Category Archives: Activism

Government shutdown looms in December over DACA

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner and turkey leftovers, because we may be two weeks away from a government shutdown. Politico reports, Congress speeds toward shutdown over Dreamers:

Concern is growing in both parties that a clash over the fate of Dreamers will trigger a government shutdown this December.

House conservatives have warned Speaker Paul Ryan against lumping a fix for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors into a year-end spending deal. They want him to keep the two issues separate and delay immigration negotiations into 2018 to increase their leverage — which both Ryan and the White House consider reasonable.

But many liberal Democrats have already vowed to withhold votes from the spending bill should it not address Dreamers, putting Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York in an awkward spot if they don’t go along.

Democrats know Republicans need their votes to fund the government past the current Dec. 8 deadline, and many want Pelosi and Schumer to stand firm against the must-pass bill until leaders save the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“We want a clean DREAM Act,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), referring to legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship for the young adults. “That is what it’s going to take for me and others to sign on.”

Ryan (R-Wis.), Pelosi, Schumerand Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are already discussing a short-term government-funding extension to buy themselves more time to negotiate, likely culminating in a Christmastime collision.

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BfAZ Readers: Please Sign on to My Petition to Senator Flake

Readers:

I’ve started a petition addressed to Senator Flake regarding the Senate Tax Plan.

I’ll start with the first few paragraphs here, followed by a link to read the rest and sign.

Dear Senator Flake:

Your political beliefs do not line up with those of all your constituents. Many of us disagree with your votes far more often than we agree.

But we all respect you. We’ve always felt your votes, and your words, reflected your principles, not the dictate of some donor or a cynical political calculation.

So we’re not surprised to read that you are taking a hard look at the Senate tax bill and have concerns about its fiscal impact. We salute you for doing so.

As you consider your vote, we urge you to consider what the real cost of this tax plan will be. The sticker price, $1.5 trillion, is huge, but undoubtedly is a gross understatement. Here are a few of the areas you might want to explore on that front:

Read Remainder of Letter and Sign at Change.org

If you agree with me on this, please post a link to your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Thanks, Bob

GOP resorts to lying about its tax bill (part two)

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman hascbeen on fire the past couple of weeks exposing the lies of the GOP tax bills. Last week he wrote, Everybody Hates the Trump Tax Plan and blogged Days of Greed and Desperation (excerpt):

The House tax bill is wildly regressive; the Senate bill actually raises taxes on most families, while including a special tax break for private planes. In effect, the GOP is giving middle-class Americans a giant middle finger. What’s going on?

A large part of the answer, I’d suggest, is that many Republicans now see themselves and/or their party in such dire straits that they’re no longer even trying to improve their future electoral position; instead, it’s all about grabbing as much for their big donors while they still can. Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose; in the GOP’s case, that means the freedom to be the party of, by, and for oligarchs they always wanted to be.

* * *

So their incentive is to stuff everything the donors want, no matter how outrageous — tax hikes on most of the population, tax breaks on private planes — through the sausage grinder right now.

I have to admit, I didn’t see this coming. And there’s a pretty good chance that this desperate grab will fail — remember, it only takes three Republican Senators with a shred of principle. But that’s where we are.

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After their tax bill, the GOP is coming for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

The Senate Finance Committee late Thursday approved the Senate’s version of the GOP’s “tax cuts for corporations and Plutocrats” bill, after the House passed its version earlier in the day. Senate panel approves GOP tax plan. The panel voted to send the tax plan to the full Senate on a party-line vote of 14-12.

The Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in a statement “When the Senate returns after Thanksgiving, I will bring this must-pass legislation to the floor for further debate and open consideration.”

Well, this is going to make for some heated discussions at Thanksgiving dinner when your drunk uncle shows up wearing his MAGA hat and Trump T-shirt. Here’s some information that you can use to try to properly educate your ignorant drunk uncle.

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post explains, The GOP tax plan is moving forward. It’s a big scam on Trump’s base.

If you’re one of those white working-class voters who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency and gave Republicans total control of Washington, the GOP has a message for you: Sucker!

Today the House [passed] its version of a tax reform bill, and if and when the Senate passes its version, the two will be combined in a final bill that will most likely wind up becoming law. We already knew that the House version would raise taxes on tens of millions of Americans — about 36 million, according to figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation, whose job it is to analyze tax bills before they’re voted on. Now we’re learning more about the Senate version:

The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan analysts.

President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts serious doubt on that claim. Tax hikes for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there. By the year 2027, Americans earning $30,000 to $75,000 a year would also be forced to pay more in taxes even though people earning over $100,000 continue to get substantial tax cuts.

Everyone always knew Republicans were going to cut taxes for the wealthy. They’re Republicans; that’s what they do. But it’s a genuine surprise to see them raising taxes on people with more modest incomes. Why isn’t this being angrily decried by all those conservatives who believe that tax increases are a crime against humanity? Could it possibly be that they don’t really care about the middle class as much as they say? Was the whole point of this exercise to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and if regular people have to pay more so those at the top can pay less, then that’s fine with them? Say it isn’t so!

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Arizona Supreme Court upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion

Finally, some good news today! The Arizona Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the Court of Appeals in a decision, Biggs v. Betlach Opinion (.pdf), that  Governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan is not a tax and is excepted from the two-thirds supermajority vote required by Prop. 108 (1992), the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment (aka the GOP’s weapon of mass destruction).

This is a major defeat for the “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which represented the GOP legislators who voted against the Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

Boom! goes the Death Star! The Rebellion has won!

The Arizona Capitol Times reports Arizona Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion:

The state’s high court this morning upheld the legality of an assessment on hospitals that helps pay for health care for 400,000 Arizonans.

In a unanimous decision, the justices rejected arguments by the attorney for some Republican lawmakers that the levy, approved by the Legislature in 2013, was illegally enacted.

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‘Dark money’ lawsuit, ‘dirty money’ initiative

A lawsuit has been filed to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some organizations to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns. Howard Fischer reports, Lawsuit challenges dark money growth:

A voter advocacy group, a union and Democrat lawmakers are asking a judge to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some groups to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court charges the Republican-controlled Legislature acted illegally earlier this year in exempting some organizations from laws that require them to register before they can spend money to influence who is elected. More to the point, it also allows them to avoid disclosing to voters who provided that cash in the first place.

But attorney Jim Barton said there are other legal flaws in the measure.

One, he said, is that the exemption lawmakers provided to certain nonprofit organizations applies only to those that also are registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission. But Barton said the legislation denies the same privilege to unions which, while organized as nonprofits, do not register with the commission.

Potentially the most sweeping, Barton said lawmakers violated a constitutional provision that requires the legislature to have laws that tell the public about all of the contributions to and expenditures by campaign committees and candidates for public office.

He said SB 1516 allows nonprofits and similar entities to make unlimited contributions to political parties. Then the parties can spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of their nominees.

“Since the reporting of these particular contributions are not required, then built-in disclosure safeguards (required by the Arizona Constitution) are broken,” Barton wrote.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, which enforces the campaign finance laws, said the lawsuit is being studied.

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