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No One Should Have to Bargain For Health Care

Nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers are on strike, demanding that General Motors pay them their fair share of the billions in profits the company raked in last year. The response from General Motors was shocking. The automaker, which accepted billions in government bailouts during the last recession, cut off its payment of insurance premiums for the striking workers. As the news broke, former Vice President Joe Biden was at an AFL-CIO event, campaigning against a single-payer Medicare for All plan that would replace employer-provided insurance. “You’ve broken your neck to get it,” Biden told the crowd. “You’ve given up wages to keep it. And no plan should be able to take it away.” But what if that’s actually the problem? Why should union workers — or anyone — be breaking their necks to get health care, a basic human right? What could unions could fight for if they didn’t have to constantly play defense against employers trying to gut their health care? Right now, the U.S. spends about two times as much as other high-income countries on health care, only to have poorer health outcomes. It’s obvious that the current system isn’t working — for union workers, or for anyone else. No one should have to bargain for a human right.

Guiliani Associates Arrested For Illegal Campaign Contributions

Two men connected to Giuliani's Ukraine efforts charged with funneling foreign money into US election. CNN: "Two associates of Rudy Giuliani connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden were arrested trying to leave the country and indicted on criminal charges for allegedly funneling foreign money into US elections. The charges against the men suggest Giuliani's push on Ukraine and President Donald Trump's receptiveness to it had ties to an illegal effort to influence US politics and policy using foreign funds. The indictment involves two people central to the impeachment inquiry in the House. The two Giuliani-linked defendants, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were detained at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Wednesday evening. They were booked on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, to connect to another flight, according to a law enforcement source. Federal prosecutors were not intending to unseal the indictment against the Giuliani associates and two others Thursday, according to three US officials, but had to change course when they learned of the defendants' impending departure. The two were detained as they were about to board the flight with one-way tickets, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters Thursday. Giuliani had lunch with Fruman and Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington hours before the two were arrested, The Wall Street Journal reported."

Ambassadors To Testify In Impeachment Inquiry

Key diplomat says he will testify in House impeachment inquiry despite Trump administration’s objection. CNBC: "Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will appear for a deposition before House committees as part of the impeachment inquiry in spite of an attempt by President Donald Trump’s State Department to block his testimony. 'After consultation with Committee Staff, his testimony is now scheduled for Thursday, October 17,' Sondland’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, said in a statement to NBC News on Friday. Luskin’s announcement came less than two hours before another key diplomat, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, was scheduled for her own deposition before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees. The executive intervention in Sondland’s deposition has raised concerns that Yovanovich might also be blocked from speaking with the investigators."

600 Former EPA Officials Denounce Trump's CA Threats

600 former EPA officials demand investigation into Trump administration over California threats. LA Times: "Nearly 600 former Environmental Protection Agency officials have called for an investigation into whether the agency’s leaders abused their authority by threatening punitive action against California. In a letter to the House committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Energy and Commerce, 593 signatories asked for a probe to determine whether EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s aggressive focus on California officials is rooted in a retaliatory effort to punish the state for not backing President Trump’s political agenda. 'EPA’s credibility depends on its commitment to use its authority to protect public health and our environment in an objective, even-handed manner, rather than as a blunt instrument of political power,' according to the letter, addressed to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). 'We urge your committee to determine whether Mr. Wheeler’s letters of Sept. 24 and 26 threatening to withhold grant funds and increase EPA oversight were motivated by improper partisan concerns.' California Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein on Thursday also called on the EPA’s inspector general to investigate 'whether the White House pressured the agency to abuse its law enforcement authority to single out California and the city of San Francisco,' according to a news release. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), in a letter to the agency’s inspector general, also echoed their support for an investigation."

Treasury Wants It To Be Easier To Stash Profits Overseas

Trump promised to bring offshore profits back home. Now he's doing the opposite. Salon: "he Trump administration is considering a rule change that would make it easier for American companies to stash money offshore to avoid U.S. taxes, despite the president’s repeated campaign promises to bring offshore cash back home. The Treasury Department is looking to weaken or eliminate Obama-era regulations aimed at preventing companies from moving their income to their overseas branches to lower their U.S. tax bill, Bloomberg reports. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, instead wants to replace the existing rules with 'something more business friendly.' The move would be a boon to large corporations, who already saw their taxes permanently slashed by the Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefited companies at the expense of individual taxpayers. Prior to the 2016 rule, companies were able to move money to their offshore branches that they could then lend to their American branches, while deducting the interest from the tax bill. The Obama-era rule allowed the IRS to consider these inter-company loans as equity, which eliminated a key incentive for companies to move profits overseas. Democrats slammed the administration for trying to weaken rules that allow tax avoidance when it should be creating tougher ones."

SCOTUS May Undermine Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court May soon deal a final, fatal blow to the Voting Rights Act. Slate: "Abolishing voter protections because they’ve successfully stopped discrimination, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in 2013, 'is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.' Despite Ginsburg’s now-famous warning, her five conservative colleagues took a wrecking ball to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act—but insisted that the damage was limited. The court’s 5–4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder nullified preclearance, a requirement that historically racist states secure approval from the federal government before changing their election laws. Now, the courts are primed to deal another, possibly fatal, blow to the landmark civil rights law. Shelby County did not uproot the VRA entirely. The court left in place Section 2, which prohibits any law that has the purpose or effect of abridging racial minorities’ right to vote. Section 2, the majority noted, 'is not at issue in this case,' suggesting that it could still be used to protect the franchise. Now, six years later, Section 2 is in serious trouble. Conservative advocates have long loathed this vital component of the VRA because it forbids any law that has the result of disproportionately burdening minority suffrage. Today, this 'results test' is the most powerful and practical tool in the fight against racist voter suppression. Courts have used it in dozens of cases to protect minorities’ right to a free and equal vote. A majority of the current Supreme Court may also believe the results test is unconstitutional. And the nation’s most conservative federal court of appeals may be prepared to wound it, giving SCOTUS a chance to stick a knife into the heart of the VRA."

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