Friday, January 6, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Billionaires Celebrate Their Own Social Security Freedom Day

MORNING MESSAGE

Dave Johnson
Billionaires Celebrate Their Own Social Security Freedom Day
Every year you hear a lot about Tax Freedom Day. This is the day the public supposedly has “earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year.” ... Let’s see how this “Tax Freedom Day” formula can be applied to framing America’s retirement crisis ... [Social Security] taxes are paid until we reach a “cap” of $127,200 in a year so the maximum anyone pays is $7,886 ... “Social Security Freedom Day” never arrives for most of us. But how early does “Social Security Freedom Day” arrive for some of us?

Republicans Reveal Their Priorities...

GOP to rush cabinet confirmations. Politico:Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s conference has scheduled six Cabinet-level confirmations hearings for next Wednesday, Jan. 11, the same day the chamber will likely slog through an all-night vote-a-rama on a budget and the president-elect will give his first press conference in six months … Republicans insist their intention is not to obscure the confirmation hearings [but] it may tank Senate Democrats’ long-planned strategy to systematically attack Trump’s cabinet and wound the Republican Party.”
And regulatory rollback. The Atlantic: “…one obscure legislative tool is suddenly getting scads of attention: a rarely used oversight measure called the Congressional Review Act… Folks on the Hill estimate that CRA will be used to nix somewhere between 8 and 12 rules. (Which ones should get the axe, and in what order, remains a subject of energetic internal debate. Those mentioned to me include the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, greenhouse-gas emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks, and the Stream Protection Rule.) Not that there aren’t plenty of others they consider worthy of takedown. It’s largely a question of floor time…”
But “slow-walk” infrastructure. Politico: “The president-elect’s bold talk about creating millions of jobs while making America’s roads, bridges and airports ‘second to none’ is turning into an afterthought for congressional Republicans … Republican leaders have scarcely mentioned anything besides Obamacare since being sworn in Tuesday … not even Trump has spelled out whether his $1 trillion proposal would actually boost federal spending on transportation projects, as opposed to drawing in money from the private sector .
You, not Mexico, will pay for the wall. Politico: “Republicans are considering whether to tuck the border wall funding into a must-pass spending bill that must be enacted by the end of April … The plan appeared to be an implicit acknowledgment by Republicans and the incoming administration that Mexico will not pay for the border wall. But in a tweet Friday morning, Trump denied that, saying he still plans to force Mexico to pick up the tab on the back end … The cost of a border wall is potentially enormous, with estimates ranging from a few billion dollars to $14 billion.”
The Nation’s John Nichols explains, “Why Workers Everywhere Should Be Scared by Kentucky’s Assault on Unions”: ” Until this year, Democrats controlled the Kentucky House of Representatives and were able to block anti-labor legislation that was advanced by Republican Governor Matt Bevin … But in November Republicans won a majority in the Kentucky House … Union busting is on a fast track … It suggests that, upon grabbing the reins of power, Republicans [will] move immediately to undermine unions…”

...BUT Stuck IN Obamacare Vise

Republicans won’t promise to actually cover people in their health care plan. The Hill: “Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday declined to commit when asked at a press conference if the Republican plan would allow everyone covered through ObamaCare to remain insured … He instead called for a system ‘that gives us access to affordable healthcare in this country without a costly government takeover.’ … Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said[,] ‘It will be very hard for any replacement plan that spends less than the ACA to cover as many people, and scaling back rules for required benefits will lead to skimpier coverage.'”
Sen. Tom Cotton off the bus? The Hill quotes: “I think it would not be the right path for us to repeal ObamaCare without laying out a path forward … I think when we repeal ObamaCare, we need to have the solution in place moving forward. … I do not think we can just repeal ObamaCare and say we’ll give the answer two years from now.”
Americans don’t want “repeal and delay.” LAT: “Just two in 10 Americans support the GOP strategy to quickly vote for repeal and work out details of a replacement later, according to the poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation … There is also widespread skepticism about Trump’s ability to guarantee better healthcare at lower costs, as the president-elect has said he will do. Slightly more than half of Americans say they are not confident…”
“Republicans Want Revenge for Obamacare and It’s Making Them Do Stupid Things” says TNR’s Brian Beutler: “Republicans must now choose between walking onto what they acknowledge is a political minefield and reneging on the political promise that has defined them—that became their organizing principle as an opposition party—during the Obama years. In a more sane environment, they would accept Democrats’ offer to improve Obamacare in ways that Trump voters say they want, and then claim victory in the repeal fight … Naturally, such a remedy is under consideration by nobody.”

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