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Seattle’s next leaders, Trumpcare tax, our workless future, Fats

Friday, October 27, 2017




► From The Stranger — Two labor leaders make the case for Jenny Durkan (by Nicole Grant and David Rolf) — Our organizations helped lead the way for $15, secure scheduling, paid sick leave, ban-the-box, and the other victories workers have won in Seattle. Now, we are enthusiastically supporting Jenny Durkan for Seattle Mayor. As President Obama’s U.S. Attorney, Durkan has the dedication and experience Seattle needs to unify and advance in this dangerous, turbulent time for our nation. If this race is about who will be more successful actually improving the quality of life of people of Seattle then the choice is obvious: Jenny Durkan.

► From The Stranger — Teresa Mosqueda proposes gender pay gap policies, including ban on asking about salary history — City council candidate Teresa Mosqueda unveiled more details of her gender pay equity platform this week, including supporting a prohibition on employers asking about salary history during the application or interview process. Mosqueda also proposes new protections against retaliation for workers who ask why they are being paid less.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Tired of K-12 funding excuses? Imagine how Stephanie McCleary feels (by Donna Gordon Blankinship) — Everyone at the annual reunion of people involved in the McCleary education funding lawsuit seem to have grown a lot more frustrated as the 2018 deadline nears. We have all gotten older. Our children have graduated from high school or college. About 700,000 other children have graduated since the lawsuit was filed. And the quality of K-12 education in Washington state still depends largely on your ZIP code. And no one is more frustrated than the woman whose name has become synonymous with this school funding debate.




► From the OIC — Eleven insurers approved to sell 74 plans in Washington’s individual market — The average premium increase this year has jumped to 36.4 percent due to President Trump’s decision to stop funding the cost-sharing reduction assistance. The president’s decision increased rates by 10 percent on average in Washington state. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said:

“I’m very disheartened to have to approve these rates. For months, we’ve struggled with the ongoing uncertainty at the federal level and have shared our concerns with our Congressional delegation and with the president’s administration. I warned of the harm their actions could inflict on real people and their families. The president’s decision to stop making cost-sharing subsidy payments and weakening the enforcement of the individual mandate to buy health insurance are behind the surge in premiums we’re seeing this year. The other major cost driver is the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs — something the administration promised to tackle, yet has failed to take on.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Kriedler previously warned: “Make no mistake: the president had a choice and he chose to make health care cost significantly more for people who need help. The higher rates are essentially a tax that President Trump is imposing on consumers.

► From HuffPost — This is how much Trump’s ACA sabotage increased health insurance costs — Trump’s decision to cut off billions of dollars owed to health insurance providers under the Affordable Care Act caused premium increases that range from 7 percent to 38 percent higher than they would have been for mid-level “Silver” health plans, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported.

► In today’s Washington Post — What it’s like to look for health insurance now that Trump has tried to undermine ACA — Shopping for health insurance has always been confusing. But consumers looking for coverage at the start of open enrollment on Wednesday face an especially baffling experience, and this year, they will have less time and less help to reach a decision because of funding cuts and rule changes.

EDITOR’S NOTE — So what are the Republicans who control Congress going to do about the mess Trump is making of our health care system?

► From Reuters — U.S. lawmakers will not tackle healthcare this year, Ryan says

EDITOR’S NOTE — Instead, they plan to spend the rest of the year trying to ram through partisan trickle-down tax cuts targeted to the wealthy that are partially funded by cuts in health care programs working people depend on like Medicaid and Medicare…




► From AFGE — Irresponsible budget resolution fails working families — AFGE President J. David Cox, Sr.: “The budget would add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, even while slashing hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs that Americans rely on. The budget also sets the stage for a tax reform plan that would deliver huge tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthy while cutting take-home pay for most working-class Americans. America’s working families deserve better than a budget that will make billionaires like the Koch brothers even richer while slashing health care and other services that benefit our nation’s oldest and poorest citizens.”

ALSO at The Stand — GOP supports slashing Medicaid, Medicare — Although 20 Republicans sided with Democrats in opposing the budget measure, all four Republican members of Congress from Washington state voted “yes.”

► From The Hill — Budget vote raises red flag for GOP on tax reform — The GOP barely scraped up enough votes to pass their partisan budget, as 20 on their side defected. That included 11 GOP lawmakers from New York and New Jersey who wanted to send a message about the need for their leaders to compromise on plans to eliminate the state and local tax deduction, which could hit their districts hard.

► From The Hill — Senate budget just the latest attack on seniors (by Brendan Williams) — The president has long-forgotten his numerous, explicit campaign promises to protect Medicaid and Medicare. The road to tax reform is apparently paved with broken promises and human suffering. And its proponents have been candid about that tradeoff, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was in a letter supporting cuts to fund tax breaks: “Federal entitlement spending is on an unsustainable path, ultimately harming the economy and America’s long-term prosperity.”

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Former White House official skeptical of the ‘magic math’ of tax cuts (by Shawn Vestal) — Jared Bernstein says there are plenty of reasons to mistrust the “fairy dust” of tax cuts. One of his strongest arguments is one of the most familiar: The past five years in Kansas. In 2012, Kansas implemented a series of deep tax cuts that were, Gov. Sam Brownback said, going to be a “shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” Instead, the heart of the Kansas economy seized up. Economic growth stayed firmly leashed, with the state’s economy underperforming its neighboring states and the nation dramatically. Massive budget shortfalls threatened state services to such a degree that moderate Republicans took over the Legislature and did the unthinkable: Raised taxes.




► In today’s Washington Post — Republicans are propping up scammers and cheaters (by Catherine Rampell) — Over the course of this year, President Trump and Congress have worked to prop up lots of defective firms. By which I mean: Companies whose business models are contingent on scamming customers, shortchanging workers and suckling the government teat. Just this week, the Senate limited consumers’ ability to fight back against financial firms that have cheated them.

► In today’s NY Times — Democrats pressure Trump to fulfill promise to impose steel tariffs — Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that he would block Trump’s nominations of two trade officials until the White House advanced a stalled effort to protect American metal producers from cheap Chinese products.




► From Vox — Puerto Rico just hired 2 contractors with little experience to fix its broken power grid — Puerto Rico’s power crisis has improved little a month after Hurricane Marie took out the power grid. As of Thursday, 76 percent of power users still didn’t have electricity. In response, Puerto Rico’s public power company has awarded big contracts to U.S. energy companies with no experience responding to a major disaster. Neither contract was awarded through a regular bidding process and The Washington Post reports that the CEO of one of the companies, Whitefish Energy Services, is the neighbor of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in their small hometown of Whitefish, Montana. They signed a $300 million contract on Oct. 19 — the largest contract awarded yet in the aftermath of the Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The tiny Montana-based company had only two full-time employees when Maria hit. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), among others, is calling on the GAO to investigate.

► The icing on this particular cake, today from The Hill — Whitefish Energy contract bars government from auditing deal — Under the deal, the government isn’t allowed to “audit or review the cost and profit elements” under the agreement, allowing the company greater discretion and secrecy for how it spends the $300 million to restore power to the island… San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has called for the deal to be voided and investigated after representatives for the company feuded with her on Twitter and asked her if she wanted them to stop working.

From The Onion — Nabisco baffled after Trump administration gives it $200 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s roads




► From Mother Jones — You will lose your job to a robot — and sooner than you think — Until we figure out how to fairly distribute the fruits of robot labor, it will be an era of mass joblessness and mass poverty. Working-class job losses played a big role in the 2016 election, and if we don’t want a long succession of demagogues blustering their way into office because machines are taking away people’s livelihoods, this needs to change, and fast. Along with global warming, the transition to a workless future is the biggest challenge by far that progressive politics—not to mention all of humanity—faces. And yet it’s barely on our radar.

► From Variety — SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris calls for sexual harassment protection in unions — Carteris, a member of the AFL-CIO executive council, said the leadership of the AFL-CIO has formed a cross-industry working group to deal with the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. “Everyone has heard of the horrible behavior by Harvey Weinstein,” she said. “But it goes beyond Weinstein. It’s systemic and it affects men and women in every industry.”

► From TPM — Specter of violence looms ahead of Tennessee ‘White Lives Matter’ rallies — Given the rash of violent incidents at recent white nationalist events and the rhetoric of some of the leading participants, civil rights groups and city leadership in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville are preparing for the worst. The groups openly tout themselves as paramilitary organizations, with strict hierarchical command structures, that heavily arm themselves when permitted by state or local law.

► From the People’s World — Labor movement slams fascists and Trump’s support for them — The AFL-CIO strongly condemned the hate groups of the radical right, including the white supremacists, fascists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, so-called “alt-rightists,”” and their ilk, all now out in the open and responsible for the fatal riot in Charlottesville, Va.

► From Splinter News — What labor needs now (by Hamilton Nolan) — Capitalism has a distribution problem that cannot be fixed unless labor is stronger. It’s that simple. Turning around the decline in union membership. Turning around the rise in inequality. These are the things that matter. Each year we fail to do these things, we fail. Where are the new members, and where is the money to organize them? That is everything now. It would be awful to find that four years from now, at the next AFL-CIO convention, everything had gotten worse.




► The Entire Staff of The Stand salutes the great Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino, one of the founders of rock ‘n’ roll music, who passed away this week at the age of 89. The first of the many major hits he wrote and performed was “Ain’t That a Shame.” It was covered by John Lennon who said it was the first song he ever learned to play on the guitar, by birther/crooner Pat Boone who wanted to change the title on his whitewashed version to “Isn’t That a Shame” but was dissuaded by people with some sense, and by country singer Hank Williams Jr., among many others. But nobody did it like Fats himself — here in a clip from the otherwise forgettable 1956 film Shake, Rattle & Rock!


The only other version of this classic song that ever did it justice — and was reportedly Fats Domino’s favorite cover version — was by Cheap Trick live at Budokan. Enjoy!


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