Wednesday, December 6, 2017
► In today’s Seattle Times — Delays in Congress threaten health coverage for thousands of Washington children — With health-insurance coverage for 9 million of the nation’s children hanging in the balance, Washington state is gambling that Congress will step back from the brink and renew a program that covers more than 52,000 children in the state. The federal Children’s Health Insurance Program expired Sept. 30 as the Republican-controlled Congress undertook a failed, last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act before a new fiscal year began. Two months into that new year, CHIP has not been renewed, and some states are running out of money to provide coverage. Washington is one of them.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Leave children’s health off the bargaining table (editorial) — Congressional leaders should stop using the vital federal Children’s Health Insurance Program as a bargaining chip and get it reauthorized.
► In today’s Columbian — CHIP is not a handout (editorial) — In case it was unclear that this is an appalling statement of national priorities and does little to make America great, we bring you a recent quote from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore.” Hatch then advocated for and helped pass a tax bill that independent analysis says will add more than $1 trillion to the national deficit and will disproportionately benefit corporations and the wealthy. Hatch and fellow Republicans are financing a tax cut for the wealthy with deficit spending, but they cannot be bothered to fund the health care for 9 million children from low-income families.
► From KNKX — Washington bill would ban non-disclosure of sexual harassment, assault — State Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent) said she wants to encourage disclosure of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. To that end, she introduced legislation on Dec. 4 that would place limits on non-disclosure agreements.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — ACA insurance sign-ups climb amid steep price hike — Premium increases on Washington’s and Idaho’s health insurance exchanges haven’t stopped people from signing up for coverage this year. Washington HealthPlan Finder reported that as of Nov. 27, some 17,842 new customers had signed up for health insurance through the state’s exchange, an increase of about 43 percent over the same period last year.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Insurance companies blamed this year’s increases on the uncertainty about whether Congress would repeal the ACA and stop subsidizing coverage. The tax plan approved last week by the Republican Senate, which repeals the ACA’s coverage mandate, would drive up consts even more. Consumer Reports says this “would allow younger, healthier people — as well as middle-class Americans whose premiums have soared under the ACA — to stop buying health insurance. But it likely would mean higher rates for everybody else who remained in the ACA.”
TRUMP’S TAX SCAM
► From the AFL-CIO — Working families reject GOP tax bill — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “President Trump said that he wanted to lower taxes for everyone as a Christmas gift to America, but this bill is simply a lump of coal to working families across the country. The only real gift is the major tax giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, when what our country needs is investment in our schools and infrastructures that create jobs.”
► In the NY Times — Republicans are coming for your benefits (by Paul Krugman) — Budget deficits are going to soar thanks to Republican tax-cutting legislation — probably by even more than the official scorekeepers say, because the legislation creates so many new loopholes. And offsetting those deficits will require going after the true big-ticket programs, namely Medicare and Social Security. Oh, they’ll find euphemisms to describe what they’re doing, talking solemnly about the need for “entitlement reform” as an act of fiscal responsibility — while their huge budget-busting tax cut for the rich gets shoved down the memory hole. But whatever words they use to cloak the reality of the situation, Republicans have given their donors what they wanted — and now they’re coming for your benefits.
ALSO at The Stand:
Tax giveaway aims to force big cuts elsewhere (by WSLC President Jeff Johnson) — The Republican/Trump tax plan is a set-up for defunding Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, health care, and privatizing our federal government and our natural resources.
► From TPM — Why economists are warning that the Trump tax plan will be an epic disaster — Republicans insisted repeatedly over the past few weeks that the $1.4 trillion in tax cuts, most of them geared toward wealthy individuals and corporations, would pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth, they presented no evidence to support their claims. Instead, the economists and former government officials predicted, the bill will drive up the federal deficit, shrink and destabilize the health care market, exacerbate already historic income inequality, and pressure Congress to make deep cuts to the social safety net and government programs.
► From Politico — ‘Holy crap’: Experts find tax plan riddled with glitches — Republicans’ tax-rewrite plans are riddled with bugs, loopholes and other potential problems that could plague lawmakers long after their legislation is signed into law. Some of the provisions could be easily gamed, tax lawyers say. “The more you read, the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this?’” said Greg Jenner, a former top tax official in George W. Bush’s Treasury Department. “We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast.”
► In today’s NY Times — Conservative groups seeking support for tax cuts find it a hard sell — Conservative activist groups like the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, celebrating what they expect is the imminent passage of a tax package that they and the Republican Party’s corporate backers have sought for a generation, now need to convince ordinary Americans that this is good for them, too. The problem, as Republicans are learning, is that most Americans do not believe that is what the tax plan will do. Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist, said that amid all the talk about the need to score an important victory for their party, “it bears mentioning that the ‘win’ is something that is extraordinarily unpopular with 75 percent of the American people.”
► In the Washington Post — Trump’s tax plan is still even less popular than Trump — The broader context for the bill is that it’s being advocated by a party and a president who themselves aren’t that popular. In August, Americans saw the parties as about even in their ability to handle taxes. In the new Quinnipiac poll, the Democrats gained an 8-point advantage, suggesting that the unpopularity of the bill was dragging down perceptions of the GOP.
► From Vox — Republicans need Roy Moore to pass their tax bill — Back before Moore was accused of enjoying sexual predation of teen girls, he was already a controversial figure due to his habit of defying valid court orders, his view that Muslims should be barred from serving in Congress, his view that homosexuality is a “criminal lifestyle,” etc. The GOP establishment wanted to nominate someone else for the seat, but when Moore won, they embraced his despite his disregard for the rule of law and the Constitution because — in the immoral words of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) — “he’s going to be for tax reform, I think.” That same calculus applies today.
► In today’s Washington Post — Donald Trump and Roy Moore hold a strategy meeting on young voters
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Foss Maritime finalizing deal to build at least 10 tugs in Rainier — Foss Maritime confirmed Tuesday it’s finalizing negotiations with a Netherlands-based company to build at least 10 tugboats at its shipyard in Rainier. The deal could inject millions of dollars into the local economy.
► Everyday heroes, in today’s (Everett) Herald — Student saved by custodian’s Heimlich maneuver — Eisenhower Middle’s Christopher Hughes knew what to do when Julie Barnett alerted him to the girl.
► From Defense News — Canada to kill Boeing Super Hornet deal — The Canadian government is poised to walk away from a deal with Boeing to buy 18 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jets, a major blow for the future of the Boeing jet. Canada’s Liberal government will announce next week plans to proceed with an interim buy of used F/A-18 Hornets from Australia, dashing Boeing’s hopes of a Super Hornet sale.
► A couple months ago in the Seattle Times — Analysts pan Boeing strategy in pushing for tariffs on Canada’s smaller jet — Aviation experts say Boeing’s blocking of Bombardier’s CSeries jet could be strategically disastrous long-term for both Boeing and the U.S.
► From Politico — House GOP leaders vow no deals with Democrats on stopgap spending — House Republican leaders have promised conservatives that they won’t grant concessions to Democrats to get enough votes for a stopgap spending bill — gaining GOP support but also raising the specter of a government shutdown later this month. GOP leaders in the House tentatively decided Tuesday morning to hold tight on their plan to fund the government through Dec. 22.
► From the AFL-CIO — Congress can restore service members’ and veterans’ rights — In October, in a 50-50 tie vote broken by Vice President Mike Pence, Congress passed a resolution that stripped service members and veterans of their right to band together in court when companies violate the law and harm thousands or millions of people. Congress has a chance to right that wrong this week.
► From HuffPost — Trump plans to kill an Obama regulation protecting restaurant servers — The Labor Department said it intends to roll back what’s known as the “tip pooling” rule, which limits the scenarios in which tipped workers can be forced to share their gratuities with other employees. If the rule is done away with, it will be easier for management to divvy up the tips that flow to front-of-the-house restaurant and bar staff as it pleases.
► In today’s Washington Post — Rep. John Conyers Jr. resigns over sexual harassment allegations after a half-century in Congress — Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) resigned as Congress’s longest-serving member Tuesday, becoming the first lawmaker to step down as Capitol Hill grapples with allegations of inappropriate behavior by lawmakers.
► From Politico — Another woman says Franken tried to forcibly kiss her — A former Democratic congressional aide said Al Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator.
► In today’s NY Times — Time names ‘The Silence Breakers’ Person of the Year for 2017 — Time magazine has named “the silence breakers” its person of the year for 2017, referring to those women, and the global conversation they have started. The magazine’s editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, said in an interview on the “Today” show on Wednesday that the #MeToo movement represented the “fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too.”
ALSO at The Stand — #MeToo power shift must be sustained by organized labor
► In today’s NY Times — Trump’s move on Jerusalem fuels alarm across Mideast — President Trump plans to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, upending nearly seven decades of American foreign policy. Arab leaders warned Trump that it would disrupt the Mideast peace process, perhaps fatally, and could unleash a new wave of violence across the region.
► In today’s Washington Post — Not my Alabama (by Ted Gup) — Walking among my family’s graves in Mobile, I know that even in death it was “White Only,” and that a foreign-born Jew had access to this soil when a native-born black man did not. The legacy of Gov. George Wallace, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, the water cannons and police dogs now find full expression in the face of Moore, who champions the Ten Commandments but sees them as a license to lie, hate and bring out the least Christian of impulses in his constituents. He is a master of mixing virtue and vice till neither is distinguishable from the other.
But the Alabama my family knew and knows is only partially reflected in the headlines. It is not the caricature of the ignorant Southerner, not the Bible-thumping congregation that prefers a potential child molester to missing out on a tax cut. My relatives in Alabama could not be more pained by the thought of Moore’s ascent to the U.S. Senate. But their anguish should be familiar to many well beyond the state who wince at Donald Trump as president, commander in chief and the face of the United States. Alabama is no more monolithic than the rest of the country, and no less divided. The war for the soul of America goes on there as it goes on in states and homes across this land.
The truth is that if Alabama did not exist, we might have to invent it. In this moment of national doubt and angst, we need to look down our noses at someplace else, to express the disdain of those who themselves have become unmoored, complacent or resigned. Alabama is the perfect foil in the Trump era, a reference point on the Southern horizon — a safe distance from Los Angeles and New York — that offers us the sense that we are somehow different, better and above. My adopted home, smug Boston, like so many other places quick to judge, can block out its own dire record on race and religious intolerance as it spurns its Southern cousins (mine, literally). But it is self-delusion, the kind that compromises the conscience and allows for the rest of us to descend deeper into the abyss. In each of us, there is a bit of Alabama, the shameful and the noble, warring for dominance.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.