Looking at the president's first speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

President Trump speaks to the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, in New York. (Evan Vucci/AP)President Trump speaks to the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, in New York. (Evan Vucci/AP)


Yochi Dreazen, deputy managing and foreign editor for Vox. (@yochidreazen)

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Author of "A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the ...."  (@RichardHaass)

From Tom's Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Trump, in U.N. Speech, Takes Aim at North Korea, Iran — "The president started his speech in the measured language that many in America’s foreign policy establishment have urged Mr. Trump to utilize more often, but also peppered his speech with the more colorful rhetoric that defined his political rise. Aside from referring to North Korea's leader as "Rocket Man," he also referred to “loser terrorists” that must be wiped out from the world and pledged to stop “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he criticized Barack Obama for not using during his time as president."

The Washington Post:  In U.N. Speech, Trump Threatens To ‘Totally Destroy North Korea’ ... — "The president's address was highly anticipated around the world for signs of how his administration would engage with the United Nations after he had criticized the organization during his campaign as being bloated and ineffective, and threatened to slash U.S. funding. Trump offered a hand to fellow leaders but also called on them to embrace “national sovereignty” and to do more to ensure the prosperity and security of their own countries. Over and over, he stressed the rights and roles of “strong, sovereign nations” even as they band together at the United Nations."

This segment aired on September 19, 2017.


The UN has always had problems with members refusing to pay the assessment levied upon them under the United Nations Charter. But the most significant refusal in recent times has been that of the U.S. Since 1985 the U.S. Congress has refused to authorize payment of the U.S. dues, in order to force UN compliance with U.S. wishes, as well as a reduction in the U.S. assessment.[15]

After prolonged negotiations, the U.S. and the UN negotiated an agreement whereby the United States would pay a large part of the money it owes, and in exchange the UN would reduce the assessment rate ceiling from 25% to 22%. The reduction in the assessment rate ceiling was among the reforms contained in the 1999 Helms-Biden legislation, which links payment of $926 million in U.S. arrears to the UN and other international organizations to a series of reform benchmarks.

U.S. arrears to the UN currently total over $1.3 billion. Of this, $612 million is payable under Helms-Biden. The remaining $700 million result from various legislative and policy withholdings; at present, there are no plans to pay these amounts.[citation needed]

Under Helms-Biden, the U.S. paid $100 million in arrears to the UN in December 1999; release of the next $582 million awaits a legislative revision to Helms-Biden, necessary because the benchmark requiring a 25 percent peacekeeping assessment rate ceiling was not quite achieved. The U.S. also seeks elimination of the legislated 25 percent cap on U.S. peacekeeping payments in effect since 1995, which continues to generate additional UN arrears. Of the final $244 million under Helms-Biden, $30 million is payable to the UN and $214 million to other international organizations

How Rick Santorum Got A Haircut And Revived The GOP's Obamacare Repeal Effort

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., speaks on Capitol Hill on Sept. 13 at the unveiling of the latest Republican bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

How Rick Santorum Got A Haircut And Revived The GOP's Obamacare Repeal Effort

There's a chance Republicans wouldn't be so close to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act if former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania hadn't dropped into the Capitol barbershop this spring.

"I was up on the Hill, I happened to just go by the barbershop to see if I could get a haircut, and Lindsey was in the chair," Santorum said. "And Lindsey asked me what I was doing, and I thought to myself, 'Well, let me just bounce it off Lindsey.' "

"Lindsey" was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and "it" was an idea Santorum had just begun talking about with several members of the House Freedom Caucus — repealing large parts of Obamacare and replacing it with a system that's long been a Republican favorite, block grants of funding to states that come with far fewer federal mandates.

Santorum has been mostly absent from Washington since he lost to Democrat Bob Casey in 2006. "I haven't been to the Capitol, really other than just to say hi and take friends through tours, in the last 10 years," he said. Santorum was the runner-up in the 2012 GOP presidential primaries behind Mitt Romney, and didn't make it beyond the Iowa caucuses in 2016.

But he's long been drawn to the health care debate, and Santorum thought he had something to add to Republican repeal efforts. The block grant approach comes from a major welfare reform law that Santorum helped author in 1996. The reform, signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, stands as the rare successful rollback of a previously issued government entitlement.

Santorum made his pitch to Graham in the barber chair. Graham liked it and suddenly the two presidential also-rans were on a mission. Except, not quite. "It was always a back burner until it was apparent in July that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Obamacare repeal bill] wasn't going to pass," Santorum said.

After that, talks continued behind the scenes until the bill was rolled out in a Capitol press conference last week. And there was Santorum, who hadn't held office since 2007, not only standing alongside four current Republican senators, but jumping into the mix and answering questions.

Santorum argued the bill is much more politically viable than previous repeal efforts, because it doesn't quite repeal the current health care system. "We don't cut as much as the McConnell bill does," he said. "We recognized that there's a need out there and there's an entitlement in place, like the welfare issue. To be able to remove a broad-based entitlement is, in my mind, impossible to do."

Critics say the measure would do much more than tweak the current system. While it would loosen many current federal health insurance requirements and turn money over to states, many states would see major shifts in their current funding levels. Obamacare defenders worry this would lead to unstable markets, and not a whole lot of protection for people with expensive or pre-existing medical conditions.

Read a full analysis of the bill from NPR's Alison Kodjak here.

With this bill, Santorum is back in the mix in Washington — enough that, for a brief moment, someone recently floated the idea that maybe Santorum could step in as House speaker, if conservatives revolt against Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Santorum said he's not interested, and that he prefers the current role that he frames as a "little bit of a special agent coming in and trying to help out." But his initial answer to what he made of that brief, low-flying trial balloon wasn't the type of laughing dismissal that many politicians would give.

Santorum said, "I think that came about because we're putting together a plan here in health care that people are looking at and saying, gee, why couldn't our leadership do something like that?"

On Tuesday, Santorum was back on Capitol Hill, pitching Senate Republicans on the bill, now known as Graham-Cassidy. (Cassidy is Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.) It's gone from an idea in a barber's chair to something that appears to have a shot of passing.

Views: 59

Comment by Steel Breeze on September 21, 2017 at 6:08am

as hard as it is to believe...we've reached the point where the elephant and the donkey....are the same animal....

Comment by koshersalaami on September 21, 2017 at 6:28am

Not quite, but the donkey is developing a trunk. Still, pulling out of the Paris Accords/destroying federal environmental support, trying to eliminate required insurance coverage of preexisting conditions, screwing up federal support for public education, attempts at slashing taxes on the wealthy,  and a lack of support for civil rights are not things we'd see under Democratic control of Washington. 

Comment by Ron Powell on September 21, 2017 at 4:46pm

Comment by mary gravitt on September 22, 2017 at 1:41pm

Hi, this is the second time I've tried to comment.  And Elephant can fart out the mouth if you watched Trump at the UN, you know its true.  The donkey is in a similar condition but we watch him too well to get away with much the same.


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