H.R. 2213–will this bill become law?

bipartisanH.R. 2213–will this bill become law, should it?“

For more than two decades, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit has proven to be highly effective in ensuring individuals on public assistance can make the transition to private sector jobs. In fact, since the program’s enactment, thirteen million people have benefitted, in turn reducing federal and state government spending,” said Chairman Thompson (D-CA).

“I have long advocated for the WOTC program to continue, as it is a proven tool to move eligible individuals off of unemployment and into the workforce,” said Rep. Pascrell (D-NJ).

“With more jobs available than those seeking employment across the country, we need to bring people from the sidelines of the economy into the workforce,” said Rep. Rice (R-SC). “Making the Work Opportunity Tax Credit permanent will incentivize employers to hire and retain people who have been struggling to find long-term, meaningful employment opportunities.”

“The Work Opportunity Tax Credit has long provided veterans and individuals from disadvantaged groups support in their search for sustainable employment,” said Rep. Suozzi (D-NY).

“We care about rewarding work and ensuring everyone has a fair shot to provide for themselves and their families,” said Rep. Reed (R-NY). “Providing incentives for employers to hire people stuck on the sidelines who have trouble finding a job is essential for many folks in their pursuit of the American dream.”

What is the real purpose of this bill, to help workers or to help employers? Or is it campaign material for the sponsors?





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Should we punish a people if we don’t like their Government?

sanctionsShould we punish a people if we don’t like their Government?

How about these people?

  • Palestine–5 million
  • N. Korea–25 million
  • Cuba–11 million
  • Iran–81 million
  • Honduras–9 million
  • Nicaragua–6 million
  • Guatemala–17 million
  • Venezuela–32 million
  • Mexico–129 million

Sanctions, which punish the people rather than the rulers, seem cruel and are likely ineffective. How about China with 1.4 billion people; could punishing China be a good idea?

Are sanctions effective? On Iran from CRS report:

Effects on Iran’s Regional Influence

Neither the imposition, lifting, or reimposition of strict sanctions have appeared to affect Iran’s regional behavior. Iran intervened extensively in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen during the 2012-2016 period when sanctions had a significant adverse effect on Iran’s economy. Iran apparently is able to manufacture domestically the weaponry it suppliers to such entities, and sanctions do not appear to be an effective tool to limit such Iranian efforts. Iran has remained engaged in these regional conflicts since sanctions were eased in early 2016, and has apparently adjusted its level of activity in these conflicts to battlefield and local developments.

Human Rights-Related Effects

It is difficult to draw any direct relationship between sanctions and Iran’s human rights practices. Recent human rights reports by the State Department and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Iran’s human rights practices generally assess that there has been some modest improvement in some of Iran’s practices in recent years, particularly relaxation of enforcement of the public dress code for women. But the altered policies cannot necessarily be attributed to sanctions relief.

Since at least 2012, foreign firms have generally refrained from selling the Iranian government equipment to monitor or censor social media use. Such firms include German telecommunications firm Siemens, Chinese internet infrastructure firm Huawei, and South African firm MTN Group. In October 2012, Eutelsat, a significant provider of satellite service to Iran’s state broadcasting establishment, ended that relationship after the EU sanctioned the then head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Ezzatollah Zarghami. However, the regime retains the ability to monitor and censor social media use.

Humanitarian Effects

During 2012-2016, sanctions produced significant humanitarian-related effects, particularly in limiting the population’s ability to obtain expensive Western-made medicines, such as chemotherapy drugs. Some of the scarcity was caused by banks’ refusal to finance such sales, even though doing so was not subject to any sanctions. Some observers say the Iranian government exaggerated reports of medicine shortages to generate opposition to the sanctions.

Other accounts say that Iranians, particularly those with connections to the government, took advantage of medicine shortages by cornering the import market for key medicines. However, some of these shortages resurfaced in 2018 following the reimposition of sanctions by the Trump Administration. For example, reports in 2018 indicated that the reimposition of U.S. sanctions may be inhibiting the flow of humanitarian goods to the Iranian people and reportedly contributing to shortages in medicine to treat ailments such as multiple sclerosis and cancer.





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Two Network Neutrality Bills

Pelosi“CenturyLink serves on the board of USTelecom, which spent $42.13 million on lobbying from 2010 – 2017. USTelecom’s lobbying against net neutrality has attracted attention …” CenturyLink 2018 Annual Report (Tom Reed invested in Level 3 Communications, merged with CenturyLink)

Two bills were introduced in the House (116th Congress) to restore net neutrality. The bills are:

  • H.R.1096 – Promoting Internet Freedom and Innovation Act of 2019
  • H.R.1644 – Save the Internet Act of 2019

These bills have much in common:

  • Both offer to protect network neutrality
  • Both are partisan bills–H.R.1096 with 24 cosponsors, all Republicans; H.R.1644 passed by the House supported by Democrats.
  • Neither has a chance to become law during this session of Congress.

Network neutrality is favored by many but opposed by telecommunications industry giants. Both political parties claim to support neutrality. Democrats passed H.R.1644 in the House on a party line vote; it will not be considered by the Republican controlled Senate. House Republicans support H.R.1096; it will not be considered by the House. Since neither bill will become law, both must be considered political posturing. Read about both bills here.




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Medicare scam

headache“Federal prosecutors on Tuesday said they dismantled one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever investigated by the FBI, charging 24 people in a $1.2 billion alleged scam involving telemedicine and durable medical equipment companies.”

“The IRS chief of criminal investigation, Don Fort, said in a statement that the organized scheme “details broad corruption, massive amounts of greed, and systemic flaws in our healthcare system that were exploited by the defendants.”

We have been getting these robocalls for months if not years. Why are our laws so weak; why did it take so long?


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A faint hope for lower drug prices

We were able to move forward in a bipartisan way on bills that will help bring generic drugs to market faster, which will make medications more affordable,” said Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey.

A faint hope for lower drug prices as a result of bipartisan resolve:

The (House Energy and Commerce) committee  also approved a set of relatively small-scale bills aimed at reducing drug prices by increasing competition from generic drugs. It hopes to increase the sharing of information and to combat the steps brand-name drug makers take to slow the development and marketing of lower-cost generic alternatives.

One more notable bill, titled the CREATES Act, would make it easier for manufacturers of generics to get the brand name samples they need for testing. This legislation, which had been stalled, passed unanimously after the two parties reached an agreement.

One infers that brand name owners have been making life difficult for manufacturers of generics, and that Congress has been complicit in that.

“This will make a real difference for many Americans and this just goes to show that when we work together, we can achieve real results,” said Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, the committee’s ranking member, and Texas Rep. Michael C. Burgess, the top Republican on the health subcommittee.

With bipartisan support, there may be a chance that these bills will become law


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Free speech

free speechLast week, President Trump “signed an executive order to authorize the denial of federal funds to colleges that suppress student free-speech rights,” F.H. Buckley writes in the New York Post. Students who express conservative views on college campuses have been routinely denounced across the country—but no more, says President Trump. “The federal government awards billions to our universities; top schools get a billion apiece. That’s going to stop, he said, if they don’t honor free-speech rights.”–White House email March 25, 2019

The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a massive, long-lasting student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The Movement was informally under the central leadership of Berkeley graduate student Mario Savio. Other student leaders include Jack Weinberg, Michael Rossman, George Barton, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Michael Teal, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others.

With the participation of thousands of students, the Free Speech Movement was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s. Students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom. The Free Speech Movement was influenced by the New Left, and was also related to the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. To this day, the Movement’s legacy continues to shape American political dialogue both on college campuses and in broader society, impacting on the political views and values of college students and the general public.–Wikipedia

Trump’s concern is that divisive speech by right-wing zealots is suppressed, a dubious idea. What a change from a time when the New Left demanded to be heard.

There’s a story conservatives have been telling about the decline of free speech on campuses, and it goes like this: America has spiraled downward from a golden age, when the groves of academe were precincts of whole-hearted civil freedom, to today, when hypersensitive left-wing students, obsessed by race- and gender-based “microaggressions,” clamor for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”–Todd Gitlin August 11, 2017

Read more in the WAPO article cited.




View at Medium.com

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We have seen this before

rmnI am not a crook–RMN

If Nixon goes free, no one should be found guilty of anything–prospective juror to Detroit Recorder’s Court judge shortly after Nixon resigned.

The Watergate scandal followed the arrest of burglars at the Democratic National Committee office in 1972. Subsequently, President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment; 48 government officials were  found guilty, including:

  1. John N. Mitchell, Attorney General, later Director of “Committee to Re-elect the President”
  2. Richard Kleindienst, Attorney General
  3. Jeb Stuart Magruder, Deputy Director of “Committee to Re-elect the President”
  4. Frederick C. LaRue, Adviser to John Mitchell
  5. H. R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff for Nixon
  6. John Ehrlichman, Counsel to Nixon 
  7. Egil Krogh, aide to John Ehrlichman
  8. John W. Dean III, counsel to Nixon
  9. Dwight L. Chapin, deputy assistant to Nixon
  10. Maurice Stans, Finance Chairman of “Committee to Re-elect the President”
  11. Herbert W. Kalmbach, personal attorney to Nixon
  12. Charles W. Colson, special counsel to Nixon, 
  13. Herbert L. Porter, aide to the “Committee to Re-elect the President”
  14. G. Gordon Liddy, Special Investigations Group
  15. E. Howard Hunt, security consultant

President Nixon left Washington; Vice President Gerald Ford became President. Ford, who had been appointed VP by Nixon, later pardoned Nixon for his crimes. I understand why Nixon was pardoned, but the pardon left the impression that justice was not done–Nixon escaped conviction and possible punishment while 48 of his associates did not.

I have the same feeling today–in face of repeated lies, conviction of his associates, and multiple charges of wrongdoing, the “Summary of the Mueller Report” by Attorney General Barr, whom Trump appointed as AG, allows President Trump to claim vindication while scandal still rages, while his associates are convicted and punished.





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