Newswire: Republicans are planning an assault on programs for the poor

Written By Nigel Roberts, Newsone

House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to cut holes in the social safety net during the 2018 legislative session, taking aim at programs poor people depend on to survive, Fox News reported.
“We’re going to get back at reforming these entitlements. And we’re going to take on welfare reform, which is another big entitlement program, where we’re basically paying people, able-bodied people, not to work and depriving them with all these disincentives from going to the workforce,” he said.
Fresh off passing tax reform legislation in December, the GOP wants to roll that momentum in 2018. The tax overhaul, which mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals, adds $1.4 trillion to the deficit. Now, the Republicans are looking for ways slash the debt they created. The solution to them is axing government health care programs and social services spending. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking,” Ryan said on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show.

Here’s what to expect:
1. Medicare
Yes, Medicare is on the table, even though the GOP has long feared a backlash from seniors. Ryan has been talking with President Donald Trump about the need to cut the program. “I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare,” the House Speaker said.
their totally unnecessary $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich the GOP will spend the next ten years saying we must cut Medicare, Medicaid, & Social Security because the deficit is too damn high. Never let the American people forget their tax cuts caused that deficit.

2. Medicaid
In addition to funding cuts, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the Department of Health, has already signaled that changes are coming to the health care program for poor people. The agency, in a departure from President Barack Obama’s approach, is recommending that states establish a work requirement for certain Medicaid beneficiaries.

3. Food stamps
Reigning in the food stamp program is a perennial goal for Republicans. They see an opportunity through the pretext of reducing the budget deficit explosion they created. On top of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the GOP plans to give states more flexibility in how they administer the program. As with Medicaid, they also want to add a work requirement for receiving food stamps and direct cash assistance to the poor.

 

Greene County votes: Jones 3,340 to Moore 462 Doug Jones wins U. S. Senate race with strong support and turnout of Black voters

 

1200px-Doug_Jones_Flagmoore jones

The Black Belt had strong turnout and support for Jones, who won a bigger margin there than Clinton did last year.

 

Doug Election Result in Greene County_Layout 1

News Analysis
By: John Zippert Co-Publisher

Doug Jones won a tightly contested special election yesterday for a U. S. Senate seat in Alabama, vacated by Jeff Sessions, when he became U. S. Attorney General.
Based on unofficial statewide returns, Doug Jones the Democratic candidate received 671,151 votes (49.9%), to 650.436 (48.4%) for Republican Roy Moore. 22,819 voters (1.7%) wrote in another choice.
In Greene County, Doug Jones led with 3,340 votes (87.6%) to 462 (12.1%) for Roy Moore and 9 write-in votes. Jones carried every precinct box in Greene County.
In neighboring Sumter County, Jones received 3.527 votes (81%) to 814 votes (18.7%) for Moore. In Macon County, Jones received 5,780 (88.1%) to 758 (11.8%) for Moore. Across the Alabama Black Belt, which has a predominantly Black population, Jones scored overwhelming wins, in many cases exceeding the 2012 turnout for Barack Obama.
Doug Jones won in all the major cities of Alabama, including Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Mobile and Huntsville, with strong Black voter support. Moore’s vote in rural and suburban parts of Alabama did not meet expectations and in some cases Moore underperformed his own vote totals and percentages in 2014, when he ran for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The election officials in each county will have 14 days to certify the official results, which includes counting military, provisional and other uncounted ballots. These officials will also have to certify that the write –in candidates, were qualified to hold the office of U. S. Senator, or these vote will be disqualified.

So votes for Mickey Mouse or someone residing in another state will not count, changing the percentages of the vote that each candidate received.
A mandatory recount of votes will be order only if Doug Jones margin of victory falls below one half of one percent (0.5%). Jones currently has a margin of 1.5%. If Moore wishes to pay for a recount, at his expense, he can request one, as soon as the results are officially certified.
National political observers view Doug Jones victory as an upset since Alabama was considered a deeply red Republican state that had not elected a Democratic U. S. Senator, in a quarter of a century, since 1992. Moore’s loss was attributed to his record of being dismissed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice for ethical violations, his opposition to gay and Muslim people, his theocratic view of political office and recent allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, forty years ago.
Moore’s defeat was also a defeat for his major backers including Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump, who weighed in with a last minute rally in Pensacola, Florida and robocalls on election day. Trump, who like Moore, faces questions of sexual misconduct with many women and a difficult path forward on tax reform and other issues, faces dwindling support from his right wing conservative base.
Doug Jones campaign put together a coalition of Black voters, younger voters, college educated and women to overcome Moore’s assumed Republican voter majority in the state. Jones says, he wants to give fair representation to every zip code in the state and work together with Republicans on the “kitchen-table issues of healthcare, wages, education and criminal justice that affect all Alabamians.”
Jones also inherits the task of rebuilding the Democratic Party in Alabama from the uncoordinated efforts of his campaign with Black, young, educated and women voters to pull together a winning strategy and campaign for the upcoming 2018 races, which include the Governor and all constitutional offices as well as the full State Legislature.

Newswire :Why Trump’s tax plan spells disaster for the environment

By: Erich Pica, Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

For all of the terrible elements in the Republicans’ new tax plan—the extreme giveaways to the rich, tax increases for the middle class, major breaks for corporations that pollute our air and water—the reality is that this isn’t a plan to reform the tax code. This is a plan to end government as we know it.

When Trump released his budget last spring, all reasonable people across the country declared in unison that it could not possibly be serious. The major cuts to the popular and important programs across the political spectrum would never be politically feasible.
While Republicans dream about rolling back environmental protections, the truth is the GOP has never had the votes or public support to dismantle the bedrock achievements of the environmental movement. A push to return the country to the days before the Clean Air Act would almost certainly fail. The work that agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency do is popular and the effect of their work impacts communities across the country. Yet, for all the support for these programs and agencies, Trump’s budget called for a 31 percent cut to the EPA, gutting some programs and abolishing others.
Surely these cuts to programs that help protect the environment and public health would never survive Congress. But the seriousness of Trump’s tax giveaway plan should reverse any notion that his budget was a farce. Republicans’ ambitions to force Trump’s extreme budget cuts on the American people runs through the new tax plan, which was passed by the Senate on Friday.

There are plenty of reasons for people who value the environment to be horrified by Trump’s tax plan, which is set to pump more rule change would be a major reward for an industry that parked money overseas allowing them to avoid paying taxes on these profits. Middle-class families will never get such luxuries nor will benefit from the giveaway.

It’s no lack of contrast that this bill would also gut the wind energy renewable energy tax credit, cutting it by 40 percent. Finally, this plan lets Big Oil keeps its most egregious tax giveaways and hands it a hefty cut to the corporate tax rate, guaranteeing that it will keep its place the most undertaxed and subsidized segments of our economy.
The vicious truth is that the GOP plan will add an estimated $1 trillion to the deficit, which they will use as further evidence to justify cuts to popular environmental protection programs.
Without enough votes to dismantle widely popular environmental protection laws, Republicans have set their sights on the next best thing: dismantling the widely popular agencies charged with enforcing them.
Ever since Grover Norquest begin insisting that Republicans make a pledge to cut taxes—no matter the cost—the goal of the party has been to break the government by cutting and underfunding one program at a time.
As these cuts have taken place, we’ve seen the rich grow richer, the essential functions of government wear and break, the divide between the two parties grow and the overpowering political voice of corporations expand. Trump’s tax plan will only make things worse. While GOP budget hawks made their votes on tax cuts that will add to the deficit, they began prepping their talking points on their plans to make austere cuts to that will strip these agencies to the bone.
As horrifying as Trump is in temperament, his tax plan is proof that he is just another Republican with broken ideas aimed at crippling the progress our country has made in protecting the environment.
For more than 30 years, the GOP’s endgame has been nothing but a plan to use tax policy to funnel Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars to Rebublicans’ wealthy donors, while compromising the essential functions of government.
Trump is just a louder, more toxic variation on the GOP’s very old theme.
Erich Pica is the President of Friends of the Earth. Follow Erich on Twitter @erichpica.

Turnout is the key to victory in next Tuesday’s special election

 

Ballot Box

Ballot Box Vote December 12

News Analysis By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher and Editor

Most Alabama political pundits agree that voter turnout will be the key to victory in next Tuesday’s special election between Doug Jones and Roy Moore for the U. S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became U. S. Attorney General.
Because Alabama is a deep red state, in the Heart of Dixie, very few political observes gave Doug Jones, a progressive Democratic candidate much of a chance. The polls have been all over the place but most show a tied race or a close race within the margin of error.
Most of the commentary dwells on the lopsided white Republican vote in Alabama but does not take into account Moore’s extremist religious stands which contest the ‘rule of law’ and had him removed twice from the state’s Supreme Court for unethical and unconstitutional behavior.
All of this was before the recent revelations that Moore sexually abused young women in the Gadsden area, some as young as 14, when he was a 30 year old assistant district attorney. Moore, following the example of Donald Trump, has denied all of the accusations by the women despite their believability and corroborating evidence.
The pundits also overlook and discount the efforts of Black organizations to mobilize the Black vote for Doug Jones in the rural Black Belt counties and inner city urban areas of Birmingham, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Mobile.
Since Labor Day, Black voter organizations in Alabama have been mobilizing under the banner of the ‘Vote or Die Campaign’ to awaken, register and organize Black voters to turnout in support of Doug Jones on December 12th. Alabama New South Alliance, the SOS Coalition for Democracy and Justice, NAACP chapters, Alabama Democratic Conference and others have been working at the grassroots to enlighten and empower Black voters to take part in the special election.
In the first primary on August 15, Doug Jones won the Democratic primary by 109,000 out of 165,000 total votes. In the second primary between Luther Strange and Roy Moore, Moore received 262,204 votes to 218,000 for Strange.

The turnout in both of these races was below 20%.
Next Tuesday’s election will be held in the midst of the Christmas holiday shopping season. Many people in Alabama just don’t realize there is an election going on and this will contribute to a low turnout.
Statewide in Alabama there are 3.2 million registered voters with 2.1 million active white voters and 760,000 Black voters. There are 1.5 million Republican voters, 1 million Democrats and the rest Independents.
If Roy Moore receives a third of the Republican vote – 500,000, that roughly corresponds to the Evangelic Christian vote which is dedicated to voting for him, then Doug Jones must put together a turnout of over half of the Black vote say 400,000 and enough white Democratic and Republican votes to win over Moore. Putting this type of coalition together is within his grasp but it depends on a strong Black voter turnout together with white voters who feel and know that Moore is and will be a continuing embarrassment to the state.
President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and other far right conservatives have jumped into this election on Moore’s side but they are late arrivals. Jones has outraised by Moore by $10 million to $2 million in election funds. Jones has been dominating the TV airwaves until recently.
Trump seeks to nationalize the election by portraying Doug Jones as a ‘liberal Democrat’ who win not vote for Trump’s tax cuts, immigration wall, military budget and other issues. Trump’s leaning in late may help solidify the opposition to Moore and support for Doug Jones as the more progressive reasonable candidate, who shares Alabama’s progressive views on these ‘kitchen table issues’.
When you get and read this paper, there will only be a few day left before the Special Election on Tuesday, December 12th, go and vote and show that turnout is the key and will be the difference in this election.

Newswire : Poll: 70% of Marketplace enrollees satisfied with Obamacare

By Freddie Allen (Editor-In-Chief, NNPA Newswire)
President Donald Trump continues to sow confusion about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, shows that, although some of his tactics are working, many consumers still plan on signing up for healthcare during the open enrollment period.
The ACA open enrollment period started on November 1 and will end December 15 in most states and despite its critics, the law has effectively reduced the uninsured rate for Blacks; healthcare advocates have said that access to preventive care provided by the ACA could also limit the effects of healthcare disparities, like infant mortality rates and deaths from breast cancer among Black women.
Even though the ACA, also known as Obamacare, provided healthcare to millions of Americans—some of them Trump supporters—the current president has worked to cripple the law in tweets and actions.
Deep cuts to funding for advertising about the ACA are having expected results.
In previous years, television ads played a key role in educating people about open enrollment and the ins and outs of the ACA. Trump cut that advertising budget to the bone.
According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll, “few of those most likely to consider marketplace coverage report hearing or seeing any ads providing information about how to get insurance under the health care law.”
Less than 20 percent of the uninsured and just 12 percent of market enrollees said that they saw ads in the past 30 days that provided information about how to get insurance.
The poll also reported that just 5 percent of the uninsured and 25 percent of the marketplace enrollees were aware of the month when open enrollment ends in their state.
Despite White House efforts to discourage Americans from signing up for healthcare and the House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) claims that people would choose not buy Obamacare, if the government didn’t force them, 90 percent of marketplace enrollees said that they would continue to buy their own insurance, even if the government stopped enforcing the individual mandate.
Most marketplace enrollees like their health insurance under the ACA.
The KFF poll revealed that 70 percent of current marketplace enrollees are satisfied with their insurance choices.
“The vast majority (85 percent) of marketplace enrollees also say they plan to sign up for health insurance during the 2018 open enrollment period, and most of them (54 percent of the total marketplace enrollees) prefer to renew their current plan if it is available next year,” according to the KFF poll.
Most enrollees will also get help paying for healthcare through the ACA.
“Insurers are still required by law to provide reduced deductibles and co-pays for low-income marketplace enrollees,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives and co-executive director of the Foundation’s Program for the Study of Health Reform and Private Insurance. “Premiums are increasing, but consumers will also get more help.”
Even though consumers will get help paying for health insurance, this isn’t President Obama’s open enrollment; many things have changed so it’s important to start reviewing plans now.
Don’t just “auto-renew” your health insurance plan. Study your options carefully.
In previous years, the healthcare marketplace auto-renewed consumers for the upcoming coverage year. According to the KFF poll, almost 25 percent of marketplace enrollees were auto-renewed for their same plan or auto-reassigned to similar plans in 2016 for the 2017 coverage year.
But experts have said that the auto-renewal feature may not identify the subsidies that you’re eligible for accurately and when it comes to prescriptions or other life-saving services that you need, you’ll want to make sure that any similar plan fits your needs.
Remember, it’s best to enroll early; don’t wait until the last minute.
During previous enrollment periods, there has been a surge of interest as the deadline nears; that increased activity slowed down the responsiveness of HealthCare.gov and created longer wait times for the marketplace call center, said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Log-in to HealthCare.gov, update your application for financial assistance, review your plan choices and what they cost, and select a plan for 2018,” said Pollitz. “If you want the same plan, select the same plan.”
Whether you choose the same health insurance plan or a new one, don’t wait until the last minute to make your decision. This year, thanks to Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, if you have questions about plans in the final hours of the enrollment period, you might just be on your own.

Newswire : African-Americans taking brunt of oil industry pollution: report

Oil frefinery
 Smoke is released into the sky at a refinery in Wilmington, California March 24, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – African-Americans face a disproportionate risk of health problems from pollution caused by the oil and gas industry, and the situation could worsen as President Donald Trump dismantles environmental regulations, according to a report issued on Tuesday by a pair of advocacy groups.

The report, issued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People civil rights group and the Clean Air Task Force, said more than a million African-Americans live within half a mile (0.8 km) of an oil and gas operation, and more than 6.7 million live in a county that is home to a refinery.

“African-Americans are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than Caucasian Americans, and they are 75 percent more likely to live in fence-line communities than the average American,” the report said, referring to neighborhoods adjacent to industrial facilities.
“In the current regulatory environment, the disproportionate burden of pollution will only increase for low-income communities and communities of color,” the report added
Trump’s administration has begun to unravel Obama-era environmental regulations limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, arguing they are overly costly for industry and unnecessary to protect public health.
A White House official declined to comment on the NAACP-CATF report. But Trump has said his pro-energy industry policies are good for blacks and other minorities because they will create jobs.
Officials for the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers, which represent the country’s largest fossil fuels companies, did not immediately comment on the report.
CATF and NAACP said in the report that communities should pressure their political representatives for strong environmental regulation.
“Defending the safeguards finalized during the Obama administration and pushing for additional protections against pollution from the oil and gas industry will help improve the health of many African American communities,” the report said.
It added that communities should lobby to have their nearby oil and gas facility shut down: “We must all learn about the oil and gas facilities that are located in our communities, and advocate for their decommissioning or removal.”
The Boston-based Clean Air Task Force issued a similar study in 2016 that linked ozone smog from natural-gas industry pollution to some 750,000 summertime asthma attacks in children, and 500,000 missed school days, per year.
Reporting and writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Peter Cooney
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Newswire : Democrats win governor’s races in Virginia, New Jersey; provide hope for Alabama special election – Dec. 12

By: John Whitesides, Reuters-Thompson

Fairfax and Northam
Justin Fairfax and Ralph Northam Celebrate Victory

16 WASHINGTON, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Democrat Ralph Northam won a bitter race for Virginia governor on Tuesday, beating a Republican who embraced some of President Donald Trump’s combative tactics and issues in a potential preview of next year’s midterm election battles.

Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor and a pediatrician, overcame a barrage of attack ads by Republican Ed Gillespie that hit the soft-spoken Democrat on divisive issues such as immigration, gang crime and Confederate statues. Justin Fairfax, an African-American, was elected as Lieutenant Governor in Virginia.
The Northam victory in a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton won by 5 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election was a boost for national Democrats who were desperate to turn grassroots enthusiasm to resist Trump into election victories.
Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, said, “We invested more in boots on the ground and grassroots and digital organizing than in any “off-year” before. Good old-fashioned organizing paired with the latest technology and tools helped put our candidates over the top.

“I am so proud of the campaigns run by Virginia’s Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Mark Herring, New Jersey’s Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver, and Democrats all over the country, up and down the ballot. These candidates worked hard day in and day out fighting to represent their states, and I know that they will take that same spirit and fight into their terms.

“We are going to keep investing in state parties and supporting Democrats from the school board to the Oval Office. And if we continue to channel our energy into powering this movement, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will see wins like this in 2018, 2020, and beyond.”

Perez and other Democratic leaders pointed to the upcoming Special Election in Alabama on December 12, as another race that can be won by Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, with strong grassroots support.
While Democrats had already lost four special congressional elections earlier this year, Tuesday’s results seem to signal a change in the national political mood.
In a sign of the high stakes, Trump took a break from his Asia visit to send tweets and record messages on behalf of Gillespie, a former chairman of the national party. Trump had endorsed Gillespie but did not campaigned with him.
The Virginia race highlighted a slate of state and local elections that also included a governor’s race in New Jersey, where Democrat Phil Murphy, a former investment banker and ambassador to Germany, defeated Republican Kim Guadagno for the right to succeed Republican Chris Christie.
Murphy had promised to be a check on Trump in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, and Guadagno, the lieutenant governor, was hampered by her association with the unpopular Christie.
In Virginia, Democrats had worried that if Gillespie won, Republicans would see it as a green light to emphasize cultural issues in their campaigns for next year’s elections, when all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 of the U.S. Senate’s 100 seats come up for election. Republicans now control both chambers.
In Virginia on Tuesday, grassroots campaigners fueled the victory of Justin Fairfax in his historic race for Lieutenant Governor — only the second Black candidate ever elected to statewide office in Virginia. Justin’s huge win was driven by a multiracial grassroots coalition, including DFA and Indivisible volunteers on the ground and on DFA Dialer — the largest national volunteer-led calling program in the country focused on mobilizing sporadic Democratic voters to the polls.
In a significant shift in power in Virginia’s House of Delegates, as of right now 14 out of 16 DFA-endorsed candidates — including progressive fighters like Jennifer Carroll Foy, Donte Tanner, Chris Hurst, Jennifer Boysko, and Hala Ayala — have defeated NRA-backed candidates in several critical races, setting the stage for Democrats potentially taking back control of the chamber.

Of particular note in Virginia are the history-making victories of Danica Roem, who will be the nation’s first transgender state legislator, and Elizabeth Guzman, who will be the first Latina and one of the first first-generation immigrants to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.