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Trumpcare 2, McConnell bets Senate, labor’s new strategy…

Tuesday, April 4, 2017




► In today’s Olympian — On ‘Equal Pay Day,’ fight over gender wage gap rages on — Another session of Congress, another attempt from Democratic lawmakers to enshrine the Paycheck Fairness Act into law. But with tight Republican control over the federal government, the bill seems likely to meet its usual fate: defeat.

ALSO at The Stand — On Equal Pay Day, Murray again seeks Paycheck Fairness Act

► From Huffington Post — Women face a pay gap in every single state. Here’s where it’s worst. — Click-bait headline spoiler: It’s Wyoming, where women earn just 64 cents for every dollar paid to men. In Washington, it’s 79 cents, a penny less than the national average of 80 cents… Of the 20 states with the largest populations of Latinas in the workforce, Washington has the dubious distinction of having one of the worst pay gaps, with Latinas earning just 46 cents for every dollar paid to white men doing similar jobs.




► From KUOW — Immigration officials defend arrests at Washington courts — Washington state’s highest-ranking judge is still waiting for federal immigration officials to write her back. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst requested that courthouses be off limits for immigration arrests. But that option will likely stay on the table for now.

► In today’s Seattle Times — #BerthaCam: Watch giant boring machine emerge at end of Highway 99 tunnel — The giant tunnel-boring machine Bertha, after years of delays, is expected to break out into daylight midday Tuesday. The massive machine is a few feet away from the vault in South Lake Union where it will be disassembled. And you can watch Bertha emerge live from the news-pool camera.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage isn’t slowing down real estate projects (subscription req’d) — Hotel operators are willing to pay the high wage for the chance to be by a growing international airport.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing says it signed new $3 billion deal with Iranian airline — Boeing’s deal is the first major sale by a U.S. company to the Islamic Republic under President Trump. The new agreement comes on top of the $16.6 billion sale Boeing previously made in Iran after the landmark nuclear deal struck with Tehran under the Obama administration.




► In today’s Washington Post — With help from Pence, House Republicans suddenly rekindle health-care talks — Republican lawmakers seeking to revive efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act prepared for a busy day of negotiations on Capitol Hill after White House officials jump-started the process with a new proposal that they were expected to detail on Tuesday.

► In today’s NY Times — Republican health proposal would undermine coverage for pre-existing conditions — Word has emerged that the conservative Freedom Caucus’s new proposal would effectively cast aside the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee the insurance cover pre-existing conditions.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Census: County’s uninsured cut in half by Affordable Care Act — The percentage of working-age Snohomish County residents without health insurance dropped by half in the first two years after the federal health care law went into effect, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. The uninsured rate dropped from 14.5 to 7 percent between the end of 2013 and the end of 2015. Washington state’s rate of working-age uninsured continues to drop. The 2016 rate is 5.8 percent.

► From AP — For Trump, NAFTA could be the next Obamacare — Health care care and trade don’t have much in common beyond complexity and political sensitivity. But there are striking similarities between Trump’s approach to Obamacare and his approach to the NAFTA, which he’s called the worst trade deal in history. The parallels include his over-the-top dystopian attacks on their disastrous stupidity, his over-the-top utopian pledges to replace them with a terrific alternative to be named later, and his blithe confidence that his negotiating partners would give him what he wanted.




► From Reuters — Democrats amass support to force showdown over Trump Supreme Court pickDemocrats on Monday corralled enough support to hold up a Senate confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee but Republicans threatened to change the Senate rules to ensure conservative judge Neil Gorsuch gets the lifetime job.

► From Politico — McConnell bets the Senate on Gorsuch — When Neil Gorsuch is confirmed to the Supreme Court this week, Mitch McConnell will clinch a place in history after pulling off one of the most audacious gambles in modern political history. The immediate payoff to the Republican Party is enormous and indisputable, starting, of course, with another staunch conservative on the court who could remain there for decades… McConnell’s critics, though, said what he’ll really be remembered for is the lasting damage he did to the institution. His expected move this week to blow up Senate rules so Supreme Court justices can be approved by a simple majority could well produce a more polarized and ideologically pure high court over time. It takes the Senate down a similar path. “Merrick Garland is how he’ll be remembered, violating 230 years of Senate tradition to create this unholy mess we’re facing,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

► From Think Progress — The 43 senators who plan to filibuster Gorsuch represent 53% of the country — The reason why less than half of the nation controls 57 percent of the votes in the Senate is because the Senate is malapportioned such that every state has two senators regardless of how many people live there.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Sanders, Jayapal introduce bill to make college free for many — Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-7th) has teamed up with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to introduce a bill that would make four-year public college free for families making less than $125,000, and make community college free for all. The $600 billion cost would be funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation.

► Exclusive from the Washington Post — Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel — The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. Prince presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant.




► From Axios — Labor’s new strategy for the Trump era — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave Axios an exclusive look at an agenda-setting speech the labor leader will deliver at 12:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. Pacific) at a National Press Club luncheon. (Watch it live here.) Here’s what we can expect from the movement in the Trump era:

Working both parties: Trumka will call out both “corporate Republicans” and “neoliberal Democrats” for policies, like free trade deals, that he says has shifted economic power from workers to corporations.

Holding Trump’s feet to the fire: Trumka says 36% of AFL-CIO voters went for Trump — 3 points more than Mitt Romney. One of Trumka’s top priorities will be to directly communicate with members to make sure Trump can’t count on over-performing with union voters in the next election if his actions don’t deserve it.

Pushing for radical rethink on collective bargaining: Trumka wants to reform the law so that every worker has the right to collectively bargain with one or more coworkers, regardless of whether a union has been recognized.

► In today’s NY Times — Visa applications pour in by truckload before door slams shut — Possible changes to a program that allows technology companies to import foreign workers may be adding to an even heavier rush than usual this year.




► In the L.A. Times — Our dishonest president (Part 2): Why Trump lies (editorial) — The insult that Donald Trump brings to the equation is an apparent disregard for fact so profound as to suggest that he may not see much practical distinction between lies, if he believes they serve him, and the truth… If Americans are unsure which Trump they have — the Machiavellian negotiator who lies to manipulate simpler minds, or one of those simpler minds himself — does it really matter? In either case he puts the nation in danger by undermining the role of truth in public discourse and policymaking, as well as the notion of truth being verifiable and mutually intelligible.

Our civilization is defined in part by the disciplines — science, law, journalism — that have developed systematic methods to arrive at the truth. Citizenship brings with it the obligation to engage in a similar process. Good citizens test assumptions, question leaders, argue details, research claims. Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.


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