Category Archives: Austerity

Arrests of Trumpcare Protesters, Some in Wheelchairs, Outside McConnell’s Office

“Don’t touch Medicaid! Don’t touch Medicaid!”

By Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2017

A Trumpcare opponent being carried from a sit-in outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday morning after the Republicans released their draft version of a healthcare overhaul bill. (Photo: Screenshot/CNBC)

Soon after a draft version of the Republican’s Senate version of their Trumpcare care bill was released Thursday morning, Capitol Hill Police were systematically arresting people who staged a dramatic sit-in outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.

Amid chants of “Don’t Touch Medicaid!” and signs suggesting the same, many of those protesting the Senate bill were either elderly or in wheelchairs, offering a stunning visual as police tried to remove them from the hallway. Continue reading

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In Major Tax Speech, Paul Ryan Lays Out Plan to Lavish Rich With Tax Cuts

“Paul Ryan is not serious about tax reform. He’s serious about tax giveaways—for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-20-2017

Photo: YouTube

After spending months selling a healthcare plan that proposed kicking millions off their insurance and gutting crucial safety net programs, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has now shifted his focus to tax reform, where he hopes to provide significant tax relief to the wealthiest Americans.

On Tuesday, after weeks of failing to offer any details on his ambitious plan to permanently overhaul the tax code, Ryan made his first major pitch to the National Association of Manufacturers—a business advocacy group that has in the past received funding from the Koch brothers. Continue reading

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‘Stunning and Dangerous’: DeVos Memo Reveals Plan to Roll Back Civil Rights

“President Trump and his administration can claim to oppose discrimination all they want, but actions speak louder than words,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-17-2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

In a move decried as “more evidence of backward thinking” by the Trump administration, an internal memo from the Department of Education’s office for civil rights lays out the agency’s plan to roll back investigations into civil rights violations at public schools and diminish Obama-era rules requiring “schools and colleges to overhaul policies addressing a number of civil rights concerns,” the New York Times reported on Friday.

According to the memo, “requirements that investigators broaden their inquiries to identify systemic issues and whole classes of victims will be scaled back,” the Times noted. “Also, regional offices will no longer be required to alert department officials in Washington of all highly sensitive complaints on issues such as the disproportionate disciplining of minority students and the mishandling of sexual assaults on college campuses.” Continue reading

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Involuntary Manslaughter Charges for Top State Health Official for Role in Flint Water Crisis

Advocacy group says new charges boost call for governor to resign

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2017

Michigan’s top health official was among five people charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the Flint water crisis. (Photo: Flint Rising/ Facebook)

Michigan’s attorney general announced Wednesday that the head of the state’s health department and four others have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the years-long Flint water crisis.

Nick Lyon, director of Michigan Health and Human Services, “failed in his responsibilities to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” state AG Bill Schuette said at a press conference Wednesday. Continue reading

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Disabled, Sick or Poor? Trump’s America is not for You

Trump’s contempt for disabilities became apparent early in his campaign. Now echoed by Ryan’s budget and the GOP’s pushing of a healthcare plan whose success depends on Americans with illness dying to save billions over the years in lowered medical costs, many are losing hope.

Written by John Benedict

Photo: fionao71/tumblr

I’m angry.

As an American who works for a company whose owner is disabled; as a coworker of a person who is disabled; as the son and nephew of disabled American Veterans; and the spouse of a person who receives RSDI income due to a disability; I’m sickened by the proposed 2018 Federal Budget put out by the Trump White House.

The current administration shows no regard for Americans with disabilities. Nor do they appear to care about anyone with a “pre-existing” medical condition. Nor do they care about anyone else who will lose their healthcare coverage when the Republicans figure out a way to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Oh, did I mention that they also plan on slashing spending on Medicaid,  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Childhood Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Benefits, and other programs?

Since when do we care so little about our fellow Americans that we would be willing to let them suffer and even die so that “we” can build up our already enormous stockpile of military weapons and be able to give each of the millionaires in the United States a nice $50,000 tax break (round numbers- if you happen to be a millionaire -your slice of what is left of the sick / disabled /or poor may be slightly different)?

I have paid taxes for 39 years to fund these programs. Now this administration tells me and the rest of the American taxpayers that we don’t need any safety nets. If you can’t work, well then , you don’t deserve to eat. If you are unfortunate enough to get hurt on the job, well then, it sucks to be you. You don’t deserve a “hand-out” from the insurance fund that you have paid into your entire working life. If your child has cancer that is being treated under your current insurance policy, and your employer decides to change insurance providers, well sorry about that, but that is a ‘pre-existing’ condition now and your new insurance won’t cover it, or it will up to a limit that you will surpass in a short amount of time, we can’t worry about that, because this country needs more bombs and missiles, and a tax cut for the millionaires who REALLY don’t care if that child of yours dies or not. Suck it up buttercup and get with the program. You and your well being JUST DON’T MATTER.

I love my county. I believe  the politicians that “We the People” elect are supposed to represent  all of us that comprise”We the People”. Not the Corporations (no matter what SCOTUS told us in the ‘Citizens’ United’ decision), and NOT just a small amount of “citizens”who have filled their campaign coffers. We need politicians who have the gumption to stand up against this budget which is nothing more than a vile attack on those who are poor, sick or disabled.

We as Americans deserve better. Much Better.

Related Article: No country for people with disabilities

About the Author:
John Benedict grew up in white, middle-class America when there still was such a thing. He has worked blue collar jobs for nearly 40 years. He grew up in a home where one parent who had a disability. He also is now married to a disabled spouse.

 

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To Ram Through Unpopular Agenda, Trump Urges GOP to Kill Senate Filibuster

Though his proposals have found slim support among the American people, president wants GOP allies to push items through “fast and easy”

By Common Dreams. Published 5-30-2017

President Donald Trump indicated to Republicans on Tuesday that they should ignore widespread voter disapproval of his agenda as he urged them to once again jettison filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate in order to ram through a bill that would strip health coverage from an estimated 23 million people over the next decade and pass massive tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations.

“The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!” the president tweeted Tuesday morning. Continue reading

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“It’s Crap”: The Trump Administration’s Budget Is a Highway to Privatization

Former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, is leading the White House’s effort

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-24-2017

President Donald Trump wants to privatize “some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops, and other facilities” while his budget calls for cutting the Highway Trust Fund along with other programs. (Photo: Tiberiu Ana/flickr/cc)

“Private companies should fund, build, and run more of the basic infrastructure of American life.”

That’s how the Washington Post sums up a key tenet of the Trump administration’s thinking on infrastructure, in an article Wednesday that outlines the White House’s push to privatize “some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops, and other facilities.”

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, released Tuesday, calls for spending roughly $200 billion over 10 years to spur at least $800 billion in state, local, and private infrastructure investment. Continue reading

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‘We Reject Politics of Fear’: Groups Urge Congress to Build Schools, Not Wall

Teacher in Milwaukee said six-year-old student “crawled into her lap crying [and] told her, ‘I am so scared that somebody is going to take my daddy away'”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-27-2017

“Instead of funding President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, we are seeking additional funding for our nation’s public schools.” (Photo: doug turetsky/flickr/cc)

More than 150 advocacy groups sent a letter (pdf) to Congress on Thursday urging lawmakers to reject President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and spend the money on education instead.

Trump’s “targeting of Muslims, refugees, and undocumented immigrants…are eroding the trust built by educators, parents, law enforcement, and communities over decades,” the letter states.

Its signatories include the Center for Popular Democracy, SEIU, and the National Immigration Law Center, among other community groups and labor unions. Continue reading

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Trump Administration Considering ‘Back-Door Way’ to Cut Social Security

‘If Trump proposes this Trojan horse, it would be the newest shot in the ongoing Republican war against Social Security’

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-11-2017

Social Security Works president says latest proposal is “a Trojan horse: It appears to be a gift, in the form of middle class tax relief, but would, if enacted, lead to the destruction of working Americans’ fundamental economic security.” (Photo: Tama Leaver/flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise not to cut Social Security, is reportedly considering a plan to eliminate much of the payroll tax that funds the critical safety net program.

According to the Associated Press on Monday, the proposal is being floated as the Trump administration goes “back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system.” Continue reading

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Trump slams brakes on Obama’s climate plan, but there’s still a long road ahead

 

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Trump signed the executive order surrounded by coal miners, saying it was ‘about jobs.’ AP Photo/Matthew Brown

Henrik Selin, Boston University

Badly looking for a political win that would both fulfill some campaign promises to his political base and satisfy the demands of rank-and-file Republicans in Congress, President Trump on March 28 signed an expansive Energy Independence and Economic Growth Executive Order. The Conversation

The executive order signals a sharp shift in federal climate change rules, standards and work procedures. This was expected based on Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his selection of Cabinet members and advisers. But as with other Trump White House initiatives, it is unclear how much change the administration can deliver and at what pace.

It took a long time for the Obama administration to formulate some of the central climate change rules now targeted by the Trump administration, and it will take years trying to change them. The signing of the executive order is just the administration’s opening salvo in what is destined to become a protracted and high-stakes battle.

The Trump attack

Cloaked in unsubstantiated “pro-growth” rhetoric, the executive order targets the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. It also focuses on mandates to cap methane emissions, looks to increase support for the extraction and use of coal and other fossil fuels, and changes the ways in which climate change concerns are embedded in actions by federal agencies (including taking into consideration the social cost of carbon).

The Clean Power Plan was designed to curb carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants as well as to promote renewable energy production and greater energy efficiency. The Obama administration also set emissions standards for new power plants. These and other measures were issued in response to the unwillingness by the U.S. Congress to pass any separate climate change legislation.

Announced in August 2015, the Clean Power Plan was immediately challenged in court by a group of 29 states and state agencies with the support of a variety of firms and industry organizations, including Oklahoma while current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was the state’s attorney general. The opponents argued the EPA had overstepped its regulatory authority with the new rules and they therefore should be struck down.

The Supreme Court in an unprecedented decision in February 2016 ordered the EPA to temporarily stay the implementation of the Clean Power Plan until a lower-level court had made a ruling on the EPA’s authority to set such standards. Oral hearings were held in the D.C. Circuit Court in September 2016, but a decision is still pending.

Coal miners were visible supporters of Trump during the presidential campaign and at the signing of a sweeping executive order to reverse regulations to limit greenhouse gases. flavor32/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Because the EPA under Pruitt will review the Clean Power Plan and roll back other Obama initiatives, the executive order alters basic legal dynamics. Now, lawsuits making their way up the court system will change. Instead of challenging the Obama rules, suits will be aimed at forcing the Trump administration to either uphold them or take other forms of meaningful regulatory action.

Many states and environmental groups that support the Clean Power Plan and other existing measures stand ready with a lineup of lawyers to fight back. They will argue that the federal government must act based on a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision classifying CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and a 2009 EPA Endangerment Finding stating that current and projected atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Will we still always have Paris?

The executive order is silent on the Trump administration’s intent vis-à-vis the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries agreed to lower greenhouse gas emissions. But it casts a long shadow both on the U.S. ability to meet its Paris goal and the future of U.S. international leadership on climate change.

The implementation of the Clean Power Plan is central to fulfilling U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement of reducing national GHG emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28 percent. By 2014, national emissions were down 9 percent compared with 2005 levels.

The EPA Clean Power Plan was a linchpin in the U.S. global climate commitments because it restricted carbon emissions from power plants, directly affecting coal-fired plants. AP Photo/Matthew Browne

Electing to either leave or ignore the Paris Agreement would not provide the United States with more independence and flexibility, as it reduces its political influence and ability to shape future decisions in global climate negotiations.

There are other global environmental treaties around biodiversity protection and the management of hazardous chemicals and wastes to which the United States is not a party. As a result, the U.S. ability to influence regulatory decisions under these treaties is severely limited – for example, specific chemical compounds where there is a need to protect human health and the environment, or where U.S. firms have economic interests. This foreshadows the kind of outsider status that the United States may gain if it backs out of the Paris Agreement.

Notably, ceding international leadership on climate change may serve only to embolden other countries, including China, to take on a more prominent role at the expense of U.S. influence. It would also further increase many other countries’ rapidly mounting frustration with the Trump administration.

Many different stakeholders, including ExxonMobil, argue that it is better for the United States to be on the inside rather than the outside when it comes to the future climate change cooperation. Former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested the U.S. should stay in the agreement.

US paying for assistance or ammunition?

Even if the United States stays with the Paris Agreement, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have made it clear they want to severely limit, or completely cut off, U.S. contributions to climate finance in support of mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries. The United States so far has provided US$1 billion of the $3 billion pledged by the Obama administration to the Green Climate Fund.

Carrying through on these statements by significantly reducing U.S. international assistance would effectively erode an important basis of U.S. political leadership and influence. But they appear to be part of a larger shift in the use of foreign policy instruments from nonmilitary means, such as climate and development aid, to military ones.

Trump’s “skinny budget” proposed a 31 percent cut to the EPA budget and a 29 percent reduction in funds for the State Department and other development programs. There is very little chance that Congress will approve such dramatic cuts, but these proposals tie in with what seems to be a broader change in U.S. foreign policy strategy.

As Trump proposed a 10 percent increase in the military budget, foreign policy experts worry that a significant cut in nonmilitary resources will severely undermine U.S. leadership and the ability by the State Department and other government agencies to promote U.S. interest and political stability.

The court of public opinion

As the battle over federal climate change policy continues, President Trump risks losing the public opinion battle on climate change beyond his most ardent base.

A recent poll shows that 75 percent of Americans believe that carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant and that 69 percent believe that there should be limits on emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

If such polling numbers remain strong, the Trump administration will be fighting an uphill battle in both courtrooms and the public sphere.

Henrik Selin, Associate Professor in the Frederick S Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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