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WI GOP Votes To Curb Democracy

Wisconsin lawmakers reject bill to protect pre-existing conditions, set to scale back Democrats' power. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Just before the sun rose Wednesday, Republicans in the state Senate by a one-vote margin approved legislation to limit early voting and diminish the powers of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general. Lawmakers didn't until 4 a.m. begin the heart of their work during a legislative session called by Republican lawmakers before Walker leaves office. Then, GOP lawmakers unveiled changes to the legislation that kept intact the heart of their lame-duck plan to give them a greater say in running state government as Democrat Tony Evers prepares to take office Jan. 7. Senators passed the legislation 17-16, with Republican Sen. Rob Cowles of Green Bay joining Democrats in opposing the legislation. If approved by the Assembly as expected, the legislation would go to outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has signaled he plans to sign it into law. The updated bill would until September give the Legislature control of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board and allow the board to choose the leader of the agency, instead of the governor as is the case in current law. Republicans would initially have a majority of the board but after September control would be split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. The original bill would have permanently eliminated Evers' ability to pick the CEO of the jobs agency. Lawmakers also removed a measure that allowed the Legislature to replace incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul with private attorneys picked by lawmakers at taxpayer expense. But other provisions remained that would allow lawmakers to more easily hire private attorneys when they are sued for violating the open records law or other statutes."

MI GOP Votes To Weaken Wages, Sick Leave

Michigan Republicans vote to weaken wage, sick leave initiatives. Detroit News: "Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature on Tuesday finalized plans to weaken minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives, sending the legislation to GOP Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk for consideration over Democrats' objections. Snyder has not publicly vouched for the bills but was part of negotiations to revise the legislation, which would raise Michigan’s minimum wage from $9.25 to to $12.05 by 2030 and require companies with more than 50 employees to offer employees up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year. The lame-duck bills are more generous than a version approved last week by Senate Republicans but still make major cuts to petition drive initiatives lawmakers adopted in order to keep them off the Nov. 6 ballot and make them easier to change. The initiatives would have raised the minimum wage to $12 by 2022 and guaranteed up to 72 hours of earned sick time a year for workers at companies of all sizes. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof expects Snyder to sign the bills because the governor 'said so,' the West Olive Republican told reporters after the vote. Democrats blasted the bills, downplaying changes made Tuesday and arguing the Republican maneuvers undermine the will of hundreds of thousands of voters that signed petitions to send the initiatives to the Legislature."

NC GOP's Electoral Fraud

GOP hit with election fraud claims after using issue as rallying cry. Politico:
"Fighting voter fraud has been a Republican rallying cry for years. But the GOP now finds one of its own candidates at the center of the biggest alleged election fraud in recent memory. North Carolina’s Board of Elections has postponed certifying election results in the state’s 9th Congressional District, where Republican Mark Harris holds a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready — and a contractor working for Harris’ campaign has been accused of collecting and filling out hundreds of voters’ absentee ballots. The allegations run counter to longtime complaints from President Donald Trump and Republicans about supposed Democratic voter fraud, and they come at an especially awkward time for the state GOP in North Carolina. The party just championed a voter-ID referendum approved in November, and Republican state legislators are pushing to approve language implementing the referendum during a lame-duck session, before they lose their veto-proof majorities in January. On Friday, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement called for an evidentiary hearing by Dec. 21 to consider 'claims of numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities' during the campaign, particularly over absentee ballot collection. That day, The Associated Press also retracted its call that Harris had won, adding that it was 'treating the board’s action as if the race has proceeded to a recount.'"

Trump Admits His 'Incredible' China Deal Is BS

Trump admits 'incredible' deal with China is BS. Vanity Fair: "t the conclusion of the G20 summit in Argentina, Donald Trump boasted to reporters that he’d managed to strike an 'incredible' trade deal with Chinese president Xi Jinping—one that would go down 'as one of the largest deals ever made.' Among other major feats, the ex-Miss Universe proprietor claimed he’d convinced the Chinese to cut tariffs on U.S.-made cars, which would have been a legitimate coup. This, of course, turned out to be so far from the truth that not even the president’s own White House would back it up. China, too, said nothing about lowering tariffs, and Wall Street analysts almost immediately began issuing notes to clients calling bulls--t on the president’s 'incredible' deal. Goldman Sachs, for one, noted that 'the actual amount of concrete progress made at this meeting appears to have been quite limited.' Morgan Stanley pointed out that Trump essentially 'agreed to pause tariffs without any meaningful concessions on the toughest negotiating points.' And JPMorgan all but called the president a liar and a fraud, writing: 'It doesn’t seem like anything was actually agreed to at the dinner and White House officials are contorting themselves into pretzels to reconcile Trump’s tweets (which seem if not completely fabricated then grossly exaggerated) with reality.' Normally, people calling Trump out on his obvious lies would simply cause him to double down. But on Tuesday, not even the gang at Fox & Friends, a docile group of seals paid to bark and clap approvingly at everything Trump does, were going along with the narrative that his dinner with Xi had resulted in a massive win for America."

Rep. Barbara Lee Scores Key Leadership Role

Barbara Lee named to key House leadership role. The Intercept: "a narrow loss to Hakeem Jeffries in the leadership race for Democratic Caucus chair last week, but the campaign to get her elected bore fruit regardless. Late last Friday, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi made room for Lee on a key committee that has a primary role in building progressive power in the House.

Lee’s ascension to the leadership position is a window into how deciding to fight for power can yield benefits even if the immediate goal is lost. For progressives in the House, unaccustomed to wielding power, it could prove a galvanizing victory. Lee lost her caucus chair race by just 10 votes amid controversy. And it could have its own follow-on effects. After a one-on-one meeting, Pelosi named Lee as a third co-chair on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. (Technically, Pelosi recommended Lee for the position, but the Steering and Policy Committee votes on the recommendations, and Pelosi herself is the chair, so this is in the bag.) Pelosi added a co-chair to make room for Lee; current co-chairs Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., will stay on as well. Lee, DeLauro, and Swalwell are all close Pelosi allies. Not only does this create a spot for a woman of color in the House Democratic leadership, but it will also have lasting implications for progressives, even though the power will largely play out behind the scenes."

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