- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

(New York) Daily News on President Donald Trump’s policy standpoints, day to day.

April 12

Ten days ago, President Trump - who as a candidate accused China of “raping” our country in part by devaluing its currency - called the nation a “world champion” of currency manipulation.

Wednesday, he told The Wall Street Journal “they’re not currency manipulators.”

Two weeks ago, Trump’s secretary of state and U.N. ambassador said removing Bashar Assad from power in Syria was no longer a U.S. priority.

Days ago, Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson said there was “no option” for Assad to stay in power after he attacked his own people with sarin.

Wednesday, Trump said it is not his administration’s policy to insist that Assad step down.

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump yearned to improve relations with Russia, including its “strong” and “very smart” president - and welcomed Russia’s involvement in Syria.

Wednesday, after taking Russia to task for its involvement in Syria, Trump said relations with Russia had reached an “all-time low.”

Throughout the past year, Trump insulted the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a frequent target of conservatives, as “unnecessary.”

Wednesday, he called it “a very good thing.”

Last September, Trump ripped Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen for “doing political things,” saying he would “most likely” not appoint the economy’s single most important official to another term.

Wednesday, Trump declared himself open to reappointing Yellen: “I like her, I respect her.”

Just after taking office, Trump imposed a hiring freeze at federal agencies, save the military and public safety jobs.

Wednesday, the Trump administration lifted that freeze.

Last year, Trump called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization “obsolete.”

Wednesday, Trump called NATO “no longer obsolete.”

Over and over again throughout 2015 and 2016, Trump promised to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and make Mexico pay for it.

Tuesday, his attorney general said he expects Congress to pay for the barrier.

Do you follow?




The (Auburn) Citizen on changes to a state college tuition plan shortly before passage of the state budget.

April 12

Free tuition for some New York state residents is being greeted with cheers by some and boos by others. And the fact that this major shift in state policy is not being universally accepted as a positive move is evidence that it - like many other aspects of the state budget - was voted into law without proper contemplation and debate of its merits.

The headline-grabbing initiative to offer free state college tuition to students from families making less than $125,000 a year was included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal released in January. Private schools, including Wells College in Aurora, immediately raised the alarm over the potential for devastating financial impacts should students begin to pass over their schools for public universities. Others argued that taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of paying for a select group of people to go to college for free. Cuomo predicted that the program would amount to about $163 million a year, but many called that estimate far too low.

But for all the concerns, the proposal remained intact for months as the Legislature got closer to - and then missed the deadline for - passing the state budget. What happened in the final hours before the budget package was voted on was that some significant amendments were agreed to behind closed doors.

One - being criticized as a “bait and switch” tactic - requires students accepting the free tuition to continue living in New York state after graduation for as many years as they took advantage of the funding. Another last-minute addition is a tuition assistance program offering $3,000 grants for students at private colleges, whose graduates would also have to pay the money back if they move out of the state before their agreements expire.

The changes all have merit. But so does the notion that they should have been thoroughly discussed and debated before being voted into law. As it went, the public wasn’t aware of the details until it was too late to turn back - an inexcusable way to pass such a sweeping and controversial policy.




The (Glens Falls) Post-Star on the future of the federal health care overhaul.

April 6

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we had some small hope that, instead of continuing with their fruitless vilification of the law, the Trump administration would reach out to Democrats and fix it.

But sometimes, President Trump should be taken at his word, such as when he predicted Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is known, would “explode.”

The Affordable Care Act won’t fall apart on its own, but it could be compromised, and even crippled, if the Trump administration undermines it at every opportunity. We’re afraid the “explosion” Trump predicted is one for which he intends to light the fuse.

We’d much rather the president and Republican legislative leaders resist the destructive impulse to ruin a law that is helping millions of people and work, instead, to strengthen it.

The latest proposal from the White House is not encouraging, however. It would revoke two regulations. The first requires insurance plans to cover certain “essential” health benefits, such as mental health care and prescription drugs. The second is known as “community rating,” and it stops insurers from charging more to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

These proposals would gut the Affordable Care Act and take health insurance back to the days when people who were sick with cancer or some other affliction could not afford to be covered. Only insurance companies could like them.

Already, moderate Republicans have spoken out against the proposals, which appear to have no chance of being passed by Congress.

Within his own party, Trump is stuck between moderates who want to preserve gains the Affordable Care Act has made and conservatives who want the law scrapped. His best hope of making progress is to seek a compromise with Democrats.

Despite propaganda to the contrary, the Affordable Care Act is stable, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It covers millions of people who previously lacked insurance or who lost their coverage since the law was passed.

As part of the act, 32 states have expanded their Medicaid programs, and the collapse of the repeal effort has added momentum to Medicaid expansion in some of the holdout states.

Ironically, the Republican takeover of the White House and Congress has led to a spike in public approval of the Affordable Care Act. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 75 percent of the public wants the Trump administration to work to improve the law, not destroy it. The same poll found that if the law fails, more than 60 percent of people will hold Republicans responsible, because they control the government now.

A recent Gallup poll found that, for the first time since 2012, a majority of Americans (55 percent) support the Affordable Care Act. Only 30 percent want it repealed.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand recently made an emphatic statement of what she sees as her mission - helping people. If members of Congress aren’t doing that, they should go home, she said.

She’s right. The Affordable Care Act, despite imperfections, is helping people. Trump can do some good by taking whatever steps are necessary - even working with Democrats - to make it better.




The (Syracuse) Post-Standard on teaching about genocide in schools.

April 11

Two Oswego County students who were assigned to defend the Nazi’s “Final Solution,” the systematic extermination of Europe’s Jews during World War II, showed courage and humanity by refusing. Their actions mean that no other student in New York state will be forced to justify genocide. It is an indefensible position.

New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia agrees. Elia said her initial response to a Syracuse.com reporter’s question about the assignment - that it might prompt critical thinking - was made before she reviewed the facts. Elia declared the assignment “wrong” - a call she should have made from the start. She has since banned future assignments along these lines.

While the evil of the Holocaust is beyond debate, it is not beyond teaching. Places like Yad Vashem in Israel, the U.S. National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum in Oswego exist to keep alive the memory of the Jewish genocide and diaspora, so that it may never happen again. Yet, since World War II, genocide has been perpetrated repeatedly - in the former Yugoslavia, in Rwanda, in Sudan, and now in Iraq and Syria.

The Oswego County CiTi/BOCES New Vision program, where the offending lesson was given, is working with education professor emeritus Alan Goldberg of Syracuse University to develop resources for teaching about the Holocaust. Elia said the materials would be made available to schools statewide, where students learn about the Holocaust in ninth or 10th grade. Many such resources already exist, yet these insensitive Holocaust assignments pop up every few years.

Meanwhile, a surge in anti-Semitic incidents here and around the country are a sad reminder that the sentiments underlying the Holocaust remain current events. We must remain vigilant against intolerance.




New York Post on the face-off over a pair of Wall Street sculptures.

April 12

It’s up to the courts as to whether Arturo Di Modica has any legal right to stop the “Fearless Girl” statue from destroying the meaning of his own “Charging Bull” - but he’s clearly right to call out that truth.

At his own expense ($350,000), the Italian sculptor created the bull decades ago to symbolize the strength and resilience of Wall Street. But the girl (though a fine work in its own right) turns his bull into a symbol of … sexism.

Adding insult to injury, State Street Global Advisors installed “Fearless Girl” as an advertising ploy - with a plaque that even subtly promoted the company’s SHE investment fund. Should an ad be allowed to destroy Di Modica’s art?

As The Post reports, the sculptor and a half-dozen lawyers on Wednesday announced plans to sue for infringement of his artistic copyright.

The offending statue can still make its point if placed elsewhere, he argues - say, facing not the bull, but the Stock Exchange itself.

State Street, and the city, should consider that move: It might even strengthen the message of “Fearless Girl.”




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