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Tom Conway

Double Or Nothing On Infrastructure

Bad news about infrastructure is as ubiquitous as potholes. Failures in a 108-year-old railroad bridge and tunnel cost New York commuters thousands of hours in delays. Illinois doesn’t regularly inspect, let alone fix, decaying bridges. Flooding in Nebraska caused nearly half a billion in road and bridge damage – just this year. No problem, though. President Donald Trump promised to fix all this. The great dealmaker, the builder of eponymous buildings, urged Americans to bet on him because he’d double what his opponent would spend on infrastructure. Double, he pledged! So far, that wager has netted Americans nothing. No money. No deal. No bridges, roads or leadless water pipes. And there’s nothing on the horizon. Trump’s reelection motto, Keep America Great, doesn’t work for infrastructure. It’s still a mess. It’s the third year of his presidency, and he has done nothing about it. Apparently, he’s saving this pledge for his next term. In May, he promised Louisianans a new bridge over Interstate 10 – only if he is re-elected. He said the administration would have it ready to go on day one, “right after the election.” Just like he said he’d produce an infrastructure plan within the first 100 days of his first term. He’s doubling down on the infrastructure promises. His win would mean Americans get nothing again.

Trump Wants To Cut Legal Immigration

Why the Trump administration is going after low-income immigrants. Vox: “The Trump administration’s efforts to discourage undocumented immigration have gotten more attention, but Stephen Miller and company have also worked to restrict legal immigration. And on Monday, officials announced one of their boldest moves yet toward that end. The Trump administration is implementing a new rule changing green card criteria to more closely examine immigrants’ financial resources. It would make it more difficult for immigrants who came to the country legally to stay as permanent residents if they’ve used or are seen as likely to use public benefits like food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, or Medicaid. ‘This final rule amends DHS regulations by prescribing how DHS will determine whether an alien applying for admission or adjustment of status is inadmissible to the United States,’ the final text of the rule says, ‘because he or she is likely at any time to become a public charge.’ The new ‘public charge’ rule — set to go into effect October 15 — not only makes it harder for low-income immigrants to come to the country but could mean those who are already here have to choose between forgoing services they need and being forced to leave. And, as Dara Lind explained for Vox in December after the administration published a draft version of the rule, it’s already had a chilling effect of driving immigrants away from public services that they’re legally entitled to, for fear it could jeopardize their immigration status.”

U.S. Weakens Endangered Species Act

U.S. significantly weakens Endangered Species Act. NYT: “The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law and making it harder to protect wildlife from the multiple threats posed by climate change. The new rules would make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step below endangered. And, for the first time, regulators would be allowed to conduct economic assessments — for instance, estimating lost revenue from a prohibition on logging in a critical habitat — when deciding whether a species warrants protection. Critically, the changes would also make it more difficult for regulators to factor in the effects of climate change on wildlife when making those decisions because those threats tend to be decades away, not immediate.”

Farmers Protest Trump Trade War

Farmers hit back as USDA chief Sonny Perdue mocks those harmed by Trump trade war as ‘whiners’. Common Dreams: “Farmers facing record bankruptcies and collapsing incomes due to President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with China were not amused by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s joke about their economic pain during an event in Minnesota last week. ‘I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania,’ Perdue told an audience of thousands of farmers gathered in a barn near Morgan, Minnesota. ‘What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar.’ Some laughed at the agriculture secretary’s joke, but other farmers booed and denounced Perdue’s wisecrack as callous and tone-deaf mockery of the real hardship caused by the Trump administration’s trade policies. ‘It was definitely not an appropriate thing to say,’ Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, told HuffPost on Monday. ‘It was very insensitive. It took everyone by surprise. He doesn’t understand what farmers are dealing with, and he’s the head of the Department of Agriculture. He’s supposed to be working for farmers.'”

Schumer Says Border Wall Cash Should Fight Guns, White Supremacy

$5b border cash haul should fight real threats, Schumer says. Politico: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is going to formally ask that Trump withdraw his request to spend $5 billion at the border, and instead spend the money on addressing “gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism,” according to a source familiar with the plans. Schumer will request the funding go to programs such as DHS counter-violent extremism programs, FBI domestic terrorism investigations and CDC gun violence research. This is an attempt to keep the heat on Republicans to do something on gun control. Democrats do have a bit of leverage over Republicans here, since they control the House and appropriations season is starting. ‘The dual scourges of gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism in this country are a national security threat plain and simple,’ Schumer said in a statement to Politico, ‘and it’s time the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress starting treating them as such.'”

Kochs Funded ‘Third Way’ To Influence Democrats

Kochs funded ‘Third Way’ to push Democrats towards free trade. The Intercept: “the tide was beginning to turn against free trade, as the ongoing hollowing out of the American middle class was becoming associated with globalization and the offshoring of jobs. Its leading public opponent was the bombastic CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, a proto-Trump whose economic nationalism curdled easily into racism and nativism. Many Democrats, too, were turning sour on free trade. Then-President George W. Bush relied on Republican votes to ram through the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005, but future deals were looking far from certain, particularly after Democrats seized control of Congress in the 2006 midterms. This was a direct threat to Koch Industries, the sprawling business empire long led by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The fossil-fuel giant’s business has long been based on importing oil from Canadian tar sands, which it refines at its massive Pine Bend plant in Minnesota — and the opposition to free trade threatened to make that business much more costly. The Kochs desperately needed help with Democrats, so they turned to a reliable partner: Third Way. According to the new book ‘Kochland,’ written by investigative reporter Christopher Leonard, Koch Industries secretly financed a report by Third Way, a corporate-funded think tank with ties to the centrist wing of the Democratic Party. The report, titled ‘Why Lou Dobbs is Winning’ and published in November 2007, was written to promote the free trade agenda to liberals. The white paper explained it would be the first salvo in a yearlong effort to reshape the messaging around trade policy, warning that ‘a new and powerful populist strain has emerged on both the left and the right of American politics that threatens to turn the nation fearful and inward.'”

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