Republican Lawmaker Files Bill To Abolish Dept. Of Education https://goo.gl/pofGb5

"The Hill:

On the same day the Senate confirmed President Trump’s secretary of Education pick by a historically narrow margin, a House Republican introduced legislation to abolish the entire department Betsy DeVos will lead.

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie’s bill is only a page long, after merely stating the Department of Education would terminate on Dec. 31, 2018.

Massie believes that policymakers at the state and local levels should be responsible for education policy, instead of a federal agency that’s been in place since 1980.

“Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students,” Massie said in a statement.

Former President Reagan called for dismantling the Department of Education, along with the Department of Energy. But that proposal ultimately never came to fruition."

rest at https://goo.gl/pofGb5

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A Vote for Tom Price is a Vote to Destroy Medicare https://goo.gl/iPfJxH

"no one voted to destroy Medicare. Yet, the first battle in the war over Medicare has arrived.

Why would anyone want to destroy Medicare? It has stood the test of time. The smart policy is to expand it to everyone. Medicare shows government at its best.

Government at its best! There’s the rub: Given Medicare’s proven success — its low administrative costs, its efficient coverage of those with the greatest medical needs and costs, and its enormous popularity — it is no wonder that anti-government zealots hate the program.

Medicare demonstrates that there are some services that the federal government provides better than the private sector. The mere existence of Medicare (and Social Security) puts the lie to the claim that everything should be privatized. For that reason, today’s Republicans, who hate government and want to privatize everything, are determined to end Medicare as we know it.

One of those anti-government zealots, Representative Tom Price (R-GA), has been nominated by Donald Trump to be the fox in the Medicare hen house — Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Department responsible for the administration of Medicare. He has made his antagonism to Medicare clear.

Against all evidence, Price claims that “nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government’s intrusion into medicine through Medicare.” Of course, the exact opposite is true. Medicare saves lives. It allows seniors and people with disabilities, those with the greatest health needs, to obtain life-saving health care.

With true radical zeal, Price has said “we will not rest until we make certain that government-run health care [e.g., Medicare] is ended.” If confirmed by the Senate, Price will be in a powerful position to carry out his threat to end Medicare.

589a2c3f2800002500997752.jpg Rep. Tom Price

There are two ways to destroy Medicare. One is legislatively. The other is administratively. If Representative Tom Price is confirmed to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, he will be in a position to destroy it both ways, and along with it, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and so many other programs vital to the health and well-being of all of us.

Let’s start with destruction by legislation. Right after the election, Speaker Paul Ryan made clear his plan to end Medicare legislatively. He falsely announced that repealing Obamacare requires “reforming” Medicare. His reform? Send seniors and people with disabilities into the private insurance market armed with nothing but an inadequate amount of cash. Anyone who knew the world before Medicare knows that seniors and people with disabilities were often unable to buy insurance at any price. Those who could were forced to pay exorbitant prices.

That is the world to which the aptly named Price wants to return us. Price, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and Ryan co-conspirator, reinforced Ryan’s Medicare threat by revealing that the Republicans planned to enact Medicare privatization in the first six to eight months of the Trump administration.

As Secretary of Health and Human Services , Price would be in an even more powerful position to work to end Medicare. Rather than one of 435 members of the House of Representatives, he would, if confirmed, be the Trump administration’s chief Medicare spokesman.

And, as the top Medicare person, he could do even more destruction than pushing legislation that ends Medicare. As Secretary, he could revoke regulations that protect Medicare beneficiaries and could issue regulations that harm them. Moreover, policymakers, researchers and others rely on the Department of Health and Human Services for accurate, reliable data. In this world of alternative “facts,” could anyone trust the data put forward by a Department Secretary who is determined to end Medicare?

Senate Democrats recognize the threat. To deprive Price of all this power over Medicare, they boycotted the Committee vote on his nomination, since the rules require the presence of at least one member of the opposition party. So, what did their Republican counterparts do? They ignored the rules and unanimously voted him out of Committee with no Democrats present.

With the Muslim ban appropriately dominating the national news and with Senate votes coming up on so many nominees who want to undermine the very missions of the agencies they will control, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Anti-public schools advocate Betsy DeVos was just confirmed as Secretary of Education after an unprecedented tie vote . Racist Senator Jeff Sessions may, in the next few days, be confirmed as Attorney General, and therefore be in charge of our civil rights.

But here is the oddly good news. Sessions’ confirmation vote is scheduled to come before the vote on Price. Outrageous as it will be, if Sessions is confirmed, it will mean that other Cabinet nominees, including Price, can be blocked with just two Republican Senators voting with the Democrats.

I am deeply suspicious that Senators Susan Collins’s and Lisa Murkowski’s votes against Betsy DeVos were not courageous and principled. Rather, I believe that they may have been just the opposite – cowardly and cynical. After all, if they really wanted to block DeVos they could have done it in committee. McConnell may have granted Collins and Murkowski permission to vote against DeVos, knowing their votes were not needed and recognizing that their constituents were strenuously opposed to DeVos’s confirmation.

Collins and Murkowski can prove me wrong by voting against putting Tom Price in charge of Medicare, a program that he himself has proclaimed he wants to end. After all, bad as DeVos is, education is still largely a state and local matter. Not true for Medicare, which is a completely federal program.

If Price is confirmed by all (or all but one) Republican Senator voting for confirmation, it will be clear that Collins and Murkowski acted cynically in voting for DeVos. It will also be clear that the Republican Party wants to destroy Medicare.

Those of us working to expand, not cut Medicare will do everything we can to assure that the American people understand that a vote for Price is a vote to destroy Medicare. We will do all we can to assure that the electorate never forgets who voted for Price, and, in so doing, voted to destroy Medicare.

That may feel like a threat. I prefer to think of it as a promise."

rest at https://goo.gl/iPfJxH

If Republicans won’t take a stand on someone as incompetent as Betsy DeVos, what will they take a stand on?

"To put it baldly, she showed at her confirmation hearing that not only did she have no real background in public schools, she had nothing to contribute to the ongoing debates on how to make them better. Actually, she didn’t even seem to know what the debates are — or about the existence of existing laws governing education. Let’s forget the silly remark about some schools needing guns for protection against grizzly bears — please — and remember that she was unfamiliar with the key ways in which student achievement is measured, or the federal law for protecting students with disabilities, and that she refused to say she’d hold all kinds of schools equally accountable.

A few heads should be hanging with shame in the Senate today. If they were unable to show integrity or basic guts in such a clear-cut matter, Americans can expect no courage from them in the worrisome years to come."

rest at https://goo.gl/j2nBWf

House Republicans voted to eliminate Election Assistance Commission https://goo.gl/ZobRsB

"This move is particularly worrisome given reports that suspected Russian hackers attempted to access voter-registration systems in more than 20 states during the 2016 election. Moreover, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration set up by President Obama in 2014 outlined an “impending crisis” in voting technology and the Brennan Center found that 42 states used voting machines in 2016 that were at least a decade-old and at risk of failing. The EAC was the agency tasked with making sure these voting systems were both modernized and secure.

The EAC is not a perfect agency. It lacked a quorum of members from 2010 to 2014 and was paralyzed by inaction. Then, last year, its executive director unilaterally approved controversial proof-of-citizenship laws in Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama, which the federal courts subsequently blocked.

But given the threats to American democracy at this moment, the EAC needs to be strengthened, not replaced.

It’s particularly ironic that the Trump administration is preparing to launch a massive investigation into nonexistent voter fraud based on the lie that millions voted illegally while House Republicans are shutting down the agency that is supposed to make sure America’s elections are secure. It’s more proof of how the GOP’s real agenda is to make it harder to vote. "

rest at https://goo.gl/ZobRsB

White House Official: Unless Media Coverage Of Trump Is Positive, We Will Call It “Fake News”

"CNN: Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, said Monday that the administration will continue using the term “fake news” until the media understands that their “monumental desire” to attack the President is wrong.

“There is a monumental desire on behalf of the majority of the media, not just the pollsters, the majority of the media to attack a duly elected President in the second week of his term,” Gorka, a former Breitbart editor who also holds a PhD in political science, told syndicated conservative radio host Michael Medved.

“That’s how unhealthy the situation is and until the media understands how wrong that attitude is, and how it hurts their credibility, we are going to continue to say, ‘fake news.’ I’m sorry, Michael. That’s the reality,” he added.

Trump and his staff have repeatedly used the term “fake news” to discredit reporting on the presidential administration from mainstream outlets such as CNN and The New York Times, often offering no evidence to back up their disputes with those outlets’ stories.

Earlier in the interview, Gorka was asked by Medved whether he would acknowledge that the administration’s controversial statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day was “at least questionable in being the first such statement in many years that didn’t recognize that Jewish extermination was the chief goal of the Holocaust.”

Gorka replied by calling criticism of the statement “asinine,” arguing that it was motivated by the media’s desire to attack Trump."

rest at https://goo.gl/aHFOpN

GOP lawmaker proposes abolishing Department of Education https://goo.gl/cSWTRF

"On the same day the Senate confirmed President Trump’s secretary of Education pick by a historically narrow margin, a House Republican introduced legislation to abolish the entire department Betsy DeVos will lead.

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie’s bill is only a page long, after merely stating the Department of Education would terminate on Dec. 31, 2018.

Massie believes that policymakers at the state and local levels should be responsible for education policy, instead of a federal agency that’s been in place since 1980.

"Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students,” Massie said in a statement.

Former President Reagan called for dismantling the Department of Education, along with the Department of Energy. But that proposal ultimately never came to fruition.

Seven other Republicans signed on to Massie’s bill: House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Raúl Labrador (Idaho).

The Senate confirmed DeVos earlier Tuesday on a 51-50 vote following an all-night session forced by Democrats unanimously opposed to her nomination.

Teachers unions and liberal groups rallied against DeVos, whose family has donated extensively to GOP lawmakers, for her support for charter schools and lack of experience in public education.

Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), voted against DeVos, citing thousands of calls to their offices from people opposed to her nomination.

But the two GOP defections weren’t enough to derail DeVos’s nomination. Vice President Pence cast the deciding vote on DeVos to break a tie.

Pence is the first vice president in history to break a tie on a Cabinet nominee. Tuesday also marked the first time a vice president has broken a tie in the Senate since 2008."

rest at https://goo.gl/cSWTRF