Category Archives: Arizona Congressional Delegation

Ignoring bad optics, GOP conferees transfer even more wealth to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors (Updated)

Despite the fact that The Republican tax plan is the most unpopular bill in 30 years, GOP conferees are transfering even more wealth to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors. Tea-Publicans simply do not care what this looks like to average Americans, they are obligated to deliver a quid pro quo to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors. They are looting the treasury on behalf of the oligarchy.

CNBC reports, The Latest: GOP agrees to lower top tax rate for individuals:

Congressional aides say Republican negotiators have agreed to lower the top tax rate for individuals from 39.6 percent to 37 percent as the final parameters of a sweeping tax package are starting to take shape.

The agreement was confirmed by two congressional aides who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private negotiations.

The tax cut could be a windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It could also provide ammunition for Democrats who complain that the tax package is a massive giveaway to corporations and the rich.

* * *

Congressional aides say Republican negotiators have agreed to set the corporate income tax rate at 21 percent as part of last-minute negotiations on a sweeping tax package.

Both the Senate bill and the House bill would lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. But negotiators agreed to bump the rate up to 21 percent to offset revenue losses from other tax breaks, said two congressional aides.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations.

Business and conservative groups have lobbied hard to keep the corporate rate at 20 percent.

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The #Flakesonaplane saga continues

You may have missed this story last week. On flight to Phoenix, man with ALS pleads with Sen. Jeff Flake to vote no on tax bill:

A 33-year-old father battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was flying home last week after traveling to Washington, D.C., to protest the tax bill when he came face-to-face with one of the lawmakers he most hoped to influence.

Ady Barkan and others had spent a week trying to get lawmakers’ attention and giving speeches outside their offices.

So when he heard Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was on his American Airlines flight to Phoenix, he saw his moment.

“He is the single most important swing vote in this tax bill, and I need to tell him my story to vote against it,” he recalled in an interview with the Arizona Republic on Friday.

‘I wanted him to hear my story’

Barkan said he was a “healthy person” just a year ago. Now he lives with ALS, an incurable disease that destroys nerve cells in the body.

“I walk with a cane. I have trouble breathing, and I can’t pick my baby up,” he said in one of the videos, which were recorded and posted by Liz Jaff, a passenger he met while boarding the plane.

“I wanted him to hear my story and answer some questions and hopefully persuade him to vote against it,” Barkan told The Republic.

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GOP tax bill: the devil is in the details to derailing this terrible bill

The House and Senate conference committee will be meeting this week to hash out the differences between the House and Senate GOP tax bills to come up with a conformed bill that still must be passed by both chambers to become law.

There is a scenario or two in which this terrible tax bill falls apart. Jim Newell writes at Slate, How the Tax Deal Could Fall Apart:

The biggest development this week was that negotiators, for the first time in the process, seriously looked at reinstating some version of the state and local income tax deduction. There appear to be two reasons for this. The first would be the sizable, and mercurial, California GOP delegation in the House. Eleven out of 14 of these members voted for the original House bill—an odd move, since one of the bill’s ambitions is to redistribute Californian wealth elsewhere. Rather than flex their leverage in the original fight, though, they put their faith in Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to ensure it’s fixed in conference. The second reason—and the one that explains why Californians might prevail—is that they appear to have an even greater ally in this fight than McCarthy: President Trump. The Washington Post reported this week that Trump’s rich friends in New York have been bitching to him about the SALT elimination. That goes a long way.

Even a modest retention would be costly. Eliminating the deductibility of state and local income taxes is a major revenue-raiser in both the House and Senate bills. Other pay-fors that were included in both the House and Senate bills might not last in the joint negotiations as well. There is a flat-out error in the Senate bill regarding the corporate alternative minimum tax, and the Senate’s last-minute decision to keep the individual AMT is meeting resistance as well. The House bill, which more aggressively pursued deductions for graduate students and those with major medical expenses, is also expected to be tamed.

What all this means is that conference negotiators are under pressure to find some hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue to keep the bill’s net cost within $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

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Kyrsten Sinema Stakes Out 5 Positions in US Senate Race

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema

In her first fundraising letter, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema stakes out five issues she will campaign on in the race for US Senator from Arizona:

  • Women’s health and reproductive rights. “I’ve earned perfect scores and endorsements from choice groups, and will defend reproductive health care, including access to affordable birth control, against all threats in the U.S. Senate. It’s wrong for politicians to use women’s health to score political points.”
  • Equal pay for equal work. “Women in Arizona still make 83 cents for every dollar a man earns for the doing the exact same work. I’ll fight in the U.S. Senate for pay equity for women, so Arizona families can make ends meet.”
  • Energy conservation and natural resource management. “We must be good stewards of the earth to protect our natural resources and promote clean energy to boost our economy and mitigate the effects of climate change.”
  • LGBTQ rights. “LGBT rights are under attack. No one should live in fear of losing a job or home because of who they are or who they love.”
  • Smart investments in infrastructure and innovation. “In the U.S. Senate, I’ll work across party lines to create good-paying jobs, strengthen communities, and give middle-class families the tools they need to succeed.”

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Creepy Trent Franks’ resignation effective immediately after more details emerge

My Spidey senses tingling were correct, there was more to Rep. Trent Franks sudden resignation — and I don’t believe the latest reporting is the full story either (there have been rumors circulating about him for years). Politico reports, Female aides fretted Franks wanted to have sex to impregnate them:

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks allegedly made unwanted advances toward female staffers in his office and retaliated against one who rebuffed him, according to House GOP sources with knowledge of a complaint against him.

The allegations, which reached Speaker Paul Ryan and top GOP leaders in recent days, led to Franks’ sudden resignation this week. Franks originally announced that he would resign on Jan. 31, 2018. But just hours after POLITICO inquired about the allegations, he sped up his resignation and left office Friday.

The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with fertility issues for years. But the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.

A former staffer also alleged that Franks tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.

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Rep. Trent Franks to resign from Congress, special election to be called

Arizona’s Christian Right congressman Trent Franks (8th Congressional District) unexpectedly announced his pending resignation from Congress on Thursday after creeping out two staff members in his office by talking about surrogate pregnancy for he and his wife.

It is not at all clear from published reports whether Franks approached these two staffers about becoming the surrogate. That would give this story an entirely different context.

Rep. Franks told reporters that he would let his statement speak for him, which attempts to frame the incident in a light most favorable to him. (My Spidey senses are tingling that there is more to this story):

Franks’ full statement:

I have always tried to create a very warm and supportive atmosphere for every last person who has ever worked in my congressional office. It is my deepest conviction that there are many staffers, former and present, who would readily volunteer to substantiate this fact.

Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.

However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility for the ways I have broached a topic that, unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain individuals uncomfortable. And so, I want to shed light on how those conversations came about.

My wife and I have long struggled with infertility. We experienced three miscarriages.

We pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth.

A wonderful and loving lady, to whom we will be forever grateful, acted as a gestational surrogate for our twins and was able to carry them successfully to live birth. The process by which they were conceived was a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos.

My son and daughter are unspeakable gifts of God that have brought us our greatest earthly happiness in the 37 years we have been married.

When our twins were approximately 3 years old, we made a second attempt with a second surrogate who was also not genetically related to the child. Sadly, that pregnancy also resulted in miscarriage.

We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests.

Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.

I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.

We are in an unusual moment in history – there is collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety. It is so important that we get this right for everyone, especially for victims. 

But in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation. Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018. It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle I have spent over three decades fighting. I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have made. My time in Congress serving my constituents, America and the Constitution is and will remain one of God’s greatest gift to me in life.

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