Monday, November 20, 2017

Democrats Should Aim To Replace An Even 100 GOP Congressmembers


The DCCC launched an on-line ad campaign against something like 40 Republicans, including 9 California targets: Jeff Denham, Devin Nunes, David Valadao, Steve Knight, Ed Royce, Mimi Walters, Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa, and Duncan Hunter. I'm sure there's a reason they're not including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the campaign (nor for that matter Paul Ryan. Oh, that's right, Pelosi doesn't believe in targeting Republican leaders; I almost forgot. Sunday's NY Times included an OpEd by David Leonhardt, The GOP Is Fooling Itself On Taxes about the corner the party has backed itself into on tax policy-- all in the name of "a win"-- any win. The theory is that "If they somehow fail to pass a tax cut, they will anger their base and their donors and look incompetent to swing voters. But," wrote, Leonhardt, "the actual bill that the House passed last week-- and the modestly different plan the Senate is considering-- is a dreadful piece of policy. It would cause the deficit to soar and, as a result, probably reduce economic growth. It would also raise taxes for millions of middle-class families. And most Americans realize that the tax plan is dreadful. Only 16 percent of adults said they thought the plan would reduce their own taxes, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week. On the same day the poll came out, several Republican senators criticized the plan, which suggests it may be in jeopardy."
There is no easy way out for the party at this point. In coming days, Senate leaders will probably claim to take steps to fix the House bill’s flaws. But they won’t be able to, absent a complete rewriting. The core of the plan is the problem.

How did Republicans do this to themselves?

Above all, they refused to heed the lessons of 2016-- of Trump’s shocking romp through the primaries and even more shocking general-election win. In a time of deep economic dissatisfaction, among members of both parties, Republican leaders insisted on basing their plan around an enormous tax cut for the wealthy. Doing so pleased their donors and trickle-down true believers, but it is worth pausing for a moment on the cynicism of the plan. In substance, it is almost the direct opposite of the party’s middle-class rhetoric.

“The G.O.P.,” Henry Olsen, a conservative policy expert, recently said, “really wants to do nothing other than cut taxes for businesspeople and the top bracket based on what can only be called religious devotion to supply-side theory.”

Once Republican leaders filled their plan with tax cuts for the wealthy, they didn’t have much money left for the middle class. In the Senate, Republicans were so desperate to find money that this past week they released a new version of the bill that made virtually all of the middle-class tax cuts temporary. They expire before the bill’s final year, 2027.

An assortment of middle-class tax increases-- again, to help cover the cost of the tax cuts for the wealthy-- last for the full life of the Senate bill. As a result, it ends up being a tax increase on households making less than $75,000, according to the only rigorous analysis so far, by the Senate’s Joint Committee on Taxation. For families making somewhat more than $75,000, the tax cut is modest and likely temporary, given the deficit. The plan, says Martin Sullivan, chief economist at Tax Analysts, a highly regarded research group, has “stunningly meager tax benefits for middle class.”

The best hope for stopping the bill is the handful of Republicans willing to think beyond raw partisanship. They include Susan Collins and John McCain, who helped defeat the health bill, and Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, who aren’t running for re-election and consider themselves fiscal conservatives. (Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, has came out against the bill, although he did the same on the health care bill, before flip-flopping.)

True, another failed attempt at major legislation would be a big political problem for the Republicans. But passing a hastily written, deficit-busting bill that harms the middle class would not be great, either. It’s impossible for these senators to solve their party’s political troubles. They may as well do the right thing.
What the Republicans seem most worried about is that their wealthy donors will abandon them if the don't pass a tax cut for wealthy people. They assume people-- voters-- will forget the details and they can keep repeating over and over, "we cut taxes," as you hear Ryan already braying ad nauseum. All that has to happen for this to work is something that's never worked before: trickle down (what George H.W. Bush called "Voodoo Economics"). Last week, Paul Waldman reminded Washington Post readers that the theories that Mick Mulvaney was espousing on CNN's State of the Union Sunday (see clip above) are all wrong.
The new plan is meant to deal with two critical constraints. The first is that the budget resolution the Senate passed allows this bill to increase the deficit by no more than $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. The second is that the bill can’t increase the deficit at all in the 10 years following that. They need to repeal the mandate because doing so gives them $338 billion in savings to work with, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

But the CBO also says that repealing the mandate will result in 13 million fewer Americans with health insurance-- hence those savings, which won’t be spent on expanded coverage-- and increases in premiums of an additional 10 percent a year. Some people won’t realize that they’re eligible for free or heavily subsidized insurance and, without the mandate to prod them, won’t get it, and as young and healthy people pull out of the market, the remaining pool will be older and sicker, leading to premium spikes, the exit of insurers from the market, and a potential “death spiral.” There are some Republicans, including the president of the United States, who are actually dumb enough to think voters will blame Barack Obama for this.

But that’s just one element of this tax cut that is going to be incredibly unpopular. Remember that point about not being able to increase the deficit at all after 10 years? Because they want to make the corporate tax cut permanent-- since it’s the real centerpiece of this whole effort-- here’s what they’re going to do:
[Senate Republicans] also announced that the individual tax cuts in the plan would be made temporary, expiring at the end of 2025 to comply with Senate rules limiting the impact of legislation on the long-term deficit. A corporate tax cut, reducing the rate from 35 to 20 percent, would be left permanent.
In other words, if you happen to be one of the lucky people who come out ahead at first with all the complex changes to the tax code this bill makes, in 2026 your taxes will go up. It’s just getting better and better, isn’t it? So let’s review:
The Republican tax bill raises taxes on somewhere between 16 million (Senate version) and 47 million (House version) American households; the difference is mostly because the Senate bill doesn’t get rid of as many deductions as the House bill.
Most of the benefits of the tax bill go to the wealthy and corporations.
It may raise taxes on people with large medical expenses, and parents who adopt children, and people with student loans, and graduate students (these provisions are in the House bill, which ends these deductions, but not the Senate bill).
It raises taxes on people who live in states with significant state and local taxes, because it does away with this deduction (in both versions).
Because it eliminates personal exemptions, it raises taxes on many families with multiple children (in both versions).
It will increase insurance premiums and lead to 13 million fewer Americans with health coverage.
It could trigger a $25 billion cut to Medicare because of existing budget rules.

If you had to sum it up simply-- for instance, if you were writing a Democratic attack ad in the 2018 election-- you could say that Republicans are raising taxes on millions of Americans and taking away health insurance from millions more, all to pay for a huge giveaway to corporations.

Of course, Republicans argue that giving corporations a tax cut will make us all enormously richer. This claim is laughable, since corporations are already earning near-record profits and unemployment is low; it’s not as though they’re starving for cash and once they get this tax cut they’ll rush to invest, create jobs and raise wages.

We now have a vivid illustration of this fact. Gary Cohn, President Trump’s chief economic adviser, was at a forum, and the moderator asked how many of the business leaders in the audience planned to increase investment if the tax reform bill passed. Only a couple of hands went up. Cohn said with a pained smile: “Why aren’t the other hands up?”

If we’re considering the politics of this bill, it’s also important to understand that very few people buy the Republican argument. In fact, most Americans think corporate taxes should be raised, not lowered. So not only are the details politically damaging, but also the core of the bill is something the public doesn’t want.

None of this means the bill won’t pass. Republicans have convinced themselves that no matter how bad the bill is, not passing anything is worse, so the chances that they’ll allow it to fail are small. But when that day comes, Democrats will know that Republicans just gave them yet another powerful issue to run on in 2018. Expect to hear them say, “Republicans have had complete control of Washington for the past two years-- and all they did was raise your taxes and yank millions from health coverage so they could lard another giveaway on corporations.” Something tells me that might be a pretty effective message.
Forbes ran a piece by Stan Collender yesterday, GOP Tax Bill Is The End Of All Economic Sanity In Washington, asserting that Ryan's tax scam "will be the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history... [It] will increase the federal deficit by $2 trillion or more over the next decade (the official estimates of $1.5 trillion hide the real amount with a witches brew of gimmicks and outright lies) that, unless all the rules have changed, is virtually certain to result in inflation and much higher interest rates than would otherwise occur... It will "be enacted without anyone who votes for it having any understanding of the damage it could do to the economy. They have wishes, hopes and prayers but in reality nothing beyond the economic equivalent of pagan superstition... [I]f the GOP tax bill is enacted, Congress and the president this year will give up almost all ability to deal with the U.S. economy for at least a decade even when, as almost certainly will happen, there's a downturn. No one else will be able to fulfill this role. That's almost a textbook definition of economic insanity." This is what Paul Ryan has plotted his entire adult life and even if Randy Bryce defeats him in 2018-- as seems likely (you can help make that happen by tapping on the thermometer below)-- it will be too late for tech country's economic well-being.

Early this morning, The Atlantic published David Frum's musings on the Ryan Tax Scam, and though he's a proponent of corporate tax reform, he noted that "It’s a scandalous expression of upper-class and Sunbelt chauvinism that will melt away within weeks of the next Democratic electoral success. Even if it becomes law, as still seems improbable in the face of the plan’s terrible poll numbers, what firm would venture a long-term investment based on tax changes so likely unsustainable?”

Goal ThermometerAnd, so far, Pelosi has been incredibly successful in holding her entire caucus together in opposing this crap. Not even one stinking Republican-lite Blue Dog or New Dem-- not even Sinema, Lipinski, Peterson, Gottheimer or Cuellar-- has strayed across the aisle. Why is that important? The Democrats often find themselves unable to deliver effective messaging against congressional Republicans because these very Democrats cross the aisle and vote with Ryan and McCarthy. If the Democrats attack the GOP for passing legislation that Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party help them pass, it creates a schism inside the party and could possibly help defeat Democratic incumbents in elections, considered, in DC, the end of the world as we know it. Now, if Pelosi would just tell the DCCC to stop recruiting more Blue Dogs and New Dems, things will be a lot less complicated for the party going forward. But that isn't going to happen. Of the 11 candidates for 2018 that the DCCC has thus far officially endorsed, at least 8 are from the Republican wing of the party-- gun freak and New Dem Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Blue Dog Brendan Kelly (IL), Blue Dog Paul Davis (KS), New Dem Elissa Slotkin (MI), New Dem Angie Craig (MN), Blue Dog Dan McCready (NC) and Blue Dog Anthony Brindisi (NY). And, although neither Jason Crow (CO) nor Susie Lee (NV) has been officially endorsed by either the New Dems nor Blue Dogs yet, I know that stink of Republicanism emanating from both of them. Help fight Blue Dog-ism by tapping on the thermometer on the right and contributing what you can to solid progressive candidates.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Be assured. Be sooo assured. The so-called president has returned to the White Supremacy House at 1600 Pennsylvania from his "Sell America Out To China Tour." The tweet storms are back! There will be no interruption in Trump Chinese-made ties hitting the shelves! And evidently, there will be more styles in Ivanka's shoe line, and who knows what else!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

I'm Sure Kirsten Gillibrand Doesn't Want To Lead A War Against Men


Yesterday I was all excited that Kirsten Gillibrand had boldly endorsed progressive reformer Marie Newman against Blue Dog Dan Lipinski. It was probably the first time I've praised Gillibrand since 2006 when she was first elected to Congress-- with a little help from Blue America. (Watch that Rickie Lee Jones/Squirrel Nut Zippers video we produced and promoted on upstate New York radio for her above.)

But then I looked a little closer at Gillibrand's Off the Sidelines PAC, largely funded by the same Wall Street crooks and corporate monstrosities that have made her the #1 recipient of tainted Financial Sector money in the Senate so far this cycle ($1,368,153). Since 2006 she has accepted $9,093,866 from the Financial Sector, more than any other current members of the Senate other than a couple who ran for president (John McCain and Marco Rubio) plus Schumer, McConnell, Rob Portman and Pat Toomey.

I looked at the contributions Gillibrand's PAC had handed out last cycle-- $172,000-- and couldn't find any pattern to the giving in terms of ideology. She gave to some of the most rotgut conservative Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-AZ), Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL), Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL), "ex"-Republican Monica Vernon, Blue Dog Gretchen Driskell (MI), Chris Matthews' conservative wife Kathleen (MD), and lots and lots of New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, like Terri Sewell (AL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Katherine Rice (NY), Emily Cain (ME), gun fanatic Ann Kirkpatrick(AZ), Ann Kuster (NH), and Suzan DelBene (WA), but also to a few very strong progressives like Zephyr Teachout (NY), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Pramila Jayapal, Joseline Pena-Melnyk (MD), Mary Ellen Balchunis (PA), Donna Edwards (MD) and Lucy Flores (NV). All over the map, right? Yeah... except for one thing. No men. Gillibrand only gives to women. Not even one man was good enough? And then I realized she was also  giving to really terrible women candidates in primaries against really excellent male candidates. OK, that's how she plays... nothing to do with how bad Lipinski was at all yesterday after all.

Same thing this cycle... all women-- awesome ones like Haley Stevens (MI), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Katie Porter (CA) and Elizabeth Warren (MA)... and really dreadful crap candidates like Sinema, Kirkpatrick and Dianne Feinstein. Does Kirsten Gillibrand think some kind of a war on men is what's needed now? Is that going to further her transparent goal your for the presidency?

Let me acknowledge-- with great vigor and greater enthusiasm-- the entirely justifiable rage women have now, not only at patterns of abuse that permeate a reactionary patriarchal society, but at Trump stealing the election from Hillary and that, in order to actually change things for the better, there may have to be a rational proportionate series of responses-- even a little EMILY's List type affirmative action. I know for me personally, if the woman candidate is better, I support her. If the man candidate is better I support him... but if the two candidates are equally qualified, I'll always back the woman candidate. Why? There aren't enough women in elected office-- and that is primarily because the patriarchal power structure has disadvantaged women as a class. That needs to be made up for.

Friday night, Politico went up with a post by Gabriel Debenedetti, Gillibrand remark on Clinton sends shockwaves through Democratic Party. "Going," reported Debenedetti, "where no other prominent Democrat had before on Thursday evening by declaring that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the New York senator and potential 2020 presidential contender yet again found herself the face of a national conversation with the potential to dominate headlines and divide her party. At a time Democrats are desperate to keep the focus on accusations against President Donald Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Gillibrand’s stand shocked even some of her close allies. They had no inkling that she was planning to make news-- let alone news that would invite questions about her own ties to a political power family that has dominated her party’s consciousness for nearly three decades."
The comment also put new, awkward distance between two women whose careers have been politically intertwined since Gillibrand-- then a second-term House member-- took over Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat upon her ascension to the State Department in 2009.

Yet it allowed Gillibrand to act as the tip of the spear on a position that many Democrats suspect will slowly become more popular in the party.

The longtime Clinton ally’s answer to the New York Times' question neatly encapsulated how Gillibrand has placed herself front and center on the dominant issue of the day, even if it forces a debate her own party is uncomfortable confronting. And it highlighted the political dexterity that her critics and rivals often deride as opportunism: A former conservative Blue Dog House member, Gillibrand has reinvented herself as a leading progressive [ROTFLMAO-- sure she is, Gabe] and face of the Trump resistance ahead of a potential presidential run.

"I admire her for speaking out and for being really honest and blunt and brutal about it, even when it comes to Democrats and even when it comes to President Clinton," said longtime Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, a former Hillary Clinton aide.

But, Cardona said, Gillibrand's fight is far from a straightforward one even within the party: "President Clinton is beloved."
So was Al Franken... but no longer. And perhaps he doesn't deserve to be. Perhaps Gillibrand can have a party free on men altogether. That seems brilliant... but unfair. She only wants a party without men who have oogled women or who have jerked off while talking to one on the phone once or committed some other sin against women. This is so touchy but, apparently, we're going to have to deal with it. Many men-- most men?-- are pigs and they're going to not do the kind of crap Bill Clinton and Al Franken did. Is what Franken did a political death sentence? It shouldn't be-- unless the voters of Minnesota think it should. I know one thing for sure... if I had to pick between Al Franken or Kirsten Gillibrand (or Kyrsten Sinema), I'd pick Franken any day of the week. I was never a big Bill Clinton fan but when Gillibrand was asked by the NY Times if he should have stepped down, after the consensual sex he had with another adult, she said, "Yes, I think that is the appropriate response."
A handful of aides to both Clintons declined to comment for this story, citing the political danger of weighing in on such a delicate matter between influential figures in the party. But Philippe Reines-- a longtime aide to the former secretary of state-- lashed out at Gillibrand on Twitter.

“Ken Starr spent $70 million on a consensual blowjob,” he wrote, referring to the investigation into Bill Clinton. “Senate voted to keep [President Clinton]. But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.”
I'm sure Gillibrand is aware that Bill Clinton was impeached for his crime. But that's not enough for her? Nope. This is a topic Democrats are going to have come to some consensus on-- and fast. I can't imagine a Democratic senator having a PAC that only gave money to men. Can you? Of course not; it's a ridiculous concept. There's probably a difference that needs to be recognized between what predators like Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Mark Foley and Roy Moore do and what Al Franken and even Bill Clinton are guilty of. But I would say that if Gillibrand and her single-minded friends keep this up, it will play right into Steve Bannon's hands and crash the anti-Trump wave real fast and do what otherwise looks impossible: keep the Republicans and Donald Trump in power.

And by the way, Gillibrand was once the poster child for the NRA in New York State and the voice of ugly, vicious xenophobia and racism against Hispanics. Should we dredge that up to and drum her out of the party? I don't think so. Is it as bad-- or worse-- than what Franken did? Make up your own mind.

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If Trump Is Willing To Stiff Texas On Disaster Relief, Imagine How Blue States Would Fare!


Dayna Steele virtually put her campaign for Congress on hold for nearly a month in the aftermath of the devastation Hurricane Harvey brought to the Houston area so she and her campaign volunteers could work with their neighbors on the immediate effects of the storm. Now Texans-- not to mention folks in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands-- are waiting for help from the Trump Regime. It's not coming. We mentioned the other day that Ryan's tax scam bill cuts out earthquake repairs deductions for Californians. Hurricane deductions-- primarily in red and purple states-- was left intact... but the White House doesn't want to come up with the money Texas needs to get the Houston and Gulf Coast fully back on its feet.

Dayna explained that "The goal of Trump and his fellow swamp dwellers is to eventually cut off as much government funding as possible. The less money the government needs to operate, the better off the wealthy and corporations are in this country. That means less help during and after disasters, the eventual elimination of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, and the elimination of programs that help kids, the elderly, education healthcare, job training and more." Ironically, there are some very conservative Texas Republicans who are seeing it a lot like Dayna is. There's nothing to the right of Texas Governor Greg Abbott. On Friday he called Trump's $44 billion request to Congress for disaster relief for the effects of Harvey, Irma and Maria "completely inadequate... and does not live up to what the president wants to achieve. The president has told me privately what he’s said publicly, and that is he wants to be the builder president. The president has said that he wants this to be the best recovery from a disaster ever."

The White House told him to pay for his own disaster relief. Damage in Texas alone is estimated to exceed $180 billion. Huckabee's contemptible daughter: "We feel strongly that they should step up and play a role and work with the federal government in this process. We did a thorough assessment and that was completed and this was the number that we put forward to Congress today."

Trump doesn't want to spent more than $100 billion in federal funds. Nita Lowey (D-NY) is the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee. She's siding with Abbott. "This request does not come close to what local officials say is needed." And it isn't just Lowey. Texas Senator John Cornyn, the #2 Republican in the Senate, is fuming. He told Texans this week that "It’s really time for the federal government to live up to its responsibilities" and he's making common cause with Puerto Rico as well. "We are asking to be treated fairly. And we intend to fight for that."
There is no doubt the people of Texas and the entire Gulf Coast, + Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, need this money to rebuild their lives and our state's infrastructure, but it strikes me as a tad "interesting", that when it was Superstorm Sandy and the East Coast, some of the Texas GOP officials didn't seem to think that the money was really needed for them. Now that it is us, of course the Government should give us everything we need. There's an old saying, "You never need government until you NEED government," and I think these officials are getting a whiff of that. With President Obama, he was right there, ready to give aid, Gov. Christie even praised him for the work he did. It was Congress dragging their heals on Sandy. With these storms, we have a totally incompetent President who has no clue as to what is needed or why, so why should anyone be surprised that the offer is far lower than it will take to restore all? What was done quickly and well was done mostly because of the prep that President Obama had built into the emergency responses, and Trump hadn't had time to screw up yet.

This President is focused on tax cuts that will give his family a big "win" in the tax department. Time and again, he's showed his almost complete lack of compassion for others, so no one should be surprised at this. Angry, yes! But surprised, no. Also, a memo for Texas legislators and governor-- "you reap what you sow."
Earlier today, we met progressive Democratic congressional candidate Kathi Thomas. She suggested that "Perhaps in times of great need like this, we should forego tax cuts for the wealthiest and use some of that money to pay to get those areas sacked by this storm back to operation sooner rather than later. Might we have a time of shared sacrifice? Those on the coast have been forced to 'sacrifice' their homes and belongings, and some of their lives, too. Might we show compassion and work together to make our country stronger, instead of giving so much to the richest of the rich?"

Hector Morales, running for the open blue seat in the Houston-Pasadena (TX-29) area agrees with Kathi's perspective. "This," he told us, "is just another example of systemic failure by our government to put the well being of our citizens at the center of policy. Political agendas and special interests hinder the ability of ordinary people to get the help they need and is just yet another reason why we must elect people to government who have the people at heart and not corporate greed."

Goal ThermometerTom Wakely is Abbott's opponent for the governor's mansion in Austin this cycle. He's not putting all the blame on Trump though. He told us that "The irony of Abbott's claim of inadequate funding for Hurricane disaster relief is that he is sitting on $10.3 billion dollars in state funds that he could use to help his fellow Texans. Texas has the nation’s largest economic stabilization fund (ESF), commonly called a 'rainy day fund.' I guess the question is, how much more does it have to rain before we tap these readily available state funds. Right now there is a high school in southeast Texas, in Beaumont, that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Central High School, which was over 100 years old, is located in an historically black neighborhood. They have been begging Abbott for funds to rebuild. Michael Cooper, who is running for Lt. Governor, told me, 'that kids are displaced and separated from their community and are now attending classes at two separate schools. Even if Abbott decided to allocated funds to rebuild this 39 acre campus, it would take 3-5 years. A lifetime for a 13 or 14 year old. But given that Abbott could care less about the Black and Brown students who attend Central High, we all know those funds will never come.' An additionally irony is that since 2009, the state of Texas has sued the federal government at least 48 times, the same federal government that Abbott is now asking help from."

As for Trump's $100 billion disaster relief ceiling... Puerto Rico has asked for $94 billion, Florida for $27 billion and Texas countered the Department of Housing and Urban Development's $5 billion allocation with a request for 10 times that-- and that's just for housing, not for infrastructure and, for example, for the projects meant to combat future floods.

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People Who Say It Cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It


Normally, Democrats win districts where the PVI is D+something and Republicans win districts where the PVI is R+something. The higher the "something," the more likely that party will win. But it's not always the case. Conservative Blue Dog Collin Peterson represents a Minnesota district with a PVI of R+12 (although last year it was "just" R+6). Serial DCCC incompetence has guaranteed the reelection of Republican David Valadao in a D+5 California district again and again. Debbie Wasserman Schultz manipulated Florida politics for years so that her Republican crony Ileana Ros Lehtinen is in a deep blue district (D+5) and next door Republican Carlos Curbello represents a D+6 district.

Allison Ikley-Freeman's successful campaign for a state Senate seat in Oklahoma last week-- a seat where Trump beat Hillary 61.4-32.7%-- was in a very red district southwest of Tulsa. No one though she had any chance at all. It's the kind ion area where the DCCC always says-- and always wrongly-- that only a rich Republican-lite Blue Dog could win. But Allison is a young progressive who was outspent 3-1, campaigning on Bernie-like issues. And she's a proud lesbian, married to an African-American. She doesn't fit the DCCC model at all.

There are 5 Blue America-endorsed candidates we're always being told are in "impossible" races. None of them are as "impossible" as Allison's race was. And all 5 are being run by exceptionally good candidates:
James Thompson (KS) R+15
Jenny Marshall (NC) R+10
Tom Guild (OK) R+10
Derrick Crowe (TX) R+10
Dan Canon (IN) R+13
Since Tom Guild was the first person to tell me to watch Allison's race in Tulsa, about a week before the election, I spoke with him about what her victory meant to his race on the other side of the state. He hit the nail on the head: "We have knocked doors for more than five months and visited with thousands of good, hard working, incredible people in our district. They want to earn enough money to pay their bills and provide for their families. They want affordable health care and peace of mind when they or someone they love get sick and need medical care. They want dignity and security in their golden years. They want the heavy burden of college student debt lifted from their shoulders after scrimping for years and burning the candle at both ends to attain their educational goals. Government should lighten our burdens and help us on our journey. Many times today, government frightens decent and honest people by threatening to take away their health care or jobs or affordable loans or programs like Social Security or Medicare that they have paid into for decades. We need to elect people to public office who want to help people and not hurt them. Public servants should make people’s American Dreams attainable instead of throwing roadblocks in their way. I’m willing to do everything in my power to make each person’s dreams a reality. I’m willing to provide a hand up not a cold slap in my fellow Americans faces. Together, we can create positive change in America. To go fast, go alone. To go far, we need to take our journey together and support one another. We must help each person arrive at their unreachable star and celebrate with them as they achieve this miraculous victory."

Goal ThermometerDerrick Crowe is running in an Austin/San Antonio district due south of Tom's. "The establishment," he told us, "does not like to be proven wrong about past failures, and when you sign up to run in an ostensibly 'red' district,' the groups in D.C. will tell you that you're crazy. Too red. Too conservative. Too long since the Democrats held the seat. Too much money on the other side. Well, we just saw a socialist beat the former speaker of the Virginia statehouse, and a progressive member of the LGBTQIA community win in a solidly #MAGA district. It reminds me of the saying, 'People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.' Well, we're doing it. The progressive moment is here, the wave is barrelling to shore, and people who want to run for office as progressive populists should step forward right now. There will never be another time like this, and you'll never be able to do more good. And when people tell you it can't be done, tell them it's rude to interrupt."

Jenny Marshall is also running in an "impossible" district in the South, held by an entrenched multimillionaire incumbent. The DCCC won't figure it out until the day after election day, but maybe that isn't what voters are looking for right now. Jenny: "People wish me luck when I tell them that I am running for Congress against Virginia Foxx. I tell them there is no luck about it, just hard work and a message that people believe in. The people in the 5th are struggling to make ends meet and they want someone who will fight for them. They want someone with the courage to stand up for regular folks and take on out of control corporate greed and Washington lobbyists. As I have traveled the district I have listened to story after story of medical care that is too expensive and jobs that pay too little. I have listened to veterans who can't get the help they need and college graduates saddled with enormous debt. I sit and listen as they pour their life stories out and I can relate. I know what it is like to have more month than money, to worry about health care costs and student loan debt. As we trade stories, I talk about the changes I want to see in Congress and by the end I have another supporter. Over the past 11 months I have met thousands and thousands of people at all kinds of events. The overwhelming message back to our campaign is run, Jenny run!  So, I am running, but I am not alone. We are building a top notch campaign team with more volunteers and donations coming in daily so that we can knock every last door in the district to get our message out. I believe that with hard work and our grassroots organizing we will win in 2018."

Dan Canon is an exceptionally accomplished candidate running in Indiana, a state the DCCC fears and, when they even try-- always run a Blue Dog. Dan is far from a Blue Dog. "We are seeing on the ground," he told us, "genuine excitement for real progressive politics, not just with Democrats and Independents but also with Republicans and those who have never been involved or even voted before. With Indiana's abysmal voter turnout we know that if we get more people to vote, we win. Talking to over 40,000 voters already and registering over 4,500 new voters, we know that one-on-one conversations about progressive policies are what will win this race."

James Thompson was ignored by the DCCC and the Beltway elites when he ran in a special election this year. But he came incredibly close to flipping one of those "impossible" districts, this one in the Wichita area. He's running again and the DCCC is ignoring him again. Fine... it's an opportunity to elect a real progressive instead of the kind of retrograde Blue Dog that they would prefer. He told us that "Something is only impossible so long as people believe it is so. As long as you believe in your cause and are willing to work, nothing is out of reach. No state is too red. No precinct too Republican. As Nina Turner recently told me, we need to be hard on issues and soft on people. This battle is not between Republican and Democrat; that is their narrative. The battle for our country’s soul is between the privileged princes of Wall Street/corporate class and the working people of this country. Working people exist in both parties and we need to come together as one to take back the power the billionaire boys club siphoned from us for decades with tax breaks and loopholes. When We the People stand together nothing is impossible."

These kinds of seats, in a cycle like this, is where the DCCC should be making big plays. They're not. But we can. Want to help? These are just the kinds of districts where some grassroots energy (and contributions) can make all the difference in the world.

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Kathi Thomas, progressive Texan: "The Difference Between Running To Be Elected And Running To Serve"


TX-25 is another one of those gerrymandered Texas districts created as part of Tom DeLay's plan to disenfranchise Democratic voters. It twists and turns and winds its way from East Austin and the UT campus west and and south to Dripping Springs and north through Lake Travis and Gatesville all the way up to Burleson in the Fort Worth suburbs. There are 13 counties in the district, most of the voters living in Travis, Johnson, Hayes, Burnet and Coryell counties. McCain beat Obama there 56-43% and Romney did even better-- 60-38%. Trump underperformed both McCain and Romney, but he still beat Hillary 55.1% to 40.2%. The PVI went from an R+12 to an R+11. Still very tough ground for a Democrat-- though not nearly as tough as the Oklahoma state senate district where progressive Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman beat Republican Brian O'Hara last week. Trump beat Hillary in that district by nearly 40 points! Races Beltway prognosticators said were "impossible"-- like TX-02 (Poe), TX-06 (Barton), TX-07 (Culberson), TX-10 (McCaul), TX-14 (Weber), TX-21 (open), TX-22 (Olson), TX-24 (Marchant) TX-25 (Roger Williams), TX-27 (Farenthold), TX-31 (Carter), TX-32 (sessions) and even TX-36 (Babin) are all, at least theoretically, in play. The DCCC is so not taking any of these seats seriously, that the imbecile chairman, Ben Ray Lujan, hasn't even used the several months since Jared Polis resigned as regional vice chair to find a replacement. Texas doesn't have one at all. Brilliant.

Anyway, back to TX-25. Progressive activist Kathi Thomas is the leading candidate, although Chetan Panda, Chris Perri and Julie Oliver are also in the race. In 2016 Williams spent $1,189,561 to Kathi Thomas' $50,015 and beat her 180,988 (58.3%) to 117,073 (37.7%). Williams is a far right crooked used car salesman, a multimillionaire scam artist who has been under various ethics investigations since he wormed his way into Congress by self-funding to the tune of $330,000. I asked Kathi to introduce herself to DWT readers, using a story she told me on the phone about her motivations for running. This is worth reading:
My Texas roots go back to before Texas was a state, but my daughter is an immigrant, born in Guatemala. We adopted her as a baby. She became a U.S. Citizen when, holding her in my arms, my feet touched American soil. She’s 16 now, and will have her driver’s license soon. Obviously Latina, she carries a copy of her Certificate of Citizenship everywhere in case she is stopped and asked for “her papers.” We’ve had that difficult discussion about what she says if she’s pulled over. She’s to say, “I’m an American citizen, I was born in Guatemala and adopted as a baby, but I’m American.” At a recent candidates’ forum, a Latino man told me that it seemed like all the candidates were saying the right things about what’s going on with Latinos and the xenophobia, but I had “real empathy,” because it was my family.

I've been a strong advocate for equality, public schools and social justice for many years, through my church and as an individual. I've been a school band director, worked in the corporate world for a floral wire service, and I know firsthand how difficult it is to grow a small business from scratch. I started mine 27 years ago. I'm a parent and a wife; the product of a hard-working middle-class family, public schools, and state university. I think this broad background makes me a stronger candidate, because I can relate to many different people through my experiences.

I am well-known in the District, particularly in the three most populous counties: Travis, Johnson, and Hays. I was the CD-25 Democratic nominee in 2016. That provides unmatched name recognition. I've worked on behalf of progressive issues for years, and with my 16-year-old daughter facing an uncertain future, I'm not about to quit now. We must leave this Earth a better place for our children.

Although the primary will likely be won by the sheer number of Travis County Dem voters, for the general election, the more rural areas have most of votes to cast. I grew up in a small town in the Piney Woods area of southeast Texas, and easily connect with folks living in small towns across the District. We speak the same language and share the same Texas values. My faith is important to me. I'm comfortable talking about progressive Democratic values as supportive to my faith. In short, like my faith teaches, I care for people. That pulls the rug out from under far right-wingers who claim they're people of faith, like Roger Williams.

Williams says "faith, family and country matter the most" to him, but then he takes positions that don't align with any faith with which I'm familiar. I don't know what kind of country he wants, but it sure as heck isn't the kind that most of us want for our kids. It seems like the only family that matters to him is his own. All his stances on the issues support the richest of the rich, and while CD-25 is slightly above average in income for Texas, Williams does not support the typical constituent. He’s even right of his own party on gun control. When other Texas Republicans were saying we need to reconsider bump-stocks, he said it was a left-wing knee-jerk reaction.

How do I beat him? He's voted to cut Medicaid time and again-the vital federal program that keeps most rural and country hospitals open. It isn't just healthcare for people that’s affected, but also jobs where rural hospitals are often the first- or second-largest employer in the county. He also supports school vouchers. That just does not align with rural Texas where public schools are the heart and soul of the town. Vouchers divert precious resources from those institutions and will cause irreparable harm. You’ve seen it across Texas--there was even a TV show devoted to this slice of Texas culture. Friday nights in the fall find just about everyone in small towns at the football games.

I'm not kidding myself, it won't be easy, but my opponent has come out of the closet as a right-wing ideologue who refuses even to meet with his constituents in open forums.

We are implementing a strategic plan of attack. We're block-walking in neighborhoods that lend themselves to it. A personal letter-writing campaign from supporters helps get the word out in more rural areas. And we have been visiting every county in CD-25.

Another big plus, unlike Williams, I live in the District and have for two decades. When I tell folks that Roger doesn't live in it, they're shocked, and many times, angry. If we get someone who doesn't have the deep roots I've got in the District, we lose true representation of the voters.

Goal ThermometerI know it is easy to say you're progressive, but it is a different thing to be able to show results. I introduced forward thinking resolutions years ago at our County Democratic Conventions. Two examples: support to decriminalize cannabis and to endorse marriage equality. I'm a longtime advocate of prison reform, healthcare for all (universal, not just Medicare for All.) I've been active in our local community in our schools with many support groups including PTA. I testified many times for public education at the Texas State Capitol.

A friend of mine told me, “There’s a difference between running to be elected and running to serve. You’re running to serve.” That sums it up quite nicely. I do want to serve the people of Congressional District 25.

To do that, our campaign needs support. We're running a lean, grassroots campaign but even efficiency needs donations and volunteers. I will appreciate whatever you can do to help me serve the people of TX CD-25.

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Will Trump's Penchant For Making Enemies Kill Ryan's Tax Scam Bill In The Senate?


The more that comes out about the Republican Tax Scam bills, the worse it looks. The latest version is a very anti-education bill, targeting deductions for teacher out-of-pocket spending and for research by graduate students and eliminating student loan deductibility while keeping carried interest. It also gets a cut to private jet owners and all but eliminates the estate tax. Paul Ryan is still hopping around DC swearing it's a middle class tax break, not a tax break for the super-rich. "The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday," reported Matthew Goldstein, "adopted a provision similar to one included in the House’s tax plan that would extend the minimum holding period for investments that qualify for the tax break, known as the carried-interest loophole, to three years from one... Both the House and Senate plans have been criticized for delivering substantial tax cuts to wealthy people and corporations at the expense of middle-class taxpayers, some of whom would pay more in taxes, mostly because of the elimination of certain deductions."

Writing last week for Time, Nash Jenkins reported how 4 Republican senators are talking privately about how they can't support the bill because it balloons the national debt. They could shut the whole thing down.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford are among the four-- enough to stop a bill that can only spare two Republican defections-- who have concerns about a tax reform bill that was estimated to hike the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The other two senators have not publicly confirmed their concerns.

In an interview with Time on Tuesday, two days before the House voted to pass its version of the tax reform bill, Flake said that he believes the bill is larded with temporary gimmicks that will ultimately add even more than that to the deficit.

“I’ve been concerned for a long time on our debt and deficit-- that’s what animates me,” Flake told Time. “There are a couple other people who are concerned as well. We can do tax reform in ways that will grow the economy but we can’t just ignore the debt and deficit.”

Their concerns show the tricky needle that Republicans will have to thread to get the tax reform bill through the upper chamber using reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure that allows them to avoid a Democratic filibuster but imposes restrictions on how the bill is written.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin would be voting against it, saying it unduly favors corporations over small businesses. Maine Sen. Susan Collins has also raised concerns about a provision in the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate.

But the deficit hawks’ criticisms could be the hardest to address, since the Republican leaders are already struggling to find ways to pay for tax cuts in the bill.

Flake pointed in particular to the provision known as “full expensing” that allows companies to write off their assets when paying taxes, costing the government potential tax revenue. The tax reform plan is set to sunset the provision after five years-- but the Arizona Republican isn’t convinced.

“Right now, in order to fit that in the budget window to keep us in reconciliation, we phase that out after five years. Nobody thinks it will be phased out after five years,” he said. “That’s the problem here. You phase it out after five years, it fits in this, but we know after five years they’re just going to do it again.”

In addition, the tax reform bill slashes the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, curtails the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, and, under the Senate plan, does away with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Though Republicans have touted the tax reform bill as a boon for the middle class, new numbers from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation show that taxes for those earning under $75,000 a year would increase by 2027.

Despite the bill’s troubles in the Senate, you can’t fault House Republicans for feeling festive about the bill’s passing. For the first time in a decade, Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House-- and yet they have failed so far to achieve any meaningful legislative victories; their losses, meanwhile, namely two unsuccessful attempts to repeal Obamacare, have been painful and public. Achieving tax reform would amount to a triumph that could stabilize the rocky G.O.P. ahead of the 2018 midterm elections next November.

It is also important to President Donald Trump, who is hungry for a win. Trump traveled to Capitol Hill on Thursday morning ahead of the House vote to encourage Republican lawmakers to vote for the package.
No one knows who the other two deficit hawks are who could tank the bill. Corker and McCain are the suspects. If those 4 plus Collins and RonJon, and possibly Murkowski vote NO, Trump and Trumpism will be left reeling and the Republican Party will fall into full-scale civil war. There are Republicans who very much want to see Trump fail miserably and be driven from office as soon as possible. Stabbing him, Caesar like, from the right must be very tempting. Last week, all of the Republican NO votes in the House were mainstream conservatives from SALT states-- New York, New Jersey and California-- except one: Walter Jones (R-NC). He's far more conservative than the rest-- and far more conservative than Trump-- and from a non-SALT state. He just happens to be a guy who votes according to principles rather than politics. "If this is going to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years, it’s not fair to our children and grandchildren,” said Jones. "If this was a Democratic bill we wouldn’t even be voting for it. That’s how hypocritical this place has become."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

As speculation as to which Trumpies will eventually be indicted next increases, I thought I'd post this meme.

This is also a preview of my annual list of DownWithTyranny holiday gift suggestions which will, like the holidays themselves, be here before you know it. These fashion accessories could be all the rage in a few weeks. You'd best order now! If there's any justice left in our world, they might be very hard to get soon; no matter what secret deals Ivanka's Big Orange Daddyfreak pulled off with Chinese factories on his recent Asian trip.

We at DWT also hear whispers that there will be a very special Judge Roy Moore Signature Edition soon, so think about pre-ordering yours now. Expect the White House to announce that all proceeds will go to the Judge Roy Moore Legal Defense Fund or Recount Committee. These "House Arrest" ankle bracelets will be especially popular with any crazy pro-rape Christian fans of Moore on your gift list. And, don't forget, anyone you know who voted for Trump is a likely accomplice to treason! Don't they deserve an "House Arrest" ankle bracelet as well?

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Frank Schaeffer's Roadtrip To Orange County, Part I: Laura Oatman


As you may know-- I hope so-- Frank Schaeffer is driving around the country making a film. He's interviewing progressive Democrats who can beat Republicans next year. Meanwhile he's been posting videos each time he gets to a district. He started with Randy Bryce in Wisconsin and then went to Forsyth County, North Carolina to see Jenny Marshall. Last week he was here in Southern California speaking with and filming Sam Jammal (CA-39), Kia Hamadanchy (CA-45), Doug Applegate (CA-49) and Laura Oatman, Dana Rohrabacher's progressive opponent in coastal Orange County (CA-48). I think he's up in Maine now talking with Jared Golden. Please take a look at Frank's raw video of Laura up top.

Goal ThermometerLaura introduced herself to DWT readers back in October. She's in a crowded primary field with a bunch of inauthentic-sounding centrists. One calls himself a "Reagan Democrat" and two others are multimillionaires already endorsed by the New Dems, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. In fact the two of them and some Republican in the jungle primary-- Paul Martin-- all sound pretty interchangeable. Laura is the progressive in this election... and the grassroots candidate.

When Laura saw the video she had the same reaction I did when I saw the clip of the hand-help camera shoot Frank made of me. Seeing all the unfiltered footage made in the bright morning sunlight reminded her that she's not in this for ego, but to be real-- wrinkles, forgotten words, and all. She reminded herself that Orange County "needs an architect-- someone who can take a dream, put together a diverse team, design a plan, and make it a reality." That's kind of become a mantra for her campaign. Then she reminds CA-48 voters that "Making America Great Again was all about taking America back to a past that really was only great for white men. It would be impossible, even if we wanted to, to take America back to that past. The world has changed since the 1950’s, with automation, globalization, population growth, and climate change all impacting the global economy, America, & Orange County. We need more leaders who can envision a future that adapts to and embraces these changes, and makes the economy work for all of us so that everyone has a fair shot at the American dream. A future for our country, and for our district, with sustainable jobs, clean air and water, healthcare and education for all, and a society that embraces diversity and inclusion. The diversity of our nation is what makes us great. Let’s make America smart again, kind again, compassionate again."

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There Are No Good Republicans-- But There Are Bad Democrats As Well As Good Democrats


Alas, there are virtually no good Republicans any longer, even if, occasionally, a Republican-- a McCain or a Walter Jones or a Justin Amash-- does something good. Electorally, it virtually never happens that a Democrat, no matter how awful is worse than a Republican. When I was growing up in New York, Republican John Lindsey was better than Democrat Abe Beame. More recently (2012) Michigan Democrats ran a vicious homophobic conservative turd, Steve Pestka, against Justin Amash. Incredibly, overall, Amash was the better candidate. What kind of Democrat matters. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Today we saw a really bad one, corrupt multimillionaire developer and Wasserman Schultz crony, Stephen Bittel, resign as chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. He's done a horrible job of course, but that isn't why he resigned. The news broke late Thursday night that 6 former Florida Democratic Party staffers and consultants accused Bittel of having "created an unprofessional workplace environment for women that includes persistent inappropriate comments, leering at young women and even inviting them on his private jet." Bittel, who is uniformly described as "creepy" by virtually everyone who has ever met him, tried getting away with a rote apology. By Friday morning, pressure mounting, he had resigned.

Thursday we talked about the DCCC interfering in competitive primaries on behalf of Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, particularly how they endorsed NRA post-child and all-around conservative Ann Kirkpatrick when they are 2 better candidates in the race, Matt Heinz and Mart Matiella. I noted that "Kirkpatrick is a loser and a carpetbagger from up north who the DCCC is trying to shove down the throats of southern Arizonans. She has shown in the past that she can get swept into office in a wave election-- but her GOP voting record always guarantees she's defeated in midterms when Democrats refuse to come out and vote for her. She's an NRA poster child (literally) and an all-around conservative Democrat. The DCCC is always touting fundraising as an indication of viability but two other candidates, Matt Heinz and Mary Matiella are also raising the kind of money that proves viability. We reached Mary yesterday and she told us that 'The DCCC is right about AZ-02 being a great pickup opportunity but they're wrong if they think an establishment/corporate Dem is the way to win. Southern Arizonans are a fiercely independent bunch and ultimately it's the voters, not the establishment who will decide who best represents their values.' A week ago she said something similar, namely that 'Polls show that voters want an authentic, relatable candidate-- someone who understands them. The DCCC wants a candidate who can raise funds. This disconnect in candidate vetting disenfranchises the voter.'"

This morning Mary was thinking about things that are more important to her and more important to AZ-02 voters. She sent me this brief note to share with DWT readers:
I'm sick and tired of the Trump-McSally machine demonizing our immigrant communities to score political points with their most narrow-minded supporters. We are a nation of immigrants and dehumanizing communities of color in the name of border security is wrong. Militarizing our border sends the wrong message to the world and is an ineffective strategy for dealing with border security.

What I believe is simple: secure the border at the border. We need more Customs Officers at the ports of entry, rather than more agents combing the desert. Over 80% of the narcotics and violent criminals that come across our border do so through our ports of entry. And that's where we need to focus resources. Not miles away at checkpoints the narcos and the coyotes know how to avoid. And, $1.6 billion budgeted for border walls-- what a waste of money!

I believe in comprehensive immigration reform that includes protecting DREAMers, providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, and reducing the current visa backlog. Breaking up families, racially profiling in our communities, and strong-arm tactics are morally repugnant practices that only serve to divide our community.

This issue is deeply personal to me. I am a Latina who grew up in southern Arizona. Many members of my family, including my husband were born on the other side of the line. We must do better to deal with the economic and humanitarian issues along our border.

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Tax Deductions For Earthquakes Are Erased From The Tax Code-- But Not Tax Deductions For Hurricanes (Or Private Jets)


I don't have a private jet; never did. But... I sort of did. I was the president of a division of TimeWarner and the company had private jets. All I had to do was call and say I need a jet and I could fly anywhere I wanted. You knowhow many time I did that? Zero, never once. That's because it's incredibly expensive and a horrifying waste of money that could have been spent on helping break out artists (for example). But a few times I was going to New York or L.A. and someone would invite me along for a ride on their jet. Very convenient and comfortable, etc. But I was never tempted... not even a little. I found it an outrageous waste of resources in fact.

The Republicans' decision to give private jet owners a tax break should piss off even Trump's most loyal supporters (who aren't stoned out of their minds on Oxy). Christal Hayes reported the story for Newsweek. "The new Senate tax bill will give those who own or lease private planes breaks on the amount they pay to companies for maintenance, storage, fueling and even when they want to hire pilots and a crew onboard. The proposal is tucked in the middle of the controversial bill's latest version, dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The House approved the bill Thursday and it's now headed to the Senate." Forbes there were 11,261 private planes registered in the United States as of 2012. There are probably a lot more now. The provision was sponsored by the home state senators for the private jet company NetJets-- Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Raise your hand if you think a humongous tax should be placed on private jet usage instead.

God knows what kind of crap we'll going to discover in coming days as we examine Ryan's rax scam more closely. I liked the coverage the L.A. Times gave the bill yesterday: In Orange County, fear and loathing for the GOP's "Screw California" tax bill by Mark Barabak. Short version: O.C. Republican voters are out for blood. Two of the GOP congressmembers in Southern California had the smarts to figure out a YES vote was political suicide-- Issa and Rohabacher, who have problems of their own-- but Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Steve Knight are now dead men congressmembers walking.
Chris Keena feels obliged to explain: He really is a Republican-- honest!-- before launching his critique of the Republican tax bill that just passed the House.

“I don’t believe in trickle-down theory,” said the 70-year-old retired attorney from Irvine. “The money they save-- I’ve seen it in business-- the money they save at the top, they keep at the top. It doesn’t trickle down.

“I hate to sound like a radical,” he went on, “and I guess it doesn’t go with being a Republican, but it’s a reality. There are a lot of people struggling here. The image is everyone is fat and happy. They’re not. They’re not.”

The sweeping tax-cut package, which passed Thursday with overwhelming support from California’s GOP House members, seems almost singularly designed to punish the state and its Democratic legion of Trump tormentors.

Eliminating most of the deduction for state and local taxes would be a hefty blow to millions of Californians. The same for a proposed cap on deducting property taxes and mortgage interest-- write-offs that make the purchase of that charming $750,000 “starter home” a bit more attainable, if no less insane.

It goes on.

Repealing tax incentives that help pay for low-cost housing would almost surely exacerbate a desperate housing shortage, which is already stifling job growth.

And in a move that seems just plain spiteful, the bill would take away the deduction for uninsured personal losses from wildfire and earthquakes, two of California’s great tribulations, while preserving it for hurricane victims.

“It may be a tax cut for Wisconsin and Kansas and Iowa. But it is not a tax-cut bill for individual taxpayers in California,” said Carolyn Cavecche, head of the Orange County Taxpayers Assn., which is not exactly a hotbed of Marxist sentiments.

With scant room to spare, GOP House leaders needed almost the entire 14-member California Republican delegation to move their tax plan forward. All save three-- Tom McClintock, Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher-- voted yes.

That carries no small risk, especially here in Orange County, where lawmakers high on the Democratic target list, including Issa and Rohrabacher, are caught between constituents losing their cherished deductions and party chiefs demanding fealty.

Mimi Walters, a second-term congresswoman from Irvine, was another in that bind.

Her district, extending roughly from Anaheim Hills south to Mission Viejo, is one of the most affluent in California, and taxpayers there are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the state and local tax deductions, as well as the write-off for mortgage interest.

Some, like Jim Nowakowski, are convinced the big cut in corporate taxes will bring more jobs and, as advocates promise, greater prosperity all around.

“If I had money sitting offshore and could bring it back at a lower tax rate and hire another 30, 40 people, grow my plant, I’d do that in an instant,” said Nowakowski, 75, who owns a business that cleans and repairs costumes for Disneyland.

Losing some deductions would be worth the trade-off, said the Tustin resident, especially if it made Sacramento think harder about spending. “Maybe they don’t have so many damn taxes on people,” he said.

But in two days of conversation around the district, many more viewed the tax bill as an unwarranted giveaway to the rich, paid for by those already struggling to stay afloat.

And it wasn’t just partisan Democrats.

Scott Tullius, 47, who calls himself a libertarian-leaning independent, said deducting thousands of dollars in mortgage interest on his Lake Forest home boosts the tax refund he relies on each year.

“With three kids”-- ages 6 to 16-- “there’s things that wouldn’t get done without it,” said Tullius, who works for Irvine’s Office of Emergency Management. “For the working-class person, we’re just making it by week to week, month to month.”

Oldrich Kolar, who runs a Tustin law firm, questioned the haste of pushing through tax legislation just so Republicans can say they did so once the calendar turns to the election year 2018.

By the time it gets around to final passage-- should the legislation make it that far-- “I just hope … we’ve had enough debate, a conscious, smart debate, so we’re not just trying to make a political statement, we’re not just trying to make a timing statement,” said the 53-year-old Republican and self-described member of “the top 1% to 2%.”

Walters said she supported the bill after being assured changes would be made once House lawmakers hash out their differences with the Senate, which is weighing its own version of a tax-cut bill. That, of course, assumes the Senate is kinder to California-- no sure bet-- or doesn’t kill the effort entirely, leaving those like Walters on a sawed-off limb.

Back in the 1980s, lawmakers decided to stuff the country’s nuclear waste in a big hole in the Nevada desert.

The backroom deal, which eliminated sites in Texas and Washington state from consideration, was greased by the fact no one from Nevada was around to object.

The proposed dump at Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles outside Las Vegas, immediately sparked political warfare and remains stalled all these years later. But the treachery is still renowned as the “Screw Nevada Bill.”

The Republican tax legislation, as it stands, could carry the same blunt appellation as regards California.

Woe to those defending it in an already tough political climate: Voter indignation is not something you can just bury in a desert hole.
Sam Jammal is the non-millionaire progressive running to win the Democratic nomination to take on Ryan rubber stamp Ed Royce. He told us that "Ed doesn't fit nor care to represent our community anymore. No one seeking to represent us would vote for a bill that punishes us for being Californians. He offered no amendments to improve the bill and voted yes on something that attacks our community. Ed is better off retiring than doing more harm to families here. He has a choice on whether this will be a forced retirement or to go out on his own."

Goal ThermometerKia Hamadanchy who is competing with Republican incumbent Mimi Walters for the CA-45 Orange County seat quickly pointed out that "Mimi’s support for the Republican tax increase is a slap in the face to just about everybody in our district, from graduate students at UC Irvine to retirees in South Orange County. What’s even worse is that two of Mimi’s crazy right-wing colleagues in Orange County, Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher voted against this bill. What does it say that two of the worst Republicans around wouldn’t even vote to raise taxes on their constituents? I think Mimi better start updating her resume, because she is going to be looking for a new job next November."

Laura Oatman is the progressive candidate running for the seat Rohrabacher hold (CA-48, coastal Orange County). She wasn't fooled by Rohrabacher's vote against Ryan's tax scam. "On the heels of last week’s report in Roll Call that 2 of the top 10 most vulnerable House incumbents were right here in Orange County, with Darrell Issa at the top of the list and Dana Rohrabacher in 5th, it’s no surprise that Issa & Rohrabacher would part ways with the GOP and vote against this tax plan that would raise taxes on millions of middle-class families to provide tax breaks to millionaires. This plan would limit mortgage interest deductions to $500,000-- down from the present limit of $1.1 million-- and could be particularly tough on many of Rohrabacher’s wealthy constituents. Don’t for one minute think they’ve seen the light though. The reality is, they have zero political capital to spend, and knowing that, safely voted against party lines knowing the bill would pass anyways, in a too-little-too-late attempt to show they care. Really, they only care about hanging onto their Congressional seats for all they’re worth."

Katie Hill, the progressive candidate and top opponent to Steve Knight in CA-25, cut a succinct and plain English video she sent to voters in Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley. It sums up the California situation perfectly. I suggest you watch it:

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