Political news briefs compiled over the past few months

Staff Reports



The Republican State Leadership Committee

Are you watching what’s happening in the states?

While Democrats try to come to a consensus on how to move their party forward, newly Republican-led states have hit the ground running! A recent New York Times article shows the policy movements happening in red states, where Republican-controlled government is at or near all-time highs. These states are moving key conservative policies forward like school choice, right to work and public pension reform.

But we know Democrats are organizing and have said they’ll turn their attention squarely on the states. From their party’s heaviest hitters, like Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee, to organizations like the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and the State Innovation Exchange, Democrats say they’ll look to the states in an effort to finally make gains before the next round of redistricting.

Will you contribute $10 today to help Republicans keep and grow our ranks in state government? With your ongoing support and with a slate of accomplished Republican candidates running, we are ready to continue our winning strategy.

State G.O.P. Leaders Move Swiftly as Party Bickers in Congress

New York Times; February 11, 2017

When Republicans in Kentucky seized total control of the state government last year, Damon Thayer, the majority leader in the State Senate, began asking around for advice from counterparts in other capitals where the party already dominated both the legislative and executive branches.

How should we handle all this power? he wanted to know.

One answer impressed him, Mr. Thayer said, from a senior Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin: “Move quickly.”

Kentucky Republicans have done just that, swiftly passing laws to roll back the powers of labor unions and restrict access to abortion. But they are only getting started, Mr. Thayer said in an interview: They also plan to make sweeping changes to the education and public pension systems this year.

And they have plenty of company.

While Republicans in Washington appear flummoxed by the complexities of one-party rule, struggling with issues from repealing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, to paying for President Trump’s promised wall on the Mexican border, rising party leaders in the states seem far more at ease and assertive. Republicans have top-to-bottom control in 25 states now, holding both the governorship and the entire legislature, and Republican lawmakers are acting with lightning speed to enact longstanding conservative priorities…

Letter Seeks Federal Assistance in Protecting Jewish Organizations

WASHINGTON, DC —U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) joined all 100 members of the U.S. Senate in a letter to Trump Administration officials March 7 to address recent bomb threats that have been made against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Day Schools, and Synagogues in Ohio and throughout the country. The Senators urged Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey to continue efforts to combat these anti-Semitic acts and to keep the Senate apprised of future action.

The letter also called for federal assistance in investigating and persecuting threats made against Jewish community organizations and in highlighting federal grants that could be used to enhance security measures. The Senators asked the respective federal agencies to work with state and local law enforcement to outline obligations under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act and other federal laws.

“These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states,” said Brown and Portman in the letter. “We are concerned that the number of incidents is accelerating and failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs, many of which are institutions in their communities.”

“We encourage you to communicate with individual JCCs, the JCC Association of North America, Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues and other Jewish community institutions regarding victim assistance, grant opportunities or other federal assistance that may be available to enhance security measures and improve preparedness,” continued the Senators. “We also recognize the anti-Semitic sentiment behind this spate of threats and encourage your Departments to continue to inform state and local law enforcement organizations of their obligations under the Hate Crime Statistics Act and other federal laws.”

The American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Community Center Association of North America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Orthodox Union, Jewish Federations of North America and Union for Reform Judaism all supported today’s letter.

A copy of the letter is included below.

Dear Secretary Kelly, Attorney General Sessions, and Director Comey:

We write to underscore the need for swift action with regard to the deeply troubling series of anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues and other buildings affiliated with Jewish organizations or institutions across the country. We thank you for your recent efforts and ask that you inform us of the actions that your Departments plan to take to address threats against these and other religious institutions. We stand ready to work with you to ensure that these centers can continue to serve their communities free from violence and intimidation.

It has become clear that threats of violence against individual JCCs are not isolated incidents. According to the JCC Association of North America, in the first two months of 2017 alone, at least 98 incidents against JCCs and Jewish Day Schools at 81 locations in 33 states have been reported. These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states. In addition to reports of incidents at JCCs and Jewish Day Schools, there have been incidents at cemeteries in both St. Louis and Philadelphia involving the desecration of Jewish headstones. This is completely unacceptable and un-American.

We are concerned that the number of incidents is accelerating and failure to address and deter these threats will place innocent people at risk and threaten the financial viability of JCCs, many of which are institutions in their communities. Your Departments can provide crucial assistance by helping JCCs, Jewish Day Schools and Synagogues improve their physical security, deterring threats from being made, and investigating and prosecuting those making these threats or who may seek to act on these threats on the future. We encourage you to communicate with individual JCCs, the JCC Association of North America, Jewish Day Schools, Synagogues and other Jewish community institutions regarding victim assistance, grant opportunities or other federal assistance that may be available to enhance security measures and improve preparedness. We also recognize the anti-Semitic sentiment behind this spate of threats and encourage your Departments to continue to inform state and local law enforcement organizations of their obligations under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act and other federal laws.

We are ready to work with you to address this pressing issue, and we look forward to your responses about the actions you intend to take to address, deter, and prevent this threat.

Ohio Advocates Opposing Puzder for Labor Secretary Say Trump Has Betrayed Working People with Pick, Call for Rejection of Nominee by Senate

Nominee’s record as fast food CEO stands in contrast to Trump’s campaign pledges

At a press conference in Columbus, Ohio a group of advocates for workers and women called on Senator Rob Portman to oppose Donald Trump’s pick of Andrew Puzder for labor secretary, citing the nominee’s abhorrent record as CEO of a fast food corporation.

“Donald Trump made a lot of promises to working people in the election last year,” said Ohio AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Petee Talley. “He promised to help the forgotten men and women in our economy, but Trump’s nomination of Andrew Puzder to be secretary of labor betrays those promises in very blatant ways,” she said.

Citing Puzder’s record as the CEO of CKE Restaurants as well as his public statements, Talley said Puzder has “a callous disregard for the welfare of workers” and that his nomination is a “slap in the face to working people everywhere.”

Hannah Halbert, policy analyst at Policy Matters Ohio, a non-profit policy research institute, argued that his confirmation as labor secretary would be a dangerous development for Ohio working people. “Andrew Puzder as labor secretary would be the proverbial fox guarding the hen-house. Wage and hour violations were found at over half of Department of Labor investigations of restaurants his company runs,” said Halbert. “Working people need and deserve a labor secretary who will focus on worker health, safety and advancement, not the extremist agenda of irresponsible corporate employers,” she said.

Erin Ryan of the Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network, a coalition of women’s advocacy organizations focused on promoting policies that create economic security for women, said that Ohio women have much to be concerned about with Puzder’s nomination. “Making up two-thirds of the low-wage workforce, women would be disproportionately impacted by Puzder’s stances opposing commonsense, family-friendly workplace policies,” she asserted. “Working women deserve a labor secretary that will be their champion and defend their rights in the workplace. Andrew Puzder is not that person, and he should not be confirmed by the Senate,” said Ryan.

State Representative Robert Sprague Announces Candidacy for Ohio State Treasurer

FINDLAY – State Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) announced his candidacy for Treasurer of the State of Ohio. Representative Sprague currently represents the 83rd Ohio House District, which includes Hancock, Hardin and part of Logan County.

“After thoughtful consideration and discussions with my wife and family, I have decided that I am prepared to make the commitment to serve the citizens of our great state as the next Treasurer of Ohio. I am running for Treasurer because I want to bring the type of ethical, innovative, problem-solving leadership to the Treasurer’s office that Ohioans deserve – the kind of leadership that will flawlessly execute the office’s core functions, and that will also transform the office and role of the Treasurer into one that can and should be used as a highly effective tool to address some of Ohio’s most pressing problems.

“As Treasurer, Josh Mandel has done an incredible job of doing more than just administering the office – he has also brought an innovative mindset to the position that has provided greater accountability to Ohio taxpayers and a renewed trust in the office, ensuring that Ohioans’ interests are being well-served and that our state’s financial assets are being well-managed. I intend to build upon the strong foundation that Treasurer Mandel has established and bring my own innovative ideas to the position that I know will benefit the lives of millions of Ohioans.

“From my service as Treasurer and Auditor for the City of Findlay, to my role as a state legislator, I have a strong record as a fiscal conservative who has balanced budgets, cut the cost of government, and effectively managed taxpayer dollars. Many tough decisions had to be made along the way, but I was there to make them and do my part to lead our communities and state toward a better future.

“I believe that my international experience in business and finance makes me uniquely qualified for the job of State Treasurer. But in addition to that experience, I’ve also had to meet a payroll as a small businessperson, so I know firsthand what it means to run a business and I am all too familiar with the challenges that Ohio’s job creators face on a daily basis. In order for Ohio to truly prosper, we need to release Ohio businesses from the shackles of government over-regulation, encourage and incentivize them to innovate, and give families the tools they need to make informed financial decisions for themselves. I will do my part to accomplish all of these things as State Treasurer.

“As our next State Treasurer, I have a vision that extends beyond dollars and cents. I plan to use the Treasurer’s office to make a difference on critical issues that Ohioans are facing every day – providing real-world, conservative solutions to help tackle real-world problems. That’s the type of vision and innovative leadership Ohioans deserve and have the right to expect from their elected officials, regardless of their position.

“I am running for Treasurer because I want to serve my fellow Ohioans. I want to make a positive and meaningful difference – not just for my family, but for all Ohio families. My commitment to the citizens of our state is that I will do this job with highest integrity and that every decision I make will be in their best interests.”

Robert Sprague has served in the Ohio House of Representatives since 2011, representing the 83rd District. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University and earned his MBA from the University of North Carolina. He currently resides in his hometown of Findlay with his wife, Amanda, and their five children, Cole, Davis, Graham, Tate, and Mary Hannah. They are members of Gateway Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Wyden Announces ‘No’ Vote on Betsy DeVos to Head the Department of Education

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced he will vote against the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be the next secretary of the Department of Education.

“A bedrock principle of America’s public educational system is investing public money in schools meant to serve everyone, not siphoning off scarce taxpayer dollars to private or religious education. Unfortunately, the president-elect’s choice for Education Secretary has indicated she supports an approach that flies in the face of America’s long-time, commonsense investment in public education opportunities that recognizes education is an essential rung to climb the economic ladder.

“At her nomination hearing yesterday, Betsy DeVos also wavered on fundamental issues like keeping our students safe from gun violence, working to end sexual assault on college campuses, ensuring students with disabilities get a quality education and protecting all students against discrimination and harassment.

“For those reasons and others, I will be voting against the nomination of Betsy DeVos and I will be working to hold the next administration accountable for ensuring the safety of our students and keeping educational opportunities open to all.”

Tiberi Statement on President Trump’s First Joint Address to Congress

Congressman Pat Tiberi released the following statement after President Donald Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress:

“As Republicans, we have long believed that people, not the federal bureaucracy, should be put first. I am encouraged by President Donald Trump’s commitment to putting patients at the center of our health care system, to reforming the tax code so that families can save more of their hard-earned dollars, and to reining in federal regulations to return power to our local communities. These solutions reflect the ideas that we ran on to provide relief from Obamacare’s broken promises and unleash economic growth nationwide.

“Our agenda is bold because Americans demanded change and a better way. The House has already made progress by passing over a dozen jobs bills to stop harmful regulations, and the wheels are in motion to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that gives people more affordable choices and increased access to the care they need. As the health subcommittee chairman, I hope Democrats join us in this effort because as the President said, Obamacare is collapsing. We must move forward with reforms that protect our constituents from a failing system.

“President Trump’s speech tonight was inspirational and it struck the right tone. America’s future is bright, and we want to empower people who make it so. That is an optimistic vision everyone can come together on.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio calls on Justice Sharon Kennedy’s recusal

Participation in anti-abortion event inappropriate before upcoming cases

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is calling on Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy to recuse herself from relevant cases coming before the court this year following her appearance at a Toledo fundraiser hosted by Right to Life of Greater Toledo.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “Justice Sharon Kennedy should recuse herself from any case related to legislation that was proposed and supported by the anti-abortion groups that endorsed her candidacy, to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

She continued: “By participating in an organization’s fundraising event, Justice Kennedy has cast serious doubt on her ability remain impartial. Ohioans must be able to have faith in their government’s protection of rights without bias.”

Two cases involving abortion providers will come before the state Supreme Court this year. Toledo’s last abortion clinic, Capital Care Network of Toledo, is challenging the state’s transfer agreement requirements. Separately, Cleveland abortion clinic Preterm is challenging abortion restrictions added into the 2013 state budget as violations of Ohio’s single-subject requirement for legislation.

Tiberi: Exchanges Are Collapsing, the Individual Market is Being Destroyed

U. S. Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, spoke during a press conference with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. and other House Republicans marking the advancement of their effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Good to be with you, Dr. Price. As former colleagues on Ways and Means we miss you, but we are glad you are where you are.

“When I was in high school, my dad lost his job and his employer provided health care. So I lost my health care. I understand how traumatic that can be.

“But what Dr. Price just said has not been quite frankly, understood quite well. And that is less than 10 percent of Americans are on co-ops in individual market on the exchanges. And that system is failing.

“It is failing Americans in my state and it is failing Americans all over the country. In my state the co-op failed last summer. The exchanges have experienced double-digit premium increases, narrower networks. We have 20 counties that have one participant left in the marketplace. One insurer in market – pretty grim.

“I talked to one constituent recently, a self-employed individual in Lexington, Ohio. Family of eight, and he has seen over the last several years, his premiums quadruple, his networks have narrowed. So shrinking coverage, more costs.

“But his story isn’t unique to Americans across this country who are on the exchanges or the individual markets. Or worse, were left without insurance when their co-op failed. So the exchanges are collapsing, the individual market is being destroyed, our constituents deserve better.

“This is the first phase, as Dr. Price said, of several phases that will lower costs, increase access to care, and give people the freedom and flexibility that they deserve, that quite frankly they don’t have today.”


Tim Ryan on March 15:

If President Trump and the GOP and pass Trumpcare, 24 million people will lose their health insurance.

That’s not just my opinion, those are the official numbers from the independent, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

We’re talking about children, people with disabilities, seniors in long-term care, and working families with low incomes.

We’re talking about people who will no longer be able to afford health insurance unless they get sick, because this bill hits older and poorer Americans with skyrocketing premiums while giving big tax cuts to insurance companies and the wealthiest Americans.

A bill that kicks millions of people off their health insurance is NOT healthcare. It’s inhumane. If you agree, will you add your name and join me in standing against Trumpcare?

When President Trump campaigned in places like Ohio, he promised costs would go “down, down, down.”

Promise broken if you’re 64 years old, making $26,500 a year, and trying to get ready for retirement. Your costs will go up by an insane $12,900 a year.

He promised “insurance for everyone.” He promised “hands off Medicare” and no cuts to Medicaid. This bill breaks all three.

A lot of voters in my state took the President at his word. But they did not vote to take away healthcare from millions of people who are struggling to get by.

And they sure as hell didn’t vote for a bigger insurance bill and a pile of broken promises.

President Trump and Congressional Republicans should be ashamed. They should work with Democrats to bring costs down, and ensure coverage for all. But it’s clear now that’s not going to happen, so it’s on us to stop Trumpcare dead in its tracks.

I’m fighting with all I’ve got to stop this bill, but I need to know you are with me. Will you stand with me today?

Trump Policies Unleash A Wave of Wealth Opportunities Not Seen Since Reagan.

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Last night (March 6), House leaders introduced their bill to repeal Obamacare.

Simply put, it is unacceptable. It will slash the financial assistance that millions need to afford health insurance. It effectively ends the Medicaid expansion that allowed working families and millions more kids, seniors, and disabled Americans to finally have access to health care. The bill will drive up consumer costs, forcing families to pay more for less — and will once again leave Americans with chronic illnesses at the mercy of insurance companies.

This is not a plan.

Call out the recklessness of these leaders in Congress — sign the petition now.

Regardless of the colossal disaster that would result from this bill, congressional leaders are still trying to rush it through — trying to force the first votes on it before Congress’ own non-partisan analysts have a chance to calculate the damage it would cause.

That’s because they know if the American people find out how embarrassingly inadequate this replacement attempt is, they wouldn’t be able to show their faces from the shame. Americans will end up losing coverage under this bill — period.

They have broken every single promise they made. Covering more people? No. Better coverage? Nope. People with pre-existing conditions protected? Not likely — with new penalties for gaps in coverage and the removal of policies that keep more healthy people in the insurance market, they can’t guarantee it.

This scheme is irresponsible and cruel. People’s health care isn’t a political game — there are lives on the line here. We cannot let congressional leadership rush through a bill that rips health coverage away from millions of people without a heck of a fight.

Jack Shapiro; Director of Policy and Campaigns; Organizing for Action

Senate Passes Legislation Raising Awareness for Deadliest Form of Pediatric Brain Tumor

COLUMBUS—State Senator Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) announced the Senate passage of legislation designating May 17 as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day. Primarily affecting children, DIPG is extremely resistant to chemotherapy treatment, making it one of the most deadly forms of pediatric brain tumors.

“Designating May 17 in recognition of this deadly pediatric brain tumor would be a meaningful step for Ohio’s solidarity with the families confronting this disease,” said Senator Kunze.

DIPG is an aggressive, malignant brain tumor found at the base of the brain stem, affecting approximately 200 to 400 children in the U.S each year. It is the second most common malignant brain tumor and is the leading cause of childhood death due to brain tumors. The average prognosis of those diagnosed is 9 months. Symptoms include double vision, inability to close the eyelids completely, drooping of one side of the face as well as difficulty chewing and swallowing.

Over the last 50 years, limited medical progress has been made over the last 50 years to treat children suffering with DIPG. Recent advances in surgical and molecular analytic techniques have improved safety and potential use of brain stem biopsies, which are being incorporated into various clinical trials.

“We are hopeful that our efforts will yield new insights into DIPG and therefore open new avenues for the investigation of targeted therapies,” said Dr. Jonathan Finlay, Director of Neuro-oncology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital are helping lead an international effort seeking a cure for DIPG. Advancements in this field of research requires increased awareness among policymakers, health care providers and the general public.

Stemming from a conversation with a local pharmacist, Senator Kunze introduced Senate Bill 57 to increase awareness about the devastating disease.

Lauren Hill, 19, a freshman college basketball player at Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, passed away in April 2015 following her battle with DIPG.

“When I was diagnosed I remember kind of feeling lonely because nobody understood. And now that more people know about this story and the awareness of DIPG. I’m so happy that people know about it now and that we can get some research going and hopefully find that home run cure for cancer,” said Hill in a USA Today story, reporting on her final college basketball game in November 2014.

Senator Stephanie Kunze represents the 16th Ohio Senate District, which encompasses a portion of Franklin county.

Statement from Wade Henderson, President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

“The job of the Secretary of Education is to advance public education and protect students’ civil rights. Given the real concerns about Betsy DeVos’ ability to perform either of those job functions, in addition to her complicated personal financial situation, the Senate rightfully delayed her hearing. We urge senators to fully vet Ms. DeVos’ record as is their constitutional duty.”

Betsy DeVos is the Wrong Choice to Lead a Civil Rights Agency or American Public Education

Advocacy Letter – 01/09/17

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Recipient: U.S. Senate

View the PDF of this letter here.

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. All parents and students in this country – a majority of whom are of color or are low-income[i] – want the best education, support and dignity for their own children. We stand with them and cannot support a nominee who has demonstrated that she seeks to undermine bedrock American principles of equal opportunity, nondiscrimination and public education itself.

DeVos argues her opposition to public education serves students, especially students who are the most vulnerable.[ii] We reject the notion that children are well served by the dismantling of a public school system that serves 90 percent of all American students[iii] or by the elimination of civil rights protections that require the federal government to intervene when students are discriminated against.[iv]. The civil rights community has served as agitator and critic of schools and school systems that failed to meet the needs of students of color and low income students since long before Thurgood Marshall successfully argued the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Opportunity and achievement gaps that demonstrate longstanding bias against students of color, English learners, Native Americans, girls, students with disabilities, low-income students and other marginalized students are indefensible and unacceptable and we have fought at the federal, state, local and classroom level to ensure every student the quality education to which they are entitled by law and birth. Rather than joining with us in support of accountability, oversight and intervention, DeVos instead argues for an unaccountable education system which serves only to exacerbate inequality of opportunity.[v]

While parent frustration with schools failing to meet their child’s need is real and parents have waited far too long for meaningful action by policymakers, the result of anti-public education agendas such as DeVos’ has often, as in Louisiana[vi], been worse outcomes for vulnerable students. The Michigan example, where DeVos’ impact on education policy and the proliferation of unregulated and for-profit charter schools is considerable, demonstrates clearly that this agenda does not result in the improved outcomes students, parents and communities deserve.[vii]

Equal access to education is a cornerstone of the civil rights movement. The Secretary of Education’s role as the enforcer of education and civil rights laws[viii] is central to advancing our shared vision of an inclusive and diverse system of high-quality public education that enables every student to live up to their potential. DeVos has demonstrated no previous commitment to ensuring equal educational opportunity in schools.

While she is entitled to her personal views as a private citizen, government officials are charged with enforcing our laws equally. DeVos’ connections to anti-LGBTQ organizations including those that promote dangerous and discredited ’conversion therapy,’[ix] groups that seek to limit a woman’s right to health care[x] and civil rights protections for survivors of violence,[xi] and her opposition to affirmative action policies[xii] demonstrate a lack of respect and appreciation for the diversity of our nation’s classrooms and fail to recognize a long and pernicious history of discrimination against groups of students. While we have heard little of DeVos’ record with regard to the rights and interests of English learners, immigrant students, students with disabilities and religious minorities, we are deeply troubled by the unacceptable rhetoric of the President-elect during his campaign and the absence of a record of DeVos’ support for these students.

When compared with Secretaries of Education through the history of the department, DeVos’ lack of experience stands out.[xiii] She has never been an educator or worked directly with children and families in public schools. She has never led a school, district or state agency tasked with educating students. She has never been a public school parent or a public school student. This lack of experience makes her uniquely unfamiliar with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s students, families, educators and schools.

The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws protecting students from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and disability and those laws that provide for educational opportunity from early childhood through graduate school. The person responsible for leading that department must absolutely be committed to respecting, valuing and protecting every single student in this country – without regard to LGBTQI status, family income, race, home language, gender, religion, disability or immigration status. Our nation’s laws, economy, future and children deserve no less.

Economists Advise Selling Federal Assets to Solve U.S. Debt Crisis

OAKLAND, CA—The $20 trillion national debt may be the biggest problem that lawmakers in Washington, DC, are unwilling to confront—perhaps because they fear that slashing the debt would require massive, politically unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts. Serious debt reduction, however, need not entail those measures.

According to analysts with the Independent Institute, the best solution to America’s fiscal woes is to sell off federal assets, especially mineral rights to oil, natural gas, and coal.

“The road to national solvency is paved with sales receipts from the U.S. government’s vast property holdings, particularly its untapped treasure trove of energy deposits,” write William F. Shughart II and Carl P. Close in “Liquidating Federal Assets: A Promising Tool for Ending the U.S. Debt Crisis,” a new Executive Summary about solving major national problems.

Using 2016 average prices, they estimate the value of the federal government’s oil and natural gas deposits at about $55.6 trillion, or nearly 2.8 times the size of the U.S. national debt.

“Whatever the precise value that the marketplace would set for deposit rights, it is clear that selling them would reap ample rewards for debt reduction,” Shughart and Close write.

Although the liquidation of federal assets is a simple way to fund deficit reduction, enacting it initially might seem not to be politically easy. However, non-profit stakeholders across the political spectrum might well be persuaded to support the proposal if they were given the first right to purchase the assets.

This was the successful case with the Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act of 2016, Shughart and Close note. Signed into law in December 2016, the Act had support from homeless-assistance groups, which in 1987 were given the right of first refusal to purchase surplus federal buildings.

Brown on Republican Healthcare Bill

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement on the healthcare bill released by House Republicans.

“Ohioans have called my office terrified of losing their healthcare because of this plan. We cannot allow Washington politicians who get taxpayer-funded health insurance to rip coverage away from Ohioans who are battling cancer, getting regular checkups for the first time, or finally getting treatment to beat their opioid addiction,” said Brown. “This plan will raise prices for Ohioans – particularly older Ohioans – and kick people off of the coverage they have today. It will threaten jobs across our state by cutting funding for local hospitals that employ hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. This plan does nothing to lower healthcare costs for Ohioans, but hands a huge tax break to drug companies and insurance executives who jack up their prices.”

Ohio House Bill a “Death Sentence” for Clean Energy

CHICAGO, IL (March 7, 2017) – A bill was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives today that threatens the state’s ability to generate clean energy and attract related jobs and investment.

The following is a reaction by Samantha Williams, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“The Ohio House is once again determined to waste time re-litigating settled issues. What’s next, debating the law of gravity? This bill is nothing more than a distraction from the reality that clean energy is here to stay.”

The legislation proposes to make Ohio’s energy standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy generation “voluntary,” water them down, and ultimately eliminate all state energy standards by 2027—a de facto death sentence for the state’s clean energy businesses and harming Ohio’s families. There is no companion bill in the Senate.

This volley is the latest attack on clean energy standards orchestrated by Rep. Bill Seitz. Just two months ago, Governor John Kasich vetoed similar legislation that would have weakened and delayed implementation of the state’s successfully clean energy standards that had been “frozen” by legislation sponsored by then-Senator Seitz in 2014. Now the House is at it again, with a proposal that is even worse than the version the Governor bounced in December.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us atwww.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

What Small Businesses Need from President Trump

Employment trends expert reveals ‘Small Business Wish List’ for the President

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, the Index of Small Business Optimism increased by 11 points this past quarter, rising to its highest point since December 2004. It’s easy to see that small businesses are very hopeful about a Trump presidency.

Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA, says, “Many small business owners are backing Trump and feeling cheered about the country’s economic future. However, there are several things that the President needs to do in order to fulfill this optimism.”

Here, Wilson shares his “Small Business Wish List” for President Trump:

Small Business Wish List to President Trump

  • Replace Obamacare and include the following changes: Wilson says, “Small business owners need Trump to remove the mandate on individuals and employers, as well as reduce the amount of governmental oversight including the elimination of Forms 1094 and 1095. He should also allow employers to change employee eligibility back to 40 hours per week. And this is crucial: He needs to open up interstate insurance sales, as well as cancel the Cadillac tax.”
  • Establish 6 weeks of paid family leave benefit (maternity and paternity). Wilson says, “The new leave could require the same eligibility as FMLA (i.e., employee must work at least 1 year with 1,250 hours worked at worksite with at least 50 employees within 75 miles).”
  • Stagger the federal minimum wage increase. “The minimum wage needs to be staggered as such: $8.00/hr effective January 2019, $9.00/hr effective January 2020, and $10.00/hr effective January 2021. This will narrow the gap between cities/counties bordering with municipalities with higher minimum wage, which helps prevent company moves and gives consumers more money to spend.”
  • Permanently cancel the 2016 Obama administration overtime rule. “This rule puts a huge financial burden on many small businesses.”
  • Lastly, Wilson says that President Trump needs to lower the business income tax (for “A target 15%,” he says) as well as make it easier for small business to win government contracts (“A huge step in the right direction which already has bi-partisan support.”)

National civil rights leaders will gather on a press call to urge the Senate HELP Committee to review Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos’ alarming past with respect to civil rights and hold her feet to the fire on critical issues of civil rights that are a central function of the U.S. Department of Education.

As the speakers will reflect, the Secretary of Education’s role as the enforcer of education and civil rights laws is central to advancing our shared vision of an inclusive and diverse system of high-quality public education that enables every student to live up to their potential. DeVos has demonstrated no previous commitment to ensuring equal educational opportunity in schools. When compared with Secretaries of Education throughout the history of the department, DeVos’ lack of experience stands out. She has never been an educator or worked directly with children and families in public schools. She has never led a school, district or state agency tasked with educating students. She has never been a public school parent or a public school student. This lack of experience makes her uniquely unfamiliar with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s students, families, educators and schools.

The Senate HELP Committee must do its constitutional duty to ensure that DeVos is committed to protecting the civil rights of all students.


Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program at National Women’s Law Center

Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality

Susan Henderson, Executive Director, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Ways and Means Republicans Release Legislation to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Congressman Pat Tiberi, chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, released the following statement regarding the American Health Care Act, legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare through the reconciliation process:

“The American Health Care Act is our plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a 21st century system that gives people better access to quality and affordable health care. It contains specific reforms to provide relief from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates, and gives patients the tools they need to be in charge of their own care, like increased access to health savings accounts and tax credits to help individuals and families purchase the care they need.

“Our legislation contains the ideas and priorities we outlined 8 months ago. We are moving forward with our deliberate and transparent approach to bring real health care solutions to the American people. Our next step is the markup on Wednesday in the Ways and Means Committee. I invite everyone to read our plan on ReadtheBill.GOP.”

Note: The Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a markup of this legislation on Wednesday, March 8, at 10:30 a.m., in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building.

Senate Voting to Strip Air Quality Protections!

Did you know that methane, the main component of natural gas, is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide? It also contributes to the formation of smog, a threat to the health of national parks and their visitors.

The Senate is about to vote on whether to permanently reject common-sense rules designed to cut methane waste from oil and gas facilities on public lands.

But together, we can urge them to do the right thing!

Billions of cubic feet of methane are leaked, intentionally released into the atmosphere, or simply burned off from oil and gas facilities on public lands annually.

If the measure passes the Senate and becomes law, huge amounts of methane will leak into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change, harming national park air quality and costing American taxpayers $300 million in lost revenues every year. The House of Representatives voted to permanently overturn these rules last week.

Take Action: Join us and tell your senators to vote NO on overturning methane rules!

These rules were adopted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last year after a long and open process that incorporated comments and suggestions from all stakeholders, including state and local governments, industry, native nations and the public.

Congress is trying to overturn these rules. It’s up to us to stop them.

Landscape Conservation Program

Betrayal Too

Tim Ryan

When I first saw the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador and top intelligence official in the United States during the heat of the Presidential Campaign, I could hardly believe my eyes.

Now it’s becoming increasingly clear he lied to Congress about it.

This is unacceptable, friends. That’s why this morning I called for Attorney General Sessions to resign immediately. Will you add your name and join me in calling for his resignation?

This is about more than just Jeff Sessions.

It’s about Russian hacking of our elections and the Trump Campaign’s ties to Russian intelligence. It’s about President Trump’s tax returns, Michael Flynn’s resignation, and the web of denials and deception about Russia that this Administration has spun day after day.

What the hell is going on?

The American people deserve to know, but it’s clear now that Attorney General Sessions’ ability to get to the truth is completely compromised.

He’s got to go. Will you sign on now and demand his resignation?

We need to stay on this, friends. I will not let up until we get the truth, and I hope you will join me. Our democracy depends on it.

Here’s the link: http://action.timryanforcongress.com/Sessions-Resign

Will Trump End DACA, Keep Manny Bartsch and Other Ohio Dreamers From Building Their Lives?

Washington, DC – One of the first immigration battles of the incoming Trump administration will center on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the 1.9 million DACA-eligible young people across America who could benefit from the program, including 13,000 young people who are DACA-eligible in Ohio. DACA is an unqualified success, helping to drive economic growth, bolster job creation, keep families together, promote education and community integration, and strengthen civic ties throughout the country. DACA also is popular – a recent poll from Global Strategy Group found that by more than a 2:1 margin, 58%-28%, Americans oppose an effort to repeal DACA.

Yet President-elect Trump, with the near-unanimous support of fellow Republicans, has promised to revoke DACA work permits and expose DREAMers to deportation on day one of his presidency. That pledge remains intact today, despite vague and empty rhetorical assurances about Dreamers’ futures from Trump and other Republicans. Below are key points and resources to come up to speed:

Don’t Buy the Spin About Trump and Republican Softening on DACA and Dreamers’ Futures. During a recent interview, President-elect Trump said about Dreamers’ futures, “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.” And during a recent CNN town hall event, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan offered vague assurances that Dreamers should not be worried.

However, we should not be fooled. Many Republicans understand they will look bad if they revoke DACA, but their virulently anti-immigrant base insists on it and not one GOP leader or Cabinet nominee has actually promised to preserve DACA or enact legislation to protect those with DACA. If Trump was serious about making people “happy and proud,” he would reverse his position on canceling DACA and maintain the policy until he works with Congress to pass a broad and permanent legislative fix. If Speaker Ryan truly believed that Dreamers should not be deported and should keep contributing, then he and other GOP leaders would clearly state that Republicans will keep DACA in place until legislation that replaces it is signed into law.

What We Expect to Happen. What is predictable is that the Trump Administration will revoke DACA and allow work permits to expire in the coming months, all while stating that the proper way to deal with this sympathetic group is legislation. And then, to add insult to injury, Republican Congress leaders will continue to hide behind the same excuse it has used for the last decade: ‘we have to secure the border first, before we can even consider doing something compassionate’ (ignoring, of course, that the border is more secure than it’s been in 40 years).

No more spin or obfuscation. It’s a time for action that produces concrete results for DACA recipients and other immigrants. Not a clever PR strategy designed to obscure Republicans’ near-unanimous support for revoking opportunities for more than 750,000 young people who call America home – a population greater in size than cities such as Boston, Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, or Washington, DC.

Reminders About the Benefits of DACA to Ohio and America. DACA is an economic and fiscal boon to America. A recent economic analysis from the Center for American Progress found, “ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product” over the next decade. Other studies have demonstrated that DACA has both transformed the lives and opportunities of its recipients and increased state and local tax revenues. Among the key findings in an October 2016 survey of DACA recipients by Professor Tom Wong of the University of California, San Diego for United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress were that 95% of DACA recipients were currently working or in school and 63% reported that DACA allowed them to obtain a better paying job.

Individual Stories of DACA Recipients Offer Most Powerful Testimonials. In the face of fear and uncertainty about their futures, Dreamers and other immigrants continue to bravely tell their stories in public and illustrate the benefits of policies like DACA for individuals as well as America. Take the case of DACA recipient Manny Bartsch in Ohio. Bartsch is a Heidelberg University graduate and long-time Ohio resident whose battle against deportation was covered extensively by state and national media in 2005 and beyond (read this 2012 profile in the Toledo Blade for more background on Bartsch’s story). DACA provided Bartsch a range of opportunities, as he explained in 2015:

“Losing DACA would mean losing the tools I have to live life. Instead of being a contributing member of society, I would return to living in limbo. With no way to progress in life, I would become unable to provide for my wife. It would make everyday life a struggle, and I would constantly have to depend on other people. The biggest thing that would be the hardest pill to swallow would be not taking care of my wife.”

Since sharing those words, Bartsch also has recently become a father.

America asked young undocumented people to trust their government, step forward and apply for DACA in order to be able to work legally, feel safe, and continue to help the country they call home. Now, the President-elect, his Cabinet nominees, and most others in the GOP are saying that we should betray that trust, revoke work permits and people’s livelihoods, once again subjecting these young people to deportation. There are even fears that DACA recipients’ information provided to the government during the application process could be used by the Trump Administration to facilitate enforcement. This is unacceptable.

Every day, brave men, women, and children continue to stand up and speak out on behalf of themselves and their families. They remind us what it means to be American. This is their home and they are here to stay. Now, our leaders in Washington need to recognize this reality.

America’s Voice Education Fund – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform


President Trump is My President 🙂

By Roger Stone

Mon 1/30

I am happy to report that I have recovered from the polonium poisoning and want to thank everyone for their support.

President Trump continued the draining of DC swamp with a series of executive orders that made the liberal media go nuts.

Although personally, I am not a fan of executive orders, it is the quickest and most efficient way of reversing them.

It has been both exciting and entertaining to see President Trump (can’t say it enough) take on the liberal media and establishment.

They just don’t know what to make of President Trump.

It is apparent that they are completely in disarray and are leaderless.

However, I don’t think it will last.

They will eventually find a leader, perhaps Sen. Schumer, and try to take Trump down.

The real threat in my mind is from within.

We saw this week with Rubio and McCain playing games and testing the political strength of Trump.

It is critical that we keep up the pressure on Congress and take advantage of our momentum.

I starting my friendship with Trump in 1979 when I was working on Reagan’s campaign. President Trump’s Father, Fred, had been a big supporter of Goldwater in ‘64.

I went to see Donald, and he helped to get us office space for the Reagan campaign, and that’s when we became friends.

A lot has happened since then.

Everyone asks me, “what really happened in the Trump campaign, how did he rise so fast?”

In all my years of politics (10 Presidential Campaigns), there has never been anyone like President Trump.

He is exceptionally intelligent, quick witted, strategic and will out work anyone.

In my new book, The Making of the President 2016, I give us the inside story of how Trump almost single-handedly harnessed discontent among “forgotten Americans,” despite running a guerrilla-style grassroots campaign to compete with the smooth-operating and free-spending Clinton political machine.

From the start, Trump’s campaign was unlike any seen on the national stage—combative, maverick, and fearless.

Trump’s nomination was the hostile takeover of the Republican party and a resounding repudiation of the failed leadership of both parties, whose policies have brought America to the brink of financial collapse and endangered our national security.


Roger J. Stone


New Polling Data Shows Widespread Bipartisan Support for Federal Funding for Contraception and

Sexual Health Information

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released a new poll that shows three-quarters of adults (including 66% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats) support Title X, the federal program that provides free or low-cost birth control to those making $30,000 a year or less. The poll also shows that 85% of adults (including 75% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats) support current federal efforts to prevent teen pregnancy through the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP).

“Since federal investments have been made in TPPP and PREP, teen birth rates have plummeted,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO, The National Campaign. “Programs supported by these funds make a difference in the communities most impacted by teen and unplanned pregnancy. That is why it is vital that this funding continue to support state, tribal, and community efforts to offer high quality, evidence-based programs to some of the most vulnerable young people and communities in our nation. Our poll clearly shows that the vast majority of the American public—both Republicans and Democrats—believe that we need to continue funding these programs and continue our progress to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancies.”

Specifically, the survey showed that:

  • 79% of adults (including 73% of Republicans and 81% of Democrats) believe teens should receive more information about abstinence, birth control, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) protection rather than either/or;
  • 66% of adults (including 57% of Republicans and 68% of Democrats) believe publicly funded programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy should focus on providing teens with information on abstinence and birth control rather than either/or; and
  • 54% of adults (including 49% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats) believe that more should be done in their community to prevent teen pregnancy.

“Previous research shows that birth control enjoys broad bipartisan support and that it is used by almost all sexually active women at some point in their lives,” Ehrlich continued. “The demand for publicly funded contraception and related preventative health services is far greater than the supply. This is why Title X and the services that it provides to low income women is so critically important.”

Recent research conducted by The National Campaign shows that nearly 20 million American women live in contraceptive deserts—defined by their lack of reasonable access to public health care sites offering the full range of contraceptive methods. This is despite the fact that 81% of adults (including 70% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats) agree that birth control is a basic part of women’s health care, according to a previous survey commissioned by The National Campaign.

“Nearly 20 million women are eligible for publicly funded contraception live in contraceptive deserts and if we reduce federal support for contraception, these deserts will get worse. We must continue to support Title X and provide robust funding for the program,” said Ehrlich. “We urge Congress and the new Administration to continue the historically bipartisan support for this program.”

About the Survey: The data presented here are drawn from a nationally representative telephone survey conducted for The National Campaign by SSRS, an independent research company. Telephone interviews with 1,020 respondents age 18 and older took place January 6, 2017 and January 10, 2017. The margin of error for total respondents is +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence level. Click here to view the survey.

About The National Campaign: The National Campaign is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives and future prospects of children and families by preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy. Please visit www.TheNationalCampaign.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.


Staff Reports