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Hostage crisis (day 170), DeVos visit, what doesn’t create jobs

Monday, October 9, 2017




► In the News Tribune — State capital budget held hostage and Washington schools pay price (by Rep. Beth Doglio) — Schools districts in every corner of the state are struggling without the state funding they need to fix leaky roofs and build new classrooms for 1.1 million students from the South Sound to Spokane. Hard-working people are getting pink slips. Schools and colleges are dipping into reserves to finish half-completed projects instead of facing the high cost of breaking contracts. Taxpayers are paying more while students and families are left waiting. I hope my GOP colleagues in the Senate are listening to the stories of constituents who have lost their jobs and communities that are frantically trying to address the budget shortfall. I hope they’ve seen the damage being done.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Today is Day 170 of our state’s capital construction budget being held hostage by Senate Republicans over an unrelated property/water rights issue. In addition to harming schools (as described above), the GOP’s hardball strategy has cost our state an untold number of construction jobs on projects either suspended or delayed this summer and fall. And now public employees are losing their jobs as well, with more layoffs on the way. When will this nonsense end? The Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 is asking everyone to call Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) at 360-786-7692 and urge him to end the capital construction budget impasse. As Senate Floor Leader and a member of both the Ways & Means and Rules committees, Fain is uniquely positioned to break the logjam and end this growing crisis. You can also call your own legislators with that same message via the Legislature’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Hearings fail to find Sound Transit duped lawmakers, voters — The information about the cost of the project — and an online calculator that allowed voters to estimate the tax increases — were readily available on Sound Transit’s website as well as in media coverage before the 2016 vote. Separate from the Senate panel’s investigation, the PDC also looked at similar allegations and in a February report found no evidence to deceive or attempt to deceive legislators on the ST3 tax measure.




► In the Seattle Times — Thousands expected to turn out to hear — or protest — Betsy DeVos in Bellevue this week — This coming Friday, two big crowds are expected at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue for Betsy DeVos’ first visit to Washington state as U.S. secretary of education. Inside the posh hotel, the Washington Policy Center is expecting 1,500 people for its sold-out gala, where the minimum ticket price is $350. Outside, DeVos critics expect an equal number of protesters who see DeVos’ support of charter schools and vouchers as a threat to the nation’s public-school system.Nearly 30 organizations plan to have members there, including the state’s largest teachers union. Organizers hope it will be one of the biggest DeVos protests yet.

ALSO at The Stand — As DeVos visits, counter rally planned Oct. 13 in Bellevue

► From Salon — Betsy DeVos’ vision goes beyond privatizing education — and she’s alarmingly close to realizing it — The story of just how the DeVoses pulled off the feat of turning Michigan red is long and ugly, involving mountains of cash, the steady erosion of representative democracy, and a decades-long effort to dismember the state’s once powerful teachers union: the Michigan Education Association.




► In the News Tribune — What the state stands to lose if Congress doesn’t reauthorize children’s health program — There is bipartisan support in Congress to reauthorize the recently expired Children’s Health Insurance Program, but legislation to do so has been delayed over fights about how much should be spent on CHIP, and where that money should come from.

► From Politico — Republicans privately admit defeat on Obamacare repeal — For the first time, rank-and-file Republicans are acknowledging Obamacare may never be repealed. After multiple failures to repeal the law, the White House and many GOP lawmakers are publicly promising to try again in early 2018. But privately, both House and Senate Republicans acknowledge they may never be able to deliver on their seven-year vow to scrap the law.

► From Politico — Trump vents to wealthy donors about failure to repeal Obamacare — President Donald Trump told a gathering of wealthy donors in North Carolina on Saturday evening that he is determined to push forward on health care reform — but acknowledged that he is facing serious obstacles in doing so.




► In today’s NY Times — White House makes hard-line demands for any ‘Dreamers’ deal — The White House on Sunday delivered to Congress a long list of hard-line immigration measures that President Trump is demanding in exchange for any deal to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, imperiling a fledgling bipartisan push to reach a legislative solution.

ALSO at The Stand — WSLC: ‘We stand tall with the DREAMers’

► From HuffPost — Undocumented workers are the backbone of dairies. Will Trump change that? — A generation ago, Wisconsin’s agricultural landscape was dominated by small and medium-sized dairy farms run by the families that owned them, and immigration wasn’t a top-line issue for dairy farmers. But today, the nation’s No. 2 milk-producing state is home to a growing number of large, concentrated animal-feeding operations. These businesses, which operate 24/7, year-round, require work that some farmers insist most Americans will not do.




► In today’s Washington Post — The Trump administration’s tax plan is an atrocity (by Lawrence Summers) — The Trump administration’s tax plan is not a plan. It is a melange of ideas put forth without precision or arithmetic. It is not clear enough to permit the kind of careful quantitative analysis of its expected budget costs, economic effects and distributional implications that precedes such legislation in a serious country.

► From Government Executive — House proposal for federal employee health program could decimate workers’ benefits — A proposal to change how the government calculates its contributions to premiums in the federal government’s insurance program could make health care all but unaffordable for workers and retirees, employee groups said… The American Federation of Government Employees estimates that if the idea is implemented, federal retirees would pay 80 percent of insurance premiums within 20 years.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The proposal was part of the House budget resolution that narrowly passed last week with the support of Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert. All Democratic Representatives from Washington voted “no.”

► Oh. And then there’s this, in today’s NY Times — Trump risks inciting ‘World War III,’ GOP senator says — In a remarkable rebuke of his party’s president, Bob Corker, the influential head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Times that President Trump’s recklessness could set the country “on the path to World War III.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — History will remember which members of Trump’s party spoke out against his dangerous incompetence and instability, and which didn’t.




► From HuffPost — San Juan mayor pleads for help: ‘We need water!’ — Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, said on Sunday that despite the compassion of the U.S. public, the federal government “does not want to help” Puerto Rico.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Americans in Puerto Rico are still without sufficient drinking water three weeks after the hurricane. But President Trump and Vice President Pence are wasting their time and energy — and taxpayer money — on a stunt at an NFL game intended to fire up their racist base.

► From HuffPost — Ethics group blasts Pence for using government travel for Colts stunt — “Can we just make it through a weekend without this administration abusing taxpayer dollars with jet travel?!”


TODAY’S MUST-READ (especially for all legislators)


► In today’s NY Times — Why corporate tax cuts won’t create jobs (by Marcus Ryu) — As an entrepreneur myself and a friend to many others, I know that lower tax rates will not motivate more people to start companies. What a tax cut would do is increase our post-tax profitability, which effectively transfers money from the federal government to our shareholders. One consequence of this would likely be a one-time increase in our stock price, but with no impact on our operations or employment plans. In other words, if we are serious about growth, competitiveness and job creation, we should look elsewhere besides the tax code for answers. We can remain open to immigrants in search of better economic opportunities. We can invest in our public schools and universities. We can upgrade vital business infrastructure such as airports, land transportation systems, the internet backbone and our power grid.


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