Progressive Breakfast for February 19

Morning Message Richard Eskow

Trump’s "Harvest Box" Delivers an Empty Promise

“America’s Harvest Box.” is what the Trump administration calls its plan to substitute prepackaged, low-quality processed foods for some of the food assistance currently being received by an estimated 46 million people. All it really does is heap shame on the hungry, and offer private interests a new opportunity to enrich themselves at public expense.

Student Survivors Demand Action On Gun Control

Students seize control of gun debate, plan walkouts and march. NBC: “Students are taking hold of the gun debate in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, by organizing a series of school walkouts across the country and a march in Washington to protest gun violence. The Women’s March youth branch of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — the site of the Valentine’s Day attack in Parkland that killed 17 people — and a Connecticut student who lives a short drive from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where 26 people were killed in 2012, are all working for events to take hold of the national conversation.”

WH Sabotages Compromise To Force Immigration Cuts

Trump’s Position on Dreamers Is Indefensible — and He Knows It. NYM: “The White House has been telling Republican senators that it expects the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling extending protections for undocumented immigrants under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The implication is that what is now an indefinite grace period would quickly disappear — and that Democrats would be without leverage and forced to accept more Republican demands in order to codify DACA. At present, former DACA recipients are eligible to apply to renew their work permits, thanks to the aforementioned federal-court rulings. If and when the Supreme Court overturns those, however, all Dreamers will become subject to deportation. The White House believes that Democrats won’t have the stomach to abide their constituents’ ensuing suffering, and will thus, have no choice but to support sweeping cuts to legal immigration. So, the administration killed the Senate’s compromise.”

VA Moves To Expand Medicaid

Medicaid expansion included in proposed VA budget. WTVR: “The years-long fight over expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took a major turn Sunday when Republicans in the House of Delegates unveiled a state budget framework that included expansion of the program. Under the House plan, language was included that would put in place a work requirement for Medicaid recipients… Governor Ralph Northam signaled on Sunday he is supportive of the House plan, which would expanding health care coverage to more than 300,000 Virginians who live near the federal poverty line. The Medicaid work requirements, which are already being implemented in other states like Kentucky and Indiana, includes exemptions for the elderly, children, and students, officials said. House budget leaders said Medicaid recipients would have to be working, seeking employment, training for a job, or volunteering to receive the benefits.”

Budget Cuts To Undermine CFPB

Trump administration’s latest strike On CFPB: budget cuts. NPR: “The Trump administration is proposing to dramatically cut funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a move critics say is an ongoing assault on the 7-year-old agency. The bureau was championed by Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats and created in the wake of the financial crisis to protect Americans from getting ripped off by financial firms. The White House proposal would chop funding for the CFPB by about $150 million — or a quarter of its budget. Such cuts would mean ‘massive layoffs and disruptions,’ says Mike Calhoun, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending. That would ‘make it hard for it to do its job — a job that it’s been doing incredibly well,’ he says.”

States Expect Russia Meddling In Midterms

Russia looms large as U.S. election officials prep for 2018. Reuters: “While virtually all 50 states have taken steps since the 2016 election to purchase more secure equipment, expand the use of paper ballots, improve cyber training or seek federal assistance, according to groups that track election security, some officials at the conferences expressed an added sense of urgency. That is because the meetings came immediately after U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unsealed an indictment accusing 13 Russians and three Russian companies of conducting a criminal conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election. The charges alleged a sophisticated multi-year operation carried out by a Russian propaganda factory to use false personas on social media to boost Donald Trump’s campaign. Russia has repeatedly denied it attempted to meddle. ‘Loud and clear I hear that the biggest threat is this campaign of disinformation as opposed to the election process itself,’ said Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s secretary of state.”