The House passed a dangerous gun bill

The extremely conservative U.S. House of Representatives has passed a terrible bill. It would actually make it legal for more dangerous and untrained people to carry loaded, hidden guns in more public places in every state. Only six Democrats voted yes. This government body would allow concealed-and-carry permit holders from other states that have lax gun-violence prevention laws to carry in Minnesota. Many of these states don’t even require permits to carry a gun. These Republicans are bending to the will of the gun lobby and considering a bill that will weaken our gun laws and make us less safe.

It’s hypocritical of Republicans who argue against federal government overreach to undermine the rights of states to set their own rules against gun violence. America’s worst gun laws would become law of the land. The Supreme Court has said states can regulate guns for lawful users. Read More

Congressional Republicans in advanced talks to reduce the tax rate for top earners to 37 percent as part of final tax bill

The following article by Erica Werner and Damian Paletta was posted on the Washington Post website December 12, 2017:

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) talks with reporters on Capitol Hill this month. Credit:
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

Congressional Republicans are in advanced talks to lower the top tax rate for individuals from 39.6 percent to 37 percent as they finalize a massive $1.5 trillion tax package, said three people familiar with the negotiations.

The move follows complaints from wealthy taxpayers in New York and elsewhere that their taxes could go up under the legislation because of other changes it makes to the code.

The change, if finalized, would amount to a major tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. And it would be certain to spark a furious response from Democrats who are unanimously opposed to the legislation which they already have been casting as a giveaway to corporations and the rich. Read More

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 2,291 days since Rep. Paulsen’s last public town hall.

Insist on justice for women

Way back in 1979, a woman named Lilly was working as an overnight manager for Goodyear.  It was a great job for a woman at that time and Lilly did well — she was named “Top Performer” in 1996 by Goodyear.

But a while after that Lilly received an anonymous note saying she was being paid 40 percent less than her male colleagues.  It was devastating for her to consider the amounts lost to her wages, retirement and savings over 19 years at Goodyear.

So Lilly sued the company and won $360,000 in compensation.  But Goodyear appealed and the case went to the Supreme Court. Read More

Tax Plan Crowns a Big Winner: Trump’s Industry

The following article by Patricia Cohen and Jesse Drucker was posted on the New York Times website December 5, 2017:

A real estate investment trust helped rescue a stake held by Kushner Companies in 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Such trusts would get new advantages under Republican tax legislation. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

After a frenzy of congressional action to rewrite the tax code, salesclerks and chief executives are calculating their gains. Business was treated with the everyone’s-a-winner approach that ensures no summer camper goes home without a trophy.

Some got special prizes. Cruise lines, craft beer and wine producers (even foreign ones), car dealers, private equity, and oil and gas pipeline managers did particularly well. And perhaps the biggest winner is the industry where President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, made their millions: commercial real estate.

House and Senate Republicans, in their divergent bills, both offered steeply reduced rates to corporate giants, partnerships and family-owned firms across the board. But when it came time to eliminate special breaks or impose tighter standards, real estate was generally excused from the room. Read More

Sen. Chuck Grassley has no idea how wealth works

The following article by Ian Millhiser was posted on the Think Progress website December 4, 2017:

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) defended his vote to give a significant tax cut to dead rich people this weekend by suggesting that people who do not die wealthy blew too much of their money on leisure pursuits.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told the Des Moines Register in a statement that was published on Saturday, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

That’s a lot of sex, liquor, and cinema. Under current law, estates up to $5.49 million for an individual or nearly $11 million for a married couple are not taxed. The Senate tax bill that Grassley voted for would double this exemption to about $11 million for individuals and $22 million for married couples. According to the Washington Post, only about 1,800 families a year will pay the estate tax under the bill Grassley supported. Read More

Trump adopts Nixonian strategy, claims president is above the law

The following article by Judd Legum was posted on the ThinkProgress website December 4, 2017:

President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up after speaking to reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been indicted. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser and one of his closest confidants, has flipped and is cooperating with special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Trump himself sent out a tweet over the weekend that, according to legal experts, makes the case against him for obstruction of justice.

This morning, in a seemingly coordinated effort, Trump embraced the idea that he did not obstruct justice because the “President cannot obstruct justice.” Read More

Minnesotans, don’t forget about the tax bill

The following commentary by Lori Sturdevant was posted on the StarTribune website November 17, 2017:

Franken news is just one of the big things going on.

There’s never a good time, I suppose, to learn that one’s U.S. senator groped a sleeping woman while mugging for a camera. Still, it was particularly irritating to be interrupted with the news about U.S. Sen. Al Franken on Thursday just as the U.S. House was passing a mammoth tax bill that’s skewed against Minnesota and other high-tax/high-services states.

How’s an editorial writer supposed to summon readers to think high-minded tax policy thoughts when the day’s news is about other body parts?

That’s not a plea for pity — not entirely, anyway. It’s also a lament on behalf of the 250 people who crammed into the Minnetonka City Council chamber Wednesday night to hear from three DFLers who want to replace one of the architects of the House’s tax bill, five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota’s Third Congressional District. Read More

Deeply unpopular Congress aims to pass deeply unpopular bill for deeply unpopular president to sign

The following article by Philip Bump was posted on the Washington Post website November 29, 2017:

Republicans are forging ahead with their promise to overhaul the tax code, even with very little public support for their proposal. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Something odd is happening on Capitol Hill.

It’s not odd that Republicans are pushing for a tax bill that’s tilted toward business and the wealthy. It’s a return to the argument that benefits at the top trickle down to workers in the form of more jobs and better pay. (Whether this would actually happen is a question of its own.) Republicans control the House, they control the Senate, they control the White House. This tax bill is the Republican agenda, and advancing political priorities when you have the majority is how representative democracy works. Read More

Trump and Democrats trade insults to start tense month of negotiations on year-end priorities

The following article by Ed O’Keefe and Sean Sullivan was posted on the Washington Post website November 28, 2017:

The top two Congressional Democrats cancelled a planned meeting on Nov. 28 with President Trump after he said he didn’t think they could reach a budget deal. (Reuters)

President Trump and top lawmakers Tuesday failed to craft the outlines of a spending agreement as Democrats backed out of a planned meeting at the White House amid growing acrimony over a slate of year-end legislative priorities, with a potential government shutdown looming over the negotiations.

The impasse all but ensures another holiday-season standoff over legislation designed to keep the government open and that also is expected to settle complex issues regarding immigration and health care. Read More