Daily Clips: February 22, 2017

Trump may revoke transgender bathroom rules: Back to the closet you go! What is it with old white men and not being ok with different people?

Americans Are Drowning in Student Debt—Can Trump Save Them? Trump’s student loan “plan” actually is quite liberal. During the campaign, he suggested that loan  payments should be capped at 12.5 of a borrower’s income, with the ability to earn loan forgiveness after 15 years.

Top put this plan in perspective, Obama’s REPAYE plan “has borrowers pay 10 percent of their income over 20 to 25 years before qualifying for forgiveness.”

Ryan’s tax plan is headed for failure: Jennifer Rubin (who once was considered a Republican) criticizes Paul Ryan’s quite silly tax plan. Worth a read, if only to see Rubin lambasting the GOP’s rising star.

Mitch Mcconnell says, “Winners make policy, losers go home”: Could he be any more of a dick?

Tweet of the day:

Daily Clips: February 21, 2017

Resistance isn’t enough, says David Brooks:

The central task for many of us now is not to resist Donald Trump. He’ll seal his own fate. It’s to figure out how to replace him — how to respond to the slow growth and social disaffection that gave rise to him with some radically different policy mix.

Unions in the precarious economy: Wow. If you want to really understand unions and their place in the US economy, you should read this piece. Extremely detailed.

Washington drivers facing sticker shock in latest car-tab renewal bills: ST-3 was passed this November and to pay for the expansion, the car-tab tax will be raised by 0.8% based on a vehicle’s value.

Mark Cuban: Robots will ‘cause unemployment and we need to prepare for it’

Jay Inslee for president? Governor’s profile is on the rise: In my mind, there’s no way Jay is considering this opportunity. But it’s only 3 years until the election, so of course, let’s hype this story up.

How to watch Mayor Ed Murray’s State of the City address from the Idris Mosque

Tweet of the day:

Daily Clips: February 17, 2017

Inslee takes on Trump:

State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison is trying to play to those questions, suggesting that Inslee might be interested in running for president himself. It’s one of the oldest political tactics used against a governor who deals with national politics: Get people to wonder whether their governor is working for them or just raising his own political profile. Hutchison claims to have “sources.”

The West Coast is leading the way: Excellent podcast on Oregon, California, and Washington’s resistance.

Puzder out, Acosta in:

At the outset, Acosta appears to be a mild choice compared with Puzder. As a member of the Federalist Society and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Acosta is unquestionably a staunch conservative, but he also is well regarded in government circles as a thoughtful colleague with a sharp legal mind.

Democrats finally have a chance to take back the Washington Senate—and turn the state blue:

What’s more, Democrats just recruited a very strong candidate, prosecutor Manka Dhingra, while Republicans still haven’t figured out who they’re running. Rossi hasn’t made up his mind, though it sounds like he’s viewing the position as a placeholder job. But no matter who picks up the baton for the GOP, they’re going to have a hell of a time hanging on to a seat where Trump got just 28 percent of the vote.

Tweet of the day:

Andrew Puzder Was Terrible, but He’s Not an Aberration

BYE FELICIA

Carls Jr. CEO Andrew Puzder was supposed to sit for Labor Secretary confirmation hearings tomorrow. The Trump administration repeatedly pushed the hearing back—it was originally supposed to happen over a month ago—and Puzder openly complained about how difficult the process has been.

We should have known things were getting serious when Oprah got involved: Politico reports that four Republican senators who were on the fence about Puzder received visits from representatives of the Oprah Winfrey Network. OWN staffers showed the senators a rare video of Puzder’s ex-wife “level[ing] allegations of physical abuse against him” from a decades’ old appearance on Oprah’s talk show. Politico just made that video public this morning.

And news is breaking that Puzder officially withdrew from the nomination entirely.

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 11.37.11 AM

This is not because of the lack of Republican Senatorial support, though that is an issue, but because—poor baby—it’s too much work:

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Good riddance. Puzder was an incredibly bad choice for Labor Secretary. In fact, he was possibly the single worst person in the country to be head of the Department of Labor. Justin Miller at the American Prospect wrote a great explainer on why Puzder is such a bad candidate, beginning with the fact that he “made more in one day ($17,192) than one of his full-time minimum wage workers would make in a year ($15,130.)”

This goes further than Puzder’s stance against the $15 minimum wage or commonsense overtime standards. At Carls Jr., Puzder has cultivated a rampant culture of sexual harassment, of dangerous workplaces, and of wage theft. Previous Labor Departments have led to Puzder’s business paying “nearly $150,000 in back pay to workers and more than $80,000 in penalties.”

I want to make no mistake about this so I’m going to restate: Puzder was quite possibly the worst Labor Secretary nominee this country has ever seen. He openly cheers on automation, saying that robots are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” He does not have the worker in mind. He is firmly on the side of the CEO and against the average American.

But I have to be clear about another fact, too: Puzder is not an aberration. Now that he’s whined his way out of the confirmation process, he won’t be replaced with a polar opposite. In fact, Puzder was perfectly in line with Donald Trump’s employment policies.

I’m not talking about President Trump’s labor policies; I’m talking about his actual history as an employer. Donald Trump doesn’t pay independent contractors. He cuts corners on his employee pensions. And this week, the news broke that Trump’s organization is hiring foreign workers for his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida:

According to the Palm Beach Post, Trump won approval from the U.S. Labor Department in October to hire 64 foreign workers through the H-2B visa program, which allows eligible U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary jobs… Trump will pay the staff wages comparable to what he offered last year. Though some will make less than they made last year, most will get a 1 percent raise.

So these foreign workers—many of whom will have immediate access to state secrets, if last week is any indication—are getting paid very little, even though Mar-a-Lago recently doubled a significant source of its income:

Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort owned by the Trump Organization, doubled its initiation fee to $200,000 following the election of Donald Trump as president.

So the rich get richer while the poor get the shaft. That’s Donald Trump’s business philosophy. And even though Puzder didn’t get through the nomination process, that is what Trump’s going to look for in a Secretary of Labor. While today’s news that Puzder can’t stand the heat in this particular kitchen is heartening, we have to remember that the fight isn’t anywhere near over. It’s just beginning.

Daily Clips: February 15, 2017

Are we headed for another Watergate?

It’s been a long time, but remember this: The road to Watergate and the resignation of Richard Nixon began in April 1969, three months after his inauguration, when the president ordered Mr. Kissinger to wiretap members of his own staff in an effort to stop embarrassing leaks of secret information. One thing led to another until the commander in chief was athwart the Constitution.

It’s been barely three weeks since the Trump team took office, and a distinct aroma has started wafting out of Washington, what Mr. Kissinger is said to have called “the odious smell of truth.”

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire:

The important thing to remember, however, is that none of this is as “inevitable” as the politicians would have us think. Many societies have an ageing population. But not all of them are willing to shove a frail 75-year-old back into a cut-throat service economy. That’s a specialism of societies that have embraced the utter madness of neoclassical economics, such as the UK and the US.

Reichert votes against releasing trump taxes: What a guy.

Monopolies are worse than we thought:

There’s now evidence that market concentration could also be hurting workers, by decreasing the share of national income that they receive. It’s probably making inequality worse.

Tweet of the day:

Daily Clips: February 14, 2017

Ding, dong Michael Flynn is gone: Valentine’s Day just got a whole lot better.

The relentless pace of automation: Yesterday, the Civic Skunk Works gang was talking about the automation crisis and the threat it represented to low-income workers. This MIT piece on automation would have come in handy during our discussion (that was filled with more generalities than we would have liked).

Yellen’s testimony today: Over at Crossing Wall Street (an investing/economics blog) there is a full breakdown of her Monetary Policy Report.

The left needs to move beyond resistance:

After all, at some point, the newly activated masses aren’t just going to want to protest against things, they will also want to be for something. As they start looking around for concrete alternatives, the Democrats are the only thing on offer. All the energy and effort of the Bush era gave us the neoliberal stagnation of Obama.

Alex Jones being Alex Jones: This is, verbatim, what he said on air.

Prosperity makes monsters, adversity makes men. And every metric shows it: Un — off the chart depression, off the chart cancer, off the chart obesity, off the chart everything bad. And then you look at the controllers, who know all this and they’re trying to make it worse because — I used to think it was [unintelligible] said this, that they were doing all this because they were in competition with thinkers. No, no, no, no, no.

Tweet of the day:

Daily Clips: February 13, 2017

Tweet of the day:

Seattle property taxes would rise under GOP school-funding plan, state McCleary analysis shows:

The average Seattle homeowner would see an overall property-tax increase of $628 in 2019, the OFM says. That is more than twice as high as the estimated average increase of $250 given by Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, the chief Republican budget writer, when he introduced the plan.

Inslee, Democratic lawmakers look to protect data for immigrants, refugees in Trump era:

Democratic officials in states like California, New York, Massachusetts and Oregon also are pushing to shield state data from the federal government. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown this month announced an executive order to keep state agencies from assisting the federal government in deportations or creation of a Muslim registry.

Burger King, Tim Hortons owner’s profit more than doubles: Soooo does that mean that Burger king can improve their minimum wage from $8.12 an hour?

Immigrants and Refugees Don’t Subtract from America—We Are America

Dujie Tahat hand-delivers 28,000 signatures of support to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Dujie Tahat hand-delivers 28,000 signatures of support to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

(Editor’s note: this is a condensed version of a terrific essay published on Medium last month.)

My mom and I arrived in Los Angeles on the eve of Christmas Eve 1995. I remember the city more than the airport. It seemed so easy, gliding from the terminal through customs straight to the golden doors — even with a Jordanian passport, even with Mohammed as a middle name. Back then, coming to America had been so simple that embracing my mother’s uncle in a new language in a new land seemed perfectly normal. The drive to Union City in his little white pickup truck so uncomplicated that it was practically forgettable.

In 2002, we applied for our permanent residency — to be citizens-in-waiting. We were denied. Applied again, but we were denied. We were denied. We were denied. They claimed we were denied on a number of technicalities but the truth is that we applied as Arab nationals in the months after September 11. Tens of thousands of dollars later, we were placed in deportation hearings. We faced a federal judge. Despite our incompetent lawyer’s best efforts to mess it up, our case was administratively closed; we had been deemed not a priority by the state.

When you apply for a green card, you have to give up your previous status and claims to past citizenship. You literally become a person with no country. No one really talks about this arcane requirement and the burden it places on individuals and families, often assuming that the process shouldn’t take that long. In 15 years, though, I haven’t been able to travel abroad for fear of being denied re-entry. I’ve missed grandparents’ funerals and cousins’ weddings, business trips and trips home.

Donald Trump’s executive actions—his travel ban—made this requirement a reality for nearly half a million permanent residents and stoked anger among immigrants and non-immigrants alike. Within hours, protests sprang up at airports across the country.

The marching, the yelling, the confrontation felt like a kind of action. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee’s continuing fight against the Trump administration feels like hope. But it’s easy for me to say that; I get to hold my American children today and tell them I love them.

From the injustices against the people of first nation to the 3/5 compromise to every wave of immigration ever, the American experiment has been one of making our people whole. Donald Trump’s executive order and Republican capitulation to his order is an utter rejection of these values.

Even if you are not an immigrant or a child of one or married to one or work with one, you’re in this boat now too. Whether you fully grasp it, your identity is at stake. Who you fundamentally are is in question, and who you could be has already forever been altered. Our identities are intertwined in this. Your exceptionalism. Your beacon of hope. From the grand idea to the cliche. The very triteness of the American melting pot. The “give me your poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This is all at stake. You get to decide.

Starting today, we are either the people that rejected this cruel idea or tacitly endorsed it through silence.