Author Topic: U.S. Politics  (Read 875 times)

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2021, 11:18:09 PM »
President Biden has cut child poverty in half. Another historic feat for his administration.

The U.S. is cutting poverty in half. Shame on us for not doing this sooner

A surge in COVID-19-inspired initiatives will reduce Americans in poverty by a whopping 20 million people. Why didn't this happen sooner?

The myth of “the welfare queen” that flourished under Ronald Reagan, powered 40 years of Republican election victories and guided government policy as America largely dismantled its social safety net, is finally dead. Or at least on life support.

Instead, the nation is finally learning that the real beneficiaries of government aid are women like New Hampshire’s Christina Darling, who is spending her monthly checks for $550 a month in the new expanded child tax credit program on things like buying more fresh produce for her two kids. Her new monetary lifeline isn’t leading to fur coats or a Cadillac — the stuff of GOP campaign trail fantasy for decades — but it is helping make payments on the modest car that the 31-year-old bought to take the children safely to day care. Darling told the Associated Press she might even occasionally hire a babysitter — to get more involved in civic life and run for her city’s council.

"The additional money does help alleviate the pressure,” another New Hampshire beneficiary of the program — 29-year-old Brianne Walker, a mother of three who quit a job to raise her two siblings after her mom died from a drug overdose and began receiving $800 a month this summer — told the AP. The news service talked to parents across the nation about the new tax credit program — part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill signed by President Biden, which expanded the benefits and turned it from a more complicated year-end tax filing to the monthly checks — and found the payments were going to rent, paying off debt, or putting more food on the table, and giving beleaguered working-class folks a chance to breathe.

One study suggested that the new, expanded tax credits — going out to more than 35 million households with children — could reduce child poverty in America by 45%. That’s remarkable, and it’s just part of a broader trend as the shock of the global pandemic forced the government to take the economic struggles of the poor and the lower middle class more seriously than any time since Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty in the mid-1960s.

A New York Times report last week looked at the wider array of expanded safety programs that were enacted since early 2020 to respond to the economic shocks of the coronavirus outbreak — one-time government stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and increased food stamps — and the impact was staggering. Experts cited by the Times found that some 20 million Americans rose out of poverty since 2018, which would essentially cut the rate of those the government classifies as poor in half, now at the lowest level since Washington began keeping track.

"Wow — these are stunning findings,” Bob Greenstein, a veteran anti-poverty expert now with the Brookings Institution, told the newspaper. That sums up the almost giddy mood of experts who hadn’t seen such a rapid policy shift in their lifetimes. For a brief, shining moment in the 1960s, defeating poverty had seemed like the final frontier for a nation that had helped win World War II and was sending astronauts to the moon — and LBJ’s Great Society did make a significant dent for a few years before the backlash. White resentment politics that played up any reports of abuse and ignored the public good had won the day by the 1980s.

Those same forces of reaction are still out there, still lurking. The vast web of conservative think tanks created amid the anti-welfare backlash is still arguing — with little or no evidence — that these programs discourage able-bodied people from working, the great immoral panic of capitalism. The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector told the Times, “You want policies that encourage work and marriage, not undermine it” — but that just seems totally bass-ackward. Affording child care or a working automobile actually helps people find jobs, and what historically has been more destructive to marriage than poverty?

That’s why it’s so critical that the public keeps hearing these success stories — like Walker and Darling or 24-year-old Jessica Moore of St. Louis, who lost her job as a banquet server with the pandemic but has used her stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits to buy a car and enroll in community college, where she’s studying to become an emergency medical technician. In other words, a job. Are you listening, Heritage Foundation?

Whoever controls this narrative between now and the 2022 midterm elections is going to control the future of America’s middle class, which has been shrinking for generations. Even progressives agree that a lot of the 2020-21 government aid was emergency relief that won’t be continued, but the last 17 months have also taught us how a real safety net can improve daily life, especially for children who need to start out life with a fair shot.

Several key decisions loom, including whether to make the expanded child tax credit permanent but also an array of pro-family programs proposed by the Biden administration that would greatly expand child care — probably the most pro-job, anti-poverty measure in the toolbox — and make community college tuition-free, and much more. Conservatives will argue that America can’t afford this, and to be sure it wasn’t cheap to so sharply reduce the poverty rate. It’s estimated that — largely because of the one-off payments made necessary by the pandemic — spending on the basic social safety net quadrupled to $1 trillion.

The costs of the proposals forward are not as great, and there’s a powerful case — given the improvement these programs have made in people’s lives, and, thus, in a civil society — that how can we afford not to do this? Remember, we’re talking about the United States of America, the nation that just spent $2.26 trillion on an almost “forever war” in Afghanistan that after its first year or two seemed to accomplish little or nothing.

Regardless of which party is in power, the White House and Congress never ask, “Can we afford it?” as they constantly expand the Pentagon budget to an astronomical $750 billion a year, or more than the next 11 biggest nations combined. Just a modest rightsizing of what still would be the world’s most powerful military would free up hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild America’s middle class. So would simply restoring tax rates on our uber-profitable corporations and the billionaires who run them back to the historically low level those rates were at in 2017 (or, heaven forbid, the 50% top marginal tax rate that existed *after* Reagan’s popular 1981 tax cut).

Given the obscene space program funding fortunes accumulated by the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Walmart’s Walton family — employers where low-wage workers often already get government benefits like food stamps to make ends meet — even a wealth tax of the kind proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren deserves a debate, in the name of restoring balance to a U.S. society that’s spent 40 years careening off the rails.

It’s impossible, frankly, not to look at America’s struggling working-class moms finally putting some greens on the dinner table or driving off to community college and wonder why this hasn’t been a top priority — as opposed to new fighter jets and propping up the U.S. yacht industry. The news that the United States is cutting poverty in half — at least for now, if the jackals can be held at bay — is, on one hand, a feel-good story, yet in another way, it’s a deeply troubling one. Because the world’s richest nation had the power and the ability to do this years ago. The fact that we didn’t should be a moment of national shame and reflection.

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2021, 02:44:49 AM »
Josh Hawley sued for accepting nearly $1 million in illegally coordinated campaign expenses

The Giffords gun safety organization has sued the National Rifle Association and the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, alleging group used shell corporations to improperly aid the Republican lawmakers in 2018.

The suit alleges two NRA affiliates made up to $35 million in illegal campaign contributions — in the form of coordinated communications efforts — to the GOP Senate campaigns of Hawley, Rosendale, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, as well as Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

It was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week.

The NRA Political Victory Fund, a political action committee, and the NRA Institute for Legislative Action spent millions on supposedly independent political advertising for the six Senate candidates and Trump in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 federal election cycles, according to the suit.

The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign finance group, is representing Giffords, a gun-safety group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in part to counter the NRA's influence in national politics.

Under a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, outside groups are allowed to spend unlimited amounts on political speech, including advertisements in favor of candidates.

But federal campaign finance rules require such advertisements to be commissioned without coordinating with campaigns. Coordinated messaging counts as an in-kind contribution.

Political action committees are subject to a $5,000 limit per cycle on contributions, including in-kind contributions, to a single candidate. Corporations are not allowed to spend treasury funds for coordinated messaging on behalf of political candidates.

The suit accuses the NRA and the campaigns of using the same political messaging firms to disguise coordinated campaign activity as independent advertising.

The NRA paid Starboard Strategic Inc., a Virginia and Maryland-headquartered company, for advertising in support of the candidates. The candidates paid a company called OnMessage that the suit says is “functionally indistinguishable" from Starboard.

“They are led by the same people and located at the same address, and no internal separation or firewall exists between the staff who work for each entity," the suit says. “OnMessage has been nominated for, and has accepted, industry awards for [NRA] ads contracted through Starboard."

The companies, which the suit alleges are actually one firm operating under two names, then coordinated to create and place complementary advertisements—exactly the type of coordination that is not supposed to be allowed between campaigns and outside groups.

“By falsely claiming their advertising spending was independent, however, the NRA affiliates evaded [federal] contribution limits, source prohibitions and disclosure requirements," the Campaign Legal Center said in a statement.

OnMessage previously drew controversy in Missouri after the Kansas City Star revealed that soon after Hawley was sworn in as state attorney general in 2017, he brought consultants from the firm who would go on to run his Senate campaign into his official office to help direct taxpayer-funded staff.

A report issued by the state auditor's office in 2020 was unable to say conclusively whether the arrangement violated the law because state business was being conducted using private email and text messages.

During the 2018 campaign, Rosendale seemed to publicly confirm his campaign was coordinating with the NRA, the suit alleges. At a July 18, 2018, fundraiser, Rosendale said the NRA Institute for Legal Affairs political director, Chris Cox, would make expenditures in support of Rosendale, then accurately described the content and the timing of the ads that ran weeks later, according to the suit.

The suit says Rosendale accepted up to $383,196 in coordinated expenditures. Hawley accepted up to $973,196, the suit says.

The bulk of the illegal expenditures—$25 million of the $35 million total alleged—went to Trump's 2016 campaign, according to the suit.

Although the suit only names Hawley and Rosendale, other matters concerning the other candidates named in the suit could be proceeding at the Federal Election Commission, the federal regulator for campaign finance violations. The FEC keeps proceedings secret while they are ongoing.

The suit arose from an administrative proceeding at the FEC that Giffords brought in April 2019, but the commission— long derided as a toothless regulator—took no action.

A September court order gave the agency 30 days to act. If the agency did not act, Giffords would be allowed under that order to bring the matter to civil court. The FEC has not acted since that court order.

Because the original complaint was made in 2019, it did not cover the 2020 elections, when Rosendale, Tillis, Gardner, Cotton and Trump all ran again for federal office.

Representatives for the NRA, Hawley, Rosendale, Tillis, Johnson and Gardner did not respond to messages seeking comment Friday.

Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence.

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2021, 03:48:24 AM »
Once again folks, there's no such thing as a "Liberal Media" which right wingers constantly lie about and here's another perfect example. The media is owned by right wing corporations, and our main stream media and cable news outlets like CSPAN, allow far right wing extremists like Matt Schlapp to push lies and propaganda without ever being called out on their blatant lies. This is how lies are being peddled in the main stream media from these right wing hacks who come on these programs.

C-SPAN host raked over the coals for letting Matt Schlapp spew lies about 2020 election for an hour

Washington Journal weekend host Bill Scanlan was hammered by a listener on his own show after an interview with conservative Matt Schlapp who went off on a rant about the 2020 election being fraudulent. The claim, which has become known as "the big lie," has been proven false by even conservative news outlets.

A woman from Illinois said that she'd been a loyal CSPAN viewer for 20 years and was aghast hearing Scanlan allowing Schlapp "go on, and on, and on. Even though I got into your program late, I didn't even hear a Democrat come on. All I heard were Republicans and Independents and it seems that times when I tune in to listening to your show that a lot of times I hear that mostly Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents that are getting through on your show."

She went on to say that she doesn't understand why Scanlan allowed Schlapp to "sit there and tell all those lies that he did."

This isn't the first time that Bill Scanlan is being questioned about allowing conservatives to rant on his airwaves. In 2010, The Atlantic reached out to ask why Scanlan allowed "a caller to launch into a grotesque anti-Semitic rant on Monday, and why he didn't challenge the caller or cut him off." He refused to comment. By 2020 when another caller went off on a racist rant, Scanlan learned to drop them. That didn't extend to guests spinning falsehoods on air.

See the video below:

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2021, 03:57:32 AM »

The criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, part of his larger crusade to invalidate Joe Biden’s win at the time, appears to be gaining steam. Fani Willis, the Atlanta D.A. leading the inquiry, is expected to soon convene “a grand jury dedicated solely to the allegations of election tampering,” the New York Times reported Saturday, though the decision isn’t yet finalized. The news is the latest development in the investigation against Trump and his allies, which has been quietly moving forward since Willis opened it in February. If she convenes a grand jury, it would be a step toward holding the former president accountable for, among other things, pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden's victory in the state.

The pace of the Georgia investigation has thus far been hampered by local issues demanding Willis’ attention, as well as a backlog of cases overwhelming her office. Willis’ team has looked to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot for backup, as congressional investigators are pursuing evidence that could be of considerable use to them. But that avenue has also been bogged down “by delays in the panel’s fact gathering,” according to the Times. Nonetheless, Willis appears ready to get the ball rolling. Convening a special grand jury focused solely on Trump’s attempts to interfere with Georgia’s election results would indicate “that her own investigation is ramping up,” the paper notes. A special grand jury would consist of 16 to 23 members and be able to issue subpoenas, though the Times adds that Willis “would need to return to a regular grand jury to seek criminal indictments.”

There are many charges the former president could be hit with in relation to his post-election conduct in Georgia, according to a recent analysis by D.C. think tank the Brookings Institution. They note that Trump made personal “entreaties to senior state officials”—from Secretary of State Raffensperger to Attorney General Chris Carr to Governor Brian Kemp, all of whom are Republicans—“to alter the outcome of a presidential election” whose results had already been certified. Among the crimes Trump could be charged with are “criminal solicitation to commit election fraud” and “state RICO violations,” the report concluded, an analysis based entirely on publicly-available data. Criminal liability could also extend to Trump allies who allegedly assisted Trump’s effort to subvert the results, the  Brookings Institution notes, such as his former counsel Rudy Giuliani. 

The probe in Georgia is not the only active criminal investigation the 45th president and his inner circle are facing. The D.C. attorney general is investigating Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol, while the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is examining Trump’s financial dealings—a probe that has already produced numerous charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO, with further indictments potentially on the way.

As my colleague Bess Levin recently noted, Raffensperger, a Republican, bolstered the potential case against the former president last week with the release of his new book. “I felt then—and still believe today—that this was a threat,” he wrote of Trump’s call asking him to “find” more votes. “For the office of the secretary of state to ‘recalculate’ would mean we would somehow have to fudge the numbers. The president was asking me to do something that I knew was wrong, and I was not going to do that.” Raffensperger has said he would “gladly participate” in an interview with Fulton County prosecutors investigating Trump’s alleged election meddling.

Also worsening the potential case against Trump is Trump himself, the Times notes, by adding commentary about his conduct in Georgia. At a rally in the state in September, the former president recalled to the crowd how he called Kemp about Georgia’s “big election-integrity problem” and asked him to “help us out and call a special election.” Norman Eisen, one of the authors of the Brookings Institution report, told the Times that, by elaborating on his original conversation with Kemp, Trump “offered the prosecution free admissions about the content of that exchange.”

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2021, 12:03:18 AM »
More Texas voters unhappy than satisfied over power grid, abortion and property taxes

Texas voters have a net disapproval for how state leaders have handled the reliability of the electricity grid, abortion and property taxes, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

In an October poll of 1,200 registered voters, respondents expressed major disapproval for the state's handling of the reliability of the main power grid after statewide power outages in February left millions of Texans without power for days. Only 18% of voters approved of how state leaders handled the issue, and 60% of voters disapproved. Even lawmakers themselves have expressed frustration that the laws they wrote to prepare the power grid for extreme weather haven't led to enough preparations ahead of this winter.

"The lurking uncertainty and doubts about the electricity grid [are] a mine waiting to go off," said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. "If there's another even moderate infrastructure problem in the state in the grid or service delivery writ large that can be connected with the February outages and the failure of the Legislature to respond in a way that people expect it to be effective, it's a real political problem for incumbents."

The internet survey was conducted from Oct. 22-31, a few days after the conclusion of a third special legislative session, and has a margin of error of +/ - 2.83 percentage points. For now, that special session wrapped up nearly 10 months of frantic activity at the Legislature, which passed laws that loosen gun restrictions in the state, severely restrict abortion access and double down on state spending on border security.

According to the poll, 39% of voters approved of how state leaders have handled abortion policy while 46% disapproved. Lawmakers this year passed the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, barring the procedure before many people know they are pregnant.

Only 20% of voters said they approved of the Legislature's handling of property taxes, while 46% said they disapproved. The Legislature has tried for years to cut increasing property taxes for homeowners across the state, but voters see only minor reductions in their bills.

Voter disapproval for the state's handling of the issue increased from June, when pollsters at the University of Texas last asked about the issue after the Legislature's regularly scheduled five-month special session.

The state's handling of property taxes was unpopular across the political spectrum, but disapproval increased the most among Republicans. In June, 33% of Republicans disapproved of how the issue had been handled. By October, that share had grown to 43%.

During the final days of the most recent special session, lawmakers approved placing a higher homestead exemption on next year's ballots that would amount to about $176 in yearly savings for the average homeowner. Voters would still have to approve that change.

But Henson said voters don't appear convinced by the minor effect on their tax bills.

"The approach that they've taken up to this point is not moving public opinion, and to the extent that it is moving public opinion, it's moving it in the wrong direction," he said.

In particular, voters had net approval for Gov. Greg Abbott using state money to add border barriers between Texas and Mexico, with 53% approving and 40% opposing. More than 90% of Republicans approved of that use of state money.

"He's playing the right tune," said Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project. "There's no threat to the mantle of fiscal conservatism."

Henson said the issue's popularity likely means voters next year will hear more from Republicans about border security and immigration than about property tax cuts.

But there are also signs of concern for GOP leaders. More than 50% of independents disapproved of how the state handled immigration and border security, and half of independents disapproved of the state's handling of abortion policy.

Blank said there was a "significant decline" in how independents evaluated the state's handling of immigration since June, when 26% approved and 33% disapproved.

"What exactly is driving this among independents who are generally defined by their lack of attention to politics, we can't know," he said. "It's hard to say, but it's something to keep an eye on."

A plurality of 47% of voters opposed banning abortions after about six weeks, as the state's new law does, and 45% approve. Fifty-seven percent of voters oppose the law's provision allowing private citizens to sue people they believe helped someone obtain an abortion, including 35% of Republicans. Only 30% of voters said they approved of that portion of the law. If the plaintiff wins such a lawsuit, the law allows that person to be awarded at least $10,000, as well as costs and attorney fees.

"The idea of bounties and the problems with having private enforcement of public laws of what are seen currently as constitutional rights strikes at least more people as problematic than the actual law itself," Blank said.

Overall, the polls showed an uptick in approval of how the state has handled abortion policy since the last time voters were polled on the subject in June. Then, 32% of voters approved and 42% disapproved. Blank said that was marked by an increase in approval from Republicans as more voters learned of the state's new abortion law, which was passed in May.

Polls remained consistent on exceptions to abortion restrictions. More than 80% of voters said abortions should be allowed if a woman's health was at risk, and nearly three quarters said they should be allowed in cases of rape or incest. Nearly 60% said they should be allowed if there was a strong chance of a serious defect to the baby, but support for other exceptions dropped substantially from there.

On the state's growing racial and ethnic diversity, 41% of voters said it was a cause for optimism while 28% said it was a cause for concern. Both Republicans and Democrats said on the net it was a cause for optimism, but independent voters said it was a cause for concern.

Younger voters were more likely to believe the state's racial and ethnic diversity was a cause for optimism. Fifty-three percent of 18- to 29-year-olds believed it a cause for optimism while only 32% of those 65 years and older agreed.

Blank said that differences among age groups reflect how the state's younger residents are more likely to be people of color.

"That is the leading edge of the changing demographics of the state, so really that is the group that should be more optimistic," he said. "Conversely, the over 40, over 50, over 60 population in Texas is significantly more white, and so they're looking at a Texas that is going to be very different from the one that they were in growing up, so it's not surprising to see more reticence toward that among that group."

The poll showed broad support for gun rights, with 46% of voters saying they approved of how the state had handled Second Amendment rights and 32% saying they disapproved. But when the questions became more specific, voters began to show disapproval for the state's handling of gun violence and a recently enacted law that allows legal gun owners over the age of 21 to carry handguns in most public places in Texas without a permit.

A plurality of voters — 41% — disapproved of the state's handling of gun violence while 35% of voters approved. A majority of voters — 55% — opposed the state's permitless carry law, while 38% said they supported it.

While 51% of voters say Texas state government serves as a model for other states to follow, 42% of voters disagree with that statement. Moreover, that number has steadily dropped over the last decade. In February 2010, nearly 60% of voters said Texas served as a model, while only 31% disagreed.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors.

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2021, 12:19:48 AM »
Democrats are turning their focus to a social safety net and climate bill after Congress passed bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

The House aims to approve the plan next week, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said both chambers aim to pass it by Thanksgiving.

Democratic leaders have to keep nearly every member of their caucuses on board as they iron out the final details of the sprawling economic package.

While many Democrats let out a sigh of relief when the House passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill, the party has a grueling few weeks ahead of it to enact the rest of its economic agenda.

The more than $1 trillion package passed Friday that would refresh transportation, broadband and utilities fulfills one part of President Joe Biden’s domestic vision. Democrats now have to clear multiple hurdles to enact the larger piece, a $1.75 trillion investment in the social safety net and climate policy.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said Democrats aim to pass the social spending bill by Thanksgiving. Meeting the deadline will require both chambers of Congress to rush while keeping nearly every member of a diverse Democratic caucus united — a challenge that has led to repeated roadblocks as lawmakers advanced the bills this year.

Biden on Saturday sounded sure that his party would line up behind a sprawling bill that it aims to sell on the midterm campaign trail next year.

“I feel confident that we will have enough votes to pass the Build Back Better plan,” he told reporters.

Biden also signaled he could sign the infrastructure bill next week after lawmakers return to Washington. Asked Monday when the president would sign the bill, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said “I do not have a date, but it will be very soon.”

His administration plans to send key officials around the country to sell the benefits of the package, NBC News reported, citing a memo from a White House official.

The House plans to take the next step in passing the social spending plan. The chamber will try to approve the bill during the week of Nov. 15 once it returns from a weeklong recess. With no Republican support expected, Democrats can lose no more than three votes for the package.

It would then go to the Senate. To pass the bill under special budget rules, all 50 members of the Democratic caucus will have to support it.

Schumer will have to win over conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has not yet blessed a framework agreement on the legislation. The House could also send the Senate a bill that includes four weeks of paid leave for most American workers — a provision Manchin has opposed.

Once the Senate irons out any objections from Manchin or other Democrats, in addition to any constraints budget reconciliation rules put on the bill, it could approve a different version of the plan than the House does. The House would then need to vote on the Senate plan or go to a conference committee with the upper chamber to hash out disparities.

All told, Democrats will have to navigate a series of obstacles to get the bill to Biden’s desk in the coming weeks. Pulling it off will require cooperation and trust between centrists and progressives who have disparate views about how large of a role the government should play in boosting households and combating climate change.

The infrastructure bill passed only after House progressives and centrists made a nonbinding pact to approve the social spending plan this month. Five centrist Democrats said they would vote for the larger bill if a coming Congressional Budget Office cost estimate projects it will not add to long-term budget deficits.

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who has pulled off a range of legislative high-wire acts in her career — expressed confidence that the centrists will honor their side of the deal.

“As has been agreed, when the House comes back into session the week of November 15th, we will act with a message that is clear and unified to produce results,” she wrote to House Democrats.

The nonpartisan CBO could take weeks to release a cost estimate for the sprawling plan. However, the centrist holdouts in a Friday statement committed to voting for the legislation “in no event later than the week of November 15th.”

If Democrats can push the bill through Congress this month, they will still have another big lift on their hands before the end of the year. Lawmakers need to raise or suspend the debt ceiling sometime in December — or risk the first-ever default on U.S. debt.

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2021, 01:25:22 AM »
The Build Back Better Framework

President Joe Biden believes that there’s no greater economic engine in the world than the hard work and ingenuity of the American people. But for too long, the economy has worked great for those at the top, while working families get squeezed. President Biden promised to rebuild the backbone of the country – the middle class – so that this time everyone comes along. The Build Back Better Framework does just that.

This framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

Here’s what the Build Back Better Framework will mean for Linda from Peoria, IL:

Read more about the Build Back Better Framework:
The most transformative investment in children and caregiving in generations:

- Offers universal and free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, the largest expansion of universal and free education since states and communities across the country established public high school 100 years ago.

(Preschool in the United States costs about $8,600 per year. The Build Back Better framework will enable states to expand access to free preschool for more than 6 million children per year and increase the quality of preschool for many more children already enrolled.  Importantly, parents will be able to send children to high-quality preschool in the setting of their choice – from public schools to child care providers to Head Start. The program will lead to lifelong educational and economic benefits for children and parents, and is a transformational investment in America’s future economic competitiveness. In fact, research shows that every $1 invested in high-quality early childhood care and education can yield $3 to $7 over the long-run, as they do better in school, are more likely to graduate high-school and college, and earn more as adults.)

- Makes the largest investment in child care in the nation’s history, saving most American families more than half of their spending on child care.

(For decades, child care prices in the United States have risen faster than family incomes, yet the United States still invests 28 times less than its competitors on helping families afford high-quality care for toddlers. The Build Back Better framework will ensure that middle-class families pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care and will help states expand access to high-quality, affordable child care to about 20 million children per year – covering 9 out of 10 families across the country with young children. For two parents with one toddler earning $100,000 per year, the framework will produce more than $5,000 in child care savings per year. Nearly all families of four making up to $300,000 per year will be eligible. And, better access to high-quality child care can increase the likelihood that parents, especially mothers, are employed or enrolled in education and training beyond high school, while also providing lifetime benefits for children, especially those who are economically disadvantaged.)

- Delivers affordable, high-quality care for older Americans and people with disabilities in their homes, while supporting the workers who provide this care.

(Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of older Americans and Americans with disabilities are on waiting lists for home care services or struggling to afford the care they need, including more than 800,000 who are on state Medicaid waiting lists. A family paying for home care costs out of pocket currently pays around $5,800 per year for just four hours of home care per week. The Build Back Better framework will permanently improve Medicaid coverage for home care services for seniors and people with disabilities, making the most transformative investment in access to home care in 40 years, when these services were first authorized for Medicaid.)

- Provides 39 million households up to $3,600 (or $300 per month) in tax cuts per child by extending the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit.

(The Build Back Better framework will provide monthly payments to the parents of nearly 90 percent of American children for 2022 – $300 per month per child under six and $250 per month per child ages 6 to 17. This historic tax cut will help cover the cost of food, housing, health care, and transportation and will continue the largest one-year reduction in child poverty in history. And critically, the framework includes permanent refundability for the Child Tax Credit, meaning that the neediest families will continue to receive the full Child Tax Credit over the long-run.)

The largest effort to combat climate change in American history:

- Delivers substantial consumer rebates and tax credits to reduce costs for middle class families shifting to clean energy and electrification.

(The consumer rebates and credits included in the Build Back Better framework will save the average American family hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs.  These measures include enhancement and expansion of existing home energy and efficiency tax credits, as well as the creation of a new, electrification-focused rebate program.  The framework will cut the cost of installing rooftop solar for a home by around 30 percent, shortening the payback period by around 5 years; and the framework’s electric vehicle tax credit will lower the cost of an electric vehicle that is made in America with American materials and union labor by $12,500 for a middle-class family. In addition, the framework will help rural communities tap into the clean energy opportunity through targeted grants and loans through the Department of Agriculture.)

- Ensures clean energy technology – from wind turbine blades to solar panels to electric cars – will be built in the United States with American made steel and other materials, creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs here at home.

(The Build Back Better legislation will target incentives to grow domestic supply chains in solar, wind, and other critical industries in communities on the frontlines of the energy transition.  In addition, the framework will boost the competitiveness of existing industries, like steel, cement, and aluminum, through grants, loans, tax credits, and procurement to drive capital investment in the decarbonization and revitalization of American manufacturing.)

- Advances environmental justice through a new Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator that will invest in projects around the country, while delivering 40% of the benefits of investment to disadvantaged communities, as part of the President’s Justice40 initiative.

(The framework will also fund port electrification; facilitate the deployment of cleaner transit, buses, and trucks; and support critical community capacity building, including grants to environmental justice communities.  In addition, the framework will create a new Civilian Climate Corps – with over 300,000 members that look like America. This diverse new workforce will conserve our public lands, bolster community resilience, and address the changing climate, all while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans.)

- Bolsters resilience and natural solutions to climate change through a historic investment in coastal restoration, forest management, and soil conservation.

(The framework will provide resources to farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners, supporting their efforts to reduce emissions. At its peak, the increased investments in climate smart agriculture alone could reach roughly 130 million cropland acres per year, representing as many as 240,000 farms. Farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners have long demonstrated leadership in environmental stewardship with strategies that provide benefits for the farm, the environment, and the public. These investments will help meet the demand from the farming community for conservation support and enable producers to realize the full potential of climate benefits from agriculture.)

The biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade:

- Reduces prescription drug costs.

Finally let Medicare negotiate drug prices.

Medicare will negotiate prices for high-cost prescription drugs.  This will include drugs seniors get at the pharmacy counter (through Medicare Part D), and drugs that are administered in a doctor’s office (through Medicare Part B). Drugs become eligible for negotiation once they have been on the market for a fixed number of years: 9 years for small molecule drugs and 12 years for biologics. Medicare will negotiate up to 10 drugs per year during 2023, with those prices taking effect in 2025, increasing to up to 20 drugs per year.

The policy will establish a clearly defined negotiation process that is fair for manufacturers, and gets the biggest savings on drugs that have been on the market a long time.  This discourages drug companies from abusing laws to prolong their monopolies, while encouraging investments in research and development of new cures.  Drug companies that refuse to negotiate will owe an excise tax.

Impose a tax penalty if drug companies increase their prices faster than inflation. Starting when this bill becomes law, future drug price increases will be compared to their current prices.  We will finally put an end to the days where drug companies could raise their prices with impunity.  If prices for a drug increase faster than inflation, manufacturers will owe a tax penalty, holding down prices for Americans with all types of health insurance.

Directly lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors. Today, there is no cap on how much seniors and people with disabilities have to pay for drugs, and millions of seniors pay more than $6,000 a year in cost-sharing.  This proposal puts an end to this burden, and ensures that seniors never pay more than $2,000 a year for their drugs under Medicare Part D.

The plan will also lower insulin prices so that Americans with diabetes don’t pay more than $35 per month for their insulin. Lawmakers have also agreed to lower seniors’ cost-sharing for all types of drugs and they are working expeditiously to finalize legislative text that will save seniors money at the pharmacy counter without increasing premiums.

Strengthens the Affordable Care Act and reduces premiums for 9 Million Americans.

(The framework will reduce premiums for more than 9 million Americans who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace by an average of $600 per person per year. For example, a family of four earning $80,000 per year would save nearly $3,000 per year (or $246 per month) on health insurance premiums. Experts predict that more than 3 million people who would otherwise be uninsured will gain health insurance.)

- Closes the Medicaid Coverage Gap, Leading 4 Million Uninsured People to Gain Coverage.

(The Build Back Better framework will deliver health care coverage through Affordable Care Act premium tax credits to up to 4 million uninsured people in states that have locked them out of Medicaid through. A 40-year old in the coverage gap would have to pay $450 per month for benchmark coverage – more than half of their income in many cases. The framework provides individuals $0 premiums, finally making health care affordable and accessible.)

- Expands Medicare to cover hearing benefits.

(The Build Back Better framework will expand Medicare coverage to cover hearing coverage, so that older Americans can access the affordable care they need.)

- Makes the single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing in history.

(The framework will enable the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes, boosting housing supply and reducing price pressures for renters and homeowners. It will address the capital needs of the public housing stock in big cities and rural communities all across America and ensure it is not only safe and habitable but healthier and more energy efficient as well. It will make a historic investment in rental assistance, expanding vouchers to hundreds of thousands of additional families. And, it includes one of the largest investments in down payment assistance in history, enabling hundreds of thousands of first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home and build wealth. This legislation will create more equitable communities, through investing in community-led redevelopments projects in historically under-resourced neighborhoods and removing lead paint from hundreds of thousands of homes, as well as by incentivizing state and local zoning reforms that enable more families to reside in higher opportunity neighborhoods.)

- Extends the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for around 17 million low-wage workers.

(Before this year, the federal tax code taxed low-wage childless workers into poverty or deeper into poverty — the only group of workers it treated this way. The Build Back Better framework will extend the American Rescue Plan’s tripling of the credit for childless workers, benefiting 17 million low-wage workers, many of whom are essential workers, including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and childcare providers. For example, a childless worker who works 30 hours per week at $9 per hour earns income that, after taxes, leaves them below the federal poverty line. By increasing her EITC to more than $1,100, this EITC expansion helps pull such workers out of poverty.)

- Expands access to affordable, high-quality education beyond high school.

(Expand access to affordable, high-quality education beyond high school. Education beyond high school is increasingly important for economic growth and competitiveness in the 21st century, even as it has become unaffordable for too many families. The Build Back Better framework will make education beyond high school – including training for high-paying jobs available now – more affordable. Specifically, the framework will increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 for more the more than 5 million students enrolled in public and private, non-profit colleges and expand access to DREAMers. It will also make historic investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to build capacity, modernize research infrastructure, and provide financial aid to low-income students. And, it will invest in practices that help more students complete their degree or credential. The framework will help more people access quality training that leads to good, union, and middle-class jobs. It will enable community colleges to train hundreds of thousands of students, create sector-based training opportunity with in- demand training for at least hundreds of thousands of workers, and invest in proven approaches like Registered Apprenticeships and programs to support underserved communities. The framework will increase the Labor Department’s annual spending on workforce development by 50% for each of the next 5 years.)

- Promotes nutrition security to support children’s health.

(The Build Back Better framework will help children reach their full potential by investing in nutrition security year-round. The legislation will expand free school meals to 8.7 million children during the school year and provide a $65 per child per month benefit to the families of 29 million children to purchase food during the summer.)

- Strengthens the middle class through a historic investment in equity, safety, and fairness.

(The legislation makes a transformative investment in Rural America through a new Rural Partnership Program that will empower rural regions, including Tribal Nations and territories, by providing flexible funding for locally-led projects. The Build Back Better framework will provide nutrition security to millions of American children by expanding free school meals, which are the healthiest meals that children consume during the day. It also will make an historic investment in maternal health and establish a new and innovative community violence intervention initiative, in addition to investing in small businesses and preparing the nation for future pandemics and supply chain disruptions.)

- Invests in immigration reform.

(The framework includes a separate $100 billion investment in immigration reform that is consistent with the Senate’s reconciliation rules, as well as enhancements to reduce backlogs, expand legal representation, and make the asylum system and border processing more efficient and humane.)

The Build Back Better framework is fully paid for:

Combined with savings from repealing the Trump Administration’s rebate rule, the plan is fully paid for by asking more from the very largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The 2017 tax cut delivered a windfall to them, and this would help reverse that—and invest in the country’s future. No one making under $400,000 will pay a penny more in taxes.

Specifically, the framework:

- Stops large, profitable corporations from paying zero in tax and tax corporations that buyback stock rather than invest in the company.

(2019, the largest corporations in the United States paid just 8 percent in taxes, and many paid nothing at all. President Biden believes this is fundamentally unfair. The Build Back Better framework will impose a 15% minimum tax on the corporate profits that large corporations—with over $1 billion in profits—report to shareholders.  This means that if a large corporation says it’s profitable, then it can’t avoid paying its tax bill. The framework also includes a 1% surcharge on corporate stock buybacks, which corporate executives too often use to enrich themselves rather than investing workers and growing the economy.)

- Stops rewarding corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas.

(President Biden has led the world to stop the race to the bottom in corporate taxes and that rewards corporations that ship jobs and profits overseas. That’s why the President won an agreement among 136 countries on a 15% global minimum tax. This framework would help finish the job.  Consistent with that agreement, it’d adopt a 15% minimum tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations, so that they can no longer claim huge tax benefits by shifting profits and jobs abroad.  And, it’d make sure that other countries abide by the agreement they adopted by imposing a penalty rate on any foreign corporations based in countries that fail to abide by the international agreement.  Other countries will not be able to try to take advantage by failing to meet their commitment.)

- Asks the highest income Americans to pay their fair share.

(The Build Back Better framework includes a new surtax on the income of multi-millionaires and billionaires – the top 0.02 percent of Americans. It would apply a 5 percent rate above income of $10 million, and an additional 3 percent above income of $25 million. The Build Back Better framework will also close the loopholes that allows some wealthy taxpayers to avoid paying the 3.8 Medicare tax on their earnings.)

- Invests in enforcing our existing tax laws, so the wealthy pay what they owe.

(Regular workers pay the taxes they owe on wages and salaries—with a 99 percent compliance rate—while too many wealthy taxpayers hide their income from the IRS so they don’t have to pay. And, as a result of budget cuts, audit rates on those making over $1 million per year fell by 80 percent between 2011-2018. Wage earners have a 99 percent compliance rate, and, by contrast, the top 1 percent evades over $160 billion per year in taxes. President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda will create a fairer tax system – a tax system that requires the wealthy to finally pay their fair share and rewards work, not wealth. The President’s plan will accomplish this through transformation investments in the IRS: hiring enforcement agents who are trained to pursue wealthy evaders, overhauling technology from the 1960s, and investing in taxpayer service, so ordinary Americans can get their questions answered. Additional enforcement resources will be focused on pursuing those with the highest incomes; not Americans with income less than $400,000.)

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2021, 03:38:28 AM »
Another historic day for the stock market and the S&P 500. The stock market soared another 104 points to a record high 36,432.22. The S&P 500 closed above 4,700 for the first time. Another Biden record. Good things happen when you have strong and competent Democratic leadership. Remember, every Republican except for 13 in the House voted against this infrastructure bill that benefits ALL Americans.   ​

S&P 500 closes above 4,700 for the first time as infrastructure stocks rally

The S&P 500 closed at a record high Monday after Congress approved an infrastructure spending package.

The broad index gained 0.09% to close above 4,700 for the first time at 4,701.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 104.27 points, or 0.3%, to close at 36,432.22. The Nasdaq Composite ticked up 0.07% at 15,982.36. All three stock averages posted record closes.

The U.S. House of Representatives late Friday passed a more than $1 trillion infrastructure bill, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden for his signature. First passed by the Senate in August, the package would provide new funding for transportation, utilities and broadband, among other infrastructure projects.

“Investors have waited for a significant step-up in infrastructure spending for decades,” Citi’s Anthony Pettinari said in a note. “We view this generational investment as a significant catalyst for growth for a number of our stocks.”

Industrials and materials stocks rallied Monday with those names set to benefit from the spending package. The Global X U.S. Infrastructure Development exchange-traded fund rose nearly 1.3% and hit a new all-time high Monday morning.

Mining company Freeport-McMoRan, construction materials stock Vulcan and steel corporation Nucor were among the notable gainers on the S&P 500. Construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar led the Dow’s rally with a 4% gain. Heavy equipment producer Deere saw its shares rise about 1.6%. United Rentals, Martin Marietta and Jacobs Engineering were among other infrastructure-related gainers.

Elsewhere, chip maker Advanced Micro Devices led gains on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite. AMD rallied 10.1% after the company announced it won Meta, formerly known as Facebook, as a chip customer and revealed new chip products.

Meanwhile, Tesla founder Elon Musk rattled investors this weekend, asking in a Twitter poll whether he should sell 10% of his stock as a response to political clamoring to tax unrealized gains from equity holdings. Nearly 58% of respondents said yes, and shares of Tesla closed 4.8% lower Monday.

The passage of the infrastructure stimulus, an improving Covid situation in the U.S., and a better-than-expected labor market reading boosted investor confidence in the economic recovery. The October jobs report came in Friday better than economists expected as U.S. payrolls added 531,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department.

“We expect Equities to continue to climb the ‘wall of worry’, as risks look largely priced in and showing signs of improvement,” JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic said in a note Monday.

The S&P 500 has now posted 64 record closes in 2021 and is up more than 25% this year.

Investors await fresh inflation readings in the week ahead. The producer price index and consumer price index are slated for release on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Economists expect both reports to remain hot for October.

The Federal Reserve is eyeing both inflation and jobs data to guide its timeline on normalizing monetary policy.

Last week, the Fed announced a plan to begin tapering its pandemic-era economic aid by the end of November, putting the central bank on track to end its asset purchase program by the middle of next year.

Dow hits record high as infrastructure bill lifts cyclicals

Nov 8 (Reuters) - The Dow hit a record high on Monday as the passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill lifted industrials, materials and other economy-focused sectors, while Tesla fell on top boss Elon Musk's plan to sell about a tenth of his stake.

Five of the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes were higher after the Congress on Saturday passed the long-delayed infrastructure bill hailed by President Joe Biden as a "once in a generation" investment.

"That infrastructure bill is going to put some energy into companies like 3M, Caterpillar and other companies that power the industrial sector, but we also think the materials sector is going to really benefit from that bill," said Greg Bassuk, chief executive at AXS Investments in Port Chester, New York.

Travel and tourism stocks rallied, led by airlines, as the United States lifted travel restrictions slapped on much of the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The S&P 1500 Airlines index (.SPCOMAIR) gained 1.1%. read more

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index (.SOX) rose 1.3% to a record high.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.O) jumped 9.0% after it signed up Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) as a data center chip customer and announced new supercomputing chips to take on its bigger rival Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O). read more

Wall Street's main indexes hit record highs last week, supported by an upbeat earnings season, strong October jobs data and a positive update on Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) experimental pill against COVID-19.

Dow Heading for Record Highs, Tesla Tumbles—and What Else Is Happening in the Stock Market Today

Caterpillar Leads Dow Jones Up 116 Points on $1 Trillion Infrastructure Deal
Congress finally passed a bipartisan infrastructure spending bill that investors expect will boost spending for Caterpillar's equipment.

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2021, 11:35:04 PM »
Radical right wing Republicans have no interest in working for the American people. They are only there to promote their racist and fascist agenda. When Republicans in the Party decide to vote to pass legislation aimed at helping their own constituents these radical right wing Republicans try to banish them from the party. The GOP is a radical anti American extremist cult.

'Sedition caucus' trying to strip committee assignments from 13 Republicans because they voted for infrastructure

House Republicans have no problem with one of their members posting a tweet depicting him murdering Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but they are outraged at 13 members of their caucus who voted to pass President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill.

According to Jake Sherman's Punchbowl News, rank and file GOP members of Congress are trying to force Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to strip the 13 of their committee assignments, noting that "GOP leadership is bracing" for the attempt. McCarthy was opposed to the bill, which will vastly improve basic necessities like roads, bridges, rail, and the nation's ports, expand broadband access, and help localities protect against climate change.

Not only are GOP members of Congress angry the 13 voted for the legislation, they are angry they voted "early," rather than forcing Democrats to cross the majority threshold of votes to pass the bill without Republicans.

"Much of the anger is directed at Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who voted early for the legislation. Katko is the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee. Katko told multiple lawmakers on the House floor that he had seen Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) on television talking about the infrastructure bill, and he was voting early."

Members of the Sedition Caucus, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz have publicly attacked their fellow Republicans for voting to help the American people by voting for the bill.

Offline Rick Plant

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Re: U.S. Politics
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2021, 12:04:54 AM »
We see the Trump disaster on the left and the Biden transformation on the right.

Under Trump we were losing 1 million jobs per month. Biden came in and got Americans back to work creating an average of 620,000 jobs per month and 5.6 million total which is the most jobs ever created by a President in less than 10 months.

Under Trump the unemployment rate soared. Biden has lowered the unemployment rate way down to 4.6%.

The vaccine rollout under Trump was an absolute dismal failure with less than 1 million shots per day. President Biden completely transformed America's vaccine rollout into the best in the world vaccinating over 4 million people which is an amazing record. 70% of adults have been fully vaccinated.

The GDP has soared under the Biden Administration.

This is amazing progress in just a few months time!         


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