Wednesday, July 26, 2017
► In today’s NY Times — Senate votes down broad Affordable Care Act repeal — The Senate voted narrowly on Tuesday to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The 51-50 vote to start debate, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie, came only a week after the Republican effort to dismantle the ACA appeared all but doomed. But hours later, Republican leaders suffered a setback when their most comprehensive plan to replace President Obama’s health law fell far short of the votes it needed. The Tuesday night tally needed to reach 60 votes to overcome a parliamentary objection. Instead, it fell 43-57… The Senate is now moving ahead with debate, amendments and ultimately a final vote in the coming days on the legislation, but given that they lack an agreement, it is entirely possible that by week’s end, the senators will have passed nothing.
► In today’s NY Times — The Senate’s health care travesty (editorial) — The details are complicated, but most Americans understand that these proposals would be incredibly cruel and needlessly devastating, which is why polls have shown that few people support the partisan repeal effort. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found just 28 percent supported the Senate bill to repeal and replace the ACA, while 71 percent wanted Republicans and Democrats to work together to improve the law.
► In today’s NY Times — Citizen action on health care (by David Leonhardt) — Is there anything that concerned citizens can do? Yes, there is. “The next 24 hours are critical. The public blowback must be immediate and overwhelming,” Topher Spiro, a former Congressional aide who opposes the various bills, wrote yesterday. Remember: The strategy for passing the bill depends on secrecy. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and their allies understand that their plans are deeply unpopular. So the best way to prevent them from taking health coverage from people is to call attention to their efforts.
► In the Washington Post — 1 million jobs on the line as Senate votes on health care — America could lose more than a million jobs if the Senate votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, according to a report from George Washington University. Repealing the law would dramatically scale back federal funding for health care, especially Medicaid. That translates into job losses as hospitals, retirement homes and other health facilities get fewer dollars.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Think Obamacare was a job killer? Think again. (by Jon Talton) — Opponents of the health-care expansion have consistently claimed that it has cost jobs. Yet another report shows that’s not true.
► From KNKX — Threat to Medicaid turns health care users into activists — In her activist role, Tina Velasquez met with her elected representative, Republican Congressman Dave Reichert before the U.S. House voted to repeal Obamacare. He was initially uncommitted. But Velasquez said when they talked, there was a connection. Reichert told her about the physical abuse he had suffered as a child. “And he touched me really emotional, like how he speak with me and we got a really great conversation about that,” Velasquez said. She says when he voted against repeal, she thought maybe her story had made an impression.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing’s cash flow surges to $4.5 billion — The Boeing Co. squeezed more cash out of its 787 Dreamliner jet program during the second quarter, handed billions of dollars back to shareholders and raised its profit forecast. Even those advances were overshadowed as free cash flow surged to $4.51 billion. That was more than double the tally analysts had expected — and the company channeled $3.4 billion of the haul to stock buybacks and dividends. Boeing is poised to continue generating a cash gush as it speeds work in its factories to capitalize on a record backlog for the single-aisle 737, the company’s largest source of earnings.
EDITOR’S NOTE — That “largest source of earnings” is built exclusively here in Washington state, where the company has cut more than 15,400 jobs — more than 8,000 in the past year alone — since the Legislature extended an estimated $8.7 billion in tax incentives to the aerospace industry. Washington taxpayers are subsidizing Boeing with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts every year. The company is sending that cash straight to its shareholders in order to artificially boost company stock — and therefore, company executives’ pay — instead of creating/maintaining jobs in the state as the Legislature intended. It’s all about extracting value from the company… investing in immediate stock gains rather than the long-term value of the company… “Downsize and distribute.”
Read this excellent article to learn why these stock buybacks, all the rage with big businesses like Boeing these days, “are the crack of corporate America. In the way a crackhead could use the dollars in his or her pocket to look for work or pay for a trip to school, the money used in buybacks might have been used for R&D or maintaining a happy, loyal and healthy workforce.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle police union files labor complaint over mayor’s body-camera order — The Seattle police officers’ union has filed an unfair-labor-practice complaint with the state of Washington’s employee-relations commission over Mayor Ed Murray’s executive order directing the Police Department to begin equipping officers with body cameras.
► From KUOW — Trump admin has nixed 800+ regulations. This one tried to prevent refinery explosions — Eleven states including Washington have sued the Trump administration to improve safety at the nation’s refineries and chemical plants. Trump has put chemical safety rules in limbo until 2019. They were intended to reduce the risk of explosions that have killed workers and endangered communities in Anacortes and elsewhere in recent years.
► From Reuters — Trump administration moves closer to undoing overtime pay rule — The Trump administration on Tuesday pushed forward with its bid to undo an Obama administration rule to extend mandatory overtime pay to 4.2 million workers and said it was considering treating workers differently based on location and industry.
► Breaking from AP — Trump bars transgender individuals from U.S. armed forces — President Donald Trump is barring transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And just in case Trump’s Tweets™ have given you a smidgen of sympathy for our “beleaguered” AG…
► In today’s NY Times — Sessions once again threatens sanctuary cities — Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday moved once again to punish so-called sanctuary cities, announcing that cities and states could lose millions of dollars in federal grants unless they began cooperating with immigration agents.
► From Time — Why it’s the perfect time to raise the federal minimum wage (by Chris Lu) — It’s been eight years since the federal minimum wage was last raised on July 24, 2009. At the time, the United States was in the depths of the Great Recession, and the major concern for policymakers wasn’t wages but an unemployment rate heading towards 10%. Over the past eight years, the economy has rebounded with the longest streak of job growth in history. Yet millions of people continue to work for the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour — without a pay raise in sight… Three out of four Americans support an increase; the economy is healthy; and many employers are already raising wages.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.