Category Archives: Congress

Suffer the Children: Congress jeopardizes CHIP funding

It has been almost two months now since Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire at the end of September.

As Joan McCarter at Daily Kos recently noted:

This is unprecedented. It’s obscene and unconscionable. Never before has Congress allowed funding for children’s health and community health center expire—even when they were playing games with debt ceilings and government shutdowns, Republicans funded health care for kids and for the underserved. Not this year, not when they have tax cuts for rich people and corporations to focus on.

When last we visited this controversy, Tea-Publicans in Congress were holding CHIP funding hostage as leverage in their never-ending sabotage of “Obamacare.”

Earlier this month, House Passes Children’s Health Insurance Bill, But Kids Are No Closer To Health Insurance:

The House passed a bill Friday reauthorizing the lapsed Children’s Health Insurance Program. But instead of a bipartisan affair that Democrats and Republicans could pat themselves on the back for, the bill became a partisan fight over offsets that ultimately moves Congress further away from renewing CHIP.

The bill that passed Friday 242-174 ― with 227 Republicans and 15 Democrats voting yes, and 171 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting no ― almost certainly won’t become law. Instead, Congress will likely wait for an end-of-the-year spending bill to reauthorize the program, which covers roughly 9 million low-income children and pregnant women.

According to Democrats, the problem with the bill, which would extend CHIP for five years and reauthorize community health centers and other public health programs for two years, is that it would pay for children’s health insurance by taking money from a preventive care fund. The GOP bill would also use new Medicare means-testing to partially pay for CHIP.

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Politicizing the Census Bureau for GOP authoritarianism

Steve Benen warns of an ominous development at the U.S. Census Bureau. Trump eyes radical choice for the Census Bureau:

The Census, conducted every 10 years by constitutional mandate, is one of those incredible important tasks that most people probably find rather dull. That’s a shame because getting this right has an enormous impact on everything from federal spending to representation in Congress.

With that in mind, it was disappointing when Census Bureau Director John Thompson, in the midst of a funding fight, decided to resign unexpectedly in May. Making matters worse, we’re just now getting a look at the replacement Donald Trump apparently has in mind. Politico reports:

The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the bureau’s plans.

Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

Some Trump personal choices are alarming, some are disheartening, and some belong in the you-have-got-to-be-kidding me category.

As Slate explained earlier this year, “The decennial census is critical to ensuring that Americans are fairly represented in Washington, since it’s used as the basis for congressional redistricting. A mishandled census could undercount poor and minority populations, putting some states and many cities at a demographic disadvantage.”

It’s against this backdrop that Trump is eyeing someone who has not only played a direct role in helping Republican gerrymandering efforts, but who quite literally wrote a book criticizing competitive elections.

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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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The GOP has become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump (updated)

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was overheard saying to Mesa Mayor John Gileson on a hot mic on Saturday that “[If we] become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.” Flake, on hot mic, says GOP will be “toast” if it’s the party of Trump and Moore.

Sunday evening, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to call the senator “Flake(y)” and lambasted him for “saying bad things about your favorite President.”

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After multiple women came forward accusing Moore of inappropriately pursuing or sexually touching them when they were teens, Flake said he would “run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat” if he was an Alabama voter.

The accusations against Moore have put the White House in a difficult situation politically, as at least 16 women have accused Mr. Trump of behaving inappropriately toward them. [UPDATE: Meg Kelly at the Washington Post breaks down President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list.]

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Mr. Trump has yet to personally address the accusations against Moore, although White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has said he believes Moore will do the “right thing” and step aside “if” the allegations are true. Sanders has refused to answer further questions about the president’s own accusers.

That was until Monday, when White House counselor Kellyanne Conway went on FOX & Friends (aka Trump TV) to signal that the Trump White House was now going all-in in its support of this serial child sexual predator because Moore is a member of the GOP tribe. Kellyanne Conway on Roy Moore’s candidacy: “We want the votes in the Senate” for tax bill:

During an interview in which White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was attacking Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones, she was asked by Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” whether she was saying Alabamans should vote for Moore.

“Folks, don’t be fooled. He’ll be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway told Fox & Friends. “And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he’s not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.”

Co-host Brian Kilmeade [appearing bewildered] asked her, “So, vote Roy Moore?”

“I’m telling you, we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

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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.

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

Rep. Martha McSally had a GOP talking points cookie-cutter op-ed in The Arizona Republic over the weekend to which she simply signed her name. McSally: Why I voted for the House’s tax reform bill.

Note: The House tax bill is merely a placeholder. The Senate is writing its own bill, and it will be a conference committee bill yet to be determined that is the actual bill that will matter.

Rep. McSally’s rumored replacement to run for her CD 2 congressional seat when she announces for the senate, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Lea Márquez Peterson, similarly had a GOP talking points cookie-cutter op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star to which she simply signed her name. Lea Márquez Peterson: Tax reform will help small businesses in Arizona.

Both opinions make assertions that are simply false and/or misleading.

Is lying to us the best that we can expect from Tea-Publicans?

Matthew Yglesias asks, If the GOP tax plan is so good, why do they lie so much about it?

In politics pretty much everyone shades the truth and engages in some convenient spin now and again. But if you saw a candidate standing on a dais pointing at his pet dog and telling you it was a cat, you’d think something pretty odd was going on.

By the same token, both citizens watching the tax reform debate in Washington and reporters covering it ought to ask themselves: Why, if this plan is so good, do its authors keep lying about what the bill does?

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