Posts from Laurel Raymond

GOP lawmakers are hiding after Trumpcare vote, and their constituents aren’t having it

Laurel Raymond

Laurel Raymond General Reporter, Think Progress

House lawmakers are back in their home districts this week for a short recess — which, for some Republicans, means walking straight into a storm of constituent anger over their vote to pass the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA), also known as Trumpcare.

While most House Republicans were willing to be vocal about their support for the bill from the safety of the Rose Garden — where they celebrated AHCA’s passage through the House with speeches and selfies — many lawmakers this recess are avoiding defending their vote to their own constituents.

According to a list compiled by TownHallProject.com, a crowd-sourced list of congressional district events, only 14 of the 217 lawmakers who voted for the bill are holding in-person town hall events this recess. But even with their members absent, a lot of people are finding creative ways to express their outrage with the vote.

Dozens of protests are planned across the country — many of them timed to coincide with lawmaker visits and staged on capitol grounds. In Madison, Wisconsin, activists staged a die-in at the capitol.

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Trump is already using his 2020 reelection bid to line his own pockets

Laurel Raymond

Laurel Raymond General Reporter, Think Progress

President Donald Trump is continuing to profit from campaigning, new Federal Election Commission disclosures filed on Friday show. In the first quarter of 2017, Trump’s 2020 campaign and party committees spent close to $500,000 at Trump brand properties, according to a tabulation by the Wall Street Journal.

According to the filings, the campaign spent more than $6.3 million in the first quarter of 2017. Six percent of that was spent at Trump properties, including nearly $300,000 in rent to Trump Tower, where the campaign is headquartered, nearly $60,000 for lodging at Trump’s West Palm Beach golf course, and almost $14,000 in rental and catering fees at his Las Vegas hotel.

The campaign also spent heavily in businesses owned by other top Trump-connected figures. $1.5 million went to a web-marketing firm owned by campaign digital director Brad Parscale. Parscale now works for a nonprofit aimed at promoting the administration’s agenda. Some money also went to a company owned by White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon — nearly $30,000 for administrative and secretarial services.

The Trump campaign is legally required to pay market price for services, even at Trump-owned properties. It’s incredibly unusual, however, for a president to also own and profit from the businesses their campaign is patronizing. Despite the advice of the government’s independent ethics office and ethics experts, Trump has refused to divest from ownership of his businesses.

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Donald Jr. admits there is no barrier between President Trump and his businesses

Laurel Raymond

Laurel Raymond General Reporter, Think Progress

President Donald Trump has ignored the advice of the independent Office of Government Ethics and other ethics experts to fully divest from his businesses. Instead, he insists that, because he has resigned from management positions and handed control over to his adult sons Eric and Donald Jr., he has no conflicts.

Trump and his lawyers say that by putting his sons in charge, Trump has set up a firewall between his administration and his businesses, though he still owns them. But his sons’ own public statements show there’s no firewall at all.

Donald Trump Jr. told the Associate Press on Tuesday that he “has spoken to his father more frequently in recent weeks,” though he said he didn’t discuss the details of either business or the government with his father.

Yet a few weeks ago, defending his father’s business arrangements, Trump Jr. said he had almost no contact with his father.

“I basically have zero contact with him at this point,” he said in a speech at a GOP fundraiser in Dallas, according to NBC news.

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Majority of Americans Support Repoductive Rights, Survey Says

Laurel Raymond

Laurel Raymond General Reporter, Think Progress

The majority of Americans hold fairly progressive views on reproductive rights, according a new poll, but their views are at odds with many of the policies Republican leadership promotes. And those views are markedly more progressive than the policies promoted in the health care bill the House will vote on on Thursday.

Right now, Trumpcare’s fate is uncertain and its future looks bleak — Republicans need almost every caucus vote they have to pass it, and the right-wing Freedom Caucus has been whipping votes against it because they argue it isn’t conservative enough.

The bill would roll back Medicaid (disproportionately affecting women and children), defund Planned Parenthood, and make abortion coverage more difficult and expensive to obtain.

Researchers at the nonpartisan polling firm PerryUndem surveyed a representative sample of registered voters in early March, and the poll found found that all of these measures run contrary to the beliefs of a majority of voters.

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Watch Al Franken shut down Gorsuch’s cruel decision in the ‘Frozen Trucker’ case

Laurel Raymond

Laurel Raymond General Reporter, Think Progress

Senator Al Franken (D-MN), as he said himself during Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, used to have “a career in identifying absurdity” as a humorist and one of SNL’s original writers.

Ironically, his early career has carried over rather too well to policy making, as he demonstrated while grilling Gorsuch about his ruling in the so-called “Frozen Trucker case.”

The case at hand is that of Alphonse Maddin, a truck driver for TransAm. The brakes on Maddin’s trailer locked up on a subzero January night, and he called for help from TransAm’s road service. They told him to wait, and he did — for two hours, despite discovering that the heat in his truck cab was broken. When he was woken by a phone call, he had a numb torso and couldn’t feel his feet.

“If you fall asleep waiting in 14 below zero weather, you can freeze to death. You can die,” Franken explained in his retelling of the case.

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Paul Ryan is tired of taking the blame for Trumpcare

Laurel Raymond

Laurel Raymond General Reporter, Think Progress

Republicans in Congress spent seven years attacking Obamacare as a failed health care law, but now that they have the opportunity to advance their own bill, things aren’t going as smoothly as they hoped. The GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill is already wildly unpopular, and party leadership is passing the blame like a hot potato.

According to a poll from Public Policy Polling, only 24 percent of voters support the plan, and the GOP caucus itself is split: while the right flank attacks the bill as “Obamacare lite,” moderate Republicans are concerned over the cuts to Medicaid, the projected drop in the overall insured rate, and the proposal to defund Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has long been lauded as the GOP’s signature policy wonk (a reputation he’s failed to live up to), and, as Speaker of the House, he has had a leading role in crafting the bill. So far, an outsized share of the responsibility for the slow-rolling legislative disaster is landing with Ryan.

On Wednesday, he fought back.

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Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work