Progressive Breakfast for September 25

Morning Message

Does the United States Have a ‘Strong’ Economy?

Long-time Republican Party political strategists are having fits. If only we could get average Americans to focus in on the economy instead of The Donald, they say, the GOP would do just fine in the upcoming November midterm elections. Those Republican strategists should be careful what they wish for. Getting average Americans to focus in on the economy ought to be the last thing in the world they want voters to do. An economy, in effect, only deserves celebrating when people with full-time jobs are taking home rising paychecks. In America today, they aren’t.

Sexual Violence Survivors Flood Capitol Hill

Dozens arrested as survivors flood Capitol Hill to share trauma of sexual assault, demand Senate reject Kavanaugh. Common Dreams: “Ahead of a 1pm national walkout on Monday to support Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez—who have accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault—and demand that lawmakers oppose him, hundreds of critics flooded Capitol Hill to target specific senators such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose responses to the women’s claims have outraged advocates for survivors of sexual violence. Those who weren’t arrested then moved to the office of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Survivors who participated in the Capitol Hill protests shared their stories. ‘The stories we’re hearing from survivors are chilling. They’re all too devastating and all too common,’ Women’s March tweeted. ‘They’re why we’re here today. They’re why we’ll be back Thursday.'”

These Senators Can Sink Kavanaugh

5 US Senators are being targeted for protests against Brett Kavanaugh. Alternet: “With at least four different women making allegations of sexual abuse against Trump’s nominee, the anti-Kavanaugh protests will likely intensify as the week progresses. And on top of all the senators being targeted for protests, anti-Kavanaugh activists have urged his opponents to wear black and walk out of their offices, homes and classrooms at 1 p.m. today in opposition to his nomination. The fact that Sen. Collins has become the target of angry anti-Kavanaugh protests is no coincidence. The Maine senator, although conservative, has been willing to vote with Senate Democrats over fellow Republicans at times—in 2017, notably, Collins helped sink a Senate bill that would have overturned the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. Collins, however, voted with fellow Republicans for the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee. But protestors and Kavanaugh opponents are hoping that Collins will show some integrity this time and be willing to buck her party.”

Why The GOP Wants Kavanaugh At Any Cost

The Democratic Dream: defeat Kavanaugh, win the Senate and stop Trump Supreme Court picks. NYT: “If Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination falls apart in the face of sexual misconduct accusations, Mr. Trump faces the very real possibility that he could lose his chance to put even his second choice in this seat, which holds the balance between conservative and liberal wings on the nation’s most important court. Democrats need to pick up only two seats in the midterm elections six weeks from Tuesday to take control of the Senate, and their anger over the Republican refusal to even consider President Barack Obama’s last nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016 is unabated. If Democrats take charge, they could block any choice Mr. Trump sends up or at least force him to pick a candidate more to their liking. That scenario helps explain why Mr. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, are so determined to push through Judge Kavanaugh rather than replace him with a less damaged candidate. Mr. McConnell vowed on Monday to hold a floor vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination regardless of what happens during Thursday’s hearing on a sexual assault allegation against him. With a 51-to-49 majority, Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell have almost no room for error. If Democrats unanimously oppose Judge Kavanaugh, then Republicans can afford to lose only one member of their own conference to push through confirmation on the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. If they lose two, the nomination would be defeated.”

Sweetheart Deal For Coal Polluters

Members of Congress demand answers from the Trump administration on its coal mine deal. BuzzFeed: “Members of Congress have demanded documents related to an unprecedented settlement in which the Trump administration lifted a strong penalty for a repeat violator of coal mine safety laws. In a letter to the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, two Democratic representatives, Bobby Scott of Virginia and Mark Takano of California, said the settlement appeared to violate federal law. The letter also demanded an explanation for the initial attempts to shield the agreement ‘from the public in a cloak of secrecy.’ As BuzzFeed News has reported, the agency recently struck a deal with Pocahontas Coal Company that removed its Affinity mine in West Virginia from the “pattern of violations” status. This designation is the most powerful enforcement tool regulators have to protect miners from companies that repeatedly flout safety rules. Pocahontas Coal is part of the business empire of Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who backed his country’s pro-Russia political party and hired former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.”

Kavanaugh Could End The ACA

Kavanaugh could end health care in West Virginia. Fayette Tribune: “Judge Kavanaugh has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act. In a speech last year, he said the Supreme Court made a mistake in upholding the law as constitutional. He also believes that a president can disregard any law he decides is unconstitutional, further opening the way for President Trump to ignore the law of the land when it comes to health care. This isn’t about Republican versus Democrat or red versus blue. It’s about life and death. No one should be denied the care they need because it’s too expensive. But that will happen without the ACA. Many of my patients will lose their medical card or be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Many West Virginians and Americans will die. These are not nameless, faceless people. They are my patients, our family members, and our neighbors. Judge Kavanaugh has given every indication that he doesn’t believe in the ACA. If he becomes a Supreme Court justice, millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of West Virginians could lose their health insurance. I urge our senators to keep this in mind when they are called to vote on this nominee or any other nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.”