End the hostage crisis, ITMFA, Trump’s tax cuts, unions are cool…
Monday, October 30, 2017
► In today’s Seattle Times — Pass a capital budget to help rural communities build (editorial) — Each day, a leaking sewer system reminds Carbonado residents how the Legislature can’t get its job done. The Pierce County town of 665 people is in line for about $12 million in state money to replace its network of cracked, aging clay pipes. Work should have begun this fall. Instead, the project is on hold while the state’s $4 billion construction budget sits in limbo amid a debate about how the Legislature should protect water rights in rural areas. This delay is untenable. Politics is interfering with projects that affect public safety, much-needed school construction and thousands of jobs. Several hundred state employees’ salaries are paid using state capital dollars. A few dozen of them lost their jobs this month — the first of several waves of layoffs expected between now and March if the budget isn’t approved. State officials say the capital budget would also provide thousands of private-sector jobs throughout the state.
Gov. Jay Inslee must call lawmakers back to Olympia for a special session as soon as possible to resolve this impasse. In turn, Senate Republicans need to let go of their demand that the Legislature approve a permanent Hirst fix before passing the capital budget. Democrats already put forth a reasonable proposal to delay the Hirst ruling for two years, an offer GOP leaders should have accepted.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Former Gov. Gregoire still a force in politics — this time, behind the scenes — Five years out of office, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire remains influential. She’s aiding a longtime friend’s bid for Seattle mayor, her son-in-law’s run for city attorney, and is CEO of an initiative by Amazon, Microsoft and other corporate leaders to shape the region’s future.
► BREAKING from the Washington Post — Ex-Trump campaign chairman accused of conspiracy against the U.S. in Mueller probe — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates have been charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements. It marked the first criminal allegations to come from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
► From the July 18, 2016, edition of the Washington Post — Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine — The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Dear 38%: Please try watching a different news station. Or better still, read a newspaper! Sincerely, America.
► From — Cheeky cyclist flips Trump motorcade the middle finger salute — A female cyclist overtaken by Donald Trump’s motorcade as the president was leaving his Virginia golf club Saturday flipped a middle finger salute, and it was captured by a photographer. A woman walking nearby when the motorcade passed joined in and gave Trump a thumbs-down, according to a pool report. Another quiet protester held a sign aloft that read “impeach” as Trump arrived at the Trump National Golf Club.
TRUMP’S TRICKLE-DOWN TAX CUTS
EDITOR’S NOTE — Asked about this morning’s indictments, House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “I really don’t have anything to add other than nothing is going to derail what we’re doing in Congress.” And what does our own Trump supporter, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th), have to add this morning amid the exploding Trump-Russia scandal? “Our plan for #taxreform will raise wages and help keep jobs here in America.”
► In the NY Times — Democrats attack tax bill as a ‘middle-class con job’ — Republicans will pitch their tax bill this week as a gift to the middle class, but Democrats will call it a Trojan horse: a windfall for big business and the rich dressed as a tax cut for workers.
► In the Washington Post — Republicans, desperate for a win, already face setbacks as they prepare to unveil tax bill this week — The Republican effort to overhaul the tax code suffered a bruising setback over the weekend when a powerful corporate interest group came out against the proposal just days ahead of when House leaders plan to release it to the public. The National Association of Home Builders, after learning that a “homeownership” tax credit it had wanted will not be in an initial version of the bill, is preparing a nationwide campaign against it. The development underscored just how difficult the prospect of a successful tax overhaul will be, given the complex and competing interests that President Trump and GOP lawmakers are trying to serve.
► In today’s Washington Post — Stop obsessing about tax cuts (by E.J. Dionne) — No matter how critical the coverage gets, the sheer amount of attention risks sending a message that taxes are the most important issue confronting the country. This is entirely wrong, and it’s essential to challenge the whole premise of the debate. The United States does not need tax cuts now. Reducing government revenue at this moment will do far more harm than good. Conservatives are proving definitively that they don’t care in the least about deficits. And their claims that tax cuts will unleash some sort of economic miracle have been proved false again and again and again.
► From The Hill — ACA heads into crucial first sign-ups under Trump — Wednesday brings the first test of how the Trump administration will handle enrollment under the law it claims is “imploding.” With the president making no secret of his desire to kill the law completely, Democrats accuse the administration of “sabotage” and say the number of new enrollees is likely to drop as a result. That would lift the uninsured rate, which has fallen dramatically since the law went into effect, and could hurt ObamaCare’s sustainability by leaving a smaller, sicker and costlier pool of enrollees.
► In today’s Columbian — Health care in crisis — The need for Congress to seize the reins of the health care debate has never been clearer. Lawmakers should support a bipartisan effort led by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
► In today’s NY Times — Puerto Rico cancels Whitefish Energy contract to rebuild power lines — While government officials in Washington and San Juan have argued over how a company from Whitefish, Mont., with connections to the secretary of the interior but only two full-time employees secured an emergency contract that requires the work of thousands of people, the majority of Puerto Rico is still without electricity, nearly six weeks after Hurricane Maria knocked down thousands of poles and lines.
► From Politico — Scofflaw political groups are ignoring FEC fines — More than 160 political committees and similar groups together owe the government more than $1.3 million worth of unpaid fines, according to a Center for Public Integrity. Wait long enough, many are finding, and the federal government usually gives up.
► From the USA Today — How trucking companies that cheat workers dodge penalties — In 2015, a California labor court judge ordered Fargo Trucking to pay its drivers $8.7 million – as much as $370,000 each – for cheating them out of fair wages. It was the largest judgment ever imposed in an industry notorious for exploiting its workers and running afoul of state labor laws. But instead of writing checks to their drivers, Fargo’s owners set in motion a plan to make their company vanish. They jettisoned their retail clients and stripped the company of its assets. Then, they moved it all under new company names, safe from the judgment of the courts. Today, they are back in business under the name Express FTC – hauling goods in the same trucks, for the same clients, out of the same office building that once belonged to Fargo. Drivers still have not been paid.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Farmworker organizer Greg Asbed awarded a ‘genius grant’ — Greg Asbed, winner of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, has won better treatment for thousands of agricultural workers by putting consumer pressure on big fast-food companies like Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway to cut off abusive farm employers.
► From Vice — Unions are cool (by Rick Paulas) — Those who believe that unions are the best way for workers to improve their conditions have to fight against Republican-backed “right to work” laws and a presidential administration that talks constantly about “workers” but rarely mentions unions. But they also have to contend with perceptions that union workers are lazy, entitled, or corrupt — an attitude that makes union-killing regulations easy for the general public to stomach.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.