Nel's New Day

February 22, 2020

DDT: Week 161 – The Chaos Continues

This last week Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) retaliation went beyond firing Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire. In his reign of revenge, DDT fired Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood, who began his federal career under George W. Bush. Rood made the mistake of questioning DDT’s freeze on military aid for Ukraine and warned Defense Secretary Mark Esper that withholding the aid would “undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia.” Another Rood sin, in DDT’s eyes, was telling Congress that Ukraine was initiating significant reforms to get the funding which undermined one of DDT’s arguments for keeping the congressionally-appropriated money from Ukraine. Rood is the ninth recent DDT-instigated departure from the DOD.

Victoria Coates, deputy national security adviser, was moved to the Energy Department because Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade adviser, thinks—with no evidence—that she is the anonymous author of the book A Warning and of the op-ed criticizing DDT in September 2018. A week ago, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who hired Coates as his deputy to manage Middle East and North Africa issues, said she would not be moved from the job; a few days ago he confirmed her move. Navarro was given his job with the administration after DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner saw his name while browsing Amazon and seeing the title of his book, Death by China. Many of DDT’s misguided beliefs about trade can directly be traced to Navarro.

DDT is even threatening to get Neil Cavuto fired from the Fox network after the host allowed A.B. Stoddard to say, when she was making the point that Mike Bloomberg’s bad debate performance didn’t damage him:

“Donald Trump had many disastrous debate performances. Many answers were so cringeworthy that you couldn’t believe that he was still standing on the stage, and he’s President.”

DDT spent 15 minutes of his Colorado campaign rally ranting about Cavuto, ending in incoherence about his enemies:

“They want to take you out. They want to change the results. They got caught spying—let’s say it like it is, right?—they got caught spying on our election, fake news. Hey, fake news: take your cameras for a change, and show them the room, and show them behind you.”

DDT told Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he could abolish collective bargaining rights for the Defense Department’s 750,000 civilian workers, a move unions decried as part of the administration’s far-reaching assault on organized labor. “national security” and that, if necessary, collective bargaining rights at the department should be scrapped in the interest of “protecting the American people.” The workers have been guaranteed by law since 1962.

Floridians passed an initiative allowing voting rights to up to 1.4 million people who served sentences for all but the most serious crimes, but the state legislature spent over a year trying to stop them by requiring them to pay all court-related fines and fees in order to register. Florida funds its court system with heavy fines. Disenfranchised blacks are five times the rate of any other state. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court has upheld a ruling opposing the Republicans’ poll tax for voting for the 17 plaintiffs. The decision opens the door for the remainder of affected people to vote, but a review by the entire court may change the decision because DDT has flipped the court to majority Republican. DDT’s Supreme Court could also overturn the ruling.

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), that leaker/liar to DDT, most recently who got Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire fired for allowing a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee. Last year, Nunes filed a racketeering lawsuit against Fusion private investigation started by a GOP company to discredit DDT during his campaign. The judge not only refused the $9.9 million in damages but also indicated that he would sanction Nunes and his attorney if he pushed the lawsuit. Nunes claimed that he was a victim of “active, coordinated and ongoing corruption, fraud and obstruction of justice” in his efforts to investigate the firm’s role proving stoking DDT’s ties to Russia during his 2016 campaign. He is known for his litigious obsession.

In his budget, DDT has ghosted women to the point of making them invisible. Gone are programs for women in healthcare, family planning, and paid leave while making tax cuts for the wealthy and big business permanent. Almost 40 million women get their health coverage from childbirth and family planning to chronic disease and disability care from Medicaid, which is being erased.

Over half of all women—68 million—have preexisting conditions. These include six million pregnancies each year, considered by insurance companies as a “preexisting condition.” Women also have chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes at higher rates as well as cervical cancer. The budget also eliminates family planning funding for Planned Parenthood and an evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program. DDT’s paid leave plan ignores 75 percent of workers needing paid leave for their own health issues, care for ill or injured family members, and a military family member’s deployment. Also missing are solutions for sick days for shorter-term illnesses such as flu or care for a sick child.

While reducing domestic spending, DDT increased nuclear weapons spending by 20 percent in both the Defense Department ($28.9 billion) and the National Nuclear Security Administration ($19.8 billion) to a total of $46 billion.

Some people said that the impeachment trial was a waste of time, but DDT’s legal team provided arguments for Democrats suing to obtain DDT’s tax returns. When they asked a judge to lift a stay on the lawsuit, they used statements from Jay Sekulow and Alan Dershowitz who refuted the position “that the House is constitutionally barred from obtaining judicial enforcement of its subpoenas.”

During the impeachment inquiry and trial, DDT’s GOP supporters consistently cited the media as support for their lies about investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Without using the name of John Solomon, Republicans sourced the misrepresentations using conflicts of interest for opinion pieces in the sometimes-credible conservative publication The Hill. After an investigation into Solomon’s work, The Hill has released an evaluation—too little, too late—of problems in Solomon’s supposedly journalistic work and the changes that they are making as attempts to return “to report the news in a nonpartisan and fair way.” The problem is that this action was not taken before GOP Senators unleashed DDT in a virulent purge of quality career employees throughout the government through an acquittal of his unconstitutional behavior. 

Solomon’s columns guided DDT into demanding investigations of the Bidens, and DDT’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani promoted Solomon’s writings through Twitter. Fox’s Sean Hannity also promoted Solomon and his disinformation. Paul Farhi reported:

The Hill said Solomon amplified an inaccurate and one-sided narrative about the Bidens and Ukraine that was fed to him by Giuliani, ‘facilitated’ by businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani at the time, and reinforced by Solomon’s own attorneys, who also represented clients embroiled in U.S.-Ukraine politics.”

According to the evaluation of 14 Solomon columns and related videos, The Hill didn’t retract or apologize the articles. Solomon still contributes to Fox.

A U.S. jury awarded a Missouri peach farmer over $265 million for years of crop losses because of drifting dicamba weed killer, produced by Monsanto. The farm, which lost 30,000 trees, didn’t use the herbicide, but Monsanto sold GMO soybeans and cotton seeds to their neighbors without EPA approval. This was the first dicamba legal challenge to go to trial, but it will be followed by many others affected by a destructive and untested product. German chemicals company Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 and plans an appeal while fighting a multitude of lawsuits alleging that the weed killer Roundup causes cancer, 140 cases related to dicamba, safety risks from its Essure birth control device, and suits regarding PCB-contaminated waterways.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in trouble after she ignored her staff and kept open a for-profit “accredited” college with neither faculty nor students. Originally tied to the University of Northern Virginia, Reagan National University moved to Sioux Falls (SD) having “among the laxest rules for colleges in the country,” according to a report.

DDT’s BLM is empowering far-right ideological “constitutionalist” theories negating federal government power by allowing local sheriffs to ignore BLM regulations. The current acting director, William Perry Pendley, believes that the federal government has no right to own federal lands. The “constitutional” approach originated with the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic organizations of the 1970s and 1980s and later developed from a Mormon ideologue and the 1990s Militia of Montana and Montana Freemen.

Fans protested because Fox sports didn’t show DDT’s campaign speech last Sunday although it was on Fox “news.” Maybe the sports channel didn’t want to embarrass DDT by showing him following the words on his speech like a beginning reader. Once again DDT broke the law by using taxpayer resources for campaigning during his lap today at Daytona in the presidential limousine. And once again Republicans won’t care.

February 16, 2020

DDT: Week 160 – More Corruption

DDT wants more money to kill people with military funding, less money to help people in the United States. Pieces of his budget cuts:

DDT’s tariffs dropped farm prices, and his budget slashes crop insurance, used to support corn and soybean farmers for low prices, by 31 percent. Another 10-percent cut would remove incentives for farmers to keep soil in place and reduce water pollution. Last year, farmers faced “soil-destroying mega-storms, export-killing trade wars, low crop prices, and spiking bankruptcies,” reported Tom Philpott. DDT’s $28 billion handout to farmers ended this month, and the coronavirus decimated trade, despite DDT’s bragging about his “deal” with China. Crop prices for corn and soybeans are “treading water right now,” according to University of Iowa agricultural economist Chad Hart. “The trade deals took us one step forward and coronavirus takes us one step back.” Hart said. National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson said:

“As both a presidential candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his appreciation for and dedication to American farmers. Yet year after year, his budget has failed to address the very real economic challenges facing rural communities.”

DDT’s budget continues his efforts to eliminate the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS and all federal funding for libraries. In addition to $23 million in the 2021 budget to close the IMLS, DDT asked for $33.4 million to do away with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and budgeted for the closure of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. [Other programs that DDT wants to eliminate.] Congress opposed these closures in the past: the FY2020 budget increased $10 million for the IMLS budget which included $6.2 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), funding equivalent to two of DDT’s weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago. ALA president Wanda Brown said:

“Eliminating federal funding for libraries is to forego opportunities to serve veterans, upskill underemployed Americans, start and grow small businesses, teach our kids to read, and give greater access to people with print disabilities in our communities.”

DDT’s rally audiences chant “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton and the tragedy at Benghazi, but DDT’s budget cuts the $5 million to honor J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed by terrorists at that Libyan diplomatic outpost. Despite 11 GOP hearings exonerating Clinton of any blame for the deaths of four people at Benghazi, State Department secretary Mike Pompeo accuses her of putting “political expediency” ahead of people “on the ground.” Now Pompeo and DDT are being investigated for their treatment of U.S. diplomats. The Stevens Initiative was created to memorialize his dedication to cultivating international exchanges; DDT is trying to eliminate the funding for the third time.

DDT’s budget cuts $4.5 billion, 25 percent, from the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), the military fund offsetting Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Last year’s reduction was $6 billion and the previous year, $6.5 billion. DDT opposes U.S. programs that provide training, resources, and funding for European foreign governments and takes money from the fund for his wall. The EDI funds are part of the budget category Overseas Contingency Operations, a slush fund for the Pentagon.

DDT’s budget, a political statement, gives his priorities. In these cases, he wants to get rid of the arts, education, and food production while protecting Russia.

In a letter to all 74 federal inspectors’ general, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader, is requesting an immediate investigation about the “shameful” and “illegal” White House retaliation against whistleblowers who raise concerns about the misconduct and abuses of power by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). In so doing, Schumer warned of a “dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the president and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness.” He said the attacks included the “attempts to publicly identify the anonymous whistleblower who used the proper legal channels to initially report the president’s attempts to compromise our national security for his personal benefit.”

The impeachment trial may be over, but the Senate Intelligence Committee has shown interest in talking to the whistleblower who set everything in motion. Committee chair Richard Burr (R-NC) is considering a subpoena for the person to testify. Vicechair Mark Warner (D-VA) hasn’t agreed with Burr but said that the person’s anonymity and safety “is a top priority.” Although not a committee member, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has pushed for the whistleblower to testify and called on Burr to investigate the “episode.” Roy Blunt (R-MO), not up for reelection, agrees with Graham; Susan Collins (R-ME), worried about her lack of popularity in her reelection year, is cautious without a “compelling case.”  

With no permit and wearing white face masks, 100 white supremacists marched in Washington, D.C. and shouted “Reclaim America!” Police protected these members of Patriot Front, a group promoting “American Fascism,” while they broke the city law. The organization wants to “reclaim our nation’s capital from Jews, Marxists, and anti-white enemies in government who want to see white Americans erased. We seek to build a fascist homeland in the ashes of a failing democracy.”

Paramilitary groups are trying to join the mainstream by declaring themselves a “non-profit” groups as Washington state’s chapter of Three Percent, part of the “Patriot Movement,” has done. Their racist ideology, however, hasn’t changed.

As white domestic terrorist groups gain power, the FBI created the ability to attack peaceful protesters. Under Director Christopher Wray, the FBI put pro-choice “violence” in the same only one episode of pro-choice-inspired terrorism, a threat in an online comments section. Of 850 current domestic terrorism cases, 50 percent concerned anti-government extremism and 40 percent concerned racist terrorism. The remaining 85 cases concern animal rights, ecological degradation, abortion, and miscellaneous cases.

Wray may want to help the Supreme Court rule against abortion rights. This year’s Louisiana case is almost identical to the Texas law struck down three years ago that demanded doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a state-approved hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. SCOTUS determined that the Texas law provided “few, if any health benefits for women” while being “a substantial obstacle to women” in exercising a constitutional right. Two justices added to the court since then lean anti-abortion. The current case attacks Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) which blocks regulations constituting an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. Without this stipulation, states can make any unreasonable demands regarding women’s rights and abilities to have abortions. The FBI can then block any response from pro-choice activists by accusing them of violent extremism, especially with the help of activist AG Bill Barr.

After DDT said no one was harmed in the dozen rocket attacks by Iraqi militia, the Pentagon announced that 109 service members have traumatic brain injuries. DDT calls them “headaches.”

DDT is running for reelection on criminal reform but praises China for executing drug dealers. He full-throatedly campaigns for the Second Amendment with no restrictions on gun ownership but pushes against freedom of the press in the First Amendment. The only part of the constitution that DDT supports is the Second Amendment.

Most of the publicity about DDT’s retaliation concerned the Vindman brothers marched out of the White House, but DDT’s paranoid policy caused another 50 career professionals to be sent from the White House to their home agencies. Early DDT employees, who resigned or were fired, are now returning.

  • Hope Hicks, the former communications director who DDT looks upon as a daughter, is now his counselor.
  • Johnny McEntee, who lost his security clearance from gambling debts, will oversee the Presidential Personnel Office.
  • Stephen Miller ally Chad Mizelle, another DDT anti-immigrant loyalist, will be the unqualified appointee for DHS general counsel.   
  • Mandy Gunasekara, who pushed DDT to drop the Paris climate agreement, has returned as the EPA chief of staff.  
  • Former DDT chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer are now members of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Spicer quit after DDT hired Anthony Scaramucci for communications director; Priebus was fired after six months. Scaramucci had called Priebus a “leaker” and “a f*cking paranoid schizophrenic—a paranoiac.”

In a state of confusion during his speech in New Hampshire, DDT said, “The redemption money is paying for the wall.” He may mean “remittances” that undocumented workers send to their families out of the country, but the plan to collect this money was never enacted. The military funding for base housing, schooling, medical facilities and other improvements are paying for the wall.

More geography gaffes: While speaking in New Hampshire, DDT confused Concord, NH with Concord, MA, giving New Hampshire credit for the Massachusetts involvement in the American Revolution.

A majority of people, 55 percent, believe that DDT was not exonerated by his impeachment acquittal. More than that, 59 percent, think that the trial was conducted unfairly.  

December 21, 2019

DDT: Week 152 – Dems Busy beyond Impeachment with GOP Obstruction

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) used tweets on Friday to attack the conservative evangelical publication Christianity Today founded by Billy Graham because it advocated his impeachment. Adding to his 15,000+ lies in less than three years, he called the publication “a far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ … which has been doing poorly and … knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call….” He also tweeted, “I won’t be reading ET [sic] again!” Graham’s son Franklin Graham criticized CT’s position but said he had not read the editorial about impeaching DDT. Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of the piece, retired on January 3 after 30 years involved with the magazine. 

DDT continued to threatened $250 million funding for Ukraine by blocking a $1.4 trillion spending package funding the federal government through the end of September 2020 if it contained the provision that he must release funds for the U.S. ally within 45 days. Democrats gave in to his demands to keep the U.S. from a shutdown by withdrawing the deadline for the funding release. The bill also lost a mandate that letters authorizing the release of congressional funding must be made public. In the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DDT got his “space force,” and government employees got 12 weeks paid parental leave

The bills also raised the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and a 3.1% pay increase for the troops and civilian federal employees. DDT got $1.375 billion for his wall, partly repair and less than the $8 billion he wanted. Defense spending increased by $22 billion. Elimination of three taxes to pay for the Affordable Care Act adds $373 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Forty-seven Republicans, once the party of fiscal prudence, voted for the budget that leads to more deficits. The GOP tax 2017 tax law already reduced U.S. tax revenue which fell 2.5 percent of tax-to-GDP in 2018, the most of any country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Republicans managed to keep violent white supremacists in the military by blocking an amendment while non-violent transgender recruits are banned.

DDT’s signatures on the bills avoids a government shutdown days before the first anniversary of the last one, a rancorous event that lasted 35 days and cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

With a vote of 385 to 41, the House passed another major bill this week, the trade deal with Mexico and Canada called NAFTA Lite. The bill looks very different from DDT’s original draft; even the AFL-CIO approves. Gone are the pharmaceutical protections for drug companies, and appearing are higher labor standards in Mexico, faster dispute resolution, higher environmental standards, and stronger enforcement of the deal. Mexico almost backed out with the requirement of five people from the U.S. to supervise its labor arrangements. While not perfect, the new trade agreement is considered better than the original NAFTA, passed 23 years ago.

These major accomplishments negate DDT’s and Republicans’ assertion that the impeachment inquiry kept the House from addressing any other issues. DDT called the opposing party “the Do-Nothing Democrats,” but “do-nothing” better fits Republicans. The House’s hard work is visualized in this photo of 275 House bills DOA (Dead on Arrival) in the Senate because (Do-Nothing) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to acknowledge them. 

Facebook removed over 600 accounts connected to the pro-DDT conspiracy website The Epoch Times for using artificial-intelligence identities to push fake stories about topics including impeachment and elections. The network, “The BL,” was operated by Vietnamese users pretending to be Americans and using fake photos created by algorithms to fake real identities. In pushing the pro-DDT conspiracy theories, The Epoch Media group spent $9.5 million on ads to spread content on the pages and groups that FB suspended. DDT’s official FB page posts their stories. A U.S.-based media company, The Epoch Media group, has now joined foreign governments to use foreign people posing as U.S. people to push pro-DDT content to its 55 million followers. Publisher of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory, claimed that it has no connection to BL because it’s part of Epoch Times Vietnam and that their former employees creating and working for BL doesn’t show any connection with its 89 pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts.  The largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook until August, The Epoch Times was banned from buying FB ads after the company consistently violated FB’s political advertising rules.

One of the many lies in DDT’s Wednesday Michigan rally went viral, and Republicans, including DDT’s sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), demanded that DDT apologize. In response to Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) vote for impeachment, DDT said that her husband, a World War II veteran and former member of Congress, had gone to Hell. DDT also falsely claimed that Rep. Dingell had called him after her husband’s service to praise DDT when he called her. Pelosi said that DDT “misunderstands … that cruelty is not wit.”

The Dingell attack is part of DDT’s five ruling hallmarks:

Governing as perpetual warfare: us against them to inflame base and create deep divisions.

Governing by exhaustion: a war losing participants from boredom.

Governing by grievance and hyperbole: victimhood and martyrdom from declaring the BIGGEST or BEST or WORST as shown by the comparison of his impeachment to the Salem witch trials and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Governing by defiance: no matter the evidence, DDT also claiming that he’s never wrong.

Governing with “alternative facts”: over 15,000 lies in less than three years along with stories with no identification of people or changing names of characters. (Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) supports this position by telling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “We’ve beat the facts back all the time.”)

In exhaustion, the fifth top official at the Pentagon resigned within the past week from these positions: international cooperation in weapons systems, Asia policy, personnel and readiness, advanced research, and intelligence. Acting chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to depart following the impeachment trial after being ignored in personnel, policy, and impeachment decisions. Rumor suggests his replacement is founder of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who said he won’t run for re-election and may work for DDT, something that he’s done for the past three years.

More exhaustion at DDT’s Michigan rally appeared when his “four more years” chant died in fewer than ten seconds. At the rally, DDT also claimed, “The steel is back”: Two days later, US Steel laid off 1,545 workers in closing its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit.  In October, 376 Louisiana steel workers lost their jobs when Bayou Steel shut down its mill in LaPlace.

Senate Republicans keeps allowing Russia to interfere in U.S. elections while DDT’s administration fights to protect Russia from sanctions, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who usually walks in lockstep with DDT, introduced legislation to punish Russian people and companies for its interference in the 2016 election and its targeting of Ukraine, Syria, and dissidents for attacks. Sanctions were partly because of Russia’s capture of Ukrainian sailors and ships. DDT’s State Department sent a 22-page letter to Graham in opposition to his bill. It passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday with opposition from five of the 12 Republicans. McConnell can block the bill from going to the Senate floor.

After DDT met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office during the impeachment inquiry, Vladimir Putin-approved state TV confirmed that DDT is a Russian agent in a segment called “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting with Trump.” And DDT isn’t the “puppet master” as this photo, requested by DDT, shows in Lavrov standing as the power behind the throne. 

Russia does expect DDT to “face a very unhappy period” after he leaves the White House. A joke was whether Russians should “get another apartment in Rostov ready.” Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych settled in Rostov-on-Don when he fled to Russia in 2014. Valery Korovin, director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, said, “There are no disagreements or contradictions between Trump and Russia.” Putin-supporter and law professor Mikhail Antonov said, “Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections” and pin the blame on Ukraine.

Former White House officials say that DDT passes Russia propaganda such as the false theory about Ukrainian hacking supporting Clinton because Putin told him to do it.

A federal judge allowed the lawsuit against DDT and his administration alleging violation of federal records law after DDT confiscated and destroyed his meeting notes with Putin. No detailed records of DDT’s and Putin’s communication in their multiple meetings exist.

The White House is catching crazy from DDT’s conspiracy theories: reporter Brian Karem said it’s claiming that Hillary deliberately lost the election by getting help from Russian hacking so that DDT could be impeached. Although the logic sounds wacko, that is the culture of DDT’s administration. DDT also claimed that Democrats started trying to impeach him before he declared candidacy.

After DDT pardoned military war criminals, his approval rating with service members dropped—42 percent approval. Half of them gave DDT an unfavorable rating.

November 23, 2019

DDT: Week 148 – Misery Beyond Impeachment

The people of the United States had one victory this past week during the impeachment inquiry: the government didn’t shut down. Without a new budget—or an extension of the existing one—the situation would have returned to the same as December 22, 2018, almost a year ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) signed an extension until December 20 that passed the Senate by 74 to 20 (all Republicans) and the House by a mostly party-line vote of 231 to 192. The question is whether he will sign a new budget if it doesn’t have the $8.6 billion that he wants for his wall. Republicans want $5 billion for the structure, and Democrats include no money in all the spending bills they passed. Of the 12 annual spending bills required to fund military and federal agencies, lawmakers have agreed on not one of them. An alternative is to keep funding at current levels through the end of 2020, something that neither side wants. The passed extension includes a 3.1 percent military pay raise and funding for the census.

The bad news for people in the U.S. is that ISIS is rebounding after DDT’s actions causing greater instability in the Middle East by taking assistance from the Kurds. According to a Pentagon report, Turkey’s launch of a military operation caused by DDT’s actions has boosted ISIS ability to go abroad for attack. Despite Turkey’s claims about fighting the terror group, neither Turkey nor its proxy forces will carry through with its promises. The U.S. has stopped training “for commando teams, prison guards, counter-IED techniques, and other specialty skills” that the Kurds lack. DDT had moved the troops in northern Syria only to “protect the oil.” The report states that the Syrian forces joining the Turkish incursion “had not carried out any counterterrorism operations against ISIS since the start of the offensive and were unlikely to do so.” Instead, some of the Turkish-back militias that smuggled ISIS fighters into the area “probably maintain low-level ties to ISIS.” The “ceasefire” is also in name only with these militias engaging in murder and violence.

Last week, DDT insisted, “The ceasefire continues to hold” during his press conference with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I’m a big fan of the President,” DDT said about Erdogan. The Pentagon sent questions about the ceasefire to the State Department which didn’t respond. Christian genocide-survivors near Tal Tamr are also threatened by militia attacks.

Turkey is also sending ISIS fighters to their “home countries,” beginning with one to the U.S., another to Britain, and seven others to Germany. Erdogan said that he is sending thousands of ISIS-affiliated people in Turkey’s custody back to “their countries of origin.”

DDT sides against democracy and human rights in Hong Kong because he wants a good deal with China. This past week, the House on Wednesday passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by a vote of 417 to 1 (Thomas Massie, R-KY). The day before, the Senate unanimously approved the measure. DDT’s deference to Xi Jinping resembles that of his devotion to Vladimir Putin.

Last weekend, the media discussed the reason that DDT made an unscheduled trip to Walter Reed Medical Center. He said that it was to start his annual exam earlier; his last one was nine months ago. Yet the visit wasn’t on either his White House or personal calendar. The press secretary claimed he went because he had a free day, but the visit was on Saturday when DDT typically plays golf. The “routine checkups” described for the visit could easily be done at the White House, but results of drug combinations—amphetamines, phenylnephrine, and caffeine—would need more sophisticated equipment.

Press secretary Stephanie Grisham went on Jeanine Pirro’s show to report DDT’s fantastic health despite the fact that he works from 6:00 am to “very, very late at night” something his schedule doesn’t show. Pirro described DDT as “almost superhuman.” Grisham, the press secretary who has never had a press conference, said it was “dangerous for the country” for anyone to challenge the veracity of her claims.

With the world focused on the impeachment inquiry, the news has largely ignored a second whistleblower, this one who reported that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of DDT’s or VP Mike Pence’s tax returns. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair and ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee are now looking into the complaint with credible allegations of “evidence of possible misconduct,” specifically “inappropriate efforts to influence” the audit of Trump’s materials. The House Ways & Means Committee is also considering obtaining a deposition from the whistleblower and discussing whether to interview the person in a committee executive session.

Earlier this month, DDT’s campaigning failed to elect GOP governors in Kentucky and Louisiana. Now he has worse news: Louisiana’s GOP failed to get a supermajority in its legislature to override the Democratic governor’s veto. The census will bring legislative redistricting in 2020, and the GOP can no longer control the process.   

Clarence Mason Weaver, a new DDT pick for DDT’s advisory board for the reelection campaign device “Black Voices for Trump,” said that women are not equal to men and women should act like “handmaidens” rather than “queens.”

For DDT’s first five months in office, U.S. taxpayers paid his businesses $2,000 a day—over $250,000—for DDT’s Secret Service. He keeps his businesses, visits them with aides and security, and then charges the government for all their expenses. This unconstitutional act violates the Emoluments Clause which DDT calls “silly” and blames on Democrats.   

For the past four years, DDT has used Hillary Clinton’s secure private server as a weapon with constant cries “lock her up.” Yet no Republican has paid attention to Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the UN, after she sent sensitive and classified information through unsecured channels before she resigned as ambassador. Haley couldn’t find her secure password so on July 4, 2017, she used her unsecured BlackBerry 10 smartphone to send “confidential” information so her aides could “clean it up.” The subject was North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska. Haley communicated information about the danger of nuclear war with North Korea. DDT’s pressure to investigate Clinton’s email was probably a factor in her losing, and he continued to investigate everyone surround the issue up through this year.

Back in September when people were mysteriously dying from vaping, DDT supported a national ban on flavored vaping products and claimed, “We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our kids be so affected.” Regulators cleared the ban, and only DDT’s sign-off was needed. Big business got to him, however, and DDT backed down before a press conference on November 4. He thought the job losses would cause him political problems. Yesterday, he decided that maybe it would be okay if he raised the vaping age to 21. Although some of the deaths are for those under 21 years of age, the median age is 53 with patients’ ages ranging from 13 to 78. And DDT hasn’t signed off on anything about vaping.

Over the objections of the Army Corps of Engineers and Customs and Border Protection officials, Jared Kushner and other officials plan to live-stream DDT’s wall building. Contractors don’t want their techniques available to smugglers who have already sawed through new sections of DDT’s wall. Officials are also concerned that cameras will show work crews violating Mexican sovereignty as they wander south of the border with their vehicles and heavy equipment. U.S. costs will include building web connectivity and keeping people available to reposition the cameras. Kushner has called meetings every two weeks to push for faster construction. So far, DDT has replaced 81 miles of barrier.

Arrested for giving humanitarian aid to two young men from Central America in the Arizona desert, Scott Warren has been exonerated of two felony charges in his second trial. The first one ended in a mistrial with a hung jury. Warren had faced 20 years in prison if prosecutors had proved criminal intent instead of humanitarian aid.

AG Bill Barr said he was going to start executing federal inmates after 16 years of no capital punishment, but a U.S. District Court judge blocked the executions intended to be done by a single drug instead of a mix of three.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr is looking into the Trump Organization’s CFO Allen Weisselberg as part of its criminal investigation into DDT’s business affairs. The question is whether DDT recorded the hush-money reimbursements for DDT’s sexual affairs as “legal expenses,” with sham invoices. Weisselberg’s earlier immunity deal applied only to federal proceedings. Vance’s charges has remained on hold for almost a year until federal prosecutors said that their investigation was “effectively concluded.” The two-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor false-records charges ends on December 5, 2019. Vance is still waiting from the Supreme Court to see if they will hear DDT’s request for blanket immunity from criminal investigation. If the case is not heard, Vance will receive DDT’s tax returns by the end of the year.

March 30, 2019

DDT: Week 114 – Off the Rails without Attention to the Barr Report

This week should have been all about the release of the Mueller investigation, now known as the Barr Report after he put out four pages of misleading information for the real report that might have been almost 1,000 pages long. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) did start off with self-congratulatory claims for misleading information but managed to wander off track into the weeds and infuriate the GOP members of Congress.

Presented with a friendly—and irrational—court decision to nullify the Affordable Care Act, DDT ordered his AG lapdog to not defend the law because his own plan is better. He has no plan so he told GOP legislators to prepare one: they are refusing. Republicans even told DDT to drop his elimination of the ACA because healthcare issues brought a majority Democratic House. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called DDT to tell him that his plan won’t work, and two cabinet members, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and AG Bill Barr, disagreed with destroying the ACA. Yet DDT is calling the GOP the “party of health care” when he plans to destroy healthcare for tens of millions of people.

Effects of no ACA and no other health plan:

Two million young people will no longer need to be covered by their parents’ plans.

Twelve million people in poverty could be taken off Medicaid.

The number of uninsured people would increase by 21 million people, or 70 percent. Some states will suffer more; for example, Kentucky, state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will see an increase of 151 percent in uninsured to 379,000 people.

Medicare beneficiaries, as many as 60 million, would face higher costs for medical care, premiums, and medications. The coverage gap on medications, slowly closing because of ACA, will open up again, and people will pay more for preventive care such as wellness visits and diabetes checks. Cuts in government payment for hospitals and other providers, including private Medicare Advantage plans, will increase premiums. An experimental program to save money for 12 million people may disappear. Medicare’s revenue may drop by $346 billion without the ACA.

As many as 133 million U.S. residents with pre-existing conditions could be denied insurance coverage—52 million people—or face far higher premiums. These include common medical issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Being a woman was a “pre-existing condition” before the ACA because females could be denied health coverage or charged higher premiums. Before ACA, women were charged at least 30 percent more than men but denied maternity coverage.

Up to 171 million people will no longer be protected from caps used by insurers and employers to limit costs in coverage each year or for a lifetime.

Hospitals and doctors can lose $50 billion with the disappearance of health insurance. Rural areas may need to close hospitals, giving people less heath care for more money.

People forced back into junk health plans with little coverage will end up in medical bankruptcy, the #1 reason for bankruptcy in the United States.

The DOJ declaration that ACA is unconstitutional may give $1 billion to a Florida healthcare executive on trial for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Lawyers filed a motion for dismissal for accusations of kickbacks, fraud, and services that were not provided or medically unnecessary with the claim that the DOJ claimed that these offenses are unconstitutional. They want a mistrial. Either prosecutors contradict DDT’s position or agree with the executive’s claim that he should be exonerated. Releasing him from charges could result in everyone else convicted of this fraud under the ACA would demand release.

While DDT waits for the courts to destroy more people’s lives with lack of health care, a judge has struck down DDT’s rule to expand insurance plans not meeting the ACA requirements. The ruling references permission for small businesses and self-employed people to gather for association health plans. Lower costs in the “junk” plan means highly reduced health coverage, something that the ACA originally blocked.

In another health-related case, a federal judge threw out DDT’s Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the purpose of Medicaid is to extend health care benefits to low-income people, and the work requirements don’t fit with this goal.

A federal judge overturned DDT’s attempt to open 120 million acres in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic Ocean for fossil fuel drilling and declared his action illegal. Plaintiffs had argued that presidents may issue bans to withdraw from offshore oil leasing and development, but other presidents are not permitted to reinstate that development. Only Congress can take that action. Appeals could face the 9th Circuit Court and perhaps the Supreme Court. Oregon has also passed a law blocking drilling off its coast.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court blocked a lethal injection in Texas because the prison refused to permit a Buddhist priest to be with a man in the death chamber. Last month, the same court allowed the death penalty to be executed on an Alabama convict for the same reason. Brett Kavanaugh changed his position about religious freedom for all religions in a month.

More bad press followed DDT and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with public protests that they had cut the entire $17.6 million budget for Special Olympics. DeVos made a fool of herself trying to defend the action in a congressional hearing and later explaining that she really liked the program after DDT claimed that he had “overridden my people” to give money to the program. DeVos joins at least 19 other DDT cabinet members to end up under the bus. No matter what, the decision isn’t theirs: only Congress can authorize the final budget.

DeVos had not only eliminated 29 education programs essential to kids with disabilities, including after-school programs for low-income kids, professional development for teachers, and mental health services, but is also attempting to convince people that bigger classes sizes are better for students.

After threatening to close “large chunks” of the southern border, DDT now says he will close the entire border to all trade if Mexico “doesn’t immediately stop all illegal immigration coming into the United States.” Five million people can lose their jobs if he goes through with his threat, and millions more can lose their health care and cheaper prescriptions obtained in Mexico. He also plans to slash almost $500 million in aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in a misguided attempt to cut down on the number of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. His plans will exacerbate current problems of violence, poverty, and lack of jobs—driving more migrants north. The U.S. doesn’t give funding to the government; it provides for programs, many of them administered by nonprofit groups trying to stop migration.

DDT said that pointing machine guns at immigrants seeking asylum would be more efficient than a wall. He also said, “I wouldn’t want to do it,” but he’s also known for changing his mind hourly—and maybe some of his followers will follow through on the suggestion. DDT is already “housing” immigrants in cages under a bridge.

In a follow-up to the closeness between the airline industry and acting FAA chair Daniel Elwell, ProPublica published emails between Elwell and his industry buddies showing how he protects them. Appointed as deputy administrator on June 26, 2017, Elwell continued his “support” of his former lobbying clients. On his federal financial disclosure, Elwell failed to list clients who paid him $282,500 in 2016 and part of 2017. Unlike other oversight agencies, the FAA both regulates and promotes the airline industry; Elwell takes the latter much more seriously. A Senate committee has scheduled Elwell to testify on airline safety next Wednesday.

“How Donald Trump Inflated His Net Worth to Lenders and Investors,” a must read, details his financial lies that could lead to charges of fraud and corruption.

A federal judge ordered the DOJ and FBI to turn over former FBI Director James Comey’s memos so that he can determine whether to release them to the public.

Twitter, which allows world leaders to violate their terms of service because of being “newsworthy,” may start labeling DDT’s tweets as “offensive” if others would not be allowed to send them.

Putting people at risk of identity theft and fraud, FEMA gave personal data of 2.3 million disaster victims to an outside contractor. Information included birth dates, partial Social Security numbers, full names, addresses, and financial information with details of banking information.

February’s national debt of $234 billion was 46 percent higher than for the entire year 2007, making an average monthly deficit under DDT at $117 billion, higher than the average monthly deficits during President Obama’s both terms. DDT said both said “I love debt” and promised to eliminate the national debt.

Polls in states that supported DDT in January 2017 are now opposed to him, shown by approval ratings above and below 50 percent:

  • Pennsylvania: 1/17: +10; 2/19: -7
  • Ohio: 1/17: +14; 2/19: -5
  • Michigan: 1/17: +7; 2/19: -15
  • Wisconsin: 1/17: +6; 2/19: -14
  • Iowa: 1/17: +9; 2/19: -10
  • Florida: 1/17: +22; 2/19: -2
  • Arizona: 1/17: +19; 2/19: -6
  • North Carolina: 1/17: +17; 2/19: EVEN
  • Georgia: 1/17: +18; 2/19: -1

DDT hoped that the Barr Report would help his ratings, but he’s in exactly the same place he was before its release—42 percent approval and 55 percent disapproval. Nothing seems to help him.

March 26, 2019

Nuclear Buildup – World Extermination

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:19 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Most people in the U.S. today don’t remember the drills in public schools in which young people were told to practice hiding under their desks in case of a nuclear attack. That practice may return—along with all those “active shooting” exercises that physically injure teachers—with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Oval Office. The Pentagon wants to spend $1.7 trillion to rebuild every piece of its nuclear arsenal, including some that were banned by the Russia-U.S. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty until DDT dumped the agreement. Sort of like getting rid of agreements to help curb climate change, keep Iran from nuclearization, eliminate relationships with previous allies in NATO, etc. The Pentagon goal is also add far more terrifying ones after National “security” adviser John Bolton orchestrated the withdrawal from the INF and tries to scuttle the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, up for renewal in 2021. Peace to hawkish Republicans and military leaders is comprised of gigantic stores of doomsday bombs and missiles that follow DDT’s philosophy of threats and intimidation.

Over a year ago, the Pentagon released its first official strategic policy since the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The role of nuclear weapons has transferred from reduction of nuclear weapons’ role to expansion and new “low-yield” munitions, intended to use against conventional forces. The new NPR claims that Russia and China have improved their nuclear powers although Russia reduced the number of its deployed nuclear warheads and China has made little upgrades to its relatively small stockpile. During the last decade, the Pentagon has spent $22 billion to upgrades.

The Pentagon’s plans “strategic” nuclear weapons aimed at other nuclear-armed countries in addition to the gravity bombs stored in Europe for air delivery against ground forces and installations. The goal is to obliterate countries if the Pentagon wishes. The result would be nuclear winter in which a cloud covers the sun for years or decades, finishing off human civilization. Robert Lamb’s description:

“Suddenly, the sky blazes with the radiance of a thousand suns. Millions of lives burn to ash and shadow. Finally, as nuclear firestorms incinerate cities and fo­rests, torrents of smoke ascend into the atmosphere to entomb the planet in billowing, black clouds of ash. The result is noontime darkness, plummeting temperatures. and the eventual death of life on planet Earth.”

The U.S. military follows the triad system: ground-based ICBMs, submarine-borne SLBMs, and long range bombers. If one fails, the others could still fight an enemy. Because submarines are the most effective, nuclear strategists have argued for eliminating one or two of the triad, but the Pentagon plans to keep the triad on the basis of faith, not practicality.

The New Start treaty blocked the U.S. strategic arsenal to the same level as Russia—a maximum of 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-armed long-range bombers. The U.S. has 400 silo-based Minuteman III ICBMs, each carrying one warhead; 280 multiple-warhead Trident II D5 SLBMs carried aboard 12 Ohio-class submarines, each capable of firing 20 missiles; and 20 B-2 stealth bombers, each capable of carrying 16 gravity bombs, plus up to 46 B-52H bombers, each capable of delivering 20 nuclear-armed, air-launched cruise missiles.

In addition to replacing the entire arsenal, the Pentagon plans to get a large number of low-yield weapons—large enough to destroy Hoboken (NY) but not all of New York City—to oppose enemy combat formations, command centers, and other battlefield components. These are needed, according to the Pentagon, to keep DDT from starting with nuclear war. Russia would never swallow such garbage thinking, but the Pentagon thinks that these “smaller” weapons are more coercive.  Plans for these weapons include use against a cyberattack on U.S. command-and-control facilities and preemptive attacks on Russian and Chinese military assets. A March 13 announcement indicates flight-testing two such weapons in August if DDT has completed the withdrawal from INF.

The $1.7 trillion cost for these plans—designing, producing, deploying, and maintaining for 30 years—that doesn’t include overruns is over double the total military budget for one year. The U.S. already has more accurate and flexible weapons that the proposed ones, weapons more useful in early use for a crisis situation. The Pentagon plan is a dangerous shift in the nation’s nuclear strategy with a focus on nuclear weapons for threats and war. About nuclear weapons, DDT said, “Why are we making them [if we don’t use them]?” Humanitarian costs are far over these trillions of dollars, causing the UN to adopt a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017 which bans the production, possession, deployment, and use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed countries including the United States have not signed the Ban Treaty.

For decades, the Pentagon has had no audit to assess its spending, and the Iraq War has added the Overseas Contingency Operations account (OCO), a slush fund with tens of billions of dollars because it has no cap. The government uses this budget line to pay for projects not funded through the regular process. DDT may put $174 billion into this war budget for 2020, approximately the same as the peak for both Afghanistan and Iraq wars although current troop commitments are ten percent of the 200,000 members deployed to the two countries at the height of the conflict. The military knows that the Pentagon is the sacred cow—or the third rail—that no one dare touch, but it wastes at least $25 billion a year on excess overhead and another $24 billion with the use of 600,000 private contracts on jobs that could be done by civilian government personnel and not at all. Replacement of the overpriced, underperforming F-35 combat aircraft which may never be combat-ready could save another $2.4 billion in one year before billions of savings later. These savings are on top of cutting back the nuclear overkill to save hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s former energy secretary and now CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), stated that “the risk of a nuclear weapon being used is now higher than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Of special concern is the corrosion of the Russia-U.S. arms agreement, ready to collapse with Bolton’s opposition to the New START treaty. In case of a cyberattack on command and control systems leading to a false attack warning, a president would have minutes to decide a response with limited information. The all-or-nothing denuclearization position toward North Korea, the U.S. has “miniscule” chances of success. The delivery of weapons doesn’t require missiles; a ship could bring them into a harbor. The number of nations with nuclear weapons could grow. About East Asia, Munoz said, “If some of [North Korea’s] neighbors lose confidence in our military backing for them, then there is a risk there as well.”

The past half century has seen a number of close calls in destroying the world. The most famous might be the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but others were caused by the U.S. interpreting a moonrise in Greenland as a huge Soviet missile launch, a power outage, a solar flare, and computer errors.  Twelve years ago, six unprotected AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly moved from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana where they sat for nine hours until an observant supervisor notice the nuclear warheads.

In the 1950s, Daniel Ellsberg, known for revealing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, worked for the RAND corporation, a think tank providing research and analysis to the U.S. Armed Forces. While there, he had access to material about the U.S. nuclear policy, information along with later work for the Department of Defense and the White House that he finally revealed in his 2017 book, The Doomsday Machine. Despite the belief that only the president can authorize setting off nuclear weapons, he learned that President Eisenhower delegated this responsibility to senior regional commanders who passed it down the system to middle ranking officers. Codes were set at 000000, meaning anyone at higher levels of the Strategic Air Command could launch the arsenal. U.S. military chiefs talked about losses of 275 to 325 million along with the nuclear winter destroying most of the life on the planet. That’s how near the world is to extermination.

Schools of education might consider dusting off all those classes for prospective teachers in helping students hide under their desks.

 

November 27, 2017

December – GOP Breaking Point

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:23 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

With 15 days of work left before their holiday hiatus at the end of December, Congress may face a far more difficult task than in September unless they shuffle everything down the pike, as they did two months ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the Republicans have more than a full plate for its few working days.

Government shutdown: The lights in the government go off on December 8 without further action on the spending bill. Spending caps cause trouble for this bill, so House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) may float another short-term bill, something that the Republicans lambasted Democrats for doing before the GOP was in power. The 2011 Budget Control Act set 2018 caps which will automatically go into effect in January without a deal to raise them. No legislation has been written, and the Senate needs at least 60 votes, meaning at least eight Democrats.

Without a change in the law, defense programs get only $549 billion, and nondefense programs are limited to $516. DDT and the GOP haws want over $600 billion for defense, and Democrats want the same increase in nondefense spending.

CHIP: The Children’s Health Insurance Program for nine million children and 370,000 pregnant women in poverty expired at the end of September, and funding may end up in the December spending bill. The program is running out of money for the first time since it was created two decades ago.  The expenditure of $15 billion for CHIP is vital for preventative health care, but families are already receiving notice that their children can no longer have this coverage.

DACA: The deadline for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing some undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to work and attend school without fear of deportation, isn’t until March, but Democrats may force the issue as part of the spending bill.

Tax cuts: At least 50 GOP senators must sign off on a bill that increasingly gouges people the poorer they are. Then the bill has to go to the House which either signs off on it or creates its own version and then sends it back to the Senate for approval. At least eight GOP senators don’t like the bill, each for his own reason, but they may end up caving in because donors are insisting that the GOP Congress do SOMETHING! Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants to repeal with healthcare individual mandate, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) oppose that part of it because the loss of the mandate may destabilize health care markets. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) refuses to vote in favor of the bill unless he gets more perks for his personal small business. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are leading the charge in opposing the $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit.

To keep the vote for tax cuts to a simple majority, the increase in deficit can be no more than $1.5 billion. As senators consider tweaks to keep some of the reluctant GOP senators in line, the deficit goes up, requiring that other cuts be made. One suggestion is to just eliminate all the cuts for individuals—not businesses—in the bill’s final year.

The popularity of the tax cut bill is going down and may shrink even more with the Congressional Budget Office report that poor people are hurt even worse than previously thought. People making less than $30,000 a year could be worse off by 2019, and those earning $40,000 will be losers by 2021. By 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 are worse off. In addition, the increase in health insurance premiums will take four million people off any plans by 2019 and 13 million by 2027. The rest of the people, 38 percent of the population, will keep getting tax cuts. The chart below indicates the amount that the government will reap from different salary groups—for example, the group of people making under $10,000 will pay an additional $1,540,000,000 whereas those making over $1 million a year will gain $34,100,000,000. The negative sign before the amount means less revenue for the government and shows that the poor pay for the rich.

FISA: Without a bill, this surveillance program expires at the end of the year, but bipartisan opposition to a “clean” renewal of warrantless spying comes from those who believe in privacy. At this time, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act permits the government to collect emails and texts from foreign spies, terrorists, and other overseas foreign targets without warrants. Proposals have been cleared by the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee, but neither has gone to a floor vote. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has pledged opposition because it violates the Fourth Amendment.

Flood Insurance: The House has passed its version of reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, renewing it for five years, updating federal flood mapping requirements, and bolstering a new private flood insurance market. The Senate, however, has made no plans to address the House bill. The NFIP is $25 billion in debt.

Emergency disaster aid: The $44 billion package for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is too small, according to some Republicans from Texas, although it’s added to another $50 billion. Conservatives will demand that cuts elsewhere pay for the $44 billion. The budget from DDT goes only to these places for hurricane relief; DDT has offered not one cent to the Western states ravaged by wildfires.

Iran: The 60-day deadline after DDT’s October statement that the nation is not in compliance with the agreement comes in December. Leading Republican senators want to keep the deal but pass legislation to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons after the deal expires. DDT will need to waive sanctions to keep the nuclear pact intact.

All these decisions are set against the background of ethics proceedings for continuing sexual assault and harassment accusations and a December 12 election to determine whether Roy Moore joins the Senate. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) has promised to force a vote to impeach DDT before the end of 2017.

In The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza writes that December is the make or break time for DDT:

“Year one is when Presidents usually make their mark[.] By the second year, a President’s legislative agenda becomes complicated by the hesitancy of members of Congress to take risky votes as midterm elections approach, particularly if a President is unpopular. The math is stark: on average, modern Presidents have historically lost thirty House seats and four Senate seats in their first midterm elections. Trump’s first year has been different. He has a record low approval rating. He is mired in scandal. [And] he looks like a President in his eighth year rather than one in his first. … He is unique among modern Presidents in that he has no significant legislative accomplishments to show for ten months after taking office.”

What’s missing from this list of must-dos? Restricting bump stocks or closing the domestic violence loopholes in the gun laws.

October 30, 2017

Russia, Puerto Rico, Budget

Luckily for the Republicans, Dictator Donald Trump is leaving the country Friday. His Asia trip removes him from tweeting about what he will give away in the tax reform legislation. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that it’s an advantage that DDT is a half world away and then tried to explain his comment away by saying that he was joking. At home, however, the problems continue.

The first charges from Robert Mueller’s investigations led today’s media. Twelve counts against DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort include conspiracy against the United States, tax evasion, and money laundering related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. His longtime deputy, Rick Gates, is also charged. DDT responded with anger to charges against Manafort but said nothing about a greater danger to him, his campaign advisor George Papadopoulos’s confession to colluding with Russia and agreeing to provide more information about the situation. Roger Stone’s tweets were so far over the top that Twitter suspended his account. A detailed timeline of the DDT/Russia affair.

DDT is now lying about having any connection with Cambridge Analytica, a shady British data firm providing data for his campaign, that asked WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange for help in “finding” Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. The desired distraction is the Uranium One deal during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State by accusing her of allowing Russia to buy a Canadian company. The agreement, which was not controlled by Clinton, does not allow removal of U.S. uranium from either Canada or U.S. without U.S. permission. False allegations about bribery connections come from Breitbart author Peter Schweizer in Clinton Cash.

Another attempted distraction is an attempt to blame a dossier about DDT’s lewd and illegal behavior on Hillary Clinton for a dossier on him. Facts about the 35-page research document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele:

  • The conservative Washington Free Beacon funded the project before DDT became the GOP candidate when Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, through Democratic lawyer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie, took over. (Mother Jones reported this information a year ago, but DDT pretends it’s new.)
  • Former FBI director briefed DDT about the contents of the dossier after his election.
  • Unverified ones are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies stated that the dossier was not their source and confirmed additional information, including Russian interference in U.S. elections through email hacking and disinformation campaigns.

GOP Republicans want to save money by stopping Mueller’s investigation despite their expensive three-year investigation into Clinton’s Benghazi and emails, bringing the cost of “getting” Clinton over $100 million. Earlier, Kenneth Starr’s investigation into “Whitewater” cost $70 million, and Bill Clinton’s impeachment cost about $60 million. Only the DOJ can block these funds for Mueller’s investigation, however, unless Congress passes a separate law.

Fox and Friends concentrated on where the lettuce should go in a cheeseburger, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about reporters going out for beers and having to pay taxes.

DDT bragged about his “success” in Puerto Rico, calling it a “10,” but 39 days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, 77 percent of Puerto Rico is still without electricity. Without energy to power wastewater disposal and clean water delivery systems, their pumps won’t work, and sewage builds up while residents can’t get clean drinking water. People suffer from dehydration and become infected from low-quality water sources. Without electricity, people can’t know where to get supplies.

No one knows how to use the gigantic government hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, and only 33 of its 250 beds were being used a week ago. Many of those who know about the facility can’t get to the port because of impassable roads or fuel. A donation from Tesla has provided a solar power system for a children’s hospital in San Juan, but doctors in other facilities have only the light from cellphones to perform surgery.

DDT prided himself on the low death rate in Puerto Rico, but over 900 bodies have been scheduled for cremation on the island since Hurricane Maria hit. Officials will not know whether they are directly connected to the disaster. These deaths were marked as being from “natural causes,” but many of them died from failing dialysis and oxygen machines after the island had no electricity. Bodies must be sent to the Institute of Forensic Sciences in San Juan for an autopsy to be included in the official death count.

The scandal of Whitefish Energy rebuilding the island’s power grid continues after Gov. Ricardo Rossello finally pulled the plug on a $300 million contract awarded by the island’s power. The board ignored mutual aid from larger experienced power companies which provided workers from U.S. public utility companies after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year and instead chose the two-person, two-year-old non-utility Whitefish Energy, located in the small Montana hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He claims that he had nothing to do with the choice, but his son had worked for the company.

Whitefish’s previous experience was to replace 4.8 miles of transmission line in Arizona for $1.3 million; Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of critically important transmission lines and tens of thousands of miles of distribution lines across the island. The company relies on subcontractors; they have paid $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319 for a lineman. Each person is daily paid $332.41 for accommodations and $79.82 for food.

According to the contract, Puerto Rico was not allowed to “audit or review the cost and profit elements,” and the government was prohibited from making “any claim against Contractor related to delayed completion of work.” The “contractor will not be subject to compliance with any performance specification during the duration of this reconstruction work.” Although the Whitefish contract states that FEMA approved the deal, the disaster agency said it was not involved in the selection of the company and has “significant concerns” about the decision. The fishy agreement may have been worse than the fraud during the clean-up after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

Financing for Whitefish comes from the Texas-based private-equity firm HBC Investments, founded by Joe Colonnetta. He and his wife, Kimberly, donated over $80,000 to DDT and RNC campaigns and have associations with Ben Carson, DDT’s secretary of housing and urban development, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to photos on her Facebook page.

Last week, Congress passed a disastrous budget with a House vote of 216-212 (20 GOP representatives voting no) and a Senate vote of 51-49 (Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky only GOP saying no) for the next decade:

  • A $1.5 trillion deficit to finance tax cuts with almost 80 percent of them going to the top 1 percent.
  • Cuts to all non-Medicare health programs of $1.3 trillion, almost 30 percent.
  • Cuts of $473 billion to Medicare.
  • Cuts of $653 (13 percent) to mandatory programs in the “income security” spending category including food stamps; Supplemental Security Income (SSI, an anti-poverty program that gives cash to seniors and disabled people); the earned income tax credit (EITC) for people too poor to pay taxes; and unemployment insurance; both military and civilian federal employee pensions.
  • “Mystery” cuts of $800 billion from “non-defense discretionary spending”—funding for the FBI, the National Institutes of Health and other biomedical research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency and Treasury Department, etc. More specific cuts include slashing medical research and gutting State and the EPA especially.
  • GOP’s plan to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes adversely affecting one-third of households. (Without that change the deficit would be $2.4 trillion. A proposed tax credit for property taxes would increase the deficit by $700 billion.)
  • Cuts of 93 percent for federal programs that aid survivors of sexual and domestic violence from $460 million to $30 million, the equivalent of a few weekends for DDT at Mar-a-Lago.

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz said that House Republicans were “asked to vote for a budget that nobody believes in so that we have the chance to vote for a tax bill that nobody’s read.”

Republicans are willing to fund tax cuts for the wealthy with a deficit but demand an offset to pay for healthcare for nine million children in poverty. CHIP ended on October 1, but Republicans won’t renew it until Democrats agree to cut the Affordable Care public health fund, reduce the grace period for enrollees who fail to make the premium payments, repeal the law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, and make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. The same people are working to cut off abortions at six weeks because they “love children.”

DDT is demanding the tax cuts (for wealthy) bill on his desk by Thanksgiving—about a dozen work days for the House—but keeps killing ideas on making money for the wealthy. This week he promised to allow people to continue deducting $18,000 for their 401(k) retirement accounts instead of $2,400 but withdrew the statement after the House included the change in the bill. The government will get the taxes no matter what, but the GOP wants it this year, costing $2 trillion in the next decade. The bill will supposedly be released in two days.

Republicans further voted against DDT’s base by forbidding class action consumer lawsuits against banks or credit card companies. VP Mike Pence broke the tie in the Senate. More advantage for the wealthy!

September 13, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-three – Natural Disasters Mixed with GOP Disappointment

Disaster—that is the word for 33rd week that Dictator Donald Trump spent as the White House resident. Houston suffered from Hurricane Harvey as Hurricane Irma, considered five times worse than Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago, ploughed through islands south of Florida and moved across the mainline to devastate large parts of southern states. Hackers into Equifax, one of the principal credit score providers in the nation, collected records, including Social Security numbers and birthdates allowing identity theft, from 143 million people. They also got credit card numbers from over 200,000 people and dispute documents with personal information for another 182,000 customers.

Between Harvey and Irma came the 8.1 earthquake on the southern coast of Mexico, the worst in 100 years, that killed at least 95 people. The death rate was much lower than the estimated 2,000 to 40,000 deaths with the 8.0 earthquake in Mexico because of better building codes and less populated areas for the earthquake’s site. A similar earthquake possible for southwestern California could kill thousands of people and be worsened if the proposed 2018 budget cuts funds for a seismic warning system as proposed. DDT ignored both the earthquake and the loss of at least three people after Hurricane Katia hit Mexico. Three weeks ago, DDT also refused to send any fire-fighting aid to Oregon although its 500,000 burning acres comprise one-third of the fires in the nation.

Congressional GOP members were devastated when (DDT) turned on them and made “Chuck and Nancy”—Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (left) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), his new friends. DDT’s old friends “Paul” Ryan (R-WI), House Speaker, and “Mitch” McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Leader, got left in the dust at a meeting where DDT gave Democrats three-month extensions on the budget and the debt ceiling as well as the $15 billion disaster aid with no cuts in other areas. An hour earlier, Ryan had called the three-month debt-ceiling extension “ridiculous,” “disgraceful,” and “unworkable, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also disliked the deal. The GOP will face another fight for the budget and debt ceiling before the December 8, 2017 deadline.

Pundits’ theories on why DDT agreed to the deal: he got bored, he thought conservatives wanted it, he thought it would clear the way for progress as in tax “cuts,” or he’s just hostile toward congressional GOP leadership. DDT’s support of North Dakota’s Democratic senators up for re-election this year at his rally last week supports the last idea. A question is how much longer the GOP will protect DDT.

DDT’s deal with Schumer and Pelosi moved so fast that he signed the bill into law within three days. Seventeen GOP senators and 90 GOP representative Republicans voted against it, including four House members from storm-ravaged Texas. Another 17 GOP representatives refused to vote. With GOP support, however, hurricane aid passed 88 days faster than it did for Superstorm Sandy.

Billionaire Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney were booed when they advocated for the bill; Mulvaney had led opposition to raising the debt ceiling when he was in the House. The booing continued after he wouldn’t promise Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) that DDT would not commit to reducing the debt ceiling in the December negotiations. Mnuchin left early after he said that people should support the bill for him personally and not for the policy. Ryan forgot he hated the bill and supported the legislation.

DDT rescinded DACA (the executive order allowing people illegally brought into the country involuntarily as children to get job permits) but made AG Jeff Sessions make the announcement. Sessions claimed that his job is to “enforce the law” and then defended DDT’s pardon of Arizona’s past sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt after he willfully violating a federal judge’s order to stop racial profiling. Unable to cope with his unpopularity after his anti-DACA ruling, DDT blamed Congress and said that he was just waiting for them to fix his own firing of 800,000 people so that they will take the hit from conservative voters.

Congress is willing to use millions of lives as extortion. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wants to trade legal permanent dreamers’ residence for cutting immigration levels in half. Others want to trade the dreamers’ rights for DDT’s wall. Over 400 executives, many of them from the biggest companies such as AT&T and Microsoft, have signed a petition to protect the “dreamers.”  These CEOs know that purchases from Dreamers create more jobs and more profits for these companies that are the strongest base for GOP donations. Even members of DDT’s evangelical advisory board, who supported his racism, think that DDT’s DACA decision is wrong. Sixty-four percent of people in the U.S. back this program, including 41 percent of Republicans. And workers are needed to rebuild after massive losses from the nation’s disasters. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are suing DDT for his DACA decision. An earlier lawsuit supporting DACA has a court hearing tomorrow. DDT has one fewer DACA recipient to throw out of the country: Alonso Guillen, 31, died rescuing people from Hurricane Harvey.

Special investigator Robert Mueller’s juggernaut about Russian involvement keeps moving forward as six current and former DDT aides, including Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, may be interviewed. DDT tortured Spicer as much as, or more than, Saturday Night Live, as the press secretary was constantly forced to lie—beginning with the size of the inauguration crowd on DDT’s first day. The firing of former FBI director James Comey was a huge fiasco as Spicer passed along the party line of a DOJ recommendation for the act just before DDT told Lester Holt that he had long planned to fire Comey with “Russia” on his mind. DDT also tormented Priebus up to the time that he resigned. Both can use the Fifth Amendment not to testify, but there are always memos. Even the White House lawyer needs a lawyer.

DDT’s statement that he will give $1 million to relief aid for Hurricane Harvey as brought back the question of the donations to his inauguration fund that he said would be given to charities. The committee raised $107 million with no caps on individual contributions and selling “exclusive access” for over $1 million, but low attendance kept costs down. Charities were supposed to know who gets the money in April, but now Tom Barrack, head of the committee said that he will release details in November. Maybe the $1 million of DDT’s “personal money” will come from that source—or maybe it will go for Donald Trump, Jr.’s legal fees like DDT’s campaign funds. [$1 million sounds generous, but if DDT is worth $9 billion, it’s like a person with $1 million in net assets giving $90. Millionaires comprise less than ten percent of people in the U.S.]

Donald Jr. needs the legal assistance he’s getting from DDT’s campaign funds. This past week, he was interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee about his meeting over a year ago with Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton before the presidential election. He said that he was just checking into her “fitness” for the office. This was after a number of various excuses earlier.

Another DDT problem is the NAFTA negotiations. DDT has said that Canada and Mexico are being “difficult”; Canada is demanding that the U.S. eliminate anti-union “right-to-work” laws and pressuring both Mexico and the U.S. “to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does.” In the U.S., 29 states have passed laws eliminating rights of unions, and congressional Republicans have sponsored bills to make “right to work” in all states that will suppress wages, employment, and economic growth. DDT has already cut pay increases for federal employees, overturned overtime pay and worker safety rules, and put union-busters on the National Labor Relations Board which is supposed to protect workers. Trade agreements typically favor corporations over workers; Canada is trying to change that dynamic.

Pushed to the bottom of immediate concerns from the media is North Korea’s claim that it has a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. Experts think that the bomb is actually a “boosted” atomic bomb with less power than a hydrogen bomb, but the U.S. is still goading North Korea with its summer “games.” The U.S. has joined Japan and South Korea in large-scale military drills with over 3,500 troops to simulate an invasion of North Korea and destroy the current regime. Last week’s North Korean missile tests were in response to South Korea’s three week-long military drills with over 75,000 combat troops accompanied by hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, landing craft, heavy artillery, a full naval flotilla and flyovers by squadrons of state of the art fighters and strategic bombers.

DDT expects help from South Korea to protect the U.S. from North Korea after he lied about sending military resources to help them, ignored history by saying that they were part of China, told them that they had to pay for the U.S. missile-defense system, threatened to eliminate the trade agreement with South Korea, and failed to nominate an ambassador to South Korea.  After alienating Europe, DDT is also going to them for help. DDT’s following through on his threat to stop trade with countries doing business with North Korea would be “an economic tsunami beyond description,” according to NPR’s Ron Elving, and former George W. Bush staffer Taylor Griffin called the economic impact “apocalyptic.” The value of trade between China and the U.S. alone is $663 billion—and DDT’s purchases are part of that amount.

Chief of Staff John Kelly seems to be quieting DDT for the past weeks, but he got his cellphone back tonight when he railed against “Crooked Clinton” about her new book. We’ll wait to see if it’s the recurring trend.

 

September 5, 2017

Congress’ Twelve-day Agenda

Congress is back from vacation—pardon me, work in their home districts. Just 80 members of the House (49 Democrats and 31 Republicans), and 13 senators (eight Democrats and five Republicans), held town halls over the break, according to the group. Of the 175 members of Congress to hold an in-person town hall in 2017, 148 are Republican.

Back in Washington, Congress faces daunting tasks with deadlines with only twelves days in session. The increasing number of attack tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) DDT makes congressional duties even worse.

Federal legislative responsibilities during September –

Pass a budget to avoid a government shutdown on October 1:

DDT insists on funding his “wall” and said that he’s willing to close down the government to get it. Democrats said they will block any money for the wall, and several Republicans agree. A  “kick the can” approach with a short-term, continuing resolution funding bill may postpone the fight for a few months, but it can have serious repercussions. DDT might increase domestic spending in exchange for a start to “double fence” construction. North Korea’s nuclear tests will make legislators want more military spending, and hawks hate short-term spending bills. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he won’t support another stopgap bill, and he has nothing to lose. People won’t change their minds later in the year, and Democrats will be able to filibuster budget bills after October 1.

Raise the debt ceiling to keep paying the government’s bills before September 29:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that there is “zero chance” Congress won’t raise the debt ceiling, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said there are lots of options. That was BH—Before Harvey. Conservatives may demand attachments of spending cuts, but Democrats will oppose these. Raising the U.S. debt limit means that the U.S. will continue to pay existing bills. Not increasing the ceiling can trigger the first-in-modern-U.S.-history default that threatens to turn the world economy on its head and destroys the world’s faith in the U.S. paying its bills, including its loans. Interest rates would go up without the increase, and stocks and bonds are already suffering from the possibility. Worst case: a serious recession. McConnell threatened to withhold an increase from President Obama in 2013 without spending cuts. Now he’s on the other side from his own party’s conservatives.

Provide assistance after Harvey:

With Harvey’s losses over $180 billion, costs for this aid will probably be tens of billions, but the source of this income is uncertain. Aid for victims of Sandy waited 91 days while congressional members squabbled about taking the money from other parts of the budget. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wants aid for Hurricane Harvey survivors connected to the bill. DDT says that the Harvey bill should be independent, and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), conservative Freedom Caucus leader, doesn’t want the debt-ceiling bill attached to any other legislation—except for his restrictions on future spending. Some sources have said that the House strategy is to pass a “clean” bill to fund $7.85 billion for the first phase of Hurricane Harvey recovery during the coming week. GOP senators could attach the debt limit raise to the House bill before returning it. Meadows’ conservatives would then have to decide whether to vote against Texas’ emergency assistance.

GOP hypocrisy will affect the debate of the aid, especially the 22+ Republicans who voted against the Sandy bill. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is trying to cover his refusal to support Sandy aid by claiming that two-thirds of it wasn’t for Sandy. His falsehood came from the coverage for Sandy coverage all the way down the East Coast to Florida.

Reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program by the end of September:

Twelve days isn’t enough time to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program, but the program badly needs help. People can purchase flood insurance only through the government, but it doesn’t cover the full extent of floods, encourages development in flood-prone areas, and is extremely under-funded. Storms in the past dozen years have left NFIP with a $25 billion debt to the government with $5.5 billion going to rebuilding 30,000 homes that have flooded up to five times. About 5 million properties nationwide have FEMA coverage with nearly 600,000 in Texas and 500,000 in Louisiana. Private insurance companies get commissions up to 30 percent to “service” the federal flood insurance. Needed are new maps that consider sea-level rise and storm intensity as well as better information about properties’ flooding histories. Harvey will send at least 100,000 more claims to NFIP. The program pays $400 million annually in interest to the government for debt largely incurred since Hurricane Katrina. This graph explains why FEMA is losing so much money on its flood insurance. https://www.fema.gov/loss-dollars-paid-calendar-year

Fix health care by September 27:

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are trying to stabilize insurance markets and pay for ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reductions before payments are due on September 27 and insurers must commit to next year’s plans on the exchanges. GOP leadership oppose what they call a bailout of insurance companies without any reforms. The House-passed repeal bill for the Affordable Care Act is still on its calendar without any action on it in the Senate. GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Lindsey Graham (SC) and Dean Heller (NV) are pushing their plan, and DDT wants the ACA repealed before the vote could be filibustered, something requiring at least 50 GOP votes. Senate parliamentarian has set the deadline for the bill’s simple majority status at the end of September.

“Reform” taxes:

After 200+ days of failure, Republicans are looking for a success, and DDT wants his tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy done immediately. The “reconciliation” process for purely fiscal bills is good until the end of September. Mnuchin has promised details “this month,” but DDT said he expects the House to write the bill. Tax reform: GOP leaders were scheduled to meet with DDT this afternoon about cutting taxes, and DDT is scheduled to fly to North Dakota to present another vague speech selling his “reform” and put pressure on Democratic senators in red states. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is up for re-election next year.

Confirm DDT’s nominations:

Conservatives are whining about Democrats demanding 30 hours of debate for every judicial nominee—something that Republicans did if they got around to considering any of President Obama’s nominees like his nominee for the Supreme Court.

Fix DACA:

Since DDT gave only six more months to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that allows people brought into the country illegally as children to remain here legally, Congress can reinstate the program. Chances are highly unlikely that the GOP has enough “heart” and “compassion” to do anything for the 800,000 people losing their jobs in six months. DDT had suggested trading DACA for his “wall” and greater curbs on legal immigration, which Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), second highest Democrat, called a “nonstarter.” [Note: hours after Jeff Sessions made the announcement about rescinding DACA, the trump for DDT was so bad that he tweeted that if Congress doesn’t “legalize” DACA, he will “revisit” it.]

Pass the National Defense Authorization Act:

Senators tried to pass this bill before their vacation, but Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked it by requiring a vote on his amendments to sunset the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations allowing DDT to start wars without congressional approval. Defense is one of eight appropriations bills yet to be passed that also includes funds for NASA, NOAA, FAA’s space office, Homeland Security, Education, and Veterans Affairs.  The 2011 caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending are still in effect; if they are violated, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect like they did for FY2013. Congress voted to relax the next two budgets but not this year’s.

Make decisions about surveillance:

Section 702, amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allowing monitoring of foreign officials overseas, is due to expire at the end of December. Because it can accidentally collect communications of U.S. citizens, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to know if his communications are being collected. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wants to make warrantless surveillance permanent. Muddying the issue for Republicans is their concern that Section 702 allowed intelligence agencies to collect information about Russia’s connection with DDT and his family.

Reauthorize CHIP:

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Medicaid supplement providing health insurance to nine million children, expires at the end of September with legislation to continue it. Legislators hope that they have flexibility if states don’t run out of money immediately, but inaction causes instability. Conservatives may hold this program hostage in an attempt to repeal the ACA medical device tax.

Reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration:

Neither House nor Senate FAA bills have gone to the floors, and they will need to be merged into one bill and passed again. The House bill privatizes the air navigation system to a non-profit corporation which DDT wants but may not pass muster in the Senate.

So Congress has 12 working days to keep the government from closing, avoid defaulting on the nation’s payments, solve health care, resolve the air traffic control dilemma, pay for Hurricane Harvey, and maybe cut taxes. And Hurricane Irma is headed toward Florida. Tick-tock.

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