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Tag: bill cassidy

Ignoring Evidence, Senate Republicans Blame Immigrants For Increasing Violent Crime

Studies show that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than those born in the United States.

Senate Republicans who continue to oppose measures that would make it harder for criminals to obtain and keep firearms are blaming immigrants for a rise in violent crime in the United States, despite having no evidence to support their accusations.

On Monday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced a resolution "urging the development of a strategy to counter the rise in violent crime across the United States."

"If there was ever a time that the American people want to know that the president and Congress are working together to defeat the scourge of crime, the time is now. This resolution is to send the message that combating crime is what we are focused on," Cassidy told Fox News in a statement.

The text of the resolution, which specifically calls out what it terms "gun violence in major, Democrat-run cities and States," accuses the Biden administration of pursuing an "alleged violent crime reduction strategy is actually a gun control strategy and wrongly puts lawful gun owners and dealers at the center of enforcement efforts instead of focusing on the criminals perpetuating violence, insecurity, and fear across the United States." It claims that "drug cartels have overburdened Border Patrol resources by surging illegal immigrants into strategic locations so that the cartels can traffic narcotics and other contraband into the United States undetected" and notes that "violent crimes related to illegal immigration and the illegal drug trade must stop for the sake of the sovereignty of the United States and the safety of the people of the United States."

The resolution expressly notes a correlation between violent crime and higher levels of undocumented immigrants, with no evidence whatsoever that one caused the other. It asserts that "rising violent crime in the United States can be directly correlated to a surge in illegal immigration at the southern border of the United States and a surge in the sale, distribution, and consumption of illegal drugs."

The text calls for a resolution "that it is the sense of the Senate that the President should work with Congress to develop and execute a strategy, drawing on the multiple instruments of power and resources of the United States to counter the rise in violent crime across the country by reinforcing strong criminal justice policies, by laying blame on the perpetrators of violent acts, and by securing the southern border."

Data shows that immigrants, documented or undocumented, are less likely to commit violent crimes than native-born citizens.

A study published by the journal Criminology in 2018 found "that undocumented immigration does not increase violence. Rather, the relationship between undocumented immigration and violent crime is generally negative, although not significant in all specifications."

Even the Cato Institute, which calls itself a promoter of libertarian ideas, reported statistics on crime in Texas that pushed back against Republican talking points: In an October 2020 blog post that repeatedly used the offensive term "illegal immigrants," the think tank referred to a study by its researchers that found:

In 2018, the illegal immigrant criminal conviction rate was 782 per 100,000 illegal immigrants, 535 per 100,000 legal immigrants, and 1,422 per 100,000 native‐born Americans. The illegal immigrant criminal conviction rate was 45 percent below that of native‐born Americans in Texas. The general pattern of native‐born Americans having the highest criminal conviction rates followed by illegal immigrants and then with legal immigrants having the lowest holds for all of other specific types of crimes such as violent crimes, property crimes, homicide, and sex crimes.

The author concluded: "There is more and more evidence that immigrants, regardless of legal status, are less likely to commit crimes than native‐born Americans. However, a substantial number of Americans still think that immigration increases crime. As more evidence builds over time, we can only hope than Americans respond by updating their opinions so that they fit the facts."

The GOP resolution also dismisses — without evidence — the notion that keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals does anything to reduce gun crimes.

Though Republicans have frequently claimed that Democratic-controlled jurisdictions are the only ones seeing an increase in violent crime, a March report by Third Way, a think tank that says it "champions modern center-left ideas," documented that the 2020 per capita murder rate was 40% higher in red states than in blue ones: "Murder rates in many of these red states dwarf those in blue states like New York, California, and Massachusetts. And finally, many of the states with the worst murder rates—like Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas—are ones that few would describe as urban." It also noted that Republican-run Jacksonville, Florida, and Bakersfield, California, had worse homicide rates than Democratic-led San Francisco.

Democratic lawmakers have pushed to address gun violence through extreme risk protection order ("red flag") legislation and through universal background checks. Both are designed to keep dangerous individuals from obtaining and keeping guns. Research has suggested that red flag laws and background checks may help reduce gun violence and gun deaths, but Republicans have opposed both.

While violent crime rates are way lower than they were in the 1990s, they have been rising in recent years. The trend began under then-President Donald Trump and has continued under President Joe Biden.

Thomas Abt, chair of the Council on Criminal Justice's Violent Crime Working Group, told the PBS NewsHour in January, "It is hard to tell what drives crime trends, but the experts broadly agree on three main reasons" for the spike. Those were the pandemic, an increase in gun sales, and "less proactive investigation from police" since the 2020 international protests against police violence, Abt noted.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been more than 16,200 gun deaths in the United States in 2022. That figure includes 203 mass shootings — more than one per day on average.

On Saturday, an alleged white supremacist terrorist with a gun killed 10 people and injured three more in Buffalo, New York. A 180-page manifesto he apparently wrote professed the debunked "great replacement theory," promoted by Republican lawmakers and right-wing media figures, that white Americans are being deliberately and systematically "replaced" by nonwhite immigrants.

Cassidy's resolution made no mention of the conspiracy theory.

As of Tuesday morning, 35 Senate Republicans — and none of their Democratic colleagues — had signed on as co-sponsors, including Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Yellen: Debt Default Would 'Permanently' Weaken America

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a fresh plea for Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling on Sunday, arguing a default on U.S. debt would trigger a historic financial crisis.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece , Yellen said that the crisis triggered by a default would compound the damage from the continuing coronavirus pandemic, roiling markets and plunging the U.S. economy back into recession at the cost of millions of jobs and a lasting hike in interest rates.

"We would emerge from this crisis a permanently weaker nation," Yellen said, noting that U.S. creditworthiness has been a strategic advantage.

Yellen did not offer a new timeline for a possible default, but described economic damage that would fall on consumers through higher borrowing costs and lower asset prices.

She has said previously that a default could come during October when the Treasury exhausts its cash reserves and extraordinary borrowing capacity under the $28.4 trillion debt limit.

"We can borrow more cheaply than almost any other country, and defaulting would jeopardize this enviable fiscal position. It would also make America a more expensive place to live, as the higher cost of borrowing would fall on consumers," Yellen wrote. "Mortgage payments, car loans, credit card bills—everything that is purchased with credit would be costlier after default."

Republicans have refused to support raising or suspending the $28.4 billion. Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana said earlier on NBC's "Meet the Press" program that Democrats want to increase the borrowing cap to fund trillions of dollars in "Democratic wish list" spending.

Yellen argued the debt ceiling is about paying for past spending obligations, and said waiting too long to lift the debt ceiling can still cause damage, citing a 2011 debt ceiling crisis that pushed the federal government to the brink of default that prompted a credit rating downgrade.

"This led to financial-market disruptions that persisted for months. Time is money here, potentially billions of dollars. Neither delay nor default is tolerable."

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a statement, cited Yellen's past remarks on the issue and noted that Congress addressed the debt ceiling on a bipartisan basis three times during the Trump administration.

"When we take up the debt limit this month, we expect it to be bipartisan once more," Pelosi said.

Still, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Sunday that Democrats may have to pass the debt ceiling hike without Republican support.

"I think we ought to do what's necessary and message to the American people exactly who is trying to destroy this great democracy that we hope to keep in place," he told CNN.

(Reporting by David Lawder and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Diane Craft and Daniel Wallis)

GOP Senators Torpedo Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal They Endorsed

Reprinted with permission from American independent

Senate Republicans used the filibuster rule on Wednesday to block consideration of a bipartisan infrastructure deal — weeks after several of them endorsed the $579 billion package.

Every member of the Democratic Senate majority backed beginning consideration of H.R. 3684, a procedural step needed to debate and pass the bipartisan framework, but because Senate rules require a three-fifths supermajority for this type of legislation, the Republican minority was able to block it.

President Joe Biden proposed a $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan in March, asking Congress to improve the nation's transportation, water systems, broadband, clean energy, climate change, and caregiving infrastructure.

On June 16, after lengthy negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators agreedon a deal, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, to invest $579 billion in "core infrastructure" programs only, including transportation, broadband, and water systems.

Republican Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Mike Rounds (SD), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (IN) all signed onto a joint statement with 10 members of the Democratic majority, affirming their support for the deal.

"We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation's core infrastructure needs without raising taxes," the statement read. "We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America's critical infrastructure challenges."

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) endorsed the plan later that day.

On June 24, Biden signed on to the bipartisan plan and has been urging its passage since.

"We should be united on one thing: passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which we shook hands on," he said on Monday. "We shook hands on it."

But not long after the agreement, some Republicans began to have second thoughts.

Some objected to acknowledgements by Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress that they would later try to pass some of their other priorities — including the omitted climate change, child care, and caregiving "human infrastructure" provisions — through a separate budget reconciliation process, without any GOP support. Graham complained that this plan amounted to extortion.

They then abandoned one of the key provisions that financed the bipartisan agreement: a crackdown on wealthy tax dodgers who are not currently paying their fair share. Portman said Sunday that they had dropped the provision due to "pushback" from Republican senators who did not want to give more money to the understaffed Internal Revenue Service to enforce the tax code.

Again, Graham protested the deal he'd backed, telling Axios on June 30, "There's some people on our side who don't like empowering the IRS; I don't mind empowering the IRS if it's a reasonable thing to do. But I mean, how much uncollected taxes can you gather with $40 billion?"

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved to bring up the framework on Wednesday as a way to speed up the bill writing process. "I understand that both sides are working very hard to turn the bipartisan infrastructure framework into final legislation, and they will continue to have more time to debate, amend and perfect the bill once the Senate votes to take up this crucial issue," the New York Democrat explained to colleagues on Monday. "But they have been working on this bipartisan framework for more than a month already, and it's time to begin the debate."

Republicans said they were not ready to move forward.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune — who memorably ran for his seat in 2004 by lambasting the Democratic incumbent for using his position "to slow down, to obstruct, to stop" then-President George W. Bush's agenda — opposed even beginning debate on the bipartisan infrastructure framework. "I can't say we will have every Republican, but he [Schumer] is not going to get 60," he vowed Monday.

On Wednesday, all of the 11 Republican backers who supported the bipartisan deal previously — along with the rest of the Republican minority — voted against debate on the matter.

Schumer voted "no" as well, for procedural reasons.

"At the end of the vote, I changed my response [from a yes] to a no so that I may move to reconsider this vote at a future time," the majority leader explained, moments after the vote failed, 49 to 51.

Due to Schumer's last-second maneuver, the Senate is still able to reconsider the vote in the future. Alternately, the Democratic majority could simply add the provisions to a budget reconciliation package and pass it with a simple majority, if they can remain united.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Romney’s ‘Deal’ Would Tax Working Families, Not Corporations

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new infrastructure plan being pushed by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and a bipartisan group of senators would not increase corporate taxes at all. Instead, it would raise taxes on every American who buys gasoline — running afoul of the president's promise not to raise taxes on working families.

The group of 10 senators said Thursday they had agreed on a blueprint for $579 billion in new spending on transportation and broadband infrastructure. It would reportedly not include any immediate tax increases but would index the gas tax to inflation, meaning consumers would likely pay more each year.

Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Romney, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA) called their plan a "realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation's infrastructure and energy technologies" in a joint statement.

This plan is a bit more new spending than was offered by a GOP-only group — led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito — which failed to reach an agreement after lengthy negotiations with President Joe Biden.

After initially proposing just $189 billion in new investment above the existing baseline spending (adjusted for inflation), her group would go no higher than $330 billion.

But this proposal is still way less than Biden requested in his American Jobs Plan. He initially proposed $2.25 trillion in new spending on transportation, water systems, broadband, caregiving, child care, climate, and clean energy infrastructure, funded by increased taxes on corporations. Biden's package enjoys widespread popular support, with 68% of American adults backing it in a late April Monmouth University poll.

In late May, Biden offered to bring the total down to $1.7 trillion. Still, not a single congressional Republican has indicated support.

Biden ran on a campaign promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 annually. GOP lawmakers, who oppose raising taxes on the rich and businesses, have instead urged an increased gasoline tax.

But the White House has reportedly objected to this idea, noting that it would raise little new revenue and would violate Biden's promise.

Most Americans back the idea of funding infrastructure investments with more corporate taxes. The same April Monmouth University poll found 64 percent for the idea.

Even Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the longest-tenured member of Congress, included a four percent increase in the corporate tax rate in his own infrastructure proposal on Thursday.

Because many people who make under $400,000 a year drive cars, the gas tax increase would put much of the burden on lower- and middle-income Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats and chairs the Budget Committee, opposed the idea last month.

"Unbelievable but true: The same Republicans who voted for trillions in tax breaks for the top 1% and large corporations," he tweeted on May 15, "now want to increase taxes on working families through user fees, more toll roads and higher gas taxes while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

Even the right-wing Americans for Prosperity has been critical of indexing the gas tax to inflation.

Michael Lambert, a policy analyst for the dark money group, wrote in the Hill last year that such a proposal is "a tax hike on workers and families" and that "raising the already regressive gas tax would disproportionately hurt those who can least afford it."

Unlike Biden's proposal, the senators' counterproposal would do little to address the climate change crisis. Last week, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached its highest monthly average in recorded history — a huge threat to the climate.

Some Democratic senators are pushing back.

"No climate, no deal," warned Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts on Wednesday.

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse complained on Monday that "Climate has fallen out of the infrastructure discussion, as it took its bipartisanship detour. It may not return."

On Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon — chair of the Senate Finance Committee — told MSNBC that because the Romney group's proposal includes "nothing on climate change" and no corporate tax increase, it is "a complete nonstarter" and the White House "won't accept it."

He said it is time for Democrats to pass Biden's plan through budget reconciliation, a budget process that would let the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate enact a plan without a single GOP vote — if they stay united.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McConnell’s Refusal To Fully Fund Virus Relief Will Cost 4 Million Jobs

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's refusal to provide coronavirus relief to cities and states facing massive budget shortfalls due to the pandemic could deal a devastating blow to the economic recovery, leading to millions of job losses.

Moody's Analytics told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that if Congress does not agree to give more aid to cities and states, the economy would contract by three percent and more than four million jobs could be lost.

The coronavirus relief package Senate Republicans introduced last month did not initially include new aid for cities and states. But since releasing the initial coronavirus relief package, Trump administration negotiators have said they are willing to give $150 billion in aid to cities and states.

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Graham Openly Vows ‘Republican’ Senate Probes Of Trump Critics

After speeding through Donald Trump’s impeachment trial without calling a single witness, Senate Republicans are now vowing to launch investigations into the Bidens and the whistleblower who alerted Congress to Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo.

Nearly every Senate Republican voted on Friday not to hear from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton or other fact witnesses, claiming they had to “get back to work.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox Business on Sunday that “in the coming weeks” the Senate Intelligence Committee “will call the whistleblower” and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently running for president.

“Why is it important? I want to find out how this crap started. If the whistleblower is a former employee of, associate of, Joe Biden, I think that would be important. If the whistleblower was working with people on [House Intelligence chair Adam] Schiff’s staff that wanted to take Trump down a year and a half ago, I think that would be important,” Graham said, suggesting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

“If the Schiff staff people helped write the complaint, that would be important. We’re going to get to the bottom of all of this to make sure this never happens again,” Graham added.

Graham’s message to all the “Republicans out there” was that they should “expect us to do this. If we don’t do it, we’re letting you down.”

The South Carolina Republican — who once called witnesses essential to an impeachment trial — had pushed to end Trump’s impeachment trial quickly, saying “the sooner this trial is over, the better for the American people.”

The Senate Republican Conference said last month they were “ready to proceed to trial” and would “then get back to work and focus on policy issues important to the American people.”

The conference’s chair, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) agreed, saying after the trial, Republicans would “focus on policy issues important to the American people. These include lowering health care costs, securing our borders, fixing roads and bridges and growing the economy.”

Once it began, Republicans repeatedly portrayed it as a waste of their time. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) called the impeachment trial “the ultimate government shutdown right” last week.

His colleague, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said impeachment was “an impediment” and urged the Senate to instead be “thinking about how to lower the cost of insulin for a diabetic or how to do positive things for veterans in the US, because as long as we are focusing on impeachment, we aren’t doing anything else.”

Now, as the trial comes to an end, it appears that at least some members of the  Senate GOP are more interested in retaliation. And even before Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals became public, the Senate was largely a legislative graveyard.

Over the course of 2019, its work consisted almost entirely of confirming Trump’s nominees for government jobs and lifetime judgeships.

More than 400 pieces of legislation passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in 2019, but have been obstructed by McConnell in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had previously suggested, falsely, that impeachment was the reason nothing was getting done.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

#EndorseThis: Jimmy Kimmel Strikes Back Against Cassidy, Graham, And Fox News

Yesterday Jimmy Kimmel’s Tuesday night monologue criticizing the Graham-Cassidy health care bill — and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), co-sponsor of that “scam” — erupted into a nationwide debate. Cassidy and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) both appeared on television to defend their radical legislation, while other Republican voices piped up to attack Kimmel.

The insouciant Kimmel responded with fresh and funny barbs, aimed not only at the two Senators but also Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, too. (They won’t recover anytime soon.)

Nor did the comedian let viewers off easily. Stop texting for a minute, Kimmel told his audience — and call the Senators whose votes can stop this travesty. It was good advice. And he posted their Capitol Hill phone numbers to make it simple.

#EndorseThis: Jimmy Kimmel Calls Out Cassidy Over Health Bill “Scam”

Jimmy Kimmel is usually a sunny, funny guy. But at the moment, he’s very, very angry. So angry, in fact, that the comedian and late-night host devoted his Tuesday night monologue to a rant about Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), co-sponsor with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) of the latest Republican attempt to gut the health care system.

You may recall that during last spring’s debate over Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, Kimmel argued passionately that every family in America should have the same benefits that saved his newborn son from a congenital heart defect.

Although conservatives attacked the comic for “politicizing” his son’s ordeal, Cassidy seemed supportive. He appeared on the show to present his “Jimmy Kimmel test” for health legislation, promising full coverage for every needy child and family, much to Jimmy’s delight.

But now he understands that Cassidy’s actual bill not only fails to provide any of the protections they agreed are so vital, but is even worse in some ways than previous Republican proposals (as he explains clearly and succinctly).

Furious that Cassidy lied to him on live TV, Kimmel is calling him out. And he has sarcastically invited the Louisiana senator to take a new “Jimmy Kimmel test.”