Former Affordable Care Act Chief Offers Health Care Prescription

Andy Slavitt was the point person in the Obama administration for the federal Affordable Care Act. He’s now trying to save it. “He’s both a good communicator and a technical expert, as well as a committed supporter of improving health care,” Dr. Mark McClellan, a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services now director of Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke, says of Slavitt. “So, all that’s a good combination for having an impact.”
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Questions Multiply Over Bannon’s Role

President Trump’s elevation of his chief political strategist Stephen Bannon to a major role in national security policy differs from past presidents. President George W. Bush barred his political strategist from National Security Council meetings; President Obama allowed his strategist to attend. “It’s also true that we Republicans, myself included, sharply criticized them for doing it, precisely on the grounds that you are feeding the image that politics drove the decision,” says Peter Feaver, a political science professor who served on the Bush NSC staff.

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Obamacare on the Ropes

Is the unraveling of the Affordable Care Act imminent, as many Republicans predict? “The Affordable Care Act is fundamentally stable in most states. Enrollment has been increasing and insurers are projecting better results. Insurers with effective strategies tailored to local demand for high-quality, low-cost health care have been able to show profitability on the exchanges,” says David Anderson, an analyst at Duke’s Margolis Center for Health Policy.

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Diplomats: Not My State Department

Five diplomats in the senior management team at the U.S. State Department have stepped down. “This is not normal procedure. It’s not coincidence,” says Bruce Jentleson, a professor of public policy and political science and a former senior adviser at the State Department. “If it wasn’t coordinated, it’s even more significant.”

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‘Lawfare’ Could Become Trump Tool Against Adversaries

Use of the law as a weapon of war may find favor with the Trump administration, according to some scholars and attorneys. “I don’t know what plans the Trump administration may have to incorporate lawfare into its foreign policy strategy, but if we have an opportunity to use law instead of more traditional weapons to address foreign policy issues, I’m all for it,” says law professor Charles Dunlap, executive director of Duke’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security.

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Behind Trump Pipeline Orders, a Pledge to Deliver Energy Jobs

President Trump has issued executive orders backing pipelines, and wants to open federal lands and loosen regulations. All that may add jobs in the industry, but market forces are in driver’s seat. Opening up federal lands “won’t necessarily lead to more wells if natural gas prices are low,” says Lincoln Pratson, a professor of earth and ocean sciences. For oil, Pratson says that demand from car drivers and truckers looks more stable than poised for big increases.

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The View from the Republican Sideline

“For now, we observe that the dominant lesson of the last 100 years has been just this: When America led in the effort to rally friends and partners from around the world to confront global challenges, it went better for American interests in the long run. And when America retreated in the pursuit of short-term and parochial calculations of national interest, it went much worse for our nation in the long run,” writes political scientist Peter Feaver and a colleague.

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Panel Examines Role of Rising Polarization in Trump Victory

A look at how political polarization hardened during the Obama administration and helped enable Donald Trump’s victory showed how Democratic and Republican establishments underestimated the strength of the anger and frustration building in the country. One result: The election of populist leaders is now “a striking pattern in Western democracies,” says Sanford professor Bruce Jentleson.

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Trump Signs Away TPP, But Will Better Deals Result?

President Donald Trump is expected to focus more on trade deals with individual countries now that he has ended U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Could the bilateral deals be better for the US than the 12-nation TPP? Law professor Rachel Brewster says an advantage of big trade agreements like TPP is they can put pressure on companies because they do not want to be left out of the partnership.

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What Trump’s Cabinet Says About Race and Class in America

If a black American gets additional education, the extra degrees could improve his position relative to other blacks, but he cannot expect to close the wealth gap or unemployment gap with most white Americans, says William “Sandy” Darity, a professor of public policy, African and African American studies and economics. “If you think about cabinet positions as another facet of attaining a job, then we are seeing the same kind of discriminatory mechanisms operating there as well,” Darity said. “For black appointees to get into the mix, they have to have the highest level of credentials, and that is not the case for white appointees.”

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Trump Signs Sweeping Order That Could Gut Obamacare

President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order that encourages federal agencies to dismantle large parts of Obamacare, possibly including the hugely unpopular mandate requiring most Americans to purchase insurance. Such steps would make the market “sicker and on average more expensive,” says David Anderson, a health policy analyst who’s studied the law’s insurance regulations. “It may lead to carriers reconsidering their participation for the 2018 plan year.”

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Guns in Schools Supporters Gain Traction

Donald Trump takes office today with House Republicans having already filed two proposals for gutting the 1990 Gun Free School Zones Act, which bars guns in and around schools while allowing states and localities to make exceptions for some firearms owners.  “It certainly does seem like momentum is building,” says law professor Joseph Blocher, who writes on Second Amendment jurisprudence.

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