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Garbageville Week 15: Zombie Trumpcare Lives To Kill

Trump’s first ‘legislative victory’ comes at the cost of punishing the most vulnerable

It's been another week in a world in which Donald Trump is president. (CONTROL-ALT-DELETE IS NOT WORKING! UGH!) None of what's happened over the past seven days is very pretty, but let's figure out what's important.

Zombie Trumpcare Lives to Kill

On Thursday, 217 House members voted to pass the AHCA, which effectively takes health care away from people with one of several dozen preexisting conditions, eliminates Medicaid funding for school special-needs programs, defunds Planned Parenthood, and gives a gigantic tax cut to the very wealthy. What’s more, House leadership pushed the bill through without a full text of the bill available, and without getting a judgment from the Congressional Budget Office about how much the act will ultimately cost and what the long-term effects might be. It's Trump's first "legislative victory" — though it still has to pass the Senate — and it comes at the cost of punishing the absolutely most vulnerable.

There is one upside to this bill passing: Those who voted for it will have to live with that record, and their constituents will likely make sure there’s hell to pay for their choice.

Should I be paying attention to this?

Like your life depends on it — which it may, if you are a human person who might someday get sick or has been sick in the past. Find out how your representative voted and let them know how you feel about that vote. Call your senators and let them know how they should vote. Take to the streets, if need be.

To Those with Privilege, Merriment Feels Like Oppression

Pause your binge-viewing of The Handmaid’s Tale to savor this morsel of dystopia-made-flesh: This week, a woman was found guilty for the aftermath of laughing at Attorney Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Desiree Fairooz, a Code Pink activist, could not hold back a derisive scoff when Senator Richard Shelby claimed Sessions's record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” Fairooz was subsequently asked to leave. Video of the event suggests that her laughter did not disrupt the hearing itself, though her commitment to passive resistance after she laughed (going limp, like they tell you to do in protester school) did force Capitol Hill police to carry her out of the room. This act of disobedience is the "crime" that jurors told HuffPost they felt Fairooz committed; the jury foreperson confirmed, “She did not get convicted for laughing. It was her actions as she was being asked to leave.” Technically, the jury convicted her on two counts, one for "disorderly or disruptive conduct," and another for "parading, demonstrating or picketing."

Should I pay attention to this?

Sadly, this is not a particularly egregious use of the state's power to silence protest. Arrests and convictions such as Fairooz's are fairly common, and laws that restrict "disorderly and disruptive" speech inside buildings are constitutional. What’s perhaps more worthy of attention is a new wave of alarming anti-protest bills that are part of the conservative backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement and the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations. One Tennessee bill would relieve motorists of liability should they drive through a protest, while a Washington state bill would define sidewalk blockades as "economic terrorism." Fairooz's plight is, however, a particularly poignant evocation of patriarchy's dark shadow; as Margaret Atwood allegedly put it: "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."

Religious Liberty

Trump signed an executive order “promoting free speech and religious liberty” on Thursday. The order does two things. First, it “repeals” the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from endorsing political candidates. 501(c)(3) is the most common type of nonprofit classification, and these organizations have tax-exempt status. Churches are classified as 501(c)(3)s — which is why this repeal is included in an executive order about religious liberty. The second part of the order says that the federal government should work to amend regulations that require employee insurance health plans to cover contraceptives.

Should I pay attention to this?

This executive order is pure posturing. You can’t repeal a piece of the tax code with an executive order. Only Congress can do that. So the best that this executive order can do is instruct the IRS not to prioritize enforcing the Johnson Amendment. What’s more, while the EO is obviously aimed at pleasing evangelical Christians, many of whom have publicly defied the amendment in protest, a survey of leaders in the National Association for Evangelicals found that nearly 90 percent of them don’t think that pastors should be endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. Churches are almost never prosecuted for violating the amendment in the first place. The second part of the order is also empty, since the Supreme Court had already ordered the federal government to find a way to restructure the regulations in a way that maintains the requirement to provide contraception, but in a way that does not require religious institutions to be actively involved in approving it.

Committee Votes to Send Bill Gutting Dodd-Frank to the Floor

The House Financial Services Committee voted to send a bill dismantling large portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a law passed after the 2008 financial crisis and recession that expanded the financial regulatory structure.

Should I pay attention to this?

Keep an eye on it. The bill has yet to be voted on in the House, and the chance that it passes the Senate is fairly slim, so it’s probably not worth getting into the nitty-gritty details yet. But it does signal intentions of weakening financial regulation.