Thursday, March 23, 2017
► BREAKING — Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler to vote NO on Trumpcare — “The difficulties this bill would create for millions of children were left unaddressed… Protecting vulnerable children is a core purpose of the Medicaid program and when the program fails to do so, it fails entirely. I will not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks.”
► In today’s Washington Post — GOP health-care plan hangs in balance as House leaders push for Thursday floor vote — Late Wednesday, the White House and House leaders were still scrambling to grow support, and signaled at the 11th hour a willingness to rework the measure to mollify conservatives. On Thursday morning House leaders postponed a 9 a.m. meeting of the entire GOP Conference, signaling that negotiations were still underway.
ALSO at The Stand — Call Congress: Don’t take away our health care!
► From Huffington Post — Freedom Caucus closing in on deal to rewrite health care bill at 11th hour — The conservative group is negotiating directly with President Trump and the White House on an amendment to the bill, seemingly cutting out GOP leadership from the conversation as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his deputies work to corral votes for a bill that is, in these latest provisions, a mystery even to them.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Make no mistake, to mollify hard-line conservatives Republicans, they are making a horrible bill even worse — adding work requirements, eliminating what are considered Essential Health Benefits, and possibly even allowing insurers to deny coverage to some people with pre-existing conditions. Do Republican Reps. Dave Reichert, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers even know or care what they are about to vote “yes” on? Are they already so committed — regardless of how much worse this bill gets — to putting the interests of their president and party ahead of the people they represent?
► From The Stranger — Reichert is ready to vote for Trumpcare. Is that really what his constituents want? — Reichert is clocking in at 90.9 percent on FiveThirtyEight’s Trump Score, which measures how often members of Congress vote in line with the president. Given that a majority of his constituents declined to back Trump, it’s not clear why he’s marching in such lockstep with Trump, nor is it clear why Reichert would believe his constituents support Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare. In his district alone, nearly 22,000 people receive insurance through the healthcare exchange established under Obamacare.
► In today’s NY Times — Why Medicaid work requirements won’t work — (by Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg) — In an attempt to win over hard-right lawmakers, Paul Ryan has offered a Medicaid work requirement. That may sound sensible to conservatives who, contrary to evidence, believe that Medicaid receipt discourages work. But it’s a mistake. This would make an already punishing bill even harsher and, in fact, would make it harder for some people to hold jobs.
► In the Seattle Times — Kids: the collateral damage of the GOP’s health-care bill (by Danny Westneat) — Lost in translation, somewhere between here and Congress, is that about half of all kids in Washington state are on Medicaid. Of 1.6 million children, 836,000 here get clinic visits and other care financed through a state-federal partnership (called Apple Health for Kids), with most of that money coming from Medicaid. What it means is that almost every kid in our state has medical coverage, a health-care mountaintop that took decades to reach. The Republican health-care bill would bring that crashing back down.
► Also in the Seattle Times — Medicaid is a lifeline or our children (by Jeff Sperring)
► In today’s NY Times — How the rich gain and the poor lose under Trumpcare
► From TPM — Reports: Koch groups promise money in exchange for vote against Trumpcare — Groups affiliated with Charles and David Koch have unveiled a “new pool of money” to fund things like advertisements and mailings in defense of congresspeople who vote against the American Health Care Act.
EDITOR’S NOTE — As much as we oppose Trumpcare… has there ever been a more explicit offer to buy votes? Have the champions of the Citizens United decision now decided that their money/speech is so inviolate that they can publicly bribe Republican members of Congress? (We’re assuming that Democrats, all of whom will be voting against Trumpcare, don’t get any Koch money for doing the right thing.)
► EXCLUSIVE from CNN — U.S. officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians — The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN. This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
► EXCLUSIVE from AP — U.S. probes banking of ex-Trump campaign chief — U.S. Treasury Department agents have recently obtained information about offshore financial transactions involving President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as part of a federal anti-corruption probe into his work in Eastern Europe, The Associated Press has learned.
► From Huffington Post — Intelligence chair can’t be trusted to independently investigate Trump, says committee’s top Dem — “The chairman (GOP Rep. Devin Nunes) will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or if he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
► From Huffington Post — Putin critic shot dead in broad daylight in Kiev
► From Huffington Post — Lawyer for Russian whistleblower’s family falls (is thrown) from building one day before hearing
► From NPR on Dec. 30, 2016 — As U.S. confronts Russia, Trump’s admiration of Putin is consistent — President-elect Donald Trump is unabashedly praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, a day after outgoing President Obama issued tough sanctions against the country in response to alleged cyberattacks intended to influence the U.S. elections. “I always knew he was very smart!” tweets Trump.
► From ESD.wa.gov — Unemployment rate hits nine-year low in Washington — Washington’s economy added 6,100 jobs in February and the state unemployment rate fell from 5.1 to 4.9 percent – the lowest report since March 2008, according to the state Employment Security Department. “Washington’s economy is moving forward with sustained momentum despite cutbacks in aerospace,” said ESD economist Paul Turek.
EDITOR’S NOTE — From February 2016 to February 2017, 12 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Only manufacturing didn’t. (Thanks, Boeing. But keep enjoying those tax breaks!) Guess which sector tied for First Place in total jobs added over that period during which the state minimum wage increased by $1.53 or 16% to $11 per hour? The retail sector, which added 15,700 new jobs in the past year. The leisure and hospitality sector (hotels, restaurants, bars) wasn’t far behind, adding 11,400 jobs. Huh.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Early I-1433 results are in, raising minimum wage boosts jobs (by John Burbank)
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — State senators hear emotional pleas for Hanford workers’ compensation change — It has been eight years since Lawrence Rouse, a Hanford worker for more than 20 years, was diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy — brain dysfunction caused by exposure to chemicals. The biggest battle of their lives has been fighting the Department of Energy Hanford system for workers’ compensation. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Sports heard testimony on SHB 1723, which has already passed the House, requiring the state Department of Labor and Industries to presume that a wide variety of illnesses in Hanford workers are caused by workplace exposure.
► In today’s News Tribune — What are some of the biggest cuts to social services in the Senate GOP budget proposal? — Some of the agencies and programs that would receive the largest budget cuts in the Republican budget proposal: Housing and Essential Needs program, the Department of Early Learning, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
ALSO at The Stand — Senate Republican budget plan short-changes state employees — Just as it did two years ago, it short-changes state employees and ignores the state’s collective bargaining laws.
► From The Stranger — A majority of the Seattle City Council supports giving all workers six months of paid family leave — The proposal would create an insurance program into which employers pay 70 percent and employees pay 30 percent of the benefit. Workers would get 100 percent of their pay during their time off, up to $1,000 a week. The proposal sounds good, but comes with a few important caveats. The biggest: González will wait for the state legislature to act first. In Olympia, a Democrat and a Republican have released competing plans for how to offer paid family leave to workers across the state.
► From the PSBJ — Proposed state law blocks criminal history from job applications (subscription req’d) — The Washington Fair Chance Act, SB 5312, cleared the state Senate earlier this month and is scheduled for a vote in a House committee on Thursday.
► From AP — Washington’s chief justice tells feds: Keep immigration agents away from courthouses — Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst urged the Department of Homeland Security to keep immigration agents away from courthouses, saying it’s “deeply troubling” that lawyers and judges have reported seeing more of them recently.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Read Justice Fairhurst’s eloquent letter here.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — ICE report only chills local law enforcement (editorial) — Unable to mandate cooperation, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is using the ICE reports to shame local governments and law enforcement agencies into compliance.
► From the WFTC — Sen. Cantwell challenges Trump nominee to rethink our approach to trade — The Washington Fair Trade Coalition praised Sen. Maria Cantwell for challenging Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative to promote a more just and sustainable global economy. Cantwell asked of USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer pointed questions about his positions on transparency during trade talks, elimination of the investor-state dispute settlement process, and renegotiation NAFTA to incorporate labor and environmental protections, including the Paris climate agreement and core International Labor Organization conventions.
► In today’s Washington Examiner — AFL-CIO: Acosta testimony ‘raises serious questions’ — “The labor secretary is not just another Cabinet member — his or her actions directly impact our wages, safety, retirement security and rights on the job every single day. Working people wanted to hear how Mr. Acosta would enforce and uphold labor laws to benefit us and not further tilt the balance of power toward corporate CEOs. Today, presented with the opportunity, he failed to do so and ensure America’s workers he’s on our side,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
► From Huffington Post — Democrats exploring deal with McConnell on Gorsuch nomination — Democratic senators are quietly contemplating cutting a deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): giving him an up-or-down vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch if he restores the 60-vote requirement for advancing district and circuit court nominees.
► In today’s NY Times — President Trump’s reckless shame game (editorial) — Forcing local authorities to help round up unauthorized immigrants is wrong on both practical and constitutional grounds.
► In today’s Washington post — Trump’s SEC chairman must look out for American families — not big corporations (by Elizabeth Warren and Joe Donnelly) — Boosting middle-class income is one of the defining economic challenges of our time. Everyone in government should focus on providing opportunities for all Americans, even those who can’t afford lobbyists to make their voices heard in Washington. And that focus could start with an SEC chairman willing to push back on powerful corporations and focus instead on looking out for hard-working Americans.
► From BCTGM — An anniversary we won’t soon forget — Today, March 23rd, marks one year since Mondelēz/Nabisco began laying off union workers from the Chicago Nabisco bakery and outsourcing the production jobs to Salinas, Mexico. On this day a year ago, BCTGM President David Durkee pledged an intensified fight for the Chicago bakery. Throughout the last year, the BCTGM has gained tremendous support for the campaign from the labor movement, progressive communities, academia and allies around the world. The coalition of solidarity for the Nabisco 600 workers is stronger than ever and continues to grow.
► From AP — Lockheed Martin moving F-16 production to South Carolina — News media outlets report the company is moving production of F-16s from Texas to Greenville, South Carolina, to make room for expanded production of the newer F-35 jet fighters in Fort Worth.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.