Democrats may finally be seizing on a moment rife with opportunity—let’s see if they deliver

Democrats appear to have finally recognized the opportunity that is staring them in the face. After riding a populist wave of anger to office, a fatally flawed Republican president is readily tossing aside those that brung him in a seemingly limitless quest to feed his insatiable ego. In the meantime, on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a deeply uncreative and uninspired group of middle managers known as Republican lawmakers have failed to grasp the lessons of 2016—that the only thing that ever made Trump’s candidacy viable was the disdain he expressed, even if insincerely, for nearly everything that defines the GOP and its preferential treatment for the rich in every policy debate from trade to health care to taxes and more. The fact that the guy who now sits in the Oval Office took a wrecking ball to the core of the Republican agenda has left them rallying around the crumbling remains of an

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Like a fine-tuned machine: Trump and Republicans swap finger-pointing for their festival of failures

If there’s one thing Republicans are really starting to excel at, it’s throwing their finger decisively in the direction of the entity on the other end of Pennsylvania Ave. to explain why they’re so preposterously incompetent.

In anticipation of yet another potential failure on repealing Obamacare this week, the occupants of the White House know exactly who to blame, writes Politico:

White House aides are already considering how to distance President Donald Trump from Congress and how to go after the Republicans who vote no — an idea the president seems fond of, according to people who have spoken to him. Several people said he plans to keep up the fight, no matter how this week’s vote goes.

He threatened Republicans on Twitter Sunday, saying they would face electoral consequences, and complained about his party not defending him — even though congressional Republicans are tired of defending him all the time.

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Democrats honing an economic battle cry for 2018

As Democrats gear up for the midterm elections in 16 months, the party has been working on a new “core message” that they hope will align them with ordinary Americans.

According to several reports, on July 24, Democrats in both the House and Senate will deliver a unified message of populism that they hope will carry them to electoral victory in 2018.

In crafting a new message, several Democrats have said publicly that they’ve got to be more than the anti-Trump party. According to a story on Yahoo News quoting New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the No. 4 House Democrat:

“I recognize that waiting for Trump to implode … will not work,” Crowley said. “What will work is Democrats having a message that appeals to the average American.”

The details of the new legislative agenda, called “A Better Deal,” have yet to be released, but they reportedly will be kept

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View from the Left: What will the GOP do in 2018 if McConnell is nothing but a snake oil salesman

The GOP effort to pass health care repeal has been on life support for weeks, but Sen. Mitch McConnell just won’t pull the plug.

Managing to pass something now, however—especially with news that Sen. John McCain is fighting an extremely aggressive, even brutal, type of brain cancer—would be the legislative equivalent of pulling a rabbit out a hat without even having a rabbit to begin with.

Whether he’s the legislative magician everyone imagined him to be or simply a master of destruction is something we’ll find out next week, when he’s apparently going to demand a vote on a yet-to-be-determined bill: repeal with no replacement or one of two repeal/replace bills that would both be ruinous to the nation’s health care coverage.

Amid McConnell’s shell game, Sen. Susan Collins is the only Republican senator who has been consistently firm in her opposition the past couple weeks. Here she is marveling at the fact that

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GOP Senator: ‘Things are starting to feel incoherent.’ Ya think?

The end of this week brings us a quote from Capitol Hill that seems at once obvious and also perplexing after seven full months of totally inane Republican rule. The New York Times writes:

“Things are starting to feel incoherent,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, reflecting on the health care efforts, which have turned many Republican senators against one another as efforts to negotiate the future of the Medicaid program have caused large rifts.

With no small measure of understatement, Mr. Corker conceded, “There’s just not a lot of progress happening.”

Yep. And also: “starting”?

Perhaps “better late than never” is what we should grasp on to here. But the observation does provide some real insight into the thickness of the blinders Congressional Republicans have bound their heads in as they barreled hapless and headlong toward achieving their completely nefarious political promises without any reflection on actual policy.

Who

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FCC chairman Ajit Pai doesn’t want you to know about net neutrality violations by telecoms

Campaign Action

The Federal Communications Commission has refused a request to extend the deadline for filing public comments on its plan to overturn net neutrality rules, and on top of that, are refusing to release 40,000 complaints they’ve received about violations of net neutrality from citizens. Because if they hide the evidence that yes, the telecoms happily violate net neutrality, then they can continue to argue it’s not necessary.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in May of this year for tens of thousands of net neutrality complaints that Internet users filed against their ISPs. The NHMC argues that the details of these complaints are crucial for analyzing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to overturn net neutrality rules. The coalition also asked the FCC to extend the initial comment deadline until 60 days after the commission fully complies with the FoIA request. A

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Braindead House Republicans stonewall effort to yank Jared Kushner’s security clearance

That Jared Kushner omitted 100-plus foreign contacts on his Standard Form 86 security clearance, sought to set up a secret backchannel to the Kremlin, and could well be subject to blackmail by the Russians given the accumulation of seedy secrets that now trail him like bread crumbs is of no concern to Republicans who sit on the House Appropriations Committee. They unanimously voted Thursday to kill an amendment that would have revoked Kushner’s security clearance, writes Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chaired the Democratic National Committee during much of last year’s campaign cycle, proposed an amendment targeting Kushner during a House Appropriations Committee markup session Thursday. It was voted down, 22-30, along party lines.

The measure would have barred the government from issuing or maintaining a security clearance for any White House individual “under a criminal investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for

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Save the internet today! Again!

Because everything good in this world has to be fought for incessantly, we’re doing this again. Today is the day to save the internet, or at least raise so much hell with Donald Trump’s FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, that he cannot ignore us.

Open internet advocates, Silicon Valley giants, and tens of thousands of internet users launched a massive online protest on Wednesday to oppose the Trump administration’s plan to dismantle federal rules safeguarding net neutrality, the internet’s open access principle.

Organized by a coalition of leading public interest and consumer rights groups, Wednesday’s “Day of Action” is designed to send a strong message of resistance to Trump’s Federal Communications Commission chief, Republican Ajit Pai, who is leading the effort to roll back the legal basis for the agency’s net neutrality protections. […]

“Today’s Day of Action marks the beginning of a massive pushback

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Congress has a job to do that’s completely separate from Robert Mueller’s: Protect the country

Donald Trump’s White House now arguably poses a clear and present danger to our republic. Multiple administration officials had successive contacts with the Russians during the election and Trump’s campaign was clearly interested in leveraging help from a foreign adversary to win the White House. At the very least, that means Trump officials who interacted with the Russians could be at risk for blackmail, just like former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was after he publicly lied about the nature of his Russian contacts.

This is a legitimate concern and there’s nothing hypothetical about it anymore. As the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, said Tuesday afternoon in a press briefing aired on MSNBC:

“The most serious risk to the country, I think, is that the Russians possess compromising information—what they call kompromat—that can influence this president’s conduct of American policy.

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Rep. Blackburn: Emails proving Trump campaign sought collusion with Russia just a ‘shiny object’

We can add Rep. Marsha Blackburn to the list of Republicans defending the news that members of the Trump campaign sought directly to collude with Russian government efforts to influence the campaign. Rather than choose one spin for the story, however, Blackburn decided to go for all of them at once.

After Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the email exchange that led to his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said Republicans have always known Russia is “a bad actor.” She wants to know whether Trump Jr. was tricked into taking the meeting.

Is Trump Jr., now acting head of the Trump Organization, simply a moron? Quite possibly, yes. Is being a moron an excuse for setting up a meeting meant to learn how the Russian government might wish to secretly assist a United States presidential campaign over its rival? What a fascinating question.

She added

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Welcome back: Republicans return from recess to a field of legislative land mines

When Republican lawmakers left for their July 4 recess, they had produced no major legislative wins in the six months since taking over the government. Upon return, their predicament is way worse. The AP writes:

The GOP campaign to repeal Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law is bogged down in the Senate and flirting with collapse. Efforts to pass a budget are stuck, there’s no tax code overhaul package, spending bills are in limbo and it’s unclear how leaders will find the votes to avert a federal default.

That August recess can’t come soon enough! Which is exactly what some Republicans fear and are now angling to skip so they’re not caught vacationing while they torpedo the nation’s debt rating and shut down the government.

Really, folks, the next few weeks of legislating (if we can call it that) will be a total wonder. Nearly every bill the GOP needs or

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‘I will no longer have health insurance’ under Trumpcare, former member of Congress writes

One of the tens of millions of people who could lose healthcare coverage under the proposed Republican plan is a former member of Congress. Late last week, former Rep. Donna Edwards disclosed in the Washington Post that she has multiple sclerosis, diagnosed soon after she lost the primary for Maryland Senate in 2016. “My future health care is uncertain,” she writes in an open letter to her former House colleagues. “I am not employed, and I pay $800 a month for my COBRA coverage, which ends in June 2018. I’m not sure what I’ll do then.”

Edwards was one of the presiding officers when the Affordable Care Act pass the House:

And yet, with the health-care bills you are now advancing, here I am. If we return to a time when people with preexisting conditions can be charged more than healthy people, it will surely result in my never

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Battle for the internet gets two big players

Campaign Action

Next week, on July 12, the internet will come together in a day of action to fight FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and popular vote loser Donald Trump and save net neutrality. Of course, Daily Kos is in the fight—we always have been. But we’re glad to welcome even bigger players into the fold.

Facebook and Google will be joining a mass online demonstration in support of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules, spokespeople for the companies confirmed to The Hill.
The two internet giants join dozens of other companies and activist groups planning to rally grassroots support next week for the regulations, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. […]

“We have not heard directly from either Facebook or Google, but we’re glad to hear that these companies are listening to their employees and Internet users and will speak out for net neutrality

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Battle for the internet gets two big players

Campaign Action

Next week, on July 12, the internet will come together in a day of action to fight FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and popular vote loser Donald Trump and save net neutrality. Of course, Daily Kos is in the fight—we always have been. But we’re glad to welcome even bigger players into the fold.

Facebook and Google will be joining a mass online demonstration in support of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules, spokespeople for the companies confirmed to The Hill.
The two internet giants join dozens of other companies and activist groups planning to rally grassroots support next week for the regulations, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. […]

“We have not heard directly from either Facebook or Google, but we’re glad to hear that these companies are listening to their employees and Internet users and will speak out for net neutrality

Continue reading “Battle for the internet gets two big players”

Republican agenda sucking wind with only 30-some work days left in fiscal year 2017

About a month—that’s how long is left on the Senate’s 2017 calendar to accomplish just a few teensy-weensy items Republicans have been salivating over for years: stripping tens of millions of Americans of health care, slashing taxes for millionaires and billionaires, overhauling the entire tax code. Man, how long they been promising to do all that if only voters would put them in the seat of power?

And then there’s the basic functions of government: providing a budget, keeping the government open for business, raising the debt ceiling so the U.S. doesn’t default and entirely trash our debt rating.

It all seemed so obvious just six months ago with Paul Ryan’s cheery can-do attitude alongside Mitch McConnell’s dour-but-steady guidance. But suddenly the walls are closing in—so much so that even members of McConnell’s own caucus are begging him to forego their August recess. The NYT writes:

“Our current Senate calendar shows only

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Rep. Chris Collins still owns the pharmaceutical stock at center of ethics investigation against him

When then-Rep. Tom Price was exposed during his confirmation hearings (he now serves as Heath and Human Services Secretary, of all things) as having investments in healthcare companies that he, in his capacity as congressman, seems to have sought to then boost via his own legislation, it shook loose the revelations that in fact a great number of congresspersons have been buying and selling stock in the same industries and companies.

Whether this discovery is the first hint of a brand-new congressional corruption scandal or merely business as usual among wealthier-than-you lawmakers depends on who you ask, but the poster child for the practice was quickly pinned as New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins. Collins has been a steadfast booster of one particular company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, even encouraging other congressmen to purchase stock themselves. And like Price, he has championed legislation that would directly benefit the company he was invested in.

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GOP leaders already behind the eight ball on debt ceiling hike, giving Democrats key leverage point

The last two times the House has approved a debt ceiling hike to keep the U.S. from defaulting on its debts, Democrats have carried the weight on both votes. In 2015, incoming House Speaker Paul Ryan was one of just 79 Republicans who joined 187 Democrats to raise the debt ceiling as part of an overall budget package. Securing that vote was John Boehner’s parting gift to Ryan, who nonetheless decried the process at the time, saying it “stinks.”

But at least Ryan voted for it, because when he had a chance to help his leadership team pass a “clean” debt ceiling hike without any extras in 2014, he joined with 199 Republicans and 2 Democrats to reject it. That year, only 28 Republicans voted in favor of the hike, leaving 193 Democrats to do the bulk of the work on passage.

And this year? Paul it-stinks-and-I-ain’t-voting-for-it Ryan is

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Republican budget being held hostage by Republicans demanding to cut safety net to shreds

Republicans have not been shy in recent years about wanting to cut the safety net to ribbons, slashing programs like food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid and Medicare and heating assistance and unemployment and basically everything else that keeps struggling families afloat. But now even that eagerness to hurt poor people may not be enough. The far-far-right House Freedom Caucus is taking its own party’s budget hostage to demand more and deeper cuts. They have a long list of ways to keep people from getting the help they need, like making work requirements harder to fulfill—currently an able-bodied adult without dependents has to work about 20 hours a week to be eligible for SNAP and the Freedom Caucus would increase that—among other ways of cutting the safety net out from under people. They have a trade-off in mind: less assistance for poor people in the form of food,

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Hmm: Paul Ryan’s op-ed touting all the GOP’s ‘good news’ doesn’t mention health care even once

Back in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan likely spent college keggers dreaming of shredding the social safety net. Now that he’s delivering legislation that could do just that, he just doesn’t think his good work is getting its due. So Ryan put pen to paper in an op-ed in the Independent Journal Review:

Sometimes the noise drowns out the good news.

And it certainly is right now. It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping. But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives. (emphasis added)

Let’s stop right there. Honestly, it’s unclear what he means by “getting things done” since Republicans haven’t gotten any major pieces of legislation signed into law yet, but one might wager that he

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Sure, why not? Senate plans a debt ceiling vote in July too

Mitch McConnell’s Republican caucus is suddenly feeling pretty cocky. After crafting healthcare repeal legislation entirely behind closed doors and suffering no consequences for it other than the jabs of a few whiny GOP members who appear poised to vote for it anyway, they now say they’re going to take a debt ceiling vote too in July. Why not? Surely they’ve got all kinks worked out, right? Politico writes:

But House Republicans aren’t prepared to show their hand yet, although they also hope to resolve the issue before the August recess begins. Yet with a possible health care vote in July — if the Senate passes a bill — top House Republicans are worried that the two issues could become entangled politically, making two already difficult votes even tougher.

Though the Treasury Department has said Congress can likely wait until September to avoid default, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and

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