👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ The Trump administration formally proposed regulation allowing some businesses to discriminate against workers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, and LGBTQ status by citing religious objections. The rule would apply to any organizations with federal contracts, including corporations, schools, and societies, provided they claim a “religious purpose,” but that “this need not be the contractor’s only purpose.” (BuzzFeed News)
2/ Planned Parenthood will withdraw from the nation’s family planning program because of new Trump administration rules that block Title X funds for organizations that provide or refer patients for abortion. Federal funding for abortion is already prohibited in most cases. The new rules, however, target any group involved in providing or counseling patients about abortions, blocking them from receiving Title X funding to pay for other services, such as contraception and health screenings. Planned Parenthood asked for a stay against the new rules. (NPR)
- A Congressional Republican defended banning all abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. Steve King also argued that if it were not for rape or incest, there wouldn’t “be any population of the world left.” [Editor’s note: Go fuck yourself Steve King.] (Des Moines Register / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)
3/ Trump claimed – without evidence – that being president will personally cost him $5 billion dollars due to the lawyers defending him in various lawsuits. (NBC News)
- The Secret Service stayed at a Trump hotel in Vancouver while protecting Trump Jr. on a hunting trip to Canada in August 2017. They spent $5,700. The Secret Service also spent $20,000 at the same hotel in February 2017 when Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump attended the hotel’s grand opening. Congress hasn’t launched a formal investigation into federal spending at Trump properties, but the House Oversight Committee has focused on the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which forbids presidents from accepting gifts from foreign officials. (Politico)
4/ The Trump administration will shield funding for Ivanka Trump and Pence’s programs as the White House looks to cancel billions of dollars in unspent funding already approved by Congress. The White House is expected to propose returning billions of dollars of unspent foreign aid funds to the Treasury in a process known as rescission. The Office of Management and Budget, however, has already ruled out canceling funds for Ivanka’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, Pence’s programs for Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East, and some global health programs. Republicans and Democrats say the review undermines Congress’s authority to appropriate funds. (Washington Post)
5/ The Dow posted its largest decline of the year. The Dow dropped 800 points, or about 3.05%, while the S&P 500 fell 85.72 points, or 2.93%. For the first time since the the Great Recession, the yields on 2-year U.S. bonds eclipsed those of 10-year bonds. The yield curve inversion is considered one of the most reliable leading indicators of a recession in the U.S. It has preceded every economic decline in the past 60 years with a recession occurring, on average, 22 months following an inversion. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR)
- 👀 Recession watch: What is an “inverted yield curve” and why does it matter? (Washington Post)
6/ Trump, meanwhile, called Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell “clueless” and blamed him for the “CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE!” Trump, deflecting criticism that his trade war with China is hurting the economic outlook, claimed that “China is not our problem” and that “we are winning, big time.” Yesterday, Trump delayed imposing tariffs on some Chinese imports until December “just in case” there would be a negative impact on shoppers during the holidays. (CNBC / Bloomberg)
- A recession next year could hurt Trump’s attempt to win a second term and raises the potential for the 2020 election to look more like 2008 when a cratering economy dominated the political debate. (Politico)
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