Fighting Back: “Democrats are going to continue fighting for you and your family, and the values that define us as Americans”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

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Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, delivered the Weekly Democratic Party Address:

Rep. Cicilline

“Each day, it seems, President Donald Trump and his Administration become further and further embroiled in scandals of their own making. In just four months, these scandals have shaken the foundations of our democracy and even caused panic in the markets as many begin to question the President’s ability to govern. […]

“Donald Trump promised that as president he would drain the swamp in Washington. He promised that he would create 25 million new jobs. And he promised that he would make life better for millions of families across our country who have been left behind.

“But after four months, all we have is an Administration in chaos that hasn’t lifted a finger to help hard-working Americans. […]

“So let me tell you what Democrats are fighting for:

“We’re fighting to create good-paying jobs. To reinvigorate manufacturing. To make sure that hard work is rewarded with good wages. And to make sure that families in our country have an opportunity not just to get by, but to get ahead.

“We’re fighting to make sure every American has access to high-quality health care at a price they can afford. To lower prescription drug prices and bring down the cost of health insurance.

“And we’re fighting to make sure that all Americans can retire with economic security and peace of mind. To preserve the Social Security benefits that seniors have earned and the Medicare benefits they need.

“Democrats are not going to allow Donald Trump to take our country backwards. We are going to continue fighting for you and your family, and the values that define us as Americans.

Full transcript below.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Transcript: Congressman David Cicilline Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

Washington, D.C. – Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, delivered the Weekly Democratic Address. In this week’s address, Cicilline called for an independent commission to investigate the Trump-Russian connection and interference in the 2016 election. Video and audio of the Weekly Democratic Address can be downloaded here.

Below is a full transcript of the address:

“Hello, I’m Congressman David Cicilline from Rhode Island’s First District.

“This has been a difficult week for our country. Together, we learned that President Trump exposed highly-classified intelligence to officials from Russia, one of our greatest adversaries. It’s also been reported that before he fired FBI Director James Comey, he asked him to stop an investigation about his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. And we learned that the White House knew that Michael Flynn was under federal investigation at the time he was hired to be the National Security Adviser.

“Each day, it seems, President Donald Trump and his Administration become further and further embroiled in scandals of their own making. In just four months, these scandals have shaken the foundations of our democracy and even caused panic in the markets as many begin to question the President’s ability to govern.

“On Thursday of this week, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate the growing evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

“This is an important step forward. Director Mueller is a respected public servant with an impeccable reputation.

“And now it’s important that the Trump Administration make clear that he will have the resources and the independence he needs to conduct this investigation.

“Director Mueller’s appointment, however, does not eliminate the need for a truly independent investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“We already know that Vladimir Putin directed his operatives to help Donald Trump win the presidency. The American people deserve to know the full truth about Russia’s interference in our presidential election.

“Most importantly, all Americans deserve the peace of mind of knowing that this will never happen again and that those responsible are held accountable.

“None of us want our elections to be tainted by foreign interference. And an independent commission, free from the Trump Administration’s influence, is the best way to ensure we achieve this goal. Republicans have been stonewalling an independent commission, but this week Democrats filed a motion to demand a vote on legislation to create this critical, independent commission.

“Donald Trump promised that as president he would drain the swamp in Washington. He promised that he would create 25 million new jobs. And he promised that he would make life better for millions of families across our country who have been left behind.

“But after four months, all we have is an Administration in chaos that hasn’t lifted a finger to help hard-working Americans.

“This is not what the American people signed up for. Working men and women want a government that is focused on results, not ratings. They want a president who throws them a lifeline, not a headline.

“The American people deserve better than what they’re getting from Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans.

“And every time Donald Trump creates a new scandal for himself, it takes away from the important work we need to get done for you.

“So let me tell you what Democrats are fighting for:

“We’re fighting to create good-paying jobs. To reinvigorate manufacturing. To make sure that hard work is rewarded with good wages. And to make sure that families in our country have an opportunity not just to get by, but to get ahead.

“We’re fighting to make sure every American has access to high-quality health care at a price they can afford. To lower prescription drug prices and bring down the cost of health insurance.

“And we’re fighting to make sure that all Americans can retire with economic security and peace of mind. To preserve the Social Security benefits that seniors have earned and the Medicare benefits they need.

“Democrats are not going to allow Donald Trump to take our country backwards. We are going to continue fighting for you and your family, and the values that define us as Americans.

“Donald Trump’s presidency is a challenging time for our country. But if the history of our nation teaches us anything, it’s that we will persevere.

“Because that’s what we do as Americans. That’s who we are.

“When the stakes are highest, we come together as one nation to protect and preserve our democracy and to build a brighter future for every American.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference from Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi. I just got off a red eye from Arizona, where last night I was at my granddaughter’s graduation from high school. So it’s morning to me. Good day. Good day.

Speaking of days, these past 10 days the American people have witnessed earth‑shaking revelations about the outrageous behavior of President Trump.

The appointment of former FBI Director Mueller as special prosecutor is a good first step. The action shows the urgency of investigating Trump‑Russia possible collusion and interfering in our election. It also recognizes the gravity of the President’s abuse of power in trying to shut down the FBI’s investigation. Former Director Mueller is a respected public servant of the highest integrity. Everyone respects him. The Trump administration must give former Director Mueller’s investigation the resources and independence it needs.

I am concerned that Director Mueller will still be subject to the supervision of the Trump‑appointed leadership at the Justice Department. We must remain vigilant to protect the integrity of a Mueller investigation.

A special prosecutor cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump administration’s meddling. A commission is also necessary to address the broader vulnerability of our elections to foreign interference in the future.

The investigation that – what do we call him now? – Special Counsel Mueller is undertaking is about what has happened and is there wrongdoing. We are saying we have got to prevent this from happening in the future. That is one of the reasons we need an independent, outside commission.

The Justice Department has a role to play, and we respect that. The Democrats will continue to fight for vigorous congressional review, investigation, as well. The Senate is doing a bipartisan investigation. The House is moving forward. We have an important role to play.

But with investigations inside the Justice Department and investigations inside the Congress, it is necessary for us to have an outside, independent commission as well. Yesterday, House Democrats filed a discharge petition to force a vote on bipartisan legislation launching that commission, H.R. 356, Protecting Our Democracy Act. Already, more than 176 Members have signed. We expect to have well over 190 by the time we have the vote later today.

If the President has nothing to hide, then he and the Republicans in Congress should welcome an independent investigation to remove all doubt of a cover-up. The American people have a right to know the truth. There is reason to believe that the President’s pandering to Russia is endangering our national security, our economy and our democracy.

In a few days, we will be marking the first four months of the Trump administration, the 20th of May. Nothing. There is nothing to show for it. We haven’t seen any evidence of a jobs proposal. The President loves to talk about the election, but the election was about jobs. Show us the jobs. Where is his initiative? We were hoping to be working with him on an infrastructure bill right from the start. No sign of one.

The President’s budget will be coming down. Next week we will see the President’s budget proposal and all the broken promises to the American people that President Trump’s budget represents. Instead of creating good‑paying jobs, investing in infrastructure, he is ransacking education and job training, cutting the Department of Transportation with a budget that has a specially cruel impact on rural communities.

Reports suggest the cruelty of Trumpcare, which some people are now calling the death panel bill, will be amplified by new cuts to NIH, Medicaid, Social Security, disability benefits, SNAP and other crucial social services.

The President is gutting the EPA and slashing funding for cleaning up hazardous substances and for cutting funds for clean air and clean water.

Why do people even think public policy is important? As a mother, what do I need government to do for my children and my grandchildren? Clean air, clean water. That you can’t do for yourself. Clean air, clean water, food safety. Forget about it in the President’s budget.

The budget, as you have heard me say over and over, our national budget should be a statement of our values. What is important to us as a country should be reflected in how we allocate our resources, our investments for the future. President Trump has shown that he does not value the future of our children, our seniors and working families in our country.

With that, I will be pleased to take any questions.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

~

From Nancy Pelosi’s newsroom:
The GOP Health Care Meltdown

In a recent interview with TIME Magazine, President Trump claimed: ‘In a short period of time I understood everything there was to know about health care.’ We beg to differ. It’s hard to believe this is true with Trumpcare – an attack on hard-working Americans that strips away health coverage from millions while driving up costs.[…] [Trump] claims that uncertainty in the insurance industry is evidence that Obamacare is collapsing and needs repeal, not that he and his allies have created the uncertainty. This is disingenuous nonsense. On the whole, insurance markets in much of the country are on stable footing and will remain so if Congress doesn’t do things to undermine Obamacare, according to a March report by the Congressional Budget Office.

What’s bizarre about the Republican strategy is that it is likely to cause the most damage where many of Mr. Trump’s supporters live. Rural and suburban areas are more likely to lose insurers and see big premium increases if Obamacare goes down, because companies have less incentive to stay in markets where there are fewer potential customers and where it is harder to put together networks of hospitals and doctors.

More at the link.

  5 comments for “Fighting Back: “Democrats are going to continue fighting for you and your family, and the values that define us as Americans”

  1. JanF
    May 20, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Nancy Pelosi on the Republican Party’s attack on our health care:

    “If the President follows through on his latest threat [to end CSRs], he will be directly responsible for increasing premium costs for consumers by 19 percent, and increasing costs for taxpayers by billions of dollars.

    “The President’s comments are the latest salvo in his transparent effort to destabilize the insurance marketplaces so Republicans can permanently raise Americans’ health costs with Trumpcare. The cruel cynicism of the President’s threat is exceeded only by cruel cynicism of Trumpcare.

    “Speaker Ryan claimed that Republicans ‘will make sure no one has the rug pulled out from under them.’ The Administration previously indicated that they would make these payments, and this sudden, malicious change of position would do grave harm to American families. Instead of making threats, President Trump should work with Democrats to stabilize the markets and lower costs for all Americans.”

    Democratic states have asked to intervene in the lawsuit blocking the Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments. If the defense of the lawsuit is dropped by the Trump administration, as is expected, the CSRs will cease and the health care exchanges will be plunged into chaos for 2018:

    Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led a coalition of states, including California, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington State and the District of Columbia to intervene in House v. Price:

    “The Affordable Care Act made a permanent appropriation of Cost Sharing Reduction payments, along with Advance Premium Tax Credits, to reduce health premiums and out of pocket costs for millions of America’s hard-working families. From the beginning, the Republican House’s deeply cynical lawsuit was an effort to dismantle the health coverage of millions of Americans. Now, the Trump Administration’s fecklessness has compelled states across America to step forward to defend Americans’ health care.

    “The motion to intervene in House v. Price led by Attorneys General Becerra and Schneiderman does not absolve the Trump Administration of its responsibility. For the Trump Administration not to challenge a ruling that hands one chamber of Congress the ability to subvert the traditional legislative processes would radically destabilize the separation of powers. More importantly, the Trump Administration would have cruelly and needlessly slapped American families with double-digit health coverage premium hikes.

    “After a woefully ill-considered lower court opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals must have the opportunity to affirm the clear meaning of the law and prevent Republicans’ radical effort to subvert the legislative process.”

    The decision in this case is due on Monday.

    • JanF
      May 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

      News report on states intervening:

      The 15 states, joined by the District of Columbia, filed a motion Thursday in the lawsuit pending against the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, seeking to intervene in the case, which has currently been paused. The Obama administration had been defending the subsidies, and had appealed a district judge’s ruling from last May against the subsidies, which were allowed to continue during the appeal.

      However, after Trump was elected, Republicans were able to pause the proceeding so the House GOP and new administration could figure out their next steps, and next week the two parties are set to update the court on their progress. The states, in their motions, asked the court to lift the hold on the case and let the states intervene so the subsidies will continue to be defended. The subsidies go to insurers to keep out-of-pocket costs down for low income consumers, which is mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

      If the lower court ruling was left to stand and the payments were halted, it’s expected to cause chaos in the individual market. Premiums are estimated to go up by 19 percent, and some insurers may just pull out together. Already there are signs of premium hikes for the 2018 plan year due to the uncertainty around the payments.

  2. JanF
    May 20, 2017 at 8:57 am

    In the News – Good week for criminal justice in the South:

    As noted in a New York Times article today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has struck a deal to reduce Louisiana’s prison population—and in Georgia, the Times calls Republican governor Nathan Deal, a former prosecutor, “a national leader in the prison reform movement.”

    As someone who grew up in Alabama, I pay particular attention to reform efforts in the South, and there’s good news coming from my home state as well.

    Alabama, it seems, may be poised to begin addressing voter disenfranchisement—beginning with restoring voting rights to people formerly convicted of certain types of felonies. Addressing voter disenfranchisement has long been a component of the criminal justice reform process that many view as a necessary step towards changing the way America views—and treats—people who were formerly incarcerated.

  3. JanF
    May 20, 2017 at 9:22 am

    More on the CSR threat …

    It appears our president is ready to move on from hostage-taking to hostage-shooting.

    According to Politico, President Trump told his staff this week that he wants to cut off a crucial set of subsidies that are paid to health insurers under Obamacare, a move that could potentially bring about the collapse of the law’s coverage marketplaces. Trump has previously told reporters that he might halt the flow of funds if Democrats refused to negotiate a new health care bill, and the administration has generally sent mixed messages about its plans, which has caused a great deal of fear and confusion among insurers. […]

    Ending the subsidies, which are known as cost-sharing reduction payments, has widely been viewed as the easiest way that Trump could wreck Obamacare’s delicate insurance markets—it’s often described as the administration’s nuclear option.

    From Charles Gaba’s ACAsignups.net site – ENTIRE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY TO GOP: FUND THE G*DDAMNED CSRS. NOW.

    Organizations representing pretty much the entire healthcare industry sent urgent letters to Donald Trump, HHS Secretary Tom Price, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, OMB Director Mick Mulveney and current CMS Administrator Seema Verma…basically, every major healthcare-related administration figure…practically begging them to fund the goddamned Cost Sharing Reduction reimbursements.

    They made it crystal clear how vitally important doing this was, and Trump grudgingly went ahead and made the April payment, then later indicated that he was “probably” going to keep reimbursing carriers for the CSR funds legally owed to them on an ongoing basis, at least until the House vs. Price (formerly House vs. Burwell) lawsuit appeal process was completed.

    Unfortunately, this a) didn’t resolve the underlying problem (namely, that even if he makes good on his promise, CSR payments are still in danger at some point down the road depending on how the final court ruling turns out), and b) it became moot earlier today when, according to Politico, Trump has since changed his mind and now plans on stopping the CSR reimbursements after all.


    Time-limited
    :

    Moving to payment through Halloween but no payment for November and December, most insurers would have sufficient reserves to eat the loss and re-adjust their prices for 2018 while their lawyers get warmed up. Moving back another month, thinly capitalized insurers will start being in trouble as they may be hitting a Premium Deficiency Reserve (PDR) event that threatens their Risk Based Capital (RBC). At that point, some state regulators would be forced to either shut down insurers or allow insurers to terminate the CSR policies immediately. Well capitalized insurers could survive longer and jack up their rates for 2018 with state support.

    The CSR threat loses its ability to blow up the market by sometime in the fall.

  4. JanF
    May 20, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Paul Krugman: What’s the Matter With Republicans?

    The Democratic Party is a coalition of interest groups, with some shared views but also a lot of conflicts, and politicians get ahead through their success in striking compromises and finding acceptable solutions.

    The G.O.P., by contrast, is one branch of a monolithic structure, movement conservatism, with a rigid ideology — tax cuts for the rich above all else. […]

    [This] monolithic structure — lavishly supported by a small number of very, very wealthy families — rewards, indeed insists on, absolute fealty. Furthermore, the structure has been in place for a long time: It has been 36 years since Reagan was elected, 22 years since the Gingrich takeover of Congress. What this means is that nearly all Republicans in today’s Congress are apparatchiks, political creatures with no higher principle beyond party loyalty. […] Republicans went all in behind Trump, knowing full well that he was totally unqualified, strongly suspecting that he was corrupt and even speculating that he might be in Russian pay, simply because there was an “R” after his name on the ballot.

    Did we dodge a bullet? We may need to keep ducking.

    The point is that given the character of the Republican Party, we’d be well on the way to autocracy if the man in the White House had even slightly more self-control. Trump may have done himself in; but it can still happen here.

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