fresh voices from the front lines of change







Kansas Spooks GOP

Progressive Democrat nearly pulls off upset in Kansas’ fourth congressional district. HuffPost: “…State Treasurer Ron Estes (R) beat Bernie Sanders-backed Democrat James Thompson … the race in Kansas shouldn’t have been close … in a reliably conservative district that is home to Koch Industries … On Sunday, Thompson said that regardless of the outcome of the race, he felt he had already won because he had shown that Democrats could make a Republican district competitive by running on an unapologetically progressive platform.”

Sanders influencing congressional Democratic campaign agenda. Politico: “Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have met twice, according to aides, in addition to multiple staff-level meetings, to flesh out a broader economic agenda that’s expected to emerge as soon as early summer. The package will be ‘populist’ and designed to ‘unite both wings of both caucuses,’ one senior Democratic aide said. Infrastructure and trade are expected to be key components, another aide confirmed.”

OMB Eyes Social Security and Medicare

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney maps out plans to cut retirement security in CNBC interivew: “I continue to look forward to talking to the president about ways to fix [Social Security Disability Insurance] because that is one of the fastest growing programs that we have … I think the message to the House and Senate is, ‘Look, you go do what you think is best [on Medicare and Social Security.]’ … Let them pass that and let’s talk about it … The discussion we’re going to try and drive is, yeah, we’re going to raise the debt ceiling. But we’re going to have to do it as part and parcel of a larger thing to try and solve and resolve some of our debt problems … There’s a lot of entitlement reform other than just how old do you have to be to get your Social Security benefits.”

NY Mag’s Jonathan Chait dissects Mulvaney interview: “[Mulvaney] basically admits that what he cares about is reducing transfers from the rich to the poor … ‘Bad spending, to me, in terms of its economic benefit, would be wealth-transfer payments … I’m really not interested in how tax reform handles the deficit.’ … The premise of this statement is that the market distribution of income is sacrosanct, and progressive taxation is thus both morally wrong…”

Mulvaney squeezes agencies. NYT: “The Trump administration on Wednesday will lift the hiring freeze that it had imposed on the federal work force, even as it directs agencies to submit plans for personnel cuts and other restructuring moves … “’his is a big part of draining the swamp,’ [said] Mulvaney … The administration is now making clear that it is not giving a green light for agencies to start hiring; instead, the White House is seeking long-term plans from each agency to, in most cases, prepare for cuts.”

Tax Reform Bumped For Health Care

Trump re-prioritizes again, puts health care in front of tax reform. WSJ: “…Trump said that his overriding legislative priority is passing the health-care law, though he said he won’t wait indefinitely to turn his attention to the tax overhaul … ‘Health care is going to happen at some point. Now, if it doesn’t happen fast enough, I’ll start the taxes.’ The White House had hoped to pass a tax bill before the congressional recess in August, though officials have conceded the deadline is slipping …”

Has Speaker Ryan been taken out of the health care process? Bloomberg: “The White House began demanding votes, driving a frenzied debate on amendments and negotiating late into the night with conservative holdouts — all with Ryan mostly on the sidelines … Unrealistic White House demands risk derailing the year’s legislative agenda and undermining Ryan’s leadership in the House.”

Some conservatives press Trump to keep infrastructure out of tax reform. The Hill: “‘A strong, pro-growth tax reform is unlikely to attract [Democrats],” [Grover] Norquist said. ‘You don’t need to do this with 60 votes — you can do it inside reconciliation…’ … Adam Brandon, the president of FreedomWorks, said … ‘We’re very nervous about bridges to nowhere,’ … said Marc Scribner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute[,] ‘You’re going to end up with something that nobody’s going to be really happy with: mediocre tax reform and a mediocre infrastructure bill.'”

Breakfast Sides

Anti-immigrant push threatens government shutdown. Politico: “…Mulvaney … is pressing lawmakers to include language to restrict federal funding grants for cities that do not enforce federal immigration policies. The goal is to bring the House Freedom Caucus on board with a government funding bill … [But it] threatens to disrupt bipartisan negotiations on funding the government. Democrats are already calling a request for border wall money a ‘poison pill’ that would shut down the government.”

Politico fingers unregulated farms for workplace safety violations: “Farmers are nearly twice as likely to die on the job as police officers are, five times as likely as firefighters … the injury rates are even higher … Many of those injuries last a lifetime, driving up disability rates among rural Americans, who are 50 percent more likely to have some form of disability than their urban counterparts … Small farms have been exempted from federal oversight for so long that it’s virtually impossible for anyone … to understand fully the epidemic of workplace injuries and deaths that has plagued rural America for at least a century.”

Voting rights win in Texas. The Nation: “[A] federal court in Texas ruled that the state’s strict voter-ID law ‘was passed with a discriminatory purpose in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.’ … [The] ruling by District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos was a big victory for voting rights and a big loss for Jeff Sessions and the Trump Justice Department … However, these voting-rights victories could be short-lived if new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch provides the deciding vote reinstating such restrictions should they reach the highest court.”

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo expected to sign free college bill today. NYT: “The Excelsior Scholarship, as the program is called, is expected to cut the cost of a degree from a four-year State University of New York college — now almost $83,000 for tuition, fees and room and board — by about $26,000 for an eligible family making $100,000 a year. That is a substantial reduction, but still means paying about $57,000 over four years … [It] will primarily benefit traditional students, those who go to college straight from high school and earn their degrees on time … After graduation, scholarship recipients must live and work in New York for as many years as they received a tuition award.”

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