Is This News? (03/23/17)

We talk about the American public hating the GOP’s replacement healthcare plan, Rep. Nunes’ intelligence faux pas, and the Supreme Court’s decision of learning standards for students with disabilities in this edition of Is This News?   



Much like the animals in Animal Farm; all news is equal, but some news is more equal than others! We see if these stories are worthy of their headlines in another installment of “Is This News?”



Vox reports that a new Quinnipiac University poll shows only 17% of the American public approves of the GOP’s new healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act. However, as of this writing, both the Trump administration and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are doing everything they can to get enough Republican votes so it can pass the House. So, is the AHCA being this unpopular news?


This is most definitely news, but not all that surprising.


Considering scenes like the one above have become the norm in many Republican town halls for the last couple of weeks, it shouldn’t be a surprise that only 17% are behind the American Health Care Act and an astounding 56% outright disprove of the bill! But where the Quinnipiac poll gets really weird is when it starts talking about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).


Even though a sizable majority are against the Republican’s AHCA plan, people generally want changes to be implemented in the current form of the ACA with 50% saying Congress should repeal part of the law and 20% saying the law should be repealed entirely.


It’s interesting because the Quinnipiac poll shows the tough spot that Republican lawmakers are currently in. On one hand, they have talked about repealing the ACA for so long, that by not putting up some kind of plan to at least repeal it partially – with a majority in Congress and a sitting president that is Republican – that would look as if the Republican Party has no real plan when it comes to healthcare. On the other, the AHCA is such a divisive bill amongst not only Congressional Republicans but also with the general public, that passing it could be a real problem come the 2018 general elections.


Also it’s important to note that as of this writing, the AHCA vote has been postponed. Originally the goal of the Trump administration and Speaker Ryan was to have enough votes to pass the AHCA through the House tonight, but that’s increasingly looking like that won’t be the case. As of right now the chances of the AHCA surviving are pretty low.



The Washington Post is reporting that House Intelligence Chair Rep. Devin Nunes is apologizing in a closed-door meeting for the handling of new intelligence regarding an investigation on the ties between the Trump administration and Russia. So the question, is this news?   


Yes, this story has the potential to be big news!


So for those that don’t know, Representative Devin Nunes – Republican Representative from California – is currently the Chair of the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence. Sometime on Wednesday, Rep. Nunes got a tip from an unnamed source that US intelligence had picked-up communications between President Trump’s camp and other individuals they were in contact with during the presidential transition period. Now with this new information, instead of first sharing it with the FBI or other members of the House Intelligence Committee, he went to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. After that he held a press conference claiming “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition” without much further detail and then went directly to the Trump administration, telling them in full detail his findings!


Before we go any further, we should specifically hammer home two important points here:


  • While Rep. Nunes showed INCREDIBLY bad judgement in not sharing information with the FBI or his House Intelligence Committee first, he didn’t do anything illegal. While all of this definitely looks to be very suspect, it’s important to note that no laws were broken by Rep. Nunes.


  • Rep. Nunes revelation regarding the collecting of data from the people the Trump administration were talking to during their presidential transition, DOES NOT MEAN the Obama administration or the intelligence community were wiretapping President Donald Trump! All it means is the intelligence community was monitoring some of the individuals that the Trump administration had contacted, for whatever reason.


Ok, now getting back to the original headline, we won’t mince words here, for Rep. Nunes, this definitely looks bad! Not going to, at the very least, the intelligence community makes Rep. Nunes look really suspect here. Also if you consider the growing overall story between the Trump administration and Russia, Rep. Nunes might have opened the door for people to question his credibility as the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Considering there are a handful of Democrats calling for Rep. Nunes to step-down as Chair, this story doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon!



The New York Times reported on Wednesday that a ruling by the Supreme Court now says schools can no longer set lower standards for disabled students, which would go against a precedence that lower courts had been ruling on for years. What makes this whole thing even more interesting, President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch has sited the old precedence to rule on a few federal cases regarding student disabilities and learning standards. So, is this news?


In terms of Gorsuch having ruled a case in using precedence of allowing schools to have lower standards for disabled students, that isn’t news. Gorsuch is a self-professed Constitutionalist, so that shouldn’t be all that surprising to anyone.


But in terms of how SCOTUS ruled in this court case, that is very much news! They essentially went against past precedence on school standards in regards to children with disabilities and said no, the standards for disabled students and those without disabilities have to be the same! That is a pretty substantial decision considering past SCOTUS rulings had interpreted the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act very differently. What makes the decision even more interesting, it was a unanimous decision by the court, an 8-0 ruling. The reason this is important is because other SCOTUS cases could potentially be decided in a shortened, which is rare on the Supreme Court!



(Photo Credits:, Vox, Washington Post, New York Times)


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