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Trump just gutted two major Obama achievements while everyone was obsessed with his Twitter rants

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While cable news hashed over President Donald latest Twitter rant, the Trump administration was busy dismantling two key policy achievements of the Obama era, Axios reports.

On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that the Trump administration will expand access to short-term health insurance plans. Under Obama, the short-term plans could only be used for three months at a time.

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That restriction was designed to force young, healthy people to go through the exchanges. Letting healthy people opt for short term plans with very limited benefits means the exchanges will be left with only the elderly and sick.

“Short-term plans don’t have to meet the ACA’s benefit requirements. They can deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, don’t have to cover any specific set of benefits, and can cap how much they’ll pay in a year,” Axios notes.

On Thursday, the Trump administration also rolled back environmental standards for motor vehicles. EPA head Andrew Wheeler announced the loosening of greenhouse gas emissions, citing the American public’s desire for the policy shift towards vehicles that spew more greenhouse gases.

“We are delivering on President Trump’s promise to the American public that his administration would address and fix the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “More realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment. We value the public’s input as we engage in this process in an open, transparent manner.”

As the environmental website Oil Price noted, it’s actually the motor vehicle lobby that’s behind the change. Automakers  had accepted the standards set by Obama’s EPA. But with Trump in the White House, they seem to have found a way to take advantage of a looser regulatory environment.

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“Under the Trump administration, automakers sensed an opportunity, lobbying to roll back the fuel efficiency requirements,” Oil Price notes. ‘But they got a lot more than they bargained for. The Trump administration sought to gut the standards, which sets up a predicament that the auto industry wanted to avoid: A patchwork of regulations across various states,” Oil Price observed.

In what appears to be a direct provocation of more progressive states, the EPA is also denying states, like California, the right to set tougher standards.

Former Obama administration official David Axelrod knocked the policy on Twitter.

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Japan’s prime minister calls for nationwide closure of schools for a month over coronavirus

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday urged schools nationwide to close for several weeks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, as authorities reported the country's fourth death linked to the outbreak.

The move comes as crew members from the Diamond Princess, a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship quarantined off Japan, began leaving the vessel where more than 700 people have tested positive for the disease.

"The government considers the health and safety of children above anything else," Abe said.

"We request all primary, junior high and high schools... across the nation to close temporarily from March 2 next week until their spring break."

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The Constitution prohibits Trump from pardoning Roger Stone: law professor

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President Donald Trump has been dropping hints for a long time that he will pardon ally Roger Stone, the man who lied to Congress and obstructed justice to conceal the truth about his efforts to acquire emails that Russian hackers stole from Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

Corey Brettschneider, a professor of political science at Brown University and visiting professor of law at Fordham Law School, argues in an editorial for Politico that the Constitution might prohibit Trump from issuing this particular pardon, despite the fact that the president's clemency powers are generally seen as very broad.

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A historian points out a startling fact about the current racial divisions in the Trump era

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America is a deeply divided nation. That fact may be the only thing that Americans of all racial, ethnic, and political groups can agree about. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in late 2017 indicated that 70 percent of the American people think the country is “as divided as during the Vietnam War.”

This division manifests itself in political ways exemplified by the partisan impeachment proceedings and gridlock. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed 298 bills in 2019, yet the Republican-led Senate refused to consider hardly any of that legislation.

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