The shutdown affecting large swaths of the federal government is already the second longest shutdown in US history and, with both sides being as far apart as ever, it is not a stretch to think we may be in for a protracted stalemate. It's easy to turn the shutdown into yet another political battle between Democrats and Republicans, but peel the onion back one or two layers and you quickly begin to see that this shutdown will directly impact tens of millions of Americans ability to put food on the table in the not too distant future.
Federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is due to run out on January 31 and over 40 million Americans who depend on the program for food assistance may soon see their benefits severely reduced or outright frozen if Congressional leaders and the President can't find a compromise out of the current impasse. As if the immediate impact on individuals and families isn't bad enough, the trickle down effect on local grocery and convenience stores that rely on customers with SNAP benefits can turn this into one of the worst manufactured crises to hit our country in many years and its ramifications will be felt for years to come.
If you're on SNAP and are worried about how a prolonged shutdown will directly impact you then I would encourage you to reach out to your state Department of Human Services (or equivalent) and ask what their contingency plan is if SNAP funding dries up.
I have to stress that there's still a few weeks to go before any potential disruption in funding, so your benefits for the month of January are not affected at all. However, if there is no agreement to reopen the government by February 1 then there is a very real possibility of a disruption in SNAP benefits.
Relocating abroad is certainly doable for people with comfortable savings and retirement accounts, but it's not something those with less means will likely ever be able to do.
There are many barriers to moving abroad that people have to take into account before they pull the trigger. For starters - expats are still required to file income taxes every year if they don't want to run into any problems with the IRS. That may not be an issue for people with means, but it's a big barrier for those who are moving abroad with a goal of saving money. Another thing to understand before you move is that cost of living savings aren't necessarily a guarantee.
My wife and I live in Lima, Peru for six months when we were dating a number of years ago and found that we were actually spending more on living expenses than we were in the states. A one bedroom apartment in a "safe" part of Lima wasn't much cheaper than a one bedroom apartment in Portland. Both of us were financially stable and able to afford the extra perks, but not everyone is able to do so. And Peru is still a developing country, which means that what we paid was likely far less than more established countries in South America.
I'm not remotely suggesting moving abroad is a bad idea, but it's definitely not for everyone. It's something that shouldn't be done on a whim, but after exhaustive research. The last thing anyone would want is to leave everything behind in search of better things only to find out it's not as sunny on the other side as they originally thought.
J.K.Logic Wrote: Does seem to be more up in the air than I thought. I wouldn't be so sure it doesn't go through the Supreme Court and they decide to rule with the judge. Trump did make the court majority conservative.
I long ago stopped making predictions about Supreme Court rulings, but I would be shocked if Chief Justice Roberts overrules his own 2012 opinion largely upholding Obamacare. He is well aware of the politicization of the Courts and has to know him doing an about face and sabotaging Obamacare after voting to uphold it will be a self-inflicting wound he may not be able to dig himself out of.
Nothing surprises me anymore though, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
bryce28 Wrote: If the Court of Appeals says the judge is correct, how would that work exactly? Can a single state operate as if the ACA is unconstitutional while the rest of the country does not? Or is this judge trying to set a legal precedent solely to get the entire country to label the ACA unconstitutional?
It just depends. If the Fifth Circuit upholds the judges ruling and the Supreme Court doesn't issue an immediate stay then, for lack of a better saying, all s*it will hit the fan. Appeals Courts are supposed to only have oversight of states in their districts, but Obamacare is a law that affects every single American, so I'd be shocked if the Supreme Court would allow the ruling to stand pending appeal.
However, if the Supreme Court agrees with the Fifth Circuit and throws Obamacare out then all bets are off. The health insurance industry will be thrown into absolute chaos and average Americans will be the ones dealing with the consequences of the ruling.
I can envision blue states immediately moving to pass laws from keeping the status quo to enacting single-payer while red states return to the pre-Obamacare era of allowing health insurance companies to do whatever they want with little to zero oversight. Your zip code will effectively determine the type of health coverage you get and whether you have a right to health coverage at all.
We're a long way from that scenario, but it's an actual possibility for the first time since the Supreme Court largely upheld the law back in 2012.
A Federal Judge in Texas ruled the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, leaving millions of Americans health insurance coverage in doubt. U. S. District Judge Reed O'Conner of Texas ruled that because the Republican tax law passed late last year did away with the tax penalty for those who chose not to obtain coverage, the entire law was now unconstitutional. Experts from both sides of the political spectrum cast serious doubt about the constitutionality of O'Conner's ruling and predicted it would ultimately be struck down on appeal, but that is not guaranteed.
This ruling does not affect you or your insurance plan (for now) because it will be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals and potentially to the U.S. Supreme Court, so you can rest knowing that your health insurance is still secure. The only thing that will change that is if the Supreme Court sides with the judges ruling, which many legal experts think is very unlikely due to his apparent flawed arguments explaining his decision to strike the law in its entirety.
The Social Security Trust Fund is sheltered from market swings by being fully invested in Treasury securities, so a market crash shouldn't have any negative effect on benefit distribution.
My biggest worry about Social Security isn't market fluctuation, but rather the fact that baby boomers are living a hell of a lot longer and will likely be drawing SSI for decades to come. Congress has refused to raise the cap of taxable income at $128,400, so someone making $100 million a year is contributing as much as the trust fund as someone making low six figures.
A recession, or heaven forbid, depression won't doom Social Security, but our inability to think outside the box about ensuring the trust fund has enough money in it just might.
Partisans on both sides of the aisle have plenty to be happy (and upset) about after voters took to the polls for the first time since Donald Trump's inauguration to render their judgement on his first two years. On one hand, Democrats had a phenomenal night in House races, comfortably retaking the lower chamber after eight years in the minority. On the other, Republicans not only kept, but expanded their majority in the Senate. After all the dust settles, one party rule in Washington will soon be over.
What does this all mean for Trump's legislative agenda?
In short - everything. Republicans will no longer be able to write and pass bills without Democratic support. Democrats in the House will also chair every House committee and with that comes the ability to subpoena anyone they wish. Be prepared for high stakes battles over Trump's tax returns, business dealings, and how he's running his Administration.
The rest of Trump's term will likely be marked by legislative battles and little, if any, actual legislating outside the bare minimum required by law.
What does this all mean for Trump's judicial agenda?
In short - everything. Unlike legislation, judicial nominees only need a majority vote in the Senate to be confirmed to a lifetime seat on the bench. Republicans not only kept, but expanded their majority in the Senate, so expect a ceaseless drive to confirm as many Republican federal judges as possible during the 116 Congress.
Washington is going to look very different come January, 2019. How Donald Trump responds to that facts will largely determine what his next two years will be like.
It all panned out (largely) as expected, but it looks like the Republicans really took advantage of the very favorable Senate map and expanded their majority even more than many pundits thought they would.
Have no doubt though - the Democrats retaking the House is a very, very big deal. Now Trump and Republicans will be forced to deal with the Democratic Party if they want to get anything accomplished legislative wise.
I'm very hesitant to make any predictions after 2016, but I wouldn't be surprised if Democrats retake the House while still losing one or two seats in the Senate. In lesser followed, but potentially more important, Governors and state house races I wouldn't be remotely surprised if Democrats have a very good night.
However, nothing surprises me in politics anymore and turnout will decide everything. Which side is more energized? We'll see in 24 hours.
There is no shortage of television channels and websites to follow election results in real time, but that doesn't mean that all of them are equal. Partisans may be interested in following the results one way while non-partisans may will likely be interested in following the results in another, but everyone should want to make sure their coverage is from a reputable source regardless of political philosophy.
With that in mind, here are the best and worst television channels and websites to watch election coverage.
Best Non-political Television Channels and Websites
The Washington Post
The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
Best Political (Perceived or Not) Television Channels and Websites
Worst Television Channels and Websites
Half of people would put Fox News on this list, while the other half would put CNN and/or MSNBC, but all three of those organizations, no matter their political leanings, employ reputable journalists and pundits.
The worst television channels and websites are those which espouse hate and fear and try to divide instead of inform. These publications don't deserve any free advertisements and won't get any here, but all you have to do to check if your source is reputable or not is just do a little digging.
One minute of research can go a long way in determining whether what you're following is a member of the "worst television channels and websites."