Having engineered what may be the biggest upward transfer of wealth in US history, Republicans are coming after the crumbs left on the table. They are optimistic about reconciling the House and Senate bills in conference committee and anxious to move on dismantling the social safety net.
They see no irony in saying ‘reforms’ must be made to food stamps, Medicare, and social security to reduce America’s deficit after crafting legislation exploding that same deficit by more than a billion dollars over the next decade.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) went on talk radio this week to say congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs.
From the Washington Post:
Ryan’s remarks add to the growing signs that top Republicans aim to cut government spending next year. Republicans are close to passing a tax bill nonpartisan analysts say would increase the deficit by at least $1 trillion over a decade. Trump recently called on Congress to move to cut welfare spending after the tax bill, and Senate Republicans have cited the need to reduce the national deficit while growing the economy.
“You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said last week.
While whipping votes for the tax bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) attacked “liberal programs” for the poor and said Congress needed to stop wasting Americans’ money.
Think that’s bad? Wait! How about this one…
The Trump White House wants to encourage states and localities to raise taxes to fund the administration’s oft-promised infrastructure plan, according to another story in the Washington Post:
As described by White House aides familiar with Trump’s initiative, additional federal funding would be available on a competitive basis for states and localities that submit plans outlining how they plan to raise new revenue dedicated to infrastructure.
Jurisdictions could raise their gas or sales tax rates, for example, or increase revenue flowing to infrastructure projects in a variety of other ways, such as imposing new tolls on roads or selling off existing assets to the private sector to generate money for new projects.
“We will be agnostic as to the type of revenue, as long as it is new and dedicated to infrastructure,” said one White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak more freely about a plan the administration is not yet prepared to announce.
It’s impossible not to miss the fact of all these ‘revenue enhancing’ ideas being regressive in nature. So, yes, poor people will have a harder time coughing up tolls for the Carl DeMaio East-West highway.
Not content to simply cut services and increase taxes on the lower classes, Republicans are also seeking to reach directly into pay and benefits.
From the Economic Policy Institute:
The Department of Labor released a proposed rule rescinding portions of its tip regulations, including current restrictions on “tip pooling”—which would mean that, for example, restaurants would be able to pool the tips servers receive and share them with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers. But, crucially, the rule doesn’t actually require that employers distribute pooled tips to workers. Under the administration’s proposed rule, as long as the tipped workers earn minimum wage, the employer can legally pocket those tips.
And what we know for sure is that, often, they will do just that. Recent research suggests that the total wages stolen from workers due to minimum wage violations exceeds $15 billion each year, and workers in restaurants and bars are much more likely to suffer minimum wage violations than workers in other industries. With that much illegal wage theft currently taking place, it seems obvious that when employers can legally pocket the tips earned by their employees, many will do so.
I feel obligated to remind readers often the looting of the commons (as in the undoing of the National monument boundaries) and our personal wealth is not about Donald Trump.
Here’s your reminder du jour on this insight via Bob Borosage at the Nation:
When it looked like Mitt Romney might defeat Barack Obama in 2012, the impish operative of the right Grover Norquist reassured movement conservatives not to fear Romney’s supposed moderation. All we need, he argued, is a president with “enough working digits to handle a pen.” Republicans in the Congress will the agenda, and put the bills on his desk. That’s exactly what is happening now.
Surely, ousting Trump would be satisfying, and many liberals are hanging their hopes on Robert Mueller. This would at least allow those afflicted with Trump-derangement syndrome to stop yelling at their televisions, but it isn’t sufficient. The “resistance” has to get serious about the hard stuff of politics: winning elections up and down the ticket.
Democrats must organize to ensure that Americans register and vote in large numbers and end Republican rule. Railing about Trump’s immaturity, ignorance, and instability won’t get it done. Even his supporters get that. His own secretary of state calls him a “fucking moron.” Progressives need to help voters also understand the damage wrought by Republicans from states like Kansas to the nation’s capital. And Democrats need to make clear that there is an alternative that would serve the country and its people, not plunder the nation in the interest of the few.
Al Franken is leaving the Senate, and that’s as it should be. I am aghast at the seemingly otherwise liberal folk opposing this move.
Franken’s resignation creates a precedent that will likely engulf many of his colleagues. Given the rumors of coming exposes on many other members of Congress, and the resources media orgs are putting into chasing down leads, 2018 is going to be quite an election.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) December 7, 2017
The progressive cause will survive without Al Franken in the Senate. The number of women who stepped forward –even if we don’t like their motives– makes this a slam dunk.
Forget “what about Trump/Moore/ect?”. What about victims everywhere?
Here’s Meteor Blades at Daily Kos, who shares my sentiments:
Survivors don’t take the decision to come forward lightly. And the victim-blaming and rape denialism I’ve seen on this site is exactly why many people never come forward. By publicly minimizing Franken’s actions you are making the world safer for sexual assailants. You are silencing victims—the only witnesses who can tell us who are the hypocrites and abusers in our communities.
Shame on all of you who think one man is more important than the long-lasting work of having honorable leaders. Who cares if the Republicans don’t hold the same standards? Reports of abuse are not hypothetical plays in political basketball; this is people’s lives.
While we’re on the subject, it’s likely there will be more politicians who are abusers called out in the coming days.
Dan Walters at CALMatters says Democrats in Sacramento are concerned about losing supermajority status by ousting legislators accused of sexual harassment. Tough sh*t. Work harder to elect better people.
I’m hearing still more revelations are coming about our state representatives. Rumors are swirling about one well-known local politico soon to face accusations from four women.
I say, fine, let’s get rid of them. And let’s replace as many of these types with women as possible.
The Trump Effect
Breaking news: @nytimes now has more than 3.5 million paid subscriptions and more than 130 million monthly readers, more than double our audience just two years ago.
— Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanNYT) December 7, 2017
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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