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Polls: Big Majority Wants Gun Safety Measures Opposed By GOP

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Congressional Republicans are slamming President Joe Biden's recent executive actions on gun control in the wake of two mass shootings as unnecessary and counterproductive, and claim further restrictions on ownership are not the answer to gun violence.

A new poll by Morning Consult/Politico shows that most Americans feel differently.

"Limiting the ability for any law-abiding American to buy a gun will not make America safer," tweeted Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) this week.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) wrote in a tweet Sunday, "It's clear Democrat guncontrol laws don't work. Just look at the cities they control. If violent crime were down in places like Chicago, Portland and D.C., we might entertain their logic. Their failed policies don't prevent violence or protect our communities."

Studies have in fact demonstrated repeatedly that states and countries that enact stricter gun control experience fewer deaths by gun violence.

Senate Republicans like Sen. John Hoeven (R-WI), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) also criticized the Biden administration's efforts at curbing gun violence through stronger legislation, claiming such efforts are misguided and won't work.

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning indicates that most Americans disagree.

Polling indicated that 64 percent of registered American voters are in favor of stricter gun control legislation, while only 28 percent actively oppose such legislation.

Eighty-three percent of those polled also said they supported expanded background checks that apply to every single gun sale. Similarly, more than 80 percent supported prohibiting the sale of guns to those medical providers have declared too medically or psychologically unstable for ownership.

Some 73 percent of respondents supported a three-day waiting period for buying a gun, while 70 percent were in favor of implementing a national database to track gun sales. And 76 percent expressed approval for prohibiting individuals on federal watch lists from gun ownership.

Biden recently signed several executive orders directing further gun control measures after a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22, leaving 10 people dead. That attack took place just days after a white gunman killed eight individuals, including six Asian American women, at several Atlanta-area spas on March 16.

Bide placed specific focus on "ghost guns," or guns assembled from kits without serial numbers, and so-called red flag laws, which allow courts to ban firearms for individuals who have demonstrated they may be a danger to themselves or other people.

Biden also urged Congress just after the Atlanta-area shootings to implement an assault weapons ban.

"Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it is an international embarrassment," Biden said, speaking at the White House on April 8.

Republicans were outraged at the move, with Hoeven writing in a statement responding to the President, "Infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens will not prevent violence."

Several gun control bills passed the House in March but are likely to meet challenges in the Senate, where they would need the support of at least 10 Senate Republicans in order to pass. These include the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which would require that, in the event of a gun transfer between two unlicensed individuals, a third-party seller, dealer, importer, or manufacturer to temporarily withhold the gun until a background check on the buyer is complete.

H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, also passed the House in March. This legislation would close the loophole that allowed white supremacist Dylann Roof to unlawfully procure a gun and kill nine Black Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The current loophole states that if the FBI does not complete a background check within three days, the gun transfer can still go forward — which it did in Roof's case, though he would have failed a background check.

Republicans are also objecting to David Chipman, Biden's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who has a history of supporting some gun control measures.

"David Chipman is a gun grabber who believes in wild conspiracies. He should not be confirmed to run the ATF," tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

A separate USA Today/Ipsos poll found that three-quarters of Americans support tougher gun control legislation, though, among Republicans, that figure drops to just 12 percent — a decline of 20 percentage points from Republicans' stance on the issue in similar surveys back in 2019.

Ipsos President Cliff Young told USA Today, "This is much more about a shift in the Republican base, and their leadership, than about the issue itself."

"In these highly tribalized times, cues from leadership become especially important in how the public forms their stance around issues," he added. "The partisan cuing around gun reforms has changed among Republican leadership, and the Republican base has followed suit."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundatio

Lockdowns Did More Economic Good Than Harm, Data Show

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Republicans have claimed repeatedly that so-called "blue state" lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic have destroyed their economies and that red states are enjoying robust recovery. However, a recent study has found that of the five states recovering jobs the most quickly since the beginning of the pandemic, four of them went blue in the 2020 presidential election — and the other is helmed by a Democratic governor.

The study, conducted by Wallet Hub and released on March 25, found that Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire had the most marked decreases in unemployment claims between the beginning of the pandemic to the present, indicating at least some promising recovery for their respective job markets. Of these, three (Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire) went to President Joe Biden in the November presidential election, with a fourth, Maine, giving three of its four electoral college votes to Biden.

The four states implemented strict safety precautions, lockdown measures, and mask mandates at the outset of the pandemic. The sole red state in the top five for job recovery, North Carolina, is helmed by a Democratic governor who also implemented strong safety measures when combating COVID-19.

Maine's Democratic governor, Janet Mills, enforced a mask mandate at the beginning of the pandemic and signed an executive order strengthening the mandate in December. She also implemented a March 15, 2020 Civil State of Emergency, closing bars and restaurants statewide March 18. At the end of May 2020, the state gradually began lifting stay-at-home restrictions.

Minnesota's Democratic Gov. Tim Walz issued a statewide stay-at-home order March 27 and did did not loosen stay-at-home restrictions until May 18. Since July 25, Minnesotans have been required by executive order to wear masks in public spaces outside their homes.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, issued a stay-at-home order in his "blue" state early in the pandemic, and implemented a strict extension of it in late May. The state remains under a statewide mask mandate.

Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statewide stay-at-home order March 23, as well as another stay-at-home advisory in November ahead of holiday COVID-19 case spikes. Many state restrictions for businesses and gatherings were only relaxed Sunday. A Pennsylvania mask mandate has remained in effect for the duration of the pandemic, only eased recently for vaccinated individuals.

And although North Carolina is a red state, it's governed by Democrat Roy Cooper, who enacted common-sense lockdowns early in the pandemic. He issued a 30-day stay-at-home order March 27. In the face of soaring COVID-19 cases statewide in early 2021, he also extended a modified stay-at-home order which mandated curfews and shuttered nonessential businesses at 10 p.m. in January, extending it again in March. A mask mandate was implemented early and remains in effect throughout the state in all public indoor settings.

The successes of these states in job recovery undercuts false claims by Republican politicians and right-wing think tanks that a recession exists only in blue states, painting economic recovery during the pandemic as something taking place only in red states.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) slammed the American Rescue Plan on March 10, tweeting, "This bill represents everything wrong with Washington. In Tennessee, we've worked hard to protect both our people and our economy. We should not be bailing out the blue states that failed to do the same."

It also contrasts frequent Republican talking points that suggest lockdowns in blue states caused long-term damage to their economies.

"The science is also clear: Schools can safely open, cases rarely spread outdoors, and pointless lockdowns like California's [closing outdoor dining and playgrounds] are harmful and counterproductive," tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in February.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) tweeted on March 16 that it would be illogical to reinstate lockdowns. During the presidential debate in October, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) similarly slammed then-Democratic nomineeJoe Biden for refusing to rule out further lockdowns as a COVID-19 response, claiming they were "hurting our economy and hurting our children."

Experts have said lockdowns actually lead to better outcomes and a swifter economic recovery.

As International Monetary Fund economists Francesco Grigoli and Damiano Sandri wrote in October, "Addressing the health risks appears to be a pre-condition to allow for a strong and sustained economic recovery. Lockdowns impose short-term costs but may lead to a faster economic recovery as they lower infections and thus the extent of voluntary social distancing."

Data has also repeatedly demonstrated that state lockdowns did not cause the economic recession. Rather, it shows that most people were already staying home at around the same rate at the height of the pandemic, hastening the recession — before precautions were even implemented.

Republicans have falsely framed Democrats' COVID relief package passed earlier this year, the American Rescue Plan, as a "blue state bailout," depicting all red-state economies as thriving. But suffering red states saw as much or more of a benefit from the legislation.

According to a third-quarter report from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, of the six states that saw the sharpest drops in state tax revenue, two-thirds of them — Alaska, North Dakota, Florida, and Texas — are traditionally bright red.

A new report by WalletHub Monday made similar findings: that of the six states hardest-hit economically by the pandemic, two-thirds are Republican strongholds.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump Adviser Navarro Pushed Huge Contracts For Political Allies

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Documents obtained by a House panel and released Tuesday showed Donald Trump's former trade adviser Peter Navarro, while tasked with overseeing global supply chains during the pandemic, unethically pressured government agencies to offer contracts to newly founded, Trump-allied corporations to produce medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and pharmaceutical ingredients.

According to a Politico report, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus procured the documents while investigating aspects of the coronavirus crisis, including the processes by which Trump's administration procured personal protective equipment for medical personnel.

One no-bid contract under investigation, worth $354 million, was awarded to the Phlow Corporation, which had newly incorporated before receiving the funds. The investigation showed that Navarro worked with an outside adviser who was "an associate of Steve Bannon," the former campaign manager and senior counselor to Trump, rather than relying on federal experts.

"Phlow needs to get greenlit as soon as humanly possible ... Please move this puppy in Trump time," Navarro wrote in one of many emails sent to heads of federal agencies.

"My head is going to explode if this contract does not get immediately approved," he wrote in another.

Politico noted that a second multimillion-dollar contract under investigation was awarded to a business founded a mere 11 days before receiving it — by Zachary Fuentes, one-time White House deputy chief of staff. His company was tasked with providing personal protective gear to the Navajo Nation by way of Indian Health Services, but the House investigation determined that the product that ultimately arrived was unusable.

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus wrote in their findings, "When the respirator masks were delivered, IHS [Indian Health Services] determined that they were unsuitable for use in a medical or surgical environment."

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questionable business and trade dealings by Navarro during the pandemic.

In a memo written by Navarro and procured by the House subcommittee, the trade adviser wrote, "Since the first news from China of a viral pandemic, I forecast a significant global pandemic," and noted that "our supply chains are extremely vulnerable." He also said it would amount to a "very serious public health emergency" for which the administration had been "slow to prepare."

But less than a week prior, Navarro had appeared on Fox News to publicly declare, "[The] American economy is exceedingly strong and not particularly vulnerable to what happens in China."

Following a report by ProPublica, Navarro was also the subject of a House Oversight probe in August after he canceled without warning a nearly $650 million ventilator contract with Royal Philips. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), chair of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, said that on Navarro's watch, the administration had been "taken advantage of" by the company when it came to the "price of life-saving ventilators."

Navarro faced criticism immediately after stepping into the role of overseeing international supply chains during the pandemic, with many seeing him as uniquely unqualified for the position and tapped only by dint of his closeness with Trump.

Critics questioned whether his harsh tactics, which included seizing face masks from hoarders during the pandemic and strong-arming companies to increase ventilator production, actually helped the United States obtain important medical supplies, or whether they simply served to alienate multinational companies whose cooperation was badly needed.

In April of last year, National Foreign Trade Council President Rufus Yerxa told the New York Times, of Navarro's tactics, "There's a real danger that in an attempt to try to safeguard your own citizens you actually make the situation much, much worse. The reality is for a lot of types of medical equipment, we import more than we export. We should be trying to figure out how to coordinate with other countries to come up with some solution other than everybody getting involved in a beggar-thy-neighbor death spiral."

Navarro also backed Trump's widely criticized aluminum and steel tariffs despite criticism from the Pentagon, even as they harmed companies and concerned investors, and he was found by the Office of Special Counsel to have repeatedly violated the Hatch Act.

During the pandemic, he slammed top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci in an op-ed not approved through ordinary White House channels and promoted the untested use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

On Tuesday night, he took to Fox News to claim without evidence the disease was engineered in a Chinese laboratory and that Fauci was the "father" of the coronavirus.

"Fauci is a sociopath and a liar. He had nothing to do with the vaccine. The father of the vaccine is Donald J. Trump," Navarro said, touting conspiracy theories on the air. "What is Fauci the father of? Fauci is the father of the actual virus."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Poll: Voters Credit Democrats, Not Republicans, On Rescue Plan

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Since the passage of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, Republicans have attempted to take credit for the legislation — despite the fact that not a single one voted for it.

Now, a new poll shows these efforts have overwhelmingly failed.

A poll this week by Invest in America shows that voters credit Biden and Democrats for the relief provided by the American Rescue Plan by a 49-point margin, with 48% of Republicans saying the same.

Other recent polls by Vox and Data for Progress show that 62 percent of voters were in favor of passing the expansive American Rescue Plan when contrasted with a smaller, more targeted relief proposed by GOP lawmakers — including nearly 50 percent of Republicans.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) made waves earlier this month when he proceeded to publicly take credit for a provision in the American Rescue Plan — relief for restaurant operators impacted by the pandemic — despite voting against the legislation.

He tweeted March 10, "Independent restaurant operators have won $28.6 billion worth of targeted relief. This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll."

While Wicker, alongside Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, did propose to amend the COVID relief plan with funding for restaurateurs, Wicker ultimately voted against the entire package.

Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL) also came under fire for a misleading tweet on the matter.

"So proud to announce that the Biden Administration has just implemented my bipartisan COVID relief bill as part of @SBAgov policy!" she wrote on March 12.

While some interpreted her statement to mean that she was referring to the American Rescue Plan and taking credit for passing it, the deputy of the director of the National Economic Council explained on Twitter that the policy to which she was referring was a separate one introduced by Salazar in the House.

"I've seen some confusion on this. On Friday — separate from the American Rescue bill — SBA announced it was letting 3M+ businesses defer EIDL loan payments for an extra year," Bharat Ramamurti tweeted.

In recent months, Republicans have tried to praise themselves for passing COVID relief, despite months of stonewalling and refusing to grant Americans more assistance as they struggled through the pandemic, suggesting the blame was on Democrats, even as a Democratic bill passed by the House in May 2020 languished in the Senate, untouched.

It's not the first time Republicans have attempted to take credit for a stimulus package they didn't support. In 2009, 114 Republican lawmakers obstructed the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, former President Barack Obama's stimulus package during the economic recession of 2008 — then bragged about its benefits to their constituents.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was quick to call out Republicans' semantics on social media. "You know how in a group project there is always a handful of students who didn't contribute, but they still take credit at the end. That's the GOP after the passage of the American Rescue Plan," she tweeted on March 14.

Meanwhile, the American Rescue Plan has enjoyed such widespread popularity that many Republicans didn't even know their own party was not in support of it, or that zero GOP lawmakers had voted for it. One recent poll found that close to one-third of Republican likely voters — 31 percent — thought the bill enjoyed bipartisan support and that the GOP had backed it.

Write-in responses from the new Invest in America poll show that Republicans are, on the whole, pleased with the package and relieved to receive stimulus checks.

"It's allowing me to fix a place for myself and my children to live in forever," wrote one New York Republican.

"It made my life better," a Colorado Republican wrote separately.

But Democrats have warned of continuing attempts on the part of the right to hijack the legislation and claim it as their own.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) said on the House floor this month, "What we are all concerned about on our side is that the Republicans are all going to vote against this, and then they're going to show up at every ribbon cutting, and at every project funded out of this bill, and they're going to pump up their chests and take credit for all of these great benefits that are coming to their citizens."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

New Study Reveals Massive Tax Evasion By Wealthiest Americans

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new study has found that the wealthiest one percent of Americans are dodging payment of taxes at a much higher rate than prior research had revealed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the study, conducted by a team of Internal Revenue Service and academic researchers and economists for a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the richest one percent of households fail to disclose to the IRS a full 21 percent of their income.

The researchers concluded that the amount of unreported income for the top 0.1% might be as much as twice as high as earlier research had indicated.

The study also uncovered that six of the 21 percentage points were attributable to the use of elaborate techniques to avoid detection, ones that a typical IRS audit might not catch. These include pass-through businesses, through which income is siphoned directly into the business owner's personal accounts and not taxed at the corporate rate, and earnings held in offshore accounts, which an IRS audit only detects about 7% of the time.

The researchers wrote, "From a policy perspective, our results highlight that there is substantial evasion at the top which requires administrative resources to detect and deter. We estimate that 36 percent of federal income taxes unpaid are owed by the top one percent and that collecting all unpaid federal income tax from this group would increase federal revenues by about $175 billion annually."

These patterns were already detectable 20 years ago when the National Tax Journal published a report called "The Distribution of Income Tax Noncompliance." That 2010 report contained the results of analysis of data for the 2001 tax year and showed that although households in the top income bracket accounted for only 44 percent of earned income in 2001, they accounted for 61 percent of income tax evasion.

Conversely, in 2001 the bottom 50 percent of earners represented 14 percent of earned income nationally — but only 12 percent of tax evasion. Despite this discrepancy, a 2019 ProPublica report noted that low-income Americans were still being audited at the same rate as the highest earners.

And Republican tax policy has continued to prop up the wealthiest one percent of Americans, giving them tax cuts and special tax benefits. The Center for American Progress has noted that while today the top marginal tax rate is around 37 percent, that's a steep drop from rates during much of the first four decades after the introduction of the income tax in 1913, when it often rose above 70 percent, hitting 94 percent during World War II and staying at 91 percent for most of the 1950s and early 1960s.

And the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, signed into law by Donald Trump, disproportionately benefited wealthy individuals and corporations with enormous tax cuts. The act neither increased worker wages nor helped low-income communities, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Connie Razza, the Center for Popular Democracy's chief of campaigns and policy, has called the 2017 tax law a scam.

"We have to call Trump's tax plan for what it is, a scam," she said in an Economic Policy Institute press release. "He sold this as a benefit to working people, but the report shows clearly that it only caters to the super-wealthy, historically white, corporate class."

And recently, Republicans have slammed reports of a new tax policy proposed by Biden that would raise taxes on the very wealthy and corporations in order to reduce income inequity and aid post-pandemic economic recovery.

"Democrats said they wouldn't raise taxes," the official account for GOP members of the House Ways and Means Committee tweeted last week. "They didn't keep their promise. Biden is planning to slap American workers and families with the largest tax increase since 1993."

But the economists who produced the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper say rich Americans are withholding too much of their wealth from the IRS.

Daniel Reck of the London School of Economics, the lead author of the study, told the Wall Street Journal, "There is more revenue than you might have thought at the very top. What's needed is a broader strategy that involves increased scrutiny of pass-through businesses [and] investments in the comprehensive audits that the IRS does in its global high-wealth program."

Charles Rettig, the IRS commissioner, was in agreement last week when he said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee that funding to implement such a strategy was needed.

"It is not just a body count of how many people we have in enforcement," he noted, adding that to investigate tax evasion by the wealthy, "We need to have specialized agents."

Congress, too, is making efforts to hold the rich accountable for tax evasion or avoidance.

Last month, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced the Stop Corporations and Higher Earners from Avoiding Taxes and Enforce Rules Strictly Act, or Stop CHEATERS Act, which would $100 billion to the IRS specifically to improve auditing and collection of taxes owed by people and corporations in the top 1% of earners.

"We know our tax system is broken, and it's long past time we start fixing it," Khanna said in a statement. "Wall Street has been able to act like high rolling gamblers with almost zero consequences for far too long. Right now, the wealthiest one percent are responsible for roughly 70 percent of the 'tax gap'—the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid. It's time every American pay their fair share."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Biden’s Rescue Plan Restores Veterans’ Aid Cut By Trump

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan signed into law by President Joe Biden on Thursday contains a number of provisions that will provide new help to veterans struggling due to the pandemic.

U.S. veterans have suffered enormously during the pandemic, experts say. A Wounded Warrior Project survey last spring found that more than half reported worse mental health since the establishment of social distancing measures, and, according to an NBC report, the VA's mental health crisis line received 15% more calls in 2020 than in the previous year.

They are also among those who have experienced unemployment, a housing crisis, and extreme food instability during the pandemic, with some areas seeing food bank demand doubled for the military community in 2020.

The American Rescue Plan will bring relief to veterans by allocating $17 billion to the VA, including $14.4 billion for physical and mental health care and $750 million for housing construction and repair.

The law will allocate $50 billion to housing and rental assistance and $400 million to a job training program for veterans.

The Veteran Rapid Retraining Program offers veterans 12 months of direct payments once they enroll in an approved job-training program. It also provides full tuition payments to their program at no cost to the veteran and a monthly basic housing allowance that equals that of a married, E-5 active-duty soldier.

The program aims to provide job training for more than 17,000 veterans.

The relief will fill gaps in support exacerbated by repeated moves by the Donald Trump administration to slash veterans' benefits and health care.

Throughout his time in office, Trump waged war on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Social Security, all heavily relied upon by veterans.

Nearly one in 10 veterans receives health care through Medicaid, according to the House Committee on the Budget, and more than half have insurance coverage under Medicare. More than 620,000 rely on Social Security benefits, and 1.3 million veteran households receive SNAP food stamp benefits.

In 2019, the Trump administration rolled out policy changes that would have imposed work requirements on SNAP recipients, which would have had a disastrous impact on low-income Americans, including veterans, during the pandemic if advocates hadn't effectively blocked them. They would have cut SNAP funding to at least 700,000 Americans.

The Trump Department of Agriculture fought a lengthy battle in federal court to prevent states from administering emergency food stamps to low-income Americans.

In February 2020, just before onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump released a $4.8 trillion budget proposal that contained sharp budget cuts across the board, particularly to Medicare and Medicaid. The House Committee on the Budget issued a statement days later on the harm it would cause veterans by decreasing funding for these crucial programs.

Trump also made repeated attempts to cut Social Security benefits. He signed an executiveorder in August 2020, during a peak in the pandemic, that established a temporary deferral through December of that year for employees under a certain income level of payment of the portion of the payroll tax that funds Social Security, and pledged to make them permanent if he was reelected.

Trump also exacerbated an enormous staffing crisis within the Department of Veteran Affairs, which provides physical and mental health services to veterans. He enacted hiring freezesimpacting the VA and also cut the Interim Staffing Program, which assigned physicians, nurse practitioners, and assistants to VA hospitals and health care centers when permanent staff went on leave or retired.

When David Shulkin, the first veteran affairs secretary under Trump, took office, he vowed to double the size of the staffing program. Instead, he was removed by Trump after objecting to efforts by the administration to privatize the program, which was shut down to be replaced with a telehealth program.

The Trump administration also hampered the VA's efforts to recruit and retain staff by slashing employee benefits and dismantling worker protections. The most common position left unfilled was that of psychiatrist.

Ted Blickwedel, a former VA counselor, told the American Prospect that the Department of Veterans Affairs under Trump "kept pushing the numbers, the numbers, the numbers," adding, "We had counselors taking leave, burning out, facing suicidal thoughts, or obtaining their own therapists."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

While Republicans Vote No, Their States Win Big In Rescue Plan

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

As President Joe Biden signed Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law Thursday afternoon, Republicans falsely claimed the bill only serves to bail out "blue states" at the expense of "red states" — but the landmark legislation will deliver massive funding and relief to many deep-red states in need during the pandemic.

The American Rescue Plan will send more than $195 billion in aid to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as $130.2 billion in aid to local governments throughout the country, benefiting red and blue states alike. In fact, according to a recent Reuters analysis, traditionally Republican states will receive a slightly disproportionate amount of federal aid from the package as compared to traditionally Democratic states — $3,192 per state resident as opposed to $3,160. And the bill levies no extra taxes on red states.

But on Thursday afternoon, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) took to social media to criticize the legislation, tweeting, "It's red states like Georgia who will have to bail out the deep blue states who recklessly spent taxpayer $ on irresponsible decisions over the past year. They need to face the consequences of their actions rather than lean on the red states & the stimulus to bail them out!"

This has been a frequent talking point of Republicans, with Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst claiming last week that Iowans shouldn't have to "foot the bill for other states' bad behavior and mismanagement," and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy complaining in mid-February about Democrats seeking "blue-state slush funds." Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has opposed state and local funding to his own state, hard hit by the pandemic, despite criticism from Florida mayors.

"Biden wants to spend more than $350 billion to bailout wasteful states," Scott said in January. "I've been clear — asking taxpayers to bailout failed politicians in liberal states like New York and Illinois and save them from their own bad decisions isn't fair to fiscally responsible states like Florida."

The accusation of "blue state bailouts" may have originated with Donald Trump early in the pandemic, as he frequently made false claims that blue states merely wanted a government handout at the expense of other states.

Trump tweeted in April, "Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, too, sought to block funds to state and local governments in the first COVID-19 relief bill passed last spring, the HEROES Act, claiming the legislation was a "blue state bailout" despite the $7 billion it directed toward his home state of Kentucky. He later touted himself as having providing relief to the citizens of Kentucky — despite his own efforts to fight the legislation.

But despite Republican claims, a third-quarter report from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that many red states were harmed by the pandemic. Six states saw the steepest drops in tax revenue (Alaska, North Dakota, Nevada, Florida, Oregon, and Texas), and of these, two-thirds — Alaska, North Dakota, Florida, and Texas — are traditionally Republican strongholds.

These four states in particular suffered economically during the pandemic due to their dependence on tourism and natural resources, both of which saw depletions during lockdown with the collapse of tourism and oil prices.

The report also found that the 22 states that saw economic improvement during the third quarter of the pandemic were a fairly even mix of red and blue states.

Meanwhile, although not a single congressional Republican voted for the historic $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, Biden is planning a trip to visit states all over the country, red and blue alike, to celebrate its passage and the substantial aid it provides to every state.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Texas Gains Federal Aid From Biden — But Governor's Hypocrisy Reeks

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Texas' Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reached out to the White House on Saturday to request federal aid to combat brutal winter storms that are devastating the state.

Abbott has had a contentious relationship with the federal government he's now asked for assistance.

In a statement posted to his official website on February 14, Abbott announced that the White House had granted his request and issued a Federal Emergency Declaration.

"I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas as we continue to respond to severe winter weather conditions throughout the state. This disaster declaration provides Texas with additional resources and assistance that will help our communities respond to this winter weather," Abbott said.

On Monday, a frigid spell of single-digit weather and several inches of snow and ice left four million people in the state without power and killed two.

Earlier in the year, though, Abbott's attitude toward federal involvement in Texas was different.

On January 28, he signed an executive order that instructed all state agencies to reject what he called "regulatory overreach in the energy sector" on the part of the Biden administration, using "all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action that threatens the continued strength and vitality of the energy industry."

The Austin American-Statesman reported that Abbott was ready to sue the administration, quoting him as saying,

One thing that we are going to be doing is exactly what I did when I was attorney general in Texas and Barack Obama was the president of the United States, when President Obama was lodging challenge after challenge after challenge to the Texas energy sector. Texas will continue with that litigation strategy to fight back against any efforts by the Biden administration that threaten either the energy sector in general or jobs in the energy sector — in particular in the state of Texas.

When he was Texas' attorney general, Abbott sued the Obama administration dozens of times on the taxpayer dime, often combating environmental regulation. His successor, Attorney General Ken Paxton, has similarly taken on the federal government at every opportunity, waging a years-long battle against Obamacare in the courts.

In 2018, Abbott said he would prioritize a Texas-only version of public health care if Obamacare were successfully overturned.

In January, he slammed the federal government once again, threatening to withdraw Texas National Guard troops from their assignment guarding President Joe Biden's inauguration when it was announced that members of the Guard assigned to the event would be vetted for potential ties with right-wing extremist groups.

He tweeted on January 18, "This is the most offensive thing I've ever heard. No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard. I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC. I'll never do it again if they are disrespected like this."

Texas lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against providing federal relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast in 2012; those same politicians, along with Abbott, lobbied for federal relief for their own state in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Abbott has also been long criticized for his poor leadership in another emergency: the COVID-19 pandemic. He was among the first governors to reopen his state's economy as the coronavirus continued to spread, and he refused to lock down again as the number of new cases soared around Thanksgiving.

Abbott also used the pandemic to effectively shut down abortion access throughout Texas, in defiance of federal law, and was sued by Planned Parenthood. He also pushed for legislation to ban Planned Parenthood from the list of health care providers Medicaid recipients can see. When it succeeded, he gave some 8,000 Medicaid recipients who were seeing Planned Parenthood providers only 30 days to find new ones.

Yet last May, he asked Donald Trump for a major disaster declaration and federal funding to combat the coronavirus crisis in Texas.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Dishonor Roll: 22 Republicans Who Voted To Acquit Trump Admit He’s Guilty

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

On February 13, all but seven Senate Republicans voted in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump to acquit him on the single charge of incitement of insurrection for his role in the attack by his followers on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Twenty-two of those senators who voted to acquit have said that Trump in fact bears responsibility for the violence at the Capitol.

1) Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY)

McConnell was among the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit Trump on Saturday. After the vote, McConnell said, "There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him."

2) Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)

"When it comes to accountability, the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution," Graham said shortly after the Capitol attack, adding, "It breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, would allow yesterday to happen and it will be a major part of his presidency."

3) Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)

Shortly after the riots, Cruz told a Houston ABC affiliate, "The president's language and rhetoric often goes too far. I think, yesterday in particular, the president's language and rhetoric crossed the line and it was reckless. I disagree with it, and I have disagreed with the president's language and rhetoric for the last four years."

4) Sen. John Thune (SD)

Asked by CNN the day before the Senate trial vote if he if he was willing to defend Trump's behavior leading up to the Capitol attack, Thune answered, "No, not at all. The way he handled the post-election, both in terms of his public statements and things that he tried to do to change the outcome, no."

5) Sen. Mike Rounds (SD)

The evening of the Capitol attack, Rounds commented, "If anything [Trump] urged, in a very emotional situation, very inappropriate action by people that appear to be his supporters."

6) Sen. John Cornyn (TX)

Cornyn was asked by a reporter in late January whether he could defend Trump's words and actions leading up to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. "I'm not going to defend them," he said.

7) Sen. Roy Blunt (MO)

On Jan. 10, Blunt said, "Well, I think the president's decisions and his actions that day and leading up to that day on this topic were clearly reckless. I said that very early in the evening on Wednesday, that this was a tragic day for the country and the president had some — had involvement in that."

8) Sen. Mike Braun (IN)

In late January, Braun said, "I think most would have a lot of trouble saying there was no connection" between Trump's behavior and the deadly attack on the Capitol.

9) Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND)

Cramer told USA Today Jan. 6, "The call to march, and to, you know, march down to the Capitol, it was inciting. It was pouring fuel on a spark, so no, [Trump] does bear some responsibility."

10) Sen. John Boozman (AR)

Boozman said in a statement on Feb. 13, "While former President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for what happened that day, the perpetrators who planned, coordinated and assaulted the Capitol building must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice."

11) Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (WV)

In a statement issued on Feb. 13, Capito said, "What happened on January 6 threatened our foundational transfer of power and the actions were an embarrassment to our country and everything that we stand for. The actions and reactions of President Trump were disgraceful, and history will judge him harshly."

12) Sen. John Hoeven (ND)

Hoeven said in a statement after his vote to acquit, "President Trump should not have encouraged the protest on January 6, but those rioters who broke the law are responsible for their actions and we must condemn all those who engage in violence."

13) Sen. Jerry Moran (KS)

In a statement after he voted to acquit Trump, Moran said, "President Trump was wrong to continue to spread allegations of widespread fraud and not immediately discourage the reprehensible and unpatriotic behavior."

14) Sen. Rob Portman (OH)

Portman said in a statement issued Feb. 13, "I have said that what President Trump did that day was inexcusable because in his speech he encouraged the mob, and that he bears some responsibility for the tragic violence that occurred. I have also criticized his slow response as the mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, putting at risk the safety of Vice President Pence, law enforcement officers, and others who work in the Capitol. Even after the attack, some of the language in his tweets and in a video showed sympathy for the violent mob."

15) Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK)

Sullivan said in a statement issued Feb. 13, "Make no mistake: I condemn the horrific violence that engulfed the Capitol on January 6. I also condemn former President Trump's poor judgment in calling a rally on that day, and his actions and inactions when it turned into a riot."

16) Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

In an interview on Jan. 11, Paul said of Trump's actions before the riot, "I think it was irresponsible to encourage people with the false notion that the election could be overturned."

17) Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA)

In a statement issued Jan. 6, Grassley said, "Everyone must take responsibility for their destructive actions yesterday, including the president. As the leader of the nation, the president bears some responsibility for the actions that he inspires — good or bad. Sadly, yesterday he displayed poor leadership in his words and actions, and he must take responsibility."

18) Sen. Joni Ernst (IA)

Ernst said in a statement after attack on the Capitol, "The president did not display good leadership, and I do think he bears some responsibility for what happened. The responsibility also lies with the violent mob who stormed the Capitol, and they should be held accountable to the full extent of the law."

19) Sen. Richard Shelby (AL)

According to the Associated Press, Shelby told reporters during the impeachment trial that he thought impeachment managers had a "strong case" that Trump should have done more to stop the riots.

20) Sen. Tom Cotton (AR)

Cotton said in a statement on Jan. 6, "It's past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence."

21) Sen. Mike Lee (UT)

After voting to acquit on Feb. 13, Lee said in a statement, "No one can condone the horrific violence that occurred on January 6, 2021–or President Trump's words, actions, and omissions on that day. I certainly do not."

22) Sen. Thom Tillis (NC)

In a statement issued after he voted to acquit, Tillis said, "The most serious aspect of President Trump's conduct was not necessarily what he said in the lead-up to the attack of the Capitol, but the leadership he failed to provide to put an end to it, and yet the House curiously chose not to file a charge or build their case around this point.

"It is important to note that a not guilty verdict is not the same as being declared innocent. President Trump is most certainly not the victim here; his words and actions were reckless and he shares responsibility for the disgrace that occurred on January 6."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

With Trump Gone, Security Agencies Can Confront Violent Far Right

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

President Joe Biden's administration is expanding new grants from the Department of Homeland Security to target and prevent right-wing domestic terrorism after years of such efforts being effectively stymied by Donald Trump — and the department is ramping up its plans to combat what experts say is the greatest terrorist threat facing America today.

According to an NBC report, although the department's Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism prevention originally directed some funding to these grants toward the end of Trump's time in office, Biden's new plan expands upon the funding available, which will include more than $500,000 allocated toward American University to study the "growing threat of violent white supremacist extremist information."

DHS, which in 2019 founded the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention to prevent violent political extremism, is expected to continue to receive more funding from Congress during the Biden administration. Grants awarded from this office go toward state and local law enforcement efforts in combating domestic terrorism.

Officials say the Trump administration effectively hamstrung the department from enacting real efforts to halt right-wing extremist violence. Trump and his administration frequently placed blame for domestic terrorist violence on "Antifa" and civil rights activist groups like Black Lives Matter, instead of on actual right-wing perpetrators.

At the first televised presidential debate last September 29, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would denounce right-wing extremist violence from the stage.

"Sure, I'm prepared to do that," Trump answered. "I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing. I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace."

He then told the far-right white supremacist group, the Proud Boys, to "stand back and stand by," adding, "But I'll tell you what. Somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left. Because this is not a right-wing problem — this is a left-wing problem."

But experts agree right-wing extremism is one of the greatest domestic threats the country faces today.

In the first eight months of 2020, 67 percent of attacks on American soil by political extremists were committed by right-wing domestic terrorists, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The CSIS database also notes that since 2010, almost six times as many Americans have been murdered by right-wing extremists as left-wing extremists. Since 1994, not a single murder has been linked to "Antifa" activists.

A February 2020 report by the Anti-Defamation League found that 90% of extremist-related murders in the United States in 2019 were committed by right-wing extremists.

But experts tried for years to investigate the threat posed by right-wing domestic terrorists under Trump, only to find themselves repeatedly stonewalled by Trump and his administration.

A New York Times report found that Trump's Justice Department redirected resources and funding to focus on the bogeyman of "Antifa" violence instead of very real violence fomenting on the right, shuffling prosecutors and FBI agents off of right-wing violence threat assessment to focus on baseless claims of leftist violence.

Two former Department of Justice officials told the Times they were pressured to "uncover" a left-wing violent conspiracy plot that didn't exist, and top DHS officials denied funding for more analysts to flag right-wing threats of violence on social media in the election's aftermath.

Far-right extremists felt they had "an ally in the White House," according to Mary McCord, a former DOJ employee and Georgetown University professor specializing in domestic terrorism. "That has, I think, allowed them to grow and recruit and try to mainstream their opinions, which is why I think you end up seeing what we saw [at the Capitol]."

Elizabeth Neumann, former DHS assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention, told NBC that even use of the term "domestic terrorism" in department meetings with Trump was discouraged in favor of broader terms like "violence prevention."

"We did expand domestic terrorism prevention under Trump," she said, "but when it came to questions of how we could change the domestic terrorism statute to charge people more easily, there were no adults at the White House who were willing to go there, nor was anyone willing to define the threat."

Experts have said that the Capitol insurrectionists see the January 6 attack on the Capitol as a "resounding success," and without intervention, it could result in a "golden age of domestic extremism."

But Biden's team has plans to take strong preventative measures to cut off right-wing violence at its root.

A DHS spokesperson told NBC, "Domestic violent extremism poses one of the gravest threats to our homeland, and Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas has made clear that combatting it is a top priority. Our primary responsibility is to protect the safety and security of the American people, which means taking actions to prevent violence before it occurs."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republican Senators Joke About Trump’s Deadly Incitement To Rioters

Reprinted with permission American Independent

On the second day of Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, House managers presented evidence to support the charge of incitement to insurrection on which Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on January 13.

Republican lawmakers are treating the proceedings as a joke, ignoring the evidence of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by Trump supporters that left five dead and deriding the entire thing as a "political stunt."

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Wednesday tweeted a video of herself walking toward the Senate chamber for the second day of the trial.

"Day two of the impeachment," she says with a smile. "I'm getting ready to head the floor. What we're going to hear today is the House managers are going to lay out their claims about impeachment and against the president, and we hear that they have produced a Hollywood-type movie for us to see."

Blackburn also tweeted, "The Democrats spoke of unity, but their actions have proven otherwise. This impeachment is a political stunt that will only further divide our nation."

The deadly attack by Trump supporters on January 6 killed five, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, and injured 140 police officers, some seriously. Two police officers have died by suicide in the wake of the attack.

During the attack, rioters chanted, "Hang Mike Pence!" and evidence has suggested that some intended to take hostages.

In his opening statement Tuesday, House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said that failing to hold Trump accountable for inciting the riot could lead to further violence:

President Trump has sent his lawyers here today to try to stop the Senate from hearing the facts of this case. They want to call the trial over before any evidence is even introduced. Their argument is that if you commit an impeachable offense in your last few weeks in office, you do it with constitutional impunity. You get away with it. In other words, conduct that would be a high crime and misdemeanor in your first year as president and your second year as president and your third year as president and for the vast majority of your fourth year as president, you can suddenly do in your last few weeks in office without facing any constitutional accountability at all. This would create a brand new January exception to the Constitution of the United States of America. A January exception.
And everyone can see immediately why this is so dangerous. It's an invitation to the President to take his best shot at anything he may want to do on his way out the door, including using violent means to lock that door, to hang onto the Oval Office at all costs, and to block the peaceful transfer of power. In other words, the January exception is an invitation to our founders' worst nightmare. And if we buy this radical argument that President Trump's lawyers advance, we risk allowing January 6th to become our future.

"We're one day in to the stupidest week in the Senate," tweeted Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. He criticized President Joe Biden for somehow failing to stop the trial in another post: "Disappointing. @POTUS went from calling for unity to letting Democrats' partisan impeachment charade continue."

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was one of several Republicans calling impeachment a waste of time that could be dedicated to other work, tweeting, "Democrats want a week of political theater raging at Donald Trump instead of focusing on reopening schools or getting millions of Americans back to work."

Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio also complained Tuesday that the trial was "a waste of our time."

During the gripping 13-minute video Democrats played on the first day of the trial, Rubio and several other Republican senators, including his fellow Floridian Rick Scott and Arkansas' Tom Cotton, would not even watch. Kentucky's Rand Paul reportedly doodled his way through the trial on a pad in his lap.

In an example of how a government can do several things at once, despite Cruz's concern, the Biden administration intends to release new guidance for reopening schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week, and the American Rescue Plan proposed by Biden to provide economic relief for those suffering during the coronavirus pandemic has been projected to get the economy back on track as early as the end of the year.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Cogent, Persuasive Impeachment Managers Scramble Trump Defense

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Bruce Castor, one of Donald Trump's defense attorneys for his second impeachment trial, admitted before Congress on Tuesday afternoon that Trump's legal team was thrown off by how "well done" the House impeachment managers' presentation at the top of the trial was and had improvised a response after throwing out all their preplanned remarks.

"I'll be quite frank with you," Castor, a former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, district attorney who infamously refused to prosecute Bill Cosby, said. "We changed what we were going to do, on account that we thought that House managers' presentation was well done."

Impeachment managers had presented, among other arguments, a 13-minute video outlining the attack on the Capitol in chronological order, interspersed with Trump's remarks egging on the violence.

But, Castor assured the assembled lawmakers, Trump's legal team do have responses to the arguments raised by the House impeachment managers — they just won't be sharing them right now.

"I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things," Castor said. He explained that he thought that he was initially supposed to be discussing jurisdiction, but would provide further arguments later.

"We have counterarguments to everything that they raised, and you will hear them later on in the case from Mr. van der Veen and myself," Castor said, referring to fellow impeachment defense attorney Michael van der Veen.

Castor was brought on to Trump's team a little over a week ago, on Feb. 1.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a case filed against Trump in 2020 by a candidate for Congress, van der Veen, while representing the congressional candidate, accused Trump of having suppressed votes by making baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Van der Veen has also referred to Trump as a "f—king crook," one of his former clients told the outlet.

BRUCE CASTOR: I'll be quite frank with you. We changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers' presentation was well done. And I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things.
I thought that what the first part of the case was, which was the equivalent of a motion to dismiss, was going to be about jurisdiction alone, and one of the fellows who spoke for the House managers, who was a former criminal defense attorney, seemed to suggest that there's something nefarious that we were discussing jurisdiction and trying to get the case dismissed.
But this is where it happens in the case because jurisdiction is the first thing that has to be found. We have counter arguments to everything that they raised, and you will hear them later on in the case from Mr. van der Veen and from myself.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Who Stoked Capitol Mob Demand Removal Of Security Measures

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

On Friday afternoon, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) tweeted a copy of a letter delivered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, signed by 42 Republicans, demanding that the security fencing installed around the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., after the complex was stormed by supporters of Donald Trump on Jan. 6 be taken down.

Many of the Republicans who signed the letter helped incite the attack on the Capitol.

Budd commented, "42 House members just sent a letter to @Speaker Pelosi demanding that the militarized Capitol fencing come down and NOT be made permanent. It's time to open the People's House."

The letter reads in part,

It's time for healing and it's time for the removal of the fencing so the nation may move forward. ... Of course, we all understood that some increase in security was necessary after the tragic events of January 6, but now there is no valid reason to continue the same level of security measures. It is appalling that Communist China allows their citizens more freedom to visit historical sites like Tiananmen Square than currently exists for Americans who want to visit the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The fencing was placed around the Capitol at the recommendation of the acting Capitol Police chief, Yogananda Pittman, after a mob of far-right extremists spurred on by Trump attacked the building, leaving five dead. The fencing was originally intended to be temporary, but Pittman recommended it be made permanent.

"In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol," Pittman said.

Lawmakers who signed the letter also tweeted their disapproval of the fencing.

"The US Capitol is the PEOPLE'S HOUSE," tweeted Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA). "It shouldn't be a fortress. Why do @HouseDemocrats seem totally comfortable with barbed wire fencing when it's protecting them, but not when it's along the southern border protecting the entire country?"

Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) tweeted, "National Guard troops will still be in DC in February. Permanent fencing is being proposed around the Capitol. Many security perimeters are still in place. Where was all of this protection for American businesses when their stores were looted for WEEKS last summer?"

The fencing also drew criticism from the Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser.

"Based on conversations with federal partners, there are some potentially volatile events upcoming that will require extra security. Fencing and the presence of troops will be a part of that," shetweeted Jan. 28. "But we will not accept extra troops or permanent fencing as a long-term fixture in DC."

Thirty-five of the 42 House Republicans who signed the letter also voted on Jan. 6 against certifying the results of Electoral College voting in the 2020 presidential election, charging that the election had been stolen from Trump and thereby supporting the lie that had motivated the mob that made extra security measures necessary in the first place.

Other signatories more directly incited the attempted takeover of the Capitol.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) not only voted against the certification of electoral votes, but has faced calls for her resignation by colleagues for her behavior Jan. 6, tweeting, "This is 1776" the morning of the attack and tweeting Pelosi's movements during the attack.

A month before the attack, Trump loyalist Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) told a crowd at an event held by the right-wing organization Turning Point USA to threaten lawmakers who wouldn't vote to overturn the election.

"Call your congressman and feel free, you can lightly threaten them and say, you know what, if you don't start supporting election integrity, I'm coming after you, Madison Cawthorn is coming after you, everybody's coming after you," he said. Cawthorn also voted against certifying the election results.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), another lawmaker who signed the letter, was named by Ali Alexander, a far-right extremist and organizer of the "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the insurrection, as a fellow organizer of the riots. Biggs denied the allegations, but also sought clemency from Trump for his involvement.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) did vote to certify the results of the Electoral College voting, but he made inflammatory remarks encouraging violence. Days before the attack, he told Fox News' Tucker Carlson, "If we have a Democratically controlled Senate, we are basically at full-scale hot conflict in this country, whereas right now, we're at a cold civil war."

Telling Republican voters in Georgia's two Senate runoff elections in January to "hold the line," Roy said, "That's what is at stake."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Pence Finally Concedes Biden Victory In Call To Harris

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

More than two months after President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, nine days after a deadly attack by supporters of Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol that claimed five lives, and two days after Trump became the first White House occupant in history to be impeached twice, Vice President Mike Pence finally called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her win.

The New York Times noted that Pence was "filling a leadership role all but abdicated by President Trump" when he called Harris Friday morning.

On Thursday, Pence, seemingly acting as de facto president, tweeted that he would oversee a peaceful inauguration and transition of power: "The American people can be confident that we're going to ensure that we'll have a safe Inauguration in a matter consistent with our history & traditions. We have confidence our Law Enforcement will protect our Capitol and the Great people of this Nation next week." Trump has still not publicly acknowledged he lost the election on Nov. 3.

The administration's attacks on the election process, culminating in far-right violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, have been ongoing for more than two months.

Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee and head of the General Services Administration, which oversees the transition process, stonewalled Biden's transition for weeks following the election. She did not relent until Nov. 23.

On Nov. 7, the Associated Press officially announced Biden as the winner of the presidential election, and on Dec. 14 the Electoral College officially confirmed Biden's 306-232 win.

But Pence promoted Trump's false claims of election fraud — the same ones that incited the violent mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6 — right up to the bitter end. Speaking at an event sponsored by far-right youth organization Turning Point USA on Dec. 22, he told audience members to "stay in the fight in our election."

"As our election contest continues, I'll make you a promise," he continued. "We're going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted. We're going to keep fighting until every illegal vote is thrown out."

And just days before the attempted coup at the Capitol, Pence reiterated these claims to rally attendees in Georgia ahead of the state's run-off Senate election.

"We've all got our doubts about the last election. I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities," Pence said. "Come this Wednesday, we'll have our day in Congress. We'll hear the evidence."

Two days later, five people were dead in an unprecedented attack on the seat of American democracy, and Pence began preparing for the transition.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

QAnon Congresswoman Says She Will ‘Impeach Biden’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) announced Wednesday night that she plans to file articles of impeachment against President-elect Joe Biden the day after he takes office. Her statement was met with silence from Republicans who had slammed the second round of impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump as divisive.

"On Jan. 21, 2021, I'll be filing Articles of Impeachment against Joe Biden for abuse of power," Greene tweeted after the House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach Trump for the second time.

Greene took to far-right network Newsmax to confirm her intention later in the evening: "I would like to announce on behalf of the American people, we have to make sure that our leaders are held accountable. We cannot have a president of the United States that is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments, foreign Chinese energy companies, Ukrainian energy companies. So on Jan. 21, I will filing articles of impeachment on Joe Biden."

Greene's reliance on debunked conspiracy theories to impugn Biden meshes with her spouting of support for QAnon right-wing conspiracy theories about a "deep state" at war with Donald Trump, made up of child sex traffickers and cannibals.

During another appearance on Newsmax Thursday morning, Greene was asked if her fellow Republicans supported her plans.

"Well, I've already spoken with quite a few of them before I released this information and my plan to introduce articles of impeachment on Jan. 21," she said. "Look, the Republican Party needs to change things up. The silent majority in this nation is fed up with being the target and not having representatives, not having people in Congress stand up for them."

She said Democrats have "no intention of unity, they have no intention of healing, they only have full-scale plans to make everyone lay down, sit down, and shut up, and just go along with whatever they want to do, which is censorship."

Greene's colleagues in the House have repeatedly claimed that impeaching Trump would only stir division in the country, but have remained silent on her threats to impeach Biden.

Two days after the attack on the Capitol that left five dead, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted that "impeaching the President with just 12 days left will only divide our country more."

Rep. Tim Burchett (TN) claimed on Twitter that while Trump "showed extremely poor leadership" by inciting an attempted coup, "there is no good constitutional argument for impeachment."

"Speaker Pelosi knows the Senate will not try this case before the President leaves office. Impeachmentwill only worsen divisions, rather than uniting us," Burchett added.

Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado criticized the supposed divisiveness of impeachment proceedings on Friday, tweeting, "Democrats to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday. New year, new impeachment. Same disrespect for our Constitution."

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas tweeted on Friday, "To impeach @POTUS at this point, with fewer than two weeks remaining in his term, would be nothing more than a reckless political statement. By its design, it will only further sow division and heighten tensions among the American people."

Rep. Bryan Steil (WI), said Friday that Biden must "condemn this reckless move" to impeach Trump.

"From the riots in Kenosha, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis and dozens of other cities to what happened in D.C. this week, what we need right now is leaders to tone down their actions, not enflame the situation," he wrote on Facebook.

Freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, another QAnon fan, slammed Democrats for talk of "expedited impeachment proceedings."

"Either Democrats are going to be honest about calls for unity or they will continue with this rhetoric. Can't do both," she tweeted.

On Saturday, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio weighed in: "Unity and healing doesn't happen with cancel culture and impeachment."

Rep. Kevin Brady (TX) took to Twitter, claiming that those calling for Trump's impeachment were "calling for action that is equally irresponsible and could well incite further violence."

"Will seeking political retribution calm the violence and division in our nation? We can keep canceling one another, hurting one another, hating one another, or we can stop," tweeted Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry on Monday.

The offices of Fortenberry, Brady, Buck, Jordan, Boebert, Steil, Roy, Burchett, and McCarthy did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Greene's remarks.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump And Allies Enraged As Social Media Ban Expands

Steve Cortes, a senior adviser with Donald Trump's election campaign, took to Twitter to complain that Trump and his "movement" were being censored by "Big Tech" as a number of social media platforms suspended the accounts of the White House occupant and his supporters after Wednesday's deadly attack on the Capitol.

"I'm on Bannon's War Room soon discussing Big Tech/Big Brother suppressing the speech of the president and our movement - including Michelle Obama's shameful call for a permanent de-platforming," tweeted Cortes.

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GOP Senators See No Reason To Provide Needy Families With Virus Relief

A number of Senate Republicans are making their opposition to proposed $2,000 coronavirus relief checks clear — as well as the fact that they don't think Americans really need it.

Donald Trump himself has pushed for the larger checks, accusing Republicans of having a "death wish" for not supporting the idea and for only passing $600 direct payments in the most recent round of COVID relief legislation. In the current iteration, only individuals making under $75,000 and households making less than $150,000 are eligible for the $600 checks.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stalled the follow-up CASH Act, which would allot $2,000 to qualifying Americans in lieu of the amount previously agreed upon in the House and Senate, regardless of that fact.

According to a Washington Post report, six GOP senators have followed Trump in voicing support for the $2,000 checks. They include Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Lindsey Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL), and Josh Hawley (MO). Perdue and Loeffler are notably facing a tight runoff election next week against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.

But many others have openly condemned the idea of larger payments, suggesting in some cases that Americans don't actually need the money.

On Wednesday morning, Sen. John Cornyn took to Twitter to complain that the CASH Act did not sufficiently target those who have lost wages.

"Under the CASH Act (the House's $2,000 bill), an individual making $100,000 will get a $750 check. It completely phases out for those making more than $115K," Cornyn tweeted. "There doesn't seem to be a requirement that the recipient actually lost any income due to COVID-19."

He complained that the $2,000 checks would add billions to the cost of COVID relief.

"Remind me, why would we want to borrow money from our children and grandchildren to send a check to someone who has not suffered a financial hardship related to #COVID19?" Cornyn wrote.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) also claimed that sending Americans $2,000 relief checks would be "mortgaging our children's future."

"Without targeting, 2,000/person payments will add $464 billion to the debt burden we are placing on our children. By effectively targeting relief, we can help those in need and minimize how much we are mortgaging our children's future," he tweeted.

Johnson also said he was concerned the earlier round of stimulus checks was going to people who still had jobs.

"At the worst point of the COVID recession, total employment was down 25 million, but we sent relief checks to 166 million people. If we're going to send out more checks, shouldn't we target help to those who truly need it?" he tweeted.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) appeared on CNN to slam the proposed increase, saying they were a "very bad idea".

"I'm not going to [support $2,000 checks] because I think it's a very bad idea," he said. "We're talking about sending checks, the vast majority of which will be going to people who have had no loss of income whatsoever. That's just a fact. How and why does that make any sense at all?"

He claimed that even the merits of the original round of stimulus checks in the spring were "dubious," but noted that "we're in a very different place than we were in March," when the Senate passed the CARES Act.

"The economy grew at 33 percent last quarter," Toomey said. "We've got very acute problems within certain employment groups … but we do not have a global macro economic depression underway at all. So it makes no sense to be sending this out to everybody who has a pulse."

Toomey failed to take into account that even a 33 percent increase does not put the economy back to pre-pandemic levels. Gross domestic product is still down by 3.5 percent from highs before the pandemic, according to Market Watch — a net loss of $670 billion in total economic activity.

"To put this in context, a 3.5% decline in real GDP would still be the third worst recession in the post–World War II period," PNC Financial Services chief economist Gus Faucher told Market Watch.

And despite the rosy picture painted by some Senate Republicans, millions of Americans are still suffering economically and in need of direct payments.

According to Pew Research, one-quarter of American adults across all economic brackets have struggled to pay basic bills during the pandemic. One-quarter of U.S. adults also report they or someone in their household has been laid off, and 32 percent report they or someone in their household lost wages. And 60 percent of those who lost wages are still earning less than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

Among lower-income individuals, 46 percent have struggled to pay basic bills, 32 percent have struggled to pay rent or mortgage, and 35 percent have had to visit food banks for basic necessities.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.