Dems Reject President's DACA Proposal
The Trump proposal to extend a path to citizenship for 1.8 illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children was assailed by key Democrats this week.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill) called the proposal "far short of anything I could agree to. What about the other 30 million undocumented persons living in this country? Where's the path to citizenship for them. On top of this, Trump's 'deal' would require us to agree to fund beefed up border security, limit chain migration, and end the visa lottery—blocking millions of future migrants from enjoying the same opportunity that he would selfishly restrict to a relatively few 'worthy' dreamers."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced Trump's proposal as "a cynical ploy to place the interests of current citizens ahead of those hoping to become future citizens. He's asking Democrats to accept a mere 1.8 million new voters as the price of us consenting to block 30 million or more new voters. This is far short of 'half-a-loaf.' Polls show that the majority of Americans are with us on this issue. We will use Trump's insulting proposal to win the 2018 elections, take back congress and advance the progress pf our efforts to oust the usurper."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) labeled Trump's proposal "heartless. His plan is to give preference to the competent and productive among the dreamers when it is the incompetent and unproductive who are most in need of the benefits we can afford to provide. The welfare programs south of the border are pitifully inadequate. Trump would target those who seek the better life they can live under the generosity of our government for deportation. This is unconstitutionally both cruel and unusual punishment for the tens of millions who have endured the severe hardships of trekking across the border."
In related news, beginning April 1, illegal immigrants who have been granted driver's licenses in California will be allowed to vote. "It's the next logical step in our state's battle against the Trump Administration's attempt to close our borders to immigrants," said Gov. Jerry Brown. "The votes of these immigrants will ensure that the state will send Democrats to Congress to oppose Trump in 2018 and ensure that our electoral votes will go to Democrats from this point on."
House Intel Memo Sparks Reaction
A confidential memo written by Republicans from the House Intelligence Committee has sparked different reactions from Democrats and Republicans. Republicans who have read the memo describe its contents as "shocking."
"The facts contained in this memo are jaw-dropping and demand full transparency," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla). "The widespread illegal surveillance of America citizens by the nation's intelligence community for what appear to be purely political motives is not the kind of behavior one expects in a free society. We need to release the memo so the American people have information they need to decide how they want their government to be run."
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va) acknowledged that he has not read the memo, but described it as "sloppy, careless and has no grounding in fact. How do I know this? Well, for one, it was written by Republicans. For two, it alleges that members of the FBI would misuse their authority in a biased way to favor one Party over another."
Unfortunately for Democrats, contents of some of the 50,000 text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page discuss a plan to "go easy" on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton because, as Page pointed out "she might be our next president. If we get on her bad side it could wreck our careers."
Strzok replied that he "agreed" and said he contacted his FBI superior Bill Priestap, "who also agrees with our perception." Strzok later revised then FBI Director James Comey's draft letter on the Clinton "matter" to change the description of her handling of classified emails from the legally culpable "gross negligence" to the vaguer, but safer "extremely careless." All of this took place months before 17 witnesses and Clinton herself were even interviewed.
Warner professed himself "unmoved by these text exchanges. Considering that everyone was sure that Hillary would be the next president, it's understandable that they wouldn't want to rub her the wrong way. Putting their 'thumbs on the scale,' so to speak, would be a natural survival reflex in those circumstances."
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) disagreed with his senate colleague's "casual attitude toward this serious breach of ethics by those high up in this country's foremost law enforcement agency. Justice requires the unbiased consideration of evidence. The decision to grant leniency to someone on the premise that the person is powerful is corrupt and conducive to tyranny. It cannot be allowed if we are to remain a free country."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, adamantly opposes letting the general public see the memo because "they don't have the necessary knowledge or experience to adequately understand the seemingly inappropriate steps the intelligence community must take to defend the country from enemies both foreign and domestic. It is naive to think that a federal agent should remain unbiased when the very fate of the nation may require that 'dirty deeds' be done to save it."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), ranking member on the House Committee on the Judiciary, demanded that "the FBI be allowed to review the memo and correct any inaccuracies or take whatever other action it deems necessary to protect itself before it is released. Let's not forget that the FBI has been protecting this country since the Dillinger days. We shouldn't allow the squeamishness of a few Republicans about the FBI's methods to undermine public confidence in this great law enforcement agency."
In related news, a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court ruling found that 85% of the National Security Administration's (NSA) searches of individual American citizens during the Obama Administration violated the Constitution's Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches. In response, the NSA has deleted "honesty" and "openness" from its "core values" statement on its web page.
Three States to Sue over New Tax Law
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that his state, New Jersey and Connecticut will be suing the federal government because "the new tax law impedes our ability to extract the maximum amount of revenue from the taxpayers." The impediment comes from the clause in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that limits the deductibility of state and local taxes to a mere $10,000 per taxpayer per year.
The three states rank at the top of the list for heaviest tax burden as a percent of income with New York at 12.7%, Connecticut at 12.6% and New Jersey at 12.2%. The states also rank high in terms of household median income. But hey, isn't having the rich pay more in taxes the constant refrain of Democratic politicians whenever the issue is brought up?
Cuomo maintains that "the state tax burden had been partially offset by the old federal tax code that allowed for lower tax states to pay a larger share of the federal tax burden than they otherwise would have. This was fair because these other states have lower state tax burdens, and thus, more money available to send to the federal government. Suddenly changing the rules like Congress and President Trump did was unfair. Our states have grown dependent on being able to shift the burden. Cutting us off is like throwing a family off of food stamps or out of public housing. It's an intolerable shock to the system."
Aside from the lawsuit, Cuomo says his state is considering switching from an income tax to a payroll tax. "First, payroll taxes are deductible from federal taxes," he pointed out. "Second, this will give a break to the high-income donors from Wall Street who donate the majority of the funds state Democrats receive for their election campaigns."
In related news, California Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) has introduced a bill that would subject waiters who give customers a drinking straw without being asked to a fine of up to $1,000 per straw, up to six months in prison, or both. "Plastic straws have been raping our environment for far too long," Calderone claims. "Waiters are in a position to ameliorate this degradation if they take a more active role in deterring the over use of these weapons of mass desecration. My bill will provide a little more incentive for them to act more aggressively and responsibly."
Baboons Escape from Paris Zoo
A contingent of 52 baboons is reported to have escaped from the Paris Zoo. The animals are said to be "large and potentially very aggressive." Authorities are reportedly uncertain about how this situation should be handled.
"On the one hand, there is concern that innocent civilians could be harmed by the animals or our efforts to try to recapture them," zoo manager Jean Pomfrite worried. "On the other, there is some speculation that the streets would be safer if they are overrun by simians than Sunnis."
Florence Parly, Minister of the French Armed Forces, is said to be assembling a team to work on the terms of surrender. "As we learned from some of our nation's previous encounters with hostile forces, it is better to prepare for peace than attempt to fight a battle we are unlikely to win," Parly maintained. "We're confident that if things get really bad the United States can be counted on to come to our rescue. While others have often mocked us, I'd like to point out that our cost-effective approach has worked for France for more than 75 years—saving us money that has been better spent on wine, bread and cigarettes."
NAACP Disputes Trump's S***hole Description of Haiti
This week, NAACP spokesperson Secreta Stool sought to disprove President Trump's characterization of Haiti as a "s***hole country."
"Statistics show otherwise," Stool asserted. "Only 40% of the population has no access to indoor toilets. This means a majority use flush toilets. Among those unfortunates without indoor plumbing most just relieve themselves in the street, not a hole. So, a more accurate description of Haiti is that it is a cesspit of poverty, disease, and violence."
Stool said the NAACP has filed a defamation suit against the President. "He has slandered and demoralized the people of this noble nation," he said. "We are seeking immediate entry into the United States and free accommodation at a Trump hotel for every Haitian fleeing the country. Alternatively, the United States government can pay damages in the amount of $50 trillion."
CNN Panel Credits Obama for Booming Economy
In the midst of widespread praise of President Trump's economic policies by world business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a Cable News Network (CNN) panel mostly insisted that the credit for America's booming economy properly belongs to former President Obama.
CNN International host Christiane Amanpour asserted that "most of the people I talk to on a regular basis agree that President Obama is really the one responsible. It was his policy that ushered in the period of sacrifice and stagnation that made Trump's moves toward deregulation and tax cuts possible. Let's not forget that the eight years preceding Trump's inauguration were the only presidential term in US history where economic growth never reached 3% for a single year. This laid the groundwork for the current surge."
CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta echoed Amanpour's remarks, saying that "Trump is merely lucky to be in the right place at the right time. If it hadn't been for the efforts President Obama made to suppress excessive economic growth the impacts of Trump's policies would've been much more modest. Right now, the corporate fat cats are pleased, but whether any of the benefits trickle down to average folks remains to be seen."
"That's right," CNN's Early Start host and Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans chimed in. "The top 1% are benefiting immensely. Smaller benefits are being realized by the middle class—a thousand dollar bonus here, a few thousand in tax cuts per household there. Everyone is getting richer, but the gains aren't equal. People on welfare aren't getting bonuses or tax cuts. Whether an unequal prosperity is better than the more equally shared sacrifice that President Obama tried to make the new norm is an open question."
The sole member of the seven-person panel willing to give Trump any credit was Steven Moore, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Project for Economic Growth, at The Heritage Foundation. "There can be no doubt that the Obama Administration's policies discouraged investment and growth," Moore observed. "But to claim that these policies deserve the credit for the current surge in business investment and confidence is absurd. It's like saying that Obama's previous policy of placing the government's foot on the neck of the US economy merits more praise than Trump's moves to dislodge it. That is twisted and insane."
Meanwhile, the count of companies awarding bonuses to employees because of the Trump tax cuts has now reached 250. Home Depot and Starbucks were the most recent firms to announce that their hourly employees would be sharing in the companies' good fortune due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.