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Rallying for health care, school funding, racial and social justice…

Tuesday, January 17, 2017




► In the Seattle Times — With outrage and resolve, Seattle rally backs saving, improving Obamacare — Demanding to maintain and even expand health care for all, hundreds rallied in Westlake Park on Sunday as part of a national call to defend and improve Obamacare. U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal brought a roar of approval from the crowd when she said she had decided to spend the inaugural not in Washington, D.C., but in her home district, as an act of solidarity with her constituents. “The repeal of the affordable health-care act is an act of violence under the guise of politics,” she said. “We need to make it better, not repeal it.”

ALSO at The Stand — ACA repeal, Medicare vouchers threaten health care, economy (by Jeff Johnson)

► From Talking Points Memo — Top House GOPer heckled with ‘Save Our Health Care’ chants at MLK rally — The House’s fourth highest-ranking Republican was heckled during a speech at Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally by attendees protesting the GOP’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “We may not always agree with one another, but we can come together and find common ground to create change and progress right here in Eastern Washington,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said before being interrupted by chants of “save our health care.” Local TV station KXLY also reported that attendees chanted “liar” at the event.

► In the Seattle Times — Washington is healthier under the ACA — don’t turn back the clock (by Sen. Karen Keiser) — Nearly 800,000 people in our state no longer must fear a diagnosis of a chronic illness, because they now have insurance coverage to help them manage their condition. They no longer are sent home to die from an ER visit with stage four cancer, because treatment might save their lives and they have the insurance to pay for the treatment. They no longer have to choose between paying for expensive birth control, or skipping a month because they have to pay their children’s school fees. These are the awful choices Washingtonians across our state will face if the ACA is repealed. These are the stakes by which we must govern.

► From Huffington Post — Democrats lead nationwide day of rallies in defense of Obamacare — “This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said at a rally in Warren, Mich. “It is time we got our national priorities right. The United States today and I hope everybody in America understands it: We are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right!”

► In today’s NY Times — Fear spurs support for health law as Republicans work to repeal it — People who benefit from the law are flooding Congress with testimonials. Angry consumers are confronting Republican lawmakers. And Democrats who saw the law as a political liability in recent elections have suddenly found their voice, proudly defending the law now that it is in trouble.

► From Politico — Paul Ryan’s favorite Obamacare talking point, debunked — Ryan and other Republicans have been claiming that the ACA is in a “death spiral,” which has a very specific meaning to health care experts. It’s what happens when premiums rise so much that young and healthy enrollees drop coverage in large numbers. But recent enrollment figures don’t back up those claims.

► In today’s NY Times — GOP’s health care death spiral (by J.B. Silvers) — From my point of view as a former health insurance company chief executive, “total disaster” would also describe any Republican repeal-and-delay plan. Although my former colleagues in the insurance industry are too cowed by the president-elect to say so, Republican insistence on repeal without having a meaningful replacement at the same time will drive most insurers out of the individual market and leave the 10 percent of Americans now covered by some aspect of the A.C.A. without coverage — especially if Medicaid expansion is rolled back as well.

► From Politico — Ryan and Trump set for Medicare showdown — House Republicans are praying the president-elect comes around to their plans for converting Medicare into a (privatized) voucher program. Tax reform could be in trouble if he doesn’t.




► In today’s Olympian — Nearly 7,000 descend on Capitol Campus to call on state to fully fund education — A raucous crowd descended Monday on the Capitol Campus, loudly calling on lawmakers to fully fund K-12 education. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day gathering was organized by the Washington Education Association and other sponsors, bringing together parents, educators and community leaders to support “education that is amply funded for all students in this state,” said Kim Mead, president of the association.

MORE coverage in the (Everett) Herald, Seattle Times, and the Spokesman-Review.

► In today’s News Tribune — Lawmakers debate whether to spare school districts from ‘levy cliff’ — and possible budget cuts — Democrats at the state Capitol want to delay a planned cut to school districts’ local tax authority, which threatens to reduce school districts’ budgets by millions of dollars in the 2017-18 school year. Republicans say lawmakers should focus first on a larger issue: Fixing the unconstitutional way Washington state pays for schools.

► From Huffington Post — Dr. King, labor leader (by AFSCME President Lee Saunders) — This Martin Luther King Day, we must be more vigilant than ever as guardians of his dream. We must not only promote diversity and racial progress, commit to serving others and heed his call for non-violent collective action. We must also meet the challenge of economic inequality and defend the labor rights that were a pillar of Dr. King’s work. We must do more to empower working families and expand opportunity for people of all races.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Thousands march, rally in Seattle to remember civil rights leader MLK Jr. — At the march and rally, people reaffirmed a commitment to the justice Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about. Said one teen, “To see everyone come in for the cause of people who have been put down in the past, to see them come in to lift up a community, it’s beautiful.”

ALSO at The Stand — ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends towards justice’ (by Jeff Johnson)

MORE MLK Day rally and march coverage in the Spokesman-Review and the Yakima H-R.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — State approves Kaiser acquisition of Group Health — Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has approved Kaiser Permanente’s $1.8 billion acquisition of Group Health Cooperative. The deal for what will become Kaiser Permanente of Washington is expected to close on Feb. 1.

► In the Spokesman-Review — An uncertain, and sometimes grim, future awaits Washington’s aging Hispanic farmworkers — Studies show that Hispanic farmworkers are likely to be injured on the job, and as they age, suffer from overuse injuries and long-term illnesses linked to working in the fields. But few of those who are in the United States legally have investments for retirement and most face looming medical costs. Undocumented workers who are aging out of the workforce have even fewer options.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Trump expected to meet again with Boeing CEO over Air Force One — Trump shook the defense industry — and put all large U.S. companies with government contracts on notice — when he tweeted Dec. 6 that “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”




► From Bloomberg — Democrats want to revive Obama’s overtime rule state by state — Democrats in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Wisconsin and Michigan said they plan to introduce bills modeled on Obama’s reform, which would have made millions more white-collar workers eligible for overtime. More are likely to follow.

► In the Seattle Times — Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell criticized for vote to block prescription drugs from Canada — Washington’s U.S. senators face questions and criticism about their votes against a proposal by Bernie Sanders aimed at making it easier to import inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada.

► From Huffington Post — DeVos’s disqualifying record (by AFT President Randi Weingarten) — Everything we know about her — her lack of experience with public schools, her antipathy to LGBTQ students, her evangelism for privatization regardless of results, and her zeal to undermine and pauperize public education — disqualifies her from holding the position she seeks.

► From CNN — Sources: Trump labor pick Andrew Puzder has voiced second thoughts about nomination — President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be labor secretary has voiced second thoughts in recent days, because of a relentless barrage of criticism from Democrats, labor unions and other liberal groups, a business ally and GOP sources tell CNN.

► In today’s Washington Post — New feds could be fired for ‘no cause at all’ by Trump under planned legislation (by Joe Davidson) — Feds should put on their body armor now. A range of Republican proposals on federal hiring, firing and retiring will have them under fire during the Trump administration. One flying under the radar poses a fundamental threat to the purpose of the civil service. It would essentially dispose of federal employee due process rights.

► In today’s Washington Post — Poll: Trump will take office as least popular president in at least four decades — President-elect Donald Trump also drew low marks for his response to Russian hacking, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

► From KNKX — Bill to restrict highly skilled foreign workers could affect Washington tech companies — Critics of the H1-B via program say that many of the immigrants who come to the U.S. on the program are brought in as cheap labor to replace American workers. Now, a lawmaker from California has introduced a bill that would further restrict the number of visas given out each year.

► From The Onion — Departing Bo Obama lands K Street lobbying position — “We’re pleased to welcome Bo as an important addition to our organization, where his experience in Washington and familiarity with the West Wing will no doubt enormously benefit our clients,” said BHFS president Steven Farber of the 8-year-old Portuguese water dog, who will reportedly command an annual salary in excess of $750,000. “Plus, he’s one of the most respected figures in the Beltway.”




► From USA Today — Unions appeal DOT approval of Norwegian Air — Unions representing 100,000 aviation workers have asked a federal appeals court to overturn the Transportation Department’s decision allowing Norwegian Air International to fly to and from the U.S. The case filed Thursday at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which hears appeals of administration decisions, means the long-running dispute with Norwegian will continue a while longer.

► In today’s NY Times — 2 years, 31 dead construction workers. New York can do better. (by Dominique Bravo) — Poor immigrant workers are falling off our buildings and being crushed to death in our streets.

► In the Seattle Times — Economic powerhouses squeeze shoppers, workers (by Jon Talton) — Big companies and cartels may have more to do with holding down wages and opportunities for working people than we realize. Welcome to the world of monopsony. Like monopoly, it’s bad for the economy.




► From AFL-CIO Now — At this time of challenge and controversy, we need solidarity (by AFL-CIO Executive VP Tefere Gebre) — The future of this country lies in workers of all colors, so we have to be careful in how we move forward from the election. If we retreat and lean into the false notion that this election was just about white working-class people, we could lose generations and generations of the emerging majority from actually ever considering the labor movement as a mechanism for them to achieve a better life. The labor movement has a responsibility, not a choice, to bring all working people together and get them to join us in fighting for social and economic justice.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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