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This week in Tarbell
Meals on Wheels deflating: The number of senior citizens who need support from federal nutrition programs is rising, but the funding for these programs has steadily declined. Trudy Lieberman returns this week to explore the worrying funding trend she has covered for years.
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Notable Investigations and Solutions
US of Inequality: Even with low unemployment and robust job growth, a majority of Americans face high levels of economic insecurity. Capital & Main releases a series this week that examines how tens of millions of Americans increasingly struggle to make ends meet. In this first week of coverage, the news outlet is unpacking the severity of income inequality in the US.
No Financiers’ Vote: Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s fierce campaign against big banks has finance executives less willing to bankroll Democrats this election. CNBC reports that some executives have told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that they would not support Warren as a frontrunner, and they’re holding off on donating to the Senate to avoid her potential restrictions on business.
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US aids foreign (Christian) nations: Rather than weighing diplomatic interest, US foreign policy under the Trump-Pence administration is growing much more ideologically driven. This week, ProPublica explores how VP Mike Pence is instilling missionary tendencies into USAID foreign development support.
Coal users lobbying EPA: Even if the coal mining industry is taking massive hits nationwide, utilities that burn coal are expending hundreds of thousands to force the EPA to loosen regulations on the industry.
Incoming fracking fan: Trump’s pick for the No. 2 leader in the Interior Department has been working to fast-track a federal drilling permit for a politically-connected company, even though their plan raised environmental and engineering flags.
Revolving door swings: There’s plenty of evidence politicians are exiting the Capitol for K Street, but many lobbyists are making the opposite jump. Since the 2018 election, more than 100 lobbyists were brought in to work as congressional staffers, with a majority taking Democrats’ side.
TikTok ruins everything: I noted last week that Facebook is working to divert attention from their growing monopoly and trust-like behavior. And now they have a great scapegoat, as China’s micro-video platform TikTok is scrutinized by Congress.
Opinion – How to make M4A happen: Yale political scientist Jacob S. Hacker notes that there will be many problems with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All funding plan. But when the system is already broken, he argues it’s long past time to reinvent the system, even if it proves difficult.
Spotlight on Local Reporting
Virginia election: Democrats gained control of Virginia’s House and Senate on Tuesday, and the lobbying battle raging beneath it helped secure the blue government. Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control advocacy group, invested $2.5 million in that election, far outpacing the embattled NRA.
TX Lake holds dirty secrets: When it closed its mine in Central Texas, industrial company Alcoa embarked on a huge rehabilitation plan to turn the site into a restored ranch. But now the property is showing concerning signs of the havoc Alcoa wrought on the land.
FL Nonprofit hospital deliver disability benefits: Palm Beach lost its only psychiatric hospital under financial mismanagement. But it turns out the hospital was distributing disability benefits, and now at least 150 people are cut off from their needed allowances.
UMaine shut down nurses’ petition: University of Maine’s nursing school aimed to endorse a state bill that would remove religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccinations, but upper level university lobbyists barred them from doing so.
Opinion – Trump BMC visit stokes fear: First lady Melania Trump has shown interest in curtailing opioid abuse and improving maternal care. But when her husband is waging a flimsy war against undocumented immigrants, her presence at a Boston hospital will push patients to avoid visiting the hospital so not to risk their US residence, STAT columnist and psychiatrist Jennifer Adaeze Okwerekwu writes.