider him dangerous. In Peru and Brazil, it is those in the centre politically who are more likely to be worried.
  • Across the board, Mr Trump is seen as a strong leader – Latin American and African countries in particular really believe this. The downside for him is that very few countries believe he is qualified to be president.
  • The findings were released only hours after the US Supreme Court partially lifted an injunction against President Trump’s ban on visitors from six majority-Muslim countries.
  • The ban, which had previously been blocked in lower courts, proved unpopular with 62% of respondents across the 37 countries. A majority of people in only three of the countries – Israel, Hungary and Russia – supported the ban.
  • In countries with large Muslim populations, the ban is unsurprisingly unpopular – with Jordan (disapproval rating of 96%), Lebanon (88%) and Senegal (82%) especially unhappy with the ban.
  • The survey focused on international attitudes, but a recent report from Pew found that Mr Trump’s approval ratings in his home country have remained low since he took office in January.
  • It suggests just 39% of Americans think he is doing a good job – dropping to just 7% among black voters.
  • However, there is still strong support for Mr Trump among his own party: 81% of those who lean or are Republican say he has been doing well, rising to 88% among those who consider themselves more staunchly conservative.

-US Senate Republicans have delayed a vote on their healthcare bill until after next week’s 4 July holiday.

 

  • The announcement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a setback to their plan to replace Obamacare.
  • Five Republican senators had vowed to oppose the bill, and the party could only afford to lose two votes to get it passed in the upper chamber.
  • US President Donald Trump invited Senate Republicans to the White House for a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
  • Sitting alongside some of the party rebels, he said: “This will be great if we get it done. And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like. And that’s okay, and I understand that very well.”
  • A similar version of the bill has already passed the House, after facing a similar delay.
  • After Congress returns from the bank holiday, there will be a two-week window before the summer break.
  • Mr McConnell vowed to continue to try to find the votes, and would make changes to the bill if necessary.
  • Moderate senators say the bill will harm some of their vulnerable constituents, while conservatives say it has too much government interference.
  • The news of a delay comes just one day after the non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office said the bill would strip 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next 10 years.

 

What is in the bill?

The 142-page Senate bill – the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 – phases out the expansion of Medicaid, a government health programme for the low-income Americans, and imposes deep cuts to the programme.

The bill also gives states more latitude in requiring insurers to provide essential health benefits guaranteed under Obamacare, including emergency and maternity care and mental health services.

Obamacare v Republican plan compared

Details also include:

Repealing taxes on the wealthy and insurance companies

Continuing payments to health insurance companies to reimburse them for subsidies used to help pay for out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans for at least two years

Stripping funding for US women’s health group Planned Parenthood for a year

Why the opposition?

  • Not one single Democrat is expected to support the proposed legislation, having lambasted it as a huge transfer of wealth from poor to rich.
  • Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi has warned that “hundreds of thousands” of Americans will die if the bill passes.
  • “Republicans cannot excise the rotten core” of this bill, said Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer after the delay was announced.
  • The American Association of Retired Persons, the nation’s oldest non-profit organisation representing Americans over 50 years-old, slammed the bill as an “age tax”.
  • At least five Senate Republicans – moderate senators Susan Collins and Dean Heller and conservatives Ron Johnson, Rand Paul and Mike Lee – had announced opposition to the bill.
  • Moderate Republicans who have opposed the bill criticised it for stripping protections for the poor and elderly, as well as access to women’s health.
  • Conservatives are upset that the bill “does not go far enough” to repeal the Affordable Care Act passed under Barack Obama.

What can Trump do?

  • The president has already been playing a significant role, phoning wavering senators like Ted Cruz, to try to get them behind the plan.
  • He has the power to offer perks and dole out punishment to individual members of Congress who need something more than simple persuasion.
  • On Tuesday, a pro-Trump fundraising group began a £1m television and radio campaign against Mr Heller as he prepares for re-election in Nevada in 2018.
  • But the president has had an ambiguous relationship with his party’s legislation, decrying the House bill as “mean” just weeks after celebrating its passing through the lower chamber.
  • When asked what the president thought of the Senate bill, his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said she had not yet asked him.

-During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, a reporter challenged deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for “inflaming” journalists, after she launched into a tirade against “the constant barrage of fake news” against President Donald Trump.

 

  • In the White House’s first public, on-camera press briefing in a week, Sanders took her first question from a reporter from Trump-friendly Breitbart News who asked her to comment on three CNN reporters resigning after retracting a story about a Trump transition official.
  • Sanders then railed against “the constant barrage of fake news directed at this president,” and encouraged reporters and the American public to watch “a video circulating now, whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know.”
  • Sanders continued to chide reporters for using “unnamed sources, sometimes stories with no sources at all” ― though White House officials often ask to be anonymous when providing even routine information. She also admonished reporters for covering “this Russia/Trump hoax.”
  • “If we make the slightest mistake, or the slightest word is off, it is just an absolute tirade from a lot of people in this room,” Sanders continued. “But news outlets get to go on, day after day, and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources, have, you know, you mentioned the story where they had to have reporters are resign.”
  • Brian Karem, editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel, based outside Washington D.C., interrupted Sanders, noting that the White House should be held to the same standards.
  • “Come on. You’re inflaming everybody right here and right now with those words,” he said.
  • “This administration has done that as well. Why in the name of heavens? Any one of us are replaceable, and any one of us, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us,” he continued, pointing to the reporters assembled in the briefing room.
  • “You have been elected to serve for four years at least. There’s no option other than that. We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers, and what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president’s right, and everybody else out here is fake media.’ And everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”
  • Sanders responded by saying that “if there’s anything that has been inflamed, it is the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media.”Washington Secrets reviewed “Rediscovering Americanism” last week and wrote:

 

In the book, Levin attacks the embrace by the media, politicians and academia of progressive promises of a “utopia” defined by the end of personal freedom and individuality.

He has a grim name for it: “The Final Outcome.” Levin wrote, “They reject history’s lessons and instead are absorbed with their own conceit and aggrandizement in the relentless pursuit of a diabolical project, the final outcome of which is an oppression of mind and soul.”

Levin added, “the equality they envision but dare not honestly proclaim, is life on the hamster wheel, where one individual is indistinguishable from the next.”

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