Tuesday, December 19, 2017
► In today’s News Tribune — Amtrak train derails onto I-5 in DuPont. 3 killed, dozens injured, freeway shut down — An Amtrak train making its inaugural run along a faster new route Monday derailed and hurtled off a bridge over Interstate 5 near DuPont, killing at least three passengers and injuring more than 100.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Amtrak train was reportedly going 80 in a 30-mph zone — The Amtrak train that derailed Monday morning on its inaugural trip through a faster railway route was supposed to slow dramatically, to 30 mph, before entering the curve where the crash occurred.
► In today’s News Tribune — Mayor’s words echo after Amtrak wreck (editorial) — The time will come for the “I told you so”s, including some from this editorial board, but for now, we extend our sympathies to the victims and our deep appreciation to the first responders.
► From Reuters — Amtrak safety record under scrutiny even before deadly derailment — The fatal derailment of an Amtrak train south of Seattle on Monday is likely to intensify scrutiny of the national passenger railroad company’s safety record, which was already under the microscope following a series of fatal incidents.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Another radioactive contamination spread at Hanford. Work halted at plant — Demolition is stopped at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s Plutonium Finishing Plant after another spread of radioactive contamination. Some workers in portable offices at the plant, which are well away from the plant’s demolition zone, were told to remain in their office trailers until areas nearby were surveyed for radioactive contamination Monday afternoon. Some of the contamination was found on workers’ cars or pickups.
TRUMP’S TAX SCAM
► From the AFL-CIO — Seven reasons why the Republican tax bill is bad for working people — 1. Rigging the rules. Big banks, hedge funds and other Wall Street firms are the biggest winners from this tax bill. The richest 1% of households would receive 83% of tax cuts, and the richest 0.1% would get an average tax cut of more than $148,000. The tax bill is full of complex tax gimmicks that would encourage tax dodging while enriching lawyers and accountants.
ALSO from The Stand — It’s not over! Call Representatives to stop this tax scam for the rich — Call 1-844-899-9913 and urge your representative to vote NO on this tax bill.
► From The Hill — GOP racing to tax votes — Republicans racing for the finish line said they could hold final votes in the House and Senate on their tax-cut bill as early as Tuesday. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters the chamber could vote on the bill Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning as two previously undecided GOP senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, said they would back it. The House is expected to vote Tuesday.
► From HuffPost — Republicans already say they’ll need another bill to fix their tax mistakes — Republicans wrote their massive tax legislation in such a rush that even before they’ve sent it to the president’s desk, they’re already talking about writing another bill to fix all the mistakes in the first one.
► In the Columbian — GOP taxes credibility (editorial) — The process that has brought congressional Republicans to the brink of passing tax “reform” has been nothing short of shameful. If that plays out as expected, it will reflect gross legislative malpractice. In short, Congress might be about to sell the American people a bill of goods that has undergone little scrutiny.
► In today’s LA Times — Republican tax bill fuels anxiety across the nation’s healthcare system — Doctors, hospitals, patient advocates and others who work in the nation’s healthcare system are growing increasingly alarmed at the Republican tax bill, warning that it threatens care for millions of sick Americans. Most worrisome to many, the bill will open a $1.5-trillion hole in the federal deficit over the next decade. That will put substantial new pressure on government healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and has already ignited a renewed Republican campaign to cut them back.
ALSO at The Stand — Ads warn of GOP plan to cut Social Security, Medicare
► In today’s NY Times — Demoralized IRS faces monumental task with new bill — The agency, upbraided for years by the Republicans, must now interpret the new bill. It has been struggling with a budget cut of nearly $1 billion since 2010, and a 23-percent reduction in personnel.
► From HuffPost — #CorkerKickback turns up the flame under senator for his tax vote switch — Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was still scrambling to do damage control Monday after it was revealed that he switched his vote on the GOP tax bill to yes soon after a tax deduction was added that could benefit his real estate investments.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump, Republicans feather their own nests (editorial) — To understand the cynicism and mendacity underlying the Republican tax bill, look no further than a provision that would benefit President Trump and other property tycoons that is in the final legislation Congress is expected to vote on this week. The provision would allow people who make money from real estate to take a 20 percent deduction on income they earn through limited liability companies, partnerships and other so-called pass-through entities that do not pay the corporate tax. The beneficiaries would also include members of Congress like Senator Bob Corker, who last week decided he would vote for the bill even though Republican leaders did nothing to address his concerns about an exploding federal deficit… This bill is bad enough. No less revolting is the dishonest and sneaky way it was written.
► From Vox — We’re witnessing the wholesale looting of America (by Matthew Yglesias) — Politicians are making decisions to enrich their donors — and at times themselves personally — with a reckless disregard for any kind of objective policy analysis or consideration of public opinion.
► In the Washington Post — This old drug was free. Now it’s $109,500 a year. — For decades, Don Anderson of Seattle has been taking the same drug to help control the temporary bouts of immobility and muscle weakness caused by a rare and frightening genetic illness called periodic paralysis. The drug he has been taking all these years was originally approved in 1958 and used primarily to treat the eye disease glaucoma under the brand name Daranide, its price so unremarkable that he can’t quite remember how much it cost at the pharmacy counter. But the price has been on a roller coaster in recent years — zooming from a list price of $50 for a bottle of 100 pills in the early 2000s up to $13,650 in 2015, then plummeting back down to free, before skyrocketing back up to $15,001 after a new company, Strongbridge Biopharma, acquired the drug and relaunched it this spring.
“I’m constantly hearing that public pressure, public shaming will be sufficient to curb these bad actors in these industries. It often feels if you take your attention off of them, even for a second, they’ll revert to these old ways,” said Rachel Sachs, an associate law professor at Washington University in Saint Louis. “It’s just another example of how the system has some problems that need to be fixed.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This is why Washington state needs Prescription Drug Price Transparency!
► In today’s Seattle Times — Legislature should work to boost voter participation (editorial) — Too many people are tossing the ballots mailed to their homes instead of filling them out and making their voices heard. The Nov. 7 election set a record for poor turnout, with more than two-thirds of voters skipping out. Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-Tukwila) and other lawmakers have a number of other proposals aimed at increasing both voter registration and participation. Some are long overdue, like a Washington Voting Rights Act.
ALSO at The Stand — 2018 Washington Voting Rights Act has been introduced
► From USA Today — Congress faces deadline to save DREAMers, which could come to a head this week — The fate of nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants could blow up negotiations to keep the federal government running past this week. The federal program that protects from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before age 16 could be a bargaining chip as Congress faces a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill.
► In today’s NY Times — Boeing, Bombardier trade clash poses more risks for NAFTA — Boeing clashed with Canadian jet maker Bombardier in a hearing on Monday over a trade dispute that has pitted the United States against Canada, adding to already heightened trade tensions between the two nations.
► From The Guardian — How Fox News cried ‘coup’ over the Mueller investigation — Although the conservative network had long dismissed the Russia investigation as an unnecessary distraction from what some Fox personalities viewed as the real scandals involving Hillary Clinton, the tone has changed in recent weeks with increased rhetoric about “a coup” and the threat to Trump posed by “the deep state.” The growing criticism comes at a time when Mueller’s investigation has made further progress with the early December plea agreement by the former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Robert Reich calls Fox News “Trump’s personal propaganda machine” and asks, “Will Trump use the congressional recess to fire Mueller, and rely on Fox News to give him cover? That would be a real coup in America.” Reich is urging folks to boycott Fox News advertisers and, in particular, Sean Hannity’s advertisers (which includes the Appleby’s, DirecTV, FedEx, McDonald’s, National Car Rental, Starbucks, and others).
► From The Hill — Trump approval rating hits new low in CNN poll — Just 35 percent of Americans in the CNN poll released early Tuesday say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president.
► In today’s LA Times — The Social Security cost-of-living increase is a cruel fraud (by Les Gapay) The tiny Social Security increase that will be bestowed on retirees and the elderly in January is a cruel fraud perpetrated by the government. That’s because increases in Medicare Part B and Part D insurance premiums will negate all of the Social Security 2% cost of living increase for many recipients. Instead of staying even, we’ll fall behind.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.