2017-02-13T21:17:06ZOn Feb. 8, 2009, CNBC talking head Rick Santelli helped launched the tea party movement with an epic rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. But eight years later, as Republicans are now learning the hard way, the...
(image)On Feb. 8, 2009, CNBC talking head Rick Santelli helped launched the tea party movement with an epic rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. But eight years later, as Republicans are now learning the hard way, the tea bag is on the other cheek.
The signs of sizable, sustained, and seriously angry opposition to President Trump and the Republican agenda are everywhere. Trump's first weekend was marked by the Women's March that brought more than 3 million Americans to streets of cities and towns in states red and blue. His disturbing and dangerous executive order on immigration and travel was met with thousands of protesters in airports across the country, while an army of lawyers mobilized to protect visa holders and legal U.S. residents from Trump's draconian Muslim ban. Meanwhile, massive crowds are greeting GOP Congress members at town hall meetings and public events back in their districts, causing abortion-restricting, Obamacare-repealing, Medicare-privatizing, and climate change-denying hardliners to flee from their own constituents.
All in all, the effect is precisely what the organizers of the Indivisible movement sought to create. Those Democratic congressional staffers who suffered through the tea party onslaught of 2009 and 2010 are turning the tables on their tormenters. And as Sarah Kliff reported in Vox this week, many veteran right-wing foot soldiers from the halcyon days of the tea party are grudgingly acknowledging the turnaround:
"Eight years ago we were in the same boat," says Dean Clancy, who previously ran policy for Freedom Works, a Tea Party-affiliated group that advocated against the health care law. "We were stunned, angry, fearful, besieged, paranoid, but we were also liberated. The feeling was wonderful, like you're the rebels in Star Wars"...
Clancy, the Tea Party activist, sees the appeal of the moment for liberals. "There's nothing more American than protest, and few things more enjoyable," he says. "I suspect Trump must appear to them as Obama appeared to us, as a threat to everything we believe and cherish. You have to respect them for resisting that."
But you have to respect the liberal activists and progressive protesters of 2017 for something else: They have the truth on their side.
2017-02-07T05:18:13ZBy now, no one should be surprised that the president of the United States is threatening U.S. district court Judge James Robart. After targeting Judge Gonzalo Curiel in 2016 for his ruling in a Trump University case, our so-called president...
(image)By now, no one should be surprised that the president of the United States is threatening U.S. district court Judge James Robart. After targeting Judge Gonzalo Curiel in 2016 for his ruling in a Trump University case, our so-called president went after "so-called" Judge James Robart for suspending the White House's draconian anti-Muslim executive order. "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril," the nominal leader of the Free World tweeted, "If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!"
But if Donald Trump's temper tantrum was completely predictable, so too were the milquetoast responses from the GOP's best and brightest. Vice President Mike Pence rejected the idea that POTUS has put the separation of powers at risk, feebly remarking, "I think the American people are very accustomed to this president speaking his mind, and speaking very straight with them." As for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who last year could muster only "I'm willing to say that Donald Trump is a different kind of candidate" during the Curiel outrage, offered only platitudes Sunday, such as "it is best not to single out judges."
Of course, there's no mystery for the Republican refusal to condemn Trump's not-so-thinly veiled threats toward Judge Robart. As it turns out, judicial intimidation has been a time-tested Republican political tactic for years.
Consider, for example, John Cornyn. In March 2015, the former Texas Supreme Court judge and second highest-ranking Senate Republican promised a bludgeoning for any nominee President Obama might choose to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. "I think they will bear some resemblance to a piñata," he warned, "Because there is no guarantee, certainly, after that time they're going to look as good as they did going in." But back in 2005, Cornyn was one of the GOP standard bearers in the conservative fight against so-called "judicial activism" in the wake of the Republicans' disastrous intervention in the Terri Schiavo affair. On April 4 that year, Cornyn took to the Senate floor to issue a clear threat to judges opposing his reactionary agenda. Just days after the murders of a judge in Atlanta and another's family members in Chicago, Cornyn offered his endorsement of judicial intimidation:
"I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. ... And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence."
2017-02-01T20:01:50ZAs President Trump's thinly veiled Muslim ban caused heartbreak, outrage and chaos around the globe, his Twitter past started to resurface over the weekend. As he presciently asked on June 4, 2014, "Are you allowed to impeach a president for... As President Trump's thinly veiled Muslim ban caused heartbreak, outrage and chaos around the globe, his Twitter past started to resurface over the weekend. As he presciently asked on June 4, 2014, "Are you allowed to impeach a president for gross incompetence?" At least one high-profile attorney has resoundingly--and ironically--answered, "yes." Ironically, that is, because Judge Michael Mukasey was the last attorney general for President George W. Bush. And as it turns out, Mukasey was one of the advisers who helped Trump with his catastrophic executive order. As the New York Post reported on Sunday, it was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who spilled the beans on the brain trust behind Trump's travel ban: Rudy Giuliani said Donald Trump asked him to work out how he could legally implement a "Muslim ban." "He called me up, he said, 'Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally,'" the former mayor, who has been advising President Trump, said on "Fox News" Saturday. Giuliani then said he put a panel together that included former federal Judge Michael Mukasey, Rep. Peter King and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul to come up with a plan that placed the emphasis on threats not religion. As it has unfolded, Trump's counterproductive decree was worse than a crime, it was a mistake. Delivering a powerful propaganda victory to ISIS, the ham-handed ban left American generals and diplomats warning about the dangerous blowback for U.S. troops and interests. Students and scientists were barred from entering the U.S. Families were separated and American allies like Iraqi translators who saved countless U.S. lives were left at risk as refugees, valid visa holders and green card carriers were blocked. But back in 2014, Michael Mukasey suggested President Obama should rightly be impeached for "the ghastly transaction that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl." Despite America's long history of prisoner exchanges during wartime, Mukasey on June 6 raised the prospect of impeachment, even though it "cannot be seriously undertaken absent a national consensus for it, and none seems now to exist." Two days later on June 8, Bush's former attorney general told Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday that a president can be impeached despite having not committed high crimes or misdemeanors: He has the authority to do so, but the question is under what circumstances he does so? The -- when Lindsey Graham called for impeachment being on the table, I think what he was disclosing and making clear is that whether you impeach somebody doesn't depend on whether they violate the law. The president can stay within his lawful powers and still commit an impeachable offense. He has the power to pardon anybody he wants. If he decided tomorrow to pardon everybody in the U.S. prison system, that would be lawful, but I think it will also raise serious questions about whether he should continue in office. The same is true of the wholesale release of dangerous people. Now, this kind of blighted logic is nothing new for Attorney General Mukasey. President Bush, after all, released hundreds of Gitmo detainees in exchange for, well, nothing. Nominated to replace the bumbling Alberto Gonzales, Judge Michael Mukasey enjoyed the support of both past Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and current Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Despite the warning from former Reagan deputy AG Bruce Fein that Mukasey did not have "the national stature and strength in Congress to resist White House overtures to insist that he bend the law to assist the political agenda," the judge was ultimately confirmed. Confirmed, that is, despite deceiving the Senate Judiciary Committee about his views on torture. After leaving the Bush White House, Mukasey happily accepted h[...]
2017-01-30T20:55:49ZIf nothing else, during their eight years in the White House George W. Bush and company became experts at deflecting blame. After all, the likes of Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Bush himself all chanted that "nobody could have predicted"...
(image)If nothing else, during their eight years in the White House George W. Bush and company became experts at deflecting blame. After all, the likes of Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Bush himself all chanted that "nobody could have predicted" the Sept. 11 attacks, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and so many other disasters that occurred on his watch. But it was in explaining away his dismal stewardship of the American economy where Team Bush continued to deploy the same talking point even long after Dubya departed the scene: it was all Bill Clinton's fault.
Even before Bush took the oath of office, Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and Sean Hannity all falsely declared that his administration "inherited a recession." Even after Barack Obama was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009, Bush's first press secretary Ari Fleischer and former Cheney aide Mary Matalin continued to parrot lines like "I was there, we inherited a recession from President Clinton." In his final press conference, President Bush reduced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression to a rhetorical book-end:
"In terms of the economy, look, I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession. In the meantime there were 52 months of uninterrupted job growth."
Eight years later, Donald Trump is trying to reverse Bush's formula by claiming credit where he deserves none. Even before his inauguration last week, President-elect Trump was touting rising consumer confidence, jobs "saved" at Carrier Air Conditioning and Ford, as well as jobs created at GM. This week, he took to Twitter to cheer the Dow Jones breaking through the 20,000 barrier. Unsurprisingly, his water carriers in the media, many of them the same people who proclaimed the "Obama Bear Market" as far back as the summer of 2008, quickly announced the arrival of the "Trump Rally."
Now, it's no shock that a politician would try to appropriate someone else's applause--especially a huckster like Trump who after the 2012 presidential election warned America faced "financial ruin" and who spent much of the 2016 campaign decrying "the total failures of the Obama-Clinton economy." But on Jan. 20, President Trump didn't just portray the U.S. economy as a blighted hellscape he deemed "American carnage." Trump also promised 25 million new jobs and 4 percent economic growth, an average no President has hit since LBJ.*
Luckily for him, Donald Trump didn't inherit a recession, but instead the Obama boom. By almost every indicator from job creation, GDP growth, income, and the unemployment rate to stock market performance, consumer confidence, health insurance coverage, and so much more, President Barack Obama handed off a far stronger economy than George W. Bush bequeathed to him eight years ago. And Obama produced this record not thanks to cooperation from Republicans in Congress, but despite unprecedented GOP obstruction that stretched across his two terms in the White House. Nevertheless, even in the face of that sabotage Barack Obama became just the latest occupant of the Oval Office to show that the U.S. economy almost always does better under Democratic presidents.
2017-01-25T23:07:08ZLess than a week into his presidency, Donald Trump has issued a government gag rule covering a growing number of federal departments and agencies. Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Interior Department, the department of Health and Human... Less than a week into his presidency, Donald Trump has issued a government gag rule covering a growing number of federal departments and agencies. Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Interior Department, the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These bans on "public-facing documents" and "any correspondence to public officials," as well as prohibitions on "news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content" aren't just chilling. They are potentially deadly. Consider developments like these, any one of which could spell disaster if the responsible public authorities are silenced. Mad Cow Disease. Imagine a herd of cattle in Texas begins showing signs of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as Mad Cow Disease. As cows across the state begin dying as a result of the catastrophic central nervous system disorder, the first human cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) start to show up. To prevent the devastation of the U.S. food supply and mounting fatalities from CJD, a government-wide plan of coordinated communication, mobilization and response by USDA, CDC and HHS is required. But thanks to the Trump administration, the American people will be literally dying to find out what's going on. Avian Flu. Given the recent outbreaks of the Ebola and the Zika viruses, the likelihood of a similar federal mobilization to contain pandemics around the world and inside the U.S. is high. In 2009, for example, the H1N1 avian flu killed 18,000 people globally. Just yesterday, as the Voice of America reported, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a stark warning and guidelines to national health authorities about a new strain now emerging in China, H7N9: The World Health Organization called on all countries on Monday to monitor closely outbreaks of deadly avian influenza in birds and poultry and to report promptly any human cases that could signal the start of a flu pandemic. Of course, that's awfully tough to do if agency employees can't communicate to the public or even members of Congress without first obtaining the blessing of the Trump White House. How will Americans know about cases contracted at Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta airports or at the port of Los Angeles? Making matters worse, during the 2014 Ebola outbreak Donald Trump showed he was more than willing to quarantine Americans without a public health basis for doing so. #TrumpVlog Quarantine the nurse! http://t.co/qDU7XPOCQ0 — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2014 Refinery Explosion and Oil Spill. In his new job as Secretary of State, Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson would be charged with putting out diplomatic fires around the world. But who will be responsible for putting them out at Exxon-Mobil. Americans could be left in the dark if, say, a cataclysmic explosion levelled the Exxon-Mobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As state and local authorities struggled to put out the fireball, hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil poured into the Mississippi River. Drinking water supplies jeopardized as far south as New Orleans would be jeopardized even as farmlands and bayous were compromised throughout the southern part of the state. In all of these hypotheticals, the same kinds of questions arise. How would Americans be informed? How would the responsible federal agencies coordinate their response to prevent unnecessary panic and needless deaths? Having muzzled his government, President Trump is asking Americans to believe his most laughable campaign promise. "I will always tell you the truth." [...]
2017-01-25T22:56:12ZAs American presidents enter their final months in the White House, they invariably focus on their legacies. That effort to shape history's judgment invariably leads to comparisons to the greatest of them all: Abraham Lincoln. George W. Bush and his... As American presidents enter their final months in the White House, they invariably focus on their legacies. That effort to shape history's judgment invariably leads to comparisons to the greatest of them all: Abraham Lincoln. George W. Bush and his amen corner certainly tried. In September 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice compared the three-year old Iraq debacle to the Civil War. "I know there were people who said, 'Why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves?'" Five months later, Rudy Giuliani explained that Lincoln had "that ability that a leader has--a leader like George Bush" to "look into the future." The next spring, Vice President Dick Cheney similarly compared a "very courageous, very consistent, very determined" President Bush to Honest Abe, asking ABC News viewers to "think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War." And in a hagiographic January 2008 Fox News documentary called George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish, a fawning Bret Baier portrayed the Iraq war commander in chief as a 21st century incarnation to the Great Emancipator: "We talked a lot about President Lincoln...I tell you what--he thinks about Lincoln and the tough times that he had during the Civil War. 600,000 dead. The country essentially hated him when he was leaving office. And the President reflects on that. This is a President who is really reflecting on his place in history." Leaving aside for now Baier's butchery of history (Lincoln was assassinated just six months after comfortably winning re-election), it's clear that George W. Bush's place in history won't be a happy one. His war of choice in Iraq was a calamity measured in blood and treasure, and unleashed sectarian conflict that 14 years later is still tearing the Middle East apart. Bush also presided over an unprecedented meltdown of the American financial system that produced the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. As to his legacy, Bush said hopefully in 2013, "ultimately, history will judge." History, on the other hand, will be kind to Barack Hussein Obama, 44th president of the United States. Facing monolithic opposition before he even took the oath of office, President Obama nevertheless saved his country from the abyss. During a period of rapid economic, social, and environmental change, Obama readied his country for the future. Over his eight years in the People's House, Obama helped expand membership in our national community by enabling women, LGBT people, blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and others to redefine the very idea of who is American. And even with the prospect of a period of reaction that will undo some of these gains, over time Obama's vision will be vindicated and realized, including among many who vilified him at the time. Much like Abraham Lincoln. Now, elevating Barack Obama to Lincoln's heir may seem like quite a reach. For the first Republican president, after all, nothing less than the very existence of the United States of America was at stake. But with a little time and a little distance, the magnitude of his achievements, the significance of his historical role, and the radicalness of his mission for America became clearer. What the legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass said about his friend Abraham Lincoln in 1876 could be applied to Barack Obama 140 years later. At the dedication of the Freedmen's Monument on April 14, 1876, Douglass first crystallized the challenge Lincoln faced: Continue reading at Daily Kos. [...]
2017-01-19T20:57:44ZThe truth, it is said, will set you free. Unless, that is, you are a Republican and the issue is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Republicans are foaming at the mouth at the nonpartisan agency's conclusion that the repeal of... The truth, it is said, will set you free. Unless, that is, you are a Republican and the issue is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Republicans are foaming at the mouth at the nonpartisan agency's conclusion that the repeal of Obamacare will no replacement in place for the Affordable Care Act will lead to 32 million more uninsured Americans and a doubling of premiums. Speaker Ryan Paul Ryan (R-WI) called the analysis "meaningless," while Rep. Steve "David Duke Without the Baggage" Scalise (R-LA) fumed "The CBO report assumes no Obamacare replacement." Today's conservative apoplexy came less than a week after House Republicans instructed CBO Director Keith Hall--a man they themselves put in the job--not to "score" the budget-busting impact of their Obamacare repeal proposals. And on Friday, former House Speaker and current Trump bath-water drinker Newt Gingrich called for the dismantling of the nonpartisan scorekeeper, because "the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is simply incompatible with the Trump era." Of course, this right-wing vendetta against CBO is nothing new. From health care and taxes to the stimulus and immigration reform, Republicans have been waging a war against the CBO for years. To be sure, Republicans have been raging against the CBO machine over Obamacare since its first assessments of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act beginning in 2009. It's no mystery why. From its earliest estimates in 2009, the CBO has always forecast that Obamacare would reduce the national debt. The math has always been straight-forward. The 10-year cost of Obamacare (for Medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies, etc.) has always been less than revenue generated by new taxes imposed by the ACA and the significant savings extracted from Medicare insurers and providers. That's why CBO in June 2015 explained that repealing Obamacare would add "at least $137 billion or as much as $353 billion" in new deficits over the ensuing decade. As Sarah Kliff summed it up at the time: "No matter how CBO scores it, Obamacare reduces the deficit." So it comes as no surprise that Gingrich is now proclaiming "every reform will get a false score from CBO." After all, in November 2011 the short-lived GOP presidential frontrunner declared, "If you are serious about real health reform, you must abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies." The House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wasn't happy, either. lied. Charging that "most people understand that the CBO did the job it was asked to do by the then-Democrat majority," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned, "bill has the potential to bankrupt this federal government as well as the states." As CBS News reported three years, Cantor quickly doubled down: Cantor also disputed the claim, put forth by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, that the health care reform bill passed by Congress last year will actually reduce the deficit by $143 billion, calling the figure "budget gimmickry." "I think what we do know is the health care bill costs over $1 trillion," Cantor told Hill. "And we know it was full of budget gimmickry. And it spends money we don't have in this country." As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post explained at the time, "Republicans are aware that this looks, well, horrible. So they're trying to explain why their decision to lift the rule requiring fiscal responsibility is actually fiscally responsible." What's important about Cantor's argument is not that he's wrong. It's why he's saying something he knows to be wrong. There are plenty of reasons to oppose the health-care reform bill. You might not want to spend that money insuring peopl[...]
2017-01-15T19:33:16ZHouse and Senate Republicans this week took the first step this week towards the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But without a replacement program in place, the GOP is nevertheless prepared...
(image)House and Senate Republicans this week took the first step this week towards the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But without a replacement program in place, the GOP is nevertheless prepared to withdraw health insurance from up to 30 million Americans and jeopardize coverage for over 20 million more. While millions will face the prospect of financial ruin, Republicans will condemn tens of thousands of the newly uninsured to needless deaths--every year. Meanwhile, many hospitals, physicians and insurers will be trapped in a market "death spiral" Republicans alone will be responsible for creating. If President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan succeed, theirs will be the greatest act of political spite in American history.
The question is why. This isn't about a "better way" to enable health care for all; Republicans don't have any way, period. The demolition of the ACA isn't about "freedom" or "choice," either; by providing coverage and protecting Americans from the worst depredations of the insurance industry, Obamacare enhances personal freedom. (For those decrying insurance mandates, think again about your payroll taxes which help buy you a retirement pension and old-age health care.) And to be sure, the GOP isn't upholding the sanctity of the "free market"; the ACA has brought millions of new customers to private insurers, private hospitals, private physicians and private pharmaceutical firms.
The answer is simple, sinister and no different now than when Bill Clinton first took the oath of office 24 years ago. As I first explained on "The Real Reason for the GOP's All-Out War on Obamacare" on August 11, 2013, Republicans have never feared that Democratic health care reform would fail, but that it would succeed.
2017-01-09T17:47:44ZOn March 23, 2010--the very day President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into low--then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced his party's objective would be to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. But now, almost 7 years later, McConnell and... On March 23, 2010--the very day President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into low--then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced his party's objective would be to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. But now, almost 7 years later, McConnell and Congressional Republicans finding it extremely hard to do either. And soon the task for Majority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and President-elect Donald Trump will get about a trillion dollars harder. Developments over just past few weeks show why. For starters, a complete repeal of Obamacare now would leave an estimated 23 million more Americans without health insurance. Delaying it by up to four years past the 2020 election--as some Republicans are now contemplating--would be even worse, with a staggering 30 million people losing coverage as the individual market would enter a real "death spiral." With the repeal of the ACA's consumer protections like the ban on insurers' refusing to issue policies to those with pre-existing conditions, roughly 52 million Americans (27 percent of those under age 65) could find themselves at risk. As a result, millions currently insured under Obamacare would face the prospect of postponed care and possible financial ruin. The GOP's body count would be a gruesome one, too: tens of thousands of those left uninsured would needlessly die each year. It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump's own supporters, a group that will be disproportionately hit by the Obamacare repeal, are increasingly worried that the 45th President will effectively become a one-man death panel. And it's no wonder that organizations of doctors, hospitals and insurers have issued warnings about euthanizing the ACA without a replacement plan in place. But Republicans don't have an Obamacare replacement plan. Even as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced a resolution Wednesday calling the elimination of the ACA's spending and revenue-raising provisions, Speaker Ryan could only promise the GOP would not "pull the rug out from anybody" so that "so that no one is left out in the cold, so that no one is worse off." Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway was more specific about the GOP's nonexistent plan, pledging "we don't want anyone who currently has insurance not to have insurance." But those guarantees will cost money. And as it turns out, the Republicans have already promised the $1 trillion in savings from cancelled Obamacare outlays for something and someone else: a massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy. Congressional Republicans have been playing this shell game since before the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land. From its earliest estimates in 2009, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has always forecast that Obamacare would reduce the national debt. The math has always been straight-forward. The ten-year cost of Obamacare (for Medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies, etc.) has always been less than revenue generated by new taxes imposed by the ACA and the significant savings extracted from Medicare insurers and providers. (See the chart at the top of the page.) That's why CBO in June 2015 explained that repealing Obamacare would add "at least $137 billion or as much as $353 billion" in new deficits over the ensuing decade. As Sarah Kliff summed it up at the time: "No matter how CBO scores it, Obamacare reduces the deficit." (It was that inconvenient truth which prompted then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) Eric Cantor in 2011 to denounce the agency's supposed "bud[...]
2017-01-04T02:27:21ZLooking back on it now, the result of the election is even more unfathomable than when media outlets first called the race. Thanks to a strong economy, the two-term Democratic president enjoyed an approval rating well over 50 percent--with good...
(image)Looking back on it now, the result of the election is even more unfathomable than when media outlets first called the race.
Thanks to a strong economy, the two-term Democratic president enjoyed an approval rating well over 50 percent--with good reason. Despite near-total Republican opposition to his health care and stimulus plans and dire GOP warnings about "job-crushing" tax increases that would "kill the current recovery," the Democrat presided over the creation of millions of new jobs and a falling unemployment rate which dropped below 5 percent. Though U.S. troops were still in the field protecting Muslim populations, Republican attacks that the American military had "deteriorated badly" and had two Army divisions "not ready for duty, sir" were simply untrue. At a time of relative peace and prosperity, the president's obvious successor and the clear choice of the Democratic establishment should have won a comfortable victory.
But it didn't work out that way. The Democrat's mistake-filled campaign could not escape an immovable media narrative that the candidate was inauthentic, aloof, calculating, and corrupt. Despite the impossible math behind his massive tax cuts for the rich, the CEO-turned-Republican nominee was instead portrayed as the guy voters wanted to have a beer with. And despite America's clear popular vote victory for the Democrat, mere thousands of votes across key states enabled the GOP's man to win the Electoral College and so become president of the United States. Nevertheless, in the run-up to their inauguration, the president-elect insisted he had a mandate to govern as he sees fit. As his running mate put it:
"[He] ran on a particular platform that was very carefully developed. It's his program, it's his agenda, and we have no intention at all of backing off of it. It's why we got elected."
And in 2001, Democrats let George W. Bush pretty much get away with all of it.
Sixteen years later, their response to Donald Trump must be "not this time and never again."
2016-12-31T18:19:09ZAs his Inauguration Day nears, President-elect Donald Trump is trying to assemble the wealthiest and least vetted Cabinet in modern American history. The nominees possess combined riches of $10 billion, ironically the same figure Trump claims for himself. Like the... As his Inauguration Day nears, President-elect Donald Trump is trying to assemble the wealthiest and least vetted Cabinet in modern American history. The nominees possess combined riches of $10 billion, ironically the same figure Trump claims for himself. Like the 45th President, many have not yet released their tax returns or completed reviews by the FBI and the Office of Government Ethics. That's why Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) warned his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that Democrats will not "green light" Trump's Cabinet picks if they "are holding back tax returns, critical financial information, and are behind on their ethics certification." In response, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart declared: "Surely they won't object to treating the incoming president's nominees with the same courtesy and seriousness with which the Senate acted on President Obama's nominees. Our committees and chairmen are fully capable of reviewing the incoming Cabinet nominations with the same rules and procedures as the same committees did with President Obama's nominations." I couldn't agree more. Here are four Republican rules for Obama nominees that Democrats should now apply with the same courtesy and seriousness to Donald Trump's would-be Cabinet. Call them the Daschle Test, the Clinton Test, the Hagel Test and the Lynch Test. The Daschle Test. You may remember former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's vital role in securing the passage of the Affordable Care Act as President Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services. If so, your memory is faulty. On February 3, 2009, Daschle withdrew as HHS nominee after admitting he paid back taxes and interest in 2007 after "failing to report $15,000 in charitable donations, unreported car service and more than $80,000 in unreported income from consulting." Conservatives had been quick to pounce on Daschle's $134,000 tax bill and his consulting work for companies in the health care field. South Carolina Senator Jim Demint said Obama was "losing credibility" by backing Daschle. As Mrs. Dan Senor, also known as Campbell Brown of CNN put it: "Mr. President, your picks to help run the federal government don't have to be perfect, but is it too much to ask that they pay like everyone else, to keep that same government functioning? And more importantly, that they don't wait until everyone, including you, is watching?" Several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, had called for Daschle to withdraw. Even the New York Times got into the act, declaring in an editorial: "Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry. We don't know that his industry ties would influence his judgments on health issues, but they could potentially throw a cloud over health care reform." By the Daschle standard, Donald Trump's pick to head HHS should be in a world of trouble. After all, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, Trump's choice to dismantle Obamacare, gut Medicaid and privatize Medicare, "has spent the past four years trading more than $300,000 in shares of health-industry stocks while sponsoring legislation that would ostensibly impact the value of those shares." As New York magazine reported: Since 2012, Price bought and sold stock in roughly 40 pharmaceutical, health-care, and biomedical companies, according to The Wall Street Journal's review of the trades he filed with Congress. During that same period, he sat on t[...]
2016-12-19T19:51:40ZAs more details surfaced this week about the extent of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, its winner Donald Trump shocked intelligence leaders from both parties with his announcement that he only receives briefings once a week. "I'm,...
(image)As more details surfaced this week about the extent of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, its winner Donald Trump shocked intelligence leaders from both parties with his announcement that he only receives briefings once a week. "I'm, like, a smart person," Trump declared last Sunday, "I don't have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years."
After Trump brushed off as "ridiculous" what former acting CIA director Michael Morrell called "the political equivalent of 9/11," a stunned Michael Hayden responded "to have the president-elect of the United States simply reject the fact-based narrative that the intelligence community puts together because it conflicts with his a priori assumptions--wow." For his part, former Obama CIA chief Leon Panetta warned Trump that in the event of a future attack by any enemy of the United States "the responsibility for that attack would fall on the president."
Especially if the greatest threat to U.S. national security comes from the president himself. To sum up the clear and present danger Trump poses, what follows is a Presidential Daily Brief (or PDB) for Dec. 18, 2016. This PDB is one incoming National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn will never share with his boss. To paraphrase one of Flynn's predecessors, it should be titled "Trump Determined to Strike in U.S."
OVERVIEW: TRUMP DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN U.S.
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Donald Trump since at least 2011 has wanted to conduct attacks in the U.S. Trump implied in media interviews between 2011 and 2016 that the current president was not born in the United States, and that his adherents would follow his example to "bring the fight to America."
After a U.S. humor strike on his media base in America on April 30, 2011, Trump told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [REDACTED] service.
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from opposition leaders such as [REDACTED] saying that Trump knew in advance of Russian plans for cyberattacks on the Democratic Party intended to gain the release of Clinton campaign emails.
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings of the public good and the public Treasury. These include plans to undermine core U.S. democratic institutions including voting rights, press freedom, and religious liberty, as well as the privatization of fundamental government services in ways likely to jeopardize Americans' standard of living. The Trump jihad against the pillars of Americans foreign policy--summarized as "appease Russia, provoke China, and attack Iran"--poses a double threat to U.S. national security and its allies in both Europe and the Pacific.
2016-12-19T19:41:08ZSo far, the defining trait of the incoming Trump administration is its staffing with extremists dedicated to destroying the agencies they are supposed to head. Friday was no exception, as President-elect Trump made the latest addition to his Kamikaze Cabinet... So far, the defining trait of the incoming Trump administration is its staffing with extremists dedicated to destroying the agencies they are supposed to head. Friday was no exception, as President-elect Trump made the latest addition to his Kamikaze Cabinet by selecting South Carolina Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney to direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Rep. Mulvaney, after all, didn't just pledge to vote against any increase in the nation's debt ceiling. As it turns out, the Freedom Caucus fanatic has rejected the inescapable truth that the United States of America would default by failing to do so. And with President Trump forecast to bleed $15 trillion in new red ink over the next decade, Mick Mulvaney as the Director of Default Denial risks an American--and a global--economic catastrophe. You don't have to take my word. Just ask the best and brightest of the Republican Party. As you'll recall, the U.S. debt limit places a cap on Uncle Sam's borrowing authority. From 1980 to 2010, presidents and Congressional majorities from both parties routinely raised the debt ceiling to enable the Treasury to borrow more money to pay the bills the federal government had already incurred. This was the case when Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt during his 8 years in office. After 17 debt ceiling hikes during Reagan's tenure, George W. Bush required 7 more as he nearly doubled the U.S. national debt again. Failure to raise the debt ceiling would immediately jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States and thus trigger a sovereign default. That's why Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) warned, "Yes, you can't not raise the debt ceiling. Default is the unworkable solution." As the new Speaker John Boehner put it six years ago: "That would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on Election Day said, 'we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs.' And you can't create jobs if you default on the federal debt." Nevertheless, when the GOP took over the House of Representatives after the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans decided to extort President Obama by taking the debt ceiling hostage. And some, like Rep. Mick Mulvaney, went a step further. As The Hill reported in December 2010: Rep.-elect Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who defeated current House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) in November, said he would vote against any attempt to raise the nation's debt ceiling. "I have heard people say that if we don't do it it will be the end of the world," he said. "I have yet to meet someone who can articulate the negative consequences." Mulvaney said that 2011 spending needs to be reduced to 2008 discretionary levels, and argued that the demise of the omnibus offers that opportunity. Mulvaney was simply lying, as the statements of the GOP leadership made clear. But as the debt ceiling crisis reached the point of no return in the summer of 2011, warning lights worldwide were flashing red. With the prospect of Washington having to immediately cut federal spending by a staggering 44 percent, the Bipartisan Policy Center warned "On an annualized basis, the cut in spending alone is a 10 percent cut in GDP." The IMF sounded the alarm, too, pleading with Congress that "the debt ceiling should be raised as soon as possible to avoid damage to the economy and world financial markets." President Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ("Failure to i[...]
2016-12-12T22:25:50ZThe ink from President Obama's signature on the Affordable Care Act wasn't even dry when then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Republican mantra for the upcoming midterm elections. As he put it on March 23, 2010, "I think... The ink from President Obama's signature on the Affordable Care Act wasn't even dry when then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Republican mantra for the upcoming midterm elections. As he put it on March 23, 2010, "I think the slogan will be "repeal and replace", "repeal and replace." Now, almost seven years later, McConnell and his Republican allies are finding out just how difficult their simplistic Obamacare proposition will really be. With Donald Trump weeks away from defiling the Oval Office, Congressional Republicans are no closer to a replacement plan for the roughly 25 million people they will soon add to the ranks of the uninsured. "Repeal and replace" has become "repeal and delay." Meanwhile, worried House and Senate Republicans are getting an earful from almost every corner of the American health care industry. Having an already asked a federal judge to postpone action on the House GOP lawsuit challenging cost-sharing payments for 7 million Americans, Republicans have received dire warnings from health insurers about the death spiral their individual market will experience if no Obamacare replacement is immediately forthcoming. Hospitals have also alerted President-elect Trump and Congress that many of them will face financial ruin as millions of newly uninsured Americans once again require uncompensated care. While American Medical Association (AMA) President Andrew Gorman declared "a core principle is that any new reform proposal should not cause individuals currently covered to become uninsured," new assessments this week from ACASignups.net and the Urban Institute forecast that will be the fate for up to 29 million people who obtained coverage thanks to Obamacare. It's no wonder even Republican voters are losing their appetite for repeal. Oh, and one other thing. Recent research suggests that the Republican repeal of President Obama's landmark health care law will result in tens of thousands of Americans needlessly dying every year. This discussion of the American health care system's body count isn't a new one. In a 2002 study, the Institute of Medicine estimated that 18,000 Americans died in 2000 because they lacked health insurance. In January 2008, a study by the Urban Institute ("Uninsured and Dying Because of It") didn't just conclude that "the absence of health insurance creates a range of consequences, including lower quality of life, increased morbidity and mortality, and higher financial burdens." The national death toll, it found, was rising: "137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006." By 2012, Families USA ("Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured") concluded that "uninsured adults are at least 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than adults who have private insurance" and found that "26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 who died prematurely due to a lack of health insurance in 2010." A 2009 analysis by Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Medical Alliance was gloomier still, warning "uninsured, working-age Americans have 40 percent higher death risk than privately insured counterparts." All told, the Harvard study lamented, each year "nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance." That kind of horrifying data, along with a dramatic shift of health costs to individuals and families as employers curtailed or dropped coverage, helped pro[...]
2016-12-06T18:27:20ZFor much of the past week, President-elect Donald Trump boasted about saving 1,000 jobs at the Carrier air conditioning plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. Representing only about half of the positions candidate Trump promised to protect from relocation to Mexico, the... For much of the past week, President-elect Donald Trump boasted about saving 1,000 jobs at the Carrier air conditioning plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. Representing only about half of the positions candidate Trump promised to protect from relocation to Mexico, the murky Carrier deal appears to be a one-off bargain combining the carrot of state tax breaks with the potential stick of retaliation against the manufacturer's parent company, defense contracting giant United Technologies. For UTX, it was a small price to pay for some favorable PR. For its part, the Obama administration begrudgingly gave credit where credit is due, with press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledging, "This is good news and, obviously, we'd welcome that good news." As it turns out, the Obama White House has good reason for its lack of enthusiasm. For starters, as economist Justin Wolfers pointed out, "Every savvy CEO will now threaten to ship jobs to Mexico, and demand a payment to stay." And such corporate extortion won't even require a warning to set up shop South of the Border. "You can go to different parts of the United States and then ultimately you'd do full-circle -- you'll come back to Michigan because those guys are going to want their jobs back even if it [their pay] is less," Trump told the Detroit News on August 12, 2015. "We can do the rotation in the United States -- it doesn't have to be in Mexico." But adding insult to injury is the overlooked record of the current occupant of the Oval Office. After all, Barack Obama didn't just preside over the addition of 800,000 new manufacturing jobs since 2010. Thanks to his stimulus program and auto rescue which Donald Trump, Mike Pence and virtually the entire GOP opposed, President Obama deserves much of the credit for the tens of thousands of jobs produced during the economic turnaround of the Hoosier State. Of course, you'd never know that based on what the good people of Indiana say, or how they vote. To be sure, Indiana is a traditionally red state. Until Barack Obama narrowly defeated John McCain there in 2008 (see chart at top), Hoosiers voted for Republicans for President in every election since 1964. But eight years ago, Indiana was in desperate need of some hope and change. The great recession that began in late 2007 was hammering the state. By Election Day 2008, the Indiana unemployment rate of 7.6 percent was already well above the national average. On Inauguration Day just two months later, the jobless rate hit 9 percent. The hemorrhaging didn't stop until a year after that, when the unemployment rate peaked at a staggering 10.9 percent. Then, things started to change for the state that calls itself "the Crossroads of America." Among those "things" was the February 2009 Obama stimulus package, which in addition to tax relief for 95 percent of working Americans brought $8.8 billion in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funding to Indiana. (Though he opposed the $800 billion program, then Rep. Mike Pence nevertheless requested funds for his district because they would "provide real and long-term economic and livability benefits.") In 2008 and 2009, then Senator and President Barack Obama made four trips to Elkhart, Indiana, to highlight his efforts to reduce an unemployment rate that topped a horrific 20 percent. Then that spring, President Obama followed up on George W. Bush's 2008 loans to Chrysler an[...]