Top 5 in Politics: April 23rd- April 30th
1. Tensions with North Korea
North Korea had what is known as a “fire drill” emergency plan take place on Tuesday, April 25th as preparation for an attack, and by the same token United States forces are positioning themselves around the country.
Warships and submarines have been sent to the Koreas after North Korea’s missile tests, and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems have been moved to South Korea with the hopes of stopping a missile launch near the end of its route but before impact.
There is also a question of China, with a new military carrier being sent out around the time of the THAAD advances. As a North Korean ally, South Korea has reason to fear this move if it is in retaliation or preparation, which the Chinese government denies.
2. Government Shutdown
Due to a budget review that included a sizable amount devoted to the construction of the wall President Trump wants to build between the United States and Mexico, the government faces a shutdown, of which the deadline to prevent it was Friday, April 28th.
Though perhaps halted by President Trump’s agreement to look at the wall issue at a later date as well as the failure to repeal Obamacare, the problems the legislative branch face are pressing.
Some of the key issues result from unresolved health care burdens, such as what to do with retired miners and whether the government should pay the insurers to keep deductibles low. The issues stem from a theme of partisanship making cooperation nearly extinct in Congress.
Overall though, a government shutdown will not happen.
Update: President Trump signed a short-term bill on Friday to keep the government funded through May 6th. Both Houses passed the bill in time to avoid a government shutdown.
3. "Largest Tax Reform" in US History
The plan is criticized to be loosely explained, without any descriptions of making up lost revenue from these tax cuts.
Nonetheless, corporations, under President Trump’s newest tax cut proposal, would pay 20% less in taxes, with small businesses paying 24.6% less. The typical seven-bracket system for income tax would be traded for a three-bracket system, and deductibles would nearly double for the average taxpayer.
Several other tax breaks include removing some other minor taxes and giving breaks to families paying for childcare. There is also the suggestion that some in the lowest bracket would not have to pay taxes at all.
The plan takes away former President Obama’s 3.8% tax on the wealthy to pay for Obamacare and adds to standard deductions for both single people and married couples.
The main issue arising from this proposition center around an increasing deficit, which many contest, will cause President Trump to search for help from the Democrats to get this bill through.
4. National Monuments Review
Federal lands and other monuments designated by presidents in the past 20 years are under review due to a new executive order passed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, April 26th.
The president argued that the federal government has taken too much power from the states and that he is simply trying to give some of it back.
Some worry that the lands previously declared protected, mainly in Utah where former President Obama designated over one million acres of land as a federal monument, will no longer act as National Parks and areas of conservation, but instead will be exploited by states.
There has been a rise in attendance at National Parks, so many wonder how this new order will affect what seemed to be a positive trend.
5. Update on the Syria Chemical Attacks
France has concluded that the chemical attacks that occurred in Syria on Tuesday, April 4th have the signatures of President Bashar Assad and the Syrian government.
Published on Wednesday, April 26th, the report compares the chemical attacks of 2017 to those conducted in 2013 and found that they are in fact a match.
Russia, President Assad’s ally, agrees with the Syrian president that France’s report is incorrect and that they cannot prove that the chemical attacks came from the Syrian government. The attacks ended up killing over 80 Syrians, and blood taken from one victim was used in France’s tests.
France also claims that there is no other option than the Syrian government launching the attack, as it came from one of their own air force bases. President Trump has increased sanctions on Syria as a result, citing employees directly.
Though prohibited to have chemical weapons, the Syrian government is accused of using its “Scientific Studies and Research Center” as a growth opportunity for chemical weapons.