Across The Aisle

For decades I have watched the two parties snipe at each other from the bushes….matters not who is president or which party holds the leads of the power wagon.

Since 2008 when Obama was elected president then the label of liberal has been a bad thing and been used to attack anything that is purposed.  The GOP had a plethora of slogans for anything the liberals had to offer and it has been successful…..and then the country elected Donald Trump as president…..a Repub a member of the GOP (?) plus the GOP controls both Houses of Congress and a majority on the Supreme court….so with all that power in their hands then the bills and legislation should be flying off the pens of reps and onto Trump’s desk for approval.

You would think……but nope the GOP has not been able to accomplish a thing legislatively.  plus Trump and McConnell and Ryan do not seem to be on the same conservative page…..and that has a impotent party in control.

Recently the GOP “repeal and replace” hit the manure heap…..could not find the support for a bill.  But they still have DACA, Russia, taxes, border wall, etc…..lots of issues with little support from the party in power.

With failures mounting up Trump decided to go to the Dems for some help……and found them eager to work on a compromise…..

President Trump ticked off Republican lawmakers Wednesday (last week) when he struck a surprise deal with Democrats. Now, it looks like the across-the-aisle deal-making is poised to continue. The Washington Post reports that Trump, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi have reached a “gentleman’s agreement” to explore the idea of permanently eliminating the need for Congress to approve increases in the debt ceiling. More on that and the suddenly warm relations between the president and top Democrats:

  • Rosy press:Politico reports that Trump seems thrilled with the generally positive media coverage of his outreach to Schumer and Pelosi, and he spoke to both by phone Thursday. “In the eyes of Trump, news coverage often matters more than almost anything else,” writes Josh Dawsey, which could bode well for future deals.
  • ‘Schumer Test’: “It goes something like this,” explains NPR. “If you’re a Republican and Chuck Schumer is happy, then it’s likely not a good day.” Well, Schumer, is “beaming,” and that has Republicans leery. Trump’s cozy reference to “Chuck and Nancy” didn’t help.
  • The irony: Mike Allen at Axios sees Wednesday’s development as a “seminal moment” for GOP leaders in Congress, who watched in person as Trump derailed their strategy. “It’s now possible that Trump’s biggest legislative wins this year will be more spending and raising the debt cap—the exact opposite of what Tea Party Republicans came to DC to do.”
  • The debt limit idea: Congress routinely needs to raise the debt limit, which puts a cap on how much the government can borrow, to pay the nation’s bills. The problem is these votes “are often politicized and can cause panic among investors,” explains the Post. Trump himself suggested, “Has anybody ever thought about eliminating this vote?” recounts Pelosi, per the Hill. “And we said we’ll take it back to our caucus.” A report at Politico says Schumer was the one to broach the idea with the president, who responded, “Let’s do it.”
  • Nope: House speaker Paul Ryan threw cold water on the idea Thursday. “I won’t get into a private conversation that we had,” he said, referring to the president. “But I think there is a legitimate role for the power of the purse and Article 1 powers, and that’s something we need to defend here in Congress.” That article of the Constitution essentially gives Congress control over the US purse strings. Meanwhile, House conservatives objected even to Wednesday’s short-term deal in a letter to Ryan.

The deal seems to be popular….at least in the polls….the country liked the idea of a compromise and the working of two entities for a success.

It must have been overwhelming because Trump has decided to bring the two Dem leaders to the White House for a dinner and a meeting…..

In a move that stunned many Republicans, Democratic leaders announced Wednesday night that they had reached a deal with President Trump to protect Dreamers from deportation in return for funding extra border security—but not a wall. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced the deal after a White House dinner, the AP reports. “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” they said in a joint statement. A source says the deal also includes a pathway to citizenship for the almost 800,000 young immigrants involved.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that DACA and border security were discussed at the meeting, though “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,” the Los Angeles Times reports. This is the second time in two weeks that Trump has bypassed Republicans to cut a deal with Democrats and immigration hardliners are furious over what they see as an amnesty, the Washington Post reports. If reports of the deal are true, Trump’s “base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair,” said GOP Rep. Steve King. “No promise is credible.” Breitbart.com called the deal a “full-fledged cave” and dubbed the president “Amnesty Don.”

After 8 months of nothing to show for his time in office the president now has two wins if we may call them that……

Maybe now all those diehard Trump supporters should lighten up on liberals….apparently they are willing to work with him where as his own party is shunning him at every move.

I believe we now have a good grasp on which party is the obstructionist party.

Could this be a temporary situation?  Sure.  But take the wins while you can.

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On The Road To Single-Payer?

WE have been having the same debate for a half a century about health care in this country…..in all that time the one policy that made more4 sense than any of the others put forth was the single-payer plan or Medicare for all……

Sander has also been pushing the idea of a single payer all his years in Congress….with little enthusiasm shown by his colleagues….but is that about to change?

Bernie Sanders rolled out his vision to overhaul the health care system on Wednesday, one in which everybody would get their insurance from the government through Medicare instead of through their jobs or a private insurer. Sanders calls it the Medicare for All Act of 2017, but you’ll also hear phrases such as “single payer” and “universal health care” used to describe it. One key part missing: details on how to pay for it, though Sanders plans to release a separate paper on that, reports the Wall Street Journal. Coverage:

  • The basics: Per CNN, everybody gets a “Universal Medicare card,” which would be used to cover all health bills, from surgeries to dental care to substance abuse treatment. Co-payments would go away, and people would pay premiums based on their incomes, reports the AP. Private insurers would still exist, but for things such as elective plastic surgery or, sometimes, to act as middlemen between the government and hospitals or doctors.
  • A ‘right’: Sanders makes his case in an op-ed in the New York Times. “Guaranteeing health care as a right is important to the American people not just from a moral and financial perspective; it also happens to be what the majority of the American people want.”
  • ‘Single payer’: David Leonhardt of the New York Times has a Q&A on the fundamentals, including the basic question of what the term “single payer” means. In short, it “describes a system in which only one entity—the government—pays medical bills. If all Americans had Medicare rather than insurance through their jobs, it would be a single-payer system.” Vox says Sanders’ system is far more generous than single-payer plans in Canada and elsewhere.
  • The cost: This could cost hundreds of billions of dollars more per year, per the Journal. Details are yet to come, but Sanders envisions a progressive tax increase, with the wealthy paying more income, capital gains, and estate taxes, reports Newsweek. The senator says higher taxes for families would be offset by the fact that they no longer have to buy insurance. Still, in regard to single-payer systems, “no one—including Sanders—has truly reckoned with how to pay for whatever system they might support,” writes Mike Allen at Axios.
  • Litmus test? By all accounts, the chances of it passing a GOP-controlled Congress are precisely 0%. But it’s turning into a political litmus test of sorts for Democrats, reports the Washington Post. Sanders has the support of 15 Democratic senators so far, including all of those seen as potential 2020 presidential candidates. Co-sponsors include Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. But many prominent Democrats are not on board, at least yet, including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and those in tough re-election fights, reports Politico.
  • The politics: No, this isn’t going to pass, “but here’s the big question,” writes Perry Bacon Jr. at FiveThirtyEight. “Is it going to become one of the central goals of the Democratic Party and a defining feature of the campaign of whichever Democrat is the party’s nominee in 2020?” As of now, this “seems very likely,” as the Democratic party seems to be gravitating to the left. But Bacon lays out the political and policy reasons why Democrats might avoid “becoming the party of single payer.”
  • Relishing the fight: Republicans see a chance to pounce. “We welcome the Democrats’ strategy of moving even further left,” says Katie Martin, spokesperson for the Senate GOP’s campaign organization, per the AP.

Let the fight begin!

If someone would spend more time checking out how single payer really works then the answer would be as easy as a straight up vote…..and this national nightmare could be over.

Where’s The Money?

The time draws closer for the Congress to take up the issue of military funding….that is cash that we will need to funding all the wars we are now fighting and the ones on the horizon awaiting approval to be fought.

It appears that there are a few in Congress that want the AUMF to be addressed before any funding is approved….

Senate officials are hoping to get to a final vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a military spending bill in excess of $700 billion. Getting to that vote, however, means dealing with all the military and war-related amendments in the bill.

Senate leaders appear to have decided that the easiest way to get around this is to severely curtail debate on certain particularly controversial issues, with an 89-3 vote today agreeing to limit procedural debates on the matter.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is trying to manage the debate, which is to say, dramatically curtail the debate. There are still major issues to be settled, however, with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) both pushing major debates, on war authorization and transgender soldiers, respectively.

Sen. Paul intends to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). The amendment is seen as politically awkward for some hawks, who argue that they want to create a new AUMF that explicitly covers current wars, but who are reluctant to see any limitations placed on the way America’s wars are waged.

(antiwar.com)

That’s the 2001 AUMF problem all over. Though on paper it was intended to only cover 9/11 and the Afghan War, the authorization has been used by all presidents since as carte blanche to wage any war, anywhere on earth, in which the term terrorism can remotely be applied.

There is no secret if you are a regular here on IST that I am a definite antiwar person…..while I do not agree with muich the Sen. Paul offers up as policy I do appreciate his stand in the AUMF……

As Congress takes up the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will insist it vote on my amendment to sunset the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.

Why?

Because these authorizations to use military force are inappropriately being used to justify American warfare in 7 different countries. Sunsetting both AUMFs will force a debate on whether we continue the Afghanistan war, the Libya war, the Yemen war, the Syria war, and other interventions.

Our military trains our soldiers to be focused and disciplined, yet the politicians who send them to fight have for years ignored those traits when developing our foreign policy.

Source: Rand Paul: Why we must repeal the 16-year-old Authorization for the Use of Military Force | Rare

Personally, I think any new conflict we must fight must be authorized by Congress….there should be NO blanket authorization.

Update:  After writing this draft news came down about the defeat of this proposal….

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had to push heavily and very publicly against the Senate leadership to get even the limited debate that ultimately occurred on his amendment, aiming to revoke the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). The vote did not occur. In the middle of the debate Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) moved to table (kill) the amendment, forcing an immediate vote. The Senate then voted to kill Paul’s amendment, by a vote of 61-36.

The post-9/11 AUMF has been interpreted broadly by US presidents as allowing unlimited war-making powers against anything even loosely described as “terror.” Sen. Paul argued that the AUMF was wrongly been used to authorize seven distinct wars, and that repealing it would force Congress to debate specific authorizations for specific wars as an alternative.

While he’d hoped this would bring in support not only from opponents of the war, but from hawks eager to get their votes on the record to authorize these many, effectively unauthorized wars, little support ultimately materialized. In addition to Sen. Paul, speaking in favor during the debate were Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Dick Durban (D-IL).

While the failure of the amendment doesn’t preclude future efforts at passing new AUMFs to cover America’s many wars, it makes such debate a less pressing matter. Talk of an AUMF for the ISIS wars, put off since the 2014 mid-term elections on various reasons, can be expected to remain just talk, and no real advance on the effort is likely.

(antiwar.com)

This seems to get a little more popular every time they try to bring it up for a vote……hopefully the Congress will come to its senses eventually.

Rats Desert A Sinking Ship

Obstructionism and division has been part of the American political scheme for decades.  And since the election of Trump and his brand of autocratic rule Congresspeople are deciding to cut and run from government service.

After Democrats handed President Donald Trump his biggest legislative achievement, Republican leaders are worried he doomed his party for the 2018 midterm elections.

Trump, “paved the way for hazardous, rolling deadlines over the next six months,” Burgess Everett, Seung Min Kim and Kyle Cheney report for Politico.

“The debt and spending bill approved by Capitol Hill on Friday averted imminent fiscal disaster, but it’s added more misery for a Republican Party whose agenda has floundered even with unified control of Washington for the first time in a decade,” Politico explained. “It’s also given Democrats significant leverage to imperil tax reform, the GOP’s best hope at a major legislative victory.”

Source: ‘It is not going to be pretty’: GOP panicked over midterms as Trump continues destroying their agenda

Repubs have NO one but themselves to blame for their current state of confusion and sluggishness…..and some are running sacred and have decided to desert this sinking ship we call democracy….

Outraged by the behavior and radical right-wing agenda of Donald Trump and GOP congressional leadership, Democrats are laser-focused on winning back the House in 2018.

And that could spell huge trouble for Speaker Paul Ryan, who could end up struggling to maintain his majority.

There is no question Democrats have a massive advantage in voter enthusiasm over Republicans for the midterm, and a record-shattering edge in candidate recruitment. But many political experts are still skeptical that Democrats can win the House, due in part to how Republicans rigged and gerrymandered congressional districts.

Source: Seventh Republican retirement signals House GOP’s massive Trump problem in 2018 – Shareblue

Could this be the only way the Dems can return to the power of DC?  They have no new ideas and Trump is about as popular as a turd in the punch bowl….that alone is a scary thought….

This country needs help….but this is not the type I am talking about.

Come September

American politics has become so damn boring that it is too silly for words…..but that may soon change….

It is now September and the Congress returns to what they call work…..and they are faced with several options for failure….deficit…..taxation….budgetary debate….none of these will bode well for the GOP….they do not have a reliable partner in the White House….

President Trump’s public comments this week have made one thing crystal clear: September is going to be a very big month for the US. Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to pass a funding deal to avoid a shutdown, and Trump has thrown a wrench into things by demanding serious money for a border wall. But in a deadline with more serious consequences, Congress also must raise the debt ceiling around the end of September or the US could default on its debt, reports the Wall Street Journal. The issues are separate, but they’re likely to get lumped together, and not much goodwill is circulating at the moment. In addition to his shutdown threat, Trump on Thursday blamed Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell for the debt ceiling “mess.” Related coverage:

  • Chances of a shutdown: Flip a coin. A Goldman Sachs advisory to investors puts the odds at 50-50, but Axios has a GOP source who thinks there’s a 75% chance of a shutdown: “The peculiar part is that almost everyone I talk to on the Hill agrees that it is more likely than not.”
  • Better odds on debt ceiling: “We’re going to get the debt ceiling passed,” said Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin this week, per Bloomberg. (He wants a “clean” increase with no strings attached.) At the same event in Kentucky, McConnell said there is “zero chance—no chance—we won’t raise the debt ceiling. No chance.”
  • Unless: Yes, the budget and the debt ceiling are separate, but because the deadlines are so close together, they could become “entangled” in negotiations, per the New York Times. For example, Bloomberg notes that House conservatives are demanding big spending cuts in return for lifting the ceiling.
  • Consequences: If the ceiling isn’t raised and the US defaults on its debt, it would rock financial markets around the world, explains NBC News. Also, ratings agencies could downgrade the US. At the Wall Street Journal, James Mackintosh writes that he finds “it hard to believe that the US will default,” but he explains that the mere possibility is already making investors nervous.
  • How we got here: The Washington Post notes that, in 2015, President Obama and Congress agreed to suspend the debt ceiling decision until March of this year, and emergency measures have extended it since then. But Mnuchin runs out of tricks next month. The story also points out the contrast in Trump’s tweet about the “mess” and Mnuchin’s public attempt to ease fears and notes that Trump has mocked Congress for raising the ceiling in his pre-presidential days.

In all this drama the country shutdown looms…..

You want humor….then these debates will be the best place to go for a good chuckle…..

Here Comes The “Shutdown” Again

September is quickly approaching and if you know you government then you will realize the the debt conversation is looming….and while it does so the whole subject of a “Shutdown” awaits this years debate.

Every year there is a back and forth over the debt and every year there is the rumblings of a governmental shutdown.  And every year it is Right versus Left in these deliberations.

Since the installing of this Trump person there seems to be some clear skies in DC…..some …wait for it…..bi-partisanship…..something that has been missing for decades.

A bipartisan group of House members is working on a proposal to address the most urgent issue facing Congress when it returns in September: how to keep the government open and avoid the first-ever default on the nation’s debt.

Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus are drafting proposals to present to the entire 43-member caucus when Congress returns after Labor Day, said caucus co-chairman Tom Reed, R-N.Y.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has warned congressional leaders that the government will run out of money to pay its bills by Sept. 29 unless lawmakers vote to raise the debt limit. Funding to keep the government open is set to expire two days later, on Oct. 1, unless Congress can agree on a spending deal during the approximately three weeks it will be in session in September.

Source: Bipartisan group of House members drafting proposal to avert shutdown, default

Is this the beginning of the return to bi-partisanship….the beginning of the Congress working together to solve out problems….or is it just a fluke?

Me? I believe that any bi-partisanship will be temporary….soon it will be beack to the “trench warfare” of American politics.

The Immigration Mash-Up

As always the GOP is looking for ways to limit the non-white population of the world from coming to America…..they just do some disguising to make it palatable to the population.

This Congress is NO different….we have a new bill floating around Congress…..it is popular with the Trump base and some others….but economists do not see the clear path as the conservs…..

Plus there was a media mash-up with a spokesman from the administration….high drama at its best….should play well on Breibart and other psuedo-news sites and blogs.

President Trump raised the stakes in the immigration debate on Wednesday with his support of a radically new system that would favor immigrants with job skills and fluency in English over those with family ties. Unlike Trump’s previous emphasis on reducing illegal immigration, this plan would focus on reducing legal immigration, by a lot. The White House says it would be similar to the merit-based systems used by Australia and Canada. Details and coverage:

  • The bill: Trump’s plan is based on a bill introduced in the Senate by David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. It’s called the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, or RAISE, and the legislation is here. They introduced it in February and it hasn’t gone anywhere since.
  • The reductions: About 1 million people are currently granted legal residency each year, and this merit-based system would cut that by 41% in its first year and 50% in its 10th, per the AP.
  • Points system: The New York Times takes a look at how the Australian system works. Would-be immigrants receive the most points, up to 60, for having needed skills; they get fewer points, up to 20, for fluency in English. They also get points based on age, with those 25 to 32 receiving the most. The idea is to bring in people able to support themselves, though one critic says the system is “full of holes.” Canada has a similar system, though its version also aims to promote a multicultural society. The Times had a separate story on Canada’s system in March. Of note: Both nations let in a greater number of immigrants per capita than the US does.
  • Economists say no: The Washington Post reports that most economists—16 of 18 in its July survey—think it’s a foolish idea to cut immigration because it will hurt economic growth and raise the risk of recession. “We need to modernize the immigration system, but cutting immigration in half is bad for the economy and bad policy,” says Jeremy Robbins of New American Economy, a coalition founded by Michael Bloomberg.
  • Opposition: The White House support will give the bill new life, but its prospects still aren’t good because not only Democrats oppose it. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, said it would devastate South Carolina’s tourism industry by reducing the number of low-wage workers at hotels and restaurants, per the Post and Courier. Among Democrats, Dianne Feinstein says it would “cripple” the agriculture industry, per the Hill.
  • In favor: A post at the conservative Power Line blog lauds the idea. “It’s fine to continue on as a nation of immigrants, but shouldn’t we also want to protect the wages of recent immigrants and other Americans with low levels of educational attainment?” asks Paul Mirengoff.
  • Acosta vs. Miller: The exchange between White House aide Stephen Miller and CNN’s Jim Acosta continues to make headlines. Watch it in full via the Los Angeles Times.

This bill will be fun to watch the theatrics from both sides.