Thursday, February 2, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Betsy DeVos May Want Quack Science Taught Instead of Real Thing

MORNING MESSAGE

Jeff Bryant
Betsy DeVos May Want Quack Science Taught Instead of Real Thing
...recent revelations in major news outlets should raise alarms about DeVos’s views on science and how they may influence her decision-making on national education policy. In her charitable giving, her financial investments, and the rhetoric she uses to express her intentions as secretary, DeVos has exhibited a propensity to favor beliefs ground in quack science ... One of those concerns is the affinity DeVos has long had for organizations that push “intelligent design,”...
Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary—fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder—is out of touch with the needs of working people. Despite having built his business and fortune on the backs of hard working Americans, he opposes meaningful increases to the minimum wage and overtime pay.

DeVOS IN TROUBLE

DeVos nomination hanging by a thread. Politico: “Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski said Wednesday they will vote against the Education Department nominee. That could very well mean a 50-50 standoff on the Senate floor — and Vice President Mike Pence being called in to put DeVos over the top … [But] if Republicans are able to make sure they don’t have attendance problems, DeVos is likely to be confirmed on Monday … ‘I have heard from thousands, truly, thousands of Alaskans who have shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos,’ Murkowski said … Both Republicans have expressed concerns about her support for voucher programs … Republicans said privately that Collins and Murkowski waited to announce their opposition once the rest of the votes for DeVos were locked up…”
Republicans break boycott of Mnuchin and Price votes. Politico: “After Democrats boycotted committee votes on Trump’s Treasury and health secretary picks for the second straight day, the GOP unilaterally changed the panel’s rules to approve both nominees without their votes. Democrats also sat out a committee vote on Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency nominee, but Republicans vowed to push past that roadblock as well.”

DEMS STRUGGLE WITH GORSUCH

Questions whether Dems will mount a filibuster against Gorsuch. The Hill: “…Schumer stopped short of promising a filibuster against Gorsuch, saying instead that Trump’s nominee should meet a 60-vote threshold to get on the court … Sen. Jeff Merkley … began the week promising a filibuster … But no other Democrats have so far used Merkley’s language [and] appeared to be in no hurry to make promises.”
Politico explores the Dem divide on Gorsuch: “[Sen. Claire] McCaskill may be the least likely of the five [deep red state Dems] to support Gorsuch, given her fiery style of politics and fierce defense of abortion rights. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is on the other end of the spectrum: He decried liberals’ obstruction and met with Gorsuch on Wednesday … Somewhere in the middle are [Sen. Heidi] Heitkamp and Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Jon Tester of Montana …”
Dems to press whether Gorsuch will be independent of Trump. NYT: “…Democrats intend to aggressively question whether Judge Gorsuch will hold in check the man who seeks to elevate him to the nation’s most influential court … top Democrats believe that simply blocking the nomination without a reasonable rationale would make it easier for Senate Republicans to justify changing Senate practices to eliminate the filibuster against Supreme Court nominees.”

DUELING DNC ENDORSEMENTS

The Nation endorses Ellison for DNC Chair: “The right response to this crisis is a retooling of the Democratic National Committee to align it more closely with movements for social and economic justice. The party must make the inside/outside connection that will strengthen immediate resistance to the Trump regime, while improving the long-term electoral prospects of Democrats. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is prepared to do just that.”
Several unions break with AFL-CIO, endorse Tom Perez. The Hill: “A fifth AFL-CIO-affiliated group broke with the labor giant on Thursday to back former Labor Secretary Tom Perez … The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers [credited] Perez fought to implement a rule to limit worker exposure to a chemical compound … The AFL-CIO as a whole, which represents 55 unions, has endorsed Ellison.”
“Trump’s Blue-Collar Populism Is Dividing Unions” says Bloomberg: “Donald Trump’s presidency presents unions with the threat that unified Republican governance will bring sweeping, hostile changes to laws they hold dear. Labor has responded with a muddle of denunciation, cautious quiet and, in some cases, even exultation … most unions insist they’ll support the good Trump tries to do and oppose the bad. In practice, their dissonant messages reflect long-running disagreements.”

TRUMP SCRAMBLES ON TRAVEL BAN

Travel ban now exempts green card holders. Politico: “White House Counsel Don McGahn issued “authoritative guidance” on Wednesday clarifying that key parts of Trump’s controversial executive order, which is aimed at citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, will no longer cover green card holders … The memo from the White House counsel appeared to be a face-saving way for the White House to redraft the executive order without incurring the embarrassment of actually having Trump sign a new executive order that eliminated the impact on green card holders.”
“Foreigners Trapped in the United States by New Policy” reports NYT: “Tens of thousands of immigrants find themselves effectively trapped in the United States, unable to travel abroad even for funerals or family health emergencies without risking losing their legal residency status, as the Trump administration struggles with the rocky introduction of its travel ban.”

CORPORATIONS WORRY ABOUT CERTAINTY

Corporations worried Trump threatens stability. Bloomberg: “Tax policy is a complete mystery … Health-care policy is even more mysterious. Trump has promised to do a ‘big number on Dodd-Frank’ and has issued an executive order requiring agencies to retire two regulations for each new regulation they implement, but that order doesn’t seem to apply to Trump’s own remarkable flurry of rules that complicate the regulation of immigration and business relocation … Many [business leaders] grouse in private about the impact of Trump’s actions but are afraid to speak out publicly … President Trump’s first week, of drastic and inconsistent ad hoc regulation, seems unlikely to inspire any certainty.”
Former Obama aide Gene Sperlings questions if we can trust government economic numbers under Trump, in The Atlantic: “…every administration since 1974 had been cautious about never again allowing the type of ugly political interference that President Richard Nixon became famous for … Will [Trump] revive the Nixonian tradition of interfering with federal economic agencies if they announce numbers that do not please him?”
New Secretary of State Tillerson about to get his way on Dodd-Frank. Politico: “Back in 2010, ExxonMobil’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, was deeply worried about Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, a bipartisan amendment that required drilling and mining companies to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments … [Now] the GOP is preparing to try to kill the disclosure rule … despite warnings from international aid groups that the move would provide a wink-and-nod blessing to hidden corporate payments to petro-thugs. The House is expected to act this afternoon … Senate Republicans will need a mere majority rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes to follow suit.”

DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE STILL MAY NOT HAPPEN

ABC explains “Why the Dakota Access Pipeline May Not Proceed Imminently: “…despite what [Republicans] have said, the Army has indicated the easement may not be imminent … The U.S. Army said today it has ‘initiated the steps outlined’ in the president’s Jan. 24 directive [but] the easement has not yet been granted … A status hearing is slated for Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C….”
More arrests, reports Mother Jones: “Seventy-six protesters were arrested near the town of Cannon Ball after setting up a camp on land owned by Energy Transfer Partners … Protesters near the pipeline’s path have vowed to resist any attempts to evict them, but their numbers are depleted.”
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