We begin today’s roundup with The New York Times and its editorial on the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama’s order on transgender students:
During his first week in office, Mr. Sessions halted the Justice Department’s efforts to defend in court the legality of the Obama administration’s guidance to school districts on how to provide a safe and inclusive environment for transgender students. A key part of that guidance advised school officials to allow transgender students to use restrooms based on their gender identity.
This week, Mr. Sessions and the Department of Education rescinded the guidance entirely. His baffling rationale was that it added to the confusion around an issue that has prompted spirited debates and legal fights around the country. [...]
Of all the matters of consequence before the new attorney general, it is curious that Mr. Sessions made repealing this guidance, and abandoning its defense, priorities. He clashed earlier in the week with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who reportedly felt uneasy about rescinding the guidelines, a move that will make students vulnerable. After the two made their case to the president, Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general.
Former US Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Catherine Lhamon, former assistant education secretary, chime in at The Washington Post:
This week’s decision by the Trump administration to withdraw guidance to school communities about how to protect transgender students reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal role in protecting the civil rights of students. Worse yet, it confuses states and school districts, and puts real, live children at greater risk of harm. [...]
Students required to attend school every day need to know that they are safe, welcome and respected as learners. Educators and administrators need concrete information about how to safeguard their federal civil rights. Withdrawing guidance, offering no information instead, and noting that the federal government wants to “more completely consider the legal issues” is a dangerous default to “local control” politics instead of honoring the letter and the spirit of the law.
Leaving these questions to states means some students in some schools will have less protection than students in other schools. What will happen when a transgender student transfers? This decision is thoughtless, cruel and sad and was implemented without serious consideration for the students it affects.
Changing topics, according to CNN, the Trump administration is trying to spin its way out of a story that doesn’t look good:
The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate. [...]
The discussions between the White House and the bureau began with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting the day after the stories were published, according to a US law enforcement official.
Betsy Woodruff at The Daily Beast dives into the Trump administration’s love for private prisons:
It’s barely a month in, but the Trump administration has already brought great news for America’s private prison companies.
On Feb. 21, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a memo that former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued last summer which moved to end the department’s reliance on private prison companies. The Justice Department announced the policy change on the afternoon of Feb. 23, and didn’t immediately explain why the announcement came two days after the change.
Yates initially issued the memo phasing out contracts with private prison companies after the department’s inspector general concluded that prisons they managed had more “safety and security incidents” than their public counterparts.
On a final note, at The Week, Ryan Cooper explains how Ivanka Trump’s child care plan benefits the rich:
As usual for Republican policymaking, it is absurdly tilted towards the rich. Ultra-rich families — like those of the many Wall Street goons stocking Trump's Cabinet, or of the various Trump children themselves — will make out handsomely. But poor and working-class schlubs will get a pittance, if they get anything. [...]
Tax deductions reduce your taxable income, so the actual benefit will depend on your tax rate (as opposed to tax credits, which reduce your taxes owed directly). Kevin Drum does a quick sketch of what that would look like with a $5,000 deduction here. Essentially, the more you make, the more you benefit, up to the income cap. But that cap is extremely high — $500,000 is nearly nine times the median household income, so the number of super-rich families who wouldn't get at least a piece of it would be very small.