Goodman: Do you see President Trump as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize?

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a campaign-style rally in Washington Township, Mich., on Saturday. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Is there a Nobel Peace Prize in President Trump’s future? The man who talked about “shithole countries” and warned North Korea, and its leader “little Rocket Man,” of “fire and fury like the world has never seen”?

Sen. Lindsay Graham thinks it’s possible. The South Carolina Republican and former Trump critic said that if there’s a successful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Trump should get the credit.

“Donald Trump convinced North Korea and China he was serious about bringing about change,” Graham said Friday. “We’re not there yet, but if this happens, President Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.”

And so does Harry J. Kazianas, director of the conservative Center for the National Interest.

President Trump’s tough stance against a nuclear North Korea and his success in winning approval of international economic sanctions against the North at the United Nations that have crippled the country’s economy clearly succeeded beyond expectations in pushing Kim to the negotiating table.

Goodman: GOP’s split on Trump forgotten when it comes to coddling financial firms

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., right, neither running for reelection, have lashed President Donald Trump with scorching criticism. Here they are in 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

 

Disarray? What disarray?

Yesterday, political reporters and pundits were panting over the bare-knuckled, full-throated criticisms of President Donald J. Trump by two Republican senators: Bob Corker, of Tennessee, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Jeff Flake, the junior senator from Arizona whose political idol is conservative icon Barry Goldwater.

It was unprecedented to have two Republican stalwarts lambaste a Republican president in such dire terms, especially on the same day.

Corker: Trump has “great difficulty with the truth” and “the debasement of the nation is what he’ll be remembered most for.”

Flake: “Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is, when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.”

This all points, the pundits said, to a great schism between the Trumpists who hold the party regulars in fear, and the liberated few who have been freed to speak against the unclothed emperor because they have opted out of re-election.

And yes, it does speak to a great split between those willing to denounce the danger of Donald Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior,” as Flake called it, and the many toadies who may shudder in private but who shut up in public for the greater cause of passing big tax breaks for the wealthy.

But just hours after Corker and Flake enunciated these noble and necessary statements, they joined with 48 of their fellow Republicans for a nighttime debate and vote to repeal a banking rule that would let consumers band together to sue their bank or credit card company to resolve financial disputes.

Or as it’s also called, GOP business as usual.

A vote from Vice President Mike Pence shortly after 10 p.m. broke a 50-50 tie to strike down the new rule, a major effort by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help consumers fight back against god-awful practices of financial institutions. The bureau is the watchdog created by Congress after the 2008 economic crisis.

One more legacy of the Obama years gets reversed.

The New York Times explains:

The rule, five years in the making, would have dealt a serious blow to financial firms, potentially exposing them to a flood of costly lawsuits over questionable business practices.

For decades, credit card companies and banks have inserted arbitration clauses into the fine print of financial contracts to circumvent the courts and bar people from pooling their resources in class-action lawsuits. By forcing people into private arbitration, the clauses effectively take away one of the few tools that individuals have to fight predatory and deceptive business practices. Arbitration clauses have derailed claims of financial gouging, discrimination in car sales and unfair fees.

The new rule written by the consumer bureau, which was set to take effect in 2019, would have restored the right of individuals to sue in court. It was part of a spate of actions by the bureau, which has cracked down on debt collectors, the student loan industry and payday lenders.

The vote was a big gift to that credit card company that’s hitting you with hidden charges. As the Washington Post put it:

The rules would have cost the industry billions of dollars, according to some estimates. With the Senate’s vote, Wall Street is beginning to reap the benefits of the Trump administration focus on rolling back regulations it says are strangling the economy.

Richard Cordray  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

“Tonight’s vote is a giant setback for every consumer in this country,” Richard Cordray, the director of the consumer bureau, said in a statement. “As a result, companies like Wells Fargo and Equifax remain free to break the law without fear of legal blowback from their customers.”

The only two Republicans to join Democrats in voting against the measure were Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

Every other GOP member of the Senate, however they feel about Trump, fell in step when given the chance to coddle Wall Street. That includes Sen. John McCain, who made thinly veiled criticisms of Trump in a speech on Oct. 16 that warned against “half-baked, spurious nationalism.”

John McCain (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

 

You can be sure they’ll do the same thing when it comes to serving up big tax cuts to corporations and rich individuals (unless the so-far-unseen tax legislation contains details unacceptable to some members, as happened with health care).

The Consumers Union and several veterans groups, including the American Legion, lobbied to keep the rule. As well they should have, because class-action lawsuits are a way of putting a spotlight on misdeeds by businesses that would otherwise get little attention. They also allow groups of people to reclaim small amounts of money they otherwise wouldn’t have the time or money to go after.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader in the Senate, is not the most articulate of politicians. But he hit the nail on the head as the Senate neared its vote:

“Once again, we’re helping the powerful against the powerless.”

Goodman: CHIP falls, jeopardizing health for 342,000 kids in Florida

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy last week, after the collapse of their Graham-Cassidy health care bill, the GOP’s latest attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

So intent were the Republicans in Congress on their latest gasping effort to gut Obamacare that they have threatened the health care of some 9 million children across the U.S., including almost 342,000 kids in Florida.

While all eyes were on the farcical Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the ever-dysfunctional Congress allowed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, to expire. This happened on Saturday (Sept. 30). Unless Congress quickly plays catch-up, states are projected to run out of program funding over the next 12 months. Florida’s funding is foreseen to expire by sometime in January.

CHIP is a noncontroversial program that is routinely renewed. A bipartisan initiative, it was originally co-sponsored, in 1997, by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. The goal: Allow children from low-income families who live above the Medicaid threshold to obtain low-cost health insurance.

Children have no control over their financial circumstances, of course, so they’re especially vulnerable to the high price of health care — as well as to the need for checkups, immunizations, prescriptions and dental and vision care. All these have been covered under CHIP, as well as hospital care, lab work, x-rays and emergency services.

It’s funded primarily through federal funds that states match, $9.7 billion federal and $4 billion state funds in 2015. Florida is one of the states where parents are required to pay monthly premiums of $15 or $20 based on family income.

Just about everybody has been happy with this program for 20 years. But when you have a Congress that’s far more interested in grandstanding than governing, you get a fiasco like this.

All through September, almost every bit of energy on Capitol Hill was spent on the zombie-like moves by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., to bring repeal-and-replace back from the crypt where Sen. John McCain’s no vote had seemed to consign it in July. But this latest bill was even worse than the GOP’s previous versions and even Graham admitted that Republicans didn’t know what they were doing.

Democrats were so focused on defeating Graham-Cassidy that they weren’t paying much attention to the looming expiration of CHIP funding, either.

Hatch and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., did announce in September a plan for extending CHIP money for another five years and boosting funding over time. But that quickly got drowned out by all the drama over Graham-Cassidy.

A Senate and a House committee were scheduled to discuss bills today to continue CHIP funding. They’d better work fast. Arizona, Minnesota and North Carolina are projected to run out of funding by December. Funds for Florida’s 342,000 low-income children, infants and pregnant women would dry up soon after that.

Who is being affected? Dorothy R. .Novick, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, recently wrote this in the Washington Post:

Every day I see patients in my practice who stand to lose their health care if Congress does not act to extend CHIP funding. Consider my patient who grew up in foster care, put herself through college and now earns a living as a freelance clothing designer. She is now a mother herself, and I treat her children. Her 1-year-old son has asthma and her 3-year-old daughter has a peanut allergy. They are able to follow up with me every three months and keep a ready supply of lifesaving medications because they qualify for CHIP.

Or consider the dad with a hearing impairment whose wife passed away two years ago. He supports his teenage daughters by working as a line cook during the day and a parking attendant at night. He sends the girls to a parochial school. He lost their Medicaid when he was given extra hours at his restaurant last year. But I still see them because they qualify for CHIP.

Congress, get to work.