100 Days into the 115th Congress, We Examine How They've Spent Their Time

In his first address to the newly sworn in 115th Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) posed the following question: “Find one person [in this chamber] who doesn’t want to help the unemployed, or care for the sick, or educate the young…who here among us does not want to open wide the door to opportunity?”

Now as we're 100 days and counting into the 115th Congress, their actions give us the answer.

Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are certainly trying to “open wide the doors of opportunity,” but only if you are a CEO who profits by cutting corners on workers' health and safety, or siphoning off millions from their retirement accounts.

For people who are unemployed, both Ryan and McConnell supported a budget plan that would drastically cut back on job training, Meals on Wheels and education funding for children with disabilities.

For the sick, the Republican leaders tried to gut Obamacare and replace it with a plan that would deprive 24 million Americans of health insurance, tax working peoples’ benefits, slash Medicaid benefits for the elderly and people with disabilities, and jeopardize the future of Medicare for seniors.

And for education, they confirmed an education secretary who spent her billions undermining public education and attacking teachers.

During the first 100 days, the House voted 15 times and the Senate 13 times to wipe out Obama-era regulations that were protecting Americans from workplace hazards. They even removed one rule that requires corporations to simply keep accurate records of injuries, so they can be avoided in the future. 

They voted to let CEOs cover up their past employment violations when they apply for new taxpayer-funded government contracts. The House passed several bills that will give corporations more power to stop federal regulators from passing commonsense safeguards in the future.  

Just this week, they put a champion for corporate America on the U.S. Supreme Court and are working on a tax plan that would further reduce taxes on corporations and the rich while starving programs that support needy families.

One thing Congress didn’t seem to have time for was passing critical legislation that would keep the promise made to more than 22,000 retired coal miners who will lose their federally guaranteed health benefits on April 30.

Find one person in Congress who isn’t for helping the unemployed, the sick and the young? During the first 100 days, there were enough of them to form a voting majority in the U.S. House and Senate.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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