Nel's New Day

October 9, 2021

Reversing DDT’s Policies

Today in Iowa, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ranted about his lost election, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who condemned DDT less than a year ago, stood beside him, hoping to be re-elected next year at the age of 89. Meanwhile, the U.S. is quashing DDT’s push to destroy protections for U.S. residents.

Twenty state attorneys general have filed a joint complaint against DDT’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for his new crippling rules to delay mail delivery including elimination of working hours, slower first-class mail delivery, and removal of equipment, delaying delivery of prescriptions, bills, Social Security checks, rent payments, etc. DeJoy’s 10-year plan to use trucks for hauling mail instead of airplanes would be accompanied by changing post office locations and increase postal rates. Thirty percent of standard mail delivery would drop from a 3-day maximum to five days, increase the cost of every piece of mail an addition three percent to nine percent, and not reduce the USPS budget deficit. AGs maintain the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), providing independent oversight of the USPS, permitted the new harmful plans to go into effect without appropriate review. The independent postal services is the only federal agency required to be self-sustaining.

DeJoy is making money off a $120 million contract between XPO Logistics, which he led, and USPS. Former White House chief ethics lawyer testified to Congress that DeJoy probably violated federal conflict of interest rules “unless he has recused from so many matters at the USPS that he is not fully functioning as Postmaster General.” DeJoy also bought stocks in Amazon at a lower price with options, another conflict of interest because of the company’s shipping arrangement for the USPS. The FBI is also investigating DeJoy for potentially pressuring his former employees at XPO Logistics to donate to GOP candidates before using his company funds to reimburse them.

Wisconsin is heading into a fake “audit” of the 2020 presidential election ballots with no evidence of any fraud. No Cyber Ninjas this time—instead GOP legislators picked former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, a “Stop the Steal” activist, to oversee the probe. Gableman went not only to Arizona to look at the event but also to South Dakota to attend the “symposium” run by conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, My Pillow’s CEO. At the same time Gableman is subpoenaing mayors and elections for readily available information, he announced he has no “understanding” of how elections should run. The subpoenas are for “all documents contained in your files and/or in your custody, possession,” millions of pages from the state and its five biggest cities. Wisconsin taxpayers are $680,000 for ignorance and failure for Gableman’s “audit.”

Lindell also caused the audit of three Idaho counties which he claimed had fraudulent votes. Idaho Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck is billing Lindell for the $6,500 cost. Lindell accused all 44 Idaho counties of “electronic manipulation,” but at least seven counties don’t use this method. He also declared votes in every county in Idaho, which supported DDT by 31 percent, and every county in the nation was off by 8.4. The audit found a 0.1 percent of margin of error in all three counties. Alabama dismissed a Lindell’s claim that the state had 100,000 votes switched from DDT to President Joe Biden.

The Education Department will relax rules retroactively for its Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan, allowing student loans for 22,000 people to be automatically erased. Another 27,000 borrowers could have debts erased if they prove they worked in public service when making payments previously declared ineligible. In the past, loan payments were disqualified for either being received late or slightly different from the required amount, even by a few cents. Different payment plans will also count toward forgiveness because of misleading information from the federal government and loan companies. Over 550,000 borrowers may now fast-forward their path to loan forgiveness.

After a Senate hearing, the Department of Justice is reviewing two former FBI agents accused of mishandling the sexual abuse investigation into former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar against at least 330 girls and women. Four famous female gymnasts testified to the FBI’s lack of accountability and inaction. It is highly unusual for the DOJ to consider reopening a case without charges, but the department’s Inspector General found major missteps by the FBI in 2015 which permitted Nassar to victimize scores more patients before state authorities arrested him the next year. According to the report, Supervisory Special Agent Michael Langement, fired a month ago, lied to the inspector officer’s officer in interviews during 2020 and 2021. W. Jay Abbott, the head of the FBI’s Indianapolis office, also talked to Stephen Penny, the president of the USA Gymnastics, about getting a job with the Olympic Committee during the Nassar allegations in late 2015. Later Abbott lied to the inspector general about seeking the job, and Penny resigned from his job and was charged with evidence-tampering regarding sex abuse. The FBI also failed to alert state authorities about Nassar’s possible sex crimes against children. Nassar, 58, was sentence to 40 to 175 years in prison.  

DDT kept trying to drop salaries for federal employees, but Biden plans to raise wages an average of 2.7 percent on January 1 and signed an executive order directing federal contractors to pay employees a minimum wage of $15 by March 30, 2022.

Changes by the Federal Emergency Management Agent (FEMA) will ease the method for verifying ownership for disaster relief applicants who lack certain legal documents for inherited property. The former system discriminated against Blacks in the Deep South who need help to rebuild after catastrophic storms such as Hurricane Ida. Many Blacks informally inherited property without written wills, a process known as heirs’ property, previously denied under FEMA rules. FEMA will now send inspectors to people without the documentation for property ownership. In majority-Black counties, FEMA’s denial rate regarding “title issues” is twice the national average. Other people suffering from FEMA’s former rules include Native Americans, people in Appalachia, and those in communities near the U.S.-Mexico border.

By the end of the year, the Commerce Department will shut down its 15-year-old security unit illegally making criminal investigations and collecting information on hundreds of its employees and other citizens. With no oversight, the 13-person Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) opened cases against people who simply wrote innocuous letters to the department’s top official. Because almost no case was closed, people in almost 2,000 cases continued to be classified as still under scrutiny. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) called the ITMS a “rogue, unaccountable police force” that “opened frivolous investigations on a variety of employees without evidence suggesting wrongdoing.” The unit covertly searched offices at night, ran broad key word searches on emails, and examined social media accounts for critical comments about the census.

A federal judge tossed DDT’s rule scaling back protections for streams, marshes, and wetlands, saying that it could lead to “serious environmental harm.” The ruling from the District of Arizona applies nationwide and protects drinking water for millions of people and thousands of wildlife species depending on U.S. wetland acreage. Since a 1972 law prohibited the pollution of “waters of the United States” without a permit, courts and agencies have debated which waterways. Agencies will now return to water protections of the 1980s, less restrictive than those of President Obama but far more expansive than DDT’s guidelines. The judge’s ruling requires a permit for strip-mining for titanium in Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.  

Four years ago DDT reduced Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase in half, the biggest reversal of U.S. land monument protections in history. Biden restored Bears Ears to 1.36 million acres and Grand Staircase to 1.87 million acres, both areas having cultural and religious importance for Native American tribes. A lawsuit by environmental and tribal leaders against DDT has been on hold since Biden issued an executive order in January to examine the matter. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, threatens to sue Biden for his action.

Biden has also announced his plan to restore climate change protections to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and return the requirement for federal agencies to “evaluate all the relevant environmental impacts of the decisions they are making” for projects such as highways, mines, gas pipelines and water infrastructure. DDT’s removal of these mandates caused confusion and litigation.

In another reversed DDT rule, Biden will no longer prevent clinics receiving Title X family planning aid from advising people about terminating their pregnancies starting November 8. Under DDT’s rule preventing information about abortions, Title X grants served 2.4 fewer patients. The Hyde Amendment blocks federal money from directly paying for abortions, but DDT stopped clinics from sending patients where they can receive abortions. Biden also lifted the “Mexico City Policy” preventing worldwide nonprofit organizations from receiving any U.S. global family aid if they perform or promote abortions. DDT had expanded the ban to all U.S. international aid.

The Bureau of Land Management is returning to Washington, D.C. DDT’s decision to move the agency’s headquarters to Grand Junction (CO), causing almost 90 percent of the 328 former headquarters staff to retire, quit, or leave for other jobs. Ultimately, only three people relocated to the West, leaving 80 vacancies.  

The Washington, D.C. District Court ordered the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to take action by the end of the month on complaints against the NRA for its shell companies coordinating campaign spending with federal candidates. In the past, Republican FEC board members blocked the commission from asking the FBI to look into the NRA laundering Russian money into DDT’s campaign.

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.

May 31, 2020

DDT: Week 175 – How Much Worse Can the News Be?

During a week marked by a pandemic, unemployment, and riots throughout the United States—all issues that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) seems totally unable to handle, the other news keeps rolling.  

The riots roll across the U.S. as DDT and AG Bill Barr blame far-left groups of protesting and looting without any evidence. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that white supremacist organizations may be looting and destroying local businesses. He said that protesters are being traced, and the Minnesota governor said that 80 percent of arrested people are from out of state. DDT is worsening the violence by threatening anyone coming “close to breaching the [White House] fence” with “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.” Geraldo Rivera, once a DDT supporter, said to Fox about DDT threats against protesters in Minneapolis, “All he does is diminish himself.”

DDT postponed his dream G-7 summit until September after Angela Merkel said she wouldn’t come to the White House for the meeting in June because of the pandemic. He was able to get only two confirmations for the meeting of world leaders—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The other three from Canada, France, and Italy either declined or were doubtful. Perhaps looking for friendly faces, DDT said he was also going to invite Russia, South Korea, Australia, and India. Russia has been disinvited from the smaller group, then G-8, after Russians invaded Crimea. DDT insists on re-inviting him whereas the other members oppose the idea. The other six of G-7 may not even attend the summit if DDT makes the decision without them. DDT has already invited the additional four countries and wants the meeting before the election. The G-20 is already scheduled for November 21-22 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia—after the election. 

With the Senate on vacation and the GOP leaders trying to persuade older judges to retire to be replaced by younger, more conservative ones, nothing about a fifth coronavirus bill has happened for almost a week. After Republicans gave trillions to their friends in big business, they are dragging their heels about giving individuals, true small businesses, and state/local governments any part of the pie. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to wait for a while before taking any action, but senators up for re-election such as Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) worry about their states’ response. A major GOP argument is that states don’t deserve any money. Three different times, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has blocked a bill giving states more flexibility. McConnell also refuses any infrastructure funding, something that Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) want. The red line for McConnell is keeping employees from any liability for mismanaging safety from COVID-19.

While almost one-third of workers in the U.S. lost their jobs and 20 percent of families don’t have enough food to feed their children in April, corporations put away $1 trillion in institutional money market funds, parking money they don’t immediately need. Commercial bank deposits grew from 4.6 percent to 15.8 percent since mid-March. Billionaires personally gained over $500 billion. The amount of cash in the U.S. grew at an annual 42 percent between February 3 to May 4, almost twice the highest rate ever—22.5 percent in 2011—and almost seven percent the average 6.3 percent annual growth in basic money supply since 1976. More cash would have “trickled” to the top without rejection from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats. Companies used their massive tax cuts to buy back stock, and DDT wants to further cut their taxes. In the most recent coronavirus act, people with annual incomes of more than $1 million got 80 percent of the tax saving.

DDT is in trouble with foreign countries. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the U.S. to stay out of his shipment of oil headed for Venezuela that he’s trading for gold. Rouhani posted a statement on his website the U.S. had created “unacceptable conditions” in different parts of the world, but that Iran would “by no means” be the one to initiate conflict. He added, “We hope the Americans will not make a mistake.” A fourth tanker has reached Venezuela, and a fifth one is on its way. Yet a desperate DDT is threatening anyone—foreign governments, seaports, shipping companies, and insurers—with stiff sanctions if they help the flotilla.   

Earlier this month, DDT vetoed a bill requiring him to get authorization before using military force against Iran, and he’s shown no letup in sanctions killing Iranians. Yet the country is no more repressive than Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East countries, and keeping an antinuclear treaty with frequent inspections would be safer than turning the country loose. Wealthy U.S. conservatives, however, fund United against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) to help Israel, Saudi Arabia, and UAE spread violence, chaos, and extremism in the Middle East. Despite its supposed goal of searching for extremism and terrorism, UANI chose not to report on the Saudis and UAE. A Saudi Embassy official had provided invaluable assistance to two 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia gave shelter to the Wahhabi Muslims behind Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Muslim terrorists and funded Al-Qaeda forces destroying Syria since 2011. The UAE supplied massive amounts of weapons to Libyan rebels.

DDT told Congress he plans to sell another $478 million of precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia, even if lawmakers don’t approve. He will also approve licenses for Raytheon to manufacture more high-tech bomb parts inside the kingdom. DDT had defended the weapons sales as vital for U.S. jobs. Members of both political parties were also furious when DDT bypassed Congress for an $8 billion arm sales to the Saudis and other Middle East countries.

As part of his campaign strategy, DDT wants to take all U.S. soldiers out of Afghanistan before November. Unfortunately for him, the Taliban agreement from last February set a timetable of more than one year for U.S. troop withdrawal. If U.S. military leave before then, the Taliban can see the action as disregarding the agreement. The Taliban will take over Afghanistan again, and the U.S. will get the blame.

Yesterday, DDT arrived 45 minutes late for an announced press conference, spoke for nine minutes attacking China, and refused to answer questions about the man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. About China, he complained about their actions in Hong Kong, said he would revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status to punish China, and promised to immediately end the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization. He blamed WHO and President Obama for China’s actions.

China has good reason to ridicule DDT, with large cities on fire every night and his giving authoritarian orders to private businesses such as Twitter. Using executive orders to control private businesses such as social media is practicing socialism.  

DDT had another imaginary conversation, this time with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who supposedly said that he’s not happy with India’s conflict with China. Modi has not talked to DDT since April 4, and Indian officials were “taken by surprise” by DDT’s comment about Modi being not “in a good mood.” Last summer, DDT lied about Modi wanting him to help solve the conflict in Kashmir.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is being supported in a multibillion-dollar money laundering scheme by 28 North Korean and five Chinese citizens with 250 shell companies, more proof that DDT can’t stop Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear weapons program with his faulty diplomacy. Kim has said since last year that it would continue testing this year, and DDT said that he didn’t want to meet with Kim until after the November election.

In any other time, DDT’s veto of a bipartisan resolution days after Memorial Day would be considered a conflict of interest; after almost four years since he was inaugurated, it’s just “normal.” Congress recommended overturning a policy creating more problems for students defrauded by colleges to have their education loans canceled. Veterans are one group preyed upon by corrupt schools to take their GI Bill education benefits, thanks to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ regulatory action. The Education Department has received over 300,000 claims for debt relief and for-profits chain college such as Corinthian, ITT Technical Institute, Argosy University, and the Art Institutes closed. Part of DDT’s business has been the now-defunct Trump University, described in the conservative National Review as a “massive scam.” DDT paid $25 million to settle three lawsuits for fraud.

In a cowardly action, DDT is breaking with decades of precedent by not publishing a mid-year economic forecast. The projections come from the director of OMB, chair of DDT’s economic advisers, and the treasury secretary. As comic writer Gerry Conway tweeted:

“Trump figures if he doesn’t tell people they’re out of work, they won’t know they’re out of work.”

Alabama Media Group columnist Kyle Whitmire said:

“It’s like refusing to release a weather forecast that says a hurricane will make landfall tomorrow. Eventually, the truth will tell itself.”

With DDT in the Oval Office, the United States—and the world—are in a mess because officials are afraid of telling him bad news. No one can effectively plan for disasters without getting fired.

October 28, 2019

DDT: Corruption, Character

News events about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep rolling. Today, NYT broke news about how Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice reported worries about DDT’s pressuring Ukraine, especially asking “a foreign government [to] investigate a U.S. citizen.” He heard DDT’s July 25 telephone call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky offering quid pro quo. A decorated Iraq war veteran with a Purple Heart, Vindman will be the first White House official to testify with first-hand knowledge about the call. (Vindman’s opening statement.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the House will take its first formal vote on Thursday to “affirm” the impeachment investigation. The resolution will also cover procedures for public hearings and interview transcripts.

Military and intelligence officials cringed about DDT’s colorful description of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s capture, a combination of fabricated, tactically sensitive, and classified information that he presented to the world. Again, DDT presents himself only as an entertainer delivering an exciting narrative about covert life-and-death events. One official said:

“We agonized over what we would put in his briefings because who knows if and when he’s going to say something about it. He has no filter. But also if he knows something, and he thinks it’s going to be good to say or make him appear smarter or stronger, he’ll just blurt it out.”

Details such as the U.S. possessing documents about future ISIS plans damages military ability to use that information, and DDT’s report about capturing ISIS fighters complicates interrogation. He also revealed technology used in discovering the location and the raid itself as well as tactical details about the robot, helicopter flight patterns, methods of entering the compound, and even military dog training. DDT’s behavior belies his faux concern about fear that Democrats would leak information if they knew about the operation.

DDT invented his message to the Russians and performance of the “crying and screaming” from al-Baghdadi: the visuals of the raid had no audio. Some people surmised that the visual for DDT and others in the Situation Room was set up later to imitate the photo from that room during the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Back to last week’s corruption and fraud:

One arguing point by Republicans—although invalid—is that they are devoted to the U.S. Constitution. DDT finally openly repudiated the document that provide the supreme law of the United States with his term “phony Emoluments Clause.” The reference was made in high dudgeon after he backed out of having the G7 Summit at his personal resort, but a number of lawsuits already challenge his right to take money from foreign governments without congressional permission. He also argues that the constitutional impeachment process is unconstitutional and gave himself the right to spend federal funds wherever he wishes in violation of the constitution.

DDT also referred to the phony constitution when discussing his Washington, D.C. hotel. Thinking that he could escape multiple lawsuits about his constitutional violation, DDT considers selling the hotel, hoping for $500 million on a $200 million investment. Because DDT leases the building where the hotel is located, he would be selling only the rights to operate the hotel. The hotel’s building is owned by the government, making DDT both tenant and landlord, prohibited by the lease but still in operation. His lease costs $3 million a year plus a percentage of the profits, but DDT has not paid much over the base cost, indicating that the place is not profitable. He continues to run his own business, despite his assertion that he wouldn’t have any oversight; thus the sale would result in more conflicts of interest with a sale to people trying to curry favor. A House committee has subpoenaed DDT for documents to investigate his lease.

DDT may understand that his name is losing money. He has taken his name off two Central Park ice skating rinks. At one time, the arenas posted red signs with “Trump” around the rink and at the skate rental desk, signs now covered with a white tarp or with “Trump” in small print at the bottom. His name has even been removed from uniforms. Four concessions run by the Trump Organization—the two rinks, the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx, and the Michael Friedsam Memorial Carousel in Central Park—have either lost revenue or stayed flat since DDT was elected. The two rinks dropped by 5 percent. DDT’s name has been taken off six residential buildings in Manhattan and three hotels, all properties that had leased the Trump name.

New Jersey may revoke the liquor license for one of DDT’s golf clubs because of a 2015 case in which a man caused a fatal wreck after he was overserved alcohol at the club in Colts Neck. The man pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide after killing his father. DDT has 30 days to challenge the revocation. The club also violated state law by selling alcoholic drinks other than beer on carts throughout the golf course. According to state law, anyone with one liquor license revoked must give up all other licenses for two years. DDT has two other New Jersey golf clubs, one of them in Bedminster that he calls his summer White House. Alcohol sales provide golf courses its income.

DDT attacked Obama for not donating his presidential salary, but DDT has spent nearly 300 years of presidential salary on taxpayer-funded trips to play golf at his private clubs, including last weekend.

In DDT’s snitty micro-managing, he cancelled White House subscriptions to the Washington Post  and the New York Times. He also plans to order all his agencies to do the same. Almost a year ago, DDT tried to revoke or suspend the press passes of journalists with his objection as “fake news.” Judges have opposed this action twice thus far, but the DOJ is appealing the latest decision to allow the reporter to cover the White House. An argument against any suspension is “viewpoint discrimination” which DDT obviously has according to a tweet about “two nasty lightweight reporters” whose “reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE.” DDT’s bubble didn’t allow him to foresee the booing he faced at Game 5 of the World Series game after he was introduced. He was not happy.

DDT’s use of “fake news” may be short-lived. A Calgary (Alberta) communications agency joined the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to trademark the term and served DDT with a cease-and-desist to stop him from using the term.

A federal judge held DDT’s billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court because she failed to stop collecting loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students, a defunct for-profit college company that defrauded tens of thousands of borrowers. Judge Sallie Kim fined the Education Department $100,000, money used to compensate the 16,000 people damaged by the Education Department. She warned “additional sanctions” if the Educational Department continues to violate the injunction.

One of DeVos’ top officials, A. Wayne Johnson, has quit in an effort to become Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment to a U.S. Senate seat. Johnson has 500 competitors for the job. He came to the Education Department from his private student loan firm to manage $1.5 trillion in student loans, equal to Russia’s annual GDP and more than seven times Portugal’s GDP. As a going-away gift, Johnson wants to forgive up to $50,000 of student debt for each borrower at a cost of $925 billion. He says it could be financed by a one-percent tax on revenue generated by all employers including non-profit organizations. 

Student loan payments provided over 100 employees of student loan company Sallie Mae a five-day, expenses paid trip to Maui as the company celebrated record profits. The company made $5 billion from 374,000 borrowers. Sallie Mae provides private loans which charge much higher interest.

Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade representative, refused to answer six times when asked whether DDT is pressuring China to investigate Joe Biden as part of the trade talks. Sounds like a yes.

The DOJ tried to conceal the whistleblower complaint about the Ukraine phone call by not reporting the information to the FEC.

DDT has acquired only 16 percent of the land he needs in Texas for his wall because people don’t want to give up their land. Yet he may cause another shutdown in December if Congress doesn’t give him money for his monument.

Twice last week, GOP senators blocked election security bills. DDT already said that he would veto any bill requiring federal election campaigns to report “illicit offers” of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents.

DDT loves proclamations and last week was no different. For “National Character Counts Week,” he signed a statement encouraging future leaders to “lead lives of virtue and integrity” with a strong “moral compass.” He wants them to “demonstrate good character through our thoughts, discourse, and deeds” with deeds in our homes, schools, workplaces, and houses of worship. Let us set an example for others of the timeless values of respect, compassion, justice, tolerance, fairness, and integrity.” The signing of this proclamation that satirists like Andy Borowitz would write—but it’s for real.

Oddity of the week: DDT has released an attack ad against Hillary Clinton for the 2020 campaign.

July 8, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Four – Mostly Russia!

The last week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was dominated by North Korea, his world trip, the fallout from his commission’s demand to garner all the states’ voting data, GOP’s lies in their attempt to destroy health care, and, of course, his tweets. But there’s more.

The U.S. is rapidly losing its world leadership: a majority of people in the U.S. have more confidence in Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the country poised to take over the U.S.’s former position, than in DDT.

The White House publication of all its employees’ salaries shows a 37 percent discrepancy in male and female median earnings. Women’s median wage is $72,650 while men get $115,000. DDT’s gap is more than double the national gap of 17 percent and the largest since 2003. Of 22 staffers paid the highest in the White House, only five are women. In April, DDT revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order requiring companies with federal contracts to comply with labor and civil rights laws. DDT made it possible for all companies to pay workers unfairly.

Science has literally left the White House. The last three employees departed the science division of DDT’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Although 222,000 jobs were added in June, new manufacturing jobs were half those in February, and 59,000 of the new jobs were in health and services—the area on the GOP chopping block with Trumpcare. DDT promised at least a four-percent increase in the economy in his first year, but Wall Street is forecasting half that or lower, about the average since President Obama brought the nation out of its Bush recession. The recent slump of the dollar comes from the world view of U.S. economy. As the Fed normalizes monetary policy by raising interest rates, the government has lost its opportunity for cheap loans to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Less federal tax revenue indicates faltering personal income. Although people think that the country is in good shape because of rising stock markets, some experts have expressed concern about the future of stocks.

DDT is clinging to his travel ban, but it’s alienating people—even grandparents—because of the highly restrictive definition of “close” relatives connected to people applying to come into the country. The exclusion of grandparents as “close family members” has hit social media.

The extremist radical policies from DDT are facing courts and sometimes losing. Scott Pruitt’s EPA huge favor to the oil and gas industry last month has been overturned. The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt lacked authority to delay an Obama-era regulation cracking down on pollutants from drilling operations. /The EPA admitted that Pruitt’s two-year delay would have a bad affect on the health of children near oil and gas operations.

Tom Price’s HHS agency reported that the Affordable Care Act is “working as intended” because it protects insurers from big risks and moderates consumer premiums. The charge on plans with lower average risks that is transferred to higher-risk plans is neutral within every state. Another temporary plan, reinsurance, protects insurers from high-cost enrollees by paying companies for the first three years. Both plans are permanent in George W. Bush’s Medicare’s prescription program, Part D. Medicare Part D also assesses insurers collecting huge profits from the program and paying them to insurers with commensurate losses, but the GOP maintains that this is an insurer “bailout” for the ACA. Reinsurance reduced net claim costs by four to six percent in 2016. Stopping the program is driving up premiums for 2017 and 2018, thus the GOP is causing the infamous “death spiral” of health care.

Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are suing Betsy DeVos because of her delay in regulations to protect federal student loan borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools. The rules, set to take effect last July 1, prohibit colleges from forcing students to settle complaints through arbitration instead of court and make it easier for the borrowers to seek debt forgiveness.

The Hatch Act prevents government officials in the executive branch from involvement in political activity; a 2012 amendment added disciplinary action to its violation. Dan Scorvino, DDT’s social media director, may have broken this law when he tweeted in April that DDT’s supporters should defeat Rep. Justin Amash (MI) in the primary. It goes far beyond his vicious tweets that almost equal those of DDT. During DDT’s campaign, Scorvino tweeted an anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton atop piles of hundred-dollar bills and a Jewish Star of David that read, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Another violator is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for her retweeting a DDT message endorsing Ralph Norman, the Republican running for Congress in South Carolina’s 5th District. Norman won the special election.

Russia stays in the news:

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, finalized a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank the month before last November’s election when the bank was in court answering a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. DDT has also garnered almost $8 million from Russian government official Igor Zorin for Florida properties.

DDT’s longtime buddy Michael Cohen has lost his place in DDT’s inner circle to separate DDT from Russian connections. Cohen bought apartments from DDT, bullied DDT’s condo board into submission, and acted as intermediary with mafia-linked DDT business partner, Felix Sater, and Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko, soon after DDT’s inauguration. Artemenko gave Cohen documents to deliver to Michael Flynn before he was fired for Russian connections. Cohen denies reports that he met overseas with Russian officials and operatives, but he has acquired his own lawyer and refuses to provide documents to or appear before congressional intelligence committees.

Sater, a Russia-born real estate dealmaker who allegedly has organized crime links, is agreeing to testify in an international investigation into a Kazakh family’s dealings in the U.S. including the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City. Sater is a known mob informant who fled to Russia to avoid criminal charges. He was also in prison for slashing a man’s face with a broken cocktail glass. His history is here. DDT has said, “I am not involved in Russia.” That doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t involved with DDT. Others are also willing to report on DDT’s connection with financing the Trump SoHo in a front for money laundering.

Although Peter Smith, the man who may have been involved in Russian hacking, has died, the news about his attempts to get Hillary Clinton emails continues. A document of involved people lists senior members of DDT’s campaign, some of them now serving in the White House. Included are white supremacist Steve Bannon. DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior Agriculture Department adviser Sam Clovis, and the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  Security consultant Matt Tait, a Smith colleague, gave reasons “that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.” The UK cyber-analyst wrote about how Smith recruited him to verify the accuracy of emails.

What has DDT’s Department of Homeland Security to investigate Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting machines? Nothing.

Hackers from a foreign government—probably Russia—hacked at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including a nuclear facility in Kansas. DDT still hasn’t addressed the problem with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After DDT’s talk with Putin in Hamburg (Germany) this past week, Putin came away with the impression that DDT agreed that there had been no hacking into the U.S. election.

The company that provides cybersecurity for the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, may lose its contract. Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, has certifications issued by the Russian Security Service (FSB) which allows the Russian government to examine anything from Kaspersky. Its security software is also sold at U.S. retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that Kaspersky software could cyberattack U.S. infrastructure such as the electric grid, airlines, water utilities, etc. Former CIA station chief in Moscow, Steve Hall, pointed out the Russian control over all of Kasperky’s data:

“Any time [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are. There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.”

Last Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.” DDT is responsible for Cassidy’s frustration, and over two-thirds of people in the United States wish that DDT would stop the tweeting. The miserable attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were followed by a view of DDT’s fat ass in the air while he pummels a character labeled CNN. He didn’t create the video, but he retweeted it which makes it an official communication from the White House.

While in Germany, DDT attacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, claiming that all the foreign powers were talking about her email serve and tweeting that he “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.” A few DDT mistakes: Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server; he was not involved with the DNC; the CIA spies on foreign governments and wasn’t investigating cyber-attacks on Clinton.  And DDT continually says that Russia wasn’t involved in the hacking.

“‘The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held?’”

The above quotation is from DDT’s 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. He should read it sometime.

 

March 19, 2017

DDT Supporters Start to Lose—Everything

 

A campaign argument from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to voters was “what do you have to lose?” People voting for DDT almost uniformly said that they wanted a “change.” Now they have a change, and DDT’s policies are proving that everyone except those in the highest income levels will most likely lose.

DDT won with 80 percent support from white evangelical Christians, but some conservative faith leaders are beginning to question the validity of DDT’s policies. Over 100 Christians, many of them conservative, wrote a letter to congressional leaders about how DDT’s cut of $10.1 billion for the International Affairs Budget will damage humanitarian programs abroad.

“With just 1 percent of our nation’s budget, the International Affairs Budget has helped alleviate the suffering of millions; drastically cutting the number of people living in extreme poverty in half, stopping the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs and Ebola, and nearly eliminating polio. As followers of Christ, it is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget, and avoid disproportionate cuts to these vital programs that ensure that our country continues to be the ‘shining city upon a hill.’”

Progressive Sister Simone Campbell wrote that DDT’s cuts “disproportionately affect the same group of people — women, people of color, and all at the economic margins.”

Mick Mulvaney, architect of DDT’s budget and OMB director, has tried to explained that punitive cuts for vulnerable populations are really “compassionate” because people should not pay for services to others unless it’s for a “proper function.” He didn’t explain that this function is for building “the wall” and increasing the military by ten percent. He also said that the cut to Meals on Wheels was only three percent when the federal government actually pays 35 percent.

A five-minute search on the Internet would show Mulvaney positive quantifiable results for Meals on Wheels and another project he wants to slash, after-school programs that provide meals.

Meals on Wheels: 26 of 48 states would save money for Medicaid with an expansion in the program of one percent by keeping seniors out of nursing homes. Florida could trim as much as $11.5 million, and Pennsylvania could save $5.7 million. Overall, the nation would pay only $8 million for this  one-percent expansion.

After-School Meals: feeding hungry children costs $.80 a meal. Several studies show that these programs improve student grades, attendance, and school participation.

DDT has taken five trips to Mar-a-Lago since becoming president for a grand total of about $16.5 million, but there are no concrete results for his personal entertainment. Any meetings there could easily be at the White House. Meals on Wheels could feed 5,967 seniors for a year for that amount. After school programs could feed 114,583 poor children for a year for the same amount. Among the 2.4 million people served by Meals on Wheels are 500,000 veterans. The cost for feeding them for a year could be covered by a little over one month supporting DDT’s family in New York.

A tweet: “Trump golfing at Mar-a-Lago costs $10 million/mo. The National Endowment for the Arts costs $12 million/mo. Guess which is being cut?”

Mulvaney’s “compassionate” budget will eliminate the 50-year-old program, National Endowment for the Arts. The basis for this legislation is that a great country comes from an enlightened and unfettered citizenry:

“Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster … access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants.”

An early NEA decision was to foster local and regional economies in individual states: the approximately $400 million—25 percent of it targeted to rural communities—returns more than $704.2 billion to the nation’s economy, about 4.23 percent of the GDP. This is more than construction ($619.8 billion) or transportation and warehousing ($483.5 billion). In 2015, NEA funding provided audiences of 33 million people to “30,000 concerts, readings and performances and 5,000 visual and media arts exhibitions,” according to statistics. The NEA makes cities and towns better place to live and extends education, helping students get higher grades and stay in school. Maintaining DDT’s New York home where his wife and son live costs over $4 million a month; NEA costs the average taxpayer $.46 a year.

The budget also used “compassion” to whack $580 million a year from NIH because the 21st Century Cure project gets $480 million to research cures for 10,000 diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Oddly enough, the charge to taxpayers doesn’t go away, but it can’t be spent unless Congress okays it.

What do blacks have to lose with DDT? He answered this campaign trail question in his budget: elimination of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity program, SHOP which DDT calls “lower priority programs.” Mulvaney calls this compassion.

The facts belie a demand for the ten-percent increase in military and outright elimination of many programs or cuts of 31 percent to slowing down climate change.

  • The U.S. spends more on military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, France, India, and Germany — combined. Yet the U.S. spends far less per capita than other countries on initiatives that DDT cuts.
  • Eliminated programs are more valuable to West Virginia’s coal miners and Detroit’s single mothers, referenced by Mulvaney as not needing them, than the ten-percent increase in military. DDT’s budget cuts funding for early-childhood education, public housing, transit, food assistance, and job training as well as programs that help people in West Virginia and many surrounding states to find jobs. It also cuts the federal agency, the Chemical Safety Board,  that investigated the 2014 chemical spill outside Charleston leaving 300,000 people without drinking water for five days.
  • On top of DDT’s budget cuts is a huge regressive tax cut which gives money only to the wealthy while Mulvaney talks about worrying about coal miner and single mothers. His argument about trying to protect these people in a budget that takes all their services makes no sense.
  • The budget doesn’t reduce the deficit, which DDT had promised to do.

Mulvaney demands “results,” but the U.S. has spent $4 trillion to establish new regime that don’t work instead of repairing U.S. infrastructure and providing jobs for people in this country. The Pentagon is decades behind in a congressionally-mandated audit, and in 2015 alone Army accounting couldn’t support $2.8 trillion in third quarter adjustments and $6.5 trillion in year-end adjustments. In just that one year, $125 billion in administrative waste was identified, double what DDT budget wants for a Department of Defense increase.

The GOP Trumpcare will kill 17,000 people a year, more people in three months than foreign terrorists have killed in the U.S. since—and including—the 9/11 disaster almost 16 years ago. And far more deaths will ensue from DDT’s budget attack on poor people. Those not forced out of their homes may have no heating assistance.

DDT has joined with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to attack people with student debt by rolling back a regulation from President Obama preventing extortionist fees on student loans for late payments. Before this went into effect, students were charged up to 16 percent even if people paid with 60 days of defaulting. For example, a woman with an $18,000 loan was charged $4,500 in fees when she was 18 days late in paying.

Robert Reich wrote about DDT’s theme of unnecessary cruelty in his policies: his budget attacks the poor at a time when the majority of people suffer greater poverty than they have in almost a century; his Trumpcare adds not only to their poverty of people in the U.S. but also to their deaths; his Syrian refugee and Muslim ban does nothing to protect people from terrorism; and his dragnet approach toward driving immigrants out of the country loses some of the nation’s most productive members and keeps other equally important people from coming to the United States. DDT has no reason for this cruelty other than his business style—create chaos and rule through persecuting people.

Fox’s Howard Kurtz wrote, “The swamp fights back,” referring to the backlash against DDT’s budget, including assistance for food, affordable housing, banking, job training, home heating oil bills, and legal counsel. When DDT said he would “drain the swamp,” people believed that he meant the bureaucracy that destroys jobs and moves money to the wealthy. Evidently the “swamp people” represent people DDT had promised to protect only a few months ago.

There is nothing Christian about any of DDT policies and nothing Christian about conservatives calling those who believe in human rights “swamp people.”

June 14, 2014

‘A Fighting Chance’: Elizabeth Warren’s Thoughts on the Rigged System

fighting chanceMen complain how women take everything personally. Elizabeth Warren makes that a good thing. For the past four decades, she has taken the problems of the poor and the middle class of this country very personally. She’s fought against unfair bankruptcy, concealed bank practices, and now excessive interest for student loans.

Warren’s newest book, A Fighting Chance, is far more than her personal story about her family and political campaigns. Throughout her book about how the middle class is trapped in a vise of debt, she shows that she is a person determined to help desperate people in this nation.

Warren grew up when employers could refuse to hire her because she was pregnant—or just because she is a woman. She married and had children early, and her husband—as most men in society at that time—thought it was her responsibility to be sole caretaker of both him and the children. Yet she managed to earn a law degree from Rutgers. Part of her success in education, according to her book, is that education was much cheaper then. She attended a state commuter college and paid $50 a semester for tuition. Now a state college can cost $15,000 a year for instate students.

 

Her original title of the book, Rigged, shows that U.S. politics gives control to plutocrats and bankers at the expense of most of the people in the nation. She writes about this issue in clear, simple language instead of the vague, ambiguous, wordy “fed speak” that most people high in the economic leadership use. Past Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan said about his use of fed speak: “You soon learn to mumble with great incoherence.”

One joy of A Fighting Chance is the lack of mumbling. With clarity and common sense, Warren delivers her message of giving everyone in the country a fair chance. Early in her teaching career, she taught a class on bankruptcy at a time when textbooks didn’t cover the new 1978 Bankruptcy Reform Act. In doing her own research on the law, she learned that almost 90 percent of people declared bankruptcy because of a job loss, a medical problem, or a family breakup, not because of bad choices.

Passion about the subject of bankruptcy led Warren to write a book about it and talk to groups about the law. That led her to become an advisor to lawmakers, giving her the opportunity to advocate for vital updates that allowed desperate people to get relief from their debt. Through this advocacy, she met such greats as former Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), whose seat Warren now occupies in the U.S. Senate.

As Maura Casey said in her review:

“She’s mad as hell, and many readers will be, too, by the time they finish this book. Warren explains how the financial crisis was preceded by congressional and court decisions that shredded public protections for high interest rates and predatory banking practices during the 1980s and ‘90s. ‘Gradually [the bankers’] strategy emerged,’ she writes. ‘Target families who were already in a little trouble, lend them more money, get them entangled in high fees and astronomical interest rates, then block the doors to the bankruptcy exit if they really get in other their heads.’”

Her next project was to give the financial world transparency for everyone. Warren knew that as long as financial industries kept consumers and voters ignorant, that banks and credit cards could charge whatever fees and interest rates that they wished. The same ignorance on the part of consumers led to eight times as many bankruptcies in 2010 over 1980 and caused these same people to lose their homes at a enormous rate. Thanks to her support from such luminaries as Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and a Democratic president, a new agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created a simpler way of looking at financial contracts. Credit card agreements are now one page, and mortgages use understandable language.

elizabeth_warren_graduates-620x412Republicans made a major mistake when they refused to make Warren the head of this agency. Because of this loss, she ran for Senate against a popular incumbent—and won. Her current crusade is to put student loans on the same footing as bank loans.

Banks pay less than 1 percent in interest, giving them a subsidy of $83 billion a year that they stash away instead of helping people with the funds. Students pay nonnegotiable rates of over 8 percent, in a time when mortgages are under 4 percent.

The bill allows students to take out government loans at 3.86 percent interest and let existing borrowers to refinance their current loans down to that lower rate. It also proposes that the $5.1 billion loss each year through refinancing would be off-set by $7.1 in new revenues from a surcharge tax on millionaires to ensure that they pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

Warren said:

“We put the plan to pay for it right on the table. No gimmicks or smoke-and-mirrors. We said that when the government reduces its profits on student loans, the money should be made up by stitching up tax loopholes so that millionaires and billionaires pay at least as much in taxes as middle class families.”

As Warren told the Boston Globe:

“It’s a basic question on our values. Does this country protect millionaires’ and billionaires’ tax loopholes? Or does it try to help young people who are just starting their economic lives?”

This past week, GOP senators filibustered her bill on student loans and temporarily killed it. She obtained 56 votes to overcome the filibuster: that’s six votes over a majority of the Senate but not enough for the filibuster policy that mandates 60 votes. There were actually 57 votes to close the filibuster, but Majority Leader Harry Reid changed his vote to no so that he could bring up the bill again. Thirty-eight GOP senators voted to protect the 22,000 millionaires/billionaires.

Warren never quits. She’ll be back with the bill again. And she’s got help. A few hours after the bill was blocked, Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:

“You can refinance your home, you can refinance your car, but the federal government doesn’t allow you to refinance your college loan if you’re paying too much. Why shouldn’t we do that? We’re gonna keep going at it. We’re going to bring this bill up over and over.”

Businesses and local governments can also refinance loans for a lower interest rate.

High interest on the $1.2 trillion that over 40 million people owe in student loans hurts the country’s economy. Most of them cannot buy cars and homes, causing fewer jobs to make and sell these. Dropping the interest rate would put billions into the economy and billions into the government coffers through tax revenue.

The GOP couldn’t even come up with a rationale justification for voting against the bill. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  said, “The Senate Democrats’ bill isn’t really about students at all. It’s really all about Senate Democrats. They want an issue to campaign on to save their own hides this November.” At the same time, the Senate Finance Committee has approved a measure to cut taxes for the wealthy that cost $8 billion a year with no offset.

Warren has an answer for McConnell. She’s headed to Kentucky to campaign and fundraise for his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Although much of the book is about policy and law, it is a very personal book as Warren writes about how she developed her value system. She grew up poor and always has an eye on the dollar. It is that background that makes her valuable in her fight for the people struggling against a rigged system. She has lived their lives. And she understands how all these lives, rich and poor, are interconnected.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved the goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory…. Now look, you built the factory and it turned into something terrific, or great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid that comes along.”

Warren’s  weapon throughout her achievements is her call for transparent systems. As she says, “When you have no real power, go public—really public. The public is where the real power is.” After the GOP blocked her bill, she said:

“I think it is time to come back louder than ever. I think it is time to show up at campaign events and town halls and ask every single Republican who voted against this bill why protecting billionaires is more important than giving our kids a chance to pay off their loans. I think we need to ask, and ask again, and ask again.”

That’s what Warren is doing in Kentucky, and it’s great advice. It might give the people of the United States a fighting chance.

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