Wednesday, March 22, 2017
► In today’s News Tribune — GOP budget would reject state worker raises to help pay for schools — To help find more money for schools, the Republican plan would reject nearly all of the collective bargaining agreements Gov. Jay Inslee’s office reached with 38 employee unions. Instead, state workers would get flat raises of $500 per year for the next two years. Senate leaders would save about $250 million over two years by not funding the contracts as negotiated, which include cost-of-living raises of roughly 6 percent for most state workers during the 2017-19 budget cycle. Rejection of the labor contracts is bound to face opposition in the Democratic-controlled state House, where leaders have said they need to provide salary increases to retain and recruit workers.
ALSO at The Stand — Senate Republican budget plan short-changes state employees (WSLC Legislative Update) — Senate Republicans are short-changing state employees because they refuse to clean up the state’s tax code. They refuse to close the tax break on capital gains or close other unnecessary, ineffective tax loopholes. Instead they express open disdain for the state’s collective bargaining laws and, lacking the numbers or support for changing those laws, essentially ignore them by arbitrarily proposing different terms and conditions of state workers’ employment. That’s not how this works.
► In today’s News Tribune — Republican budget proposal brings disagreements over Western State reform to light — The Senate GOP proposed spending $95 million in the next two years to pay for mental health upgrades. But Gov. Jay Inslee hopes to spend more than $220 million in the same time period. The Republican plan would take more than twice as long to meet a key bipartisan goal: reducing patient load by shifting most noncriminal patients to facilities around the state… A greater point of immediate contention appears to be over how the budgets pay hospital workers. While Inslee negotiated a raise up to 27.5 percent for frontline nurses as part of a larger contract agreement with state employees, the Republican budget would increase the salary of most state employees by $1,000 over the next two years.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Family and parental leave policies are new front for labor supporters — Employee advocates on both the city and state levels say family and parental leave is a next top priority, with some business groups saying they want to avoid a patchwork of local measures. In the Legislature, there are two competing bills, one introduced by Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett) and the other by Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn). Negotiations are beginning now to try to reach agreement, perhaps somewhere in the middle, as well as to gather input on areas not covered by the bills.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — ‘Real ID’ deadline looms: Proposed fix would leave Washington with two-tiered license — When federal identification standards take effect for air travel in January, Washington residents, like others across the country, will need an enhanced driver’s license or a passport to board a domestic flight. That could be a problem if Washington doesn’t soon comply with federal standards.
► In today’s NY Times — A Republican health care bill in search of a problem (editorial) — Late wheeling and dealing has done nothing to improve a bill that would rip coverage from 24 million people over 10 years, leaving more Americans uninsured than if Congress simply repealed the Affordable Care Act, and inspiring an official of the American College of Physicians, which represents 148,000 doctors and medical students, to say on Monday that he had “never seen a bill that will do more harm to health.” It also reflects a fundamental reality: Unlike President Barack Obama, whose clear objective was to expand access to medical care, the Republicans have no coherent idea or shared vision of what they want to achieve and what problem they mean to solve.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Call Congress: Don’t take away health care!
► From The Hill — Poll: Approval wanes for Trumpcare — Support for the GOP proposal to repeal and replace the ACA is fading, declining from 46 percent last week to 41 percent in the new poll.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers defends health care changes in telephone ‘town hall’ — House Republicans have to push through their health care plan as part of the budget process so it has a chance of passing the Senate, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers told constituents in a phone-in session Monday evening. Some policy changes will come later, possibly with bipartisan support from Democrats, she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — “Earth to Cathy. Earth to Cathy. Come in, Cathy.”
► From The Hill — Trump, GOP struggle to find healthcare votes — House Republican leaders on Tuesday struggled to pick up votes for their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, even after President Trump visited Capitol Hill to sell the plan. With only a day before a scheduled vote on the House floor, the White House and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are facing an uphill fight to get the majority — 216 votes — needed to clear the lower chamber.
► From Huffington Post — Republican opposition to Trumpcare cracks open door to negotiations — Faced with the increasingly clear reality that House conservatives will vote down the Republican health care bill, GOP leaders may be moving toward reopening negotiations on their Affordable Care Act rewrite. Or Republicans may be moving closer to an embarrassing floor defeat.
► From Politico — Trumpcare DOA in the Senate — Forget the House GOP’s troubles passing a health care bill. The party’s bigger problem looms in the Senate.
► In the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier — Boeing North Charleston workers not affected by West Coast layoff plans — Workers at Boeing Co.’s facilities in North Charleston won’t be affected by the involuntary layoffs the aerospace giant announced last week for its West Coast employees as part of ongoing cost-cutting measures.
► In yesterday’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing plans to lay off 170 workers in region — Boeing announced more layoffs and a new round of buyouts late last week for workers around Puget Sound. The company continues to trim its workforce [in Washington] as it cuts costs to make good on promises to boost profits and payouts for shareholders.
ALSO at The Stand — Hold Boeing accountable for state tax breaks — Since receiving a multi-billion dollar extension of its special tax breaks in 2013, instead of increasing employment in the state as our Legislature intended and the public expected, Boeing has cut 12,259 jobs in Washington — almost 7,400 in the past year alone — with more cuts planned later this year. And yet the company continues to receive its full tax incentive.
► In today’s News Tribune — Immigrants need experts, not con artists (editorial) — A court ruling against a Tacoma-area businessman, or notario, who gave bad advice to immigrants couldn’t come at a better time. President Trump’s deportation orders will only drive more desperate people underground for help — and in many cases, straight into the arms of incompetent notarios.
► Today from AP — Paid millions by a Putin ally, former Trump campaign head Manafort had a plan to benefit Putin government — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.
► From TPM — Gorsuch defends his ‘unkind’ opinion in so-called Frozen Trucker case — Gorsuch defended his dissent in what has become known as the “frozen trucker” case, an opinion that Gorush critics have pointed to as proof that the judge has a tendency to prioritize the interests of CEOs over the working class, but also one that has brought Gorsuch praise from those who support his approach the law.
► In today’s Washington Post — Labor nominee Alexander Acosta to face questions on his work record, plans for defending workers — Labor nominee Alexander Acosta will be questioned by senators about his work record and his views on labor policies during his confirmation hearing Wednesday morning.
► In today’s Washington Post — Acosta cut deal with billionaire guilty in sex abuse case — Trump is on the witness list in a Florida court battle over how federal prosecutors handled allegations that Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire money manager who loved to party, sexually abused more than 40 minor girls, most of them between the ages of 13 and 17. The lawsuit questions why Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta, cut a non-prosecution deal with Epstein a decade ago rather than pursuing a federal indictment that Acosta’s staff had advocated.
► In today’s NY Times — After failed cabinet bid, Puzder leaves restaurant post — Andrew F. Puzder, who withdrew his nomination as labor secretary, has now resigned as head of the company that owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains.
► In today’s Baltimore Sun — Baltimore City Council passes $15 minimum wage bill — The council voted overwhelmingly Monday to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. With the 11-3 vote, council members brushed aside the mayor’s fiscal warnings and joined more affluent cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, which have passed similar measures.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Investors with $3 trillion in assets call for CEO-to-worker pay ratio disclosure — More than 100 institutional investors sent a letter to the SEC in support the agency’s pay ratio disclosure rule, which is scheduled to go into effect next year. “It is a shame that the SEC is reconsidering its implementation of the ‘pay ratio’ disclosure requirement,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Seven years is way too long to wait for a commonsense rule that gives investors material information and increases transparency. As shareholders, we deserve to know whether CEO pay is out of balance in comparison to what a company pays its employees.”
► In today’s Washington Post — Ex-Colo. GOP leader said only Democrats committed voter fraud. Now he’s charged with voter fraud.
► From Rolling Stone — Trump the Destroyer (by Matt Taibbi) — Nearly two years into our relationship with Donald Trump, politician, his core schtick is no longer really a secret. The new president swings wildly between buffoon and strongman acts, creating confusion and disorder. While his enemies scramble to make sense of the outrages of a week before or yesterday or 10 minutes ago, and spend valuable energy wondering whether the man is crazy or stupid or cunning (or perhaps all three things at once), Trump continually presses forward.
We always assumed there was a goal behind it all: cattle cars, race war, autocracy. But those were last century’s versions of tyranny. It would make perfect sense if modern America’s contribution to the genre were far dumber. Trump in the White House may just be a monkey clutching history’s biggest hand grenade. Yes, he’s always one step ahead of us, and more dangerous than any smart person, and we can never for a minute take our eyes off him.
But while we keep looking for his hidden agenda, it’s our growing addiction to the spectacle of his car-wreck presidency that is the real threat. He is already making idiots and accomplices of us all, bringing out the worst in each of us, making us dumber just by watching. Even if Trump never learns to govern, after four years of this we will forget what civilization ever looked like – and it will be programming, not policy, that will have changed the world.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.