Nel's New Day

January 6, 2023

The Far-Right Controls the U.S. House, Plus Other News

On the two-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, the far-right House members bought Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); he gave them everything they requested in order to become the Speaker of the House on the 15th ballot.  Two years ago, GOP insurrectionists took over the Capitol and drove out the Congressional members, their staffers, and their families. They threatened to hang VP Mike Pence and carried out their interference to the constitutional processes with the leadership of then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and many congressional members, some of them reelected last year.  Keep the popcorn available for GOP antics in the 118th Congress. Note that anytime someone says “the smart thing Congress will do” is what they won’t do.

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., left, pulls Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., back as they talk with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and other during the 14th round of voting for speaker as the House meets for the fourth day to try and elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. At right is Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Today, McCarthy slowly moved toward his “victory” in four separate ballots. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) “present” vote on the 14th ballot caused McCarthy to lose by one vote. Mike Rogers (R-AL), furious because McCarthy may have bought Gaetz’s vote by offering him the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, had to be stopped from striking Gaetz.

Hakeem Jeffries consistently received 212 votes except for the 12th ballot because David Trone (MD) had surgery. Trone, however, showed up for the 13th ballot to return Jeffries’ vote to 212. By the 13th ballot, McCarthy received 214 votes, still two short of the necessary 216 because of two Republican absences in the chamber. The House voted on party lines 220-212 to adjourn until 10:00 pm when two GOP House members would return and vote for McCarthy. He still lost that round.

The voting appeared to be done for the week at the end of McCarthy’s loss in the 14th ballot. The majority of House members initially voted for adjournment until Monday, but McCarthy talked to Gaetz who then changed his vote to not adjourn. The big smile on McCarthy’s face indicated his belief he would be elected Speaker on the next ballot. For the 15th ballot, six naysayers simply voted “present,” giving the Speaker position to McCarthy with 216 votes, only four more than for Jeffries.

The House spent over 20 hours this week in their attempts to elect a Speaker, spending more and more time each day. Thursday’s eight nonstop hours was the longest, and Friday had the biggest hiatus between its two sessions, about seven hours.

By Friday evening, McCarthy bought votes with a large number of concessions.  In addition to earlier ones, McCarthy promised to bring up 12 regular appropriations bills individually and commitments on an open amendment process. Like the promise for 72 hours from the release of a final bill text before a floor vote, McCarthy’s concessions will delay the lawmaking process, the goal of the far-right House members who want to close down government. He also agreed to make ultra-conservatives the chairs of important committees.

McCarthy’s kowtowing to the far-right angered other GOP members; McCarthy is empowering hardliners to make governing difficult if not impossible. One of McCarthy’s promises was also steep budget cuts across the board which means taking money from defense. Senior members have also “forcefully” warned McCarthy against giving his detractors plum committee posts, such as allowing Andy Harris (R-MD) to lead the Labor/HHS subcommittee.  Harris opposes government-mandated project labor agreements on federally funded construction projects and claims that President Joe Biden’s immigration policy promotes “illegal immigration.”

A huge concern is whether McCarthy will promise to not raise the debt ceiling causing severe problems for the economy. If the debt ceiling is frozen, the government must make choices in spending existing funds—paying federal employee salaries, Social Security benefits, or interest on the debt. Military wages and small businesses with federal loans would be at risk, increased interest rates would increase prices and exacerbate inflation, and U.S. investments would be considered unsafe, negatively impacting the stock market. Not paying the interest puts the U.S. into default. 

The last ceiling was $28.4 trillion in August 2021 after DDT increased the debt by $7.8 trillion.  In November 2022, it was $31.238 trillion. Congress has always raised the debt, 78 times since 1960, to raise, extend, or revise the debt limit definition—49 times with GOP presidents and another 29 times with Democratic presidents. The current unprecedented times, however, are endangered by the control that McCarthy is giving the far-right members, some of them QAnon believers and election-deniers, to allow him to move into the Speaker’s office and have his portrait hanging in the Speaker’s Lobby next to that of Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the first woman Speaker of the House.

Conservative columnist Henry Olsen writes that the only way McCarthy could lead the House GOP members is “the power to expel members from the party caucus.” McCarthy, however, would never use that power even if he retained it. This is the man who immediately blamed DDT for the January 6 insurrection and found DDT’s behavior “unacceptable” before backing down within days to return to DDT worship. Audio proves that McCarthy now lies about his statements in January 2021. Thus, McCarthy will remain, as Michelle Goldberg wrote, “a hostage to the hard right and constantly in danger of defenestration.” He doesn’t dare offend any GOP House member because he agreed to a change in the rules that one person can call for a new vote for a different Speaker.

Polling for McCarthy and other issues:

  • 35 percent: Maintaining McCarthy’s role as leader.
  • 45 percent: Republicans viewing McCarthy favorably.
  • 73 percent: Republicans wanting new Congress leadership.
  • 90 percent: General expectations of political conflict instead of political cooperation.
  • 40 percent: Trust in NFL to address NFL players’ safety concerns.
  • 43.4 percent: Approval of President Joe Biden, up almost two percent from last month.  

While the House Republicans were fighting each other and Democrats on Wednesday, Biden went with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a joint appearance to promote the bipartisan infrastructure spending for an addition to a 60-year-old  bridge in great disrepair. They appeared with Govs. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Andy Beshear (D-KY) to celebrate the $1.64 billion funding a new bridge connecting the two states across the Ohio River. McCarthy opposed the infrastructure law providing the funding whereas McConnell voted in favor of it. McConnell declared  that “building a new companion bridge on the Brent Spence Bridge corridor will be one of the bill’s crowning accomplishments.” In 2011, President Obama visited the bridge and urged Congress to pass a jobs bill that would rebuild the bridge, already declared functionally obsolete. Before Biden returned to Washington, he said, “To have a Congress that can’t function is just embarrassing.”

Biden commemorated today’s anniversary by presenting Presidential Citizen Medals to 14 people, some posthumously, who battled to defend America’s democracy after the 2020 election. All Republicans except Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) boycotted the event. His statements about the award for Rusty Bowers, the former speaker of he Arizona House of Representatives, were particularly symbolic. After Bowers refused to overturn the 2020 election results, he lost his primary. Biden said

“Public service isn’t about what you’re willing to do to win. It’s what you’re willing to lose over… Rusty, you’re … a demonstration to every young man and woman thinking about entering politics about what integrity — what integrity is all about.”

The praise for Bowers made McCarthy’s lack of integrity in his sole goal of winning stand out.

Biden also presented a medal to Ruby Freeman, a temporary election worker recently attacked again by DDT who lied about her rigging the Georgia election. Because of DDT’s falsehoods, Freeman was temporary forced out of her house and had to close her small business, but she testified in one of the House January 6 investigative committee’s public hearing. DDT may think his lies can fend off problems from the Georgia investigation. 

In other news:

A New York state judge denied motions by DDT and three of his children—Jr., Eric, and Ivanka—to dismiss the state’s AG $250 million lawsuits, calling some repetition of arguments “frivolous.” A federal judge also ordered DDT’s former lawyers to provide the names of private investigators searching DDT’s properties last year for more classified documents.

The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s 2021 ban on six-week abortions with exceptions only for rape and incest as unconstitutional under the right to privacy. The 3-2 decision means that abortions will remain legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The FTC has proposed a ban on U.S. employers forcing noncompete clauses on workers so that they can more easily change jobs. It would also deepen competition for labor. Noncompete clauses prevent employees from moving to a competitor, usually for a period of time. Over one-fourth of workers making under $13 an hour suffer from noncompetes.

GOP legislators criticize the economy, but 6.7 million jobs were created in Biden’s first year, and December 2022 added 235,000 jobs, well above the153,000 Dow Jones estimate and making a total of 4.5 additional jobs—adding up to 11.2 million jobs. In contrast, the GOP hero DDT created 6.4 million jobs in three years and then lost all of them his last year because of his mismanagement of the pandemic. Biden also dropped the unemployment rate from 6.4 percent to 3.5 percent, a level lower than any time during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The chart shows Democratic presidents gain more jobs than Republicans.  

November 6, 2021

‘Finally, Infrastructure Week!’–Joe Biden

Thanks largely to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Congress failed to pass the Build Better Back (BBB) jobs/infrastructure bill. With the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF), states will get money for roads and bridges, and the current loss of BBB means no paid leave, expanded healthcare, lowered Medicare drug prices, child care, climate action, housing, immigration reform, education, etc.

Republicans have always opposed BBB, a reconciliation bill requiring only a simple majority vote in Senate instead of the 60 percent normally required with the filibuster. Both Sinema and Manchin negotiated on the watered-down BBB and before backing out again. Manchin’s question is “what’s the hurry” while many women cannot go back to work without help with child care,

BIF did pass by 228-206 with the support of 13 Republicans and the loss of six Democratic House members who objected to separating the two infrastructure bills. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) cautioned that BIF’s success lost the “leverage to get Build Back Better through the House and Senate, and I fear that we are missing our once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the American people.” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) bragged about her vote for BIF and gave truth to Tlaib’s warning when she said, “I weakened their hand. They have no leverage now.” She claimed that passing BIF will cause BBB to be “drastically weakened” in the Senate or “die altogether.”

Conservative House Democrats also opposed the annual $175 billion for BBB although the U.S. Treasury Department, the White House, and the Joint Committee on Taxation found that it is paid for and may actually reduce deficits. These representatives demanded an official score, which will take weeks, before passing BBB. Democratic holdouts for BBB are Reps. Ed Case (HI), Jared Golden (ME), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Kathleen Rice (NY), Kurt Schrader (OR), and Abigail Spanberger (VA). Their constituents support BBB by large margins, but the politicians have been well-paid by corporate interests that lobbied against BBB’s key provisions. Four of the holdouts stated:

“We commit to voting for the Build Back Better Act, in its current form other than technical changes, as expeditiously as we receive fiscal information from the Congressional Budget Office—but in no event later than the week of November 15—consistent with the toplines for revenues and investments.”   

The $1.2 trillion BIF over a decade which is ready for the president’s signature includes $40 billion for bridge repairs and replacement, $39 billion for transit, $65 billion for broadband internet, and $74 billion toward power and clean energy, among other provisions. Passing the Senate three months ago, it provides $550 billion in new federal spending and reauthorizes several existing programs.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), removed from her committee assignments because of her incessant repetition of conspiracy theories, called BIF a “Communist takeover.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tweeted back to Greene:

“Infrastructure=communism is a new one. Eisenhower’s interstate system should be torn up or else the commies will be able to conveniently drive! Red Dawn in real life.”

When 19 GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), joined independents and Democrats to pass BIF by 69 to 30, DDT threatened to primary Republicans who support the bipartisan infrastructure plan. Their fear is for any “victory” for Biden even if Republicans need BIF for a safer infrastructure. 

BBB, still waiting, would provide help for middle- and lower-income people which would be paid for by new taxes for large corporations and the wealth—slashed by the GOP 2017 tax law—and the recovery unpaid taxes by strengthening the IRS. Large corporations would be subject to a 15 percent minimum income tax and a one percent surcharge on corporate stock buybacks. A surtax for millionaires and billionaires would close a loophole permitting wealthy U.S. taxpayers to avoid a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on their income. Moderates (aka conservative Democrats) forced the elimination of two years of free community college plus dental and vision coverage in Medicare. The original 12 weeks of paid family leave was reduced to four weeks.

Objections to the BBB by GOP/Manchin/Sinema:

Lowering drug costs: people in the United States pay between 64 and 78 percent of the pharmaceutical industry’s profits for the world. In the U.S., people pay 3.5 times more on average per dose of medication, both brand-name and generic, than Europeans. The money comes either out of patients’ pockets or by insurers that raise premiums to pass on the cost. Moderna managed $3.3 billion profit for just the third quarter with a planned $8 billion to $9 billion for the year. Yet U.S. taxpayers own the patent on key spike-protein technology used in several coronavirus vaccines, including Moderna’s and Pfizer-BioNTech’s. Many congressional members, including Sinema, receive huge donations from the industry. 

Families with infants: Cost for access to high-quality care is an average of $16,000, twice the monthly cost of a home mortgage in some areas.

Baby boomer population growing older: the cost of long-term care for older Americans will be prohibitive to many families.

Corporate taxes: Workers have to pay taxes, but many companies don’t, even if they make huge profits. An example is Shell which “reported $2.7 billion through offshore havens and avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes,” according to journalist Akela Lacy. Walmart avoided $2.6 billion of taxes by routing money through a fictitious Chinese subsidiary and reported zero tax haven subsidiaries despit having up to 75 of them, according the Quartz.

And more to be covered later.

Manchin’s and Sinema’s insistence on cutting back the proposed BBB already reduced it in half. Another reduction to $1.5 trillion over ten years would support 2 million fewer jobs. Every state would lose jobs as shown by these maps; Manchin’s own state of West Virginia would have 9,880 fewer jobs annually, a 1.33 percent loss of the state’s employment in manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and social assistance. Sinema’s state of Arizona would lose almost the same percentage in the same job areas. The reduction also cuts back the economy to threaten its recovery.

Republicans call infrastructure “Communism” and “Socialism,” but they supported the building of the interstate by a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, almost 70 years. Long before that, a Republican and sixth president of the U.S., John Quincy Adams, called for internal improvement in his first annual message to Congress. Named an “American System” by then-Speaker of the House Henry Clay, this national market included roads, canals, a national university, a national astronomical observatory, and other initiatives. Despite criticism, Adams succeeded in beginning his projects, according to Margaret Hogan:

“Through the use of military engineers for survey and construction operations, public land grants, and governmental subscription to corporate stock issues, the administration achieved considerable progress in support of harbor improvement and road and canal development. Some of the specific projects included extending the Cumberland Road into Ohio with surveys for its continuation west to St. Louis, beginning the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, constructing the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal and the Portland to Louisville Canal around the falls of the Ohio, connecting the Great Lakes to the Ohio River system in Ohio and Indiana, and enlarging and rebuilding the Dismal Swamp Canal in North Carolina.”

Abraham Lincoln, another Republican president and who led his party to invent the U.S. income tax, wrote that the “legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities… The desirable things … embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.”

Moody’s Analytics, a highly respected economic research company, has reported that BBB would “strengthen long-term economic growth, the benefits of which would mostly accrue to lower- and middle-income Americans. The legislation is more-or-less paid for on a static basis and more than paid for on a dynamic basis through higher taxes on multinational corporations and the well-to-do and a range of several other pay-fors.” The report also stated, “Concerns that the plan will ignite undesirably high inflation and an overheating economy are overdone.” Manchin’s reduction in the “provides a modest increase in infrastructure spending and it thus supports only a modestly stronger economy. The reconciliation package is much larger and thus meaningfully lifts economic growth and jobs and lowers unemployment.” Long underinvestment in “infrastructure and social needs [with slowness] to respond to the threat posed by climate change [has] mounting economic consequences… [F]ailing to pass [this] legislation would certainly diminish the economy’s prospects.”

Maybe that’s what the Republicans want in their efforts to get re-elected. Especially after Hugh Lowell (Guardian) tweeted: “Regardless of the politics, the passage of a $1.2T bipartisan infrastructure bill is a towering legislative achievement for Biden—and one that Trump never came close to matching.”

August 8, 2021

Whither Infrastructure, DDT?

President Joe Biden’s first bill to repair U.S. physical infrastructure—roads, bridges, railroads, etc.—is limping on its way over the weekend as some Republican senators try to delay it and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) lambasts Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for permitting its existence. The bill, moved forward by Democrats and 18 Republicans, would add $550 billion for the project if it passes a vote after up to 50 hours debate. The bill would then have to pass the House where several Democrats are trying to wait for a second bill for social spending to pass the Senate. Because the second bill would be through the reconciliation process, it needs only 50 votes, probably from Democrats, and cannot be filibustered which demands 60 votes. The question is whether Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WY) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) would not support the measure.

DDT’s ally Maria Bartiromo attacked Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on her Sunday Fox show, accusing him of “betraying the Republican base” and not providing money for DDT’s wall. In defense of the bill, the far-right senator said that there were things that both parties did and didn’t like. When Cramer repeated that Democrats won’t agree to building a wall, Bartiromo said, “Why not work for the American people!” Then she repeated DDT’s comments about the bill being used against the GOP in 2022 and 2024. DDT has said he won’t endorse any Republican who supports it. Cramer pointed out that “the vast majority of Republicans are very supportive of this” and that DDT “didn’t give one reason why it’s a bad deal other than it’s Joe Biden’s.”

DDT used the infrastructure bill to again insult McConnell, first calling the bill a “disgrace” and then blaming the Senate Minority leader for it. DDT wrote:

“If Mitch McConnell was smart, which we’ve seen no evidence of, he would use the debt ceiling card to negotiate a good infrastructure package… It is a gift to the Democrat Party, compliments of Mitch McConnell and some RINOs [Republicans in name only], who have no idea what they are doing.”

DDT also stayed in the limelight when his replacement for AG Bill Barr in late December 2020, acting AG Jeffrey Rosen, testified in a closed-door hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee about DDT’s efforts to suborn the election in a conspiracy with acting deputy AG Jeffrey Clark. The testimony concerned Clark’s attempts to push top leaders to falsify the election and publicly assert that election fraud investigations went against the Electoral College results. Earlier Barr had stated that DOJ found no fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Rosen refused to follow DDT’s demands, leading DDT to consider replacing Rosen with Clark in January 2021. Clark continues to maintain his official White House communications “were consistent with law.”

Rosen described five encounters with Clark, including one in late December when Clark admitted to meeting with DDT and promised he would not do so again. Clark continued his unauthorized conversations with DDT about casting doubt on Biden’s victory, especially in close states such as Georgia, and drafted a letter for Rosen to send to the state’s legislators, wrongly demanding they should void Biden’s victory in the state because DOJ was investigating voter fraud there. These actions were followed by DDT’s fiery speech on January 6, encouraging his followers’ violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

DDT ranted about election fraud, claiming his victory for president in the 2020 election, in an interview with Fox’s Dan Bongino last night, but his lies were edited out, according to his furious spokeswoman Liz Harrington. Her tweets justifying his statements are here. DDT also claimed he was being politically persecuted by prosecutors in New York.  

While the infrastructure bill keeps chugging along, the U.S. added 943,000 jobs in July, bringing the total during President Joe Biden’s first six months to over four million, the only president with this achievement. June’s job gain was adjusted upward to 938,000 positions. Economic growth is the fastest in 40 years, and the unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is the lowest since the pandemic began. Now people wait to see the effect of COVID-19 problems from the unvaccinated affects.

Thanks to congressional action, the poverty rate in the U.S. may drop to 7.7 percent for the current year, a 45 percent decline from 2018 and the largest drop on record. The money sent to people in the past few months put food on the table and made rent payments as the pandemic forced people out of work. Without stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment insurance—which 26 states refused—the poverty rate would be at 23.1 percent. White people benefited the most: non-Hispanic White people in the U.S. have a projected 5.8 percent poverty rate compared to 11.8 percent for Hispanic people. Although the poverty rate for Blacks will still be 9.2 percent, it would have been 36.0 percent without assistance. 

After concerns that U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan abandoned Afghans helping U.S. forces including interpreting for them, Congress has passed $500 million to fund emergency transportation and housing for them and their families. Another $600 million goes to State Department funding and makes an additional 8,000 “special immigrant visas beyond the exiting 26,500 authorized while easing some eligibility requirements for those visas. Another $71 million in the $2.1 billion emergency spending package went to avert the Capitol Police funding crisis, and $42 million covered the pandemic costs on Capitol Hill, including reimbursements for overtime, protective equipment, cleaning costs, and telework equipment. More funding–$521 million—covers National Guard costs—and $300 million will harden doors and windows on the Capitol campus and install new camera systems. including reimbursements for overtime, protective equipment, cleaning costs and telework equipment. The Senate voted 98-0 and the House, 416-11 for the expenditures.

Republicans claim their objection to the second infrastructure bill is the $2.3 trillion over eight years, under $300 billion a year, to “Build Back Better.” Yet they don’t object to their expenditure of $6.4 trillion—outside the outrageously normal Pentagon budget—on destabilizing wars in the Middle East based on GOP lies. Deaths, either foreign or in the U.S., give Republicans no concern. The GOP expenditure of $6.4 trillion could give the U.S. a completely renewable energy grid. War and militarization annually take almost two-third of the U.S. discretionary spending.

Last year, the Defense Department, its leadership appointed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), gave $422 billion in frequently non-competitive contracts, $40 billion more than the previous year and $60 billion more than the year before that. The Pentagon is also spending $1.6 million for the F-35 fighter jet so unfunctional that it recently shot itself. At ten percent of GDP, Biden’s jobs package is one-fourth of the 1930s New Deal bringing the U.S. out of the Great Depression.

The GOP 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and big business costs the U.S. $2.3 trillion over ten years, a little more than the progressive American Jobs Plan, thus the U.S. is giving trillions more in tax breaks to the wealthy and big business than helping the economy. Taxing investment income like wages and strengthening the estate tax for the wealthy would bring in $886 billion more each year, over three times what the jobs act would cost. Tax evasion by the wealthy annually costs the U.S. $175 billion, one-third of that from the top 1 percent. Collecting that money would pay for two-thirds of Biden’s jobs plan, but Republicans refuse to allow it in protection of their donors.

At a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig reported a loss of perhaps $1 trillion each year because of error, fraud, and lack of staff to get the revenue. The loss of corporate taxes in a half century is phenomenal: corporate taxes provided 23 percent of federal revenue in 1966 compared to seven percent in 2019. Treasury Secretary refers to the “30-year race to the bottom” as tax havens and globalization ease the process of escaping taxes.

From 2000 to 2016, corporate tax receipts averaged about 1.7 percent of total GDP; corporate revenues dropped almost 40 percent and will be over 25 percent less during the next decade.

In the 1950s, revenue from the federal corporate income tax averaged about 5 percent of GDP per year. Last decade, corporate tax revenue averaged just 2 percent of GDP annually. Since 2009, corporate tax revenue has averaged just 1.2 percent, the lowest three-year average in American postwar history.  

The U.S. is at the bottom of the G7 countries.

 

 

 

Biden recommended that an increase for big business would more than pay for the two infrastructure bills, but Republicans are protecting their donors. Instead people will go back to poverty when they no longer receive the benefits from the stimulus bills. Republicans in the 1950s understood the importance of living wages, unions, healthcare, and other rights bringing people out of desperation. A half century later, Republicans use people only as menial labor in order to enrich themselves. That’s the reason they don’t want the second infrastructure bill.

July 18, 2021

Biden Quietly Moves Ahead for Six Months

President Joe Biden continues his accomplishments:

Throughout the U.S., 88 percent of families have received the first direct deposit for their children, $300 per child under the age of six and $250 for each child from 6 through 17. Previous tax credits excluded the poorest third of children because parents didn’t pay income taxes, but families making $400,000 would receive full payments. Now the poorest families receive the money, but the top limit is $150,000 for families. If everyone deserving the checks receives them, child poverty can be reduced by 40 percent—even more with stimulus checks. More details here.

Protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest include a ban on large-scale old-growth logging and road development on over nine million acres. Part of one of the world’s remaining relatively intact temperate rainforests has been the only national forest with industrial old-growth logging.

To eliminate a huge backlog of asylum cases, AG Merrick Garland reversed DDT’s immigration policy preventing immigration judges from closing low-priority cases and removing them from their dockets. Because of DDT, 1.3 million immigration cases wait to be heard in the U.S.

Garland also temporarily blocked executions of federal inmates, because of exonerations after death sentences and discrimination against minorities. He has directed a review of recent policy changes. After almost 20 years of no federal executions, DDT’s AG Bill Barr executed 13 people, more than in all 50 states combined.

The DOJ eliminated former AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to allow asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence in their home countries. Garland also vacated a decision during DDT’s term refusing asylum to a Mexican man targeted by cartel La Familia Michoacana because the man’s father refused to sell the cartel’s drugs in his store.

Biden plans to increase the U.S. annual refugee admissions cap of 62,500 for the current fiscal year to 125,000 next year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide gender-confirmation surgery through its health-care coverage by reversing a 2013 ban. According to the VA, fewer than 4,000 veterans would have this surgery although it is estimated that about 134,000 veterans are transgender. The VA is also changing the name from LGBT health program to LGBTQ+ Health Program for inclusiveness.

The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will provide $3.2 billion for clinical trials of antiviral medication treating COVID-19 and other potential epidemic viruses. Treatments, called protease inhibitors which inhibit an enzyme needed to replicate the virus in human cells, could be distributed by the end of 2021. Protease inhibitors are already used for HIV and hepatitis C.

Federal loans will be cancelled for 18,000 ITT Technical Institute students defrauded by the for-profit chain, shut down in 2016. During DDT’s term, 34,000 former students petitioned to cancel their debt under the “borrower defense to repayment” but were refused. ITT Tech consistently lied to students about their ability to transfer credit to other schools as well as about employment and earnings prospects after graduation.

Biden’s new executive order limits noncompete clauses designed to keep low wages by blocking tens of millions of private-sector employees from moving to better-paying jobs for any reason. These clauses, originally to keep employees from passing along corporate secrets, are now for even low-wage services with no justification. Another part of the sweeping order to open up “fair competition” tries to lower prescription drug prices and cracks down on internet service providers by promoting competition. Biden said:

“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans that means accepting a bad deal for things you can’t go without.”

Biden called for the return of net neutrality rules to block broadband companies from selectively blocking, slowing, or speeding up websites. He also called for greater scrutiny of mergers, including those already completed and “killer acquisitions,” the takeover of competitors showing potential.

Another Biden order permits independent repairs on devices and equipment, including electronics, and removes repair monopolies. It also directs federal agencies to create consumer- and worker-protecting rules across the broadband, agricultural, transportation, and technology industries. More than half the states have considered right-to-repair legislation, protecting rights for people to fix their own possessions.

Three million adults will not be removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and one million children will continue to have free school lunches. A judge had ruled against DDT’s changes, and ARPA expanded Snap benefits by 15 percent through September 2021.

Biden dropped DDT’s ban on apps TikTok and WeChat to conduct a review of apps tied to foreign adversaries.

The Defense Production Act Loan Program must guarantee its funds can be used only for direct Covid-19 response and medical-related supply chain projects after DDT used it as a military slush fund.

DDT’s war on so-called “sanctuary cities” is over after Biden repealed the former policy preventing federal funds from those areas.

At the end of DDT’s term, his Energy Department changed the limits on water flow so he could wash his “beautiful head of hair.” Biden reversed DDT’s rule, allowing the same limits established by the industry in 2013.

Last week, Senate Democrats announced an agreement on the $3.5 trillion budget during the next ten years. Federal resources will go into helping climate change, healthcare, and family-service programs. Assistance goes to the U.S. drought and fire crises, individuals, and the economy, ravaged by the pandemic, moving toward long-term growth. Part of the budget expands vision, hearing, and dental benefits for Medicare recipients.

Last week, Biden’s nominee for the Census Bureau, Robert Santos, testified before the Senate that has still not confirmed over 200 of Biden’s appointments. The abrupt departure of Steven Dillingham in January after complaints about his attempt to rush out an incomplete data report on noncitizens has left the position vacant since then. The bureau will release data by August 16 despite Alabama’s federal lawsuit about the bureau’s privacy protection plans which has been blocked by the court.

Biden can replace the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency overseeing mortgagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mark Calabria, appointed by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has been replaced by a deputy agency director Sandra Thompson as acting director. Calabria wanted to privatize the government agency that helps people to buy their homes and keeps mortgages low.

Biden also removed Rodney Scott, head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Earlier this year, Scott, a supporter of DDT who appointed him in all his policies including building the wall, refused to comply with Biden’s administration directive to stop using the term “illegal aliens” for undocumented immigrants. He claimed the Border Patrol would lose public trust if agents were forced to use terms “inconsistent with law.”

DDT’s Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul is also gone. DDT’s anti-union pick to curb benefits, 74-year-old Saul, was fired after he refused to resign. His DDT-appointed deputy, David Black, resigned upon request.  Saul delayed stimulus checks for millions of disabled people by trying to make them reestablish their eligibility for benefits. A former women’s apparel executive and current GOP donor, he served on a conservative think tank calling for Social Security cuts. Saul declared Biden couldn’t make him leave, but last year the Supreme Court ruled that the president can remove directors, for example that of the consumer Financial Protection bureau. When Saul wouldn’t leave, his access to agency computers was cut off in his Katonah (NY) home where he worked for 17 months. Saul’s acting replacement, Kilolo Kijakazi, is undoing Saul’s policies and planning the safe reopening of the department’s 1,200 field offices.

Biden has two infrastructure bills, a bipartisan agreement with enough GOP support to pass investing $579 billion in new spending for domestic needs and another one for “human infrastructure” from healthcare to housing to be passed through the reconciliation process like the ARPA Act last March. Originally, the former plan would be partially financed by enforcing IRS debts by the wealthy, but Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said the GOP doesn’t want to make rich people pay their owed income taxes, up to $1 trillion for the past year, according to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.    

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told his Senate GOP comrades to walk out and deny a quorum for the reconciliation bill. His tactic requires all 50 GOP senators to leave, and the departure of any one of them reduces the number necessary for a majority of the vote.

DDT’s White evangelical base is rapidly shrinking, according to the 2020 Census of American Religions, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year.

People are far more optimistic and happier now, according to a new Gallup poll: 59.2 percent say they’re thriving, and 73 percent said they experienced enjoyment for much of the previous day. The first is the highest since the poll began 13 years earlier, and the second is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic almost 18 months ago.

April 25, 2021

Biden’s Economy Disappoints GOP

With lies and no evidence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said President Joe Biden is taking “destabilizing” actions, his foreign policy has been a “disaster,” and he has tossed a “wet blanket” on the economy. He accused Biden of “wanting to raise taxes in a large amount” although Biden’s taxes will drastically drop for anyone making under $75,000.

The U.S. economy seems to be humming along: stock markets rising, the weekly number of unemployment claims is almost half what they were a few months ago, and March saw almost one million new jobs, the largest increase in seven months. The thought of Biden’s stable economy greatly disappoints most Republicans. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ran his losing campaign by claiming Biden’s election would cause a huge economic crash.

“If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.”

Republicans guaranteed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) would be a disaster. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), leaving Congress next year, warned about “too much liquidity going into the system.” The checks went out last month, immediately after the GOP congressional members voted en masse against ARPA and then had to lie about supporting the law all along. Retail sales are up, and the unemployment rate is dropping. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, a DDT appointee, dismissed the GOP’s dire warnings  about runaway inflation.

Republicans trying to sabotage any Democratic success and help for people howled about Biden’s proposal of an infrastructure law paid by the corporate tax increase to seven percent lower before DDT’s tampering. They claim the tax increase will “hurt the American family and millions of struggling small businesses.” Yet reducing the corporate tax rate in 2017 didn’t lower prices, and Biden’s plan raises capital gains tax only on people earning more than $1 million a year.

The American Families Plan provides for national paid leave, reduction in childcare costs, and free prekindergarten and community college. With free childcare costs, mothers can afford to find employment. Increasing taxes for the wealthy and big businesses also provides lead-free water, transit, education, and other infrastructure as well as decent jobs. Republicans know that Biden’s success means their possible failure in the 2022 and 2024 elections.

The International Monetary Fund predicts Biden’s economy will have its best year since 1984 after the first quarter indicated an annual increase of six percent or possibly higher by the end of the year. DDT gained no new jobs during his full four years; Biden added 1.3 million jobs since the election. DDT’s sole economic metric was the stock market: the Dow Jones has gone up almost 17 percent since Biden’s presidency was announced on November 7, 2020, greater than DDT’s 10.5 percent gain in the same time period four years ago.

Republicans spread the same doom and gloom after the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. John Kasich, a former GOP congressman and Ohio governor, said about Clinton’s agenda:

“This plan will not work. If it was to work, then I’d have to become a Democrat.”

Clinton’s plan worked, but Kasich stayed a Republican. Republicans predicted George W. Bush’s tax cuts would bring historic economic gains; his second term ended with the worst recession in many decades. Republicans predicted disaster for President Obama’s Recovery Act; Indiana’s Mike Pence claimed in 2009, it “won’t work to put Americans back to work.” He continued:

“It won’t create jobs. The only thing it will stimulate is more government and more debt. It will probably do more harm than good.”

President Obama’s plan brought the U.S. out of the Great Recession, rescued jobs, and introduced a decade of sustained growth.

In 2017, Republicans and DDT lost big when their regressive tax plan failed to improve private-sector hiring, bring higher wages, and greatly increase business investments. Corporations used financial gains from tax cuts to buy stocks in their companies, purchase other companies, fire employees, and stash money overseas. Lack of revenue from less consumer spending by lower- and middle-class people couldn’t replace losses from the tax cuts, and business investment abruptly dropped.

Why Republican presidents’ economies fail:

Republican presidents are slow to respond to recessions and other crises.

Democratic presidents are more pragmatic and listen to evidence about deficit reduction and government support.

Republican presidents believe only in tax cuts for the wealthy that do nothing for economic growth.

According to Neil Barron in the conservative Hill, Biden’s ARPA reverses 30 years of failed trickle-down economics widening income and wealth inequality to trickle-up economics. It creates demand for products and services to generate economic growth by increasing spending ability for consumers who will spend money. Biden’s “jobs” (aka infrastructure) plan invests in families, education, clean water and energy, housing, healthcare, etc. The strategy follows economic success after World War II when the top tax rate was 70 to 90 percent. Funding the world’s biggest middle class, investment went not only to the GOP mandate of roads and bridges but also to education, health, and research. The 1950s brought three of the four biggest decreases in U.S. unemployment and two years of the nation’s fastest economic growth—under a Republican president.

For the last half century, the GOP trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy brought negative or flat economic growth, higher unemployment, and stifled consumption by moving income from consumers to rich savers. In over a half century, Republicans contributed more to federal deficits: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush raised the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion (almost double today with inflation), but Democrat Bill Clinton cut it to zero. George W. Bush took the deficit back to $1.2 billion with tax cuts and war; Democrat Barack Obama rescued the nation from the Great Recession and halved the deficit to $600 billion before DDT ran it up to $1 trillion—before COVID-19.

Barron writes:

“Spending $100 billion [in infrastructure] would add roughly 1 million full-time American jobs. And each $100 invested in infrastructure would boost productivity and private sector output by $13 to $17, generating more wage growth and economic benefits across more income classes. Every dollar invested in infrastructure under the AJP is expected to return $1.50, which is among the highest rates of return for federal government spending. And by 2024, the AJP would grow GDP by 3.8 percent and add 13.5 million jobs, compared with just 2.2 percent GDP growth and 11.4 million jobs if it doesn’t become law.”

Graham complains about “destabilizing,” but evidence shows a different picture. In the three months since Biden’s inauguration, fewer households say they can’t pay their rent and don’t have enough to eat in the past week. In December, 1 in 7 adults reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat; now that number is 1 in 11—the lowest percentage since April 2020 when the survey began.

In Biden’s first three months, 200 million doses of vaccines were administered although a large number of Republicans, including 47 percent of white males, refuse to be vaccinated. The United States is experiencing a greater feeling of optimism although the wealthy are still doing better. The economy may largely depend on the pandemic: GOP counties and states may suffer the most if Republicans continue to refuse vaccinations. Most Southern states, like tourism-dependent North Carolina, lag behind the national average in vaccinations.

Bloomberg’s positive view of Biden’s economic dynamism comes from companies’ readiness to increase efficiency and employees ready to return to work. The pandemic changed business practices—stronger productivity with increased online marketing and automation. In the last quarter of 2020, businesses increased spending on equipment by 25.4 percent after reducing this spending for over a year. For two decades, the GDP increased at two percent average, lower than 3.3 percent than the previous two decades. A faster growth in the future will help the government’s debt because of increased revenue.

A major difference between Biden’s and DDT’s economic strategies is DDT’s reliance on the Federal Reserve. In the past decade, Congress counted on the Fed’s cheap-money policies for economic health, causing more wealth inequality: the stock market kept rising, but people couldn’t find jobs. Richer people worked from home, but poorer people couldn’t find jobs. Fifty million people in the world moved from middle- to lower-class. With GOP presidents, Republicans gave some support for the poor to be re-elected and then declared austerity with Democratic presidents.

In 2010, GOP lawmakers called for cuts before the economy healed. With interest rates almost at bottom, the Fed made large-scale bond purchases, hoping to save the economy. The slow solution finally dropping the unemployment rate after a decade to a half-century low. In 2007, the bottom half of the population had 2.1 percent of U.S. assets, and the top one percent had 29.7 percent. By 2020, the bottom half dropped to 1.8 percent while the top one percent owned 31 percent of the wealth. The pandemic made the situation worse.  

April 10, 2021

GOP Opposes Another Popular Bill

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 12:02 AM
Tags: , , ,

Republican congressional members maintain they will not vote for any infrastructure bill no matter what—even if they haven’t seen any of the provisions–and lie about it. People need to understand what the word “infrastructure” means. Politico has put together a definition from dictionary resources:

“The system of public works of a country, state or region; also the resources (such as personnel, buildings or equipment) required for an activity.”

The word is derived from “infra,” meaning “below,” and “structure” meaning “an assembling.” Structure refers to both the physical and the social abstract, including resources, organization, and personnel who do the work. The system for building is a type of structure. “Public works” includes highways, bridges, and schools as well as parks, telephone lines, water systems, broadband, and the delivery of energy. It’s anything built for public use, enjoyment, or activity.

GOP legislators are 100 percent opposed to an infrastructure bill, but 79 percent of the U.S. people want repairs to roads, bridges, ports, and railroads. Seventy-one percent want high-speed internet, 68 percent want lead pipes replaced and tax credits for renewable energy, and 64 percent want higher taxes on corporations to pay for this infrastructure. Support for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan for the infrastructure include 57 percent from Republicans and 67 percent from independents.

Twice as many people, 54 percent, want the infrastructure paid for with people making over $400,000 than without tax hikes; by comparison, 47 percent prefer a raise on corporations with 21 percent less likely to support it with th54% said they supported infrastructure improvements with tax increases on corporations and Americans making over $400,000,  In contrast, 47% of voters polled said that they’d be more likely to support a $3 trillion funded by a corporate tax increase, while 21% said they’d be less likely to support it.

Much has been said about the $2 trillion for the proposed bill, but that amount is covered over eight years. The cost would be about 20 percent of what taxpayers shell out for defense every years.

To kill the bill before it’s even introduced, Republicans claim only 5 to 7 percent is for “real infrastructure.” They deny inclusion of not only home-care services and electric-vehicle incentives but also of water pipes, electric wires, and railways—infrastructure that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) promoted in 2018. In addition, Republicans deny any increase in corporate taxes that DDT shaved from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2017. Infrastructure would require a raise to 28 percent, a 20 percent decrease from pre-2017. Job growth in the last three Obama/Biden era with a 35-percent tax rate was stronger than the first three years of the DDT/Pence era despite the drop in tax rate to 21 percent.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg answered South Dakota’s GOP Gov. Kristi Noem’s complaint that “this isn’t infrastructure—it’s got money for pipes.” He explained people need water to live and pipes have lead poisoning. Broadband is infrastructure, according to Buttigieg, because of school and work via Zoom. Conservatives also slammed Buttigieg for biking from his office to the White House for a Cabinet meeting. They claimed he had “staged” a photo-op instead of using his bicycle for his own transportation. Videos show they’re wrong.

Mississippi’s GOP Gov. Tate Reeves told Biden cutting taxes would pay for infrastructure, the same falsehood used to push through the 2017 draconian tax cuts that gave no help to the U.S. economy. On the other hand, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that raising taxes on corporations will make the tax code fairer and not hurt the economic recovery. The study also pointed out the severe income inequality caused by the tax cuts. A corporate tax increase would fall on the wealthiest “people who have already recovered from (or never experienced) the recession.” “Policymakers [should] prioritize still-struggling households” affected by corporate tax hikes to fund public investments. According to Biden, “Nobody making under $400,000 a year will have their taxes increased.” Note that Republicans, refusing to create jobs through the infrastructure proposal because of giving back only 50 percent of the tax cut four years ago, are trying to pass themselves off as the party of the people.

Using his familiar incoherent language, DDT ranted that Biden was using the infrastructure proposal to “build up” China. During DDT’s term, almost every week was labeled infrastructure, but he completely failed to accomplish any building, let alone the vast rebuilding of U.S. infrastructure he promised. The objection to Biden’s plan is exacerbated by a serious case of GOP sour grapes.

Republicans will need a lot of deflections to convince they are the party of the people by opposing Biden’s American Jobs Plan. When talking about his infrastructure proposal, Biden said:

“In 2019, an independent analysis found that there are 91 … Fortune 500 companies, the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon that use various loopholes so they pay not a single, solitary penny in federal income tax. I don’t want to punish them, but that’s just wrong. That’s just wrong.  A fireman and a teacher paying 22%? Amazon and 90 other major corporations paying zero in federal taxes? I’m going to put an end to that.”

GOP senators represent states desperate for infrastructure help. Mississippi, represented by Roger Wicker, has needs in every area from roads to drinking water, and Missouri, represented by Roy Blunt, said his said the “country need[s] a significant infrastructure upgrade.” They oppose the any idea of tax increases.

Yet 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies paid an average of 11 percent because of GOP loopholes, exemptions, and giveaways. Last year, 55 of the country’s biggest corporations paid zero federal income tax on over $40 billion in profits while receiving a combined federal rebate of over $3 billion which gave them a tax rate of negative 9 percent. Since the GOP tax cut in 2017, 26 corporations including FedEx and Nike, paid the same zero federal income tax on a combined income of $77 billion.

Republicans ignore the rich history of government infrastructure investment pushing economic growth. In the 1950s, the GOP president successfully promoted the entire interstate project. The Republicans of the Dwight Eisenhower era of the 1950s supported research and development to repair infrastructure as well as developing technologies for future economies. It was a time when government investment was a much higher share of GDP than now and far higher tax rates on both corporations and the wealthy. The top tax rate was 91 percent. Compare the tax rate difference between the Republican infrastructure of the 1950s and Biden’s proposal. 

Long before that, however, New York state built the Erie Canal between 1818 and 1825 for $7 million, the equivalent of a $1 trillion today as the share of GDP. Land grants were behind higher education and the railroads. The first Roosevelt, Teddy, built the Panama Canal, and the second, FDR, provided electricity to rural areas. All these would be considered “out-of-control socialist spending spree,” according to current Republicans. At the same time, DDT’s tax cuts not only didn’t help the economy, but it also gave money to the 40 percent of foreigners who own U.S. stocks. In addition, the 2017 tax cuts encouraged U.S. corporations to invest overseas. DDT and the GOP members of Congress wanted the bill only to save money on their own taxes and get more donations from grateful businesses.

The U.S. ranks 13th in the world for infrastructure quality, and public domestic investment fell over 40 percent since the 1960s as a share of the economy. History proves tax cuts don’t cause economic growth as wealth moved upward since Ronald Reagan, with U.S. billionaires acquiring an additional $1 trillion, a 38 percent increase, in a time of the worst poverty rate for over a half century. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has put himself in control of what bills will pass the Senate. With a 50-50 split between the two party factions, the Democrats need everyone in their own party on board. Manchin, however, has announced that he won’t support bills without GOP votes, and Republicans have announced their policy of rejecting every Democratic bill. It’s obvious that Manchin is enjoying all the attention: WaPo has published of his op-ed, and the Senate cannot move forward while he won’t take part. Manchin warned of doing away with the filibuster for a simple majority vote, calling it a “new and dangerous precedent,” but his personal control over every bill in the Senate, including those passed by the House, fits that same description.

Blocking the infrastructure bill will be equally hard on Manchin and the GOP. Although Democratically-oriented cities will benefit, rural communities desperately need broadband access, the deficiencies in those areas heightened during the pandemic when far more activities have moved to remote communication. Other rural benefits would be the huge investment in alternative energy, much of it outside cities and a big income source for Iowa and Kansas farmers. Another provision is two years of tuition-free community college, now quite expensive. The GOP “party of inaction” unanimously voted against the stimulus bill and then tried to take credit for it. If the same thing happens for an infrastructure bill, they could lose all credibility by the 2022 elections.

May 25, 2019

DDT: More Week 122

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 7:32 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Always a bit more news about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

DDT dodged a congressional review to make 22 deals, selling $7 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, etc. by declaring an emergency to protect the countries from Iran. Saudis will be able to use the bombs, missile systems, semiautomatic rifles, drones, and support for manufacturing and production of F-18 combat jets to kill Yemeni civilians. The planes are provided to other countries such as Israel, India, and South Korea. DDT is greatly helping arms companies’ friends to make massive profits in exchange for massive killings throughout the world.

DDT is also profiting his Fox network by boosting its hosts. Media Matters reports that these on-air personalities made at least $500,000 in speaking fees by moonlighting in appearances not only at GOP groups and conservative organizations but also at events with DDT’s officials and on DDT’s properties. Top payments have gone to Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Greg Gutfeld, Jeanine Pirro, Pete Hegseth, and Laura Ingraham.

DDT is sending 1,500 additional military service members and a dozen fighter jets to the Middle East to provoke Iran into war on top of thousands sent earlier this month. The Pentagon claims intelligence about Iran’s escalating plans for attacks, but no other country supports the U.S. in this claim—sort of like 16 years ago with Iraq. There is no proof for the Pentagon’s claims. Acting DOD Secretary Patrick Shanahan has written members of Congress to tell them he will be concealing information from them, resulting in bipartisan protest.

DDT starting his trip to Japan by contradicting his host when he said he isn’t disturbed by North Korea missile tests.  North Korea also said it will not negotiate with the U.S. because of U.S. demands for disarmament.

DDT is pushing the Army Corps of Engineers to select a specific construction firm, Fisher Industries, to receive billions of dollars for building his wall. Fisher’s CEO is a GOP donor and frequent Fox network guest. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders described DDT as “one of the country’s most successful builders.” Fisher has already started building a border fence on private land with private funds within feet of an 1855 international boundary monument. DDT has called for “French doors” on the wall instead of a hydraulic sliding gate and demands that the wall be painted black. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction limiting additional border fencing in specific areas and blocking the $1 billion transfer from Pentagon funds for the wall.

DDT’s decision to stop the DACA program has been blocked by the majority of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that called DDT’s actions “not adequately explained” and “arbitrary and capricious.” An activist DDT appointee disagreed with the majority opinion.  The U.S. Supreme Court also permitted a Massachusetts law that bars for-profit corporations from making campaign donations. Neil Gorsuch joined the progressive wing of the Supreme Court to hold that the Apsáalooke Nation, also known as the Crow Tribe, can keep its treaty-guaranteed right to hunt on unoccupied lands outside its reservation. The case bodes well for tribes keeping their rights. A lower court had maintained that tribes lose their rights after statehood on treaty land.

DDT’s new immigration plan has succeeded with GOP lawmakers like a lead balloon. One of the provisions switches visas to a “merit-based” program that would have eliminated DDT’s wife and in-laws from coming into the United States.

DDT’s military budget for 2020 is actually about $1.25 trillion instead of the $700 billion he claims. The uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations account (aka “war”) has skyrocketed to $174 billion that shows DDT plans for military attacks around the globe. Together the nuclear weapons and Veterans Affairs, not part of the official budget, total about $240 billion. The rest of the $1.25 trillion comes from $156 billion in interest payments on the national debt from the military. The GOP Senate Armed Forces Committee gave DDT’s military budget an extral $16 billion, almost the same amount as the $19.1 billion for disaster relief that Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) is holding hostage because it doesn’t cut out other expenditures.

DDT’s Pentagon wants to give the Taliban $30 million for peace negotiations.

DDT has given farmers another $16 billion without anyone objecting about needing matching reductions for other costs. The amount sounds huge, but the average payout to farmers was $7,236—a fraction of what they lost to tariffs. In Iowa, corn farmers got 1 cent per bushel with a decline of 58 cents in corn prices. Soybeans are $2.50 less per bushel, about $150 loss per acre and $60,000 for farms planting 400 acres. Big farms that get much larger checks are using payouts to pick up land from smaller farms at bargain rates. Sharecroppers can’t complain because they will lose their land. At the same time, taxpayers pay twice, giving money to farmers and paying for the tariffs.

DDT may have helped Professional Bank CEO and president Abel Iglesias be appointed to the board of directors of the Miami branch of the Atlanta Federal Reserve after his bank loaned DDT up to $25 million for the purchase of a mansion owned by DDT’s sister. She recently retired as a federal judge to avoid an investigation into tax fraud.

DDT has said he has a literal “hit list.” Told that treason carries a death penalty, he listed these people to be convicted:

“You look at Comey. If you look at McCabe. If you look at people … probably people higher than that. If you look at Strzok. If you look at his lover, Lisa Page, his wonderful lover.”

DDT finished up his statement with “Bob Mueller and his group of 18 killers.”

DDT’s activist Supreme Court has temporarily blocked fixing gerrymandering districts in Michigan and Ohio until it makes a final ruling in June about the constitutionality of Republicans’ drawing districts to favor themselves.

DDT is carrying through his proposal to deny healthcare rights based on gender identity by mandating that sex is determined by genitalia. The new plan allows healthcare professionals and insurers to deny healthcare including gender reassignment needs although three of four courts determined that the Affordable Care Act covers gender identity. DHHS declares that “sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth” and uses sex on a birth certificate as “definitive proof.”

Anti-LGBTQ rights Roger Severino is behind the idea of “genitalia at birth.” Head of Human Rights at DHHS, he wants discrimination in all government agencies against non-traditional gender identity. People questioning the government’s definition of their sex could be forced to submit to genetic testing, causing problems for identification. Men with Klinefelter syndrome possess an extra X chromosome (XXY), two or three extra Xs (XXXY, XXXXY), or an extra Y chromosome (XYY). Women with Turner syndrome have only one X chromosome, and women (XX) with congenital adrenal hyperplasia may have masculinized genitals. Men genetically XY who have complete androgen insensitivity syndrome fail to develop masculine sexual characteristics. Children with Guevedoces appear to be female until their penis and testicles descend when they are about 12 years old. Other people may have XX chromosomes in some cells and XY in others. Intersex people don’t fit typical biological definitions of male or female. Scientists now believe that almost everyone has genetically distinct cells of a sex that fails to match the rest of their body. Sex is a spectrum and lacks a rigid binary system.

A coalition of 23 states is suing DDT’s DHHS for removing healthcare from patients under the guise of “moral” beliefs and terminating hundreds of billions of dollars in federal health care funding from their states or cities. The discrimination is scheduled to go into effect in July.

The NRA is in a world of financial hurt. On top of investigations by New York State and problems with CEO Wayne LaPierre spending $200,000 of members’ money to buy clothing, the PR firm Ackerman McQueen is counter-suing for $100 million for allegedly trying to sever business ties to benefit the expensive NRA legal firm. The NRA started the kerfuffle by suing Ackerman for $40 million, charging that the firm of “fomenting” an attempted coup and leaking confidential documents. LaPierre won the battle in driving out former president Oliver North, but he may lose the money argument and drive the NRA into bankruptcy. An earlier article shows how excessive spending has drained the NRA’s coffers.

Paul Krugman has a perspective of how DDT saved the Democrats when he rejected the infrastructure meeting and how DDT’s actions will put the United States into a world of financial hurt—possibly even a recession.

The man who ridiculed President Obama for golfing and promised he would never golf has spent over $100 million dollars for his personal golf trips with some of this money pouring into his own pockets. This coming month he plans another seven-figure trip to another country where he can play on his own course. During his campaign, DDT promised that he would not play golf at all. The $100 million is over three times the expenditure of Robert Mueller’s investigation, a net neutral cost because Mueller collected about $30 million from guilty subjects. His golf expenditures would fund the Special Olympics program for six years, the program that DDT refused to budget until public backlash.

Almost everyone who reads DDT’s tweets knows that he cannot spell, but his notes for the “impromptu” press conference after his tantrum led him out of the infrastructure meeting is more proof. He also misspells an opponent’s name in tweeting “Joe Bidan.” DDT’s notes about a “hoax” missed “37 total indicted … 26 Russians indicted … 4 people sent to prison … 7 guilty pleas” from the Mueller investigation. Plus the gains from the guilty plea made the investigation cost nothing.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

February 17, 2018

DDT: Weeks 55/56 – From ‘Treason’ to ‘Trumpgust’

 One year ago yesterday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave his only press conference since inauguration. George W. Bush gave five during his first year, and Barack Obama gave eleven. Almost two years ago, DDT tweeted:

“Crooked Hillary Clinton has not given a press conference in more than seven months. Her record is so bad she is unable to answer tough questions!”

Instead of being accountable for directly lying to the people, he leaves the job to staff like Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. His rally speeches give him the chance to spread falsehoods with no questions from the media. Six days after his mildly “presidential” State of the Union address, DDT released his vitriolic anger in a speech to Ohio workers. At the rally, supposedly about the tax bill and the economy, he launched into a furious attack of Democrats as “treasonous” and “un-American” because they did not clap for him at his address the week before. [Treason, as defined in the Constitution, “shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”] Masha Gessen compared DDT’s fixation on applause to that in the Soviet Union.

“Whether I chose to applaud or not applaud is a First Amendment right that our forefathers wrote down and that generations before me have sacrificed many a life for,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “And I would just say the president’s out of line with that statement.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in battle, tweeted that she didn’t swear an oath “to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.” Four of DDT’s draft deferments during the Vietnam War were for college and the fifth for bone spurs in his heels.

As he bragged about the stock market during the speech, the television screen showed the Dow Jones plummeting 1,177 for the day on top of the 666-point loss the Friday before. [Later DDT, who took credit for the stock market growth, said that it is now rigged against him.]

During his speech, DDT became almost incoherent with a reference to the GOP-drafted memo claiming FBI bias:

“Oh, but did we catch them in the act or what? You know what I’m — oh did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they were going to get caught. We caught ‘em! We caught ‘em. It’s so much fun. We’re like the great sleuth.”

DDT told the workers that they would get “thousands and thousands of dollars, and you’re getting it every year,” but a few fortunate ones are getting $1,000 bonuses, $.30 a day for the next ten years. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called that “crumbs,” compared to the tens and hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of dollars given to the wealthy and large corporations, but Sheffer CEO Jeff Norris said that “we consider [the bonus] fine dining.”

Unable to let go of his obsession about his former rival Hillary Clinton, DDT ranted about her destroying discarded smartphones with hammers while she was secretary of state five years ago. Guidelines mandate destruction of discarded technology for security reasons.

Earlier that day, DDT enthusiastically—and erroneously—tweeted that UK people were marching because “their [universal healthcare] system is going broke and not working.” The marches were in support of the National Health Service and calling for more funding.

Two days after his speech, DDT said in the midst of a bipartisan congressional near-agreement for a two-year spending bill, “I’d love to see a shutdown.” He got his wish because Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY decided to hold the Senate floor, but it was over in five hours. The bill that ended the shutdown is another “continuing resolution” until March 23, the deadline for Congress determining the specifics of the two-year spending plan.

The little boy in DDT has also demanded a military parade in Washington with costs for heavy tanks damaging streets and movement of equipment to that location while taking the military away from their responsibilities.  The parade will cost taxpayers between $10 million and $30 million. George H.W. Bush’s military parade is a precursor of DDT’s disaster. VP Mike Pence criticized North Korea’s military parade but praised one in the United States.

DDT’s latest infrastructure week was again a disaster, marred by talk about sexual misconduct, missing security clearances, and a horrific school shooting. He waited almost 400 days to announce that he expects states to assume over 80 percent of the costs, a reversal from the past when the federal government provided 80 percent of funding. The $200 billion budgeted for infrastructure for an effort that will cost trillions is offset by his removal of $281 billion from transportation—a loss of $81 billion.

Congress contributed to the disasters of the past week. With a vote of 225-192, the House removed business incentives for improving access for disabled people in the Disabilities “Reform” Act. Twelve Democrats supported the discrimination with 19 Republicans in opposition.

Despite a bipartisan compromise between party leaders, both congressional chambers failed to move forward with an immigration bill. The conservatives want nothing to do with helping DACA recipients, and DDT has refused to sign anything that doesn’t give him $25 for his wall.  Yesterday legislators went home for a week’s vacation, and the State Department closed one-third of its refugee settlement offices across 24 states.

After a year, the disposition of some inaugural funds shows one-fourth of the $107 million went to Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Melania Trump’s friend, who got almost $26 million entertainment, staffing, and a $1.62 for her consultation and executive production. Another $25 million went to event company Hargrove Inc. of Maryland.

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

VP Mike Pence embarrassed the United States at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The man who claims to be a Christian sat next to Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, but refused to even acknowledge her. Pence, who spent taxpayer money to fly across the continent twice in one day to walk out of a sports event after athletes protested, refused to stand when the North Korea and South Korea athletes entered the stadium under their flag. Before the opening ceremonies, Pence kept claiming that the North was trying to “hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games” with its “propaganda,” and he stayed at a VIP reception for less than five minutes. DDT accused Democrats of being “treasonous” because they sat at his address like “death.” Pence looked like “death” at the Olympics and missed the chance to represent sportsmanship and unity that DDT says he wants at U.S. sports events.

DDT got a lot of political play for a border wall by claiming last year that a Border Patrol agent was killed by undocumented immigrants, but the FBI determined that Rogelio Martinez died of an accident after the agencies mobilized 37 field offices in an investigation.

FEMA chalked up another loss; the government agency gave Tribute Contracting LLC a $156 million contract to deliver 30 million meals to people in Puerto Rico. The Atlanta company provided 50,000 meals. It has at least five canceled government contracts, and the company, with only one employee, has no experience coordinating large-scale disaster relief. At least 20 percent of Puerto Rican residents still lack power five months after Hurricane Marie.

The Koch-backed organization National Federation of Independent Business is promoting flu across the nation. They are fighting a Maryland law, passed over the governor’s veto, and an ordinance up for vote in Austin (TX) allowing workers to earn paid sick leave. Flu infection rate decrease with sick days, and two-thirds of restaurants and cooks have served or cooked foot while ill. The organization complain about job-killing costs while they push a policy that is people-killing.

ICE has rescued “Amuricans” from another “bad hombre.” Syed Ahmed Jamal, 55, was taken away from his front yard in Lawrence (KS) without permission to say goodbye to his wife and three children.  Over 30 years ago, he came from Bangladesh on a student visa and earned graduate degrees in molecular biosciences and pharmaceutical engineering. He changed to an H-1B visa for highly skilled workers and then back to a student visa when he enrolled in a doctoral program. He was on a temporary work permit, teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City and conducting research at local hospitals, when he was arrested for deportation. “Amuricans” may think they are a bit safer today because this man is captured.

A 1946 law and its regulations allow ICE agents to search any vehicle within 100 air miles of a land or sea boundary. That covers almost two-thirds of the U.S. population—over 200 million people. Agents can have permanent and temporary checkpoints within that area.

Trumpgust” reveals that DDT’s “combover” is far more extensive than most people know.

The number of states where conservatives outnumber liberals declined in 2017 to the lowest in Gallup’s trend since 2008.

September 29, 2017

Puerto Rico a Disaster, DDT Indifferent

Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico (PR) nine days ago today. With almost no help from the U.S. government, people are without food, drinking out of creeks, and dying in hospitals because of no fuel for generators. Living conditions in Puerto Rico are dire.

The disaster has taught Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) about geography. He’s learned that PR is “an island…an island sitting in the middle of an ocean — and it’s a big ocean. It’s a very big ocean.” DDT likes repetition; he continued, “This isn’t like Florida…This is a thing called the Atlantic Ocean. This is tough stuff.”

Since John Kelly became DDT’s chief of staff over a month ago, Elaine Duke has been acting security of Homeland Security. She called the hurricane as “really a good news story” because of “our ability to reach people.” Duke may think this is true from about 1,600 miles away, but people living on the island have a better perspective. Most of the supplies that came to the island are from private donors because of the archaic Jones Act, and what has arrived is rotting in port because of lack of leadership and infrastructure problems.

Five days after the disaster, Philip Carter wrote about DDT’s “Katrina”:

“So far, the Trump administration has dispatched an anemic Federal Emergency Management Agency mission and sundry military units to assess the situation and provide support. But in some cases it took the federal government days to even contact local leaders in Puerto Rico’s major cities, let alone deploy aid. Only the most rudimentary military support is now on the ground. This is inadequate and calls to mind the lethargic response by the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”

Carter also reported that 80 percent of the agriculture in PR has been destroyed along with its food source and economy. People cannot call for help, something the federal government told them to do, because 95 percent of the cell-phone towers are out.

Vox added to the catastrophe’s description:

“More than three million U.S. citizens [are] facing the prospect of living up to six months without power. According to some estimates, damage could exceed $30 billion. Our fellow Americans are in crisis. Since the disaster, House Republicans, led by Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-R), have unveiled a $10 billion proposal … for Donald Trump’s racist border wall and immoral mass deportation force.”

After a visit to PR three days ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) talked about the possible “humanitarian crisis.” He said that help for PR required “a lot more hands-on federal engagement.” Like Rubio, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) compared the lack of response to that in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf Coast. Five days ago, Hillary Clinton tweeted:

“President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens.”

The administration waited another two days before saying it would deploy the USNS Comfort, an 890-foot-long naval hospital ship, and longer until it sent more personnel and called on truck drivers to go to PR. The ship didn’t leave until today and will take another five days to arrive. A Defense Department official said the ship hadn’t been deployed because of no request from FEMA. Forty-nine of the island’s 69 hospitals are without electricity or fuel to run backup generators. Twenty percent of PR’s 3.5 million population has a disability including half those over the age of 65, and 13 percent of the residents have diabetes, compared to 8.7 percent on the mainland. Insulin requires refrigeration that is at an extreme shortage.

At the same time that a doctor desperately tweeted from San Jorge children’s hospital in downtown San Juan about lack of fuel for generators, U.S. Senate Republicans were trying to eliminate health care for tens of millions of people. DDT tweeted about that rather than PR because it would give money for tax cuts to the wealthy. Then he began arguing for his massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

Within a week after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Florida, DDT had managed a massive relief bill. For PR, he said that he would get a request for aid to Congress within a week or two (his term in the past for never) and complained about PR’s debt, seemingly accusing them of the disaster. Part of that debt comes from the $33 million that DDT kept by declaring his golf course in PR bankrupt immediately after he announced his most recent campaign for president.

Shipping limitations from the Jones Act were immediately waived after Texas and Florida were hit by hurricanes a few weeks ago, but DDT refused to do the same for PR until eight days after the disaster. (Texas and Florida voted for DDT, but Puerto Ricans cannot vote for a U.S. president.) DDT might not have waived the law at all except for his public embarrassment for saying that “a lot of people that work in the shipping industry…don’t want the Jones Act lifted.” The family of Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation and wife of the Senate Majority leader, owns a shipping company. The 1920 law, enacted to protect the U.S. from German U-2 boats, requires that goods going from one place in the United States to another must be on ships owned, build, and crewed by U.S. companies. PR pays an excessive amount for goods coming from the mainland because of this law.

Another serious problem in disseminating goods is that military personnel sent to unload containers and drive trucks across the capital are minimal compared to the people sent to other disasters. Only two ships were deployed to PR in the first six days after Maria. Because the federal government is insisting on centralized distributions, donations sent on charter planes by individuals and charitable groups are not reaching people. U.S officials decided that people should drive to San Juan, despite the severely limited fuel situation, to tell them what was needed.

DDT is also trying to control news coming from PR by restricting congressional members from making official visits to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and evaluating conditions there. The San Juan Airport is functioning at this time, and DDT has said that he plans to visit the island.

The Jones Act permits goods—water, food, fuel, medicine, etc.—can be shipped via foreign registry vessel to PR if the country pays import quotas and many other costs, or by going through Jacksonville (FL) where everything is unloaded, put onto a U.S. ship, and then sent to PR at an increased cost of 15 to 20 percent. For example, cars cost $6,000 more in PR than in Florida. Goods cost about twice as they do on neighboring islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands which is not subject to the Jones Act. Although the cost of living is 13 percent higher than 325 urban areas in the U.S., the per capita income is about $18,000, half that of Mississippi, the poorest of all 50 states. In 2012, the Jones Act caused a $17 billion loss to the island’s economy from 1990 through 2010. PR’s pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, proving 30 percent of the island’s gross domestic product and 90,000 jobs, is shut down.

Today DDT said he didn’t know if the government would help to repair PR’s public infrastructure. His disaster declaration for Texas promised federal funding of up to 75 percent of costs to repair “damaged public facilities” including roads, bridges and schools. FEMA said it would clear debris and other emergency relief.

Billionaires and celebrities are helping Puerto Rico residents by lending their planes to deliver food, water and critical medical supplies. One billionaire, however, has not stepped up to the plate. DDT’s fleet of a large commercial sized plane, a corporate jet, and two helicopters, sits at La Guardia. DDT hasn’t even asked people to donate to this crisis. All during the crisis, he has bragged how he protects the United States from athletes and how well he’s doing in Puerto Rico. He’s wrong on both counts.

The first federal senior administration officials didn’t go to PR for five days. DDT spent the first four days of the hurricane at his golf resort in Bedminster (NJ) except for a brief rally for his failed senatorial candidate in Alabama. Today, DDT said “We will not rest until the people of Puerto Rico are safe” before he flew back to his golf resort.

July 18, 2015

GOP Competes with Trump in Bigotry

No matter how much Republican politicians want Donald Trump to go away, he continues to suck the energy out of the presidential candidate. HuffPo has so little regard for him that they are leaving him in the entertainment section instead of putting his news in “politics.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) railed against Trump’s “firing up the crazies,” having forgotten that he tried to put one of the finest crazies just a heartbeat away from being President of the United States. McCain may have the last word, however, after Trump insinuated that McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured. The question is whether that’s the tipping point of Trump’s outrageous statements.

For what seems forever, Trump has led the growing GOP pack of presidential candidates, now at 18 percent and trailed by Scott Walker and Jeb Bush who flip back and forth between second place. This was after Fox laid out Trump’s position, repeating the accusation that undocumented immigrants are “rapists.” Seven in ten Republicans—70 percent—believe that Trump is right.

Even worse for the Republicans is the increase of President Obama’s approval rating, up three points last month to 47 percent—on a Fox poll. A real poll put the president at 52 percent approval.

Having gotten elected for another six years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) set out to alienate another GOP constituency—older people. After the House passed a five-month extension of the Highway Trust Fund—meaning no projects because of no funding assurance for next year–McConnell wants a long-term funding law paid by removing money from Social Security for the elderly and disabled, homeowners, and retirement funds for federal employees. McConnell’s proposal would cut the return investment rate on a retirement investment plan and eliminate Social Security payments for an elderly recipient who has an outstanding arrest warrant, no matter the reason or how long ago the warrant was issued. There was no mention of increasing taxes on the wealthy or cutting funding from wars.

The grand idea for the future highway funding from the House is not much better: a small tax on monies that corporations bring back from tax havens in exchange for massive corporate tax breaks in the future. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supports the idea, why I don’t know.

Technically, highways should be funded by the gas tax, but that hasn’t been increased for 22 years, and the GOP isn’t about to raise it now. President Reagan, for all his lack of progressive attitudes, raised the gas tax by 125 percent because he knew the importance of the nation’s infrastructure. President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system in the name of national security, but current Republicans lack the foresight to consider this while they clamor for war in the Middle East.

The GOP is also back to attacking women’s reproductive rights through a bill limiting abortions to under 20 weeks. At this point, they think they’ve got the goods on Planned Parenthood through a heavily-edited misleading video that insinuates the falsehood that the organization sells fetal tissue from its abortions. Conservatives have gotten a lot of press from an official talking clinically about fetal tissue, but there was no indication of wrong-doing—just a lack of perceiving a fetus as a cuddly creature as anti-abortion activists think of it.

Examining the issue, however, brings up some unpleasant facts for the congressional members who are crying foul: they have known about the video for almost a month and saved it for their own political reasons. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus and chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee looking into the video, said that he’d seen the clip weeks before. When he was asked why he and others waited weeks to take action, Murphy searched for words until he said, “This interview didn’t happen.” He’s been in Congress for 12 years and knows that he can’t tell a journalist that there was no interview. He does know how ridiculous the GOP looks to call the situation potentially criminal but do nothing about it, such as calling authorities.

Obviously, Republicans want to use the video to push their anti-choice issues. The destruction of the low-income housing group ACORN was so successful years ago from edited undercover videos suggesting criminal activity that they hope the strategy will work with Planned Parenthood. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said he keeps an acorn in his pocket that “represents ACORN’s scalp.” He added, “Ask me after the appropriations cycle and see if I have a talisman in my pocket for Planned Parenthood’s.” (I hate to think what it would be.) King, known for his outrageous, virulent anti-immigrant statements, also tweeted yesterday, “What does [Housing and Urban Development Secretary] Julian Castro know? Does he know that I’m as Hispanic and Latino as he?” He hasn’t responded to questions about what he meant by the tweet.

On the video, Planned Parenthood didn’t talk about doing anything illegal, but it may have been illegally made. The organization called Center for Medical Progress (CMP) may also be in hot water. It describes itself as “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances” and filed with the IRS as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The group actually pushes pro-life, anti-abortion principles, as shown by its website, with its “undercover footage.” Pushing anti-abortion legislation makes the group a “right-to-life” non-profit which must be shown in its filing.

The head of CMP, David Daleiden, is a former anti-abortion Live Action worker and associate of both Lila Rose and James O’Keefe, who creates edited sting videos to attack progressive organizations and politicians. CMP is a recent creation, its blog starting 12 days ago, tweets not coming out until last Tuesday, and its Facebook page only two months old. Deliberately misleading the IRS and donors makes an organization subject to civil and criminal fraud penalties.

While the House is looking for ways to destroy women’s reproductive rights, the Senate voted in favor of LGBTQ discrimination and bullying in K-12 public schools by voting down Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) bill to ban these activities. The Student Non-Discrimination Act, would have extended the same protections to LGBTQ students that they receive for race, national origin, sex, and disability. School officials can still ban same-sex couples at proms and stand by while LGBTQ students are bullied. Even Franken’s statements about LGBTQ youth suicides didn’t sway the GOP no vote, led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). All 45 votes against the bill were Republicans. As usual in the senate, a majority of 52 yes votes didn’t move the bill forward. Two presidential candidates, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against Franken’s bill; two voted for it—Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Franken said that the Republicans were “grumpy” since same-sex couples now have the legal right to marry.

I gave Jeb Bush a pass over his statement that people “need to work longer hours” because he might have been misquoted or misunderstood. Now, however, he claims that the president’s proposed expansion of overtime pay to millions more “managers” and white-collar workers” to earn below $50,440 a year will result in “less overtime pay” and “less wages earned” because it would “lessen the number of people working.” Experts and studies refute this claim, but Republicans have never been deterred by facts and evidence. At this time, employers can deny overtime pay to “exempt” salaried managers earning more than $23,660 a year, allowing a fast-food assistant manager to work 60 hours a week with no overtime. If employers don’t want to pay the overtime, they can hire more people—creating more jobs. Increasing pay nationwide by $1.5 billion a year also increases the taxes the employees pay. Bush also misrepresents the proposal by claiming that the rules would prohibit bonuses. Ross Eisenbrey, a vice-president of the Economic Policy Institute, said: “Bush should be embarrassed about how misinformed he was.” No pass for Jeb Bush this time.

At the same time the GOP fails to support human rights, a federal agency fills in the void. Over 50 years after the civil Rights Act was passed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided that the law protects LGBTQ people in the workplace. The new decision states, “Allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex.” EEOC rulings aren’t law unless the person is a federal employee; for others, courts consider EEOC rulings as only expert advisories. When EEOC and the Supreme Court disagreed about whether federal law indefinitely prohibits discriminatory pay practices against women, only congressional action—the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—granted these protections to women. This ruling is a start in the 31 states that don’t prevent job discrimination against LGBTQ people.

The GOP supports bullying and discrimination against LGBT kids, taking money from needy Social Security recipients who paid their SS taxes, destroying the U.S. highways, and discriminating against women–not men–who have sex while single. Pregnant women lose their rights but not the men who impregnated them. Welcome to the GOP US of A.

 

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