Healthcare Changes

Hearing about this then pending executive order yesterday in the media, it sounded like a major change that would gut the Affordable Care Act. My reading of it is far less ominous, at least at this stage.

For example, this interesting phrase used three times in this order: “Within 60 (or 120) days of this order…shall consider proposing regulations or revising guidance…”.

This appears to me to be a very weak order. Just consider making changes? Far more bluster than action here.

The only clear result of this order will be a report to the president in 180 days and every two years thereafter.

Like so many other of this POTUS’ orders, this is for the optics. The pattern I have noticed is whenever the administration hypes up a soon-t0-be-signed executive order, it turns out to be an order to produce a report rather than any real action.

We shall have to wait and see just what changes are proposed by the various cabinet secretaries after the 60 or 120 days has past, before we can judge any serious impact on the healthcare insurance markets. That will be the middle of December and February.

Official Title and Link: Presidential Executive Order Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States

Executive order dated October 12, 2017


Immigration Again

Either I missed it yesterday in my timing of a daily check of presidential actions, or the most recent memorandum was not posted in a very timely manner. Anyway, in a lengthy letter to congress, POTUS 45 detailed the policy expectations for immigration reform that must accompany any change to the DACA policy. Given that the policy changes were recommended by various cabinet members and immigration authorities, it is no surprise they are draconian.

There has been some media coverage of this, including the expected outrage ensuing. It is difficult to see how any agreement with Democrats on DACA will be possible with these stipulations.

Official Title and Link: President Donald J. Trump’s Letter to House and Senate Leaders & Immigration Principles and Policies

Memorandum dated October 8, 2017

National Security Memo

A couple of days ago a memorandum sent to a long list of administration officials was posted on the White House website. When I first saw it, I wondered what the implications of it might be, and decided to take more time to think about it before posting any comment here.

The subject of the memo is: Integration, Sharing, and Use of National Security Threat Actor Information to Protect Americans.

It is a directive for “…the development and implementation of appropriate technical architectures and corresponding policy frameworks to advance the integration, sharing, and use of identity attributes and associated derogatory information for each individual category of evaluated national security threat actor information described in the annex to this memorandum.”

So far, I have not seen the annex to this memorandum, but I expect it would provide helpful details.

My immediate reaction was two-fold. First, this action to consolidate and coordinate information among federal agencies seemed long overdue, but second, the potential for abuse of surveillance and data collection on American citizens is enormous. The following excerpt from the policy paragraph raised some concerns for me:

National security threat actor information comprises identity attributes and associated information about individuals, organizations, groups, or networks assessed to be a threat to the safety, security, or national interests of the United States that fall into one or more of the categories listed in the annex to this memorandum.

On the other hand, the last paragraph of the policy section (below) theoretically provides some caveats that ought to alleviate those concerns, but my lack of trust in this administration looms and I believe this whole process bears close watching.

This memorandum shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with applicable law and Presidential guidance; safeguards intelligence sources, methods, and activities; protects otherwise sensitive information and preserves the integrity of sensitive operations and investigations; and appropriately protects privacy, civil rights, civil liberties, and other constitutional and statutory rights, including through compliance with applicable guidelines governing the collection, retention, and dissemination of personally identifiable information.

I did a brief online search to see if there was anything like this issued before and found a Federal Times article helpful.  This appears to be an initiative of the National Security Council, as an anonymous official from the Council is quoted in the article. One quote in particular strikes me as a useful result from this initiative:

The official elaborated that an objective of the memo was to come up with a system where one agency’s investigations and information can be deconflicted so that another agency doesn’t unintentionally take contradictory action.

The various agency heads have 270 days to submit the plan for implementation of this memorandum to the president. That means by early June 2018 we should be hearing more about this initiative.

Official Title and Link: National Security Presidential Memorandum

Memorandum dated October 4 and posted October 5, 2017

New Travel Ban

Ninety days have passed since the “travel ban, version 2.0” was implemented. That means, because it was initiated as temporary, it has now expired. Not surprisingly, the media are all over this, so I feel less like I’m a lonely voice monitoring unilateral executive actions.

At this point, I have only a few comments. First, I find it interesting that this time the official action is a proclamation not and executive order. I believe, historically and in general, proclamations are not viewed to be as legally binding as an executive order is, but that may about to be tested.

Second, this makes one wonder if the case waiting for argument before the Supreme Court next month will actually be argued. It seems to me the Court could simply now reject hearing the case declaring it moot. But, it may still hear the case in order to settle the general argument rather than the specifics, and, if so, that would be a very interesting event.

Third, the addition of North Korea and Venezuela in particular to the list of countries banned in this proclamation would appear to remove one of the original challenges to its constitutionality, because those two countries are not likely to be seen as “Muslim” nations.

Finally, this lengthy proclamation begins with paragraphs of overblown, self-serving rhetoric, and continues with long explanations of reports from cabinet officers. In fact, most of it appears more a public report than a proclamation.

Ed. Note: In case anyone is interested in the minutia, at the bottom of this post, I’ve listed links to the original executive orders and my comments about them.

Official Title and Link: Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats

Proclamation dated September 24, 2017


Links to original executive orders:

Links to my previous comments:


Invoking Defense Protection Act

The administration has determined the named corporate transaction to be detrimental to national security and therefore issued this executive order to block the sale of Lattice Semiconductor Corporation.

Without digging more into this deal, it sounds reasonable to me to block this transaction.

Official Title and Link: Order Regarding the Proposed Acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corporation by China Venture Capital Fund Corporation Limited

Executive Order dated September 13, 2017