Friday, January 13, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Will Betsy DeVos Restart The 'Education Wars'?

MORNING MESSAGE

Jeff Bryant
Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’?
[Betsy Devos'] nomination risks “reigniting the education wars,” according to Randi Weingarten, the leader of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers union ... Weingarten referrs to the passage of new federal education legislation in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act, that resolved many of the disputes over testing, teacher evaluation, and test-based “accountability” provisions that had been instigated by the previous federal law, No Child Left Behind ... in Trump’s selection of DeVos, Weingarten sees “the antithesis of public education, ESSA bipartisanship, and what kids need.”
Resistance Assemblies Sunday
President-elect Donald Trump, his agenda, and his toxic cabinet nominees have galvanized unprecedented energy for activism around the country and people are looking for ways to get involved. People’s Action, MoveOn and the Working Families Party, are coordinating resistance assemblies on Sunday. More than 500 gatherings are registered.Sign up to attend a resistance assembly in your community at MoveOn.org and learn how to join the fight to resist Trump.

RYAN PUSHES QUICK OBAMACARE REPEAL

Speaker Paul Ryan insists Obamacare replacement can happen quickly during CNN town hall: “‘We want to do this at the same time, and in some cases in the same bill,’ Ryan said … adding that the GOP will act ‘definitely within these first 100 days’ of Trump’s presidency … He added that he supports elements of the health care law — including that ‘people with pre-existing conditions, no matter how much money they make,’ should have access to insurance …”
House votes today to advance Obamacare repeal. The Hill: “The Senate approved the legislation early Thursday morning, and the House is expected to follow suit before adjourning until the inauguration … It’s likely a handful of House Republicans will … oppose the measure, but not enough to tank it … A handful of conservative lawmakers are already on record saying they will vote no on the GOP budget, griping that it doesn’t do enough to tackle federal spending and debt or that leadership has not laid out enough details of how it will go about replacing ObamaCare.”
“Our First Stand” rallies, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders scheduled for Sunday to defend Obamacare.

CONFIRMATION TROUBLE?

Tillerson confirmation up in the air. The Hill: “No Democrats have come out to publicly support Tillerson, and key Republicans aren’t saying how they’ll vote … Rubio’s vote is key. Republicans have only a one-seat majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so if he opposed the nomination, the committee might not give Tillerson a favorable recommendation.”
Fight to defeat Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder heats up. NYT: “On Thursday, fast-food workers and a variety of others protested Mr. Puzder’s nomination in more than a dozen cities across the country, in some cases at Hardee’s or Carl’s Jr. locations and in front of Department of Labor offices in others … Democrats and labor groups were heartened this week that the Senate panel overseeing his confirmation process … delayed the hearing for the second time, to an indeterminate date.”
Financial dealings of Betsy DeVos could trip up her nomination for Education Secretary. NYT: “She is a billionaire with a complex web of financial investments, including in companies that stand to win or lose from the department she would oversee … The hearing, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday of this week, was postponed until Tuesday after Democrats complained she had not completed an agreement with the independent Office of Government Ethics … The ethics office has said it has not completed its review of Ms. DeVos … Senator Patty Murray of Washington … said she and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the panel’s Republican chairman, ‘have some concerns about missing information’ on the financial disclosure forms that Ms. DeVos has filed…”
Cabinet nominees often disagreeing with Trump. NYT: “America should not torture. Russia is a menace. A wall at the Mexican border would not be effective. A blanket ban against Muslims is wrong. Climate change is a threat. Those statements are in direct opposition to some of the most significant declarations that President-elect Donald J. Trump made before his improbable ascension to the White House. They are also the words of his own nominees to lead the nation’s most important government agencies.”

BERNIE V. BOOKER OVER BIG PHARMA

“Bernie Sanders slams Democrats for lacking ‘guts’ to fight Big Pharma” reports USA Today: “Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday blasted 13 Senate Democrats for lacking the ‘guts’ to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry after they voted against a measure he pushed to help drive down drug costs by importing them from Canada … he plans to personally speak with the senators who opposed the measure — which failed 52-46 on Wednesday — and try to turn them around. A dozen Republicans voted in favor … Several senators said they voted for other measures to drive down drug costs and they cited safety concerns as the reason for their opposition to the Klobuchar-Sanders measure.”
“Cory Booker’s explanation for voting against cheap prescription drugs doesn’t track” says TNR’s Alex Shephard: “… Booker may not have anticipated the backlash he’s received. On Thursday, he sent a defensive statement to Jezebel justifying his decision … the idea that imported drugs don’t meet American safety standard … is silly, given that Americans already import drugs from Canada illegally and it hasn’t resulted in a public health emergency.”

BREAKFAST SIDES

Republicans turn fire on Office of Government Ethics chief. NYT: “The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday issued a stern letter, including a veiled threat of an investigation, to the federal government’s top ethics monitor, who this week had questioned President-elect Donald J. Trump’s commitment to confront his potential conflicts of interest … Mr. Chaffetz, in his letter, noted his committee’s authority to reauthorize the office, a hint that it could perhaps be shut down.”
Robots not taking all the jobs … yet. NYT: “A measured pace [of job displacement] is likely because what is technically possible is only one factor in determining how quickly new technology is adopted, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute. Other crucial ingredients include economics, labor markets, regulations and social attitudes.”
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