TAKE 5 MINUTES TO LOOK INSIDE THE “AMERICAN GULAG” OF CIVIL IMMIGRATION DETENTION BEING PROMOTED BY TRUMP, SESSIONS, KELLY & THE HOUSE GOP!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HeV1QSrEdo#action=share

Published on Jun 26, 2017

Learn about the history, laws, and unjust realities of the U.S. immigration detention system in this short 5-minute film. Narrated by Kristina Shull. Graphics and editing by Stephanie Busing. Script by Terry Ding and Rachel Levenson at NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic in collaboration with CIVIC. Learn more and at www.endisolation.org.

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Talk about fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption. And, amazingly, House Republicans are pushing for yet more mandatory detention, this time for those convicted of DUIs who have already completed punishment and are now subject to case-by-case determinations by U.S. Immigration Judges as to whether or not bond should be granted.

As an Immigration Judge, I denied bond in lots of cases with multiple DUIs, probably a substantial majority. But, each case was different, and there were some where the violations were well in the past, the individual had documented freedom from alcohol or substance abuse, and had strong U.S. equities, where bond was appropriate.

And since all cases depend on facts and proof, it’s important for the Judge to listen and be empowered to make the best decision for society and the individual under all the circumstances. “One size fits all” mandatory detention is an abuse of legislative authority and a waste of taxpayer money.

While to date it has not been found unconstitutional, I daresay that’s because the Supreme Court Justices who decide such matters have never had to experience the extreme dysfunction and inherent unfairness of the current immigration detention system on a daily basis like those of us who have served as trial judges. For that matter, they don’t completely understand the total dysfunction of our current Immigration Courts, and the systemic inability to deliver due process on a consistent basis throughout the nation. 600,000 pending cases! That dwarfs the rest of the Federal Judicial system.

Perhaps what it will take to change the system is for some of the Justices to have their son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or law clerk’s spouse more or less arbitrarily tossed into the world of immigration detention. Yes, folks, it’s not just recent border crossers, dishwashers, waitresses, and gardeners who end up in the “American Gulag” that so delights Jeff Sessions. “Professionals,” kids, pregnant women, and human beings from all walks of life, many with only minor violations or no criminal record at all, can end up there too.

PWS

06-28-17

“TRUMP(Hell no, we don’t)CARE” Likely Would Destroy Health Insurance Market, According To Experts — Trump GOP’s “War On America & Americans” Shifts Into High Gear!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/23/republicans-say-the-health-insurance-market-is-in-a-death-spiral-their-bill-could-make-it-really-happen/?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-business%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.e61d8234b1ca

Kim Soffen writes in the Wonkblog columns in the Washington Post:

“Senate Republican leaders unveiled their health-care bill Thursday morning, after weeks of crafting it behind closed doors. The bill keeps some popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as the provision preventing insurance companies from charging people more or denying them coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and eliminates some unpopular parts, such as the individual mandate which requires people to buy insurance or pay a penalty.

[What the Senate bill changes about Obamacare]

But those two provisions, taken together, are likely to send the individual marketplace into a “death spiral,” ending with only the sickest people insured, sky-high premiums, and insurers exiting the individual market, according to experts across the political spectrum. The bill has a $112 billion market stabilization fund to prevent this, but experts doubt it, or a similar measure in the House bill, would be enough.

Here’s how a death spiral would happen. People shopping for insurance in the individual market all sit on a spectrum from healthy to sick.”

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Lots of “neat” graphics with the full article. Clink the link and see the GOP’s plan to “deconstruct” American healthcare in action.

Sobering thought: Millions of Americans voted to destroy their own healthcare and endanger their own lives and those of family members who can’t vote. Unfortunately, their lack of prudence and sound judgment is likely to take the rest of us into the abyss with them. The “silver lining:” Guys like the Koch Bros, Tom Price, Wilber Ross, et. al. will pay lower taxes. (I didn’t include Trump in this list because there is no hard evidence that he currently pays, or ever again will pay,  income taxes.)

PWS

06-24-17

Sessions Says DOJ Will Help Defend States (Like Texas) Seeking To Punish “Sanctuary Cities” — House GOP Pushes Bill Targeting Sanctuary Jurisdictions!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trump-administration-backs-texas-in-lawsuit-over-harsh-sanctuary-city-law/2017/06/23/327ba290-581f-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.4c47afa58d76

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the Trump administration “fully supports” Texas’s harsh new ban on sanctuary cities, and the Department of Justice will help defend it against a federal court challenge next week.

Lawyers for the tiny border city of El Cenizo, the League of United Latin American Citizens and major cities such as Dallas and Austin say the law requiring them to detain immigrants for federal deportation agents is “patently unconstitutional” for a number of reasons. On Monday, they will urge U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio to block the law from taking effect Sept. 1.

The state of Texas argues that the government is within its rights to bar localities from interfering with immigration enforcement. Under the law, officials could lose their jobs, police chiefs could go to jail, and governments could face fines of up to $25,500 a day if they adopt or enforce policies that prevent law enforcement officers from asking about a person’s immigration status or complying with requests to detain immigrants, a job that has been chiefly the responsibility of federal agents.

 

“President Trump has made a commitment to keep America safe and to ensure cooperation with federal immigration laws,” Sessions said in a statement. “Texas has admirably followed his lead by mandating state-wide cooperation with federal immigration laws that require the removal of illegal aliens who have committed crimes.”

Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. the national general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is a plaintiff in the case, said the Texas law is discriminatory because it primarily targets Hispanics, one of the state’s largest groups.

El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes. El Cenizo is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that will seek to temporarily halt Texas’ sanctuary cities ban before it takes effect Sept. 1. (Matthew Busch/Matthew Busch For The Washington Post)
“It’s a continuation of Donald Trump’s war on Mexicanos,” Vera said. “That’s the sad part about this.”

The faceoff comes amid rising tensions nationwide over the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration and its relentless march forward despite a string of losses in federal courts.

On Friday, congressional aides said House Republicans are advancing a bill that would withhold some federal grant money from so-called sanctuary cities; give greater legal weight to immigration detainers, which are requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to local jails to hold immigrants who are being targeted for deportation; and shield local governments from lawsuits related to detainers. A second bill would increase penalties against deported immigrants who return illegally.”

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Yup, full employment for lawyers, on all sides.

Bad time to be an immigrant, refugee, or minority in America. Great time to be a lawyer!

PWS

06-24-17

LOONY LAW: Absurdly Overbroad “Terrorist” Definition Punishes Our Friends And Comforts REAL Terrorists — Led By GOP, Legislators Shirk Duty To Restore Reason To Law!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/world/middleeast/immigration-asylum-syria-terrorism.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Somini Sengupta reports in the NY Times:

“A prominent Syrian dissident has been told he cannot get political asylum in the United States because he organized a conference with Syrian opposition groups — even though the American government has supported members of those same groups in the Syrian civil war.

The case of the dissident, Radwan Ziadeh, 41, who lives in a suburb of Washington, reveals a stark gap between American immigration law and foreign policy.

Ever since counterterrorism provisions were expanded after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States government has considered many armed opposition groups around the world, including some that it backs diplomatically or financially, to be “undesignated terrorist organizations.” Anyone who provides “material support” to those groups can be disqualified from receiving immigration papers.

Mr. Ziadeh is a prominent political opponent of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. He has received fellowships at Harvard, Georgetown and the United States Institute of Peace, which is funded by Congress. He has testified in Congress, written books and served briefly as a spokesman for the Syrian opposition umbrella group that the American government supported.

But early this month, Mr. Ziadeh was informed that he would be denied political asylum in the United States. In a 12-page letter laying out the government’s “intent to deny” his asylum claim, Citizenship and Immigration Services explained that he had provided “material support” to Syrian groups that the government considered undesignated terrorist organizations.

Mr. Ziadeh said he was shocked. He and his wife have lived in the United States for 10 years on a series of temporary permits, the latest of which expires next spring. Their children were born here.

“Right now, I can’t even plan for the future,” he said. “What will happen? I have three American kids. I love, actually, the U.S. I visited all 50 states, even U.S. territories. I visited all the presidential libraries.”

Going back to Syria is not an option. The government there has a warrant out for his arrest; the Islamic State has him on a list of Syrians it wants dead.

At issue, specifically, is that Mr. Ziadeh organized a series of conferences from November 2012 to May 2013 to discuss a democratic transition in Syria.

Among those invited to the workshops, held in Istanbul, were self-described commanders in a loose confederation of rebel groups called the Free Syrian Army, as well as political leaders affiliated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Both groups are well known to the American government. For years, the Central Intelligence Agency and its counterparts in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other countries have provided some Free Syrian Army factions with salaries, arms and other supplies. The State Department has also provided aid.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s members also had central roles in the Syrian National Council, the political umbrella group that the United States supported.

Robert S. Ford, a former American ambassador to Syria, said in an email that the American government did not consider either of the groups that Mr. Ziadeh invited to the workshops to be a terrorist organization.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ford added, has no “administrative connection” to Muslim Brotherhood factions in other countries. (President Trump’s advisers have debated but not decided whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.)

Moreover, Mr. Ford said, both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, as secretaries of state, met with opposition delegations that included Brotherhood members.

“The U.S. administration, myself included, regularly spoke with members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who were themselves members of Syrian opposition coalitions and delegations,” he wrote.

In its letter to Mr. Ziadeh, Citizenship and Immigration Services said he had provided “material support” to members of the groups when his organization, the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, paid for their airfare and hotel bills in Istanbul, using money from the Canadian government.

“As both the FSA and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood used weapons with the intent to endanger the safety of Syrian government officials, both groups have engaged in terrorist activity such that they met the definition of an undesignated terrorist organization (Tier III) at the time you provided material support,” the letter states.

“You have therefore ‘engaged in terrorist activity,’” it went on to say.

Mr. Ziadeh is appealing the government’s decision.

His lawyer, Steven H. Schulman, said that inviting members of opposition groups to a conference to discuss the political future of Syria should not be seen as promoting the groups’ agendas or providing them with material support.

“I find it offensive, because no reasonable person would sit down and say Radwan Ziadeh is a terrorist,” Mr. Schulman said. “There are real terrorists out there. We all know that. Somehow, we are unable to distinguish between people who actually engage in terrorist activity and who do not engage in terrorist activity.”

The label “undesignated terrorist organization” has been in place since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Many organizations that have engaged in violence, whether or not the United States supported them, have fallen under that term, said Anwen Hughes, a lawyer who specializes in asylum cases at Human Rights First, an advocacy group.

Providing “material support” to those groups can mean anything from fighting alongside them to paying them ransom. In 2008, an Iraqi man who worked as an interpreter for American forces in Iraq was denied a green card because he had belonged to a Kurdish group seeking to oust Saddam Hussein.

Ms. Hughes said one of her former clients had been denied asylum because he paid a ransom to an armed group in order to release a kidnapped family member. “It’s a fairly widespread problem that’s not limited to Syrians,” she said.”

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Read the complete story at the link.

Unfortunately, U.S. Immigration Judges’ hands are tied on this provision. Not only must they apply it, but they have been denied authority to issue the limited waivers available. Instead, that authority has been given to lower level adjudicators at the USCIS with no right to appeal a denial. In fact, there isn’t even a process to actually apply for the waiver. Only ICE can “refer” a case from Immigration Court to USCIS for consideration of the waiver.

Article III Courts have had various opportunities to shut down this “arbitrary, capricious, and absurdly overbroad” abuse of Legislative and Executive authority. But, perhaps because they lack the backbone to stand up for individuals caught up in the aura of a “national security” problem, they have looked the other way.

To make things worse, the Trump Administration appears to be moving in the direction of revoking all or some of the currently existing waiver authority. No wonder our foreign policies in Syria and many other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are so ineffective and in such disarray. Who would offer to help to a feckless country that treats its friends and allies like enemies?

PWS

06-23-17

NEW GAME IN TOWN: “GRAND THEFT GOP” — Party Plans Biggest Heist In US History — To Be Carried Out In Broad Daylight — GOP Voters Expected To Provide Getaway Car!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/senate-republicans-ready-themselves-for-a-massive-theft-from-the-poor/2017/06/22/902a1a96-5777-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b:homepage/story&utm_term=.6918f77c4db1

Eugene Robinson writes in a Washington Post op-ed:

“The “health-care bill” that Republicans are trying to pass in the Senate, like the one approved by the GOP majority in the House, isn’t really about health care at all. It’s the first step in a massive redistribution of wealth from struggling wage-earners to the rich — a theft of historic proportions.

Is the Senate version less “mean” than the House bill, to use President Trump’s description of that earlier effort? Not really. Does the new bill have the “heart” that Trump demanded? No, it doesn’t. The devil is not in the details, it’s in the big picture.

Fundamentally, what Republicans in both chambers want to do is cut nearly $1 trillion over the next decade from the Medicaid program, which serves almost 70 million people. Medicaid provides health care not just for the indigent and disabled but also for the working poor — low-wage employees who cannot afford health insurance, even the plans offered through their jobs.

Additionally, about 20 percent of Medicaid spending goes to provide nursing home care, including for middle-class seniors whose savings have been exhausted — a situation almost any of us might confront. Roughly two-thirds of those in nursing homes have their care paid by Medicaid.

 

Why would Republicans want to slash this vital program so severely? You will hear a lot of self-righteous huffing and puffing about the need for entitlement reform, but the GOP’s intention is not to use the savings to pay down the national debt. Instead, slashing Medicaid spending creates fiscal headroom for what is euphemistically being called “tax reform” — a soon-to-come package of huge tax cuts favoring the wealthy.

That’s the basic equation in both the House and Senate bills: Medicaid for tax cuts. Both bills start with various of the taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act, but those are mere appetizers. The main course is intended to be big cuts in individual and corporate tax rates that would benefit the rich.

There is no other point to this whole exercise. All the “Obamacare is in a death spiral” talk is Republican wishful thinking, aided and abetted by active sabotage.”

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Undoubtedly, many of those who would die or suffer needlessly as a result of the GOPs “Reverse Robin Hood” operation would be Democrats and non-voters (like children). But, many in the GOP base also fall within the group of poor and “lower middle class” folks who would be sentenced to death or suffering by the GOP. Killing off your own voters, with their support, is an interesting new twist in modern GOP politics. But, obviously Trump, McConnell, Ryan, and their Fat Cat handlers are confident in the gullibility and inability of many in their base to discern either their own or the general public’s best interests. Difficult to comprehend.

PWS

06-23-17

 

BREAKING: GOP SENATORS ANNOUNCE PLAN TO TRASH HEALTH CARE FOR 10S OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS, FUND MORE TAX BREAKS FOR RICH CRONIES! — Why? — Because They CAN!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/06/why_the_gop_would_pass_an_objectively_bad_health_care_bill.html

 writes in Slate:

“It is difficult to overstate the sheer unpopularity of the American Health Care Act, the Republican Party’s plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. And it’s not hard to understand why the bill is so unpopular. What’s mystifying is why Republicans insist on passing it, acting as if there won’t be political consequences for a plan that promises pain for tens of millions of Americans.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is Slates chief political correspondent.

At Obamacare’s least popular moment, in the fall of 2014, 56 percent of Americans held a negative view of the law, versus 37 percent who approved. Compare that with the Republican version of the AHCA that passed the House of Representatives in early May. In a recent survey from CBS News, 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the GOP proposal, versus 32 percent who approve. A Roper Center analysis shows the proposal with just 29 percent support, making it the most unpopular piece of legislation Congress has considered in decades. And its unpopularity isn’t just a function of blue states like California, New York, and Illinois—there is no state in the union where a majority of voters support the bill.

If the AHCA ends up improving outcomes for Americans—if it delivers affordable health insurance or protects families from medical bankruptcy—it might recover some popularity in the implementation, as was true with the Affordable Care Act, which now has majority support. But we know from the Congressional Budget Office’s evaluation of the House bill that it would increase the number of uninsured by an estimated 23 million people; there are no signs the Senate version will be any less damaging. What’s more, the AHCA may upend the employer health market as well; its deregulatory measures could result in lifetime limits and substantially higher out-of-pocket costs for people who receive insurance through work. The universe of people potentially left worse off by the Republican bill is close to a cross-section of the American public: salaried employees, ordinary workers who rely on the Obamacare exchanges, and the millions of low-income people, children, elderly, and disabled Americans who rely on Medicaid.

Under most circumstances, this would be the ballgame. As a general matter, lawmakers don’t pass hugely unpopular legislation that might harm constituents in such a direct way. It’s easy to say that, for House and Senate Republicans, their “constituents” are those wealthy Americans who receive huge tax cuts under the bill. Still, it’s also true that winning donors isn’t the same as winning elections. Politicians don’t need to value the public interest to reject a bill like the AHCA; a survival instinct should be enough.

Which gets to what’s mystifying about the present situation. If the health care bill becomes law, there’s every indication the Republican Party will suffer for passing it. It is already responsible for a substantial and so-far enduring decline in the president’s approval rating, and it is fueling grass-roots opposition to the already-unpopular Trump administration. If Republicans face an increasingly difficult environment for the 2018 general election, it is at least in part because of the AHCA. And yet, Republicans are intent on passing the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has cannily adopted an unprecedentedlysecretive process meant to insulate the proposal from criticism and expedite its passage. There have been no hearings and no debate. The plan, as it exists, is for a one-week period of public input before Congress votes.

It’s likely that Republicans know the bill is unpopular and are doing everything they can to keep the public from seeing its contents before passing it. As we saw with the Affordable Care Act, the longer the process, the greater the odds for a major backlash. But this presupposes a pressing need to pass the American Health Care Act, which isn’t the case, outside of a “need” to slash Medicaid, thus paving the way for large-scale, permanent tax cuts. The Republican health care bill doesn’t solve any urgent problem in the health care market, nor does it represent any coherent vision for the health care system; it is a hodgepodge of cuts and compromises, designed to pass a GOP Congress more than anything. It is policy without any actual policy. At most, it exists to fulfill a promise to “repeal Obamacare” and cut taxes.

Perhaps that’s enough to explain the zeal to pass the bill. Republicans made a promise, and there are forces within the party—from hyperideological lawmakers and conservative activists to right-wing media and Republican base voters—pushing them toward this conclusion. When coupled with the broad Republican hostility to downward redistribution and the similarly broad commitment to tax cuts, it makes sense that the GOP would continue to pursue this bill despite the likely consequences.

But ultimately it’s not clear the party believes it would face those consequences. The 2018 House map still favors Republicans, and the party is defending far fewer Senate seats than Democrats. Aggressively gerrymandered districts provide another layer of defense, as does voter suppression, and the avalanche of spending from outside groups. Americans might be hurt and outraged by the effects of the AHCA, but those barriers blunt the electoral impact.

The grounds for political combat seem to have changed as well. If recent special elections are any indication—where GOP candidates refused to comment on signature GOP policies—extreme polarization means Republicans can mobilize supporters without being forced to talk about or account for their actual actions. Identity, for many voters, matters more than their pocketbooks. Republicans simply need to signal their disdain—even hatred—for their opponents, political or otherwise. Why worry about the consequences of your policies when you can preclude defeat by changing the ground rules of elections, spending vast sums, and stoking cultural resentment?

It seems, then, that we have an answer for Republicans insist on moving forward with the American Health Care Act. Because they can. And who is going to stop them?”

Here’s some analysis of the GOP Senate Bill from the Washington Post:

“The Senate proposal largely mirrors the House measure with significant differences, according to a discussion draft circulating Wednesday among aides and lobbyists. While the House legislation would peg federal insurance subsidies to age, the Senate bill would link them to income, as the ACA does.

The Senate measure would cut off expanded Medicaid funding for states more gradually than the House bill but would enact deeper long-term cuts to the health-care program for low-income Americans. It also would eliminate House language aimed at prohibiting federally subsidized health plans from covering abortions, a provision that may run afoul of complex Senate budget rules.

But McConnell faces the prospect of an open revolt from key conservative and moderate GOP senators, whose concerns he has struggled to balance in recent weeks. Republicans familiar with the effort said Senate leaders have more work to do to secure the 50 votes needed to pass the measure, with Vice President Pence set to cast the tiebreaking vote, from the pool of 52 GOP senators. No Democrats are expected to support the bill.

According to two Republicans in close contact with Senate GOP leadership granted anonymity to describe private conversations, McConnell is threatening to bring the bill to a vote next week even if he doesn’t have the votes to pass it. But some believe that message is aimed at trying to pressure Republicans to support the bill, rather than an absolute commitment. A McConnell spokeswoman declined to comment.

Republican aides stressed that their plan is likely to undergo more changes to secure the votes needed for passage, but there were major concerns Wednesday from senators on opposite ends of the GOP spectrum.

“My main concern is I promised voters that I would repeal — vote to repeal Obamacare. And everything I hear sounds like Obamacare-lite,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), whose state expanded Medicaid and has been pushing for a more gradual unwinding of that initiative than many conservatives prefer, said she is waiting to scrutinize what is released but has not seen anything yet that would make her drop her concerns with the proposal.

“Up to this point, I don’t have any new news — tomorrow we will see it definitively — that would cause me to change that sentiment,” she said.

Like the House bill, the Senate measure is expected to make big changes to Medicaid, the program that insures about 74 million elderly and lower-income Americans and was expanded in most states under the ACA. In effect, the revisions would reduce federal spending on the program.

The Senate measure would transform Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to one in which federal funding would be distributed to states on a per capita basis. The Senate measure would also seek to phase out the program’s expansion — although at a more gradual rate than the House version.

Yet the Senate bill would go further than the House version in its approach to cutting Medicaid funding in the future. In 2025, the measure would tie federal spending on the program to an even slower growth index than the one used in the House bill. That move could prompt states to reduce the size of their Medicaid programs.”

Here’s a link to the complete Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-gop-leaders-set-to-unveil-health-care-bill/2017/06/22/56dbe35c-5734-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_healthcare835am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.31690d0232b7

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As long as folks stubbornly keep voting for their own demise, that is, against their own best interests, Trump and the GOP are going to take them to the cleaners every time. The GOP Congressional leadership has “bought into” the Trump “Time Square” theory:   “There’s absolutely nothing that we could do that would make these folks vote against us. And, we’re going to take full advantage of them by sticking it to them just like they were Democrats or minorities (or both).”

I suppose if it works, why not line your pockets (and those of your buddies) to the full extent possible at the expense of the People until the party ends (which it might never do — and, if it does, the GOP will be laughing all the way to the bank)?

PWS

06-22-17

POLITICS: According To The Polls & Mainstream Media, Trump Is Historically Unpopular & The GOP Can’t Govern — But, That’s News To Actual Voters Who Continue To Prefer The GOP To Dems!

Upset, schmupset, the four consecutive House races that Dems have lost in the “Trump” era are exactly the types of elections they are going to have to consistently win to retake power. Yes, it’s an improvement for our system when there are more competitive races, and it’s good for Dems that they are actually taking races in “GOP Territory” seriously.

But, in Georgia, the Democratic Candidate John Ossoff actually ran behind Hillary Clinton who narrowly lost the District to Trump. There was no GOP incumbent, and now-Rep. Karen Handel actually beat Ossoff by a very comfortable margin of almost 4 points.

I keep saying it. The strategy of counting on Trump to self-destruct, the inability of the GOP to govern, and criticism of the GOP’s “help the rich, stiff everyone else” agenda isn’t working any better in the post-election era than it did for Hillary. The Dems are leaderless, programless, and all too often clueless. Until that changes, the reign of Trump and one-party government in America is likely to continue, notwithstanding the polls and the media.

And, speaking of polls and the media, remember their performance in predicting the mood of America and the results of the 2016 election. Not much has changed.

PWS

06-21-17

POLITICO: HOW DEEP IN THE DOJ BULLPEN WOULD TRUMP HAVE TO GO TO FIRE MUELLER? — Sessions, Rosenstein, Brand Likely “Toast,” But Others Down the Line Might Also Balk At Carrying Out Order! — NEWSWEEK SAYS FIRING MUELLER WOULD MEAN “PRESIDENT PENCE!”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/16/donald-trump-justice-department-succession-plan-239652?cid=apn

Annie Karni writes in Politico:

“An abstract, in-case-of-emergency-break-glass executive order drafted by the Trump administration in March may become real-world applicable as the president, raging publicly at his Justice Department, mulls firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has twice rewritten an executive order that outlines the order of succession at the Justice Department — once after President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend his travel ban, and then again two months later. The executive order outlines a list of who would be elevated to the position of acting attorney general if the person up the food chain recuses himself, resigns, gets fired or is no longer in a position to serve.

In the past, former Justice Department officials and legal experts said, the order of succession is no more than an academic exercise — a chain of command applicable only in the event of an attack or crisis when government officials are killed and it is not clear who should be in charge.

But Trump and the Russia investigation that is tightening around him have changed the game.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already recused himself from overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russian operatives, after it was revealed that he failed to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. And Trump started his morning on Friday by appearing to take a public shot at his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who has increasingly become the target of his impulsive anger.

“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” the president tweeted.

The Justice Department said in a statement on Friday that there are no current plans for a recusal, but Rosenstein has said in the past that he would back away from overseeing Mueller’s investigation if his role in the ouster of former FBI Director James Comey becomes a conflict.

That has legal experts closely examining the dry executive order to figure out who might be next up to bat, or, as Democratic lawyers and consultants view it, who might serve as Trump’s next sacrificial lamb.

“We know Rachel Brand is the next victim,” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor-in-chief of Lawfare, referring to the former George W. Bush official who was recently confirmed as associate attorney general, the third-highest position in the Justice Department.

“For those of us who have high confidence in Rachel — the more confidence you have in someone in this role, the less long you think they’ll last,” said Wittes, who said he considers Brand a friend. “That does put a very high premium on the question of who is next.”

That question, however, has become more complicated because the Trump administration has been slow to fill government positions and get those officials confirmed. Typically, the solicitor general would be next in line after the associate attorney general, followed by the list of five assistant U.S. attorneys, the order of which would be determined by the attorney general. But none of those individuals have been confirmed by the Senate, and they would be unable to serve as acting attorney general without Senate confirmation.

Because of that, the executive order comes into play — one that puts next in line after Brand the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente. Boente, a career federal prosecutor and an appointee of former President Barack Obama, was tapped last April to serve as the interim head of the Justice Department’s national security division, which oversees the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Boente, who was briefly thrust into the no. 2 spot at the Justice Department after Yates was fired, was also tasked with phoning Preet Bharara, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to deliver the unexpected news that he was fired. At the time, Boente also vowed to defend Trump’s travel ban in the future.

Boente is followed, on the succession list, by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, John Stuart Bruce; and the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, John Parker. Both are career prosecutors who are serving in their posts on an interim basis, until a presidential appointment is made. But they would not need to be Senate confirmed to take over.”

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Read Karni’s full article at the link. Meanwhile, over at Newsweek, Graham Lanktree speculates that Trump’s outside legal team is building a case against Mueller. But, that case appears to be totally bogus, a rather blatant attempt to obstruct and pervert justice, in the best (or worst) traditions of Richard Nixon. Many believe that the firing of Mueller would lead to the fall of Trump (either by impeachment or forced resignation) and the ushering in of President Mike Pence.

Here’s the link to the Newsweek article:

http://www.newsweek.com/pence-will-soon-be-president-if-trump-fires-mueller-says-bush-lawyer-626987?spMailingID=1969868&spUserID=MzQ4OTU2OTQxNTES1&spJobID=810837063&spReportId=ODEwODM3MDYzS0

And, here’s an excerpt from Lanktree’s report:

“Vice President Mike Pence will soon lead the U.S. if President Donald Trump fires Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller, a Bush administration ethics lawyer said Saturday.

Trump’s legal team and surrogates are “building a case for firing Mueller,” wrote Richard Painter in a tweet after he appeared on Fox News Saturday. Painter was President George W. Bush’s chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007.

“If that happens Mike Pence will soon become the 46th President,” Painter wrote. “Trump surrogates are making up Mueller ‘conflicts’ to justify firing him. That will be yet more obstruction of justice if it happens.”

. . . .

Friends of Trump said earlier this week that the president is considering firing Mueller. If that happens, legal scholars say, it would likely prompt the resignations of senior Department of Justice staff, reprisals from Congress, and resignation of White House staff. Painter argues that it could lead to impeachment.

“Mueller is absolutely not compromised by his professional relationship with Comey,” said Painter on Saturday. “This is just an effort to undermine the credibility of the special counsel.”

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Stay tuned. Almost everyone except Trump and his “outside advisers” believes that firing Mueller would be suicidal. But, Trump appears to be unhinged and often doesn’t let rationality or prudence enter into his decision making. He’s managed to survive many self-destructive acts that would have spelled the end of the line for any other politician. But, this one might well bring him down.

PWS

06-18-17

 

 

H-1B NONIMMIGRANTS: A Needed Visa In Need Of Reform — It’s Essential For Our Economy, But It’s Wrong When US Workers Are Displaced & Degraded — A Plea For Reform By One Who Has Benefitted From The System But Sees The Abuses!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/04/us/understanding-the-h-1b-visa/index.html

Moni Bassu writes in CNN:

“Palmer and other H-1B reformers want accountability.
They say US companies must be required to document their searches to fill positions with American workers. Employers must pay prevailing wages and be prevented from subcontracting or outsourcing H-1B jobs.
Reform advocates are pushing for a system of government enforcement and oversight of the H-1B regulations, not one that is reliant on whistleblowers to expose abuse.
Technology is here to stay. And it is changing at warp speed. The demand for smart talent is not going away. That’s why even the biggest critics of H-1B are the most ardent backers of reform, not elimination.
What I hear them saying is the system ought to work the way it used to, when my father obtained an H-1 visa. He was hired for a job he was uniquely qualified for, and he was compensated with a decent wage.
No one wants to see Americans lose their jobs unfairly, and if my father were still alive, I know he’d be troubled by what I learned about the current H-1B program.
I also know he would be heartened to see that some of the most ardent backers of visa reform are Indian Americans. After all, we are the ones who have most reaped the rewards of H-1B.”
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The full article, which gives actual examples of both the benefits and the abuses of the H-1B program is a “must read.” Get it at the link.
Several thoughts. I was very critical, and still am, of House Immigration Subcommittee GOP Members for starting off with controversial, “in your face,” and unneeded enforcement-only bills. See http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Qw
Why not instead start with something bipartisan that would be good for America, like H-1B reform. Chairman Grassley in the Senate has expressed strong interest in reforming the H-1B category to eliminate abuses. And, it appears that most major U.S. employers who use H-1Bs also see the need for reform to preserve and improve the program.
Additionally, things like investment visa “EB-5” reform also appear likely to attract support from both sides of the aisle in both houses.
A second thought, why don’t U.S. companies, particularly those started or run by immigrants, which use H-1Bs start the reforms now. “Reverse” the process. Use highly talented H-1B workers to train U.S. workers, particularly in places where the economic rebound has not yet reached, for whatever reason.
For example, in a recent blog dealt with the situation in the small city of Gillette, WY. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-UY  The folks seemed nice, optimistic, and interested in a brighter future for their community. But, with or without Trump and his environment-busting policies, coal mining as a way of life is on the way out. I can’t imagine that too many of the younger generation are hanging around places like Gillette.
Why not go in and establish some tech centers using H-1Bs as trainers. Sure, working on a computer in an office isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. But, it is something that can be done from anywhere.
And, the costs of doing business, at least initially, are likely to be less in a place like Gillette. Increased economic activity brings with it other needs: buildings, houses, markets, auto dealers, repair shops, HVAC technicians, public servants, schools, teachers, etc. So, there could be something for everyone, even those who don’t want to work at a desk all day.
Maybe, it’s time for those who want immigration reform to stop talking and whining and start doing. Things that demonstrably work and help folks out build their own bases of support. That’s better than trying to convince folks with statistics and pie charts!
PWS
06-05-17

POLITICS: Dems Fail Again To Make A Dent — GOP Wins Montana House Seat N/W/S Candidate’s Pending Assault Charge!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/25/us/montana-special-election.html?emc=edit_nn_20170526&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=79213886&te=1

The NY Times reports:

“BOZEMAN, Mont. — Greg Gianforte, a wealthy Montana Republican who was charged with assaulting a reporter on Wednesday, nonetheless won the state’s lone seat in the House of Representatives on Thursday, according to The Associated Press, in a special election held up as a test of the country’s political climate.

Mr. Gianforte, 56, was widely seen as a favorite to win against Rob Quist, a Democrat and country music singer. But he seemed to imperil his own candidacy in the final hours of the race after he manhandled a journalist for The Guardian.

Addressing the altercation for the first time late Thursday night, Mr. Gianforte apologized to the Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, by name, acknowledged he “made a mistake” and vowed to the state’s voters that he would not embarrass them again.

“You deserve a congressman who stays out of the limelight and just gets the job done,” he said to a group of supporters at a hotel in Bozeman, who repeatedly yelled out that they forgave him.

Voters here shrugged off the episode and handed Republicans a convincing victory. Mr. Gianforte took slightly more than 50 percent of the vote to about 44 percent for Mr. Quist. (President Trump won Montana by about 20 percentage points.) Mr. Gianforte’s success underscored the limitations of the Democrats’ strategy of highlighting the House’s health insurance overhaul and relying on liberal anger toward the president, at least in red-leaning states.”

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Forget all the Trump hoopla, public opinion polls, marches, demonstrations, town halls,  court cases, Russia, and the GOP’s cruelty, deception, and proven inability to govern. None of it appears to make any difference to the folks who count: voters!

There is no reason to believe that if the national election were held today, the results would be any different from November 2016: a GOP win at all levels.

Dems need 1) some dynamic leadership (sorely lacking since the departure of Obama from the national scene), and 2) a program that appeals to voters, at least some of whom pulled the lever for Trump.

The 2016 mistake was running a campaign based almost entirely on the strategy that Trump and the GOP would “self-destruct.” Didn’t work then, and it’s not working now.

How are Democrats, in the few areas of the country they control, improving things for the majority of folks, where the GOP isn’t? How could this be extended to “red areas?” How can immigrants actually create better economic opportunities for folks in red states and rural areas? Democrats need real life results, not just “wonkie” charts, statistics, and articles. How are Democrats going to get the message to folks who get their news from Fox, Breitbart, and their local GOP Representative’s newsletter?

Unless somebody is thinking creatively about the foregoing issues, it’s going to be a long four (or eight) years for Democrats and our country.

PWS

05-26-16

 

 

Fox, Breitbart, and

 

POLITICS: David Leonhardt In The NYT: Don’t Get Distracted From GOP’s Dishonesty & Cruelty!

“David Leonhardt
Op-Ed Columnist
The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the House health care bill is a devastating indictment.
The report, released yesterday, showed that millions of Americans would lose health insurance and the quality of insurance for millions more would deteriorate. The savings from that carnage — to borrow a favorite word of President Trump’s — would pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.
And yet the immediate reaction to the C.B.O. report also shows why you should be worried that the Senate will nonetheless decide to pass a version of the House bill.
Here’s what I mean: Much of this initial reaction has missed the point. It has focused on the modest differences between the new C.B.O. report, which analyzed the final House bill, and a C.B.O. analysis from March of an earlier version of the bill. Among the differences, the final bill would deprive an estimated 23 million people of insurance, compared with the 24 million in the March analysis.
Don’t be distracted by these small differences.
Distraction is a tactic of the politicians who are trying to take away health insurance from people. These politicians can’t sell their proposals on the merits. That’s why both the House and, thus far, the Senate have refused to hold any hearings. They know that virtually every expert across the ideological spectrum — including groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, patients and senior citizens — opposes the bill.
Unable to win a debate on its merits, Republican leaders need to change the subject. They can’t let their proposals be judged on whether they improve the American health care system, because they don’t. They need to create a lower standard by which the plan will be judged.
The House did so in the frantic week that it passed its bill by pointing to a last-minute amendment that made a superficial improvement. House members then claimed they had fixed their bill.
Senate leaders are showing signs of following the same path — and the C.B.O. report gives them a chance to start down it. The report will encourage top Republicans to claim that their bill is already getting better and that the Senate will keep improving it in coming months.
In truth, the bill is fatally flawed. Its objective is to reduce federal spending on health insurance for the middle class, poor, sick, elderly and disabled in order to cut taxes for the wealthy. Maybe the final version, once the Senate has made its tweaks, will take insurance from 23 million people, or maybe 15 million people. But any law based on the House bill is guaranteed to worsen the health care system.
That’s the overwhelming message of the C.B.O. report.
The saddest part of this situation is that our health care system, including Obamacare, very much needs improvement. And there are solid bipartisan ideas out there, including some that would increase states’ flexibility or lower consumer expenses. The Senate has members from both parties with the savvy and the policy chops — like Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray — to turn those ideas into a bill.
Is it too much to hope that they cast aside the distractions from the House’s failed plan and start fresh?
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including Abbe Gluck on the G.O.P.’s sabotage of Obamacare.”

*****************************************

Read more in today’s NYT.

PWS

05-25-17

 

GOP’S WAR ON AMERICA EXPOSED — 23 Million Would Lose Health Coverage To Provide Tax Breaks To Fat Cat Cronies!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/us/politics/cbo-congressional-budget-office-health-care.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Robert Pear reports in the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would leave 14 million more people uninsured next year than under President Barack Obama’s health law — and 23 million more in 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. Some of the nation’s sickest would pay much more for health care.

Under the House bill, the number of uninsured would be slightly lower, but deficits would be somewhat higher, than the budget office estimated before Republican leaders made a series of changes to win enough votes for passage. Beneath the headline-grabbing numbers, those legislative tweaks would bring huge changes to the American health care system.

In many states, insurance costs could soar for consumers who are sick or have pre-existing conditions, while premiums would fall for the healthy, the new estimate concludes.

The forecast by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Capitol Hill’s official scorekeeper, is another potential blow to efforts to undo Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Republican senators have said they will make substantial changes to the measure passed by the House, but even Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, sounds uncertain about his chances of finding a majority to repeal and replace the health law.”

**********************************************

Read Robert’s complete article at the link. Decades ago, when we were both young, Robert covered the “immigration beat” for the NYT. In the days before Administrations of both parties went to war with the press, he used to call me on a regular basis to get the “official INS position” on various controversies, particularly those involving legal issues.

PWS

05-24-16

N. Rappaport On GOP’s “Extreme Enforcement” Initiatives!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/334554-republicans-are-preparing-extreme-immigration-measures

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“Highlights from Labrador’s summary of the Davis-Oliver Act.

It provides states with congressional authorization to enact and enforce their own immigration laws to end the executive branch’s ability to unilaterally shut down immigration enforcement.
It withholds certain federal grants from jurisdictions that refuse to honor immigration detainers or prohibit their law enforcement officers from giving immigration-related information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jurisdictions that refuse to honor detainer requests and release criminal aliens may be sued by the victims of crimes the aliens commit after they are released.
It makes membership in a criminal gang grounds for deportation.
It requires background checks to be completed before immigration benefits can be granted.
Criminalization of undocumented aliens.

Section 314 makes crimes out of illegal entry and unlawful presence. If an offender does not have three misdemeanor convictions or a felony conviction, a first offense can result in imprisonment for up to six months. Subsequent offenses can result in imprisonment for up to two years.

If the alien has three misdemeanor convictions or a felony conviction, however, the term of imprisonment can be up to 20 years. This is not as harsh as some of the criminal provisions which are in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) already. Smuggling an alien into the country or helping one to remain here unlawfully (harboring) may “be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life” if it results in the death of any person.

Home free magnet.

President Obama created what I call the “home free magnet”, when he focused enforcement on undocumented aliens who had been convicted of serious crimes or had been caught near the border after making an illegal entry. Aliens wanting to enter the United States illegally knew that they would be safe from deportation once they had reached the interior of the country.

This attracted undocumented aliens and became a powerful incentive for them to do whatever was necessary to enter the United States. President Trump destroyed this magnet with tough campaign rhetoric and his executive order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which greatly expands Obama’s enforcement priorities.

. . . .

Perhaps the Democrats should consider supporting a modified version of the Davis-Oliver Act in return for Republican consideration of a modified legalization program and other measures that are important to the Democrats.

A similar agreement was the basis for the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which made legalization available to millions of undocumented aliens in return for interior enforcement measures and border security.

The Republicans can deport most of the undocumented aliens in the country if they choose to do so, but it would take a long time and would be very expensive politically as well as financially.

They might be willing to consider a legalization program that is based on American needs, such as preventing citizen and lawful permanent resident families from being broken up and providing needed foreign workers for American employers.”

It could be limited to temporary lawful status while background investigations are being conducted. Greg Siskind and I suggested a way to do this in, “Pre-Registration: A Proposal to Kick-Start CIR.”

To be truly comprehensive, immigration reform has to include effective enforcement measures and time for putting together such a bill is running out.

***********************************************

Read Nolan’s complete article over on The Hill at the above link.

Having served during the Obama Administration (as well as others from both parties) I disagree with Nolan’s characterization of Obama as having a “home free” policy. At least since the summer of 2014, no characterization could be further from the truth!

Beginning in the summer of 2014, the Obama Administrations, quite unwisely in my view, “prioritized” the cases of recent arrivals at the Southern Border. By taking these cases out of sequence, and totally out of proportion to any “threat” they posed, the Obama Administration’s policy of Aimless Docket Reshuffling (“ADR”) helped create an Immigration Court backlog that now approaches 600,000 cases, notwithstanding relatively “flat” receipts and actual increases in the number of sitting judges.

While eliminating the “recent arrivals priority,” the Trump Administration’s essentially “random” enforcement policy, lacking in any type of restraint or rationality, has actually made things much worse. As backlogs mushroom, the “home free” problem is actually more significant, although with a pronounced degree of randomness and irrationally. In other words, total docket chaos in Immigration Court.

While the threat of more “expedited removals,” which evade the Immigration Courts, does hang over the system, the procedures have not actually been implemented. Moreover, contrary to Nolan’s suggestion, there is no chance that the GOP will be able to remove more than a small fraction of the approximately 11 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. Yes, arbitrary enforcement does produce some “terrorism” effect by making everyone feel unsafe. Perhaps a relatively small number of undocumented residents will give up and leave (or try to enter Canada). Nevertheless, there is no practical way that 11 million individuals actually could be removed.

The GOP would do much better to sign on to immigration reforms that would give some type of legal status (not necessarily green cards) to most of those already here, while expanding legal immigration opportunities across the board. The resulting system would actually reduce pressure on the border while making interior enfircement more of a practical possibility than it has been at any time during the last for decades. But, that would take a thoughtful, practical, non-xenophobic, approach — something that has eluded the GOP in the years since the Reagan Administration.

Look for folks like Labrador & Goodlatte to work with the Adminstration to create a complete “train wreck” in the immigration enforcement system.

PWS

05-22-17

 

Trump Dumps On Feds — Budget Full Of Lumps Of Coal For Career Civil Servants Who Keep USG Running N/W/S Trumpsters’ Stunning Incompetence!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/05/18/trumps-budget-calls-for-hits-on-federal-employee-retirement-programs/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-fedgov%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.490caac3fe4f

Joe Davidson writes in the Washington Post:

“The budget proposal President Trump plans to unveil Tuesday would give to federal employees with one hand, while taking away with five others.

It calls for a 1.9 percent pay raise in January for civilian workers and a 2.1 percent hike for the military.

But in real terms, the civilian increase would be less than it looks if proposed hits on retirement benefits are adopted. Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget would:

Increase Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) contributions from workers by 1 percentage point each year until they equal the government’s contribution. This would take five to six years and would result in increased out-of-pocket payments of about 6 percent over that period. Out-of-pocket payments by federal law enforcement officers would increase by the same amount, but would not equal the greater contributions from law enforcement agencies.
Base future retirement benefits on the average of the high five years of salary instead of the current high three
Eliminate cost of living adjustments (COLA) for current and future FERS employees
Cut the COLA for Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employees by 0.5 percent from what the formula would allowed
Eliminate supplement payments for FERS employees who retire beginning in 2018. The supplement approximates the value of Social Security benefits for those who retire before age 62.
FERS, which covers employees first hired after 1986, and CSRS have different requirements. Those covered by CSRS, for example, do not receive Social Security benefits.

Senior Office of Management and Budget officials, who declined to be identified because the budget has not been released, said that the increase in retirement contributions would not apply under CSRS because the employer and employee shares under that system already are equal.

Similarly, they said that eliminating the FERS retirement inflation adjustment while only reducing it for those retired under CSRS takes into account that FERS retirees receive Social Security, which is fully inflation-adjusted, as part of their benefits.

The retirement changes supposedly would take effect with the fiscal year that begins in October. Since the federal budget rarely is finished by that deadline, any measure including them likely would set a different effective date.

Most of these proposals have been in the Republican playbook for years. With that party now in control of the White House and Congress, chances increase that some or all of them will become law, even as the probability is low that Trump’s entire budget will be enacted as proposed.

The thought of Trump’s assault on federal retirement programs becoming law enrages federal employee leaders.”

*******************************************************

As pointed out by Davidson, this slap in the face to hard-working career Feds is based on a longstanding GOP “wishlist.”

PWS

05-20-17

LEGISLATION: House GOP Takes The Low Road — Eschews Compromise — Goes For Enforcement Overkill!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/18/politics/immigration-bill-house-committee/index.html

Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Washington (CNN)Democrats and Republicans on Thursday faced off over immigration policy as a House committee began considering a set of immigration bills that Democrats say would amount to the creation of a “mass deportation force.”

Proponents of the first bill under consideration by the House judiciary committee — named after two law enforcement officers who were allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant — advocated for the bill as important to public safety and rule of law.
But Democrats on the committee decried the bill as an unnecessarily harsh anti-immigrant push by President Donald Trump.
“Proponents of this bill say that it’s necessary to keep us safe, but what the bill really does is pander to the noxious notion that immigrants are criminals and should be dealt with harshly,” said immigration subcommittee ranking member Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. “This bill gives Trump and (adviser Steve) Bannon the legislation to establish their mass deportation force. … This bill should really be called the ‘Mass Deportation Act,’ because that’s what it is.”
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the bill was not intended to target immigrants, but to “respect the rule of law.”
“This is simply a bill that gives any administration, the current one and future ones, the authority to enforce our laws properly, and gives to state and local governments … the ability to participate in that enforcement,” Goodlatte said.
The committee was set to mark up three Republican bills related to immigration on Thursday — one that would vastly expand the role of state and local jurisdictions in immigration enforcement and two others that would authorize immigration components of the Department of Homeland Security.
But by mid-afternoon, the committee recessed until next week after only making its way through two amendments. Both were brought by Democrats to strike portions of the bill, and after lengthy debate, both were rejected by the Republican majority committee. Democrats were expected to continue bringing a number of similar amendments when the markup continues on the nearly 200 page bill.
The main bill the committee discussed, the Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act, was introduced by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, and closely resembles similar legislation that the House judiciary committee has advanced in the past and that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced in his time in the Senate.
The Davis-Oliver Act would substantially increase the capabilities of federal and local immigration enforcement, including empowering state and local law enforcement to enact their own immigration laws and penalties. It also would give the government powers to revoke visas, beef up Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, increase criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and punish sanctuary jurisdictions.

The two parties went back and forth on the bill, with Democrats decrying it as demonization of all immigrants, as an increase in mass incarceration and as a promotion of racial profiling and as unconstitutional federal overreach. They noted that local law enforcement in sanctuary cities say their policies are important for victims and witnesses of crimes to feel comfortable coming forward.
But Labrador said the notion that the bill harms public safety is “the most preposterous and outrageous argument I’ve ever heard.”
“For too long we have allowed individuals to enter our country illegally and in many cases do us harm,” he said. “While other reforms are needed, this bill is vital to a long-term fix.”
The other two bills, introduced by Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, would serve as authorizations for ICE and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, codifying the mission statements of both entities. The USCIS bill would focus the agency, which oversees the issuance of visas and grants immigrants the ability to enter the U.S. . . . .”

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America has all the immigration enforcement we need at present. Undocumented entries are down, the undocumented population is stable, and all reputable studies show that migrants of all types are among the most law-abiding sectors of our society.  Also, the DHS is unable to remove everyone who is currently under a final order of removal.  The U.S. Immigration Court system is completely backlogged, with nearly an astounding 600,000 pending cases.

Consequently, beyond funding “fixes” for the overwhelmed Immigration Courts and the DHS program for executing final orders of removal, there is no need for additional immigration enforcement personnel and authority at this time.  Nor is there any need to push reluctant cities to help DHS out with immigration enforcement.

No, notwithstanding the disingenuous statements by GOP Reps. Goodlatte and Labrador, this is all about generating anti-immigrant sentiment and promoting a non-existent link among  immigrants, crime, and national security..

What America really needs is some type of legalization program to allow the millions of law-abiding undocumented individual already here to continue to work and contribute to our society.  Additionally, we need immigration reform that would expand the legal immigration system to more realistically match supply with demand. This, in turn, would encourage individuals to enter through the legal system and thereby register and submit themselves to complete pre-entry vetting.  That’s what would actually promote the safety and prosperity of America!

PWS

05-19-17