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Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts

The plan would cut by more than $72 billion the disability benefits upon which millions of Americans rely. It would eliminate loan programs that subsidize college education for the poor and those who take jobs in government or nonprofit organizations.

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Mr. Trump s advisers portrayed the steep reductions as necessary to balance the nation s budget while sparing taxpayers from shouldering the burden of programs that do not work well.

This is, I think, the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes, said Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump s budget director.

Trump's Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid And Anti-Poverty Efforts

OPEN Document

Document: Read Trump’s 2018 Budget

We re not going to measure our success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we actually help, Mr. Mulvaney said as he outlined the proposal at the White House on Monday before its formal presentation on Tuesday to Congress.

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Among its innovations: Mr. Trump proposes saving $40 billion over a decade by barring undocumented immigrants from collecting the child and dependent care tax credit. He has also requested $19 billion over 10 years for a new program, spearheaded by his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, to provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents. The budget also includes a broad prohibition against money for entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, blocking them from receiving any federal health funding

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The release of the document, an annual ritual in Washington that usually constitutes a marquee event for a new president working to promote his vision, unfolded under unusual circumstances. Mr. Trump is out of the country[4] for his first foreign trip, and his administration is enduring a near-daily drumbeat of revelations about the investigation into his campaign s possible links with Russia.

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The president s absence, which his aides dismissed as a mere coincidence of the calendar, seemed to highlight the haphazard way in which his White House has approached its dealings with Congress. It is just as much a sign of Mr. Trump s lack of enthusiasm for the policy detail and message discipline that is required to marshal support to enact politically challenging changes.

If the president is distancing himself from the budget, why on earth would Republicans rally around tough choices that would have to be made? said Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that promotes deficit reduction. If you want to make the political case for the budget and the budget is ultimately a political document you really need the president to do it. So, it does seem bizarre that the president is out of the country.

The president s annual budget more a message document than a practical set of marching orders even in the best of times routinely faces challenges on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers jealously guard their prerogative to control federal spending and shape government programs. But Mr. Trump s wish list, in particular, faces long odds, with Democrats uniformly opposed and Republicans already showing themselves to be squeamish about some of the president s plans.

Continue reading the main story[6]

It probably is the most conservative budget that we ve had under Republican or Democrat administrations in decades, said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Photo Trump's Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid And Anti-Poverty Efforts Workers prepared copies of the 2018 budget after publishing last week in Washington. Credit Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

But in a signal that some proposed cuts to domestic programs are likely to face resistance even from conservatives, Mr. Meadows said he could not stomach the idea of doing away with food assistance for older Americans.

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Meals on Wheels, even for some of us who are considered to be fiscal hawks, may be a bridge too far, Mr. Meadows said.

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Republicans balked at Mr. Trump s demand for money for the border wall in negotiations over a spending package enacted last month. Many were deeply conflicted over voting for a health care overhaul[9] measure that included the Medicaid cuts contained in the budget to be presented on Tuesday. Now the president is proposing still deeper reductions to the federal health program for the poor, as well as drastically scaling back a broad array of social safety net programs that are certain to be unpopular with lawmakers.

The politics of this make no sense to me whatsoever, in the sense that the population that brought them to the dance are the populists out there in the Midwest and South who rely on these programs that he s talking about reducing, said G. William Hoagland, a former senior Republican congressional budget aide. Referring to Representative Paul D. Ryan, he said: I don t see how Speaker Ryan gets anywhere close to 218 votes in the House of Representatives if this is the model. It s an exercise in futility.

Continue reading the main story[10]

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said Monday that the Medicaid cuts would carry a staggering human cost and violate Mr. Trump s campaign promise to address the opioid epidemic.

Based on what we know about this budget, the good news the only good news is that it was likely to be roundly rejected by members of both parties here in the Senate, just as the last budget was, Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.

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The budget itself avoids some of the tough choices that would be required to enact Mr. Trump s fiscal vision. The huge tax cut was presented but without any detail about its elements or cost. Mr. Mulvaney said the tax plan would not add to the deficit, implying that its cost would be made up with other changes, such as eliminating deductions.

To balance the budget, Mr. Trump s budget relies on growth he argues will be generated from the as-yet-unformed tax cut.

Continue reading the main story[12]

The blueprint also steers clear of changing Social Security s retirement program or Medicare, steps that Mr. Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who has backed entitlement cuts, said he had tried to persuade Mr. Trump to consider.

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He said, I promised people on the campaign trail I would not touch their retirement and I would not touch Medicare, and we don t do it, Mr. Mulvaney said. I honestly was surprised that we could balance the budget without changing those programs, but we managed to do that.

Continue reading the main story[14]

But budget experts argued that was little more than fiction, and the plan could never deliver the results it claims to.

The central inconsistency is promoting a massive tax cut and spending increases in some areas and leaving the major entitlement programs alone, Mr. Bixby said. You don t have to be an economist to know that that doesn t add up, and that s why there s a great deal of concern about the negative fiscal impact that this budget will have.

Continue reading the main story[15]

While past presidents have often launched a road show with stops around the country to promote the components of their inaugural budgets, Mr. Trump is spending the rest of the week overseas, leaving his staff to explain his plan while Republicans prepare their own response.

This budget is dead before arrival, so he might as well be out of town, said David A. Stockman, a former budget director under President Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Stockman said both political parties had grown comfortable with running large annual budget deficits. There s not a snowball s chance that most of this deep deficit reduction will even be considered in a serious way.

Correction: May 23, 2017

An earlier version of this article, using information from Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, misstated a proposal to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving certain tax credits. The proposal would add this requirement for the Child and Dependent Care Credit. A Social Security number is already required to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Continue reading the main story[16]

References

  1. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ out of the country (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  7. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  9. ^ Recent and archival news about healthcare reform. (topics.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  11. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  12. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  13. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  14. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  15. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)
  16. ^ Continue reading the main story (www.nytimes.com)

That Time the TSA Found a Scientist’s 3-D-Printed Mouse Penis

When Martin Cohn passed through airport security at Ronald Reagan Airport, he figured that he d probably get some questions about the 3-D-printed model of a mouse penis in his bag. The model is 15 centimeters long, made of clear translucent plastic, and indisputably phallic like the dismembered member of some monstrous, transparent, 11-foot rodent. One of Cohn s colleagues had already been questioned about it when she carried it on an outward flight from Gainesville to Washington D.C. She put it through the security scanner, and the bag got pulled. A TSA official looked inside, winked at her, and let her go. She was amused but embarrassed, so Cohn offered to take the model home on the return flight. Once again, the bag was pulled[1]. A TSA officer asked if Cohn had anything sharp or fragile inside. Yes, he said, some 3-D-printed anatomical models. They re pretty fragile. The officer pulled out two models of mouse embryos, nodded to herself, and moved on. And then, Cohn recalls, she pulled out this mouse penis by its base, like it was Excalibur.

What is this?

Do you need to know or do you want to know? said Cohn. I m curious, she replied.

It s a 3-D print-out of an adult mouse penis. A what?

A 3-D print-out of an adult mouse penis.

Oh no it isn t.

It is. The officer called over three of her colleagues and asked them to guess what it is. No one said anything, so Cohn told them. They fell apart laughing. Cohn, who s based at the University of Florida, studies genitals and urinary tracts, and how they develop in embryos. Around 1 in 250 people are born with birth defects affecting these organs, and although such changes are becoming more common, their causes are largely unclear. By studying how genitals normally develop, Cohn s hoping to understand what happens when they take a different path. And like many scientists, he is working with mice. He recently analysed a mouse s genitals with a high-resolution medical scanner. To show his colleagues how incredibly detailed the scans can be, he used them to print a scaled-up model, which he took with him to the conference in DC. And because the conference was just a two-day affair, Cohn didn t bring any checked luggage. Hence: the penis in his carry-on.

Scientists, as it happens, are full of tales like this[2] because as a group, they re likely to (a) travel frequently, and (b) carry really weird shit in their bags. In previous years, Cohn has flown with the shin bone of a giant ground sloth and a cooler full of turtle embryos. Just last month, Diane Kelly from the University of Massachusetts, who studies the evolution of animal genitals, was stopped by the TSA because she was carrying what is roughly the opposite of Cohn s item: a 3-D-printed mold of a dolphin vagina[3]. Technically it s not even my dolphin vagina mold, she says. I was carrying it for someone. Other scientists who responded to a call for stories[4] on Twitter have flown with bottles of monkey pee[5], chameleon and skate embryos[6], 5,000 year old human bones[7], remotely operated vehicles, and, well, a bunch of rocks[8]. ( I’m a geologist. I study rocks.”) Astrophysicist Brian Schimdt was once stopped by airport officials on his way to North Dakota because he was carrying his Nobel Prize[9] a half-pound gold disk that showed up as completely black on the security scanners. Uhhhh. Who gave this to you? they said. The King of Sweden, he replied. Why did he give this to you?, they probed. Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.

Anthropologist Donald Johanson has flown with probably the most precious and the most famous of these cargos: the bones of the Lucy[10] the Australopithecus, who Johanson himself discovered. In a memoir[11], he recalls having to show her bones to a customs official in Paris. The man was an anthropology buff, and when Johanson told him that the fossils were from Ethiopia, he said, You mean Lucy? A large crowd gathered and watched as Lucy s bones were displayed, one by one, on the Customs counter. I got my first inkling of the enormous pull that Lucy would generate from then on, everywhere she went. Several people have stories about more animate luggage. Jonathan Klassen from the University of Connecticut[12] studies leafcutter ants, and the permits that allow him to collect wild colonies stipulate that he must hand-carry them onto planes. Inevitably, some poor security officer gets a duffle bag full of 10,000 ants and gets really confused, he says. Indeed, many animals have to be hand-carried onto planes because they don t fare well in the cold of cargo holds, (and often can t be shipped for similar reasons). That s certainly the case for the amblypygids docile relatives of spiders with utterly nightmarish appearances that Alexander Vaughan once tried to carry onto a domestic flight. My strategy was to pretend that everything I was doing was perfectly normal, he tells me. Others were more upfront about their unorthodox cargo. Ondine Cleaver from UT Southwestern Medical Center once tried carrying tupperware containers full of frogs from New York to Austin. At security, she realized that she couldn t possibly subject the animals to harmful doses of X-rays, so she explained the contents of her bag to a TSA agent. She totally freaked out, but had to peek in the container, says Cleaver. We opened it just a slit, and there were 12-14 eyes staring at her. She screamed. She did this 3 times. A few other agents came by to see, and none could deal with the container being opened more than a bit. But they had to make sure there was nothing nefarious inside, so we went through cycles of opening the container, screaming, closing it laughing, and again. They eventually let her through.

Many scientists have had tougher experiences because their equipment looks suspicious[13]. The bio-logging collars that[14] Luca Borger uses to track cattle in the Alps look a lot like explosive belts. And the Petterson D500x bat detector[15], which Daniella Rabaiotti uses to record bat calls, is a big, black box with blinking lights on the front. She had one in her backpack on a flight going into Houston. The security people said, Take your laptop out, and I did that. But they don t really say, Take your bat detector out, and I forgot about it. When the scanner went off, she had to explain her research to a suspicious and stand-offish TSA official, who wasn t clear how anyone could manage to record bat calls, let alone why anyone would want to do that. So Rabaiotti showed him some sonograms, pulled out her laptop, and played him some calls all while other passengers were going about their more mundane checks. By the end of it, he said: Oh, I never knew bats were so interesting, she says. Many of the stories I heard had similar endings. The TSA once stopped Michael Polito, an Antarctic researcher from Louisiana State University, because his bag contained 50 vials of white powder. When he explained that the powder was freeze-dried Antarctic fur seal milk, he got a mixed reaction. Some officers just wanted to just wave me on, he says. Others wanted me to stay and answer their questions, like: How do you milk a fur seal? I was almost late for my flight.

Airport security lines, it turns out, are a fantastic venue for scientists to try their hand at outreach. Various scientists are said to have claimed that you don t really understand something if you can t explain it to your grandmother, a barmaid, a six-year-old, and other such sexist or ageist variants. But how about this: can you successfully explain it to an TSA official someone who not only might have no background in science, but also strongly suspects that you might be a national security threat? Can you justify your research in the face of questions like What are you doing? or Why are you doing it? or Why are you taking that onto a plane? Cohn did pretty well to the four assembled TSA agents who started quizzing him about his mouse penis. They noticed that the translucent object had a white tube inside it, and asked if it was a bone. It was indeed the baculum. I explained to them that most other mammals have a bone in the penis and humans have lost them, says Cohn. I do outreach at the drop of a hat, and I m ready to teach a bit of evolution to the TSA if they re interested. And they were freaking out. Eventually, Cohn asked if he was free to go.

You are, said the agent who first looked inside his bag. And then: I gotta go on break, my mind is blown.

References

  1. ^ the bag was pulled (twitter.com)
  2. ^ full of tales like this (www.forbes.com)
  3. ^ 3-D-printed mold of a dolphin vagina (gizmodo.com)
  4. ^ a call for stories (twitter.com)
  5. ^ monkey pee (twitter.com)
  6. ^ chameleon and skate embryos (twitter.com)
  7. ^ 5,000 year old human bones (twitter.com)
  8. ^ bunch of rocks (twitter.com)
  9. ^ because he was carrying his Nobel Prize (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
  10. ^ Lucy (www.theatlantic.com)
  11. ^ In a memoir (books.google.com)
  12. ^ University of Connecticut (uconn.edu)
  13. ^ suspicious (twitter.com)
  14. ^ The bio-logging collars that (twitter.com)
  15. ^ D500x bat detector (www.batmanagement.com)

Charleston hospitals tout secure systems, but are warned to be wary of ransomware

In the wake of a cyberattack that struck organizations across the globe, Charleston hospital officials are confident of their readiness for a ransomware strike. Yet systems can’t be too careful, an expert in cybersecurity said. Hackers used software stolen from the National Security Agency to spread WannaCry, which locks a computer’s data and holds it hostage until the user pays a ransom. Over 230,000 computers were affected in 150 countries, according to Phishlabs[1], a cybersecurity company based in Charleston. Among those affected was the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Non-emergency visits were canceled and staff was instructed to switch to using paper records. Hospitals are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks. They are large systems that depend on sensitive patient information to operate. Local hospital leaders were clear they are prepared for a ransomware attack like WannaCry, but Joseph Opacki, Phishlabs’ vice president of threat research, warned systems to be constantly prepared for an attack.

“A lot of people were caught off guard by WannaCry, even though the vulnerabilities were known months ago,” he said.

It is still not known how WannaCry initially infected computers. Opacki said a phishing scheme, where computer users click on a fraudulent email, has largely been ruled out. Organizations were put at risk after a hack into an old version of Windows was leaked from the NSA.

Keith Neuman, vice president and chief information officer for Roper St. Francis, said no such vulnerability exists at the hospital system. He was confident Roper St. Francis would be prepared for a ransomware attack.

“Their data is safe with us,” he said. “We take all necessary steps to keep it that way.”

Neuman said his team responded quickly to the May 12 attack. Reminders were sent to staff to not open suspicious emails or provide any personal information. Neuman said he has been working with local and national law enforcement, as well. No hospital system in the area including Roper St. Francis, the Medical University of South Carolina, Trident Health and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center reported any impact from WannaCry. Each systems’ officials said they were sure their systems are secure. The VA took immediate emergency measures to guard against a ransomware attack, Meredith Hagen, a public affairs specialist at the VA, said in a prepared statement. The VA blocked all email attachments with a “.zip” extension and restricted access to email websites like Gmail and Yahoo from VA computers.

Communications were sent to employees at Trident Health and MUSC following the attacks, too. Trident has a detailed recovery procedure in place in the event of an attack, said Rod Whiting, spokesman for Trident Health. The MUSC community was advised to upgrade their home computers with updated securities. Matt Klein, chief information security officer for MUSC, said the system is under attack daily, just like other health care and higher education organizations. Attackers test the hospital system’s security constantly, Klein said in a prepared statement.

Opacki said large, spread-out systems often struggle to implement security policy across their organizations. NHS was vulnerable because the system was still using Windows XP, an operating system that is two generations behind and no longer supported by Windows. A patch to fix the potential hack was released when the vulnerability was discovered, but it hadn’t been implemented across the board. Yet Opacki said he has seen the health care industry make strides in information security, especially in the last two years. It is a slow process for an industry that worked with paper records for decades.

“We’re talking about an older structure that’s trying to join the digital age,” he said. Opacki said backing up patient information, patching software and communicating with individual employees will reduce the risk a hospital system has of being vulnerable to a ransomware attack. Hospitals should lay these foundations to protect themselves. But he said it’s only a matter of time between the next, more advanced ransomware attack.

“You’re never fully secure,” he said.

References

  1. ^ according to Phishlabs (info.phishlabs.com)
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