Category Archives: Infrastructure

Trump and GOP Congress leave our elections vulnerable to Russian attack, Democrats offer a plan to secure our elections

Following the announcement on Friday that 13 Russians and an American citizen have been indicted for their role in foreign interference in the 2016 election, our Twitter-troll-in chief responded like a defendant demonstrating Consciousness of Guilt:

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Trump has posted a series of tweets over the weekend asserting his innocence and attempting to cast blame on others for the Russian attack on the 2016 election. But Trump has not responded as any American president would, whose solemn duty it is to protect the nation at war with a hostile adversary. Trump has not been critical of his pal Vladimir Putin, nor condemned the Russian interference in the 2016 election, nor kicked Russian diplomats out of the country, nor imposed the sanctions mandated by Congress that he has so far refused to impose. He has done nothing to hold Russia accountable for its actions.

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Spy v. Spy: James Risen explains how the U.S. knows so much about the Russian cyber attack on the U.S. election

James Risen is a former New York Times national security reporter who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his stories about President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. He also was a member of The New York Times reporting team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for coverage of the September 11th attacks and terrorism. Risen also authored two books about the CIA, The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB (Random House) (2003), and State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (The Free Press) (2006).

You may recall that Risen was subject to being held in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify about the sources of his information in United States v. Sterling. In the end, Risen was not called to testify at a trial, which ended a seven-year legal fight over whether he could/would be forced to identify his confidential sources.

James Risen is now working as an investigative reporter for The Intercept. In his first column for The Intercept, his latest investigative reporting is the provocatively titled IS DONALD TRUMP A TRAITOR?:Trump and Russia Part 1 (excerpts):

The fact that such an unstable egomaniac occupies the White House is the greatest threat to the national security of the United States in modern history.

Which brings me to the only question about Donald Trump that I find really interesting: Is he a traitor?

Did he gain the presidency through collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin?

One year after Trump took office, it is still unclear whether the president of the United States is an agent of a foreign power. Just step back and think about that for a moment.

His 2016 campaign is the subject of an ongoing federal inquiry that could determine whether Trump or people around him worked with Moscow to take control of the U.S. government. Americans must now live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether the president has the best interests of the United States or those of the Russian Federation at heart.

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Magical thinking Monday from delusional Don

The White House will release two documents on Monday: its much-ballyhooed infrastructure plan and its 2018 budget. Readers should file both documents under the genre of “science fiction.” The White House’s week of magical thinking.

The Washington Post reports, Trump’s big infrastructure plan has a lot of detail on everything but how to pay for it:

President Trump is poised to unveil a long-awaited plan Monday that aims to stimulate $1.5 trillion in new spending on the country’s ailing infrastructure over the coming decade, but many lawmakers in both parties say the president isn’t providing a viable way to pay for his initiative.

A year in the making, the proposal is an attempt to fulfill a marquee campaign promise and would rely heavily on states, localities and the private sector to cover the costs of new roads, bridges, waterways and other public works projects.

The plan calls for investing $200 billion in federal money over the coming decade to entice other levels of government and the private sector to raise their spending on infrastructure by more than $1 trillion to hit the administration’s goal of $1.5 trillion in new funding over 10 years. It also seeks to dramatically reduce the time required to obtain environmental permits for such projects.

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(Update) A budget deal, but can it pass? Demand a DACA vote in the House

In an eleventh hour deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to fund the government and set spending levels for defense and nondefense programs over the next two years. Senate leaders agree to two-year budget deal:

The legislation would avert a government shutdown on Friday, when federal funding is due to expire, and boost defense and nondefense programs.

It also lifts the debt ceiling to March 2019 [which was to have been the next manufactured crisis for GOP hostage taking in a few weeks.]

The deal is backed by McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and will almost certainly be cleared as part of a stopgap funding measure by the Senate before a Feb. 8 deadline to prevent a shutdown.

It is not entirely sure the package will win enough support to pass the House, however.

As anticipated, GOP fiscal hawks revolt against Senate budget deal:

House conservatives on Wednesday revolted against a massive bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and bust spending caps, complaining that the GOP could no longer lay claim to being the party of fiscal responsibility.

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The swift backlash from fiscal hawks means that Ryan and his leadership team will need dozens of Democratic votes to help get the caps-and-funding deal through the lower chamber to avert a government shutdown set for midnight Friday.

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Brinksmanship in Congress with only one day to a government shutdown

So the GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” went ahead with his kabuki theater plan to pass his fifth temporary spending bill (CR) that everyone knows was DOA in the Senate. He no doubt wants credit for his farce. House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money:

House Republicans passed a spending package on Tuesday night that pairs a full year of defense funding with a temporary patch for the rest of the government, even as Senate leaders pursue a different plan to avoid a shutdown when funding runs dry on Thursday.

The continuing resolution (CR), which passed the House 245-182, would fund the Defense Department for the rest of fiscal 2018 and keep the rest of the government’s lights on until March 23. It also includes two years of funding for community health centers and extends several expiring health care programs.

But the defense-CR package is unlikely to fly in the Senate, meaning senators will need to rewrite the stopgap measure and “ping-pong” it back to the House.

Spending bills are supposed to originate in the House, but since that clown show is held hostage by the House GOP Freedom Caucus who are not serious about governing responsibly, the serious work of keeping the government functioning is being done in the Senate. Senate leaders see two-year budget deal within their grasp:

Top Senate leaders were working Tuesday to finalize a sweeping long-term budget deal that would include a defense spending boost President Trump has long demanded alongside an increase in domestic programs championed by Democrats.

As negotiations for the long-term deal continued, the House passed a short-term measure that would fund the government past a midnight Thursday deadline and avert a second partial shutdown in less than a month.

The House bill, which passed 245 to 182, would fund most agencies through March 23 but is a nonstarter in the Senate because of Democratic opposition.

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Billy Kovacs Outlines 5-Point Plan to Grow Arizona’s Economy

Democratic Congressional Candidate Billy Kovacs

Democratic Congressional Candidate Billy Kovacs

Democratic candidate Billy Kovacs outlined a detailed plan for how he would grow Arizona’s economy as Tucson’s Congressman.

“We can grow our economy without giving massive tax breaks for corporations,” he said at a recent meeting of the Democrats of Greater Tucson.

Among the five serious candidates, Kovacs is the only one emphasizing the economy in Congressional District 2. As Bill Clinton pointed out in 1992, winning elections is about “the economy, stupid!”

In a nutshell, his plan focuses on:

  • Education – creating an educated workforce.
  • Renewable resources – solar energy and energy storage.
  • Public transportation – expanding the Tucson streetcar in all directions and preserving Amtrak in Arizona.
  • Infrastructure – creating millions of jobs with a $1 trillion investment over 10 years.
  • Immigration – creating a path to citizenship for 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants.

“We need to attract companies and workers to Arizona, and I’m talking about smaller companies that want to live in Arizona because of our natural resources and trained personnel from the university — and not for tax breaks,” he said.

Education

According to Kovacs, the US Department of Education is gutting public education with budget cuts to after-school programs, teacher training, Pell Grants, literacy programs and even school lunches. He calls for:
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