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New Poll: 'Sizable Majorities' Favor Voting Rights And Oppose GOP Suppression

A new poll finds that many of the provisions within a voting rights bill congressional Democrats are looking to pass are widely popular with Americans -- a sign that GOP outcry against the legislation has not worked.

The Pew Research Center survey found that "sizable majorities favor several policies aimed at making it easier for citizens to register and vote," with 61 percent of voters supporting automatically registering eligible citizens to vote, 63 percet saying anyone should be able to vote absentee without an excuse, 70 percent supporting giving people their voting rights back after serving their felony sentences, and 78 percent supporting two weeks of in-person early voting.

All of those provisions are within the "For the People Act," which House Democrats passed in March, and Senate Democrats are now rallying behind.

Republicans have vilified the act, making hyperbolic claims and flat-out lying about what the bill would do in order to justify their opposition to it.

Among the lies Republicans have told about the legislation is that it will allow undocumented immigrants to vote, makes elections more vulnerable to foreign interference, and rig elections in Democrats' favor.

None of those claims have much merit. Rather, the legislation would:

  • Require states to implement automatic voter registration for federal elections. That means anytime an eligible voter has contact with a state agency — most often the Department of Motor Vehicles — they are automatically registered to vote. If they do not want to be registered, they can opt out;
  • Give money for states to use paper ballots to prevent foreign interference in vote totals;
  • Allow anyone who wants to vote by mail to do so without needing an excuse, as well as require states to have early voting for federal elections;
  • And restore voting rights to those who have completed felony sentences.

Privately, Republicans worry that making it easier to vote will hamper GOP chances in future elections.

"H.R. 1's only objective is to ensure that Democrats can never again lose another election, that they will win and maintain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate and of the state legislatures for the next century," Cruz told a conservative group in a private call, according to the Associated Press.

It's a belief held by Donald Trump, who has said publicly that he believes Republicans wouldn't win elections again if people have easier access to the ballot box. It's believed to be part of the reason he railed against the explosion in absentee ballots in the 2020 election, which he blames in part for his loss.

And Trump's belief that more access to voting hurts their chances has led to an explosion of voter suppression legislation from Republicans in state legislatures across the country.

A number of states have already passed laws restricting the right to vote.

For example, Republicans in Iowa shortened the state's early, in-person voting period from 29 days to 20 days. And Texas Republicans are looking to make it even harder to vote by mail by requiring the disabled to show written proof of their disability in order to receive their absentee ballot.

Passing the "For the People Act" would block almost every single GOP voter suppression bill that has passed or is moving toward passage across the country.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Fundraisers Mimic Trump’s Deceptive Tactics To Swindle Donors

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although former President Donald Trump has been gone from the White House since January 20, he continues to aggressively raise funds for his political operation. According to Never Trump conservative pundit Tim Miller, Trump's fundraising tactics are still as sleazy as they were when he was in the White House — and recent fundraising from the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to Miller, is just as bad.

In an article published by the website The Bulwark this week, Miller describes the NRCC's offers to join Trump's "new social media site" — which, Miller stresses, has yet to be created. The anti-Trump conservative notes that on Tuesday, he received a text message from the NRCC that read, "Friend request expiring in 10 minutes! Trump needs to know if you're joining his new social media site, Timothy. We won't ask again."

Miller explains, "For starters, Donald Trump has not started a new social media site yet, he's just talked about it…. But even if Trump Social does come into existence, the NRCC — which is a Republican Party committee not affiliated with Donald Trump — would have no operating control or ability to sign people up for this private enterprise. Which creates an ontological conundrum: Can an offer that doesn't exist expire in 10 minutes? "

The Never Trumper notes that he received these NRCC texts only a few days after the New York Times published a "bombshell" article by journalist Shane Goldmacher, who reported that Trump's campaign was repeatedly billing supporters who had only agreed to single contributions.

Miller observes, "The crux of the grift was the Trump campaign's deceptive e-mail practices which, among other things, chose to make recurring donations the default setting for supporters who were lured in by the campaign's hyperbolic and conspiratorial fundraising pitches. As a result, elderly Trump supporters on fixed incomes had their bank accounts depleted, causing their rent and utilities checks to bounce. Altogether the Trump campaign had to refund $122 million in online donations from their own supporters who had been duped."

In his Bulwark article, Miller also describes an NRCC text in which Trump supporters are insulted as "defectors" if they uncheck a box for recurring donations. That box reads, "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems…. Make this a monthly recurring donation."

The checkbox itself isn't even next to the phrase "recurring donation," leaving the effect of the checked box potentially unclear to many donors, some of whom may not be that familiar with computers. The Times report found that these types of tactics led to many more Trump donors seeking refunds and unintentionally giving more money — sometimes much more than they could possibly afford — than is common in political fundraising.

"I'm sure there's some formal legal difference between the NRCC tricking someone into signing up for a nonexistent social media site — and then having a default box opting them in to both double their pledged amount and make it recurring—and the criminal advance-fee scams made famous by the imaginary Nigerian princes," Miller writes. "But as a moral matter, the difference is awfully hard to suss out."

The NRCC has come under fire for opting people into making multiple donations, which many experts argue is manipulative and can border on fraud. The organization pushed back on some of the reporting, pointing out to Forbes that Democrats, too, have used in opt-out mechanisms to push donors into greater contributions. However, the examples provided appeared to show a much clearer choice between recurring donations and one-time donations and did not include the manipulative language calling one-time donors "defectors:

Former GOP Speaker: Trump Lies ‘Incited That Bloody Insurrection’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is blasting Donald Trump, laying blame for the deadly January 6 insurrection squarely at the former Republican President's feet. True to form, Trump and his team punched back below the belt.

The New York Times reports Boehner writes in his new book that Trump "incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons, perpetuated by the bullshit he'd been shoveling since he lost a fair election the previous November."

"He claimed voter fraud without any evidence, and repeated those claims, taking advantage of the trust placed in him by his supporters and ultimately betraying that trust."

Boehner, whose tenure as Speaker was focused on trying to first tamp down then ride the Tea Party wave and the growth in power of the far right House Republican Study Committee. He was unsuccessful, and exited in 2015, the same year the even more extreme House Republican Freedom Caucus formed, and Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign.

He is now warning the GOP it must "take back control from the faction that had grown to include everyone from garden-variety whack jobs to insurrectionists."

It does not appear that will happen. Just as the extremist Tea Party took over the Republican Party, Trump, Trumpism, and his MAGA acolytes have already taken control of the GOP.

In typical Trumpian fashion, the Times reports, the former president's current spokesperson, Jason Miller, "called Mr. Boehner a 'Swamp Creature' and accused him of favoring 'Communist China' (The former speaker's lobbying firm represents the Chinese Embassy in the United States). In a separate email to the Times, Mr. Trump asked of Mr. Boehner, whose love of merlot wine is legendary in Washington: 'Was he drinking when he made this statement? Just another RINO who couldn't do the job!'"

Researchers: Trump’s Mishandling Of Pandemic Cost 400K American Lives

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

From the beginning, it was clear that Donald Trump was handling the COVID-19 pandemic poorly … where "poorly" can be read as any synonym for "in the worst way possible." Trump disbanded agencies meant to deal with pandemics, ignored the outbreak long after it was a clear threat to the nation, failed to make tests available, failed to provide national standards for social distancing, failed to create a national system of testing and case management, promoted phony cures, discouraged the use of masks, undercut health officials, and even encouraged his supporters to engage in armed insurrection against governors who were trying to take effective action. And that's just a select list of ways Trump screwed this thing up, down, and sideways.

That Trump failed massively was obvious. But while it was nice to fantasize about how much better things might have gone under a President Hillary Clinton, it's not really been possible to put a number to just how much of the disaster in the U.S. comes down to Trump's mishandling.

As Reuters reports, a conference at the Brookings Institute this past week included the introduction of a series of research papers on the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The conclusion of those researchers: "The United States … could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy ..." And it could have done so while spending billions of dollars less.

The researchers aren't actually claiming that Trump is responsible for over four out of every five deaths, because they're projecting that 400,000 lives saved against an expected total for the pandemic—which they believe will end up being around 670,000 lives lost. Had Trump taken prompt action, they believe the total would have been under 300,000.

What would have made this difference? All the things Trump failed to do: mandating mask use, enforcing social distancing, and a program of uniform testing. As one of the researchers pointed out, the way the the rules were put in place—with each state adopting its own regulations, and a tendency to drop those regulation at the first sign of improvement—was a system that was almost purpose-built to drive the caseload ever higher, while making the public more and more frustrated with both state and federal action.

The other major finding of the research is that by not addressing the pandemic quickly and consistently, the end cost is enormously higher in dollars, as well as lives. The American Rescue Plan, recently passed through Congress without Republican help, is just the latest of three massive attempts to stabilize an economy rocked by the pandemic and its secondary effects. The total tab on those attempts is now in excess of $5 trillion.

Had the scope of the pandemic been reduced at the outset, its price tag in terms of the national debt would have been much lower, and bills like the American Rescue Plan may not have been necessary. If there had been an adequate medical response to the pandemic—say, a national program of testing and case management—that might have been paired with a financial program that paid people who were forced to be away from work in isolation or quarantine. The impact on both individuals and companies might have been reduced, at huge savings.

Researchers reported that the big spending bills that were produced did what they intended. They shored up incomes, propped up spending, and helped to both buffer the nation against lost jobs and shuttered businesses. But some programs, such as the Payroll Protection Plan, got decidedly mixed reviews. Which isn't hard to understand, considering the number of issues that have surfaced since the secrecy began to fall away from who got PPP payments. (Note: Daily Kos obtained a loan through the Payroll Protection Plan Act.)

The other big finding on the economic front wasn't just that the cost of the reacting to the pandemic was much higher than the cost of getting out in front of COVID-19. The cost of every dollar spent on stimulus was less effective than had that same dollar gone to a project such as improving infrastructure or addressing climate change. The dollars that pass into those programs are expected to generate both more jobs, more spending, and more long term benefits that the checks mailed out as stimulus.

Which makes it nice that President Biden has made it clear—infrastructure is up next. And it's getting more than a week.