Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last Call For White Out In The Senate Dems, Con't

Back in early December I talked about the pretty shameful hiring record of Senate Democratic staffers and the near total lack of diversity among chief of staff positions.  After being publicly shamed for this, Senate Dem leader Chuck Schumer is now promising to fix the problem.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will on Tuesday ask his caucus to adopt extensive new rules to promote staff diversity, including a version of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which will require Senate offices to interview at least one minority applicant for senior staff openings in the future. 
The diversity measures are part of a wider package of caucus rules that Schumer will put forward on Tuesday. The Democratic leader has also vowed to publish official diversity statistics from Senate offices on the website of the Senate Diversity Initiative, which hosts a resume bank for potential Senate staffers of color and will be the subject of beefed-up efforts to work with every individual Democratic Senate office on diverse hiring practices.

The efforts follow intense criticism from interest groups and minority staffers regarding the paltry share of non-white Senate Democratic staff. Several studies, including a 2015 report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, have exposed a severe demographic disconnect between the party’s policymakers in Washington and its core constituencies in the states. 
The report found that just 7 percent of top Senate staffers (counting chiefs of staff, legislative directors, communications directors, and committee staff directors) were people of color. It also noted that while African-Americans provided nearly one-quarter of the Democratic Party’s votes, only one top Senate Democratic staffer was black. 
“We must ensure the Senate be more reflective of our country’s diverse population,” Schumer said in a statement. “Expanding the diversity initiative, following the Rooney rule and dedicating ourselves to increasing diversity are important steps we can take to help achieve that goal and better serve our country.” 
Schumer has already announced the new initiatives to several interested parties, including a group of minority lobbyists that had been working to improve diversity in the Senate and at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where the group met with Schumer two weeks ago. Schumer also publicized the effort earlier this month at a gathering of the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.
Schumer’s office is still working with Senate legal advisers to figure out exactly how to survey office diversity and post results, but promoters of the new measures see the official statistics as a centerpiece of the plan.

I'm all for this, and Senate Dems deservedly got hell for this.  Shaun King pointed this out months ago and he gets no small amount of credit for forcing Schumer and the Dems to practice what they preach on diversity.

It was unacceptable going forward, and I'm very glad to see Schumer make good on this.  Good job, Democrats.

We Don't Need No Education, Con't

On the final day of Black History Month, the Trump regime decided it was going to shoot a photo op with presidents of several Historically Black Colleges and Univesities (HBCUs) coming to the White House for help in preserving the legacies of these important institutions.  What the HBCU presidents got instead was the DeVos special.

President Donald Trump’s efforts to bolster relations with historically black colleges erupted in controversy Tuesday after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement equating the history of the schools — founded during an era of racial segregation — to “school choice” policies. 
“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” DeVos said in the statement, released Monday night in advance of Trump’s planned signing of an executive order giving the schools more clout. “They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

Now, DeVos's statement only makes sense if you completely ignore the fact that HBCUs were founded in response to American collegiate apartheid.  Literally, these colleges were founded because black students were not allowed to go to white colleges and universities in the Jim Crow era. In 1962 when James Meredith attended Ole Miss, it led to statewide riots and more than 30,000 National Guard troops called into action to deal with them.

What it had nothing to do with was "school choice" policies.  Why DeVos would choose to so viciously and stupidly gaslight away a century of black history, well that's what the Trump regime does, guys.  Everything was really great back in the Jim Crow south, and black people even had their own colleges!

DeVos also seemed to reject one thing the schools are really hoping to get from the administration: More money. One school president told POLITICO that the colleges had asked the White House to back a $25 billion investment in infrastructure improvements on their campuses in their meeting with DeVos Monday. They also advocated for year-round Pell grants and to maintain or increase funding that goes to schools that serve low-income students. 
“Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential,” DeVos said in her statement.

Tangible structural reforms, huh.  But no money to pay for them.

If you want to know what's coming for K-12 education for American kids under the Trump regime, look at the way HBCUs are treated.  It's an era where the framework of segregation by class and race already exists.  Imagine your school district becoming Ivy League white schools, and HBCUs for black students.  That's what's coming.  And like DeVos and HBCUs now, it will be sold as "pioneering school choice" when of course, the actual choice part won't exist.

The Bar Was Set Six Inches Into The Ground

Donald Trump somehow failed to set himself on fire last night while vomiting on anyone during his first joint address to Congress, meaning that in the eyes of many pundits, "it's the most presidential he's been so far".  That's not a high bar, but they couldn't help themselves.  But Ed Kilgore cautions that while the speech's tone was not horrible, the actual content was a vague garbage dump when it came to policy.

Republicans are practically at each other’s throats over how to repeal and replace Obamacare — the party’s top policy priority. Trump has in the past complicated this effort by endorsing a quick replacement plan — on which Republicans are far from agreement — and by insisting the new plan cover as many people as the system being demolished. He did almost nothing tonight address the quandaries his fellow Republicans face on health care policy, other than a brief statement of support for the idea of tax credits to help pay for insurance, presumably a rebuke to conservatives who openly worried such credits would represent a new entitlement. What did Trump want Congress to do about Medicaid, which Obamacare optionally expanded, splitting Republican governors over that key safety net program’s function and future? “[W]e should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.” That’s about as vague as you can get. And there was nothing at all about how to pay for whatever comes next after Obamacare.

Speaking of taxes: Tax cuts are right behind Obamacare on the congressional GOPs urgent action list. There are big differences of opinion among Republicans about the size and structure of tax cuts, and in particular how to deal with the new administration’s demands that the tax code discriminate against companies that import goods and export jobs. In tonight’s speech Trump devoted more time to the feelings of Harley-Davidson’s executives about other countries’ tax codes than to any exposition on what the U.S. tax code should look like. And indeed, his only real mention of taxes was as an intro to an equally vague disquisition on the need for fair as well as free trade—a theme that has provided leaden ballast to thousands of political speeches for many decades.

The third big topic on which Republicans needed his guidance was the budget, and if they expected any specificity on that crucial priority, they were bitterly disappointed. Trump repeated his commitment to a big defense spending increase, and did display an understanding that providing that would mean getting rid of the spending cap agreement under which defense spending would be “sequestered” if budget targets were missed. As to how those caps would be cast aside—something that in the normal course of events would require 60 Senate votes and a lot of Democratic support—we heard nada. And there was also nothing about the rest of the budget, including the fraught subject of which entitlement programs would be on and off the table.

So, no specifics.  And why should he have them?  The Trump regime has shown multiple times through its botched slate of executive orders that when it comes to specifics, they're not very good at getting even the basic stuff done without running into the Constitution and the courts.

Keep in mind though that while Trump's tone was different, the theme still remains that immigrants are an existential threat to the US, and they they will be "dealt with".  He still seeks to divide the country. Never forget that.


Related Posts with Thumbnails