Thursday, July 27, 2017
► In today’s NY Times — Senate soundly rejects repeal-only health plan — The Senate on Wednesday soundly rejected a measure that would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement, leaving Republicans still searching for a path forward to dismantle President Obama’s signature health law. Seven Republican senators joined Democrats to vote against the measure.
► In today’s Washington Post — Senate GOP leaders work to round up votes for modest health-care overhaul — GOP leaders said they were cautiously optimistic that later this week they could pass a “skinny repeal” that would abolish the individual and employer insurance mandates and perhaps just one tax in an attempt to sustain their seven-year quest to unwind the Affordable Care Act. Even if they succeed — and start negotiations with the House — they will face significant obstacles in accomplishing anything more substantial.
► From Politico — CBO: ‘Skinny repeal’ could boost uninsured by 16 million
► From NPR — States have already tried versions of ‘skinny repeal.’ It didn’t go well. — Premiums rose and insurers fled these states, leaving consumers who buy their own coverage (usually because they don’t get it through their jobs) with fewer choices and higher prices.
► From The Hill — Bipartisan group of governors call on GOP to reject skinny repeal
► From HuffPost — Trump is reportedly seeking revenge on Alaska over health care vote — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and fellow Alaskan Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) after Tuesday’s health care vote to let them know her position had put some of their state-specific projects in jeopardy ― particularly those pertaining to energy.
► In today’s Washington Post — The norms of government are collapsing before our eyes (by E.J. Dionne) — The news is being reported on split screen as if the one big story in Washington is disconnected from the other. But President Trump’s lawless threats against Attorney General Jeff Sessions have a lot in common with the Senate’s reckless approach to the health coverage of tens of millions of Americans. On both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, we are witnessing a collapse of the norms of governing, constant violations of our legitimate expectations of political leaders, and the mutation of the normal conflicts of democracy into a form of warfare that demands the opposition’s unconditional surrender.
► From HuffPost — GOP senator wants to put Democrats on record on single-payer — On Wednesday, in a wily attempt to troll Democrats, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) proposed an amendment that would expand Medicare to the entire U.S. population. The amendment is expected to receive a vote later this week while the Senate considers the GOP health care bill. Daines, like all his GOP colleagues, doesn’t actually support a single-payer system. The amendment is not expected to pass. It will, however, offer some interesting insights on Senate Democrats. For example, the vote will force vulnerable Democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2018 to take a position on an issue that is viewed favorably by liberals, yet much less favorably among the public as a whole.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear Sens. Murray and Cantwell:
Vote YES on Medicare for All. We’ve got your back.
► In the NW Labor Press — Ilani Casino: UNION BUILT — The recently opened ilani Casino Resort (pronounced ay-LAN-ay) in Ridgefield, Washington, was union-built under a project labor agreement between the Cowlitz Tribe and the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council. Swinerton Builders is the general contractor. The $510 million complex broke ground in September 2015, and was completed on April 24, 2017 — on time and under budget. It includes a 368,000 square foot casino with 100,000 square feet of gaming space and 15 restaurants, bars and retail outlets; a freeway interchange rebuild off I-5 that includes a four-lane overpass with bicycle and pedestrian paths; and a water reclamation plant to treat casino sewage.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle moves to close loophole in $15 minimum-wage law — Seattle is planning to close a loophole in its minimum-wage ordinance that allows employers to pay some workers with disabilities less than Seattle’s $15 minimum wage.
► In today’s NY Times — Jeff Bezos becomes world’s richest person — A bump in the price of Amazon shares was enough to move Bezos above Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder who has topped Forbes’s billionaires list 18 out of the last 23 years.
► In today’s News Tribune — Politicians can’t even agree on honoring dead lawmakers — The deep divisions between the state House and Senate were on display this year when a popular $4 billion construction budget was tanked over a disagreement about rural water rights. But a stalemate over tributes for a pair of revered politicians who died in the last year (Helen Sommers and Andy Hill) reinforces just how dug in the two sides can get.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Panel votes to increase ferry fares Oct. 1, again in 2018 — The cost of traveling on a state ferry will rise this fall after the state Transportation Commission approved a fare hike Wednesday. Fares are climbing because state lawmakers required WSF to come up with additional $8.4 million in revenue for its day-to-day operations in the 2017-19 biennium.
► From The Hill — Trump’s DOJ argues sexual orientation not covered by anti-discrimination laws — The Department of Justice is arguing that sexual discrimination protections in the workplace do not extend to sexual orientation. The department filed a 36-page amicus brief late Wednesday in the case Donald Zarda brought against his former employer alleging that he was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor because of his sexual orientation.
► In the People’s World — Bipartisan coalition beats GOP attempt to weaken Davis-Bacon wage protections — By a 183-242 vote, the GOP-run U.S. House defeated the latest Republican assault on the Davis-Bacon Act and its legal prevailing wages for construction workers who toil on federally funded projects. Fifty-one Republicans joined all voting Democrats in backing Davis-Bacon. The other 183 Republicans voted to cut workers’ wages.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Who was the ONLY member of Congress from Washington state who voted “yes” on this amendment to cut prevailing wages? Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.
► From Politico — Pity Paul Ryan: Moderates adopt Freedom Caucus tactics — Some in the centrist Tuesday Group have started to adopt the power-in-numbers strategy of the Freedom Caucus. And the get-tough approach is yielding results… Moderate Republicans say they are sick of taking tough votes for the team, then reeling from the political fallout back home — only to see the conservative plan die in the Senate.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), last seen not having a Town Hall meeting with his constituents, offers this diplomatic quote: “I think that there are some members who feel like a certain group of people within the conference are taking some votes that they don’t necessarily need to take… certain votes that might be bills that divide our constituency that we represent in our districts.” Translation: “Stop making me take these pointless political-statement votes that I’m getting beat-up over at home.”
► From The Hill — Report: Trump may struggle to privatize public assets for $1T infrastructure plan — President Trump may struggle to raise enough money for his $1 trillion infrastructure plan if he mostly relies on privatizing public assets, according to a new report by a conservative think-tank. It found that “asset recycling” – which involves selling off a public asset and using that money to pay for other transportation projects – could be difficult to implement.
► In today’s Washington Post — American Airlines workers protest over pay, outsourcing — Several hundred workers who maintain American Airlines planes picketed Wednesday at the carrier’s home airport, calling for higher pay and an end to shifting maintenance work overseas. The demonstration underscored conflict between the airlines, which struggled for years but are now earning huge profits, and their union work forces.
► In today’s NY Times — Ex-Fiat Chrysler exec accused of siphoning millions with UAW leader — Alphons Iacobelli was charged with taking $1.2 million from a training center to pay for lavish travel and gifts for himself and his union negotiating partner.
► In the Seattle Times’ Pacific NW Magazine — Seattle’s historic Labor Temple is a symbol of solidarity — Questionable air aside, everything else about the Labor Temple — from outward appearances, a brick-and-mortar anachronism in a city being forcibly transformed into Sea Francisco — reeks of civic history. An easily overlooked, three-story brick rectangle amid a sea of condominiums and hip Belltown shops hawking wall beds and organic dog biscuits, it is by no means an architectural gem. Its historical significance is largely cultural. Labor temples, built by the hundreds nationwide in the early 20th century and now largely disappearing, have long served the dual role of housing union offices and providing a safe space (literally, in the old days) for workers’ meetings. Many also serve as de facto community centers for progressive political groups and other like-minded organizations. Labor leaders and historians point to Seattle’s Labor Temple, home today to 30 tenants and an active food bank that fill all the building’s offices, as both a traditional home to a local labor movement that has defied national trends, and a monument to the spirit of working-class Seattle laborers who have been trailblazers for more than a century.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.