WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of wrangling, tighter restrictions on travel to the U.S. from six mostly Muslim nations take effect Thursday evening after the Supreme Court gave its go-ahead for a limited version of President Donald Trump’s plans for a ban. Visa applicants from the six countries – and all refugees – will need to show close family or business ties to the United States.

Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked, and that should help avert the kind of chaos at airports around the world that surrounded an initial travel ban ordered shortly after Trump took office. In that case, some travelers with previously approved visas were kept off flights or barred entry on arrival in the U.S.

There were no major problems reported in the first hours after the new guidelines were issued. The Middle East’s biggest airline said its flights to the United States were operating normally. However, Dubai-based Emirates reminded passengers that they “must possess the appropriate travel documents, including a valid U.S. entry visa, in order to travel.”

The new instructions issued by the State Department will affect visa applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen. An applicant must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible. The same requirement, with some exceptions, holds for would-be refugees from all nations who are still awaiting approval.

Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, fiancees or other extended family members are not considered to be close relations, according to the guidelines that were issued in a cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late on Wednesday. The new rules take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday (0000GMT on Friday), according to the cable, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

As far as business or professional links are concerned, the State Department said, a legitimate relationship must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban. Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban. The exemption does not apply to those who seek a relationship with an American business or educational institution purely for the purpose of avoiding the rules. A hotel reservation or car rental contract, even if pre-paid, would also not count.

Consular officers may grant other exemptions to applicants from the six nations if they have “previously established significant contacts with the United States;” ”significant business or professional obligations” in the U.S.; if they are infants, adopted children or in need of urgent medical care; if they are traveling for business with a recognized international organization or the U.S. government or if they are legal residents of Canada who apply for visas in Canada, according to the cable.

On Monday, the Supreme Court partially lifted lower court injunctions against Trump’s executive order that had temporarily banned visas for citizens of the six countries. The justices’ ruling exempted applicants from the ban if they could prove a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity, but the court offered only broad guidelines – suggesting they would include a relative, job offer or invitation to lecture in the U.S. – as to how that should be defined.

The new guidance rules remain in place at least until the Supreme Court hears arguments on the case in the fall and then issues a final ruling.

Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered the refugee ban and a travel ban affecting the six countries, plus Iraq. He said it was needed to protect the U.S. from terrorists, but opponents said it was unfairly harsh and was intended to meet his campaign promise to keep Muslims out of the United States.

After a federal judge struck down the bans, Trump signed a revised order intended to overcome legal hurdles. That was also struck down by lower courts, but the Supreme Court’s action partially reinstated it.

The new rules will also affect would-be immigrants from the six countries who win visas in the government’s diversity lottery – a program that randomly awards 50,000 green cards annually to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. They will also have to prove they have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S. or that they are eligible for another waiver. If they can’t they face being banned for at least 90 days.

That may be a difficult hurdle, as many visa lottery winners don’t have relatives in the U.S. or jobs in advance of arriving in the country.

Generally, winners in the diversity lottery only need prove they were born in an eligible county and have completed high school or have at least two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two other years of training or experience.

Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.


© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.



Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Justice Did a Lot of Horrible Things Today

Image via Getty

It seems like just yesterday that Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was reminiscing about mutton-busting and wondering whether he’d rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck.

But sure as spring must turn to summer, all far-right Supreme Court justices must eventually reveal the true contours of their judicial ideologies. And in that sense, Monday—the last day of the Court’s current term, and our biggest chance yet to see what kind of justice Gorsuch will be—was both illuminating and depressing.

Gorsuch found time to assert his opposition to the rights of same-sex parents, death row inmates, and refugees, all while attempting to bolster the rights of gun owners and churches. All in one day!

Here’s a rundown of what Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointee accomplished on Monday.

He opposed a ruling that gave same-sex parents equal rights

Early on Monday, six of the nine justices ruled that the Arkansas Department of Health should be required to list both parents of any newborn baby on that baby’s birth certificate – even when the parents are two men or two women.

State officials had previously refused to list two same-sex parents on a baby’s birth certificate, even when the baby was born to a married couple that had used artificial insemination. And lawyers for the state of Arkansas had argued that the parental rights conferred by birth certificates stem from biology, not marriage.

But the majority of the justices weren’t buying that argument, and noted that when straight couples were involved, Arkansas officials hadn’t emphasized biology at all. Birth mothers had long been allowed to list their husbands on birth certificates, even when those husbands weren’t the biological fathers of the babies.

Gorsuch, however, disagreed, as did Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Gorsuch wrote that the justices should have accepted the case for oral argument, rather than summarily dismissing it.

“Nothing in Obergefell spoke (let alone clearly) to the question” of whether “biology-based birth registration regimes” are unconstitutional, Gorsuch wrote.

He made it clear how he’ll side on Trump’s travel ban

On Monday morning, the justices also agreed to hear arguments on the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which is targeted at citizens from six majority-Muslim countries.

They’ll hear the case in October. In the meantime, the travel ban will be in effect for anyone who doesn’t have a “bona fide relationship” to people or institutions in the United States. That decision creates the most uncertainty for refugees, only some of whom have relatives in the United States.

As Tara Golshan reports at Vox, it isn’t clear whether a refugee family’s previous contact with a resettlement agency, like World Relief or Lutheran Social Services, would be enough to meet the “bona fide relationship” bar.

But in the meantime, Gorsuch — again siding with Alito and Thomas — went out of his way to make it clear where he’s leaning. The three justices said they would have gone even further, upholding the entire ban on all citizens of the six countries until the high court hears the case in the fall.

“I agree with the Court’s implicit conclusion that the Government has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits,” Thomas wrote, in an opinion Gorsuch and Alito signed. “Weighing the Government’s interest in preserving national security against the hardships caused to respondents by temporary denials of entry into the country, the balance of equities favors the Government.”

He helped vote to send a man to death in Texas

On Monday, Gorsuch also provided the fifth vote in a complicated death-row case involving Erick Davila, who was convicted of shooting a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother in Fort Worth in 2008.

As the Texas Tribune notes, Davila was convicted in part because a judge incorrectly told a jury that Davila’s intentions did not matter when it came to his punishment:

If the jury had believed Davila only intended to kill one person, he would have been ineligible for a capital murder verdict and the death penalty would have been off the table. In this case, Davila must have intended to kill multiple people to be found guilty of capital murder.

During deliberations, the jury asked the judge for clarification on the intent issue, and the judge said Davila would be responsible for the crime if the only difference between what happened and his intention was that a different person was hurt. He did not affirm to the jury that Davila must have intended to kill more than one person to be found guilty.

Although Davila’s trial lawyer objected to the judge’s incorrect instructions, that lawyer was overruled. And later, the state lawyers appointed to Davila’s case never brought the objection up at all.

The court’s liberal wing — Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — made it clear they felt that Davila’s right to counsel had been violated.

But Gorsuch provided the key fifth vote. Now, Tarrant County can go forward and set an execution date.

He tried to take on a case that could further weaken gun control laws

Just before all the rulings came down, the justices also announced they would not be hearing Peruta v. California, a case about whether all U.S. citizens should have the right to carry concealed guns in public spaces.

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that Americans do have a constitutional right to bear arms in the privacy of their homes, but states still have the power to ban concealed carry in public places. That could all change if the court hears a case like Peruta.

Luckily, a case must get four “yes” votes to be added to the Supreme Court’s calendar — and this case apparently couldn’t clear that bar. But two justices made it clear they wished the court had taken the case. Once again, those justices were Gorsuch and Thomas, who made it clear they want to open the door to more relaxed gun legislation across the country.

Maybe next term, guys.

He voted to strike down a barrier between church and state

Not content with what he’d done so far, Gorsuch also voted on Monday that a state can’t deny public funds to churches just because those churches are religious organizations.

The case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, hinged on a question of whether the state of Missouri was required to give a state grant to Trinity Lutheran Church, which wanted to make its playground material softer for children.

Gorsuch was just one of seven votes in favor of the church, but the decision prompted a furious dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“The Court today profoundly changes [the church-state] relationship by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church,” she wrote. “Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country’s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both.”

Congrats on getting through your first term, Justice Gorsuch! We’ll see you again in October.

Fusion Editorial Intern and Breakfast Cereal Enthusiast

Source: Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Justice Did a Lot of Horrible Things Today

Kentucky Governor Signs ‘Bible Literacy Bill’ Into Law


After opening the state legislature’s session with a prayer, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 128 into law on Tuesday. The bill allows Kentucky’s public schools to teach an elective course on the Bible.

According to the legislation’s text, it aims to “familiarize” students with the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament, and the New Testament:

“The purpose of a course under this section is to: teach students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.”

While HB 128 does not require students actually enroll in the class, its passing was predictably controversial. Amber Duke of Kentucky’s ACLU criticized its narrow scope, specifically pointing out that a Bible literacy class would not give students an opportunity to learn about other religions (though this might not be a problem for a state where 76% of adults identify as Christian).

“They will not be teaching about the Qu’ran or the sacred texts of other religions. That would be more of a comparative religions class,” Duke told NBC News. “This is a Bible literacy class.”

Rep. D.J Johnson’s plug for the bill, which he sponsored, was a bit different than Duke’s and glosses over that whole ‘separation of church and state’ thing:

Local news station WDRB reports:

“[The Bible] really did set the foundation that our founding fathers used to develop documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. All of those came from principles from the Bible.”

Gov. Bevin was shocked that there was even controversy over the law. “The idea that we would not want this to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy,” Bevin said during HB 128’s signing. “I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this.”

In its current form, the legislation is constitutional. But another representative from Kentucky’s ACLU, Kate Miller, expressed further concern that its implemented curriculum could cross that line. Miller told WDRB: “We want to make sure that teachers can teach and make sure that they don’t go in to preach.”

The law will go into effect on June 30, just in the nick of time for another school year.

Source: Kentucky Governor Signs ‘Bible Literacy Bill’ Into Law

Melania Trump Ditches Opposition to Cyberbullying to Cheer on Donald’s Latest Sexist Attack


Remember when First Lady Melania Trump was going to make her pet cause a campaign against cyberbullying? She doesn’t either.

After her husband, President Donald Trump, tweeted Thursday morning to claim “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” Brzezinski, the co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, rolled into his Mar-a-Lago club with her face “bleeding badly from a face-lift,” the first lady’s first response was basically an “attaboy.”

As CNN’s Jeremy Diamond reported, quoting Melania’s spokeswoman:

Brzezinski, who is engaged to her MSNBC co-host and guitar man Joe Scarborough, took the high road, responded by tweeting a photo of a Cheerio’s box noting what a nice treat the cereal is for tiny hands.

Scarborough, for his part, hasn’t directly addressed the matter online, but is currently retweeting vague platitudes about maintaining the dignity of the office of president.

Going to have to flip a coin to pick a dog in this fight.

UPDATE, 2:03 PM: Speaking to Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs, the first lady’s spokeswoman attempted to put some distance between Melania and Trump’s remarks, saying her comment about the president punching back “10 times harder” when attacked is something she’s said in the past:

Source: Melania Trump Ditches Opposition to Cyberbullying to Cheer on Donald’s Latest Sexist Attack

Maybe Sofia Coppola Should Stop Talking About Her New Movie

Getty Images.

Sofia Coppola appears to still be having a bit of a hard time promoting her movie The Beguiled, a film set in the Civil War South. Fans noticed that while there is a black character—a slave named Hallie—in both the 1966 book the film is based on and a 1971 adaptation of the book, there was no such character in Coppola’s movie.

Coppola has had to answer for this discrepancy time and time again, and in the process has revealed a lack of self awareness (like not knowing what the Bechdel test is). Previously, she has justified cutting Hallie’s character by saying that she didn’t want to show young girls who watch her film that kind of depiction of a black character, and that she’d rather leave the character out than to “brush over” her lightly. It did seem a little fishy, particularly because Coppola set out to recontextualize the white female characters of a 1970s-era, borderline sexploitation film—so it’s not like she was beholden to any specific prior depiction of a black character.

In a more recent interview with the Village Voice, Coppola reiterated her justification for leaving out Hallie, saying, “The slave character was written in a really stereotypical way, and I didn’t want to make a movie about racial politics in the Civil War. So I decided just to focus on the women.”

Um, Sofia? Hallie is a woman. I get that Coppola is probably really tired of answering for this and that she just wanted to make her damn film and she probably took Hallie out to avoid a backlash and can we please just get back to the white gothic ladies. If anything, her responses seem more like the kind of missteps you take when you’re completely paralyzed by idea of misstepping. But excluding Hallie as a woman once again shows Coppola doesn’t consider black femininity as femininity.

Also, you can absolutely make a Civil War-era movie that isn’t primarily about racial politics, but to make a Civil War era movie completely devoid of racial politics is fantastical nonsense. Or, like, Civil War fanfic. It’s true that, as Ira Madison III pointed out last week, maybe Sofia Coppola—who not only whitewashed The Bling Ring but gave us some great instances of ironic racism in Lost in Translation—refusing to take on Civil War-era racism in any form is for the best. But if you don’t think you can do that, you probably shouldn’t be making movies about the Civil War at all.

Isha is staff reporter who covers pop culture, representation in media, and your new faves.

Source: Maybe Sofia Coppola Should Stop Talking About Her New Movie

The Latest Version of Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Taking Effect Tonight and It’s Worse Than Ever


Welcome to WHAT NOW, a morning round-up of the news/fresh horrors that await you today.

After the Supreme Court allowed the majority of President Trump’s Muslim travel ban to take effect earlier this week, the administration issued new criteria that require visa applicants from the six majority-Muslim countries and all refugees to have a “close” family member in the U.S. to gain entrance. The new version of the ban is set to kick in at 8 PM Eastern time Thursday evening.

The guidelines are a response to the Court’s ruling that only people with “bona fide” connections to America should be allowed in the country. But the way the Trump administration is defining a “close” relation is, even by its standards, unexpectedly stringent.

New visa applicants from Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, and Libya—as well as refugee applicants from all nations—will have to prove they have a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, sibling, son or daughter-in-law already in the U.S., the Associated Press reported Thursday, citing a cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates last night and obtained by the wire service.

Fiancees, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers and sisters-in-law, along with other extended family members, don’t count as close enough relations to be eligible under the new rules. Journalists, students, and workers with invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. will be exempt from the ban, according to the AP.


  • Nine states, along with the District of Columbia, are fighting for the rights of transgender veterans in a new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs to make the agency cover trans veterans’ gender transition treatment as part of their healthcare.
  • A peek into how the Trump tweet sausage is made: On Wednesday, the White House legislative affairs director, Marc Short, showed the president a graph showing Medicaid spending under the Republicans’ healthcare bill increasing. The president wanted to tweet it, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported, even though it’s patently false—the bill would cut nearly $800 billion of funding from Medicaid over the next decade.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blew up at a White House aide over leaks to the media and the torpedoing of State Department nominees.

Source: The Latest Version of Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Taking Effect Tonight and It’s Worse Than Ever

Supreme Court Reinstates Trump’s Muslim Ban as It Agrees to Rule on Its Legality


As the Supreme Court’s session draws to a close, the court on Monday reinstated most of President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban—allowing it to cover everyone except people who have a “bona fide relationship” to the United States—as it agreed to hear the constitutional merits of the ban in the fall.

The court’s decision to allow the Trump administration to enforce its 90-day ban on immigration for travelers from six majority-Muslim countries marks a major victory for the president, whose signature national security proposal suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks in the lower courts.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in October. Trump declared in a presidential memorandum earlier this month that the ban would kick in within 72 hours if the justices allowed it to go forward.

It is, of course, unclear how exactly the justices will ultimately rule on the ban, but at least three of them appeared to send a very strong signal of where they would end up.

Source: Supreme Court Reinstates Trump’s Muslim Ban as It Agrees to Rule on Its Legality

GOP Medicaid Spin – FactCheck.org

Republicans are spinning their health care bills’ impact on Medicaid:

  • Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey made the questionable claim that under the Senate bill “no one loses coverage” gained under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. The bill would reduce federal funding to expansion states, leading some states to restrict eligibility, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
  • White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed that there “are not cuts to Medicaid” in the Republican health care bills that reduce future Medicaid spending by hundreds of billions. By 2026, CBO estimates that 15 million fewer people would have Medicaid coverage under the Senate bill, compared with current law.

A ‘Permanent’ Medicaid Expansion?

Toomey’s office says that the senator meant that the bill doesn’t cut off Medicaid expansion eligibility for anyone, not that no one would lose insurance coverage under the bill. It’s correct that the Senate bill allows states to continue to cover the expansion-eligible population — but at significantly lower levels of federal funding.

The senator made his comments on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on June 25, the day before the CBO released its analysis of the legislation.

Toomey, June 25: Yes, listen, it’s going to be a challenge, but I have to strongly disagree with the characterization that we’re somehow ending the Medicaid expansion.

In fact, quite the contrary. The Senate bill will codify and make permanent the Medicaid expansion. And, in fact, we will have the federal government pay the lion’s share of the cost. Remember, Obamacare created a new category of eligibility. Working-age, able-bodied adults with no dependents for the first time became eligible for Medicaid if their income was below 138 percent of the poverty level.

We are going to continue that eligibility. No one loses coverage. What we are going to do, gradually over seven years is transition from the 90 percent federal share that Obamacare created and transition that to where the federal government is still paying a majority, but the states are kicking in their fair share, an amount equivalent to what they pay for all the other categories of eligibility.

The Senate bill isn’t “ending the Medicaid expansion” eligibility — it’s ending the enhanced federal funding of the expansion-eligible population under the ACA.

Prior to the ACA, Medicaid was available to groups including qualified low-income families, pregnant women, children and the disabled. The ACA expanded eligibility to all individuals under age 65, including adults without dependent children, who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,643 a year for an individual), but only in states that adopted the expansion. As this brief from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows, the income cut-offs for parents varied widely among the states before the ACA, and only a few states offered eligibility to adults without dependents.

The expanded eligibility under the ACA came with significant federal dollars. States got 100 percent federal funding for the expansion population from 2014 through 2016, and 95 percent federal funding this year. That percentage slowly goes down to 90 percent for 2020 and beyond.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have opted in to the expansion, and more than 11 million newly eligible adults had enrolled in Medicaid through March 2016, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, was introduced on June 22. It wouldn’t take away those states’ option to offer coverage to the expansion population, but it starts to reduce the federal funding in 2021, putting it at 85 percent. In 2022, federal funding would be 80 percent, dropping to 75 percent in 2023 and then to the standard state matching rate for 2024 and subsequent years.

Standard state matching rates for other enrollees vary, from 50 percent to 75 percent, for an average of about 57 percent, the CBO said in its analysis of the Senate bill. In Toomey’s home state of Pennsylvania, where 700,000 of the newly eligible gained Medicaid coverage, the standard rate is 52 percent.

That’s significantly lower than the 90 percent federal funding the state is set to receive under current law.

Still, Toomey doesn’t think that most states that have expanded Medicaid would drop that expansion under the Senate bill, his office told us.

“States, on average, are paid well over half of the cost for the expanded Medicaid population, which is the same rate that they receive for the aged, disabled, and children,” spokesman Steve Kelly told us in an email. “Also, the Senate bill provides for a seven-year phase-in of this transition. Senator Toomey believes that, with this level of federal funding and the extended smoothing period, states will have the ability to continue providing Medicaid to able-bodied, working age, childless adults, if they so wish.”

The CBO disagrees. It said that “some states,” without specifying which or how many, “would no longer offer” expansion coverage. Currently, the 31 states and Washington, D.C., that have expanded Medicaid cover about 50 percent of the newly eligible population nationwide. The CBO expects that share to drop to about 30 percent in 2026 under the Senate bill.

And under current law — with that enhanced federal funding — CBO expects that more states would opt-in for the expansion in the future, covering about 80 percent of the expansion-eligible population by 2026. Under the Senate bill, nonexpansion states could still choose to cover the expansion population, but they’d have to do so at standard state match rates, not getting any years of the enhanced federal funding. CBO “expects that no additional states would expand eligibility” under the Senate bill, “largely because states would pay for a greater share of costs for enrollees.”

The CBO report says it doesn’t give “any explicit prediction about which states would make which choices” and that “how individual states would ultimately respond is highly uncertain.” But with reduced federal Medicaid funding under the Senate bill, states would need to make some choices on “whether to commit more of their own resources to finance the program at current-law levels or to reduce spending by cutting payments to health care providers and health plans, eliminating optional services, restricting eligibility for enrollment through work requirements and other changes, or (to the extent feasible) arriving at more efficient methods for delivering services,” CBO says. 

By 2026, CBO estimates that 15 million fewer people would have Medicaid coverage, with 5 million of those being would-be enrollees in states that would have opted in to the expansion in the future under current law. The other 10 million reduction in the insured is due to “all other effects on enrollment.” (See Figure 4.)

An Urban Institute report, published in June, analyzed the House health care bill’s impact on Medicaid. That bill would eliminate the enhanced federal funding for new enrollees in expansion states, beginning in 2020, and drop enhanced funding for current enrollees who have a gap in coverage of one month. The Urban Institute said: “Many states may have no choice but to eliminate coverage of the expansion population because they would be unable to substantially increase their own spending. Moreover, they have limited scope to cut benefits and provider payment rates.”

Kelly Whitener, an associate professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families, expects some elimination of expansion coverage would be inevitable under the Senate bill. She told us that Toomey’s comment on “Face the Nation” is “accurate in part,” as he described the decline in federal funding for the expansion under the Senate bill.

But overall, Whitener said, “the reality is that fewer federal dollars mean fewer lives will be covered. This is especially true when the changes to the expansion population are considered together with changes to the Medicaid program overall, namely converting the program into a capped program through either a per capita cap or a per capita cap and block grant combination.” (The Senate bill would cap Medicaid funding to the states starting in 2020.)

“States will be struggling to find a way to continue coverage for populations that pre-dated the ACA (children, some parents, pregnant women, people with disabilities) as well as those made newly eligible under the ACA, and it’s impossible to see how they do so without scaling back on coverage eventually,” said Whitener, who worked for the Senate finance committee from 2008 to 2014 and worked on the ACA legislation.

We can’t predict the future, and Toomey is entitled to his opinion that expansion states would find a way to continue to cover the expansion population under Medicaid, even in the face of reduced federal funds. But experts, including the nonpartisan CBO, doubt that.

Share the Facts

2017-06-28 21:35:56 UTC





FactCheck.org rating logo FactCheck.org Rating:


Claimed that under the Senate health care bill “no one loses coverage” gained under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

CBS’ “Face the Nation”

Sunday, June 25, 2017


A ‘Cut’ or a ‘Reduction in Growth’?

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway is claiming that President Trump could sign a bill reducing future Medicaid spending by roughly $800 billion without violating his campaign promise that “there will be no cuts.”

“These are not cuts to Medicaid,” she said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” June 25.

Actually, the proposed reductions she defends would trim Medicaid rolls by 4 million people in the first year, and 14 million to 15 million after 10 years, compared with levels that the CBO predicted under current law.

The proposals also would end the long-standing federal practice of matching at least $1 for every $1 spent by states for Medicaid, with no limit. Instead, states would get a set amount for each person enrolled. And, as we explained, the proposals decrease the federal match under the ACA for the expansion-eligible population. The result of those changes effectively squeezes down projected federal Medicaid payments by roughly $800 billion over the next decade.

As a candidate, Trump promised repeatedly that he wouldn’t cut Medicaid, or Medicare or Social Security, either. He boasted in a 2015 tweet, for example, that he was the “first & only” Republican candidate to make such a promise.

“This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Conway if Trump was now going back on that promise. Her reply:

Conway, June 25: These are not cuts to Medicaid, George. This slows the rate for the future and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars

And again, later she said:

Conway, June 25: You keep calling them as cuts. But we don’t see them as cuts. It’s slowing the rate of growth in the future and getting Medicaid back to where it was. Obamacare expanded the pool of Medicaid recipients beyond its original intentions.

But however one spins it, the bill currently being considered by the Senate — like the version passed by the House May 4 — would result in much less federal spending for Medicaid than under current law. And fewer people getting benefits.

CBO estimates that — compared with what is projected under current law — the Senate bill would result in $772 billion less for Medicaid over the next decade, and that the House bill would reduce it by $834 billion.

Is that a cut? Republican Sen. Susan Collins says it is. On the same ABC News program, she said, “I respectfully disagree” with Conway’s analysis.

Worth noting also is that House Speaker Paul Ryan himself has called it a cut when Democrats similarly enacted a reduction in the future growth of Medicare spending by an estimated $716 billion to help finance the ACA.

Ryan, when he was Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential campaign, said President Obama “turned Medicare into a piggy bank to fund Obamacare” and promised to “stop the raid on Medicare.”

Conway claims that the Republican proposals are about “getting Medicaid back to where it was” before the ACA. But the plans go beyond that, making fundamental changes in how Medicaid is funded by imposing a per-capita cap.

Share the Facts

2017-06-28 21:43:26 UTC





FactCheck.org rating logo FactCheck.org Rating:


Claimed that there “are not cuts to Medicaid” in the Senate health care bill.

Kellyanne Conway

White House counselor

ABC’s “This Week”

Sunday, June 25, 2017



Source: GOP Medicaid Spin – FactCheck.org

I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People | HuffPost

Like many Americans, I’m having politics fatigue. Or, to be more specific, arguing-about-politics fatigue.

I haven’t run out of salient points or evidence for my political perspective, but there is a particular stumbling block I keep running into when trying to reach across the proverbial aisle and have those “difficult conversations” so smugly suggested by think piece after think piece:

I don’t know how to explain to someone why they should care about other people.

Personally, I’m happy to pay an extra 4.3 percent for my fast food burger if it means the person making it for me can afford to feed their own family. If you aren’t willing to fork over an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac, you’re a fundamentally different person than I am.

I’m perfectly content to pay taxes that go toward public schools, even though I’m childless and intend to stay that way, because all children deserve a quality, free education. If this seems unfair or unreasonable to you, we are never going to see eye to eye.

If I have to pay a little more with each paycheck to ensure my fellow Americans can access health care? SIGN ME UP. Poverty should not be a death sentence in the richest country in the world. If you’re okay with thousands of people dying of treatable diseases just so the wealthiest among us can hoard still more wealth, there is a divide between our worldviews that can never be bridged.

I don’t know how to convince someone how to experience the basic human emotion of empathy. I cannot have one more conversation with someone who is content to see millions of people suffer needlessly in exchange for a tax cut that statistically they’ll never see (do you make anywhere close to the median American salary? Less? Congrats, this tax break is not for you).

I cannot have political debates with these people. Our disagreement is not merely political, but a fundamental divide on what it means to live in a society, how to be a good person, and why any of that matters.

There are all kinds of practical, self-serving reasons to raise the minimum wage (fairly compensated workers typically do better work), fund public schools (everyone’s safer when the general public can read and use critical thinking), and make sure every American can access health care (outbreaks of preventable diseases being generally undesirable).

But if making sure your fellow citizens can afford to eat, get an education, and go to the doctor isn’t enough of a reason to fund those things, I have nothing left to say to you.

I can’t debate someone into caring about what happens to their fellow human beings. The fact that such detached cruelty is so normalized in a certain party’s political discourse is at once infuriating and terrifying.

The “I’ve got mine, so screw you,” attitude has been oozing from the American right wing for decades, but this gleeful exuberance in pushing legislation that will immediately hurt the most vulnerable among us is chilling.

Perhaps it was always like this. I’m (relatively) young, so maybe I’m just waking up to this unimaginable callousness. Maybe the emergence of social media has just made this heinous tendency more visible; seeing hundreds of accounts spring to the defense of policies that will almost certainly make their lives more difficult is incredible to behold.

I don’t know what’s changed ― or indeed, if anything has ― and I don’t have any easy answers. But I do know I’m done trying to convince these hordes of selfish, cruel people to look beyond themselves.

Futility can’t be good for my blood pressure, and the way things are going, I won’t have health insurance for long.


Source: I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People | HuffPost

Facebook may finally have to compromise its user experience in order to keep growing – Recode


Facebook has a problem. What has driven its growth for the last five years won’t drive its growth for the next five. However, the options in front of the company involve the kind of user experience compromises that have maimed platforms that preceded it.

Facebook makes its money from the West. Some 30 percent of its users and 73 percent of its revenue is from North America and Europe. The monthly average revenue per user for Western users is $3.33 versus 53 cents for the rest of the world. Facebook is a global company, but a Western business.

Facebook’s user growth in the West is a little over 1 percent a quarter. In North America, Facebook’s monthly active users represent 80 percent of the population above the age of 14. If Facebook wishes to grow its Western revenue at the rate its shareholders demand, a 1 percent user growth rate will not do it.

Absent rapid user growth, the other lever for increasing advertising revenue is increasing the number or value of ads that are shown to existing users. However, the News Feed is close to saturation. Facebook believes that it cannot stick any more ads in the News Feed without adversely affecting user retention.

This combination of slowing user growth and News Feed saturation has led Facebook to warn of a rapid deceleration in revenue growth over the next six months. For the first time in years, Facebook needs a new lever to pull. However, its options largely involve moving from the kind of advertising that most people are fine with, to the kind of advertising that most people are not.

Effective advertising is about picking your moment. Facebook’s News Feed ad units work because they interact with consumers at the moment of choice. Users scroll through a sequence of content and commercial placements as they decide what to consume next. Ads at the moment of choice, such as full-page ads in Vogue, paid links in Google or T-brand studio-style native are effective and generally acceptable to consumers. The trouble begins when you have to move past the moment of choice and advertise against the content itself.

Once past the moment of choice, one can either advertise adjacent to the focus of consumption (no longer an option on mobile) or create advertising that interrupts the consumer from doing what they wanted to do. This is the world of pre-rolls, interstitials, auto-expanding video units and takeovers that have made the mobile web such an unusable eyesore.

Facebook has traditionally avoided trying to interrupt consumption after the moment of choice. There are no interstitial ad units when browsing a family photo gallery, no calls to action in the comments on your friend’s post. However, a saturated News Feed means it doesn’t have that luxury. Facebook faces a Sophie’s choice: Insert inventory within the user-generated content it controls and tempt the fate of Myspace, or make already ad-supported publisher inventory its own and deal with a host of fractious partners scrabbling for revenue.

Facebook has chosen the latter path with its two main attempts to expand beyond News Feed ad units: Video and Instant Articles. Facebook’s hope was that it could find a better compromise between revenue and UX than publishers have before it. Instant Articles could be faster with a more acceptable ad touch than the mobile web; video ads could be mid-roll rather than pre-roll. However, for the first time Facebook is dealing with a shared revenue model that must be attractive enough to woo publishers. As a result, its desire to avoid hurting long-term user engagement has sprinted headfirst into the brick wall of publisher revenue-share expectations.

Instant Articles began with an ad every 350 words before compromising to 250 words, recently adding even more ads in the recommended links at the bottom. The ads themselves went from click-to-play video to silent autoplay, and from silent autoplay there is commercial pressure to move Instant Article ads to autoplay with sound on.

Even with that, premium publishers can’t make the revenue math work, and premium uptake has been insipid. Facebook’s best option is to stop focusing on top-tier publishers whose revenues it cannot match, and instead focus its efforts on the long tail of publishers and independents whose revenues are easier to beat. It takes away the premium brand story Facebook would love to sell to advertisers but at least drives inventory expansion.

Video is at an earlier stage, but is following a similar path. Facebook is experimenting with mid-roll ads. Mid-rolls enable more video engagement but get seen less than pre-rolls. One publisher generated $11,000 from 24 million video views, a $0.46 eCPM that is an order of magnitude less revenue than the same views would generate on pre-roll-friendly YouTube. Compromising the user experience to pre-roll seems the obvious move, but the News Feed’s dynamics make it far harder than one might think.

Unlike intent-driven interfaces like YouTube, the News Feed is a passive experience, where it is easier to scroll than to engage. A News Feed consisting of an endless stream of autoplaying pre-roll ads would be an engagement nightmare that would compromise everything the News Feed team holds dear. Lacking the flexibility to compromise, they must give elsewhere. In February, Facebook embraced sound-on autoplay videos, just months before Google and Apple said they were banning these formats on their platforms as unacceptable UX intrusions.

Facebook isn’t ignoring the problem. It has built out a separate video tab to try and drive the kind of intent-based consumption that might be more open to pre-rolls than News Feed. However, to get consumers to engage requires a strong bank of high-quality video content that it does not have. Moreover, with monetization weak, the incentives for publishers to create that content of their own volition are not there.

Thus, Facebook is priming the pump by commissioning video or offering guarantees so that the opportunity-cost calculation is removed. However, in doing so, Facebook is embracing paid content creation, the avoidance of which has in part been key to its success. This is a risky endeavor that depresses margins, and where the hits can be mercurial. Just as with Live, there are no signs that Facebook wishes to be in this game long-term.

Facebook is stuck between a rock and a hard place. As much as Facebook wants to create a better experience than the mobile web it disdains, the pressure to make these new inventory opportunities big enough and fast enough forces it down a road of increasing UX compromises by publishers who long since fought the war between short-term revenue and long-term user engagement, and too often chose the quarter over the future.

The very real fear for Facebook is that the publisher UX compromises it has watched from afar are not a path it has managed to avoid, but a vision of its future.

Tony Haile is the CEO of Scroll, the founding CEO of Chartbeat and an adjunct professor of media and technology at Columbia and Stanford Universities. Reach him @arctictony.


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Source: Facebook may finally have to compromise its user experience in order to keep growing – Recode