Saturday, June 10, 2017

Last Call For Elf On The Shelf

The first major effects of James Comey's testimony last Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week are now known: Attorney General Jeff Sessions will respond to Comey in front of the same committee on Tuesday.

Sessions was originally supposed to testify in front of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees this week but said in a statement that he will send a deputy to that hearing instead after hearing that lawmakers would question him about the investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump administration.

“In light of reports regarding Mr. Comey’s recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum,” he said in a statement.

He will appear in front of the committee on June 13.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify before the Appropriations subcommittee in place of Sessions.

Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March after it was revealed that he did not disclose two meetings he had with the Russian ambassador during the course of the Trump campaign.

Comey reportedly told lawmakers that Sessions might have had a third undisclosed meeting during a closed session after his public testimony Thursday.

This is pretty big, because as it stands now, Sessions has lied about disclosing his previous two meetings with Russian Ambassador Kisylak and now has been accused of lying about a third such meeting. We'll see what Sessions has to say, if he doesn't skip out.

The Wall Republicans Really Care About

The only wall the Republicans really care about at this point is the wall they've built around Trump to try to survive the Russia collusion storm, but they're starting to realize that unlike Trump, House Republicans actually facing re-election in 2018 are in dire trouble and many of them will not keep their seats, regardless.  Cracks are appearing in the wall, big ones. Just ask Arizona GOP Rep. Martha McSally.

Congresswoman Martha McSally may be in more political trouble than she's been letting on.

Team McSally has been poo-pooing recent polls showing that more than half of the voters in her district disapprove of her job performance, while her approval has fallen down to the mid-30s, percentage-wise, and that she was losing to a generic Democrat by 7 percentage points.

But last week, in a private talk to the Arizona Bankers Association, McSally conceded that in the current political environment, she has some real challenges in next year's election.

McSally complained that President Donald Trump and his tweets were creating troubling "distractions" and "it's basically being taken out on me. Any Republican member of Congress, you are going down with the ship. And we're going to hand the gavel to Pelosi in 2018, they only need 28 seats and the path to that gavel being handed over is through my seat. And right now, it doesn't matter that it's me, it doesn't matter what I've done. I have an 'R' next to my name and right now, this environment would have me not prevail."
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a Republican who fully expects to lose her job in 2018.

There will be a lot more of them admitting this and soon.

The Kansas Tornado Finally Ends

The ridiculous austerity experiment by Kansas GOP Gov. Sam Brownback has finally crashed the state's financial and political outlook to the point where even Kansas Republicans are done with him. After five years, Brownback's obscene tax cut scheme has been trashed by an angry state legislature that overrode his veto late Tuesday.

After years of budgetary ruin, Kansas’ experiment in trickle-down economics is finally coming to a close. Late Tuesday night, the state legislature voted overwhelmingly to override a veto from Gov. Sam Brownback and increase a slew of taxes in the state. 
Shortly after he became governor in 2011, Brownback dove into an ambitious effort to reshape the state with massive cuts to taxes and social spending. Brownback sold his plan as a conservative economic overhaul, implementing ideas that Republicans had long clamored for. He paid for Reaganomics guru Art Laffer to help craft the plan and convince wary state lawmakers. 
The centerpiece of his plan was a huge reduction in the state’s income tax. Brownback erased the top income tax bracket and lowered rates across the board, with the most benefits handed to the wealthy. And he zeroed out taxes on “pass-through” income, allowing owners of LLCs and other businesses to evade taxes. Analysts warned that such a big reduction in tax revenue would leave a crater in the state’s budget, but Brownback waved away such concerns, promising that the cuts would more than pay for themselves by juicing the economy and creating jobs. When moderate Republicans in the legislature didn’t fully agree with their governor, he teamed up with the Koch brothers’ advocacy organization to back primary campaigns against them and replace them with true believers. 
But Brownback’s promised economic miracle never came to pass. Tax revenue has consistently come in below expectations. 
A wave of moderate Republicans and Democrats swept into office after last year’s election, campaigning on ending Brownback’s experiment. But it’s still a heavily Republican legislature that voted Tuesday to rebuke trickle-down economics, with bipartisan supermajorities in both chambers backing the override of Brownback’s veto. The legislature’s plan would bring in an additional $1.2 billion over two years by bumping up income taxes across the board and ending Brownback’s exception for business owners.

I've talked about Brownback's disaster of an austerity plan for more than five years now and warned that the results would be exactly what panned out: a huge shortfall in the state budget that would have to be made up through brutal austerity cuts to education and public services.  That's precisely what happened, resulting in the state's Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that Brownback wasn't providing adequately funded public education.

And the jobs that the tax cuts were supposed to create never appeared either.  In fact corporations moved out of Kansas because  the schools and roads were an underfunded mess.

Brownback has been an utter failure as a governor and may go down along with Chris Christie and Rick Scott as one of the all-time worst.  I'm glad Kansas has come to its senses, but it will take decades to fix the damage Brownback did.

Kansas could speed the process up by getting rid of Republicans who backed him.
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