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Time to panic? The home insurance market in California is collapsing because of climate change

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Time to panic? The home insurance market in California is collapsing because of climate change

As another legislative session draws to a close in Sacramento, the problem lawmakers failed to fix is one of the most urgent facing Californians: the slow-moving collapse of the property insurance market as costs from climate disasters mount.

It “is not even a yellow flag issue. This is a waving red flag issue,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday night when asked about the failure of the Legislature to act.

This year, multiple companies, including the state’s largest home insurer, State Farm, have announced they are no longer taking on new residential and commercial properties, citing wildfire risk. In fact, seven of the 12 insurance groups operating in California — together, responsible for about 85% of the market — have pulled back.

But backroom talks among elected officials to figure out a fair and workable path forward to entice insurance companies to write more — or in some cases any — policies didn’t go anywhere. Instead, lawmakers are vehemently pledging to hold public hearings this fall about the shrinking prospects for Californians seeking coverage for their homes and, by extension, their prospects for getting and hanging onto their mortgage during a deepening housing crisis.

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If only insurance were as cheap as talk.

It is painfully clear that the speed and ferocity of climate disasters has intensified. Only eight months into 2023, the U.S. has recorded 23 climate-related disasters, each with damages of at least $1 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That shatters the previous record of 22 such disasters the entire year of 2020.

It is increasingly uncertain who is going to pay for all that damage, to, as much as possible, make whole all those upended lives.

Should Californians living in the most dangerous places, whether facing wildfires, flooding or sea-level rise, shoulder more of the cost for their risk? And does it matter that many such communities are low-income, filled with residents who have sought out these places precisely because they were priced out of cities that have refused to build more affordable housing?

Or should risk be shared among us all, no matter where we live? Higher insurance premiums across the board to stabilize an industry that we all need.

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Or, should insurance companies be forced to somehow continue carrying the burden of climate disasters?

Rumor has it that a Legislative fix was held up largely because no one could agree on an answer. Even a compromise wouldn’t be politically popular, which may be why that part of the debate has stayed largely behind closed doors.

But as Newsom pointed out, the pressure building on the insurance industry is “America’s coming attraction in terms of impacts of climate.”

That holds true for California with its eroding coastline, mudslides and fire-prone mountains; for Florida, Louisiana and Texas with hurricanes; for places such as Kentucky and Vermont where extreme weather has led to devastating floods.

Even for renters and car owners, the cost of insurance is rising and will rise further as temperatures do.

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“People can only afford so much, even middle-class people or upper-middle-class people. Throughout the United States, in different geographies, we’re reaching a point where climate change is driving to an uninsurable future,” said Dave Jones, a former California insurance commissioner and current director of UC Berkeley’s Climate Risk Initiative. “The risk is too high, at almost any price.”

Let us be clear on this: Of course, insurance companies want to maximize their profits. Of course, some of their claims around climate risk are posturing to increase rates. And yes, other factors including inflation on construction are part of the equation.

Climate change should not be a free pass to gouge consumers — despite all those disaster claims, insurance companies are still making money, though their profit margins might not be as thick as in the past.

But insurance is the safest bet against personal calamity, climate-induced or otherwise, so we need insurers to remain in the market. Which means we need to acknowledge that climate change has altered the math on protecting the places we live and work.

“How do we work together to solve this in a way where everybody feels they’re sharing a lot of the burden?” asked Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who is a member of the Assembly Insurance Committee but wasn’t directly involved in the negotiations in recent weeks.

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Jones-Sawyer said he’s deeply concerned about passing along the financial burden of climate disasters to consumers, specifically citing residents in his South L.A. district. In California, with its poverty and entrenched income inequality, many just can’t afford it.

“On the Assembly side, it was a great concern that we did not overprice our constituents,” he said. “If your homeowner’s insurance went from $2,000 a year, which is relatively low, but skyrocketed to $6,000 a year, in one year, who’s monitoring that? When it gets to that number, it becomes a little too much.”

In the short-term, fixing this mushrooming insurance crisis will probably fall to California’s insurance commissioner, Ricardo Lara — perhaps through an executive order from Newsom, though the governor doesn’t have authority to regulate insurance.

Lara, of course, does, but his power isn’t unlimited. And so what we will probably see in coming weeks is a three-pronged plan meant to attack the immediate problem while leaving the larger, more profound questions for later.

First, Lara will probably work to bolster the state’s FAIR plan, the insurance of last resort for many — including Newsom, who owns a home covered by it.

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Second, how we assess risk will probably be changed from models that look at past disasters to models that project forward, taking risks of climate change into account.

And third, Lara will probably seek to streamline the process of raising rates — which in California can be hard to do with regulations designed to protect consumers from obscene price hikes.

But this isn’t just about insurance. It’s just that insurance is the first system to face collapse.

“You can have debates about these various proposals, but what’s underlying all that is climate change, and it’s only going to get worse,” Jones said.

::

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One way or another, all taxpayers will be forced to pay more for the worsening effects of climate change.

Even if Lara requires insurance companies to account for forest thinning and other other landscape mitigation projects that reduce the risk of disasters — which he should — someone will have to pay for those projects. That “someone” will be taxpayers.

And in the many high-risk places in California, where mitigation probably won’t make much of a dent, it will be taxpayers who will be on the hook to rebuild these communities after an increasingly inevitable disaster.

There are already signs we’ll be paying more at the federal level.

Consider that just last month, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell took the alarming step of warning that the agency is running out of money after a year of nonstop disasters.

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The roughly $3.4 billion it has left in its Disaster Relief Fund, mostly used to reimburse communities for long-term recovery efforts, will be gone by this month. In response, President Biden has asked Congress for an additional $16 billion.

“Every American rightly expects FEMA to show up when they are needed to help in a disaster,” Biden told reporters during a tour of the damage Hurricane Idalia left in Florida. “I’m calling on the United States Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to ensure the funding is there to deal with the immediate crises, as well as our long-term commitments to the safety and security of the American people.”

This isn’t the first time FEMA has been in this predicament and it probably won’t be the last, leaving taxpayers to continually bail out the agency, so the agency can continually bail out communities destroyed by climate-change-fueled disasters.

Now imagine what will happen if there’s also a full-on breakdown of the insurance market. This possible eventuality was the focus of a recent hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

“Without insurance, millions of families will be at greater risk for climate crises,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the committee, said during the hearing. “And as whole communities lose access to insurance, the impact is going to be felt all the way through our economy.”

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That would be the greatest of disasters, and a place where California doesn’t need to lead on climate.

Politics

See How Trump’s and Biden’s Campaign Rhetoric Compares

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See How Trump’s and Biden’s Campaign Rhetoric Compares

biden

President, not King

July 6 at 6:49 p.m.

trump

BIDEN IS A VEGETABLE!

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July 11 at 8:28 p.m.

trump

All out political warfare.

July 5 at 9:43 p.m.

biden

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Pundits and politicians

July 5 at 8:34 p.m.

biden

The dangers of Project 2025

July 10 at 3:09 p.m.

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trump

Don’t Tread On MAGA

July 9 at 8:22 p.m.

In the wake of the recent assassination attempt on former President Donald J. Trump, much attention has focused on heated political rhetoric in the 2024 presidential race. To capture a slice of the candidates’ language, we examined all of the campaign emails Mr. Trump and President Biden sent in the week before the deadly shooting at a Trump rally. Here’s how they discussed each other, their political rivals and what’s at stake in November’s election.

biden

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Pundits and politicians

July 5 at 8:34 p.m.

If you want to chip in to help me defeat Donald Trump again, I’d appreciate your support today.

Read full email ›

trump

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All out political warfare.

July 5 at 9:43 p.m.

If we’re going to SAVE AMERICA from TOTAL ANNIHILATION, I’ll need MILLIONS OF FREEDOM FIGHTERS …

Read full email ›

A majority of the emails are requesting donations, but their tone varies significantly.

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trump

Did you miss that second question?

July 6 at 6:03 a.m.

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trump

I need you to be my voice

July 6 at 9:11 a.m.

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Mr. Trump frequently uses apocalyptic rhetoric, warning that his rematch with Mr. Biden is “the final battle” to “SAVE AMERICA.”

trump

Immunity? Immunity. Immunity!

July 6 at 12:33 p.m.

I’m calling on ONE MILLION PRO-TRUMP PATRIOTS to step up and demand an END TO ALL BIDEN WITCH HUNTS!

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Read full email ›

Mr. Biden’s language tends to be more anodyne.

biden

The pundits have gotten everything wrong

July 6 at 12:59 p.m.

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… not only are we going to beat Trump again this November, but we are going to go on to do what many think impossible in my second term: codify Roe, ban assault weapons, expand Social Security, and more.

Read full email ›

trump

John, should I have a rally in your city?

July 6 at 3:32 p.m.

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… sadly, thanks to the Biden Regime’s many corrupt WITCH HUNTS being held against me, there are only so many rallies I can hold.

Read full email ›

trump

Blowing in the wind

July 6 at 3:46 p.m.

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I just want to say thank you for all the love you’ve showered me during the BIDEN TRIALS!

Read full email ›

trump

YOUR NAME on Trump Force Two?

July 6 at 6:33 p.m.

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biden

President, not King

July 6 at 6:49 p.m.

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The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump is a convicted felon who will weaponize the highest office in the land to enact revenge and retribution on his political opponents. And we must do everything we can to stop that from happening.

Read full email ›

trump

You can’t see it at night

July 6 at 8:31 p.m.

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biden

🇺🇸 To all of President Biden’s supporters and anyone who wants to beat Donald Trump ⛅️

July 6 at 8:55 p.m.

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If reelecting Joe Biden and defeating Trump feels worth $25 to you, please take a minute to secure the future of our campaign by making a donation.

Read full email ›

trump

Chris, you have my endorsement!

July 6 at 9:56 p.m.

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trump

Chris, thank you for everything

July 7 at 8:02 a.m.

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Mr. Trump often rails against the “deep state,” a core belief of the QAnon conspiracy theory that a shadowy cabal of elite pedophiles controls media and politics.

trump

You are one of my most trusted strategic advisors

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July 7 at 11:38 a.m.

I’ll be relying on your input on everything from stopping BIDEN’S BORDER INVASION to taking back our country from the CORRUPT DEEP STATE.

Read full email ›

trump

Here’s our chance to work closely together

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July 7 at 3:19 p.m.

I look forward to working closely with you to defeat the WORST President in American history!

Read full email ›

The Biden campaign’s core message is that re-electing Trump would threaten democracy.

biden

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The American people have seen who Donald Trump really is

July 7 at 9:18 p.m.

trump

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Illegals voting in DC?

July 8 at 6:31 a.m.

The SICK Dreams of Democrats are happening right before our eyes. Just wait, in a few years, every CRIMINAL, INSANE PERSON, AND RAPIST the Third World has DUMPED at our border will make our country RECOGNIZABLE.

Read full email ›

trump

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Black eye?

July 8 at 7:47 a.m.

trump

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Biden is dropping out!

July 8 at 12:31 p.m.

With that Sleepy son of a gun completely gone and out of here, ARE YOU STILL VOTING FOR TRUMP?

Read full email ›

biden

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Let me be clear: I’m running.

July 8 at 1:01 p.m.

I’m not leaving, I’m in this race to the end, and WE are going to win this election

Read full email ›

Mr. Trump is the more prolific emailer. Since the beginning of the year, he has sent out roughly 11 emails, on average, per day. Mr. Biden has sent out roughly four.

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biden

$25. One time, folks.

July 8 at 2:44 p.m.

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trump

If you’ve ever voted for me, I need you to read this

July 8 at 3:44 p.m.

My biggest TRUMP RALLY BLITZ of the year kicks off RIGHT NOW, giving us one shot to PROVE to the deranged TRUMP-HATING leftists that MAGA IS STRONGER THAN EVER!

Read full email ›

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trump

I’m touched by your thoughtful and detailed responses

July 8 at 6:24 p.m.

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trump

Sick!

July 9 at 6:36 a.m.

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trump

Migrant crime is tearing our country apart

July 9 at 9:24 a.m.

Only someone who truly hates our country would allow an invasion like this to continue.

Read full email ›

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trump

Will you write me a personal letter?

July 9 at 12:23 p.m.

Your unwavering support is a beacon of light during the darkest days in America’s history.

Read full email ›

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biden

We apologize…

July 9 at 1:45 p.m.

Help us ensure four more years of progress while keeping Donald Trump out of the White House.

Read full email ›

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biden

I’m asking you to sign your name to show you stand with me, Kamala, and Democrats across the country

July 9 at 5:26 p.m.

We must focus our attention and our efforts on defeating Trump, on defending American democracy, and on protecting people’s freedoms.

Read full email ›

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trump

Don’t Tread On MAGA

July 9 at 8:22 p.m.

I’m speaking directly to Joe Biden and the rest of the mob that wants to throw me in prison: DON’T TREAD ON MAGA!

Read full email ›

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trump

I wanted to be the one to congratulate you

July 9 at 9:10 p.m.

THANK YOU for standing firm against Crooked Joe Biden’s LAWFARE AND CORRUPTION. THANK YOU for refusing to surrender our country to the Radical Left Democrats.

Read full email ›

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trump

Agenda 47 ELIMINATED?

July 10 at 11:46 a.m.

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Even the difference in the boilerplate language at the bottom of each email is striking. This is Trump’s:

trump

I’m only asking my most trusted advisors

July 10 at 2:39 p.m.

It’s because of grassroots supporters like YOU that we’ve been able to consistently call out the Fake News media EVERY SINGLE TIME they try to spread misinformation or outright LIES about the important work President Trump is doing to SAVE AMERICA. Reaching grassroots supporters directly is CRITICAL if we’re going to Save America from Joe Biden and the Left.

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Read full email ›

This is Biden’s:

biden

The dangers of Project 2025

July 10 at 3:09 p.m.

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Thank you so much for being a supporter of President Biden and Vice President Harris. We don’t want to bother you. If you’d like to only receive our most important emails, click here. If you’d like to unsubscribe from all Biden for President emails, you can click here.

Read full email ›

trump

Your endorsement will put me over the top, John

July 10 at 5:47 p.m.

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biden

Clearing things up

July 10 at 6:16 p.m.

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trump

Thank you!

July 10 at 8:18 p.m.

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biden

3 facts

July 10 at 9:08 p.m.

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Donald Trump and the RNC are sitting on a massive war chest — fueled by MAGA extremists and billionaires vying for big tax breaks on the backs of working Americans.

Read full email ›

trump

Biden’s replacement just announced!

July 11 at 7:54 a.m.

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… this is our moment to drive the FINAL STAKE into this FAILED administration.

Read full email ›

trump

I’m launching the Trump War Council.

July 11 at 9:38 a.m.

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trump

I could’ve gone to prison today…

July 11 at 9:48 a.m.

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… send the liberal mob a powerful message that MAGA WILL NEVER SURRENDER!

Read full email ›

trump

Put Biden on trial

July 11 at 12:14 p.m.

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trump

All hell breaks loose in 7 days!

July 11 at 12:26 p.m.

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trump

Kiss Social Security goodbye!

July 11 at 3:34 p.m.

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biden

This team is a major reason why we won in 2020, and with your support, we’ll win this November too.

July 11 at 7:18 p.m.

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The MAGA Right is spending millions and millions of dollars on attack ads in states across the country to spread their lies and extremist propaganda.

Read full email ›

trump

Gift for Chris

July 11 at 8:26 p.m.

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trump

BIDEN IS A VEGETABLE!

July 11 at 8:28 p.m.

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biden

Just as we beat Donald Trump in 2020, we are going to beat him again in 2024.

July 11 at 9:07 p.m.

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Just as we beat Donald Trump in 2020, we are going to beat him again in 2024.

Read full email ›

trump

Do you need a job?

July 11 at 9:25 p.m.

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I look forward to working closely with you to beat the Biden Sham Trials and achieve the greatest victory this country has ever seen!

Read full email ›

biden

re: my press conference

July 11 at 11:25 p.m.

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Everything we’ve accomplished so far and the future of our country hang in the balance.

Read full email ›

trump

Disgrace!

July 12 at 12:09 p.m.

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These WITCH HUNTS are conceived by political operatives for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE!

Read full email ›

trump

My Letter to America

July 12 at 3:26 p.m.

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America has been DESTROYED. The DEEP STATE has attacked me. Patriots like you have been caught in the CROSSFIRE of Biden’s Rampage.

Read full email ›

Mr. Trump made only one reference during this period to America being “destroyed,” a theme that he typically hammers more regularly.

trump

I’ll never forget what you did for me

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July 12 at 8:38 p.m.

The radical left fought hard to prevent this day from coming but they failed miserably. I WILL NEVER SURRENDER. WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER.

Read full email ›

trump

Biden could drop out tomorrow…

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July 12 at 9:11 p.m.

Democrats think they can just swap out cognitively impaired Crooked Joe Biden and steal this election.

Read full email ›

biden

I’m kindly asking for your $25 to help us defeat Trump, stop Project 2025, and continue our progress for the American people.

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July 12 at 10:07 p.m.

We stand for the proposition that all people are created equal — and I’ll be damned if I let Donald Trump walk this nation away from it.

Read full email ›

biden

Team Joe Newsletter: Project 2025 Edition

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July 13 at 8:11 a.m.

Project 2025 is a blueprint for an incoming conservative president spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation.

trump

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From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do

July 13 at 9:32 a.m.

I’ve been inspired by your REFUSAL to surrender our country to the radical left MARXISTS.

Read full email ›

biden

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We need people across the country to rush their immediate grassroots support

July 13 at 1:51 p.m.

trump

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I’m addressing the nation in 60 minutes!

July 13 at 4:42 p.m.

ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE IN ONE HOUR! When I take the rally stage, I could be making a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT that’s sure to strike FEAR into the hearts of our DEEP STATE ENEMIES.

Read full email ›

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Soon after these emails were sent, a man fired multiple shots toward the stage during Mr. Trump’s rally in Butler, Pa., killing one spectator and critically injuring two others. Immediately following the assassination attempt, Mr. Trump added the words “unity” and “peace” to some of his emails. Mr. Biden noted “the need for us to lower the temperature in our politics.” The following day, Mr. Trump assured supporters that “we will CRUSH the Far-Left plot to steal America.”

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Politics

Fox News Politics: The Call is Coming from Inside the House

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Fox News Politics: The Call is Coming from Inside the House

Welcome to Fox News’ Politics newsletter with the latest political news from Washington D.C. and updates from the 2024 campaign trail. 

TRUMP TAKES THE STAGE: Don’t miss it as Former President Trump delivers his acceptance speech tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Fox News Channel. Follow along for more updates.

What’s happening…

-Biden seems to forget the name of his Defense Secretary

-Speaker Johnson weighs in on Secret Service Director’s surprise RNC visit

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-Democrat delegation privately discussing Biden’s replacement

Biden’s still standing…for now

MILWAUKEEPresident Biden’s re-election campaign is pushing back against a slew of reports in the past 24 hours that the president has become more receptive in the last couple of days to hearing arguments about why he should drop his 2024 re-election run.

“Our campaign is not working through any scenarios where President Biden is not at the top of the ticket. He is and will be the Democratic nominee,” Biden principal deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks told reporters at a news conference Thursday morning near the site of the Republican National Convention.

Fulks emphasized that “the president has said it several times. He’s staying in this race” and “we look forward to him accepting the [nomination of the] delegates in Chicago and continuing with this race to talk about what’s at stake.”…Read more

President Biden’s disastrous debate performance “changed people’s calculations about how candid they would be” about his cognitive issues, according to Olivia Nuzzi. ((Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) | (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images) | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images))

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White House

GAZA ‘GIMMICK’: Biden’s ‘national embarrassment’ ends as $230 million Gaza pier ceases operation …Read more

BAD WITH NAMES?: Biden seems to forget the name of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in interview …Read more

‘SO DEPRESSING’: Joy Behar believes President Biden will drop out of the race …Read more

‘NANCY, TAKE THE WHEEL’: ‘Walls closing in’ on Biden, ex-Clinton aide Paul Begala warns …Read more

‘STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS’: Biden’s record will likely drag down longtime Senate Dem: McCormick …Read more

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Capitol Hill

OPEN SECRET: Mike Johnson weighs in on Secret Service director’s surprise RNC appearance …Read more

Tales from the Campaign Trail

‘FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP’: NY Times columnist says Dems need to push Biden out, compares him to elderly parent …Read more

‘COMPLETELY CORRUPT’: Charlamagne claims SCOTUS could overturn election in favor of Trump …Read more

MIDWEST STATE OF MIND: JD Vance’s first speech signals heavy Rust Belt campaign presence …Read more

‘DRAMATICALLY’ CHANGED: Alina Habba takes on major role in Trump campaign, dishes on his highly anticipated RNC speech …Read more

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Mike Johnson speaking during the second day of the Republican National Convention

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaking during the second day of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Convention Chatter

‘PAINFUL EXPERIENCE’: Democratic delegates discussing Biden resignation possibilities in private chats: report …Read more

‘CAN’T HIDE’: Blackburn slams Secret Service chief for ‘celebrating’ at RNC after Trump assassination attempt …Read more

TRUMP SPOTLIGHTS BIDEN TURMOIL:  Former President Trump’s campaign is contrasting with what they call a “unified” GOP at the Republican National Convention …Read more

‘CHAOS’ IN CHICAGO: Dems will showcase ‘dysfunction’ at August gathering, Illinois congressman predicts …Read more

Across America

TERROR RETURNS: ISIS attacks ramp up in Iraq and Syria …Read more

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WHAT’S IN HERE?: Watch police comb through Trump shooter’s van that sources say hid explosive devices …Read more

HERO’S WAKE: Trump shooting victim Corey Comperatore’s casket escorted by firefighters …Read more

‘TOO REAL’: Trump shooter used gaming site that features chilling assassination game …Read more

PREPARED FOR AMBUSH: Secret Service source reveals shocking twist in would-be Trump assassin’s deadly plan …Read more

MISSED TARGET: SWAT expert explains how Secret Service could have prevented Trump attempted assassination …Read more

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LGBT KOREANS: South Korea’s top court issues landmark ruling recognizing some rights for same-sex couples …Read more

Subscribe now to get Fox News Politics newsletter in your inbox.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more on FoxNews.com.

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Opinion: The GOP's bait and switch on abortion

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Opinion: The GOP's bait and switch on abortion

When Republicans affirmed their party’s platform this week, it included a supposedly moderated position on abortion. Don’t believe it.

For decades, the GOP has explicitly pledged its support for a so-called human life amendment, which would extend the protections of the 14th Amendment — its guarantees of due process and equality under the law — to a zygote, from the moment an egg is fertilized, thereby banning abortion as a matter of constitutional law.

Donald Trump’s 2024 platform drops any mention of a human life amendment, emphasizes state control of abortion and explicitly expresses support for both contraception and in vitro fertilization. He seems to have successfully sidelined the most ardent abortion foes and pushed the party a little closer to the center on the issue, where most voters are after the Supreme Court’s overthrow of Roe vs. Wade.

Look more carefully, however, and you see that the Republican platform doesn’t abandon the party’s longstanding commitment to fetal personhood. It simply updates it, and hides it behind less direct language.

“We proudly stand for families and for life,” the GOP 2024 abortion plank begins, before it goes on to assert that the 14th Amendment’s guarantees back up an antiabortion stance. As one party official insisted, the language in no way strays from an adamant “pro-life” position because “there’s protection under the Constitution.”

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And while the platform suggests that abortion should be left to the states, the message is there for those in the know: Constitutional fetal personhood would override state laws, even where ballot initiatives protect abortion rights.

The assertion of constitutional fetal personhood, however veiled it might appear to some, reflects an antiabortion strategy that is ascendant in the post-Roe vs. Wade era.

While Roe was the law of the land, fighting directly for a personhood amendment seemed necessary. If the Supreme Court would not reverse its 1973 decision — as long was the case — a constitutional amendment was the only way to undo the right to choose. But it would also require hard-to-achieve supermajorities in Congress and the states in support of a radical and unpopular idea. Rather than trying to overcome that hurdle and amend the Constitution, why not just change its judicial interpretation?

Winning over federal judges was much easier said than done. Even conservative judges and legal scholars weren’t always comfortable with the antiabortion movement, and it seemed their methods of constitutional interpretation, including originalism, some versions of which claim to identify the original public meaning of the text, would not deliver fetal personhood. Over time, however, the antiabortion movement and the conservative legal movement began to unite, finding an originalist angle to endorse: that from the get-go, the nation’s founders believed the unborn child had rights to due process and equality under the law.

In other words, a constitutional human life amendment is unnecessary because the 14th Amendment already guarantees fetal rights. The 2024 GOP abortion plank gestures to just that interpretation.

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Of course a party platform is more about theory than practice. As to what a new Trump administration can and would do on the abortion front, there are other sources to look to.

Project 2025, for example, the widely discussed Trump 2.0 blueprint developed by the Heritage Foundation, promotes the revivification of the Comstock Act, a 19th century anti-obscenity law that conservatives — including the vice presidential candidate J.D. Vance — have argued prevents the mailing of abortion-related items. Enforcing it as Project 2025 envisions could create a de facto federal ban because virtually every abortion requires the use of something, from a scalpel to a pill, once put in the mail.

Or perhaps new Trumpian leadership at the FDA would act to reverse the agency’s scientists and take mifepristone, the medication abortion drug used in more than half of all U.S. abortions, off the market.

Or this: Some antiabortion groups have proposed that if Trump wins in November, he could simply use executive power to advance fetal personhood.

Most important for the antiabortion cause, a second presidential term would mean a chance for Trump to move the courts even further to the right. Instead of having to deal with Congress and politicians who worry about the displeasure of voters, abortion foes could rely on like-minded judges to push fetal personhood, judges with lifetime appointments. Trump has already helped the movement with picks such as Matthew Kacsmaryk, the federal judge in Texas who compares the abortion-rights movement to Nazism.

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If you read between the lines, the GOP’s platform is not about moderation. It’s about creating the appearance of moderation, all while assuring the far-right’s antiabortion crusaders that a national abortion ban is still coming if a second Trump administration has anything to say about it.

It may just be a matter of time.

Mary Ziegler is a law professor at UC Davis and the author of “Roe: The History of a National Obsession.”

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