Fighting Back: “Senate Democrats will fight like hell to protect your earned benefits”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread.

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

(In the weekly Democratic address Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) talked about the Republican tax reform bill, which passed the House and Senate earlier in the week.)

The party that tried to cram a big tax cut for the wealthiest in a health care bill earlier this year has now succeeded in cutting health care in a tax bill. That’s obscene.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Republican tax bill will result in 13 million Americans without health insurance and hike premiums an additional 10% per year. Yes, that’s right – 13 million lose health care and premiums go up 10% every year. Instead of working with Democrats to bring down the cost of health care, this Republican bill does exactly the opposite. […]

So Republicans have passed their $1.5 trillion tax scheme that will blow a huge hole in the deficit, and they’ve told us exactly what they’re going after next – they’re going after Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That’s right, after giving away the store to the super rich and big corporations, Republicans in Congress want to cut earned benefits that help the middle class. Senate Democrats will fight like hell to protect those programs.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Transcript: Democratic Party Weekly Address

“Hello, I’m U.S. Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania. As you know, the Senate passed the Republican tax bill this week. And this tax scheme was a giveaway to the super rich and big corporations.

Instead of using a once in a 30-year opportunity to help rebuild the middle class by raising wages and creating good-paying jobs, the Republican bill gives over $36 billion to the top 1% in 2019. Republicans in Congress should work with Democrats to pass legislation so American workers see higher incomes and families see their daily expenses go down. Instead of rebuilding the middle class, Republicans in Congress are creating barriers to opportunity. The Republican tax bill was jammed through Congress, without a single hearing on the bill, written in secret by a few Republican politicians – with no effort to work in a bipartisan way.

Under this tax scheme, over 57 million households making under $100,000 a year would see a tax increase or a tax cut of less than $9 a month in 2019. Meanwhile, the top 1% gets an average tax cut of $51,140 – that’s $4,261 a month in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Why does the top 1% need an extra 4,200 bucks a month?

The Republican tax scheme increases taxes on millions of middle- class families, eliminates deductions that are vital for working Americans, and creates an incentive to offshore jobs.

And it’s more than that. This scheme also contains provisions that decimate our health care system. The party that tried to cram a big tax cut for the wealthiest in a health care bill earlier this year has now succeeded in cutting health care in a tax bill. That’s obscene.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Republican tax bill will result in 13 million Americans without health insurance and hike premiums an additional 10% per year. Yes, that’s right – 13 million lose health care and premiums go up 10% every year. Instead of working with Democrats to bring down the cost of health care, this Republican bill does exactly the opposite.

Throughout this process, Senate Democrats offered a better deal for the middle class. Democrats offered amendments that would exchange giveaways to the super rich and big corporations for investment in our roads and bridges, our workers, higher wages, our kids, and our families.

I held town halls all across Pennsylvania this year, and no one, no one asked me to vote for a bill that would give the top 1% an extra 50,000 bucks a year. They want real tax reform – tax reform that makes our tax system fairer, and encourages a type of investment to keep our country competitive today and into the future. Trickle-down doesn’t work; it only leads to stagnant wages.

So Republicans have passed their $1.5 trillion tax scheme that will blow a huge hole in the deficit, and they’ve told us exactly what they’re going after next – they’re going after Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That’s right, after giving away the store to the super rich and big corporations, Republicans in Congress want to cut earned benefits that help the middle class. Senate Democrats will fight like hell to protect those programs.

Republicans just enacted a tax bill that gives 83% of the benefits to the top 1% by the year 2027. It is now very clear the Republican Party in Washington fights for giveaways to the top 1% while Democrats put middle-class families first. Our families deserve better, which is why Senate Democrats are pushing for measures that build from the ground up, that funds infrastructure, makes health care more affordable, and brings down the cost of living for families.

I hope my Republican colleagues will join us.

From my family to yours, best wishes for this holiday season and Happy New Year.”

Any bolding has been added.

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Leader Nancy Pelosi’s year end news conference was Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi’s Opening Remarks

Good morning. For the past almost 2.5 hours, I’ve been up at the Rules Committee pleading with them to give us a vote on the DREAM Act on the CR that will come up today. It’s a matter of public record. I don’t know that we had too much success in that regard and, of course, we’ll be opposing the rule.

But it’s an interesting week as we prepare, hopefully, to go home soon, and I don’t know when that is. Just in terms of yesterday, Republicans took a victory lap because they successfully sold America’s children’s future by handing tax breaks to corporate America and the wealthiest.

It’s an amazing thing because they have been talking about it being a bill that is a tax cut for middle class families, when 83 percent of the benefits, 83 percent of the benefits go to the top 1 percent. That is an immorality.

86 million middle class families face a tax hike. Health care premiums spike. Thirteen million more Americans possibly uninsured, leading to a smaller pool, higher premiums.

They are saying that they have closed loopholes. These are some of their selling points, you probably know them now, that they close loopholes. This bill is a Loophole Lollapalooza.

First of all, they never closed what the President said they would, the carried interest loophole. And now they are introducing another bill to have some more, you know, thoroughbred horses, whatever loopholes they have. But this, they didn’t even carry it.

I don’t know, how could it be that the President was on the campaign trail saying he was going to close the carried interest loophole and the Congress said, ‘Not so fast, Mr. President.’ It’s there, as are a continuation of many other loopholes. So that’s a false argument.

They said that this is going to be simplicity. They were going to have, instead of seven brackets, they go down to four. Well, they’re at seven. So the simplicity isn’t there.

They said you could send it in on a postcard. Well, it would have to be a very large postcard because that, I don’t know why they think that’s a selling point, but it isn’t a fact.

And then they said it’s going to create jobs. Goldman Sachs and others, their friends at Goldman Sachs and others have said, we’ll have minimal growth.

The President said he was going to level the playing field with overseas nations, overseas companies. Well, actually, he ships jobs overseas by giving a break to corporations to ship jobs overseas. You know the particulars of the bill, that takes us deeply into debt, it does not produce growth, it is a not a simplification, it is not for the middle class.

So this is a welcome debate that we have. They said this is going to be a big campaign issue for them, we welcome that. We welcome that.

They are going to provoke teach-ins around the country of people saying, ‘This is about our future. This isn’t about Democrats, this isn’t about Republicans, it’s about America, it’s about our future.’

This is a moment where people have the resolve to say, ‘Don’t throw me a crumb and tell me that I’m benefiting when you’re robbing the future by increasing the debt, rewarding the rich as you ransack the middle class.’ So there we have that.

But in any event, this is an interesting year. It is only part of an interesting year. They are taking great credit for this accomplishment. Well, I call it a Pyrrhic victory because it’s a Frankenstein. Anybody who’s familiar with Frankenstein knows that it was a creation, a monster that was created. Do you know the ending of Mary Shelley’s story? The monster comes back to destroy. Okay. So how about this year?

The President promised he would fight for forgotten Americans. Instead the Republicans spent the entire year rigging the system even further for special interests and against hard-working people.

Republicans worked to dismantle the watchdogs on Wall Street and threw consumers back into forced arbitration agreements. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to undermine that, to undermine Dodd Frank. Initiatives that were established to prevent what happened in ’08 from ever happening again, they want to get rid of that.

Republicans will make it easier to pollute. They say they are getting rid of regulation. They are getting rid of protections. They make it easier to pollute the air our children breathe and the water our children drink.

They’ve dismantled net neutrality that protects consumers and entrepreneurs and gave ISPs the right to sell your most private and intimate information to anyone without your consent.

Republicans voted six times to attack women’s health and tried to tear away women’s access to affordable contraception. And trying to kick tens of millions of people off health insurance, destroy protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and impose an age tax on people 50 to 64.

Now the President is under some other illusion that he has repealed the Affordable Care Act. He’s damaged it, but he hasn’t repealed it. I don’t know if he knows that.

But no infrastructure bill. Where is that famous infrastructure bill that was going to be first thing out of the gate? Not a single bill to create jobs and raise wages for hard-working Americans. Nothing that puts the middle class first.

Republican control of Washington has been an all-you-can-eat buffet for the privileged and powerful and special interests. It’s as if they know they’re going to lose the Congress. So they’re just taking all the furniture, all the paintings off the wall, everything they can get to give away to corporate America. It’s so obvious. It’s so obvious.

Now, after spending this entire year on giveaways for the special interests, Congress faces a huge list of urgent, overdue, and bipartisan priorities for the American people. And that takes us to what we’re dealing with today.

We have very serious concerns about the continuing resolution that is on the floor. We don’t have an agreement on an ongoing appropriations bill for next year because we do not have agreement on the caps. For those of you who follow appropriations process, we don’t have an agreement on the caps.

We had the budget agreement. It required parity. They call parity 54-37: 54 for defense, 37 for domestic, in terms of increases. We don’t call that parity, we call that disparity.

And one of the concerns that we have is the number between the domestic budget and the defense budget at $17 billion is important because it would address the opioid epidemic.

What is it, 63,000 Americans died in our country, people died in our country in 2016, which is the last year we had the number for. In 2016, 63,000 people died from opioid epidemic, lowering the life expectancy in our country. It has had such an impact.

And we’re saying to them, between 37 and 54, let’s make the commitment of money to the policy that the President is proud of on opioids. But with no funding you don’t have any effect.

CHIP and our Community Health Centers, they have it in a bill in a way that children are paying for their own health care. We don’t think that’s right, especially they gave a trillion and a half dollars to corporate America, unpaid for and permanently.

This is a 5 year bill for children which we agreed should be offset. We’re a pay-as-you-go party. But not to take it from children’s inoculations, lead poisoning initiatives and the rest in order to pay for that.

So we have been having bipartisan discussions on how to pay for CHIP, but they instead went their old way.

Emergency disaster funding, we have to do that right. Saving endangered pensions. Passing the DREAM Act.

So what we have said to them is, ‘Everything we are suggesting to you is bipartisan: opioids, veterans, NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding and the DREAM Act.’ But the Republicans decided that tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent were more important than addressing the crises in the lives of the American people.

The same short-term Republican CR that will be on the floor today will keep a shadow of uncertainty and fear over our DREAMers. I just spent almost 2.5 hours in the Rules Committee, again, as I mentioned at the beginning of my comments, pleading with them to do this justice. And they are talking about comprehensive immigration. That’s fine, we need to talk about comprehensive immigration reform.

But my colleague, Congresswoman [Michelle] Lujan Grisham, the Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, made an excellent point. She said, we’re talking about CHIP as a very discrete children’s health insurance program, and we all agree that we have to fund it and pass it. That doesn’t mean we have to wait until we do everything anybody wants to do on health care in order to do this. The same thing with the DREAMers. It’s a discrete emergency that we have now. Let’s deal with that in a discrete way, instead of saying, “Well, we have to wait until we have to do everything that we want to do on immigration.”

So we’ll see what happens today on the floor. Republicans come to us for votes, and we said we could have been in the discussion on what’s in this bill and what’s in this bill we have strong disagreements with.

Our Ranking Member on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee sent a letter yesterday to Members opposing the bill for how it treats veterans in the CR. Our Ranking Member on Energy, that’s Mr. Walz, Tim Walz, and our Ranking Member, Mr. [Frank] Pallone, on Energy and Commerce, is opposing the bill for how it deals with CHIP.

So substantively we have problems with this bill. We do see it as an opportunity for them to at least allow a vote at least allow a vote on DREAMers, which we think we would win. But hopefully we have made some progress in their thinking as to the urgency of it.

But they were not aware of the fact that every day over 100, maybe over 120 DREAMers lose their status, which means if they work, they can’t; if they’re in school, they can’t be; if they’re in the military it changes your legal status.

Well over 10,000 already have lost their status. And they’re saying, “Well, we can wait until March.” Well, we can’t. And as I said to them, that is an act of cruelty to say you can wait until March when people are losing their status every day.

So the American people deserve a Congress that puts their priorities first, not that one that stacks the deck against working families. We’ve always said we should be working together in a bipartisan way for a comprehensive approach to tax reform. This is not reform. This is tax cuts for the rich in an unfair way.

But we should work in a bipartisan way because tax reform is only effective if it has sustainability, and therefore it has to be bipartisan, which means you have to compromise.

We hope to do that in this year to make that case to the American people, because we believe that America deserves A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.

What’s interesting, you know, they talked about this bill – this is something that was just given to me. They talk about this bill where corporations are going to raise everybody’s salaries, wages because they have these breaks.

Over the past several weeks, in anticipation of this bill, major companies have announced an astonishing $83.7 billion in share buybacks, anticipating the passage of the bill eighty-three billion. That’s the reason that not so many executives have said the tax bill would lead to more jobs. Those jobs are overseas.

Then AT&T, did you see what they did? They made a big announcement that they were going to give a bonus to their workers. That’s kind of a pin a rose on this tax bill. That bonus was mandated by a union agreement with the Communications Workers of America as part of a raise in their recent in their last agreement. All of a sudden they are advertising it’s something they did because of the tax bill.

So most corporate executives have not gone on record to say, “I’m going to hire more people. I’m going to raise more wages.”

So when we say creating jobs and raising paychecks, increasing paychecks, that’s part of our Better Deal: lower the cost of living by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, cracking down on monopolies that raise costs for families and hurt competition, and give every American the tools we need for the 21st century jobs. Apprenticeships, lifetime learning, paid on the job training.

On that score, it’s interesting to note, I think, that they’ve now created a big budget deficit, a big increase in national debt. ‘So what are we going to do about it? We’re going after Medicare and Medicaid.’ And they’ve even said this week, raise the age on Social Security.

Well, that will be part of our fight in this year, to say, ‘You may be using that big debt as an excuse to do what you’ve always wanted to do. You’ve never believed in Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, and now you’re going to go after them.’

But that will be part of the fight we’ll have and part of our teach ins across the country about how harmful this bill is, how the need for change to it will be addressed, and how the consequences of it in terms of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other budget investments into the future will be affected. But that’s a debate that we welcome.

So it’s a busy time. We’ll see what happens the rest of the day. I don’t know how long we’ll be here. I wouldn’t make any plans the next couple of days. But who knows when they take their votes. They have the votes. And we’ll see what the Senate does with what they send over.

Yes, sir?

Press questioning followed (see transcript)

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From the press conference, Leader Pelosi on protecting the earned benefits that Americans are entitled to:

Q: On entitlement reform, do you think that it’s something that’s even possible in this Congress? And if so, what are some things that Democrats could get on board with?

Leader Pelosi. Well, the fact is that this is part of the starve-the-beast value system that the Republicans have. They do not believe in government, so any public role in the health and well-being of the American people is on their hit list.

And so when they go after entitlements, it’s not because it’s an increase in the deficit, because they clearly don’t care about increasing the deficit. They care when it’s going to help children: ‘Oh, we can’t do that because it’s going to increase the deficit.’ But where it’s giving tax breaks to corporations, it doesn’t matter anymore, it’s dynamic.

So that’s a completely separate subject as to how we sustain, as we did in the Affordable Care Act, we prolonged the life of the Medicare for over 10 years, maybe 13 years. Social Security is in reasonable shape until at least 2030-something, but nonetheless, we want that to be even longer. And these are issues that can be talked about separately.

But we will fight to defend them, because they are about the health and economic security of America’s working families. And we will not use Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security as an ATM machine for the Republicans to give tax breaks to their wealthy friends and corporate America.

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Pelosi Floor Remarks Calling for an Immediate House Vote on the Bipartisan DREAM Act

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of U.S. House of Representatives calling for an immediate vote on the bipartisan DREAM Act

Click the link for the full transcript.

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  4 comments for “Fighting Back: “Senate Democrats will fight like hell to protect your earned benefits”

  1. JanF
    December 24, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through January 19, 2018. It did not contain any provisions to help DREAMers.

    Pelosi Statement on Passage of House GOP’s Continuing Resolution

    Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after the House passed the GOP’s continuing resolution:

    “The House Republicans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The CR should have been an opportunity for Republicans to join with Democrats to solve the problems that face our country.

    “The Republican Continuing Resolution serves only to continue the anxiety in the lives of DREAMers, veterans, children and working families across America. Instead of addressing the urgent, bipartisan priorities of the American people, Republicans squandered this week on tax breaks for corporate America and the wealthiest.

    “It had been our hope not only to improve the quality of this bill but to add the DREAM Act to it, which enjoys strong bipartisan support from the American people. Polling shows the overwhelming majority of Americans support a path to citizenship for the DREAMers, including 81 percent of Independents and 57 percent of Republicans.”

  2. JanF
    December 25, 2017 at 9:27 am

    From Hillary Clinton and Onward Together:

    Before 2017 ends, I want to say thank you, Jan.

    We knew this year would be a difficult one. But it was also full of fierce passion and hope — from the millions of people who took to the streets on behalf of the values we share to the activists, newcomers and veterans alike, who lead us to victories in Virginia, Alabama, and across the country. We really have seen that we are stronger together (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    My wish for you is that you’re able to take a break this holiday season and spend some time with the people you love. Bill and I will be celebrating the best way we know how: by sharing our favorite traditions with the youngest members of our family.

    2018 will be a big year for this team. I hope you enjoy your holidays — and come back refreshed and ready to win. I know I will.

    Onward!

    Hillary

  3. December 27, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Thanks for this, Jan. There is no word for the Rethugs in Congress except the one that bfitz uses—evil. They have the same mindset as that of murderers: “Well, this isn’t affecting me, so that’s all I care about.” Wish there were really such a thing as hell, so they could go there.

    Hitting Social and Medicare will doom millions, including myself and my husband. We can’t afford life without it.

    However, there is always the Resistance…

    • JanF
      December 27, 2017 at 6:59 am

      Before this past month, I always assumed that Republicans would stop short of slashing Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Now I am not so sure – they really must not know anyone who relies on those programs. I am basing all my financial decisions on Medicare being my health care provider in a couple of years and on my Social Security benefits being adjusted for inflation but never going down or disappearing completely.

      I generally don’t ascribe the term “evil” to a person because I think it removes agency from the person doing the awful thing and makes it sound like a malady rather than a conscious act. That there are “morally reprehensible” acts is true. They are fueled by greed, by hatred, by a willingness to ignore one’s own humanity for temporary gain – wealth and power. As long as they are rewarded for their actions, they will continue to do damage to all that is good and decent. We need to make sure that their actions have a reaction that puts a check on their power. If we can kick enough of the bums out, we can put up a firewall until 2021.

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