Thursday, March 2, 2017

Progressive Breakfast: Stop Trump's Privatization Agenda

MORNING MESSAGE

Dave Johnson
Stop Trump’s Privatization Agenda
President Trump is said to be preparing to privatize key public services, including the Veterans Administration (VA), public schools, and public broadcasting, expanding private prisons and launching a privatized infrastructure program. Republicans in Congress want to go even further, to privatize Medicare, the Postal Service, National Parks, air traffic control and other functions of our government. This is on top of previous privatizations of military contracts, and even the Senate cafeteria ... why is it such a priority for the Trump administration?

No Money For Wall

Trump can’t find money for the wall. Reuters: “…so far, the DHS has identified only $20 million that can be re-directed to the multi-billion-dollar project, according to a document prepared by the agency and distributed to congressional budget staff last week.The document said the funds would be enough to cover a handful of contracts for wall prototypes, but not enough to begin construction of an actual barrier. This means that for the wall to move forward, the White House will need to convince Congress to appropriate funds.”
“Immigration activists open to negotiating with Trump” reports The Hill: “Immigration activists say they are open to negotiating a deal with President Trump, even if it means setting aside a pathway to citizenship for those living in the U.S. illegally … That message marks a shift from the immigration debate under President Obama, when liberal reform advocates insisted that any legislation must include a pathway to citizenship … The president hinted at an agreement that could provide some form of legal status for undocumented people but said it would not include a path to citizenship.”
Dems don’t see an immigration deal. Politico: “In his first joint address to Congress Tuesday night … he warned that the U.S. could become a ‘sanctuary for extremists’ and spoke more about criminal immigrants than the vast, law-abiding majority … In one reference that elicited groans from congressional Democrats, the president touted the creation of a new office within Homeland Security to support victims of crimes by deportable immigrants … Even his vision of immigration reform suggested a move to restrict legal immigration or at least reduce the number of ‘lower-skilled’ immigrants and adopt a merit-based system that would prize skills over family connections. The result nullified whatever goodwill he might have engendered among Democrats with his more centrist comments earlier in the day.”
Colleges that admit undocumented immigrants could lose funds. Bloomberg: “In Congress and statehouses across the country, legislators are pushing bills that aim to withhold government funding from sanctuary colleges. One hundred of the nation’s top universities could lose as much as 25 percent of their annual revenue if they refuse to help immigration agents after bills such as these become law. For a few state flagships, direct taxpayer funding contributes more than 70 percent of annual revenue.”

House Missing Senate Support On ACA

ACA repeal could move through House committee next week. The Hill: “The House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning to mark up ­repeal-and-replace legislation next week … a path forward for legislation in the House remains unclear … members of the Energy and Commerce Committee would be getting a draft bill Thursday … the committee vote is likely to occur before the Congressional Budget Office finishes its analysis of the bill. That means estimates on the bill’s cost and how many people could lose coverage would not be available at the time of the committee vote.”
Senate GOP not on board with House plan. Politico: “Senate Republicans aren’t backing the latest House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying they are reserving judgment until House leaders provide key details about the proposal they intend to advance as soon as next week … due to the sensitivity of the issue there was no bill shown to senators by the House chairmen, an apparent attempt to prevent leaks. But it also made it hard for senators to buy in.”
“Tax dodgers could be winners under ACA repeal.” Politico: “One of the Obamacare tax provisions now at risk of being killed by lawmakers is aimed at cracking down on tax shelters. Known among experts as the ‘economic substance doctrine,’ it targets sham transactions used by businesses and wealthy individuals to avoid paying taxes.”

Trump Warns WTO

Trump may snub WTO. LAT: “In a mandated annual report to Congress outlining the president’s trade agenda … the administration gave notice to the rest of the world that the U.S. would no longer tolerate distortions in global markets and that it stood ready to make a radical break from the past by emphasizing U.S. laws instead of deferring to global trading rules set by the WTO…”
Sen. John Cornyn tries to save NAFTA in Politico oped: “Trade with our southern neighbor supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in my state and provides more goods at a better price for Texas families … But like anything that’s dated, there’s room for NAFTA to be improved … That means keeping legitimate trade and travel flowing, while simultaneously screening criminal elements and contraband to keep them out…”
Economist Alan Tonelson defends Trump’s trade plans in NYT oped: “… trade-war alarmists … apparently assume that the same countries that rely so heavily on exports to the United States for their growth, economic development and employment will unleash attacks on their biggest and best customer.”
Priorities USA strategy memo counsels Dems on fighting Trump tax plan. USA Today: “…, it advises casting Trump’s tax plan as a transfer of wealth from the working class … ‘The best way to criticize it is in terms of how it will negatively impact middle-class Americans, not simply in terms of the benefits it will lavish on others.'”

Dems Look To Small Donors

DNC looks to build small-donor base. The Hill: “[Deputy Chair Keith] Ellison has been by [Chair Tom] Perez’s side ever since the chairman chose him to be his top deputy. Ellison has been in close contact with the DNC’s finance team and appears eager to help the national party transition to the Sanders donor model. The DNC is working on what one official described as ‘an innovative, small-dollar digital fundraising effort’ authored by Perez and Ellison that is ‘designed to reach the most diverse cross-section of our party as possible.'”
Several progressive groups try to boot Sen. Joe Manchin from Senate Dem leadership. The Hill: “Several liberal groups plan to deliver a petition to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) Thursday morning calling on him to remove Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) from party leadership. The groups argue that Manchin’s lack of resistance to President Trump warrants his removal as the vice chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee … One of the groups involved in the petition effort against Manchin, We Will Replace You, is threatening primary challenges to Democratic senators who have not committed to a full resistance of Trump’s agenda.”

Breakfast Sides

Enviro deregulation moves quickly. Politico: “In just 40 days, Trump has made it easier for coal miners to dump their waste into West Virginia streams, ordered the repeal of Clean Water Act protections for vast stretches of wetlands, proposed massive job cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency and prepared to begin revoking the Obama administration’s most ambitious climate change regulations … sources close to the administration told POLITICO the administration is considering nominating Kathleen Hartnett White, a former Texas environmental regulator who is a vocal skeptic of mainstream climate science, to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, a move that would infuriate green groups…”
Trump eyes school vouchers. NYT: “A Department of Education official said on Wednesday afternoon that Mr. Trump and Ms. DeVos were considering a number of ways to create a federal school choice program that would offer tax credit scholarships. That would allow individuals and corporations to make tax deductible donations to nonprofit networks of private schools, which then provide tuition scholarships to students. The administration is also considering allowing schools to directly access Title I funds from the Education Department that are used to help support low income students.”

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