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Category Archives: politricks


Noses are still growing and appear to be the state of play in our politics. This could forebode a state perpetual lies that we have suspected and now has become a reality. MA

By Carla Herreria
POLITICS 01/17/2019 09:16 pm ET Updated 8 hours ago
The Senate majority leader fumed over Democrats’ attempts to strengthen voting rights, ethics and campaign finance rules.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused House Democrats of trying to “swing elections” with a major piece of legislation designed to clean up voting and campaign finance and strengthen government ethics.
McConnell described the so-called For the People Act as a “power grab” and a “naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party” in a Thursday op-ed for The Washington Post.
The top Republican criticized Democrats for introducing the bill, also known as HR1, while the longest-ever partial government shutdown continues.
“House Democrats won’t come to the table and negotiate to reopen the government, but they’ve been hard at work angling for more control over what you can say about them and how they get reelected,” McConnell wrote.
Later Thursday, McConnell blocked legislation aimed at reopening most of the federal government, except the Department of Homeland Security, according to The Hill.

The act, the first major bill House Democrats have introduced to the 116th Congress, contains a package of reforms that aim to make voting more accessible, force President Donald Trump (and future presidential candidates) to release their tax returns and take power away from big political donors by incentivizing smaller donations and by requiring super PACs to make their private donors public.
The bill also aims to make Election Day a paid holiday for federal workers, which McConnell dismissed as a “generous new benefit” for “federal bureaucrats.” In theory, that proposal would encourage private businesses to also make Election Day a holiday, allowing more people to get to the polls.
McConnell also suggested that making private donors public was an attack on free speech.
“Apparently the Democrats define ‘democracy’ as giving Washington a clearer view of whom to intimidate and leaving citizens more vulnerable to public harassment over private views,” McConnell wrote.
The Republican also took issue with the bill’s ban on removing people from voter rolls for not voting in a previous election, as well as a ban on voter caging, a practice in which election officials send non-forwardable mail to addresses on the voter rolls, then remove anyone whose mail is returned to sender.
McConnell pointed to a mistake made in California that led to 23,000 voters being registered incorrectly, with errors including wrong party preferences.
However, linking that part of the bill to the mishap in California is misleading, according to HuffPost’s voting rights reporter Sam Levine.
“It was an issue with software, and the head of the DMV resigned,” Levine noted on Twitter. “For context, there are over 19.6 million registered voters in CA. Automatic registration added 727,924 people to the rolls since launch in April.”
“The law congress is proposing authorizes the states to set up their own systems for registering voters. People have to be given the chance to opt out,” Levine tweeted.
The law would prevent states from aggressively purging the voter rolls by removing people if they don’t vote and don’t respond to a single mailer from the state, he said. “Proponents of the change argue that this practice removes eligible voters from the rolls.”

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Changes required: Bitch McConnell, Flip Flop Lindsey Graham and Kennedy need to go, They are as Racist as Trump.MA

Lisa Mascaro, AP Congressional Correspondent
Associated Press January 12, 2019
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama stunned Republicans when he bypassed Congress and, relying on what he called his pen and his phone, used executive powers to enact his agenda, including protecting millions of young immigrants from deportation.
Now, with President Donald Trump proposing an even more dramatic end-run around Congress to build his promised border wall with Mexico, many Republicans are uneasily cheering him on.
The potential use of a national emergency declaration by Trump for the border wall shows the extent to which the party is willing to yield on treasured values — in this case, the constitutional separation of powers — to steer clear of confronting the White House and give the president what he wants.
It’s a different accommodation from just a few years ago. Then Republicans often called out Obama as overstepping his authority in using executive actions when Congress failed to act on White House priorities. They complained about Obama as “king,” ”emperor” or “tyrant.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the House Freedom Caucus, said most conservatives would go along with Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency as “the last tool in the tool box” for building the wall.
“Does the president have the right and the ability to do it? Yes. Would most of us prefer a legislative option? Yes,” Meadows told reporters this week. “Most conservatives want it to be the last resort he would use. But those same conservatives, I’m sure, if it’s deployed, would embrace him as having done all he could do to negotiate with Democrats.”
Other Republicans say Trump has few options left after talks broke down at the White House over his long-promised border wall.
“This is not something you would want to do,” said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, now the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
“But we’ve been put into this position,” he said. “The Democrats are forcing him into a choice of doing the national emergency because they won’t sit down and discuss it.”
On Saturday, the partial government shutdown will stretch in its 22nd day and Trump’s plans for ending the stalemate are shifting yet again.
Trump indicated he was slowing what had appeared to be momentum toward the national emergency declaration as the way out of the stalemate. Invoking the power would allow him to tap unspent Defense funds to build the long-promised wall along the border that was central to his presidential campaign.
On the campaign trail, the president often said at rallies that Mexico would pay for the wall. But Mexico has refused forcing Trump to ask Congress for the money instead. Trump walked out of negotiations this week when Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats refused to give, saying they support dollars for border security just not the big wall Trump envisions. They call the wall ineffective and say it’s a symbol that does not reflect the nation’s values.
After having talked for days about invoking the national emergency power to unleash the funds, the president hit pause Friday. “I’m not going to do it so fast,” Trump said during an event Friday at the White House.
Experts have said even though the president may have the authority to invoke powers under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, using it will almost certainly bring on a court battle. The courts did not allow President Harry Truman to nationalize the U.S. steel industry during the Korean War.
Moreover, they say, it could lead the country into uncharted areas. Declaring an emergency could give the president access to many other powers, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
“The president thinks that he can do whatever he wants by declaring something a national emergency,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii who serves on the Judiciary Committee. “I think it’s a very dangerous thing.”
But what cuts to the core of the concern on Capitol Hill is the executive branch wading into legislative domain to shift money Congress has already approved to the wall.
The constitution provides the Congress, not the White House, the power of the purse, and lawmakers are not eager to cede their role to the president, even for a wall many Republicans support.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill objected to the administration eyeing shifting unspent disaster funding Congress approved last year for Army Corps of Engineer projects to help hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Texas and other areas to pay for the wall. By Friday, lawmakers said they were being told those projects will not be touched and the White House was now looking for other funds to pay for the border wall.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, part of the GOP leadership, said at a forum Friday in Austin that the lawmakers “worked very hard to make sure that the victims of Hurricane Harvey – their concerns are addressed and Texas is able to rebuild.”
He said, “I will tell you that I will oppose any reprogramming of Harvey disaster funds.”
Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the dilemma, especially as the shutdown continues with no end in sight.
Trump invoking a national emergency “might break an impasse and it needs to be broken one way or another,” Shelby said as the Senate adjourned. But he prefers a negotiated settlement with Congress. “I’m still hoping we’ll have a breakthrough, but right now I don’t see one.”
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Follow Mascaro on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lisamascaro

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Is TOTUS paying attention to those who represent the areas he is visiting? Answer NO!!, so how is this listening to the people? MA.

By Ted Hesson and Renuka Rayasam ,Politico
2 hrs ago.

Talking to reporters Wednesday, Sen. John Cornyn said border security requires more than an imposing structure.
Nearly every lawmaker who represents a district or state along the U.S.-Mexico border — including two Republicans — either opposes outright or more quietly declines to support President Donald Trump’s $5.7 billion request for a border wall, according to a survey conducted by POLITICO.
That poses an awkward reality for the president as he visits McAllen, Texas, Thursday to receive a briefing on border security. The politicians situated in the heart of a purported immigration crisis don’t agree that spending billions on a border wall — or “steel slats,” as Trump now prefers — will benefit their region.
The dissenters include Texas Rep. Will Hurd, the only Republican House member who represents a border district, and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who will accompany the president on Thursday. Cornyn dodged questions Wednesday about whether he backs Trump’s $5.7 billion demand.
“I support a solution to the problem,” Cornyn told reporters when asked specifically about the sum. “I think it’s going to be negotiated.”
Cornyn was more blunt Monday talking to Fox News. “Coming from Texas with a 1,200-mile common border with Mexico,” he said, “the idea of a wall is somewhat off-putting to a lot of people.”
In a separate Fox News interview Tuesday, Cornyn said: “There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for the entire border. It’s quite a diverse geography.”
Trump, whose insistence on border funding plunged the federal government into a partial shutdown that’s entered its third week, will make his case Thursday in McAllen. As he meets with law enforcement professionals and other backers, opposition from border lawmakers — and many of their constituents — will loom in the backdrop.
POLITICO polled the offices of 17 Senate and House members who represent Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California about Trump’s $5.7 billion border barrier request. Only two — Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) — said they supported it.
Cruz called the amount “a good first step” when asked about the sum on Wednesday. “I think we need more than that,” he added.
McSally, who was sworn in as a senator last week, previously served in the House. In late December, she voted in favor of a spending bill that provided the wall funding.
When asked if she still supported that amount, McSally said she “already voted in the House,” but declined to comment further.
In the House, eight of nine border lawmakers are Democrats. The Democratic members all told POLITICO they’re against the $5.7 billion request. Instead, they favor spending for increased border security technology, improved screening at ports of entry and more personnel to handle asylum processing.
Rep. Juan Vargas, a California Democrat who represents a district that includes the southern part of San Diego, called Trump’s request “a new level of absurdity” in a written statement provided to POLITICO.
Rep. Vicente Gonzalez — a Texas Democrat whose district includes a small stretch of the border near McAllen — said the president’s visit to the city should demonstrate that illegal immigration isn’t causing a crime wave.
“If the president does visit McAllen, Texas, he should feel free to walk around and support our local businesses,” Gonzalez said in a written statement. “After all, it is safer to walk around McAllen than it is [in] D.C.”
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, a newly elected Democrat who represents a New Mexico district with more than 175 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, opposes Trump’s request. She said a wall across her entire district would be “fiscally irresponsible,” since mountains provide natural barriers, but added that existing fencing in high-traffic areas makes sense.
Hurd, the sole border Republican in the House, makes no secret of his opposition to Trump’s $5.7 billion demand. After narrowly winning reelection in November, Hurd was one of seven Republicans who sided with House Democrats last week to reopen shuttered parts of the government without a deal on the wall.
“Everyone tries to act like this is some scary drug cartel movie back in the day,” Hurd told CNN on Tuesday. “The reality is that there are people sneaking into the country, we can stop that if we have smart solutions, and that’s ultimately going to be relying on technology.”
In the Senate, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein of California and Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico all told POLITICO they’re against Trump’s plan.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who moved to the Senate from the House last week, declined to speak with a reporter in the Capitol on Wednesday. Her office did not respond to multiple requests by email and in person to share her views of Trump’s funding proposal.
She also opted not to vote in late December when the House considered the bill that provided $5.7 billion for a border wall.
Talking to reporters Wednesday, Cornyn said border security requires a mix of infrastructure, technology and personnel, not just an imposing structure.
“I think the president likes the term ‘wall’ because he thinks it’s a vivid description of what infrastructure is all about,” Cornyn told reporters. “But clearly what we’re talking about is something more than a concrete wall.”
For years, Cornyn has led lawmakers on behind-the-scenes tours of the border in South Texas, according to his office. The attendees have included Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), as well as Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and former Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who lost a reelection bid in November to Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen.
On the tours, Cornyn introduced legislators to Border Patrol agents and local leaders who argued the region thrives off cross-border trade with Mexico — a message more of mutual prosperity than crisis.
On a November trip with Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents a Texas district stretching south from San Antonio to the border, Cornyn’s group toured an immigration detention center and spoke at a federal courthouse in Laredo.
Cornyn and Cruz will both be in South Texas on Thursday with Trump. Cornyn will host a roundtable after the president’s visit with border-area mayors, civic leaders and Border Patrol officials.
Sergio Contreras, president of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, a local business association, has accompanied Cornyn on the educational outings. He said border lawmakers “understand the realities (of the border) because they represent our region and walk our streets.”
Many border lawmakers worry that building a wall would threaten local economies, force private landowners to cede their property and harm the environment, especially in areas such as Big Bend National Park in West Texas.
Contreras, who will be at the Thursday roundtable, said even discussion of a wall has caused some Mexican investors to halt millions of dollars of investments in retail and residential real estate projects in the Rio Grande Valley. He argues a wall would discourage Mexican shoppers from crossing the border to Texas. Those shoppers make up between 30 to 45 percent of the area’s retail sales, according to a 2012 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Laredo’s Democratic Mayor Pete Saenz, who has joined Cornyn’s border trips and will be at the event Thursday, said he disagrees with the president’s assessment that there’s a crisis on the border.
“Do we have incidents of activity? By all means,” said Saenz, who supports stepped-up security measures but not a wall. “To the extent of calling it a crisis and building these huge walls and physical barriers, we haven’t reached that.”

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Alicia Adamczyk 28 mins ago

You may have heard that over the weekend newly minted Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with 60 Minutes that there’s precedent for wealthy Americans at the “tippy tops”—in this case, those earning over $10 million—to pay a marginal tax rate “as high as 60 percent or 70 percent.”
“That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate. But it means that as you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more,” she said.
Conservatives claim that such taxation is unfair to rich people. And though presumably the Minority Whip should know better, Rep. Steve Scalise seemed to indicate that such a rate would mean the government would “take away” 70 percent of a high (to be clear: astronomically high) earner’s income. But that’s not how income tax works in the U.S. That’s because our income is taxed at “marginal” rates, as the congresswoman alluded to in her interview.
Steve Scalise

@SteveScalise
Republicans: Let Americans keep more of their own hard-earned money
Democrats: Take away 70% of your income and give it to leftist fantasy programs
https://
hotair.com/archives/2019/
01/04/aoc-tax-rate-70-fund-green-new-deal/

15K
9:53 AM – Jan 5, 2019

What does this mean? It means that different levels of income are taxed at progressively higher rates for the same individual. What you likely refer to as your tax bracket is not the effective rate that you’re paying on all of your income. It’s the rate you’re paying at your highest level of income, the money you earn above the tax bracket thresholds. For example, take 2019’s tax brackets for individuals (you’re taxed at each rate if you earn over the amount listed next to it):
10 percent: $0
12 percent: $9,700
22 percent: $39,475
24 percent: $84,200
32 percent: $160,725
35 percent: $204,100
37 percent: $510,300
If you earn $161,000 this year, for example, you’re not going to be taxed at 32 percent for the entire amount. You’ll be taxed at each of the preceding four brackets as your income goes up, and will be taxed 32 percent on the amount earned over $160,725 at the federal level:
10 percent of the first $9,700
12 percent of the amount between $9,701 and $39,475
22 percent of the amount between $39,476 and $84,200
24 percent of the amount between $84,201 and $160,725
32 percent of the amount over $160,725
And so on, if you earn more than that example. What Ocasio-Cortez proposed, then, is another tax bracket of 70 percent at income over $10 million, not 70 percent on all income if you earn $10 million or more. And hewing to Ocasio-Cortez’s example, who earns over $10 million per year? According to a 2016 report from the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest one percent of U.S. households bring in at least $389,436 annually, though the average is closer to $1.15 million. So we’re talking about a percentage of one percent.
In 2019, the top marginal tax rate is 37 percent. Historically, that’s fairly low. You can go back to 1981 to find a 70 percent marginal rate, and that’s on income over $108,300 for an individual, per the Tax Foundation. Before that, for a period, earners at the “tippy top” were taxed over 90 percent. Ocasio-Cortez’s statement (it’s not a policy proposal at this point) is in line with progressive economic proposals.
In sum, the federal government isn’t coming to take away 70 percent of a tippy top earner’s money.

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Tom Toles Comic Strip for December 31, 2018

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John McCain statement sums up where we should be mentally in our thinking in this divided political country: “Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them!”.

Thank you Senator McCain

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Border Wall is not required if there are enough border agents to process people. Their highlighted bust is not a reason for a “wall”, 5 Billion is better used for infrastructure (which also creates jobs) along the lines of WPA projects during the Roosevelt administration. Fulfilment of Campaign promises is not policy.MA

Paulina Dedaj 2 hrs ago

Fox News

Border agents arrested a known MS-13 gang member and a convicted sex offender at the U.S.-Mexico border this week.
The first incident involved a 46-year-old Mexican national who entered illegally Wednesday evening. According to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release, Ajo Station agents discovered during processing that the man was convicted in Arizona in 2002 of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
On Thursday, border agents with the Nogales Station arrested a 24-year-old Salvadoran. After undergoing a criminal history check, officials learned the suspect, a known member of MS-13, was a felon previously removed from the country.
The two men will now face federal criminal immigration charges, CBP said in a press release.
Border apprehensions of people with criminal pasts have helped fuel President Trump’s calls to fund a border wall.
The government partially shut down Saturday after lawmakers were unable to pass a funding agreement because of an impasse over money for a border wall — a central campaign pledge by Trump when he ran for president.

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By Matt Fuller and Arthur Delaney

WASHINGTON ― Paul Ryan was furious.
He’d been caught in a trap ― lured into an auditorium by the promise of a speech about fiscal responsibility. Instead, President Barack Obama was lecturing the crowd about why it would be wrong to balance the budget by impoverishing old people. Obama didn’t mention Ryan’s name, but in Ryan’s mind, the president might as well have addressed the speech to him.
Everybody could see Ryan, just sitting there in the front row of an auditorium at George Washington University. One of his colleagues leaned over and asked if they should leave. No, Ryan said. They should stay; they were being watched. He had noticed a photographer with a camera mounted on a unipod, its long lens pointed straight at him. He sat rigidly in his chair.
It had all been a setup.
To Ryan, Obama’s breach of decorum in April 2011 ― in which he lightly criticized Ryan’s budget while calling for entitlement reform himself ― was Exhibit A in the case against Obama. According to Ryan, it meant Obama was unwilling to work across party lines to solve policy problems. It was an affront to fiscal responsibility and the Beltway Norms. A stunning contrast between the two men ― one a partisan politician and the other a serious policy wonk.
“His false attacks were offensive, even by the low standards for discourse and civility in Washington, D.C.,” Ryan recalled in his 2014 book, in which he devoted eight pages to the incident.
The story has been retold in at least three books, with Ryan denouncing Obama’s “demagoguery” each time.
In retrospect, of course, in light of the current president’s constant depredations ― against civility, against the discourse, even against Ryan himself ― Obama’s speech was the political equivalent of using the wrong fork at a dinner party. The idea that the speech amounted to some great offense, by the standard Ryan has set not even six years later, is patently absurd.
Whereas Obama didn’t even mention Ryan by name in the infamous speech, President Donald Trump has repeatedly insulted Ryan directly, calling the House speaker “weak and ineffective” and a “Boy Scout” and saying he “knows nothing,” though Trump has more recently said he has come to appreciate Ryan “like a fine wine.”
(Reminder: Trump doesn’t drink.)
While Ryan made a habit of bashing Obama ― his reaction to Obama’s last State of the Union address was to say Obama “degrades the presidency” because Obama warned against then-candidate Trump’s divisive rhetoric ― he has famously stood by Trump, greeting the president’s near-daily embarrassments with cheery unawareness. Even when Ryan couldn’t avoid Trump’s scandals, he continued to praise Trump as “thoughtful,” “refreshing” and “exquisite.”
It’s all part of the fiction that Ryan chooses to live in ― a fiction in which Trump is restoring honor to the presidency and his behavior is to be downplayed, dismissed or outright ignored. And it’s that blithe fiction, contrasted with our graphic, Trump-y reality, for which Ryan should be remembered.
When Ryan leaves office in January, he will not have balanced the budget or fixed Congress or solved poverty or left our politics smarter or less divided. Instead, during his three-year tenure as speaker, the deficit has nearly doubled. The procedural problems in Congress are more daunting. Poverty isn’t much different. And our politics are more partisan, less ideological, than maybe ever before.
The version of Paul Ryan that he and his staff tried to project for years ― the image of a squeaky-clean numbers guy, rolling up his sleeves, solving tough policy problems ― is a sham. According to a number of polls, many people now recognize him as a monumental partisan, a politician who won a reputation as a wonk because he was able to memorize a few lines from an actuarial table and then promptly ignore his own pledges to balance the budget when he had the chance. Ryan is the man who, perhaps more than anybody else, normalized Trump, who led reluctant Republicans back to Trump, who went along with the president even when he knew he shouldn’t and traded his dignity for a tax cut.
Tax Cuts!
This week, Ryan and his office released a six-part video series on his decades-long quest to reform the tax code. But he didn’t reform our tax code. When all the new guidance is issued, the 40,000-page tax code is likely to be even longer. He simply cut taxes ― or, at least, he didn’t stand in the way.
It turned out that cutting taxes by $1.5 trillion wasn’t all that hard, as long as “conservatives” were on board with not paying for tax cuts. The grand irony of “tax reform” is that, for all the credit Ryan and his staff try to give him for the bill, the final legislation was closer to the principles that Freedom Caucus leaders like Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) laid out: a corporate rate at 20 percent, a bigger standard deduction and cuts that weren’t paid for.
Ryan wanted a bill that was at least mostly revenue-neutral (it ended up costing more than a trillion dollars over 10 years), that would allow individuals to fill out their tax returns on a postcard (that didn’t happen) and that had a corporate rate closer to 25 percent (it ended up at 21 percent).
He almost blew up the tax bill by insisting on a border adjustment tax to offset some of the cuts. It wasn’t until he gave up on the BAT ― a tarifflike tax that would have increased prices on imports and also, theoretically, increased the value of the dollar ― that tax reform became a reality.
And it was the Senate that played the biggest role in shaping the tax bill, with Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) deciding how much debt was acceptable to rack up. In conference, when differences between the two chambers’ versions are resolved, legislators took the Senate version on a number of important provisions ― pass-through income, international regulations, the child tax credit ― and ditched a bunch of politically perilous, revenue-raising ideas from the House, like ending deductions on medical expenses and student loans.
Ryan’s signature achievement of tax reform is neither actually his nor actually an achievement. Yes, the economy is doing well. But there was low unemployment and economic growth before the tax cuts. A year after it was enacted, the bill remains unpopular. The stock market has basically run sideways since the GOP’s tax bill was enacted ― the S&P 500 is down on the year ― and wages for workers have barely grown.
The tax cuts were supposed to spur investment and put more money in everyone’s pocket. Instead, they prompted a small round of one-time bonuses, a huge number of stock buybacks and deficits that will persist for decades.
And yet, in true Ryan form, he seeks out another round of feting, when most politicians would have the self-awareness to quietly exit out the back.
It’s possible that he will hand over the speaker’s gavel to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a partial government shutdown, because he and other Republicans refuse to level with Trump and tell him he’s not getting his border wall. A short-term funding bill, looking more likely by the hour, would be more of the same avoidance. It would be stage one in the grieving process.
But denial has been one of Ryan’s favorite strategies with Trump. Ryan has been satisfied to try to influence government and the president at the periphery. When Ryan became aware recently that there were more than 10,000 unused work visas, he pushed through legislation making sure Irish nationals would have access to those visas.
When Trump said he might try to end birthright citizenship, Ryan suggested such a move would have to come from Congress, which prompted Trump to say that Ryan “knows nothing” about the issue and should be focused on holding the GOP majority ― something Ryan wasn’t able to do. The speaker oversaw the largest Republican losses in 44 years.
Ryan never responded to Trump’s diss. The direct insults from Trump never seemed to rankle Ryan the same way Obama’s indirect slights appeared to bother him.
A simple truth of Ryan’s career is that he spent every day fighting to help people who didn’t need help. It was always about cutting taxes, and as big of a game as he talked on the debt, when he had the chance to do something about entitlements or spending, he cowered from the challenge.
As part of his farewell tour, he said in November that his two biggest regrets were failing to tackle immigration reform and not addressing the growing national debt. He also theorized that history would be kind to his speakership and the GOP Congress he ruled over, partly because of the tax cuts that passed under his watch.
But there’s no evidence that the tax cuts are getting more popular or becoming more effective, and there’s no indication that Republicans are getting more serious about debt.
The Debt
To take the issue of debt seriously for a moment ― something Republicans (and Democrats) don’t do ― we’ve incurred enough debt at this point that the interest payments on our $21 trillion hole will ensure that we never see a balanced budget again without massive spending cuts and tax increases.
For Ryan, this might not be much of a contradiction. Cutting taxes is core to the Republican mission, while the debt is a political tool used to bash Democrats and to justify welfare cuts. The media and the public just fell for the GOP ruse.
“History will not be kind to a president who, when it came time to confront our generation’s defining challenge, chose to duck and run,” Ryan said of Obama after the president once again criticized the House GOP budget in 2012.

How will Trump’s administration impact you?

But when it was his party controlling Congress and the White House, during a time of economic prosperity, when Washington has traditionally looked to realign the federal budget, Ryan didn’t shrink the deficit; he nearly doubled it, through a combination of spending increases and tax cuts. Legislation enacted since Trump took office will add $2.7 trillion to the national debt. The tax cuts and spending bills enacted in fiscal 2018 alone will widen 2019’s deficit by $445 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And the yearly deficit, which was $585 billion in fiscal 2016 ― the year Ryan took the speakership ― will be roughly $1 trillion when he leaves office.
War
When Ryan announced his retirement from Congress in April, he cheered the spending increases for the military that Republicans locked into spending agreements. Those Pentagon plus-ups, paired with domestic spending increases to appease Democrats, have ballooned the deficit.
In 2011, conservatives in Congress refused to go along with increases to spending or the debt ceiling without a plan to restrain the deficit. What they came up with was the Budget Control Act, which set caps for defense and nondefense spending for the next 10 years. Except lawmakers have refused to live by those caps. Congress has honored the spending limits exactly zero times. The Pentagon particularly seems unwilling to abide by the limits. And Republicans like Ryan cheer on the military budget increases, even as the Pentagon has never completed an audit.
Ryan entered the speakership by saying he wanted to pass a new Authorization for Use of Military Force. We’ve justified more than three dozen military operations in more than a dozen countries using the overly broad authorization from 2001.
“It would be a good sign for American foreign policy to have a new one updating our AUMF,” Ryan said in December 2015.
But he spent the next three years blocking a new AUMF, saying he wouldn’t allow debate on any bill that would restrict the ability of the military to fight.
Just last week, Ryan attached special instructions to a rule for the farm bill that would waive provisions in the War Powers Resolution so he could block debate on a resolution about U.S. support for a war in Yemen ― a war that has created what the United Nations called “the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time.” An estimated 85,000 Yemeni children have died from starvation associated with the war, and an additional 17 million Yemenis are at risk of malnutrition.
Regular Order!
Ryan’s efforts to block debate on war are entirely consistent with his actions as speaker but totally inconsistent with his message as he took the gavel. He said he wanted to return to regular order, that he wanted to allow debate on bills and amendments on the House floor.
Instead, there was one open rule during the entirety of his speakership, meaning there was only one bill to which members could offer any amendment they wanted, as long as it pertained to the bill and wasn’t written on the fly. He oversaw what may go down as the most closed Congress of all time. And rather than address immigration or entitlement reform or war or guns or children being separated from their parents at the border or a bill protecting Robert Mueller’s investigation, Ryan was satisfied to use the House to pass uncontroversial bills renaming post offices or selling federal land to pump up the number of bills the House passed and Trump signed.
The Republican calls to read the bill ― calls that helped propel them to the majority in 2010 ― have been replaced with Ryan ramming through a 2,232-page bill funding the government 17 hours after leaders released the text. Amazingly, on the same day the House passed that bill, he said he had done “a phenomenal job” restoring regular order.
On Wednesday, Ryan took to the Great Hall in the Library of Congress for yet another goodbye speech. It was almost exactly three years since Ryan delivered a speech in that room at the beginning of his speakership. But what was supposed to be a farewell was really more of the same calls he made in the past for reform ― on debt, on immigration and on poverty.
As Vox recently remarked in a headline, “Paul Ryan really wishes the House speaker would fix immigration and the debt.” Ryan is the speaker who didn’t seem to realize that he had the power to do things, that he could do more than cut taxes and that achieving results would take more than grandiose speeches echoing hollowly through the Great Hall in the Library of Congress.
Poverty
One particular issue that Ryan simply seemed to give up on was poverty.
After the 2012 presidential election, when he was mocked for a soup kitchen photo op in which he seemed to be washing pots and pans that were already clean, Ryan launched himself into what he called a “poverty tour.” He traveled the country visiting nonprofit organizations that sought to rehabilitate poor people with criminal histories or drug problems.
He came up with a bunch of proposals that were basically a rebranding of welfare cuts, and he built his case for cutting assistance to the poor on a false claim: that the War on Poverty had failed.
That is all consistent with the Ryan we’ve all come to know. But one of the reasons he was able to con so many people for so long was that he wasn’t incapable of coming up with an interesting idea from time to time. He had elements of self-reflection and regret, like when he said in early 2016 that it was wrong of him to have used the frame “makers and takers.”
In 2014, instead of simply claiming that government programs that help poor people actually make them worse off ― and that therefore antipoverty spending should be cut ― Ryan did something different. He said the government should hire case managers who could work with poor people to create a “customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty.”
Case management was the centerpiece of his proposal to reform the federal government’s antipoverty programs into an “opportunity grant.” The proposal and the poverty tour figured prominently in his 2014 book, “The Way Forward,” which is the type of book politicians write when they’re thinking about running for president. He portrayed poverty policy as a consistent area of concern during his career, ever since his days working as an aide to Jack Kemp, a former congressman who called himself a “bleeding-heart conservative.”
But commentators from both sides thought the idea of a “customized life plan” was weird. And so Ryan backed away. “We’re saying this is one of the things we recommend, but give the states the ability to try other ideas,” he told HuffPost in 2014.
After he became speaker and Trump became president, Ryan had a chance to make his poverty agenda a reality. Instead, he used his time and political capital trying to take health care from millions of poor people ― remember, the House GOP health care plan included $834 billion in cuts to Medicaid ― and then passing a tax cut. He gave up on poverty.
He said Wednesday that solving poverty will require “a great rethinking of how we help the most vulnerable among us.” And without a shred of self-awareness or irony, he urged his Republican colleagues to not “let this issue drift from your consciousness.”
The Myth Of Paul Ryan
The sincerity with which Paul Ryan believed in the myth of Paul Ryan was perhaps why it was so effective. During his speech Wednesday, he decried how outrage had become a “brand,” how we all needed to disregard “the noise.”
But what Ryan deems noise and what he thinks warrants outrage have a distinctly partisan slant. When Trump tweeted that he was considering revoking the security clearances of his political enemies, Ryan said Trump was “just trolling.” When Trump attacks fellow Republicans or when he lies outright or suggests breaking into the Democratic National Committee, that’s just to be ignored.
“All this stuff you see on a daily basis on Twitter this and Twitter that — forget about it,” Ryan said in October 2017.
Except that was not how Ryan treated Obama. Ryan said Obama was the nation’s worst president. Ryan relentlessly attacked Obama and took horrible offense during the 2011 speech in which Obama agreed that the nation needed to tackle entitlements.
In Bob Woodward’s telling, “Ryan felt betrayed. He’d expected an olive branch. What he got was the finger.”
What was the appalling criticism that Obama had made?
One of the most egregious insults was that Obama noted Ryan’s budget would transfer Medicare to a voucher system. “And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy the insurance that’s available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck — you’re on your own,” Obama said.
And how did the Congressional Budget Office describe Ryan’s budget? “Under the proposal, most elderly people who would be entitled to premium support payments would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.”
Obama wasn’t wrong, though he would later tell Woodward he thought he made a mistake by embarrassing Ryan. Obama had accurately described what Ryan’s proposal would do. Ryan was just upset that the reality of his budget didn’t measure up to his inflated self-image, of a man whose ideas transcend politics, of a should-be president delivering speeches at a prestigious university or in the marbled Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

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It should be pointed out that recent elections have highlighted where the power in government is. Our heads are controlled by our necks and our government works the same way (when it works). Our present situation is highlighted by a petulance usually found in daycare, not the halls on legislation. The 2016election was never about the job,  it was and is about the exposure (look at me!) and the possibility of making deals to carry on business as usual in a high profile way. The neck in this a case is the U.S. Congress which has used the “Head” as a cover for their own agendas which do not include any good things for the country and their constituents (who they purport to represent). In order to make a correction the voters need to change the neck so that the head turns in the right direction.

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Chris Britt Comic Strip for November 05, 2018

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