Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Don't Watch Donald Trump's Inauguration

MORNING MESSAGE

Bill Scher
Don’t Watch Donald Trump’s Inauguration
That inauguration next week? Don’t watch. State of the Union? You’re better off with an early night’s sleep. Oval Office addresses? Speeches? Rallies? Press conferences? “Exclusive” TV interviews? Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to get to instead. What will that do? A mass refusal to watch Trump on TV will deprive him of big ratings, which he routinely uses to create a false impression of widespread popularity.
Don’t Take Away Our Health Care

This week, Congress will vote on a budget resolution to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take health care away from millions. This is the right wing’s first step toward gutting the health care we all count on. On top of eliminating the ACA, Republican leadership wants to slash Medicaid and privatize Medicare. We can stop this outrageous plan. 
Be a health care champion. Call your Senators and Representatives by dialing the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Tell them to vote no on taking away our health care, and no on the budget resolution. Give everyone in our country the health care we need at a price we can afford.

CONFIRMATIONS HIT SNAG

Four confirmation hearings delayed. NYT: “Hearings for Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Education; Andrew Puzder, his labor secretary nominee; and Representative Mike Pompeo, Republican of Kansas, Mr. Trump’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, have all been pushed back as Democrats clamor for more time to collect and review the standard background checks that nominees traditionally undergo before their hearings commence. Wilbur Ross, Mr. Trump’s pick for secretary of commerce, will also be delayed several days because his ethics agreement is not complete … The delays represent a stumble for the incoming Trump administration, which has vowed to run government with a businesslike efficiency…”
More hearings on tap today. The Hill: “The Foreign Relations Committee’s meeting with [State Dept. nominee Rex] Tillerson is likely to be dominated by Russia … Democrats are also prepping questions about Tillerson’s views on climate change … Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will testify against Sessions on Wednesday … Wednesday’s hearing [for Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao] will give senators the chance to probe one of Trump’s biggest campaign promises: an effort to rebuild the country’s infrastructure worth up to $1 trillion …”
Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder faces domestic abuse allegations. Politico: “The ex-wife of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, appeared in disguise on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ as a victim of domestic violence, after having accused him multiple times of physically assaulting her in the 1980s … Additionally, a 1988 petition obtained by POLITICO from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County provides previously unreported details of the alleged abuse … Puzder’s confirmation hearing, originally scheduled to take place next week, has been delayed as the Senate confronts a crowded nominations calendar, and may not take place until February…”
Jeff Sessions hints at his voter rights agenda on first day of Attorney General confirmation hearings. ThinkProgress: “In 1985, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), then a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, led the prosecution of three African American civil rights activists, accusing them of committing voter fraud by forging absentee ballots they collected through a registration drive … during the first day of his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sessions described the litigation as a ‘voting rights case.’ … The comments provide a preview of how Attorney General Sessions and his Justice Department would handle voting rights … Under Sessions, it’s likely that the department will shift its focus to prosecuting ‘voter fraud,’ an exceedingly rare occurrence.”
Sessions likely has the votes. NYT: “The support of moderate Republican senators like Susan Collins of Maine and Democrats like Joe Manchin III of West Virginia seems to all but assure his confirmation.”

TRUMP MUDDIES OBAMACARE WATERS

Trump confuses Republicans on Obamacare. Politico: “Republicans on Capitol Hill are in disarray about how to repeal Obamacare and President-elect Donald Trump’s call on Tuesday to enact a replacement ‘very quickly’ did nothing to clear up the turmoil … The statement took lawmakers on Capitol Hill by surprise. Many had hoped Trump would weigh in. But while he made his intentions clearer, his comments didn’t exactly offer a roadmap. Some even scoffed at the notion that repeal and replace could technically happen that soon, given the procedural and policy hurdles.”
More from Politico: “…the budget and accompanying reconciliation language is a sure thing to clear the Senate [tonight or tomorrow morning], and the House is expected to quickly follow suit, passing it as early as Friday. The budget doesn’t become law, but it’s the only way to set reconciliation — in other words, Obamacare repeal — in motion … The budget currently instructs several committees to draft legislation to gut the health law by Jan. 27. But a handful of Senate Republicans are pushing to delay the deadline until March 3 … Completely replacing Obamacare would mean action on legislation that doesn’t touch on budgetary matters and must be done outside of the reconciliation process [and] would require Democratic votes to get over the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.”

GOP SHARPENS KNIVES FOR MEDICARE

Republicans press Trump to overhaul Medicare. The Hill: “‘Math and demographics dictate that we deal with Medicare…,’ [said] GOP Rep. Mark Sanford … Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a onetime presidential rival to Trump, called it ‘inexcusable’ that his own party would push through a budget that didn’t rein in entitlement spending … ‘We intend to try to save Medicare from insolvency, and we’ll be working to that end,’ said Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), who previously served on Ryan’s GOP leadership team…”
Proposed budget amendment to protect Medicare and Social Security fails in Senate. W. Post: “An amendment drafted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), using language that Donald Trump used to assure voters he would not cut Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security, won 49 votes Tuesday, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joining every Democrat and independent to vote yes.”

TRUMP NEEDS IMMIGRANTS

Trump may need immigrants to boost GDP. Bloomberg: “…demographic pressures reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression … Without an improvement in productivity or an influx of people into the workforce, GDP can’t accelerate … the expansion in U.S. residents shows sustained damage from the financial crisis of 2008-2009 … Immigration could help propel population growth, but that’s hardly been a pillar of Trump’s agenda…”
Economists shut out of the Trump administration. NYT’s Justin Wolfers: ” Few of his key economic advisers have any economics training, and the only official who identifies as an economist — Peter Navarro, who earned a Harvard Ph.D. in economics and will head up the newly formed National Trade Council — stands so far outside the mainstream that he endorses few of the key tenets of the profession … The pervasive pessimism among professional economists stands in stark contrast with the judgment of financial markets…”

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