Wait. Now Trump fears Russia will meddle in the election. To help Democrats.

The president said he believes that because he’s so strong on Russia, Moscow wants to damage him in the upcoming election.
by Dartunorro Clark / Jul.24.2018 / 1:09 PM ET / Updated 1:50 PM ET
Trump said Russia would be “pushing very hard for the Democrats.”Carlos Barria / Reuters
Now, he’s worried about the Russians?  President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday he was concerned about Moscow meddling in the upcoming election — to benefit Democrats — despite the president’s repeated statements casting doubt on Russian interference in U.S. elections and the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia helped him over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” the president said. “Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”  It was unclear whether Trump was referring to the midterm elections in November or the upcoming presidential election in 2020.

Trump faced a fierce backlash from Republicans and Democrats last week after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, in which Trump appeared to accept Russia’s assertion that it did not orchestrate a campaign to influence the 2016 election despite U.S. intelligence agencies concluding otherwise.

A new kind of lying: Trump’s denies of Russian intrusion

Just days before Trump met with Putin, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers in connection with the bitcoin-funded hacking of Democratic organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign “with the intent to interfere” in the 2016 election.


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Democrats sound alarm over Trump’s plan to slash the federal government

Jul 18th 2018 7:31PM
WASHINGTON — A congressional hearing on reforming the federal bureaucracy devolved into rancor on Wednesday morning, with some Democrats charging that the Trump administration is trying to privatize essential government functions, including the U.S. Postal Service, without compelling reasons to do so.

In one particularly tense exchange, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sharply interrupted the sole witness testifying before the Senate Committee Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Margaret Weichert, a high-ranking deputy at the Office of Management and Budget, after having grown exasperated by what she saw as Weichert’s evasive answers.

“Well, you’re not gonna get very far if you don’t give us the data,” a visibly frustrated McCaskill cautioned. “I’m just telling ya. It’s not gonna happen.”

President Trump first proposed reorganizing the federal government less than two months after taking office. In an executive order signed on March 13, 2017, Trump directed OMB to “propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies.”

That plan was released last month and included several controversial proposals among its 32 “alignment priorities,” including combining the Department of Labor with the Department of Education, moving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, under the purview of the Department of Health and Human Services and, perhaps most controversially, turning over the financially-imperiled Postal Service to private management.

Wednesday offered the Trump administration a chance to tout its progress to legislators. And though committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., opened the hearing gamely, asking members of the audience if they thought the federal government was hopelessly unwieldy (most agreed it was), the mood darkened with McCaskill’s intense criticism of a process she described as opaque and impervious to the necessary scrutiny of Congress.

Continue reading “Democrats sound alarm over Trump’s plan to slash the federal government”

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Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die

By  Eric Levitz

There is power in a union.
The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that.
With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it’s clear that the Democratic Party didn’t merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself.

Between 1978 and 2017, the union membership rate in the United States fell by more than half — from 26 to 10.7 percent. Some of this decline probably couldn’t have been averted — or, at least, not by changes in labor law alone. The combination of resurgent economies in Europe and Japan, the United States’ decidedly non-protectionist trade policies, and technological advances in shipping was bound to do a number on American unions. Global competition thinned profit margins for U.S. firms; cutting labor costs was one of the easiest ways to fatten ’em back up; and breaking unions (through persuasion, intimidation, or relocation) was one of the easiest ways to cut said costs.
Nevertheless, there was lot that Democrats could have done — through labor law reform — to shelter the union movement from these changes, and help it establish a bigger footprint in the service sector. At present, employers are prohibited from firing workers for organizing or threatening to close businesses if workers unionize — but the penalties for such violations are negligible. Further, while they must recognize unions once they are ratified by workers in an election, employers can delay those elections for months or even years — and, even after recognition, face no obligation to reach a contract with their newly unionized workers.

Democrats could have increased the penalties for violating labor law, enabled unions to circumvent the election process if a majority of workers signed union cards (a.k.a. “card check”), and required employers to enter arbitration with unions if no contract was reached within 120 days of their formation — as Barack Obama promised the labor movement they would, in 2008.
Or, if they were feeling a bit more radical, they could have repealed the part of the Taft-Hartley Act that allows conservatives states to pass “right to work” laws. Such laws undermine organized labor by allowing workers who join a unionized workplace to enjoy the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement without paying dues to the union that negotiated it. This encourages other workers to skirt their dues, which can then drain a union of the funds it needs to survive.
And that has the effect of draining the Democratic Party of the funds — and grassroots organizing — that it needs to thrive. As Sean McElwee writes for The Nation:
In a new study that will soon be released as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, James Feigenbaum of Boston University, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez of Columbia, and Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution examined the long-term political consequences of anti-union legislation by comparing counties straddling a state line where one state is right-to-work and another is not. Their findings should strike terror into the hearts of Democratic Party strategists: Right-to-work laws decreased Democratic presidential vote share by 3.5 percent.

The study found that impacts persist in down-ballot races, and have given Republicans more power in the Senate, House, and governors’ mansions, as well as in state legislatures. This leads to a vicious cycle wherein the GOP can use that power to further suppress votes, gut union rights, and gerrymander legislatures—in other words, embark on a fundamental retooling of American political mechanics.

The decimation of the blue wall in 2016 may have been driven by Trump’s unique candidacy, but right-to-work laws had been weakening the foundation for years. In 2014, Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s narrow victory against Democratic opponent Mark Schauer may well have gone in a different direction were it not for the state’s 2012 right-to-work law. It’s not impossible to imagine that progressive Senate candidate Russ Feingold would have beaten Tea Party–backed incumbent Ron Johnson in 2016 if only Wisconsin private- and public-sector unions had not been completely gutted. The effect of right-to-work laws, according to this research, are large enough that it could have easily cost Hillary Clinton Wisconsin and Michigan—two states that went right-to-work before the 2016 elections.

These findings will surprise no one in the Republican leadership. Since 2010, six GOP state governments have passed “right to work” laws. Last year, Kentucky and Missouri joined the club (the latter development will make Senator Claire McCaskill’s already difficult reelection bid all the more challenging). Republicans prioritized these regressive labor law reforms because they understood how devastating they would be for the unions — and thus, to the Democratic Party. Last year, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist argued that if right-to-work reforms are “enacted in a dozen more states, the modern Democratic Party will cease to be a competitive power in American politics.”
This could have been a golden age for American liberalism. The Democratic Party — and the progressive forces within it — have so much going for them. The GOP’s economic vision has never been less popular with ordinary Americans, or more irrelevant to their material needs. The U.S. electorate is becoming less white, less racist, and less conservative with each passing year. Social conservatism has never had less appeal for American voters than it does today. The garish spectacle of the Trump-era Republican Party is turning the American suburbs — once a core part of the GOP coalition — purple and blue.
If the Democratic Party wasn’t bleeding support from white working-class voters in its old labor strongholds, it would dominate our national politics. Understandably, Democratic partisans often blame their powerlessness on such voters — and the regressive racial views that led them out of Team Blue’s tent. But as unions have declined across the Midwest, Democrats haven’t just been losing white, working-class voters to revanchist Republicans — they’ve also been losing them to quiet evenings at home. The NBER study cited by McElwee found that right-to-work laws reduce voter turnout in presidential elections by 2 to 3 percent.
Further, the notion that grassroots organizing cannot make a non-woke white man prioritize his class interests over his racial resentments — and thus, that the Democratic Party’s refusal to bolster union organizing was irrelevant to its failure to fend off Trump — is unsupportable. In 2008, labor invested a quarter-billion dollars into Barack Obama’s election, allocating the bulk of those funds into burnishing the candidate’s support among union voters in the Midwest. That year, unionized white men backed Obama by an 18 percent margin; while nonunionized ones went for John McCain by 16.
If right-to-work laws alone cost Democrats roughly 3.5 percent of a given state’s vote share, how many votes has the party lost since 1978 by refusing to prioritize progressive labor reforms?
What kind of country would we live in today, if they hadn’t?

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