U.S. Government Shutdown Would be a Disgrace

Modern governmental structures are different than almost all modern corporate structures in that the governmental structures have the potential of being democratically influenced. By contrast, there isn’t any built-in mechanism for the public to influence a major corporation such as Pfizer. This is the truth behind the propaganda of anti-politics that tries to have people automatically hate government, with the goal of diverting attention from the corporate sector that regularly ruins government for people.

A shutdown would harm tens of millions of working-class families who would be unable to access vital services. It would disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal employees who would not receive the paychecks they expected. It would endanger members of the U.S. military who are putting their lives on the line defending our nation.

Congress has a responsibility to the American people to prevent a shutdown and work in a bipartisan manner to reach a fair budget agreement that addresses the very serious problems facing the working people of our country.

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Providing parity in these budget negotiations means, among other things, fully funding — without offsets — the Children’s Health Insurance Program for 9 million kids and community health centers for 27 million Americans. It means increased funding for the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration so they can provide guaranteed benefits to seniors and veterans who have earned them. It means keeping our obligations to more than 1.5 million workers and retirees who are about to lose a large part of the pensions they were promised. It means addressing the crisis of student debt, expanding child care, improving our crumbling infrastructure in rural America and protecting our national parks. It means providing help in the national struggle against opioid and heroin addiction.

Furthermore, as part of the budget negotiations, we must also provide adequate disaster relief to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as assistance to the Western states recovering from terrible wildfires.

Finally, Trump added even more fuel to the fire when he decided to use 800,000 “ dreamers” as a bargaining chip for an $18 billion wall that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want. These dreamers are young people who have lived in this country for almost their entire lives. They go to school. They work. They serve in the U.S. military. The United States is their home; they know no other. For Trump and the Republican leadership to allow their legal status to expire, and to subject them to deportation, would be one of the cruelest acts in modern American history. It must not be allowed to happen.

This is not just my viewpoint. It’s what the American people want. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that 77 percent of the American people, including a large majority of Republicans, support providing legal protections for the dreamers. The Republican Congress must act. A clean Dream Act must be signed into law as part of any budget agreement.

The American people are increasingly disgusted with a government that protects the interests of the wealthy and the powerful, while ignoring the needs of the vulnerable. The U.S. government must do more than provide huge tax breaks to billionaires, callously deport young people, greatly expand military spending, end net neutrality, deny the reality of climate change and threaten to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and nutrition programs. We must pass a budget agreement that addresses the needs of Americans and not just billionaire campaign contributors.

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Profile of Whistleblower Reality Winner

Reality Winner (and her name is explained in the profile) is the latest example in how the corporate U.S. government treats its national security whistleblowers. The 1917 Espionage Act is truly among the worst parts of U.S. law.

Reality Winner would have been making the best money of her life at Pluribus, but she had never been particularly interested in what money can buy. She rented, sight unseen, an 800-square-foot house in a part of Augusta the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls “hardscrabble” and her ex-boyfriend calls “blighted”; her neighbors parked their cars on brown, patchy lawns. (“I did not look at a map when I signed the lease,” she’d later tell the FBI, “but I’m well armed.”) The rooms were filled with workout equipment, sneakers, and sticky notes on which were scrawled workout regimes (“Bench 5×5, Back Squat 5×5”) but also stray thoughts about issues with which she was preoccupied (“Peace-making is less of a rational-economic model of dividing resources and territory fairly”; “Further research: Deserts versus rainforest”). Months later, when her mother walked me through the house, she’d point to Reality’s room and say, “The world’s biggest terrorist has a Pikachu bedspread.”

Reality was searched for thumb drives and cell phones every morning as she walked into the Whitelaw Building; her lunch, security guards noted as they pawed through it, was very healthy. She translated Farsi in documents relating to Iran’s aerospace program, work for which she had no particular affinity and which seems to have bored her. For those mornings when she did not feel like reading more documents about Iran’s aerospace program, she evidently had access to documents well outside her area of expertise. She had access, for example, to a five-page classified report detailing a Russian attempt to access American election infrastructure through a private software company. This would be, ultimately, the document she leaked. According to the analysis in the report, Russian intelligence sent phishing emails to the employees of a company that provides election support to eight states. After obtaining log-in credentials, the Russians sent emails infected with malware to over 100 election officials, days before the election, from what looked like the software company’s address.

How the Trump Regime’s Policies Hurt Trump Voters

It’s becoming more obvious every day, especially as the Trump disapproval rating climbs over 60 percent. There’s also a social media account that documents regrets of Trump voters called Trump_regrets.

The real question though is perhaps how those millions of people will react to the realization that they’ve been conned by the Trump government.

Though Mr. Trump is brazen in his opposition to consumer protections, many of his most damaging attacks are occurring in corners of the bureaucracy that receive minimal news coverage. His administration, for instance, wants to strip the elderly of their right to challenge nursing home abuses in court by allowing arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it is canceling a proposed rule intended to reduce the risk of sleep apnea-related accidents among truck drivers and railway workers.

And the Environmental Protection Agency is busy weakening, repealing and under-enforcing protections, including for children, from toxic exposure. Scott Pruitt, the director, went against his agency’s scientists to jettison an imminent ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide widely used on vegetables and fruits. Long-accumulated evidence shows that the chemical is poisoning the drinking water of farm workers and their families.

This assault began with Mr. Trump choosing agency chiefs who are tested corporate loyalists driven to undermine the lifesaving, income-protecting institutions whose laws they have sworn to uphold.

At the Food and Drug Administration, Mr. Trump has installed Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former pharmaceutical industry consultant, who supports weakening drug and medical device safety standards and has shown no real commitment to reducing sky-high drug prices. At the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, a billionaire investor in for-profit colleges, has weakened enforcement policy on that predatory industry, hiring industry insiders and abandoning protections for students and taxpayers.

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The administration is even threatening to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and fire its director, Richard Cordray, who was installed after Wall Street’s 2008 crash. Their sins: They returned over $12 billion to defrauded consumers and plan to issue regulations dealing with payday debt traps and compulsory arbitration clauses that deny aggrieved consumers their day in court.

Draconian budget cuts, new restrictions on health insurance, diminished privacy protections and denying climate change while putting off fuel-efficiency deadlines and auto safety standards will hurt all Americans, including Mr. Trump’s most die-hard supporters.

Mr. Trump’s deregulation crowd argues that they are freeing markets to grow. But preventing casualties and protecting consumers are, in fact, good for the economy. Nicholas Ashford, a professor of technology at M.I.T., has shown how safety regulation has fostered innovation. Markets grow in humane and efficient ways when workers make airbags, products to detect contaminants in food and water, and recycling equipment. Fraud prosecutions leave consumers with more money, generating sales, jobs and a higher standard of living.