Tag: pat toomey
GOP Senators Appear At USO Photo Op, Then Vote Down Vets Health Care

GOP Senators Appear At USO Photo Op, Then Vote Down Vets Health Care

Oh, this is perfect. Immediately before they voted against health care for veterans affected by toxic exposure during their service, several Senate Republicans tweeted about how excited they were to join the USO to assemble care packages for members of the military.

Sens. Rick Scott, Mitt Romney, and Cindy Hyde-Smith all made care packages for the military for at least long enough for a photo op, then tweeted about how grateful they were for the opportunity, and how much they support the troops. Then they went and voted against the PACT Act, a bill that had passed the Senate 84-14 just weeks ago before coming back this week for a minor tweak. The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (or PACT) Act extends health coverage for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers potentially caused by burn pits where millions of veterans were exposed to those toxins.

Republicans shifted against the PACT Act because Democrats announced a plan for a completely unrelated bill: the reconciliation deal with Sen. Joe Manchin to invest in clean energy and health care while raising some corporate taxes. That’s what it took for them to go from being so grateful to the USO for the opportunity to assemble care packages for service members to voting to deny health care to veterans for conditions related to their time in the military.

Comedian Jon Stewart, who has become a dedicated advocate for veterans, skewered Scott at a Thursday press conference.

“It’s beautiful,” Stewart said, dripping with sarcasm. “Did you get the package? I think it has M&M’s in it, and some cookies and some moist towelettes.”

“None of them care—except to tweet,” he added. “Boy, they’ll tweet it. Can’t wait to see what they come up with on Veterans Day, on Memorial Day. Well, this is the reality of it.”

“We’ve seen partisanship and games within Congress for years,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was quoted by NBC News. “But what is shocking is that so many senators would literally be willing to play with veterans’ lives so openly like this.

“They’re manufacturing reasons to vote against legislation that they literally voted for just last month,” Butler continued. “And so it’s really a new level of low.”

After they blocked the bill, some Senate Republicans celebrated with fist bumps and handshakes:

The PACT Act, if Republicans ever allow it to pass, will extend coverage to 3.5 million veterans.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Biden's Federal  Reserve Nominees Come Under Right-Wing Attack

Biden's Federal  Reserve Nominees Come Under Right-Wing Attack

Washington (AFP) - Though set up as an institution operating above the partisan fray in Washington, the Federal Reserve has again become a political football, with Republicans and business groups attacking President Joe Biden's nominees to serve on the central bank's board.

Biden last month announced a slate of candidates who would at long last fill all the seats of the seven-member board, and include the first Black woman to hold the position since the Fed was founded 108 years ago.

If all three are confirmed, the majority of the board members would be women for the first time, and most would be named by a Democratic president.

Critics say the choices threaten to inject a political slant into the Fed's management of the economy just as it pivots to fighting inflation, which threatens to undermine the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But economists and Fed watchers say the criticisms are unfounded and in some cases racially motivated.

The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday to consider the nominations of Lisa Cook, an economics professor at Michigan State University, who would be the first African American woman to serve as Fed governor.

Lawmakers will also consider Philip Jefferson, of Davidson College, who would be the fourth Black man to serve on the body.

For the powerful post of Fed vice chair for supervision, which oversees the nation's banks, Biden tapped Sarah Bloom Raskin.

She previously served as Fed governor and in a senior role at the Treasury Department under former president Barack Obama, as well as the top state bank regulator in Maryland. She is married to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

Biden also renominated Jerome Powell to a second term as Fed chair, and named current board member Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair. They are awaiting Senate confirmation.

Race And Climate

The White House said the picks "will bring long overdue diversity to the leadership of the Federal Reserve."

But Senator Pat Toomey, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, complained about a lack of "diversity" among nominees to the board, which does not have anyone from the energy industry.

His complaints, echoed by the US Chamber of Commerce, center on Raskin, charging she would be overly aggressive in focusing on banks' roles in fighting climate change.

She has called for the Fed to ensure financial institutions take climate risks into consideration, something Powell also endorses.

Toomey's concerns are the mirror image of opposition expressed by some Democrats to Powell's nomination for a second term at the helm of the central bank, who argue he is not focused enough on climate change.

Racially Motivated Attacks?

Conservative political commentator George Will has accused the Fed of being politicized, writing in a column that Cook's "peer-reviewed academic writings pertinent to monetary policy are, to be polite, thin."

However other board members, including Powell, are not trained economists.

"I just don't understand the backlash," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. "It just really seems to be pretty biased."

Cook and Jefferson have researched inequality in the labor market, a topic Powell has repeatedly highlighted as important, since the Fed works to ensure the benefits of economic expansions reach all parts of society.

Swonk called Cook a "phenomenal" candidate.

Biden's nominees "bring enormous depth to the Fed at a time when" the central bank is "finally acknowledging inequality and what it costs us," she told AFP.

Amid the attacks, the National Economic Association issued a statement supporting Cook and Jefferson, both past presidents of the organization, that called them "uniquely and exceptionally qualified."

Republican Support

David Wessel, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and a longtime Fed watcher, dismissed the criticisms about qualifications, saying they impose a "double standard" on Cook.

"The whole point of having a seven-member Federal Reserve Board... is to represent a cross section of America," he told AFP.

"Nobody wants to have a Federal Reserve Board... that's all white guys who went to the same three Ivy League schools."

The nominees also have won Republican support.

Kevin Hassett, a top economist under former president Donald Trump, praised Jefferson as "exactly the type of economist who should be at the Fed at this difficult time."

Representative Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the House Financial Services committee, which oversees the Fed in the lower chamber of Congress, highlighted Raskin's "long history of distinguished government service."

President Joe Biden

New Poll Shows Strong Support For Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ Plan

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Likely voters in 12 key states strongly back President Joe Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" investment plan, according to a new survey from left-leaning polling outfit Data for Progress. The new survey finds majority support for each of its top provisions, even in states whose GOP senators oppose the agenda.

Data for Progress released polling on Tuesday showing that voters in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin support Biden's Build Back Better plan by at least a 15-point margin.

The data showed support for increased taxes on the wealthy and corporations, expanded caregiving infrastructure, investment to curb climate change, and a pathway to citizenship for children brought to the United States illegally as children and other undocumented immigrants working in the country.

Voters in five of the states, all of which could play an important role in upcoming national elections, are represented by at least one Republican senator who has publicly attacked the legislation and voted against the budget resolution that will potentially allow the Senate to pass it by a simple majority. But their attacks do not appear to have swayed constituents.

"Montana families & business owners are feeling the pain of #Bidenflation as prices skyrocket from groceries & gas to cars & housing," Montana Sen. Steve Daines tweeted on Friday. "Yet Democrats are still planning another massive tax & spending spree that will only make things worse. It's reckless."

But Montana's likely voters back the $3.5 trillion plan 56 percent - 41 percent. They support its investments in long-term care (77 percent - 19 percent), expanded Medicare coverage (75 percent - 22 percent), tax cuts for families (60 percent -34 percent), child care (59 percent- 36 percent), universal pre-K (57 percent - 39 percent), paid leave (55 percent -22 percent), and clean energy (51 percent -45 percent).

They also back increasing taxes on wealthy Americans (64 percent - 34 percent) and corporations (57 percent - 42 percent) and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants (62 % - 35 percent).

Support for the plan was even higher in the other 11 states surveyed.

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito tweeted, "The Democrats' reckless tax and spending spree will ultimately be paid for by the middle-class Americans they pretend to be protecting."

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey decried it as "massively excess spending" that would combine with inflation in "a recipe for serious problems."

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina tweeted, "President Biden and Democrats are pushing a $3.5 trillion tax and spending spree that provides amnesty to millions while doing nothing to secure our border. Hard to imagine it getting even worse at the border, but their policies will encourage more illegal immigration."

And Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tweeted, "The Democrats proposed $5.5 TRILLION tax & spending spree is reckless. You tax success, you're going to get less of it. We can't tax our way out of this. When will we get serious about controlling out-of-control spending?"

The legislation condemned by the GOP lawmakers is also highly popular among constituents of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Democrats who have expressed some concern about the plan's price tag.

In addition to the immigration reform provisions, the Build Back Better package would incorporate elements of Biden's American Families Plan such as free community college, free preschool, expanded child tax credits, and paid leave, as well as clean energy and climate provisions from his American Jobs Plan. It would keep Biden's promise to raise taxes only on businesses and those earning more than $400,000 a year.

The recent polling results are consistent with those of earlier surveys that have shown public support for the investments and funding.

Still, every single Republican in Congress has opposed the plan.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Pat Toomey

GOP Sen. Toomey Urges Trump To Concede, Cooperate With Biden Transition

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) says President Donald Trump has "exhausted all plausible legal options" as he encouraged the Trump administration to "facilitate the presidential transition process" with President-elect Joe Biden.

Toomey referenced U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann's decision Saturday to dismiss a Trump campaign suit that sought to block the certification of Pennsylvania's election results. In his decision, Brann said the suit "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations" as it urged the court to give the state legislator legal authority to assign Pennsylvania's electoral votes.

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