Saturday, January 5, 2019

It's About Suppression, Con't

With Democrats now in charge of the House, it's time to talk about the GOP efforts to steal the NC-9 House election, and what Democrats now have the power to do to stop them.

House Democrats are preparing to launch their own investigations into the disputed congressional election in North Carolina, where Republican Mark Harris’ campaign is facing fraud allegations and the state elections board had refused to certify the results. 
Harris’ campaign has sued in state court to be seated in Congress, despite an ongoing investigation by the elections board that suffered a setback when the board was dissolved at the end of 2018. Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the unofficial vote count, but voters and election workers have filed numerous affidavits detailing irregularities during the election, including reports that McCrae Dowless, a subcontractor for Harris’ campaign consultants, ran an operation that collected and marked voters’ absentee ballots. 
The House Democratic investigations could pave the way for a new election in the district, even if the court orders the board of elections to certify Harris as the winner instead of the board ordering a re-vote itself. The House Administration Committee, now controlled by Democrats, has the authority to call for another election after investigating the 2018 results. 
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who is slated to chair an election-focused subcommittee of the House Administration Committee, told POLITICO that the House will intervene if the North Carolina court ordered the election certified for Harris before the state investigation has concluded. Any House member could object to seating Harris and block him, triggering an investigation by Fudge's committee. 
Fudge said that three House panels — the Oversight, Judiciary and Administration committees — have started discussing the situation and will be meeting over the next week “to determine what all of our options are.” 
“It is our hope that the courts in North Carolina would do the right thing,” Fudge said. “If they chose not to the right thing, or if for some reason he brings a certification here, we would challenge the propriety of seating him at that point until such time as there was a proper investigation done by the House.” 
Fudge added that the full House could possibly go so far as to sue the state of North Carolina. If a judge orders that Harris be declared the winner, Fudge said, she is “confident that the House would bring an action against the state of North Carolina." 
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he could begin requesting documents “like paychecks, any kind of agreements” between Harris’ campaign and Dowless this month. Cummings, who now wields subpoena power in the majority, also threatened to call Dowless to Washington for an interview. 
“It’s quite possible that we’ll want to bring in [Dowless],” Cummings said. “We’re certainly are looking at it very carefully.” 
“When it comes to a state’s electoral process I think we have to be very careful and try to allow that state to provide due process. But at the same time we cannot just turn our heads to alleged voter fraud,” Cummings added. “It would be almost legislative malpractice if we fail to consider at least getting some preliminary information.”

If Harris is smart, he absolutely starts begging for a new election and as soon as he can.  NC Republicans of course will never countenance that, so we're about to find out all of Harris's dirty laundry and to shine a floodlight on the dirty machinery Harris used to steal this election.

And when everything's done, I'm betting Dan McCready is the 41st new House Democrat this Congress, and that Mark Harris is going to jail.

Stay tuned.

Shutdown Meltdown, Con't

With the Bush administration, the question usually was "Are they stupid or evil?" and depending on the policy, you didn't always know if it was staggering ignorance or wanton cruelty.  With the Trump regime however, the answer is always "Why not both!" and the primary example of this so far is the current government shutdown, now entering week three.

Food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans would face severe reductions and more than $140 billion in tax refunds are at risk of being frozen or delayed if the government shutdown stretches into February, widespread disruptions that threaten to hurt the economy.

The Trump administration, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact, several senior administration officials said. The officials said they were focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.

Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, but few intersect with the public as much as the tax system and the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the current version of food stamps.

The partial shutdown has cut off new funding to the Treasury Department and the USDA, leaving them largely unstaffed and crippling both departments’ ability to fulfill core functions.

The potential cuts to food stamps and suspension of tax refunds illustrate the compounding consequences of leaving large parts of the federal govern­ment unfunded indefinitely — a ­scenario that became more likely Friday when President Trump said he would leave the government shut down for months or even years unless Democrats gave him money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The SNAP program is rare among federal initiatives because it requires annual funding from Congress, even though its existence is automatically renewed. 
Congress has not allocated funding for SNAP beyond January, and the program’s emergency reserves would not cover even two-thirds of February’s payments, according to past disbursements. Last September, the most recent month for which data is available, SNAP disbursed $4.7 billion in benefits to recipients across every U.S. state.

Lawmakers last year appropriated $3 billion into a “contingency” fund for SNAP. USDA officials would not comment on the status of the $3 billion, but if all of that money is still available, it would cover just 64 percent of February’s obligations.

Agency officials have not said how they would address the shortfall, including whether they would prioritize who receives food aid or cut benefits for everyone across the board.

If the shutdown continues through March, there would be no remaining money for benefits.

As I've said in the past, Donald Trump's wall is his chief symbolic covenant with his white supremacist base, representing not only a policy to end illegal immigration, but to end legal immigration as well as making the tenets of white supremacy into government policy.   To put it simply, if he folds on the wall, he's done.  His base will not save him from impeachment and removal, enough of them will walk away that at the very least, he loses in 2020.

At the same time, if the government remains shuttered, he's also going to lose in 2020.  The majority of SNAP beneficiaries are white working class Americans, the one who voted for Trump.  If they can't feed their families, they might blame Democrats, sure.  But some of them are going to start to blame Trump.

I don't know how this will end, other than Donald Trump loses.  The question is how much damage he does on the way out.


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