ICE Now Detaining Pregnant Women, Thanks to Trump Order

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is ending its practice of automatically releasing pregnant women from detention, according to internal communications reviewed by The Daily Beast.

This is because of President Donald Trumps executive order Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which requires stricter enforcement of immigration laws. Previously, the agencys general practice was to release women from detention who were pregnant.

Now, pregnant women will only be able to get released if an ICE officer determines so on a case-by-case basis.

Pregnant women were still sometimes detained under the previous internal guidelines. Immigrants rights advocates say the practice is dangerous to women and to their unborn children, and that pregnant women are more likely to miscarry if theyre in detention than if they are free. This new policy means more pregnant women will spend time in detention.

This new ICE policy memo confirms our fears that the government is continuing its barbaric policy of detaining pregnant women despite substantial evidence that detention of this particularly vulnerable population has been linked to serious health implications to the mother and unborn child and also constitutes a significant barrier to receiving a meaningful day in court, said Katie Shepherd, who does legal advocacy for asylum-seeking women at the American Immigration Council.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/ice-now-detaining-pregnant-women-thanks-to-trump-order

Singapore Plans to Boost Goods and Services Tax to 9%

Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a range of tax increases in his budget, including a surprise hike in property levies, as he seeks to shore up savings to cope with a rapidly aging population.

The stamp duty on residential properties in excess of S$1 million ($761,600) was increased to 4 percent from 3 percent, effective from Tuesday, Heng said in a speech in Parliament. The government also plans to raise the goods and services tax by 2 percentage points to 9 percent sometime from 2021 to 2025, he said.

“There is a need to strengthen our fiscal footing,” Heng said. “In the next decade, between 2021 to 2030, if we do not take measures early, we will not have enough revenues to meet our growing needs.”

Policy makers had warned of higher taxes to balance a budget that they see as too reliant on investment returns, and that will see new strains in the years to come. Spending on health and retirement benefits are set to grow over the years as the elderly population climbs, while the government is also planning on higher expenditure on infrastructure, security and education.

“The message is that the economy is maturing, the population is aging,” said Irvin Seah, an economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. “In order to cater to the needs to various segments of the society going forward — corporations, individuals young and old — this budget is about re-balancing.”

While Singapore has substantial reserves that it draws on to help fund the budget, Heng said the government must act prudently as the economy matures and the population ages. Income from reserves and investments managed by GIC Pte, Temasek Holdings Pte and the Monetary Authority of Singapore is already the largest contributor to the government’s overall revenue, estimated at almost S$16 billion in the fiscal year beginning April 1.

The hike in GST is set to boost revenue by almost 0.7 percent of GDP a year. Heng said the timing of the increase will depend on the state of the economy, how much expenditures grow and how buoyant the existing taxes are, but added that he expects “we will need to do so earlier rather than later in the period.”

Stiff Competition

Even with increase, Singapore boasts sales tax that's on the lower side in Asia

Source: Ernst & Young, Singapore Ministry of Finance

Notes: Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said Feb. 19 that government plans to raise GST to 9% "sometime in the period from 2021 to 2025." Other country "standard rates" for GST as reported in Ernst & Young 2017 tax guide. India GST varies by region.

“The GST increase is necessary because even after exploring various options to manage our future expenditures through prudent spending, saving and borrowing for infrastructure, there is still a gap,” the minister said. “This boost in revenues will be vital in closing this gap.”

The budget includes planned offsets to cushion the blow to lower-income consumers from higher taxes, while the delayed implementation of the tax increases will allow residents to ease into the changes.

Singapore is facing a severe aging crisis. The share of the population that’s 65 years and older is set this year to match those younger than 15 for the first time. The fertility rate remains half the global average, at 1.2 births per woman in 2015, according to World Bank data. And the government has maintained fairly strict immigration policies to ensure locals have enough job opportunities.

For now, Singapore’s economic outlook for 2018 remains bright. The boom in global trade last year that’s helped spur manufacturing, especially in semiconductors, is spreading to other sectors of the economy. The government sees growth at slightly above the middle of its forecast range of 1.5 to 3.5 percent this year, moderating from last year’s expansion of 3.6 percent.

“As a small and open economy, we will always be vulnerable to fluctuations in the global economy and financial markets,” Heng said. “We can never predict where or when the next crisis will come. But we know, when the next crisis hits, we will be able to weather the storm because we have our reserves.”

    Key Highlights from Budget

    • GST to be increased to 9% from 7% sometime from 2021 to 2025
    • Budget surplus for FY2017 estimated at S$9.6 billion versus previous projection of S$1.9 billion; deficit of S$0.6 billion seen for FY2018
    • Tax on imported services, such as online video and music streaming websites, with effect from 2020
    • Carbon tax of S$5 per ton from 2019 
    • Infrastructure spending raised to S$20 billion in FY2018
    • Top marginal stamp duty for properties raised to 4% from 3%

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-19/singapore-plans-to-boost-gst-to-9-as-spending-pressures-mount

    Trump Proposes to Cut Medicare and Spend Big on Wall, Defense

    President Donald Trump will propose cutting entitlement programs by $1.7 trillion, including Medicare, in a fiscal 2019 budget that seeks billions of dollars to build a border wall, improve veterans’ health care and combat opioid abuse and that is likely to be all but ignored by Congress.

    The entitlement cuts over a decade are included in a White House summary of the budget obtained by Bloomberg News. The document says that the budget will propose cutting spending on Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled, by $237 billion but doesn’t specify other mandatory programs that would face reductions, a category that also includes Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and agricultural subsidies.

    The Medicare cut wouldn’t affect the program’s coverage or benefits, according to the document. The budget will also call for annual 2 percent cuts to non-defense domestic spending beginning “after 2019.’

    At a time when the prospect of rising annual budget shortfalls has spooked financial markets, the White House said in a statement — without explanation — that its plan would cut the federal deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years and reduce debt as a percentage of gross domestic product. Yet, in a break from a longstanding Republican goal, the plan won’t balance the budget in 10 years, according to a person familiar with the proposal.

    The budget, to be released later on Monday, is unlikely to gain traction on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers routinely ignore the spending requests required annually from the executive branch. And Congress passed its own spending bill on Friday, including a two-year budget deal, which the president signed into law.

    According to the summary, Trump will urge an increase in defense spending to $716 billion and a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops. He will request $18 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border, the summary indicates.

    The White House also seeks $200 billion for the infrastructure proposal the administration plans to unveil alongside the fiscal year 2019 budget, as well as new regulatory cuts.

    “This will be a big week for Infrastructure,” Trump said in a Twitter message Monday. “After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”

    Monday’s document will outline proposed spending reforms the administration says would, if enacted, cut deficits over the next decade — even as recently passed tax legislation and spending caps threaten to drive future annual deficits above $1 trillion.

    Trump May Struggle on $1 Trillion Pledge to Fix Crumbling U.S.

    “Just like every American family, the budget makes hard choices: fund what we must, cut where we can, and reduce what we borrow,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement. “It’s with respect for the hard work of the American people that we spend their tax dollars efficiently, effectively, and with accountability.”

    A year ago, Trump asked lawmakers to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years, and identified deep cuts to domestic spending programs. Instead, lawmakers last week passed a two-year government funding deal that would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years and add more than $80 billion in disaster relief.

    But administration officials argue their proposals, dead on arrival though they may be, is still an important marker of the president’s legislative priorities.

    Immigration Enforcement

    The plan includes a heavy emphasis on immigration enforcement. Trump is requesting $782 million to hire 2,750 new border and immigration officers, and $2.7 billion to detain people in the country illegally. Trump is also asking for $18 billion over the next two fiscal years toward the goal of constructing a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s a key point of contention in the ongoing legislative battle over the fate of young people, known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the country illegally as children.

    The proposal also includes $13 billion in new funding to combat the opioid epidemic, which Trump has frequently cited as among his top domestic priorities. The administration would provide a $3 billion boost to the Department of Health and Human Services in the next fiscal year, and $10 billion in 2019.

    The proposal takes “money that the Democrats want to put to these social programs and move it to things like infrastructure, move it to things like opioid relief, move it to things that are in line with the president’s priorities so that if it does get spent, at least it get spent to the right places,” Mulvaney said Sunday during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

    Boost for Veterans

    Other elements include $85.5 billion in discretionary funding for veterans health services, education, and vocational rehabilitation, the OMB said on Sunday. It is not clear how much of that funding would represent an increase from current spending levels.

    The budget also includes $200 billion in federal funds over the next decade that the White House says would spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending through partnerships with state and local governments and private developers. That includes $21 billion over the next two years that the White House says would “jump start key elements of the infrastructure initiative.”

    Trump will discuss the public works proposal on Monday with governors, mayors, state legislators and other officials, and he expects to meet with Congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Feb. 14. The president plans to visit Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 16 for an infrastructure event, and he and cabinet members will also promote the plan at events around the U.S., officials said.

    The White House said its initial approach is to offset the $200 billion in the budget for its infrastructure plan with spending cuts elsewhere, including from some transit and transportation programs the administration doesn’t think have been spent effectively. But Trump is open to new sources of funding, a senior White House official told reporters.

    ‘Robust’ Defense

    The White House also didn’t detail how much money it wanted to devote to new spending on the military, but OMB said the proposal would provide “for a robust and rebuilt national defense.” In last year’s budget proposal, Trump called for a $52.3 billion boost for the Defense Department, while asking for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, and Department of Health and Human Services.

    Mulvaney said this year’s documents — theoretical though they may be — would see those agencies targeted again for budget cuts.

    “There’s still going to be the president’s priorities as we seek to spend the money consistently with our priorities, not with the priorities that were reflected most by the Democrats in Congress,” he told Fox News.

    Trump on Friday complained on Twitter that in order to boost military spending, “we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want.”

    The budget proposal assumes that the U.S. economy will ramp up over the next decade to his goal of 3 percent growth, according to an administration official on Friday who confirmed figures to be contained in Monday’s budget proposal. Economic growth is projected at 3.2 percent in 2019 and 2020.

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-12/trump-to-urge-wall-opioid-spending-as-congress-sets-own-course

      Stephen King can’t understand why people from Norway would move to the U.S.

      President Trump’s reported comments about preferring immigration from countries such as Norway over certain “s**thole countries” sure made a lot of waves on Thursday. As for people moving from Norway to the United States, author Stephen King just doesn’t understand it:

      Read more: https://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2018/01/11/stephen-king-cant-understand-why-people-from-norway-would-move-to-the-u-s/

      Austrians Lean Toward Nationalist Government Led by a Millennial

      Austrians profiting from the fastest economic growth in six years look likely to ditch their current coalition in favor of a new government backed by anti-immigration nationalists and headed by the world’s youngest leader.

      Polls suggest that Austria’s 31-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz will lead his conservative People’s Party to victory in Sunday’s election. That could set the stage for a coalition with Heinz-Christian Strache’s populist Freedom Party, unwinding a decade of Social Democratic-led administrations that revived the economy but struggled with issues over immigration and welfare.

      “People are worried about the future and that is the currency that matters in this election,” said Christoph Hofinger, head of the SORA polling institute in Vienna. “The debate is revolving around the issue of fairness, and a lot is also linked to migration.”

      After a surge of support for populist candidates in elections this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany, Austria looks like it will go one further and elect an anti-immigration alliance.

      Chancellor Christian Kern, 51, a former business executive plucked from the national railroad by the Social Democrats in May 2016, has been dogged by sloppy campaign management. Despite overseeing faster growth in the export-oriented economy, Kern has struggled to connect with voters.

      His No. 1 goal is achieving full employment, since “modernizing the country with investment in education, security, health care and pensions” depends on it, Kern said late Thursday in the campaign’s final debate.

      While those themes have resonated in previous campaigns, they’re not what Austrians are most concerned about now, according to Hofinger. Voters are instead gravitating toward promises by both the People’s Party and Freedom to limit the number of immigrants Austria receives and force newcomers to adapt local customs more quickly, he said.

      The swell of anxiety over immigration to Austria began building 2015, when almost 70,000 mostly-Muslim refugees sought asylum from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Schools and hospitals in the nation of 8.7 million struggled to accommodate the newcomers, and disagreements over whether it was fair to give immigrants generous welfare support dominate the media.

      Read Why Austria May Elect the World’s Youngest Leader: QuickTake Q&A

      Compared with 10 years ago, more Austrians say they feel like they’re not being heard and are in search of law-and-order leadership, a SORA institute study showed. More than two-fifths of voters declared their desire for a “strongman” leader, according to the research, periodically commissioned by the federal government to gauge public attitudes and consciousness about the country’s Nazi history.

      Step forward Kurz, the foreign minister who’s distanced himself from the People’s Party’s leadership and forged similar views with Freedom’s Strache on immigration. Both men want to restrict immigrant access to Austria’s social-security system and impose tighter policing on the country’s borders. The Freedom Party came within 30,000 votes of winning the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, in a run-off vote last year.

      “Austria deserves someone who is ready to take on real responsibility for the population,” Strache said in a parliamentary speech this week, in which he chided Kern for letting thousands of refugees enter Austria, transported on the national railroad he ran before becoming chancellor.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-14/austrians-lean-toward-nationalist-government-led-by-a-millennial