Monday, December 4, 2017
TAX REFORM SCAM
► From The Hill — Senate passes tax overhaul — Senators voted 51-49 to pass the plan, capping off days of debate and hand-wringing as leadership worked frantically behind the scenes to win over holdouts and get the proposal in line with the chamber’s rules.
► From The Hill — CBO: Senate tax bill increases deficit by $1.4 trillion — The finding came as GOP senators have largely ignored warnings that their tax plan would increase the deficit.
► In the Washington Post — As tax bill evolved, benefits for corporations and the wealthy grew — The disproportionate benefits represent a belief by Republican leaders that providing deep tax cuts to business owners will pump up the economy, ultimately helping voters.
► In the Washington Post — Tax bill offers last-minute breaks for developers, banks and oil industry — The overhaul by Republican lawmakers of the nation’s tax laws percolated for weeks with virtually no public input, and by the end it turned into a chaotic mad dash with many last-minute changes on Friday night and Saturday morning, some handwritten in the margins of the nearly 500-page bill. Even hours after the Senate vote, tax experts were scratching their heads over precisely what had made it into the final version of the bill and the impact of some significant provisions.
► In the Washington Post —These voters live in a pro-Trump area, but many remain skeptical of the GOP tax plan — Many Americans say they view the Republican overhaul as simply a giveaway for the rich that will benefit only a small number of people in the long run.
► From Vox — GOP Senator says it’s hard to fund $14 billion children’s health care program — then advocates for $1 trillion tax cut — This week, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) helped push a tax bill through the Senate that will cost about $1 trillion. At the same time, he lamented the difficulties of finding the money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which pays for healthcare for nine million children and costs about $14 billion a year — a program Hatch helped create.
► From HuffPost — GOP senator implies those who aren’t millionaires waste money on ‘booze, women’ — In an astonishing defense of repealing the federal estate tax that applies only to individual estates worth more than $5.5 million, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) implied that people not currently affected by that tax are “spending every darn penny… on booze or women.”
► In the Washington Post — Here are 7 differences Republicans must resolve between their tax bills — 1) Whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which would lead to 13 million more Americans losing health care coverage. 2) Whether to let tax cuts for individuals expire, while making corporate tax cuts permanent. 3) Whether to double the exemption on federal estate taxes, or eliminate it entirely.
► In the NY Times — A historic tax heist (editorial) — In which Republican donors pick your children’s pockets. Future generations will bear the cost of this terrible bill.
► In the L.A. Times — The GOP’s big tax win is a loss for the rest of us (editorial) — The biggest beneficiaries will be businesses with the highest profits and individuals with the highest incomes, and some of the biggest losers could be those who can scarcely afford the higher tab — graduate students, for example. More broadly, the measure will cause either much larger deficits or large cuts to Medicare and other federal programs, quite possibly accompanied by higher interest rates for borrowers.
► MUST-READ in the Seattle Times — The big deficits in GOP tax plan aren’t a glitch — they’re the whole point (by Danny Westneat) — Putting tax cuts on the national credit card isn’t a bug in their plan. It’s the feature. The flood of additional red ink cues them up for their real goal: hamstringing the retirement programs of Medicare and Social Security. “You have to bring spending under control,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said this past week, when asked about the tax cuts adding to the debt. “The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare… That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — ICE tracks down immigrant who spoke to media in SW Washington: ‘You are the one from the newspaper’ — After talking to The Seattle Times about his girlfriend’s arrest by immigration officials, a Pacific County man was detained himself. He said an agent told him it was because of what had been written.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Nippon to reimburse employees after 401(k) error — Tensions at the Nippon Dynawave mill were high this week after employees discovered that the company pulled money from their 401(k) accounts without their knowledge. The company has now agreed to reimburse the 340 affected employees amid union (AWPPW) complaints and said the withdrawal was made as a result of a payroll error.
► In the News Tribune — Port of Tacoma delays are holding up efforts to improve air quality here and in Seattle — The Port of Tacoma will miss a long-held deadline to clean up air quality at the port and in nearby neighborhoods by requiring newer trucks at international terminals.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Local legislators predict action on water rights, school funding — As chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, 19th District state Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) holds jurisdiction over water rights issues. Any Hirst solution must first pass through his committee. Republicans have also tied the state’s $4 billion capital budget — which requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass — to delivering a Hirst solution. With slim majorities in both the House and Senate, Democrats will need Republican votes to pass a budget. “My hope is that we can go in, get a Hirst fix, get a capital budget and get out of there in 60 days,” Blake said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — The capital budget being held hostage by Senate Republicans already has substantial Republican support, having passed the House on a near-unanimous 92-1. When the Democrats who now control the Senate finally allow a vote on it, we’re guessing that the majority of Republican Senators, like their House colleagues, will vote “yes” to create jobs on construction projects in their districts.
► In the Olympian — ‘Stand With Us’ group wants lawmakers to take politics out of sexual harassment reporting — Leaders from an influential group of women demanding the Legislature better address sexual harassment released the first steps in their reform plan Thursday, including a call for a nonpartisan place to report misconduct.
► In the Seattle Times — Washington must work to land Boeing’s 797 (editorial) — An aerospace industry consortium is working with state officials to land the plane. They’re forming a coalition early next year to make a pitch to Boeing. It will include labor, industry and government. This should be expedited and elevated, with high-profile support from Gov. Jay Inslee and other leaders… One opportunity may be providing new workforce-training. Potential 797 work should be factored into efforts to boost internships, technical schools and community colleges.
► In the Olympian — Leader of state board fired after complaints of ‘toxic’ work environment — Jennifer Wallace, the director of a state board focusing on K-12 teaching standards, was fired quietly in late September following a chaotic year at the department marked by staff turnover, workplace conflict and accusations of unprofessional behavior that hampered state work.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Limited choices hamper health insurance signups in Yakima County as effort hits one-month mark — This year’s open enrollment season hit the one-month mark Friday, and while the statewide marketplace is going like gangbusters, Yakima County is lagging in the number of people signing up for health insurance.
► In today’s NY Times — GOP pushes to avoid government shutdown, but the path is tricky — With government funding set to expire at the end of Friday, Republicans are moving toward passing a two-week stopgap measure to avoid a looming government shutdown, but the path in the coming weeks is treacherous, with obstacles on both sides of the aisle as lawmakers push their own priorities, some unrelated to government spending.
► In the (Everett) Herald — DACA’s protections must be made law now (editorial) — Republicans have an opportunity to demonstrate their leadership by passing legislation that will formalize the protections for the Dreamers, the estimated 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have since built productive lives in their adopted communities.
► From The Hill — FCC’s net neutrality repeal sparks backlash — The FCC plan to scrap net neutrality rules governing how internet service providers handle web traffic has unleashed a wave of intense opposition.
► From HuffPost — Trump’s labor law enforcer freezes worker-friendly reforms made under Obama — During the Barack Obama years, the National Labor Relations Board took a broad view of worker rights, expanding protections for employees who try to join a union or come together to improve their working conditions. Under the Trump administration, those rights are being reined in to help out employers. In a memo dated Friday and obtained by HuffPost, the NLRB’s new general counsel, Peter B. Robb, orders board officials around the country to consult his office on cases that involve precedents set on worker rights during the last eight years.
► From The Hill — Trump rolling back Obama rule on pooling restaurant tips — The Labor Department announced plans Monday to issue a proposed rule to change the Fair Labor Standards Act regulation and allow employers to pool the tips of workers who make full minimum wage and share them with non-tipped workers.
► In the NY Times — ‘Buy American’ laws (by Robert Martinez Jr.) — Many readers will be up in arms upon learning that our Secret Service uniforms may be made in countries like Mexico, where human rights continue to be abused. They will be even more concerned upon learning that offshoring government goods is not limited to uniforms. In the last decade, the Defense Department has spent more than $200 billion in taxpayer money on manufactured goods from other countries.
► In the NY Times — Taxpayer funds covered harassment settlement in House — Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) settled a sexual harassment suit for $84,000, one of six House settlements funded by taxpayers since 2013.
► From AP — Trump offers full support for embattled Republican Roy Moore — President Trump endorsed embattled Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race on Monday, looking past sexual misconduct allegations against the GOP candidate to argue that his vote is needed in Congress.
► From CNN — Democrats eye major gains in depleted governors’ ranks in 2018 ‘awakening’ — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee knows about political wave elections: He was wiped out by a Republican wave as a three-term House member in 1994. Now, citing President Donald Trump’s unpopularity, he’s confidently predicting an even bigger Democratic landslide in the 2018 midterm elections.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.