Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Stephanie Chasez
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on tax reform in the Grand Foyer at the White House, Wednesday, December 13, 2017, in Washington, D.C. , announcing that Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate have agreed on a deal on Tax Reform legislation.
The year 2017 has been, well, let’s just say interesting.
This is Trahant Reports.
We saw the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president. That meant the immediate rollback of Obama era regulations on everything from the climate to public health.
Indian Country is very much in the thick of this debate.
One of the president’s first acts was to reverse the Obama administration demand for an environmental impact statement at Standing Rock. No time for such niceties. Drill, baby, drill! It wasn’t long before oil was flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline. But if President Trump and his oil company allies thought that was the end of the debate … they are sorely mistaken. It’s a long battle over energy, the climate, and the nation’s priorities.
The president and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wasted no time in going after National Monuments such as Bear’s Ears in southern Utah. The administration supposedly “studied” the issue but the results were known long before the investigation began. These monuments were to be made smaller (opening up more potential oil and gas development).
The Trump administration is dealing with the impacts of climate change every day: Massive storms in Alaska; fires in California; and, hurricanes on the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. But instead of coming up with a plan, the Trump government said it would withdraw from the international framework on climate change.
Speaking of priorities, the Congress took on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But even that framework was misleading. Because the idea was bigger: It was to turn Medicaid into a block grant program for the states. That would cut millions of people off insurance rolls — and make it that much harder for the Indian Health Service to serve patients.
But here’s the thing: An interesting coalition was built that included Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona. Plus Democrats. So the revamping of health care did not happen.
At least in theory. Since then all Republicans have come together to agree on their favorite cause, tax cuts. This legislation was, as promised, signed into law before Christmas. The legislation sharply drops the tax bill for corporations – and the very wealthy. There are a few breaks for the rest of us, except they are tiny and don’t last very long.
And the new tax law means there will be less money going into the federal treasury. The deficit will climb. Big time. And guess what Congress will do to fix that? Cut domestic programs – such as those that serve American Indians and Alaska Natives.
So if you think 2017 was an interesting year. Get ready for 2018. It promises to be even more chaotic.
I am Mark Trahant.