How Paul Ryan’s Hypocritical Fiscal Hysteria Threatens Working Families

The following article by Harry Stein was posted on the Center for American Progress website July 17, 2017:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 10, 2017.

After years of hysterical warnings about budget deficits under former President Barack Obama, Republican congressional leaders suddenly seem to have shed their concern for the deficit. In The Atlantic, Russell Berman questions whether “deficits still matter to Republicans” under President Donald Trump.1

While this changing approach to budget deficits is certainly hypocritical, it continues a consistent pattern of selectively using fiscal hysteria as a weapon to attack programs for low- and middle-income Americans. A recent article by this author for Harvard Law and Policy Review defines fiscal hysteria as “exaggerating the impacts of deficits and debt, thereby underestimating the extent to which the United States can afford to solve problems facing the American people.”2 While fiscal hysteria does not actually lead to sustainable fiscal policy—since it tends to be deployed selectively for political gain—it does lead to policies that enrich those at the top at the expense of everyone else.3 (more…)

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Where’s Erik Paulsen?

Our Representative in Congress hasn’t held a public town hall since September 6, 2011. There’ve been last minute meetings announced on social media shortly before they happen, tele-town halls where questions can be vetted before being forwarded, appearances at local businesses and school, robocalls that come to you saying he’s sorry you weren’t there to take his invitation to the tele-townhalls — but no traditional town hall.

It’s been 2,145 days since Rep. Paulsen’s last public town hall.

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House GOP unveils budget plan that attaches major spending cuts to coming tax overhaul bill

The following article by Mike DeBonis was posted on the Washington Post website July 18, 2017:

House Republicans unveiled a 2018 budget plan Tuesday that would pave the way for ambitious tax reform legislation — but only alongside a package of politically sensitive spending cuts that threaten to derail the tax rewrite before it begins.

GOP infighting over spending, health care and other matters continues to cast doubt on whether the budget blueprint can survive a House vote. Failing to pass a budget could complicate leaders’ plans to move on to their next governing priority as hopes of a health-care overhaul appeared to collapse late Monday in the Senate. (more…)

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If — if — the Senate passes a health bill, get ready for lightning round in the House

The following article by Paul Kane was posted on the Washington Post website July 15, 2017:

By most measures, Republicans face a nearly impossible task of finding enough votes to pass their long-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act through a Senate that seems irreconcilably divided.

A core group of moderates and mainstream conservatives remains resistant to the Republican proposal that slashes Medicaid funding, while a small but critical bloc of conservatives keeps pushing to move the bill further in their direction.

Yet by one measure, Republicans have never been closer to repealing large chunks of what they dismiss as “Obamacare.” Within two short weeks, the GOP will probably either be reveling in its unexpected victory or mired in deep infighting over the party’s failure to live up to a pledge it has made over the past seven years. (more…)

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Russia sanctions stall in the House as Democrats object to being frozen out of restraining Trump

NOTE:  If you have questions about this situation, please contact Rep. Erik Paulsen’s offices to ask them. You can reach them here:  202.225.2871 (DC) or 952.405.8510 (MN).

The following article by Karoun Demirjian and Mike DeBonis was posted on the Washington Post website July 10, 2017:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has said he is in favor of the Russia sanctions bill. The measure is mired in a partisan dispute in the House — with Democrats saying a recent change weakens the legislation. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Popular legislation that would limit President Trump’s ability to lift financial sanctions on Russia is mired in a partisan dispute in the House, with Democrats charging that a recent change would weaken the bill.

The surprising roadblock emerged in recent days as Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Group of 20 summit in Germany and floated the possibility of joining forces with Russia on a cybersecurity initiative, to objections from both parties.

The pending legislation, which passed the Senate on a 98-to-2 vote last month, is effectively a congressional check on Trump: any time the president wants to make a change to sanctions policy on Russia, lawmakers would have a chance to block him. (more…)

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With health bill looming, senators aren’t rushing into the July Fourth spotlight

The following article by Paul Kane was posted on the Washington Post website July 1, 2017:

Protestors outside of a town hall held by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in Baton Rouge on Friday. (Ashley Cusick /For The Washington Post)

Sen. Susan Collins will celebrate the Fourth of July within view of the Canadian border, at a remote northeastern Maine town’s annual parade. Sen. Lisa Murkowski will appear on the other end of the continent in an old timber town on an isolated Alaskan island.

These two Republican senators, critical swing votes in the debate over health-care legislation, are not exactly rushing into the public spotlight to engage their constituents on the controversial plan and their own decision-making about the proposal.

Then again, at least they have released information about where they will be. That’s more than most Senate Republicans have done at the start of a 10-day break wrapped around the nation’s Independence Day celebration. This creates the belief among liberal activists that Republicans are trying to hide, which in turn primes every public moment to become that much more confrontational. (more…)

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House Republicans pass tort bill by slim margin

NOTE:  MN03 Rep. Erik Paulsen voted for this bill.

The following article by Kimberly Kindy was posted on the Washington Post website June 28, 2017:

Oscar Gronner

A medical malpractice bill that limits attorney fees and some patient damage fees in civil lawsuits was passed by the House on Wednesday by a narrow margin of 218 to 210, with numerous Republicans voting against the measure.

The biggest point of contention was over a provision that places a cap of $250,000 on noneconomic damages awards to victims, which includes for pain and suffering. Nineteen Republicans voted against the bill, many of them citing this as a key reason, saying it would trample on states’ rights because it would take away their ability to establish their own laws on the matter.

At least two dozen states do not cap noneconomic damages, and several state supreme courts — including Washington and Florida — have determined they are unconstitutional. (more…)

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Paulsen constituents concerned over healthcare future

The following article by Meghan Davy Sandvold was posted on the Eden Prairie News website June 22, 2017:

Source: Eden Prairie News

EDEN PRAIRIE — Faith leaders and constituents of District 3 recently gathered outside U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s Eden Prairie office. They said they were mourning the potential deaths of those who may not be alive for long if significant changes are made to their health care plans.

Clergy and faith leaders from Congressional District 3 gathered outside of Paulsen’s o􀃕ce at 250 Prairie Center Drive in Eden Prairie, on Wednesday, June 21, to raise awareness of the impact the proposed American Health Care Act could have on thousands of Minnesotans. (more…)

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Paris Exit Was ‘Victory Paid and Carried Out’ by Republican Party for the Koch Brothers

The following article by Lorraine Chow via EcoWatch was posted on the Alternet website June 13, 2017:

The 22 Republican senators who urged Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement received millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests.

Charles and David Koch – The Koch Brothers Charles de Ganahl Koch and David Hamilton Koch are the notorious Koch Bothers. The brothers own Koch Industries and are major benefactors for organizations and candidates involved in pushing radical Republican policies. The Koch Brothers use their immense wealth to cast a shadow on American government at all levels and form it to their own design. Your vote has value to the Koch Brothers Would billionaires spend millions to influence your vote if it had no value? The U.S. Map is adapted from a Creative Commons licensed image available via Wikimedia. The caricatures of Charles and David Koch are an original paintings in Photoshop.
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr CC

The 22 Republican senators who recently sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement received more than $10 million dollars in campaign funds from fossil fuel interests.

The two-page letter was signed by a number of Republican heavyweights from coal/gas/oil-rich states, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas.

The Guardian calculated that the 22 senators received a total of $10,694,284 from oil, gas and coal money in just five years. (See the breakdown below.)

However, that sum does not even come close to the amount of undisclosed funds coming from the deep pockets of Charles and David Koch‘s coal, oil and gas conglomerate, Koch Industries, and other outside groups.

As the Guardian explains:

“Visible donations to Republicans from those industries exceeded donations to Democrats in the 2016 election cycle by a ratio of 15-to-1, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And that does not include so-called dark money passed from oil interests such as Koch industries to general slush funds to re-elect Republicans such as the Senate leadership fund. (more…)

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Senate Repeal Bill Would Still Eviscerate Coverage and Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

The following article by Thomas Huelskoetter and Emily Gee was posted on the Center for American Progress website June 9, 2017:

AP/David Zalubowski
A doctor checks a patient in a primary care clinic located in a low-income neighborhood, March 2017.

Recent reports indicate that the emerging Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) may not include the House version’s provision permitting states to waive the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) community rating provision, which prevents insurers from charging sick people higher premiums than healthy people.

Even without community rating waivers, the Senate bill would still critically weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions. By allowing states to waive the ACA’s essential health benefits (EHB) requirements, it would enable insurers to effectively screen out sick people by excluding certain services. (more…)

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